Chicago Bears (1-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
Cowboys -7 ½ (41)
The Cowboys offense gained a ton of yards in 2009 but failed to match that with the requisite points. That trend appears to have bled over into 2010. The Cowboys doubled the Redskins yardage total and appeared to have no trouble moving the ball up and down field. Miles Austin was unstoppable the running backs combined for 4.7 yards per carry. However, Jason Garrett doesn’t appear to know how to establish and manage an effective running game. In the Red Zone, the Cowboys have a tendency to break out into shotgun spread sets. To be effective in the spread, you must have a line that can hold their blocks without the assistance of additional blockers. The Cowboys were playing with 2 backups and 1 of those was the now infamous Alex Barron. The Bears squeaked out a win over the Lions. The Lions covered last week and would’ve pull out the win and if not for the inane call on Calvin Johnson, the Lions would have done just that. Chicago’s Matt Forte broke loose for just over 200 total yards against Detroit. Dallas will not allow this to happen. The Cowboys must have some concern that they only carry 3 cornerbacks on the roster. An injury, even 1 that causes either Newman or Jenkins to go out for a few plays will cause the secondary to scramble. Against Mike Martz’ offense, which calls for a series of deep routes and open sets, the Cowboys could find themselves with Alan Ball covering Greg Olson. I’ll take Olson in that match up every time. Julius Peppers lit up Matt Stafford last week. Romo hopes a healthy line will spare him that fate. I don’t feel the Bears have anyone to keep pace with the Cowboys’ receiving corps. Chicago must establish a pass rush and force Romo into dicey spots and make risky throws.
The Cowboys are favored by 7 ½ points in this game. I’ve gone back and forth on this pick. Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier return to Dallas’ offensive line but I don’t know if that will cure all their ills. They have the talent to blow the Bears out but can they get out of their own way? The Cowboys will win but the Bears will cover. The over is set at 41, given Dallas’s redzone problems, I will take the under on this one.
PICK: BEARS +7.5 / UNDER 41
Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (0-1)
Vikings (-6) (39)
Farve shocked everyone last season. He looked as good as ever. Brett made many of us forget about those interception plagued at end of his Green Bay tenure and about how old he looked during his year in New York. Last Thursday night, Brett reminded us that’s he’s forty something. Without Sidney Rice, the offense looked out of balance. Rice emerged as a star last year. He took the pressure off Adrian Peterson, allowed Harvin to flourish as a slot receiver/utility player and caught everything Farve threw his way. Without Rice, Farve relies too heavily upon Shiancoe. Farve and Co. must account for Karlos Dansby. The Miami linebacker recorded 3 sacks against Buffalo last week. The Saints did not put up big numbers against the Vikings but when New Orleans’ offense was clicking they rolled down the field with ease. On the Saints 2nd scoring drive, the rushed 8 times in 11 plays capping off the drive with a short rushing score by Pierre Thomas. That drive has to concern Minnesota. Miami’s offense starts with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The addition of Brandon Marshall to this offense takes some of the pressure off Williams and Brown. Marshall only had 8 catches for 53 yards last week against Buffalo, but I expect that from a receiver finding his place in a new offense.
The Vikings are favored by 6 and over/under line is set at 39. Miami is well coached. The raucous Metrodome crowd should have little effect on this team. The Dolphins have upcoming games against division rivals New England and New York. In the grand scheme of the season, this game has less meaning. Minnesota cannot afford to go two games down to the Packers. Minnesota has the talent and should win the game but Miami will cover. I would be surprised but not shocked if Miami pulled off the upset. Both teams will run the ball resulting a low scoring affair. Go with the under and collect.
PICK: Dolphins +6 / Under 39