My NFL 2014 Predictions

Brady
Brady
This could be Tom Brady's last significant shot at another Super Bowl.

I’m not wasting any time here. My predictions for the 2014 NFL Season.

AFC EAST

New England 12-4, Miami 9-7, NY Jets 8-8, Buffalo 5-11

Breakdown: I’m not convinced Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are ready for the next step yet. Buffalo has weapons but I have little faith in E.J. Manuel. The Jets secondary will be their downfall. I like the Pats to run away with it.

AFC NORTH

Cincinnati 10-6, Pittsburgh 9-7, Baltimore 9-7, Cleveland 6-10

Breakdown: The Bengals have the most talent in what will be the most competitive division. The Browns will be feisty but the lack of weapons will haunt them. The Steelers and Ravens will rely on their offenses to cover for questionable defenses.

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis 11-5, Houston 8-8, Tennessee 7-9, Jacksonville 5-11

Breakdown: The Colts win by default. The other three teams will be better but still lack experience and good QB play. Although it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Texans make a run, I think the lack of a solid QB hurts them.

AFC WEST

Denver 12-4, Kansas City 9-7, San Diego 8-8, Oakland 4-12

Breakdown: As long as Peyton Manning stays healthy, the Broncos should whip the rest of the division. The Chefs will be OK, but need to get better on defense. I think Philip Rivers suffers from the loss of Ken Whisenhunt too.

AFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round: Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Cincinnati over Baltimore

Divisional Round: New England over Pittsburgh, Denver over Cincinnati

AFC Championship game: New England over Denver

AFC Analysis: Both New England and Denver are several levels above the rest of the AFC in my opinion. I can see teams like Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Kansas City ruffling the feathers of the Broncos and Patriots but they have too many question marks.

Kelly
I love what Chip Kelly is doing in Philly and I expect a division title this season.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia 10-6, Washington 8-8, Dallas 7-9, NY Giants 7-9

Breakdown: I love the way the Eagles are set up offensively and that’ll be too much for the rest of the division. I’m guessing Tony Romo doesn’t play the whole season and I’m also thinking the Redskins are going to be up and down. The Giants just don’t look good period.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay 11-5, Chicago 10-6, Detroit 8-8, Minnesota 6-10

Breakdown: The Lions have a lot to like but their lack of discipline worries me. The Packers and Bears will duke it out and in this case I’ll always take Aaron Rodgers over Jay Cutler.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans 11-5, Carolina 9-7, Tampa Bay 9-7, Atlanta 7-9

Breakdown: Don’t be surprised is the Saints put up record offensive numbers this year while their defense continues to get better. I’m not sold on the Falcons at all and I think the Panthers slip a bit without Steve Smith. The Bucs are the team to watch but they have a very tough schedule.

NFC WEST

Seattle 13-3, Arizona 10-6, San Francisco 9-7, St. Louis 5-11

Breakdown: I get the feeling all is not well in San Francisco and that aging defense worries me. The Cards will finally make the playoffs and the Rams fall back because of the injury to Sam Bradford. This is the Seahawks division plain and simple.

NFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round Philadelphia over Chicago, Green Bay over Arizona

Divisional Round Seattle over Philadelphia, Green Bay over New Orleans

NFC championship game Seattle over Green Bay

NFC Analysis: I see the NFC as quite loaded and can view as many as four or five teams making serious runs to the Super Bowl. The problem is that I just don’t see anyone knocking off the Seahawks. If they get home-field advantage which I believe they will, it will be a return trip to the Super Bowl for Seattle.

SUPER BOWL XLIX

Seattle over New England

NFL MVP: Drew Brees

NFL Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees

NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Vontaze Burfict

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Brandin Cooks

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Shazier

NFL Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick

 

 

Could Someone Please Explain Why Roger Goodell is Asleep at the Wheel?

Goodell-Irsay
Goodell-Irsay
Roger Goodell has dragged his feet long enough on suspensions for guys like Jim Irsay and he needs to act now.

As more and more players in the National Football League continue to make poor choices, get suspended and get pulled over, the man in charge of the NFL is nowhere to be seen or heard.

In the past few days, Dion Jordan of Miami,  Rokevious Watkins of Kansas City and Lane Johnson of Philadelphia were all suspended for four games under the League’s substance abuse policy. The Colts’ LaVon Brazill was suspended for the entire 2014 season for yet another substance abuse issue. They are among a growing handful of suspended players already heading into the season.

These three incidents are easy for the NFL to deal with because of the protocols that already in place. What isn’t so easy is the plethora of decisions facing Roger Goodell and these include players like Ray Rice who is awaiting his fate following his domestic violence problem. Also expecting a decision is Aldon Smith of the 49ers.

Gordon
It may be a long time before the Browns see Gordon in a uniform again.

This past Fourth of July weekend brought us yet another chance to see Johnny Manziel partying in Las Vegas (not illegal by the way) and more importantly, another arrest of a very high-profile player in Josh Gordon of Cleveland.

Gordon is already facing the potential of a year-long suspension and now he could be looking at even longer. Gordon was arrested in North Carolina early Saturday morning for speeding and ultimately driving while impaired. To make matters look even worse, he was bailed out by a man with a significant criminal and drug history.

Don’t forget that he was also pulled over for speeding in May and his passenger was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was suspended for the first four games last season and still went on to lead the NFL in receiving. Tons of talent but all kinds of problems would be putting it mildly.

While I can respect taking one’s time in making important decisions, Roger Goodell has fallen flat on his face when compared to new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver has shown swift and effective decision-making when it has come to discipline of not only players but owners as well. Just look at how quickly he acted with the Donald Sterling situation.

Goodell has taken his sweet time with the aforementioned Ray Rice who still doesn’t know his fate. What of Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay? He is facing a significant number of charges resulting from his traffic stop and drug possession issues. Months have now gone by and Irsay has not been punished in any way, shape or form.

Obviously the players’ association is a most interested party in Irasy’s case because they want to see how Goodell handles the discipline for one of his own in comparison to that of their players. The time for patience has gone though and fans and the general public deserve answers.

Goodell has already put himself in a very unenviable position by making the game of football “safer” in an effort to do nothing more than satisfy the plaintiffs of the concussion lawsuit. He has also shown overwhelming subjectivity when he does give suspensions often hiding behind the ‘protect the shield’ mantra.

The Hall of Fame Game is less than a month away. The Buffalo Bills, who play the New York Giants in that game open camp on July 18th. If Roger Goodell has not made rulings on Ray Rice, Aldon Smith and Jim Irsay by that point then shame on him. Then again, it’s what we’ve come to expect from him.

Latest Super Bowl XLIX Odds

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The window is closing on both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Will either lead their teams to Super Bowl XLIX?

Now that our nation’s little foray in Brazil is over, we can turn our attention back to the type of football that I prefer. Believe it or not, we are about a month away from the Hall of Fame game which is the traditional kick-off to the NFL’s Preseason. The Buffalo Bills, who will be playing in that game against the New York Giants, report to camp two weeks from today.

Hard to believe, but are you ready for some football?

Here are the latest Super Bowl XLIX odds from our friends at Bovada. My best bets are in BOLD.

Denver 13/2 – Teams that have lost the previous Super Bowl rarely make it back but the Broncos are ‘all-in’ on trying.

Seattle 13/2 – We haven’t seen a repeat champion since the Patriots back near the beginning of this century. Can Seattle handle the crown which has brought many players (Sherman, Lynch, Wilson, etc) significant personal attention?

San Francisco 7/1 – Colin Kaepernick has a new deal, but will age catch up with the defense?

New England 9/1 – Speaking of age, when will Father Time finally force Tom Brady to the sidelines? I’m not sure, but his offensive weapons are still lacking a bit.

Green Bay 12/1 – How much will the defense be improved? If it makes a big jump, then this could be a sexy pick right here with Aaron Rodgers running the offense.

New Orleans 14/1 – How often does a head coach testify against one of his players? That’s what Sean Payton had to do in Jimmy Graham’s hearing. Will that be a factor this season and how do the Saints replace Darren Sproles?

Chicago 18/1 – Is Jay Cutler worth the monster deal the Bears signed him to? He has plenty of talent around him so there are no excuses.

Indianapolis 18/1 – Andrew Luck enters his third season and is 0-2 in the playoffs. In a weak division, he needs to get back and get a playoff win under his belt.

Foles
I like the future for Nick Foles and I think this could be a big year for him in Philly.

Philadelphia 25/1 – Like Green Bay, the Eagles have some appeal because of offensive firepower. Can the defense improve though?

Atlanta 28/1 – The question here centers on last year. Was it just an anomaly or a pattern of things to come? This team has a lot of holes to fill too.

Carolina 33/1 – The same could be said of the Panthers. Should we expect more of the same from them or will they revert back to a .500 or worse team?

Detroit 33/1 – Defense, defense, defense… If they can cover receivers and if Matthew Stafford can take better care of the ball then watch out. I have my doubts on both ends however.

Pittsburgh 33/1 – The youth movement has begun in the Steel City. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is there, they have a chance but the defense has to create more pressure.

Arizona 40/1 – The Cardinals won 10 games last year and missed the playoffs. They need splits with the Niners and Seahawks and great play from Carson Palmer.

Baltimore 40/1 – How long will Ray Rice’s suspension be and will it matter? He was very unproductive last year and has the defense improved at all?

Cincinnati 40/1 – This is all about Andy Dalton.

Kansas City 40/1 – Competitive, but I see a fall back year.

NY Giants 40/1 – Can Eli limit the turnovers?

San Diego 40/1 – Bolts need another good year from Rivers and a better effort on defense as well.

Cleveland 50/1 – How soon before we see Johnny on the field?

Dallas 50/1 – Loss of Sean Lee hurts an already bad defense.

Houston 50/1 – This defense will be fun to watch but the offense? Yikes.

Miami 50/1 – The Dolphins were right there last season and now they need to make the jump. Can they is the question especially without Mike Pouncey.

St. Louis 50/1 – Sam Bradford, this is it for you man.

Tampa Bay 50/1 – Lovie Smith will turn this team around immediately. Don’t be surprised to see them push for a playoff berth.

Washington 50/1 – Which RGIII will get this year?

Minnesota 66/1 – Teddy Bridgewater will start at QB on day one. You heard it here first.

NY Jets 66/1 – Personally, I don’t think Vick is going to help the development of Geno Smith but that’s just me.

Buffalo 75/1 – Loss of Alonso is a heart-breaker.

Oakland 100/1 – Is Ken Stabler returning?

Tennessee 100/1 – This team will be better under Ken Whisenhunt. Mark my words.

Jacksonville 200/1 – At least they have “cool” uniforms.

Analyzing NFL Team Win-Totals for the NFC

Tony Romo
Tony Romo
The Cowboys need an improved running game and more consistency from Tony Romo in 2013.

Two days ago I broke down the over/under win totals for each team in the American Football Conference and today my attention shifts to the National Football Conference. In the 47-year history of the Super Bowl, the NFC holds a 25-22 advantage in the win column and has won four of the last six including two by the New York Giants.

Will an NFC team help them continue their dominance? Let’s see who might have a chance at getting there at the very least.

NFC EAST

Dallas 8.5 (-105 over/-125 under) The Cowboys draw the NFC North and AFC West in divisional crossovers. That looks positive but I’m not so sure. Dallas was 31st in the league in rushing last year and the defense needs to improve significantly. This is the toughest call of the NFC because of Tony Romo’s ups and downs. I’ll go the over but just barely at nine.

New York 9 (-115 over/-115 under) The Giants will move forward without Ahmad Bradshaw who is in Indy now but the defense is where the focus is. They ranked 28th against the pass and 25th against the run. This is a situation where they will go as far as Eli Manning can take them. I say it’s a step back. Take the under.

Philadelphia 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) Chip Kelly brings his up-tempo offense to the NFL and I can see it catching teams off guard early in the season but I have concerns about it long-term. The other concern is Michael Vick’s health. This offense will be great for him but he’s going to get hit a lot too. I like the under.

Washington 8.5 (+105 over/-135 under) The offense built around Robert Griffin III is effective as long as he is healthy, but don’t forget Kirk Cousins is a talented back-up. If Alfred Morris picks up where he left off and the pass defense improves, I like the over in D.C.

NFC NORTH

Cutler
I expect more efficient play from Jay Cutler under new coach Marc Trestman.

Chicago 8.5 (-120 over/-110 under) The Bears enter the Marc Trestman Era which should help Jay Cutler be more efficient and take less hits. The defense will miss Brian Urlacher’s leadership but I still think it’s good. The problem is the schedule. Besides the North, they have the NFC East and AFC North in crossovers. I can’t see them getting the over.

Detroit 8 (-105 over/-125 under) The Lions lost a ton of close games last year and this is clearly the make or break year for Jim Schwartz. Reggie Bush will help the running game and four of the last six games are at home. I like the push here though as I see them winning eight.

Green Bay 10.5 (-115 over/-115 under) The Packers should benefit from the addition of Eddy Lacy to the running game. They will also like the fact they have no back-to-back road games this season. The defense will be tested after their poor showing against San Francisco in the playoffs but I like the Pack to get to the over here anyway.

Minnesota 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) Adrian Peterson is not going to rush for 2,000 yards again so the pressure falls to Christian Ponder to make throws. Greg Jennings was a nice signing but how healthy is he? I see a step back for the Vikes this season. Take the under.

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta 10 (Even over/-110 over) The Falcons Super Bowl hopes died at the doorstep of the end zone last year. Can they rebound behind Matt Ryan and the addition of Steven Jackson? I say, “yes.” Take the over.

Carolina 7 (-135 over/+105 under) The Panthers get the AFC East and the NFC West in crossovers and have to deal with Atlanta and New Orleans twice each. I expect Cam Newton to be better but still like the under against that schedule.

New Orleans 9 (-145 over/+115 under) This is the Sean Payton-Revenge Tour that will go only as far as the defense can take it as they ranked near the bottom in 2012. I like the over here with improvement on defense.

Tampa Bay 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) This is the defining moment for QB Josh Freeman who in four seasons hasn’t gotten the Bucs to the playoffs. Four of the last six on the road is a concern, but I like the balance on offense and better pass defense. Take the over.

NFC WEST

Arizona 5.5 (Even over/-130 under) New coach Bruce Arians will work well with Carson Palmer and that means more receptions for Larry Fitzgerald. They also get the NFC South and AFC South which will pose challenges, but I love the over here.

San Francisco 11 (-120 over/-110 under) The Niners will log a ton of miles this year with trips to Washington, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and New Orleans. I love their draft but history is not kind to Super Bowl losers in follow-up seasons. Take the under.

Seattle 10.5 (-135 over/+105 under) The Seahawks are already everyone’s darlings heading into the season despite long trips to NYG, Carolina and Atlanta where their season ended last year. I fear the lack of maturity in this club will be their downfall. Playoffs? Yes. Over? No.

St. Louis 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) The Rams final five games are all against NFC heavyweights. I really like Jeff Fisher but I’m concerned about the lack of running game even though I think this offense goes pass-heavy anyway. Take the over, but just barely.

 

Football Futures Because… Why the Heck Not?

Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin
Boldin will now be under the rule of the 'other' Harbaugh brother in San Francisco.

Major League Baseball is now underway despite the cold that gripped several stadiums on opening day yesterday. College Basketball has reached its’ own pinnacle with the Final Four set for Saturday and Monday night in Atlanta. The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association are just a few weeks from their respective playoff seasons so you’d think football would be far from the minds of many right? Not for this guy.

Now that National Football League’s free agency has made its’ way through the weeks of major signings and comings and goings, I think now is a nice time to look at each team’s odds of winning the Super Bowl in 2014. These are odds that reflect the most recent moves in the world of free agency.

San Francisco 7/1 -The Niners traded for one of the guys that helped beat them in Super Bowl XLVII in Anquan Boldin and also sent QB Alex Smith to Kansas City. If they can upgrade their secondary, they are clearly the best team.

Denver 15/2 – The Broncos got a two-for-one in signing Wes Welker. First they get a great receiver and secondly they take him from an AFC power in New England. The problem? I just don’t have faith in Peyton Manning in the playoffs.

New England 15/2 – The Pats will need to be good in the draft with a limited number of picks and I believe the loss of Welker will be a bigger factor than they currently think it will.

Seattle 10/1 – They’ve added Percy Harvin and defensive end Cliff Avril and frankly, they should be the favorite in the NFC. If they get home-field advantage in the playoffs I expect them to be in Super Bowl XLVIII. Questions at tackle and defensive tackle may cause struggles.

Atlanta 12/1 – Tony Gonzalez returns and Stephen Jackson comes over from the Rams but can the Falcons re-group after coming so close to the Super Bowl? Matt Ryan needs to prove he is elite by getting to the Super Bowl. Until then I don’t touch the Falcons.

Aaron Rodgers
I have a feeling Rodgers and the Pack will make another run at the Super Bowl.

Green Bay 12/1 – The Packers lose Greg Jennings to the rival Vikings but I’m OK with the receiving corps Aaron Rodgers has. They still need to upgrade at running back and on defense, but this would be a team I like in 2013 behind Rodgers.

Baltimore 16/1 – Just too many losses via trade and free agency despite Rice and Flacco returning.

New Orleans 16/1 – I fully expect a ‘Sean Payton revenge tour’ in 2013 but a lot will ride on the defense. I wouldn’t blame you if you pulled the trigger one them.

Houston 16/1 – Huge upgrade at safety with Ed Reed but the question now is can Matt Schaub carrying them to the next level? For me, I say “no.”

Pittsburgh 20/1 – Way too many holes to fill with Mike Wallace gone, no real starter at running back and questions at linebacker. Just can’t recommend them this year.

NY Giants 20/1 – NYG always seem to bounce back from bad years so I like the Giants.

Chicago 25/1 – The loss of Brian Urlacher will hurt on the field and in the locker room. I say stay away.

Dallas 25/1 – Tony Romo gets an extension? No thanks.

Washington 25/1 – If RGIII is ready to go then pull the trigger. He is that dynamic.

Philadelphia 30/1 – Sorry but I see nothing but problems in Philly.

Cincinnati 35/1 – Love the talent in Cincy but I lack faith in Andy Dalton.

Detroit 35/1 – Still questions on both sides of the ball and no compliment for Megatron.

Indianapolis 35/1 – Way too low for a playoff team led by a young stud at QB. Pull the trigger on the Colts.

Miami 35/1 – I will say this, playoffs yes, but Super Bowl? Not yet.

Minnesota 40/1 – Adrian Peterson will have a great season but nothing like his MVP one. Ponder just not enough.

San Diego 40/1 – Too many question marks including Philip Rivers.

Kansas City 45/1 – You heard it here first. Chiefs make the playoffs but no way they win the Super Bowl.

Carolina 50/1 – I sense major issues in Carolina. Stay away!

Tampa Bay 50/1 – This is Josh Freeman’s make or break year. No Super Bowl though.

NY Jets 60/1 – Can you say “butt fumble?”

St. Louis 60/1 – They are much improved with Jake Long aboard but not a Super Bowl team yet.

Cleveland 75/1 – Several good upgrades but not enough to make me think anything other than AFC North cellar.

Oakland 75/1 – No.

Arizona 100/1 – No way.

Buffalo 100/1 – No freaking way.

Tennessee 100/1 – No enough weapons.

Jacksonville 150/1 – Can MJD throw, block and tackle too?

Kaepernick Gets Nod For Niners Start

Colin Kaepernick will be entrusted with another 49ers game this weekend as San Francisco travels to St. Louis.

Colin Kaepernick will start for the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday as the team travels to the Gateway City to take on the St. Louis Rams.

The news filtered out of San Francisco’s training ground on Wednesday following an announcement by head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The move leaves regular starting quarterback Alex Smith – cleared to play last week following a concussion – watching from the sidelines.

Kaepernick replaced Smith in Week 10 after the latter was injured during a game against the Rams at Candlestick Park. The second year quarterback completed 11 of 17 passes before the game ended in a tie.

With Smith diagnosed with concussion and medically unfit to play, Kaepernick made his first career start against the Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 11. During the game, Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes and threw for two touchdowns, as he outdueled fellow backup, Jason Campbell, spelling a concussed Jay Culter. The Niners outplayed the Bears and took the game 32-7.

Following much speculation, Kaepernick made his second start last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He completed 16 of 25 passes, tallying a touchdown and a first interception of the season. The Niners won the game 31-21.

Now, the second-year triggerman is set to start on Sunday.

Overall this season, Kaepernick has completed 48 of 74 passes (64.9%) for 680 yards and thrown three touchdowns and one interception. His quarterback rating is 92.92.

In nine games this season, Smith has thrown for 1,731 yards on 152 of 217 passing, with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. His quarterback rating is 69.83. He was certainly not the happiest person on the sideline this past weekend in New Orleans.

Smith visited with Miami in the offseason whilst the Niners flirted with Peyton Manning but resigned with the Bay Area side to be its starter. Smith may well have been ‘Wally Pipped’ following Harbaugh’s decision to go with Kaepernick, although everybody within the franchise is sticking firmly with the line that both quarterbacks are go-to-guys.

Despite the potential/existing (depending how you look at it) quarterback controversy, San Francisco has moved up in the NFL Futures. The Niners are now favorites (9/4) to take the NFC and 5/1 to win the Super Bowl. Only New England and Houston (both 9/2) have shorter odds.

San Francisco’s defense has given up just 278.4 yards per game, second to Pittsburgh, and is the stingiest in points conceded (14.1 PPG). St. Louis’ 28th ranked offense will be in for a long day.

Offensively, San Francisco leads the league in rushing yards, making up for a low-ranked passing game. That being said, Kaepernick has added some impetus to the Niners’ passing game over the past two weeks. The Rams will find this team tough to stop.

Heading into play this weekend, San Francisco (8-2-1, 4-1 road) opened as 6½-points favorites over St. Louis (4-6, 3-3 home), a number that has increased to 7½.

Both sides have fared well against the spread this season, each tallying a 7-4-0 ATS record.

Throw out Week 10’s tie and the Niners have straight up won seven of the last eight meetings with the Rams, as well as five of the last eight meetings in St. Louis.

The over/under is 41. The total has gone over in seven Rams games this season, but only five Niner games have exceeded the marker. Four of the last five head-to-head meetings have gone over 41 points.

If San Francisco is victorious in St. Louis – which would mark a fourth win in five games – Colin Kaepernick may just play himself into the starting role permanently, which means Alex Smith could face the trading block come February.

Niners Visit Cardinals on Monday Night Football

Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers will look to run their way to victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

Sunday saw the New England Patriots defeat the St. Louis Rams in the NFL’s annual International Series game at London’s Wembley Stadium. Monday Night Football sees a clash between the two teams that kick started that series back in 2005.

Whilst the Niners clash with the Cardinals in 2005 game might not have taken place in London – it was in Mexico City – the success that it brought propelled the NFL into a marketing frenzy, taking its product overseas and making it truly global.

This Monday night’s game might not come with the expectation of 103,467 fans – Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca was heaving that night – and the league’s top brass, but make no mistakes, this could be a big game.

 

Keep On Rolling

San Francisco (5-2, 2-1 road) travels to the desert as the number one team in the NFC West, something nobody would have doubted this past summer.

Arizona (4-3, 3-1 home) opened the season winning four straight and looking like this season’s surprise package. A three-game losing skid has put paid to such thoughts, and potentially leaves the Cardinals staring into a losing abyss, not to mention in dire need of a win.

San Francisco’s success has come as a result of a very simple formula: running the football and strong defense wins games.

The Niners have the best running game in the league, averaging 176.6 yards per game on the ground. Lead running back Frank Gore is accounting for 85.9 of those yards, proving the Niners are no one-trick-pony. Kendall Hunter has contributed 36.9 per game, while the QB tandem of Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick account for 39.8 yards per game. With such a prolific running game, it’s not that surprising that the Niners rank 28th in passing (199.9 YPG).

On the defensive side of the football, San Francisco is a beast. Number one against the pass (173.4 YPG) and in total yards against (272.3 YPG), and number two in points conceded (14.3 PPG), the 49ers weakness is its rush defense, which still ranks 10th in the league (98.9 YPG). Points and yards will be at a premium for the Cardinals.

That being said, the Niners could come up against a potential roadblock at the University of Arizona Stadium. The Cardinals give up just 312.1 yards per game (7th) and 16.9 points per game (4th), numbers that suggest a strong defensive presence. However, those numbers are skewed in favor of the passing game – the Cardinals are fourth in the league at stopping the pass – and there are definite weaknesses against the run. Arizona gives up an average of 120.9 rushing yards per game (21st), which means San Francisco should be able to keep on rolling.

 

Looking for an Edge

San Francisco leads the all-time head-to-head 24-17, a rivalry that dates all the way back to 1951 when the Cardinals were based in Chicago. The Niners have had the recent edge, going 7-3 in the last 10. Last time out (December 2011) though, the Cardinals beat their division rivals 21-19, snapping a five-game losing streak.

San Francisco will be favorites entering the game. The spread opened at four points but has subsequently risen to seven.

The 49ers are 4-3 ATS this season. Dating back to last season, the team also has a 2-5 ATS record on the road. Arizona is 3-4 ATS this season, giving bettors a real conundrum when it comes to putting a stake on the pointspread.

The over/under opened at 37 and has risen to 38½ ahead of game time. The total has gone under in four of seven Niners games this season, as well as six of seven Cardinals games. That means the smart money will be on the under in this one.

Plenty To Get Excited About In NFL Week 2

 

As it has done for the better part of a century, opening weekend in the NFL came and went. Dallas, Washington, San Francisco and Tampa Bay upset the opposition and bookmakers alike. Cleveland and St. Louis kept it tight to beat the spread despite losing, while the Patriots and Jets obliterated the pointspread. There was certainly money to be had.

Week 2 kicked off on Thursday with Green Bay beating Chicago and the spread. Now, it’s time for a full slate of action and this particular Sunday schedule features a host of intriguing matchups.

Those looking for favorites worth backing both outright and against the spread should take a close look at Cincinnati’s (-7) trip to Cleveland, Houston (-7.5) at Jacksonville, and Arizona at New England (-14). It’s hard to imagine any of these three going the way of the dogs.

The rest of the schedule is pretty tight so expect parlay bets to take a big sting this week.

Here’re just some of the matchups on tap this Sunday.

 

Baltimore Orioles @ Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick had a rough day against Cleveland last weekend and can expect more of the same from Baltimore this week.

Possibly the most difficult matchup to call outright this week, Baltimore (1-0, 0-0 home) heads to Philadelphia (1-0, 0-0 home) for what you would expect to be a tough-as-nails bout. Baltimore though lit-up the scoreboard last weekend in a 44-13 trouncing of Cincinnati, electing to utilize the arm (yes, the arm!) of Joe Flacco. Historically, Philadelphia has known how to pile-up the points as well, so this could turn into a shootout. But then again, it could equally become a battle between Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy on the ground.

Playing at home, Philadelphia is narrowly favored (-3), but that homefield advantage could soon take a hit if Michael Vick repeats his four-interception performance against Cleveland. You think that Philadelphia crowd would patiently wait things out?

Take Baltimore to beat the spread and win outright in this one. Philadelphia is a notoriously slow season starter and last week’s rustiness just isn’t appealing against a Ravens side already shortening its Super Bowl XLVII odds.

 

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-0 home) hosts the Jets (1-0, 0-0 road) in a matchup that should give an indication of which way both teams are headed.

The Steelers were preseason favorites to take the AFC North but a depleted offensive line and injuries – especially those to Rashard Mendenhall and James Harrison – took the air out of the team in Denver last weekend. Or was that just the Mile High City?

The Jets looked impressive offensively last weekend, with Mark Sanchez quieting a few more doubters after a three touchdown performance. This was not the same team that struggled scoring in the preseason. Or was it just that the Jets beat a Buffalo Bills team that has been dreadful both on the road and in the division of late?

The Steelers are six-point favorites ahead of kickoff. The Jets will probably keep this one tight, but take Pittsburgh to win by a touchdown or more.

 

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

After a surprise loss to Washington, expect Drew Brees and the Saints to take their frustration out on the Panthers this weekend.

Drew Brees and the Saints (0-1, 0-0 road) were picked off by the surprising Washington Redskins last week and will be looking for a bounce back win against the Panthers (0-1, 0-0 home). Carolina was outlasted by division rivals Tampa Bay.

How much New Orleans’ loss was down to the fallout of ‘BountyGate’ and how much was down to RGIII and Co. remains to be seen. The Panthers will hope it’s the former if they’re to pull off a victory this weekend. But having put up 32 points, it might be the latter, which spells bad news for Cam Newton’s side.

Take New Orleans in this one to beat the -3 spread and to win outright. Carolina may be improving, but Brees will be champing at the bit heading into Charlotte, N.C.

 

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers

Sunday Night Football pits Detroit (1-0, 0-0 road) against San Francisco (1-0, 0-0 home). The Niners had the result of the weekend last week, defeating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Lions meanwhile struggled past a resilient St. Louis team, and looked far less impressive than preseason odds suggested.

San Francisco enters the game as seven-point favorites and -300 to win outright. Take both! Yes, the 49ers looked good last week and the Lions looked average, but the real reason to take the Bay Area team is history.

The 49ers have won 13 of the last 14 games against Detroit, dating back to 1988. It gets better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint): Detroit hasn’t won in San Francisco since 1975! Sure, streaks like this are made to be broken, but this Niners’ defense just looks too strong for a patchy Lions offense.

After all of that, if you’re still looking for a few wagers to keep you busy, try these Week 2 specials out:

(1) Will Jim Harbaugh (SF) and Jim Schwartz (DET) shake hands or hug at the end of Sunday night’s game? Yes (-400); No (+250).

(2) Will the team of (botching) replacement referees still be on the field in Week 6? Yes (-140); No (EVEN).

 

NFL Week 2 Schedule

Thursday: Chicago 10-23 Green Bay

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Kansas City @ Buffalo | New Orleans @ Carolina | Cleveland @ Cincinnati | Minnesota @ Indianapolis | Houston @ Jacksonville | Oakland @ Miami | Arizona @ New England | Tampa Bay @ NY Giants | Baltimore @ Philadelphia; (4:05 PM ET) Dallas @ Seattle | Washington @ St. Louis; (4:25 PM ET) NY Jets @ Pittsburgh | Tennessee @ San Diego; (8:20 PM ET) Detroit @ San Francisco

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Denver @ Atlanta