NFL Week 2 Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest Picks
Rusty Ryan’s Picks
Arizona at Patriots (-13.5)
I will pick the Patriots any day of the week over almost anybody. They have what I think is one of the most improved defenses in the country and Tennessee may have been their biggest test of the year other than the Ravens in week 3. Right now it seems that the Jets may be revamped and will challenge later this season, but facing Sanchez is still good odds for the Patriots.
Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski both saw love last week. The biggest surprise was Stevan Ridley had a shocking 21 carries for 125 yards, a clear break from previous patterns of timeshares in New England.
Sure the Seahawks benefited from an extra timeout in the second half that kept the game close, but you had to want to see more out of the Cardinals. John Skelton will be out of the game Sunday meaning that Kevin Kolb, the most expensive backup quarterback in the league in terms of what a team gave up, is going to be the starter. This one could get bad.
Jets (+6) at Steelers
The Steelers didn’t look great last year and I think that their window has closed. Ben Roethlisberger is playing behind a line that has been built up through the draft, only to have the body of a muscle car but the engine of a KIA. The Steelers’ cannot effectively run and the Steelers struggled to prevent the Broncos from harassing Roethlisberger all night long.
The Jets, after not scoring a touchdown all pre-season, blew up against the Bills and scored 48 points. Most notable was Mark Sanchez’s performance. He threw 19/27 for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns to only one interception. Do the Bills’ look like they improved a lot in the off-season? No, but the Jets sure look like they did.
The Jets defense had one of the highest rated defenses according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, even though they had a high points against per game. This game the defense scored points itself and caused four turnovers.
This is more of a play against the Steelers and because I like the Jets.
Ravens (+2.5) at Eagles
The Eagles did not look good last week. More specifically, Michael Vick looked awful. He threw four picks to only two touchdowns. Even worse, the Eagles committed 12 penalties for 110 yards. Vick was only outdone by Brandon Weeden whose stat line reads 12/35 for 118 yards and 4 interceptions.
Joe Flacco shone for the Ravens, leading them to a 44-13 win over a team that I like to be on the edge of the playoffs. Flacco threw for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ray Rice looks to be the running back that fantasy owners wish he had been for the last few years. No touchdown vultures anymore.
Lions at 49ers (-6.5)
This is my biggest overreaction concern. The 49ers just slightly outgained the Packers in week 1 and benefited from a turnover and were probably just a better matchup against the Packers. The 49ers are a team that many people were cold on, with most thinking that they would get 9 or fewer wins. A win over the Packers is obviously a sign that a regression may not be as drastic as many people suspected, but if the 49ers are going to drop a game, this one against the Lions would be it.
On the other hand, the Lions looked poor last week, mostly due to the three interceptions Matthew Stafford threw. When looking at the stats close the Lions almost doubled up on the Rams in terms of yardage and two turnovers were in the red zone. The Rams also had a special teams touchdown. Are the Lions legit? Maybe. Are the 49ers going to regress? Maybe.
Maybe this week the Lions show their colors and throw the ball all over the place. The more likely of the possible outcomes is that the 49er front seven dominates the Lions’ rushing attack and the line can pin their ears back knowing that Stafford is going to drop back to pass the majority of the time.
Broncos at Falcons (-3)
Two teams that played very well last week square off in Atlanta. The Falcons looked impressive through the air as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones found a rhythm. Granted, it was against Kansas City, but Matt Ryan dropped back to pass 31 times and completed 23 of those attempts for 292 yards. He’s going to need to throw effectively as the Falcon rushing game is a weak point with an aging Michael Turner. Turner looks burnt out and we haven’t seen enough of Jacquizz Rodgers to know how prepared he is to take more carries, although my guess would be pretty good.
Julio Jones is the new star of the offense. The Falcons sold out in the draft two years ago to get a hold of Jones, who is widely considered to be the missing piece of the Falcons’ Super Bowl puzzle. He caught 6 passes, the same as Roddy White, but gained 20 extra yards and had 2 touchdowns.
The story for the Broncos last week was the return of Peyton Manning who sat out all last year. He passed only 26 times but completed 19 of them for 240 yards and two touchdowns. The main concern was over how he would take a hit after fusion surgeries in his neck. Initial results say that he hasn’t lost anything except for some arm strength, which has never been one of his top 5 traits.
I like the Falcons to win at home on Monday Night Football in a close one against Peyton Manning’s Broncos. I think the Steelers are overrated coming in to this year and some of the Broncos plays on the pass rush may be fools’ gold