NFL Picks

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New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers

           Both teams are 1-1 and both teams had important week two wins after extremely deflating week one losses. The Giants were able to rebound from their loss to divisional rival Dallas on the opening night of the 2012 season with an emotional come-from-behind win over a surprisingly tough Tampa Bay team. Eli Manning racked up 510 passing yards in the victory – good for eighth best all-time – and reminded us why he is one of the elite signal callers in the league. Carolina was able to withstand a late Drew Brees rally and beat New Orleans – who is off to an alarming 0-2 start – as Cam Newton got back on track with a 253 yards passing and 71 yards rushing.

           The key to this game will be whether or not the Panthers’ running game can effectively neutralize the Giants pass-rush. The Panthers were third in rushing offense last year and while they ran the ball for an abysmal 10 yards in their loss to Tampa Bay, they more than made up for that with a rushing total of 219 yards last week. The Giants have looked shaky at best this year, and with the bright lights of Thursday night primetime on the Panthers home, Newton will be at his best.

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The Picks: WA: Carolina, ME: Carolina, JA: New York, CH: New York, JK: New York, JB: Carolina

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Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos

           The tone of the season for these two teams thus far couldn’t be more different. The Broncos have been tested – both at home against the Steelers and on the road against Atlanta – and the Texans have not been – they played Miami in week one and Jacksonville in week 2. The Broncos have been through two incredibly physical, draining games and Houston has cruised to two dominant victories. The good news for the Broncos is that they are no stranger to difficult opponents early in this 2012 season, the bad news is that Houston is probably the best of the bunch.

           Not only do the Texans have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, the defense – which established itself as one of the elite in the league last season – has been stellar thus far, giving up an average of 196 yards in their first two contests. Peyton Manning has made a career of torching the Texans in his days as a Colt in the AFC South, but these Texans are a far different animal. Houston needs a statement win, and going into Denver and pulling out a win against their former nemesis Manning would certainly qualify.

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The Picks: WA: Houston, ME: Houston, JA: Denver, CH: Houston, JK: Houston, JB: Houston

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New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens

           How the hell did the Patriots lose to the Cardinals last week? In my mind – and in the mind of everyone outside of the state of Arizona – the Patriots won that game before it was even played. Funny how football is sometimes.

           While I don’t think the loss is emblematic of anything fundamentally wrong with the Patriots, it certainly chips away at their shine of superiority that was about as bright as it could be after the Pats steamrolled Tennessee.

The Ravens are coming off a tough loss against the Eagles and while they are 1-1 on the season they have shown more offensively this year than in the 2011 and still remain a favorite in the AFC.

The bottom line is that these two teams are two of the best in the conference and it is quite possible that this game will serve as a preview for the AFC Championship game later this winter. I expect Tom Brady to come back from the Arizona loss with a signature performance as he finds a way to get the job done. This game could be one of the best of the year.

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The Picks: WA: New England, ME: New England, JA: Baltimore, CH: Baltimore, JK: New England, JB: Baltimore

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Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks

In this week’s Monday night matchup, Russell Wilson and the revitalized Seahawks match-up against a Packers team that slapped around Jay Culter and the Chicago Bears last week. Despite losing week 1 to Arizona — who turns out are good enough to beat the defending AFC champions – the Seahawks rebounded nicely by dismantling the Cowboys in week two.

Quest field is widely regarded as one of the loudest venues in all of athletics and the fact that Seattle is hosting its first Monday night game in four years will mean that place is rocking. Still, I find it hard to pick against Aaron Rodgers when he is going up against a team that hasn’t won a big game in years and is being led by a rookie quarterback.

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The Picks: WA: Green Bay, ME: Green Bay, JA: Green Bay, CH: Green Bay, JK: Green Bay, JB: Green Bay