By Tony McClean
Updated: September 14, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Before we get started with Week Two’s picks as a public service, I feel compelled to speak with all of our readers this week about last weekend’s games.
If your team won Sunday and you’ve gone to work, stood on top of the cafeteria table and proclaimed that Sunday’s win will propel your team to the Super Bowl, I suggest a decaf and a reality check — IT’S JUST ONE DAMN GAME!!!
On the other hand, if your team got whupped Sunday and you’re ready to fire the coach, the quarterback, the radio announcers, the equipment managers, and the ticket takers, I suggest the same cup of decaf and reality check. Say it with me — IT’S JUST ONE DAMN GAME!!!
Now, I’m glad I got that off my chest.
As for this Sunday, you can call it semi-showdown Sunday. Notice how we used the small “s” in regards to semi and showdown? While many of this week’s match ups are important division games, it’s probably a tad too early to start talking about crucial games in September.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK With his team’s Week One win, the New York Jets’ Eric Mangini (35 years, 234 days) became the third youngest “rookie” NFL head coach to win his first game. Cincinnati’s Dave Shula (33) and Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher (35 years, 121 days) both won their debuts on Sept. 6, 1992.
TRIVIA QUESTION Who is the only quarterback in Detroit Lions history to throw 5 TDs in a game?
A. Bobby Layne B. Earl Morrall C. Scott Mitchell D. Gary Danielson (Answer at the end of the column) LAST WEEK: 10-5 (3-3 Best Bets)
Considering we stayed away from the Thursday opener (I was leaning toward the Fish), 10 wins for Opening Weekend isn’t too bad. I probably bit a little too much from the upset tree in regards to Da Raidahs and the boys from Motown. However, I got stung by the Panthers (What? No running game?) and the Broncos (insert any Jake Plummer joke reference in here).
BUCS at FALCONS
An early NFC South match up places two teams who had contrasting openers. Atlanta marched into Carolina and dismissed the Panthers while Tampa was shutout at home for the first time in 10 years. The Bucs have dominated this series recently winning 9 of the last 11 meetings including three straight. However, Atlanta has gone 6-1 in the month of September since Jim Mora took over. The thing to watch here: How will Tampa contain John Abraham? The ex-Jet made his presence felt on the Dirty Bird’s D in game one.
Pick: Falcons 17, Bucs 14.
PATRIOTS at JETS
It didn’t take long for the New York tabloids to hail Eric Mangini following Gang Green’s win at Tennessee. I must admit Chad Pennington looked awfully good against the Titans, but he and his fellas are facing a human defense this week. Not to mention an ornery bunch after they had to struggle to win against the Bills. One thing that may be an ominous sign for AFC opponents: Corey Dillon and his new partner in crime, rookie Laurence Maroney, combined for 159 yards on the ground Sunday. So sorry, “Grasshopper” Mangini. You will not be taking the pebble from the hands of “Master” Bill this week.
Pick: Patriots 31, Jets 10.
GIANTS at EAGLES
This game always seems to feature at least two or three brawls when these two teams get together. Now that we’ve talked about the fans, lets stick to on the field matters. After an initial scare, the Iggles quickly righted themselves and beat up on the Texans while Big Blue gave it a good college try put fell at bit short in the over hyped Manning vs. Manning match. Donte Stallworth and Donovan McNabb seemed to hit it off really well in their first act. We tried to warn you that Philly was going to be better this season. Will it be good enough to take one from New York? At least for one week anyway.
Pick: Eagles 24, Giants 20.
BROWNS at BENGALS
Once again, we have another division match up of teams that were at different ends of the food chain last week. Cincy opened up a large can of whup ass at Arrowhead while the Brownies fell just short at home against the Saints. What may have been lost in the Bengals’ win was the fact that their much maligned D ended Larry Johnson’s 100-yard rushing streak. They’ve won the last three match ups with Cleveland and probably shouldn’t have many problems with Romeo’s bunch. No doubt Coach Lewis will have them focused and not peeking ahead to next week’s visit to the ketchup place in Pittsburgh.
Pick: Bengals 27, Browns 3.
REDSKINS at COWBOYS
The Tuna Helpers and Skins return to scene of one of 2005′s most fantastic finishes. Nearly a year to the day, Washington overcame a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to shock Dallas 14-13 in Week Two last year. Now these two winless teams meet again in the stadium with a hole in its dome. The wolves are already out for Drew Bledsoe’s head following his interception “party” in Jacksonville. Surprisingly, one of those wolves doesn’t wear No. 81. But hey, it’s early yet. Grandpa Gibbs’ bunch is looking to win three straight at Big D for the first time since pulling it off from 1987-89. Can it happen? Me thinks not.
Pick: Cowboys 21, Redskins 17.
MONDAY STEELERS at JAGUARS
A good Monday Nighter that should keeping even Tony Kornheiser awake for a few extra minutes. Both teams were impressive in their opening wins last week. It’s still up in the air if Evel Knievel…….Ooops! I mean, Ben Roethlisberger will be able to start his first start of the season. Either way, it looks like Fast Willie Parker is going to be the main focus of the Black and Gold’s offense. The Jags were able to contain Julius Jones and Marion Barber Jr. last week in their win against Dallas. One gets the feeling that Jacksonville is trying to gain some respect from all of their naysayers. What’s a better way of doing that than knocking off the Super Bowl Champs?
Pick: Jaguars 23, Steelers 20.
Vikings over Panthers: I liked what I saw Monday night, so I’ll take a chance with Minny in the upset.
Broncos over Chiefs: Sorry, even I can’t pick Damon Huard over Jake Plummer.
49ers over Rams: Am I being stubborn pick against the Rams again? No I just think Frisco can beat them.
Ravens over Raiders: Air McNair has already called Coach Shell and said, “Sorry for the ass whupping we’re about to hand you”.
Bears over Lions: Until further notice, I’m picking against Detroit every week until they play the godawful Packers.
Saints over Packers: One more road win for New Orleans before they truly come home to the Dome next week.
Colts over Texans: Peyton will able do his DirecTV ad live during this game.
Dolphins over Bills: Okay, Daunte. We’ll give you a mulligan for Opening Night. Another loss and you’re on your own.
Seahawks over Cardinals: If it was at Arizona, I might go for the upset. Coach Green’s guys have to learn how to win on the road.
Chargers over Titans: Fantasy Alert: LT will finish with more TD passes than Kerry Collins on Sunday.
TRIVIA ANSWER: D. On December 9, 1978, Gary Danielson set a Lions’ record by tossing five touchdown passes against the Minnesota Vikings in a 45-14 victory at the Silverdome.