Saturday, October 1, 2011

NFL Week 4: Welcome to Locktober


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I'm going to go ahead and let the results speak for me: The Fan Child was 2-0 against the spread last week, and while I know that one week doesn't make a career, it certainly doesn't break one either.

So let's pick up where we left off last week: with me providing my readers with some solid picks.

1. Giants vs. Cardinals (1.5)

I think the Giants might be the most overlooked team of the 2011 NFL season. They started on the short end of a road loss against the Redskins, and people just seemed to think that is was going to be a bad year for the G-men after that. But they've since rebounded with two consecutive wins against the Rams at home and (convincingly) a thrashing of the Eagles on the road.

The Cardinals are ranked 25th against the pass, and they were shredded for 400 yards at home against rookie Cam Newton in week 1. With Mario Manningham coming back from concussion-related injuries to lend a hand, the Giants versatile offense should have a good day.

And let's not forget Arizona is the place of Eli Manning's greatest triumph -- the Giants Super Bowl upset over the Patriots in 2008. You cannot discount the importance of this fact, nor can you discount the fact that Manning had his best performance in a long time vs. the Eagles last week, and is clearly relishing the chance to carry the Manning flag all by himself for the 2011 season.

Arizona has lost their last two, in spite of some decent quarterback play from Kevin Kolb. But Kolb's 5 TD passes (2 to Larry Fitzgerald) have not been enough to overcome the Cardina's 27th-ranked defense against the marginal opponents they've faced so far, so don't expect it to be enough tomorrow.

Pick: Giants (-1.5) over the Cardinals

2. Saints vs. Jaguars (7.5)

Well, how do you stop the New Orleans Saints? The Texans, supposedly one of the best defensive teams in the league heading into week three, had no answer to that question, so why should Jacksonville, another solid defensive team in its own right?

It really doesn't matter here, because in the new NFL, a good offense beats a good defense, and secondaries are suffering from the lockout-shortened preseason all over the league. Meanwhile, experienced teams like the Saints have been able to pick up from the lockout basically right where they left off, so they have a distinct advantage in the early weeks. The Saints have proved that in two consecutive weeks at home vs. the Bears and the Texans, and things shouldn't be all that different this week, when they visit Jacksonville.

I'm going out on a limb here, so if you don't have the cojones to join, that's fine. The Saints are 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 games against clubs with a losing record, but with Blaine Gabbert making only his second NFL start for the Jags, I don't see how Jacksonville's offense will be able to take advantage of the Saints 27th-ranked pass defense.

I see a lot of red zone fails on the horizon for the Jags, and a lot of red zone success for the Saints. This one could be close for a while, but the elite Saints offense, led by Drew Brees, will find ways to score on the road just like they did against Green Bay in week one.

Pick: Saints (-7.5) over the Jags.