NFC North Standings:
1. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
2. Detroit Lions (1-0)
3. Chicago Bears (0-1)
4. Green Bay Packers (0-1)
Green Bay Packers v.s. New York Jets (Packers -8, over/under 46)
The Green Bay Packers had the unfortunate pleasure of facing the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle. The result was a twenty point loss for the Packers so now they look to rebound at home against a New York Jets team that was fortunate to play the Oakland Raiders in week one.
The Jets entered the season with their secondary being a huge question mark so they were lucky enough to play against a Raiders team with no real threat at wide receiver and a rookie quarterback in Derek Carr. The Jets front seven, as expected, were able to get into the back field with ease and in the second half the Raiders struggled to get passed their own 30 yard line. With that said, the Jets squeezed out a win against Oakland and that’s where the offense of the Jets comes into play. The running game for the Jets was on point (Chris Johnson, 68 yards; Chris Ivory, 102 yards) but the passing attack was barely an attack at all – more like a pea shooter. Quarterback Geno Smith averaged less than 8 yards per pass and still showed shades of last season. He threw one interception and fumbled twice, one of those fumbles were lost. The Jets were playing a lowly Raiders squad and had great field position the whole game and only won by 5 points.
The Green Bay Packers are a team that because of their aerial assault – they overcome bad field position easily. This offense was not able to get off the ground against a superior Seahawks defense and it gets easier this week. Easier but not easy. The Jets defense will cause Packers running back Eddy Lacy to have fits once again and it will be up to the Packers to run an uptempo offensive attack that will wear down the Jets defense. Believe it or not, the Jets actually resemble a lot of what makes the Seahawks the Seahawks. The Jets will look to put pressure on Rodgers, stop the run and actually be able to run pretty effectively against the Packers defense. Where the comparison stops is with the Jets secondary. Rodgers is not going to be in the same predicament he was last week because his wide outs can out play the Jets secondary. The Packers can go three or four wide forcing the Jets to go into their weak secondary depth, or keeping their linebackers stationed in a zone. It’s a tricky one considering the similarity in play of the Seahawks and the Jets, but similar scheme does not mean similar results – as the Jets are not as talented as Seattle.
Predicted Score: Green Bay 24 Jets 13; Better’s Pick: Packers AND the under
Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers (Lions +3, over/under 43.5)
The Detroit Lions and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, put the Lions’ newly crafted offense on display for the world to see on Monday Night Football against a New York Giants team that seemed lost for four quarters. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to keep plays alive and show off his arm, while stud wide receiver Calvin Johnson schooled the Giants’ secondary to the tune of 164 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions struggled a bit to get things going on the ground but they were content with the results the passing game was giving them. Detroit finds themselves in Carolina this week for what may prove to be a test for both teams. After many questionable off-season roster moves, the Carolina Panthers have gone from last year’s sweet hearts to this years “after-thought.” They pulled off the win with back up quarterback Derrick Alexander against a much (seemingly) over-hyped Tampa Bay Bucs team.
This week Cam Newton is back under center for Carolina and is looking to catch up with the rest of the league after having to sit out week one due to injury. Last week with Derrick Alexander it seemed rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was playing with confidence and it will be interesting how that will continue this week against a below average Lions secondary. Carolina’s defense made Tampa quarterback Josh McCown wish he was a back up again and proved that they can still be a force defensively. Both teams will be able to get pressure on their opposing quarterbacks but both have the ability to extend plays and make “something from nothing” out of broken-plays. The Lions are equipped with more play makers than Carolina and have the ability to score with anyone in the league and the Panthers are looking forward to a challenge offensively after dealing with Tampa Bay last week.
The Lions were still penalized a bunch last week, so there is reason to believe this team has turned over a new leaf right away in the disciplinary department. Detroit will have to be more balanced than last week on offense because you can’t be one dimensional against a well coached defense like Carolina’s.
Prediction: Carolina 19 Detroit 17; Better’s pick: Detroit +3
Minnesota Vikings vs New England Patriots (Vikings +3; over/under 49)
The Vikings let is all hang out against the St. Louis Rams as they obliterated the Rams 34-6. Some were shocked by this outcome, but the truth is the Rams just aren’t that good and the Vikings are A LOT better than people are giving them credit for. Quarterback Matt Cassel seemed to be under control completing 68% of his passes at a clip of 10 yards per completion. Cordarrelle Patterson only caught three passes for twenty six yards – but offensive coordinator Norv Turner had fun putting his versatile wide out on display. Patterson also ran for 102 yards including a 67 yard touchdown run. It was a nice win for rookie head coach Mike Zimmer but the challenge this week is far more arduous.
The New England Patriots are still scratching their heads after dropping the ball in Miami. It seems quarterback Tom Brady will never be able to wrap his head around the city of Miami where he is now 6-7 as a starter. With that loss now in the rear view mirror, the Patriots travel to a place where the weather is more to their liking in Minnesota. Brady and the Pats will no doubt be coming into this game hungry and out to prove a point to the world. Miami didn’t just beat the Patriots, they embarrassed them by shutting out the Pats in the second half while the Dolphins put up 23 unanswered points. Brady seemed out of sorts in the second half and a closer look at this Pats roster shows that the receivers for New England are Rob Gronkowski and a bunch of “other guys.” While the Pats could not establish themselves on the ground, Miami running back Knowshon Moreno rioted for 134 against this Pats front line.
Keep that in mind. Knowshon Moreno. Nobody is trying to knock the former Georgia Bulldog, but if Moreno can do that to the Pats, what can Adrian Peterson do to them? And if not Peterson – Patterson? Can it be that unlikely a scenario that the Patriots start the season 0-2? Imagine the chaos that will ensue in the football world if Brady and the Pats lose to Miami. . . and then Minnesota? Stranger things have happened. Eh, not really.
Predicted Score: Vikings 24, Patriots 21; Better’s Pick: Vikings +3 (line will most likely go up as week progresses as the public will wager more on New England thinking they can’t go 0-2. Watch the trends and have faith.)
Chicago Bears vs San Francisco 49ers (Bears +7, over/under 48.5)
Much like the previously discussed New England Patriots, the Chicago Bears are still trying to figure what happened in their home opener with the Buffalo Bills. Well, problems from last year that the Bears worked hard in the off-season to repair seem to still be hanging around: they couldn’t stop the run and they still turned the ball over. The Bills averaged 5.8 yards per rush; Jay Cutler tossed two (bad) interceptions and Brandon Marshall lost a fumble. For Bears fans, this was a way too familiar sight. This week the Bears will go on national television and into San Francisco to play a 49ers team that probably doesn’t even feel as if they played a week one game.
Thanks to the Dallas Cowboys turning the ball over at will, the 49ers pretty much took the second half off against “Jerry’s Kids” and won 28-17. The Cowboys were expected to have one of the worst defenses in the league this year and they actually played better than expected but being down 21-3 in the first quarter kind of changes the dynamic of a game quickly. The 49ers defense was expected to take a step back but where still able to force turnovers – but was that the Niners ability to make things happen or was it just Tony Romo looking the worse he’s looked in years? Romo was all over the place and missing open receivers even when he wasn’t pressured so what did the 49ers do on defense besides show up on time?
Luckily for the 49ers the Bears have a tendency to turn the ball over as well. There were no excuses for the two interceptions Cutler threw against Buffalo (one off his back foot and the other right into the gut of a defender) – these were things Cutler seemed to cut down on last season and one would hope he is not getting back into his bad tendencies. Good news for the Bears is that they still do have an offense that can knock a defense off balance, the bad news for the Bears is that the 49ers have two beasts running the rock in Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde and they will surely test this Bears defensive line for four straight quarters.
The Bears were a seven point favorite last week and a seven point underdog this week. After this week the wise guys will have a better gauge on the Bears week to week.
Prediction: 49ers 27 Bears 23; Better’s Pick: Bears +7