Last week I swung for the fences…with mixed results. Both Zach & I went 5-3. I absolutely nailed the wacky Texas Tech/TCU finish, and The Vibes guided me correctly in a very close Colts/Titans game. Zach wisely picked the Utes of Utah, who mauled a shockingly inept Oregon squad, and also took the Green Bay Packers. I suppose the KC Chiefs aren’t as good as I thought they were. So far in 2015 the numbers look like this:
Me = 16-7 Z = 11-12
The schedule is a bit tricky this week. There are a handful of potentially good games, but I really try to have variety in these picks. I don’t want to focus on the same few teams every week. That’s difficult in college football because the cream tends to rise to the top and it is tempting to gravitate toward matchups featuring the same highly ranked teams over & over. It’s even harder with the NFL, which has only 32 teams and fans tend to lose interest in those that we can already see are going to be terrible, which narrows the pool even more. The point spread shouldn’t play a significant role in any of these games, but then again I could have said the same thing last week and I ended up winning two games in which the points did matter. Enjoy.
Minnesota at Northwestern (-3.5)
It seems like every few years Northwestern pops up with a solid season in which they take up residence in the polls and end up landing in a nice bowl location. I always know when it’s that kind of year for the Wildcats since one of their biggest fans is my man Greeny from ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, a 1989 graduate of the school. Minnesota was a consistent Top 25 team last year and are off to a pretty decent start this season, with the only blemish being a close loss to highly ranked TCU in the season opener. I am far from an expert on either of these teams, but I would assume we can expect characteristic hard-hitting Big Ten football, a low scoring affair dominated by defense. There may be some concern about Northwestern looking past this game and ahead to next week’s battle with Michigan, but I’d actually be more worried about that if they were playing a lesser opponent. They won’t overlook Minnesota, and I think the home team wins by a touchdown. Zach disagrees and is picking Minnesota to win by a field goal.
My Pick – Northwestern
Z’s Pick – Minnesota
Alabama at Georgia (-2)
This is the first game since 2009 in which Alabama has been the underdog. Wow. That’s impressive. The reason folks are doubting them is a surprising loss to Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago. They also don’t seem to have a QB that impresses anyone, which is an issue. Conversely, the Bulldogs are undefeated and just keep handing the rock to RB Nick Chubb, who is averaging nearly 150 yds/game. This is a must win for ‘Bama if they hope to make it to the playoff. Two losses would kill that dream. We’ll know a lot more about these two teams when this one is over. Is the uncertainty about the Tide valid?? Are the Bulldogs for real?? The question I have is whether or not Georgia has a Plan B if the Alabama defense stuffs Chubb. I don’t think he’s getting 150 yards this week. He may not get 100. Can they chuck the ball downfield and get the job done thru the air?? I’ll believe it if I see it. Alabama with their backs against the wall is dangerous. Zach is putting his mancrush on Nick Saban on the backburner, choosing Georgia to win by two TDs.
My Pick – Alabama
Z’s Pick – Georgia
Notre Dame at Clemson (-1.5)
The talking heads have been bragging on Clemson since before the season began, many of them predicting that the Tigers would win the ACC. Meanwhile I have been much higher on Notre Dame than most. My enthusiasm has been tempered just a bit because of all the injuries the Irish have suffered, but they’re 4-0 without the benefit of as easy of a schedule as most have played thus far. This will be Clemson’s first real test and they do have the home field. The winner of this game will be nicely positioned for a playoff run, although it is far too early to really think in those terms. It may not be the wise choice, but I’m pretty stubborn about sticking with my pre-season vibes until I am proven wrong, so I have to lean toward the underdogs. Zach believes that Clemson is the real deal, and isn’t buying the luck of the Irish.
My Pick – Notre Dame
Z’s Pick – Clemson
NY Jets (-1.5) vs Miami
It’s early, but it is entirely possible that I may have completely misjudged both of these teams. I thought Miami would be solid and in the hunt for a wildcard playoff spot, but they’ve gotten off to a 1-2 start. People are criticizing the non-impact of free agent defensive end Ndamukong Suh and there are whispers that Joe Philbin could be the first head coach in the unemployment line this season. Conversely, the Jets have already secured the 2 victories that I predicted they’d get for the entire season and the reviews have been much more positive than most expected. This game is in London, England which means that those of us on the east coast will have to watch it at 9:30am, and I can’t imagine that there’ll be anyone out west getting up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning for it. The NFL really needs to rethink this London thing. Anyway, I’m just not buying the good vibes coming out of New York and I still believe the Dolphins are the better team. Zach does buy what the Jets are selling and thinks they’ll win the game easily.
My Pick – Miami
Z’s Pick – NY Jets
St. Louis at Arizona (-6.5)
The Cardinals just might be the best non-cheating franchise in the NFL at the moment. If QB Carson Palmer can remain healthy (a huge IF) they could be a legitimate challenger to Seattle for the division title. Meanwhile, the Rams occasionally show potential but something just seems to be missing. Whatever that something may be is unlikely to suddenly show up in the desert this week. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Arizona
Z’s Pick – Arizona