Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Football picksSeptember 20, 2012

The Houston Texans were a hot commodity heading into the season. Many people saw the Texans as a possible AFC champ and things haven’t really changed. They got a couple of layups to begin the season, taking on Miami at home at Jacksonville on the road. Like good teams tend to do, the Texans took care of business in dominant fashion. Things start to get a little bit hairy for the Texans in week three. They get to face off against a familiar foe. Peyton Manning and his Broncos host Houston in a game that will tell us an awful lot about both teams.

The Texans come into this game with a lot of things clicking. Last week, Ben Tate ran the ball well, scoring a couple of touchdowns. Arian Foster was his normally solid self, piling up yardage on the ground and with his hands. Matt Schaub has been unspectacular, but he remains a very good QB on a very good team. More importantly, the defense has looked great in the first two weeks. They are forcing turnovers at an impressive clip. So what can we expect to see out of Houston in week three?

The Broncos looked good in week one, taking down Pittsburgh behind a nice debut from Peyton Manning. They teed off against the Falcons in week two, falling in a Monday night clash. Peyton struggled to some extent in that game, and the Broncos were exposed a little bit. They are going to have some trouble keeping the Houston defensive line out of the backfield. This is going to be an especially tough spot given the short turnaround after the Monday night game. The Broncos will benefit significantly from home field advantage, as Mile High remains probably the most difficult venue in the NFL.

The Texans come into this game as a very short favorite. They are favored by less than a field goal – a sign that bettors are willing to back the Texans even on the road. If they are to win in Denver, they will need to get more out of the passing game. Houston has shown a willingness and ability to run the ball well. They have to get things going with Schaub and Johnson if they are going to get after a good Denver defense. Peyton Manning will look to get on track in week three, but he will find it very difficult against what might be the NFL’s best defense.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “


Football picksSeptember 20, 2012

The New England Patriots have struggled mightily in the first two weeks. They nearly lost in week one before finally dropping a home game in week two. The Cardinals went into Foxboro and dropped the Patriots on their head. So is this a new trend? Are the Patriots going down the drain? Or are they simply taking a little while to get warmed up? That is the big question that the Pats will have to answer over the next few weeks. Going to Baltimore to face the Ravens is no easy task.

The Patriots have a central problem heading into this game. That problem showed up against the Giants in the Superbowl. It also showed up in the later part of the last regular season. They simply cannot protect Tom Brady. The New England quarterback can pick apart any defense when he has the time. When his feet are moving a little bit, he struggles to hit his receivers. This is a difficult thing to fix, as it might show that the New England offensive line is in trouble.

The Patriots also have an age problem. Wes Welker is getting old and has been a non-factor in the early going. Brady is slower in the pocket. Most parts of the offense are not as sharp as they have been in the past. Is this something that is going to get better with time? Many will say that the Patriots are going to run into even more trouble as they go along. Now, they are asked to go into Baltimore and face off against a team that nearly beat them in the playoffs one year ago.

The Baltimore club drubbed the Bengals in week one. They had a quick turnaround going on the road to Philadelphia, where they nearly won in a tough spot. There is no doubt that Baltimore has both the offense and the defense to get the job done. The big question has rests with Joe Flacco. If he can consistently exploit the New England defense, then the Ravens might cover the short spread in this game. The Ravens will also need to put pressure on Tom Brady. If they can get him moving his feet like the Cardinals were able to, the Ravens will have a much better chance of getting to 2-1.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “


Sports picksSeptember 20, 2012

Perhaps one of the most intriguing games of the week comes from Columbia. The South Carolina Gamecocks welcome Missouri for an SEC East showdown. The Tigers played very well against Georgia for three quarters. After controlling the game for much of the night, Missouri could not close the deal, falling apart late in a game where UGA ran away. This week, they will try again to get their first SEC win. They will also look to keep up the momentum established last week in their win against Arizona State.

Missouri is a difficult team to figure, especially for people who like to make their bets. When they are healthy, the Tigers play good offense and defense. Quarterback James Franklin sat out last week’s game against Arizona State and the Tigers still managed to win. He is questionable on Saturday, but his presence would surely provide a boost. The Tigers have a very good secondary, but they often struggle up front. That might present a big problem against an offense like South Carolina’s. The Gamecocks are likely to ground and pound if they can.

South Carolina has been under the radar so far in 2012. After nearly losing the season opened to Vanderbilt on the road, the Cocks rebounded by beating up on two inferior opponents. This week, the competition gets ratcheted up once again. They have some injury questions to deal with, too, so that is something that people will want to monitor as the week goes along. It is worth noting that Missouri runs a similar style offense to Vanderbilt and they run it with more talent. The Commodores nearly knocked off USC, so there is hope in Missouri that the Tigers can do the same.

South Carolina is probably the more talented team. They are also at home. If they do not bring their a-game, though, they might find themselves with an SEC East loss. Gary Pinkel’s bunch has been known to go into tough environments and win – like they did last season at Texas A&M – so Gamecock fans need to worry a little bit. As ten point favorites, the Gamecocks will need to play very well in order to cover a spread that continues to climb.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “