For an explanation on what the I Ching is and how I use it, read the introduction to my Week One picks here: http://daodesam.blogspot.com/2012/09/nfl-season-2012-week-one-i-ching-picks.html
Lines taken from ESPN Pigskin Pickem Game
Follow my entry here: http://games.espn.go.com/nfl-pigskin-pickem/en/entry?entryID=181280
My BOLD picks are in BOLD
Thursday 1-0 Last week: 9-7 Season: 10-7
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Browns @ Bengals -6.5
Hexagram 2: The Field
After coming up just short of a remarkable upset last week in their opener at home, the Browns face a stiff divisional road test. The Bengals are also looking to rebound from a loss to start the season after getting blown out in Baltimore. "The Field" predicts a wide open arena for the game. This kind of environment promotes lots of action and interaction, and in football this usually translates into points. The field would not be nearly so open if not for the suspension of Cleveland lock down corner Joe Haden. Haden is the kind of corner who can shut down half of said field by himself and could have kept up with Bengals sophomore stud A.J. Green. If not for his missing this game and the next few for his Adderall suspension, insert add joke here, I would like the Browns chances much more to repeat their stout defensive effort from last week, but without their apparently chronically distracted defensive star, they won't be able to keep up with Cincinnati in an offensive part one in the battle for Ohio.
Vikings @ Colts +1.5
Hexagram 45: Banding together
As their game against the Jaguars wore on last Sunday, the Vikings got better and better down the stretch. Adrian Peterson proved that good run blocking and one and a half legs are all he needs to be a great running back, even if he's not yet the transcendent one he was before injury. Quarterback Christian Ponder showed good chemistry with two of his two young, talented targets, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph, and looked to both with success late in the game. If Ponder can be a solid game manager and the team rallies around him, I think the Vikings can be a dangerous team this year; they have a tough running game, offensive playmakers and good lines on both sides of the ball. Add in Jared Allen, who was quiet last week, but almost never has two bad games in a row, just three sack-less games all last year, and is facing off against a pair of young, inexperienced Colt tackles. I think the purple will bring way too much for Indy to handle.
Raiders @ Dolphins +2.5
Hexagram 11: Pervading
Going into this game, one thing in particular sticks out to me that doesn't seem to bode well for Miami in their home opener: Darren McFadden is going to get the ball a lot. With their receiving corps banged up, Oakland last week went to Run DMC early and often, both in the running and passing game. He wasn't extremely productive rushing the ball, just 32 yards on 15 carries, he still accumulated over 100 yards total helped by his 86 yards from 13 catches being targeted a ridiculous 18 times in the passing game.It seems head coach Dennis Allen is going to ride the explosive but oft injured McFadden as hard as he can while he is still healthy.
On the other side, the Dolphins seemingly did a pretty good job limiting the vaunted running game of the Texans to just 2.4 yards per carry, but this stat is a bit misleading since the game got out of hand pretty early. The Texans averaged almost five yards a carry in the first half, and it wasn't until the game was out of reach that the Dolphins defense clamped down on more conservative play calling.
The Raiders will feed McFadden until he busts, and if the Dolphins can't stop him from pushing through their defense, then Oakland will be able to control the flow of the game and field position. It would fall to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill to make big plays to offset the ball control of the silver and black, and that's something I wouldn't bet on happening.
Cardinals @ Patriots -13.5
Hexagram 31: Harvesting
Betting against New England at home is a dangerous enterprise. Last year they went 7-1 at Gillette Stadium with an average margin of victory over 11 points. This is not always enough to cover since they are favored by such massive spreads often times, but I have been burned by over thinking this in the past. Arizona has an underrated defense with exciting players like Dockett, Peterson and Daryl Washington but it will be up to Kevin kolb to score enough points to keep up with New England. I doubt that will happen as the Patriots will open their home season by reaping what they annually sow; namely, smart football, lots of points and a win. No coach in the league is as good as Bill Belichick when it comes to adapting to the current meta game and staying one step ahead of the competition. Sunday will be just another game of harvesting the benefits of his peerless preparation.
Buccaneers @ Giants -7.5
Hexagram 42: Increasing
I'm not ready to buy into the Buccaneers sleeper hype yet, but the Giants typically struggle at home, they also typically struggle early in the season, and Eli Manning struggles when he is expected to win big and cover a big spread. As pointed out in the strugglins Sports Guy in his picks column, (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8377762/the-mailbag-week-2-combo-platter) the Giants since 2006 are just 25-23 at home versus 32-17 on the road. Tampa Bay showed against the Panthers last week that they can shut down the run and defend the pass capably as well. With the Giants tendency to start slow and the Buccaneers big free agent and rookie additions looking like good investments so far, I like Tampa to keep this game close. Adding new coach Greg Schiano and the other new pieces have expanded the already solid base the Bucs had in place, while the Giants are still trying to get healthy and find their season form.
Chiefs @ Bills -3.5
Hexagram 1: Raw Power:
Both teams lost in lop sided contests last week, but in much different contests. The Bills got overpowered on both sides of the ball by the New York Jets while the Chiefs looked decent for much of the game despite getting overwhelmed eventually in a track meet like shootout by the potent Falcons. Although they don't have the defense to match the Jets, I think the Chiefs running attack matches up well with Buffalo's weakness on defense. If the Chiefs can establish the run game with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, then there will be even more openings in the secondary to exploit. I think Kansas City are the team that is more likely to be a contender at season end, and I think they get their first win on the road here.
Ravens @ Eagles -2.5
Hexagram 10: Treading the Road
After watching the Ravens take it to a playoff team from last year on Monday night, I will take them in any situation when they're getting points. Michael Vick found a way to win last week despite throwing four interceptions against the Browns, and while Cleveland has a very good pass defense in their own right, they are not at the level of Baltimore. The Ravens looked better than the Eagles in just about every way last week against a superior opponent, so I see no reason to think that they won't take this game in Philly.
Saints @ Panthers +2.5
Hexagram 41: Diminishing
Even though they lost to the Redskins at home last week, I'm not ready to bury the Saints yet. I'm also not convinced that the Panthers are any good. I think the diminishing here speaks to a continued sophomore regression for Cam Newton. Last week, they abandoned the running game completely and still l found little success offensively against Tampa Bay. The Carolina offense, and Cam, were able to be effective last year because opposing defenses had to respect the running game first. The Saints run defense played tough last week and the yards on the ground were very hard to come by for the Redskins until they started to get tired in the second half. I think Washington's defense will be much better than Carolina's last year and Drew Brees was still able to pretty much score at will down the stretch in trying to come back. If Carolina can't establish the run and keep Brees off the field as much as they can, they won't be able to match the output of the still high octane New Orleans offense.
Texans @ Jaguars +7.5
Hexagram 22: Adorning
Yes, it's a lot of points to give for a divisional game, on the road, against an opponent that always plays the Texans tough no matter how bad they are, but this is another situation where I think the safer pick is the one that seems to be far superior on paper. Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked much improved last week, but he will face a much tougher secondary against the Texans. Houston is an incredibly balanced team that can throw the ball, has a big time receiver, can dominate with the running game, rush the passer and cover down field. Somehow the Texans are somewhat flying under the radar even though they had a dominating performance in their opener and might have been the best team in football until quarterback Matt Schuab got hurt last year.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Redskins @ Rams +3.5
Hexagram 14: Great Possessing
How long until Rams fans regret their decision to stick with Sam Bradford and trade the rights to draft Robert Griffin III to the Redskins? Some might be already there by day's end. Bradford looked solid in his rookie year, but has failed to regain that form since. RG3 looked like a seasoned vet with all the talent as advertised in winning his debut in a hostile environment. Both of these defenses are underrated and have the ability to cause problems for both young quarterbacks, but I think Griffin's dynamism and the Rams' struggles to protect Bradford, as well as his dearth of weapons to throw to, give the Skins the advantage in this game. Some people seem adverse to picking Washington here thinking that they’re being favored on the road is a bit of an overreaction to last week, but at the same token, if they could take care of the Saints at their house, I see no cause to be overly concerned about St. Louis.
Cowboys @ Seahawks +3.5
Hexagram 50: The Vessel
This is another case where I am sticking to my impressions going into the season rather than overreacting to the first week of results. The Cowboys passing game, and Tony Romo in particular, looked great in the season opener, however, they are going from playing against maybe the worst secondary in the NFL to playing against maybe the best. The Seahawks have the biggest home field advantage of the whole league, and I like them whenever they are getting points at home. Last year in similar situations, they beat the Ravens and Eagles and lost by just two to both the Falcons and 49ers, all games where they were home dogs. The Cowboys showed up last week and did what they had to do to win, but I think that game was more about the Giants’ problems than the Cowboys’ strengths. The Seahawks defense is much better suited to contain the Dallas attack, and don’t break your neck jumping off the Russell Wilson bandwagon just yet. I feel his first home game will be his official coming out party.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
Jets @ Steelers -6.5
Hexagram 26: Great Accumulating
While these two teams seem to be trending in opposite directions, I think the Steelers match up very well with what the Jets want to do. I think their suddenly explosive offense will find the goings much tougher in Pittsburgh than it was against the Bills. On the other side of the ball, the big story is that the Jets will be missing all-universe corner Darrelle Revis. Lacking Revis Island, the Jets defense will not be able to count on one man covering a whole side of the field as usual, and this will discourage them from sending the exotic blitz packages at Big Ben and his suspect line. Without a premier pass rusher, the Jets have to rely on bringing extra men for their aggressive defense to be effective, but lacking their best player, I think Roethlisberger will accumulate great amounts of passing yards downfield.
Titans @ Chargers -6.5
Hexagram 60: Perseverance
When you decide to go with a young quarterback, growing pains are something you have to accept. The Titans and Jake Locker certainly experienced some pain last week at home in getting beat down by the Patriots. However, I like their chances to bounce back this week. I wasn’t overly impressed by the Chargers. They weren’t dominant in any aspect of the game and largely owed their victory over the Raiders to an injury to the opposing long snapper. The Raiders were not blameless, as Carson Palmer didn’t try to stretch the defense much either, but with Kenny Britt returning and Chris Johnson out to prove to people that he is still the CJ2K from a couple years ago, I like the Titans to upset the Bolts on the back of a few big plays.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Lions @ 49ers -6.5
Hexagram 32: Continuity
In the rematch of “Shake-Gate,” I’ll take the team that has pretty much the exact same composure as last year. Returning all but a couple starters, and getting upgrades at the few changes, coach Jim Harbaugh seems to have made his team into a closer, more focused and determined team. The Niners should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, making the Lions pass often, as they are wont to do anyway, to try to keep up. In a similar situation to their game last week against the Packers, I like San Francisco’s chances to limit the scoring opportunities of Detroit while moving the ball at will against a defensive unit that struggle to stop the run last year. The 49ers may not have the greatest collection of talent in the league, but I think they are the best all around, balanced team due to their continuity, coaching, clear roles and expectations for each player and overall chemistry.
Monday 8:30 PM EST
Broncos @ Falcons -3.5
Hexagram 16: Prudence
John Elway and John Fox knew that if they wanted to make the Broncos into serious Super Bowl contenders, they would need an elite quarterback. So, they went out and wooed maybe the best, most eligible franchise quarterback to hit the open market in Peyton Manning. I picked the Steelers over the Broncos last week because I thought it would take some time for him to settle into his new team. Turns out, it took about a half for him to get settled. His “laser rocket arm” still seems pretty laser-rockety and his influence and leadership on his teammates is obvious. Even on the road, I’ll take Mr. Monday Night Football getting points a hundred times out of a hundred. In a game that may quickly turn into a shootout, I believe Manning will be his best when it matters most as usual getting the Broncos off to a 2-0 start.