The rash of injuries that hit the NFL last week was so bad that Greg Oden's out for the season, and he's a basketball player.
Oden, whom the Portland Trail Blazers made the top pick in this year's NBA draft, had microfracture knee surgery Thursday and will miss what would have been his rookie campaign. Just getting in the spirit of things.
In the NFL, Orlando Pace, Jason Ferguson and Mike Brown were the most prominent players lost for the season in the first set of games, but they were merely the bone chip of the iceberg.
The most serious and frightening injury of the week was the one that left Buffalo tight end Kevin Everett in danger of lifelong paralysis. Doctors were sounding more and more hopeful as the week progressed, while warning that Everett has a long, long way to go before they can express optimism about a full recovery.
But the whole league looked like a M*A*S*H unit by Tuesday, offering once again a reminder that all the preseason predictions in the world don't mean squat once the games start and guys are crashing into each other and hobbling off. Two or three well-placed injuries can turn Labor Day's contender into a struggling mess by the equinox.
We have one more set of games before then, so we'll get some clues about whether the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears, among others, can avoid that fate. Meanwhile the Portland Trail Blazers would like to say to the NFL: Be careful out there.
Here are the Week 2 picks, with winners capitalized and the picks of my junior partners included by popular demand. Daisy, coin-flippinest 2-year-old west of Dr. James Andrews' examination table, flips for her predictions, while Buster makes his calls based on whatever criteria occur to a 4-year-old with an active imagination. They both take all favorites of six points or more.
Sunday early games
Buffalo (0-1) at PITTSBURGH (1-0):
The Bills could pull off an inspired, win-one-for-Kevin upset, and reading too much into the Steelers 34-7 beatdown of the Browns last week might be a little bit like reading too much into an exhibition win, but I'm sticking with my pick to win the AFC North all the way to Week 2. That's loyalty, right there.
Kids: Pittsburgh (9.5-point favorite)
Houston (1-0) at CAROLINA (1-0):
If Jake Delhomme's going to play like that, maybe the Panthers aren't quite so finished, though I still don't think they're real contenders. Then again, this is the NFC. Southlake Carroll might be real contenders. Houston defensive end Mario Williams, last year's top overall draft pick, got a clear win over No. 2 Reggie Bush in Week 1. The Texans might be on to something, but I think last week's foe, Kansas City, is pretty bad.
Kids: Carolina (6.5-point favorite)
Atlanta (0-1) at JACKSONVILLE (0-1): The Jaguars have designs on the playoffs, and last week's home loss to division rival Tennessee, which ran right through the Jags' vaunted defensive front, wasn't the way to get started. If they blow this gimme, they're looking at 0-3 because they're off to Denver next week.
Kids: Jacksonville (10-point favorite)
NEW ORLEANS (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1):
These teams both laid an egg last week. The Bucs defense is no longer speedy enough to keep up with the high-octane Saints offense -- if it shows up. It was MIA in Indy, but that won't continue, will it?
Daisy: New Orleans
Buster: Tampa Bay
GREEN BAY (1-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-1):
You see the hit Eli Manning took that might put him out for this game, might put him out for longer, with a bum shoulder? Solid crunch, but did it really look like all that much to you? Me neither. Think about that, and then think about this: Brett Favre, 238 consecutive starts at quarterback. Behemoth backup Jared Lorenzen, who says he thinks Manning will play, will play if Manning doesn't. That and injuries to running back Brandon Jacobs and pass rusher Osi Umenyiora mean the Packers have a good shot to start 2-0.
Kids: Green Bay
San Francisco (1-0) at ST. LOUIS (0-1): A sort-'em-out game in the NFC West. The Rams took a big blow when they lost Orlando Pace for the season. The 49ers weren't impressive in the opening win at home over Arizona. I'll go with the Rams' home-field advantage for the second week in a row, and I'll probably be wrong for the second week in a row. (See what I did there?)
Daisy: San Francisco
Buster: St. Louis
CINCINNATI (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1): This would be the What the Heck Pick of the week most weeks, but compared to the Raiders playing in Denver, this likely blowout is practically a pick-'em game.
Kids: Cincinnati (6.5-point favorite)
INDIANAPOLIS (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0):
So which was it last week? Is the Colts defense, which held New Orleans to 10 points and a minuscule 4.5 yards per pass attempt, really the stout bunch that carried the team to the Super Bowl last year after stinking out the regular season? Or did the Saints offense just soil the linens? Vince Young and the Titans running game that pounded out 282 yards against a normally stiff Jacksonville run defense will provide a test, but it might not matter. Peyton Manning should feast on the Titans secondary, which is missing its best player, a guy named Pacman.
Kids: Indianapolis (7-point favorite)
Sunday late games
Minnesota (1-0) at DETROIT (1-0):
Sweet schedule for these two. They got to open against lousy teams, then they get to play each other. This game is notable mostly for the two rookie phenoms on display, Vikes running back Adrian Peterson and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. OK, "notable" is too strong a word. I'll go with the team that can pass against a defense that can't stop the pass over the one that can run against the defense that can't stop the run. Whoa, that made me dizzy. So will either of these teams being 2-0.
DALLAS (1-0) at Miami (0-1):
Washington ran over the Dolphins last week and the Cowboys should be able to do the same. The Cowboys defense is banged up, with nose tackle Jason Ferguson joining the injured reserve brigade, so the Trent Green era's second game should be a bit better than the first, but not good enough.
SEATTLE (1-0) at Arizona (0-1):
Shaun Alexander seems to be healthy at last, but the Arizona defense held Frank Gore in check last week. The Seahawks mauled the Bucs defensively, and while I'm not sure that's really something to brag about, they should be able to do the same to Matt Leinart and co., who looked bad against a 49ers defense that's probably not as good as Seattle's. A coin flippy kind of game, and Daisy's coin says Arizona, but mine, which is in my head, which is what that noise is, says Seattle.
N.Y. Jets (0-1) at BALTIMORE (0-1):
The Jets are tight-lipped about these things -- and where are those Patriots spies when you need them? -- but various outlets are reporting that quarterback Chad Pennington won't play because of his sprained ankle, meaning second-year man Kellen Clemens gets to make his NFL starting debut against a fierce defense.
The Ravens almost beat Cincy on the road last week despite turning the ball over 63 times. The Ravens have their own injury problems, with tackle Jonathan Ogden out indefinitely with a bad toe, linebacker Ray Lewis saying he'll play with a strained triceps and Steve "Doubtful" McNair looking like a game-time decision with a groin pull. So, will McNair play? [Holds mirror up to McNair's face. It fogs up.] Yes. And the Ravens will win. But they've got a lot to worry about.
Kids: Baltimore (10-point favorite)
OAKLAND (0-1) at Denver (1-0):
What the Heck Pick of the week. They don't get much What the Heckier than this, even though the point spread on Kansas City-Chicago is wider. It shouldn't be. If the Raiders win this game, I'll walk to Oakland. From Berkeley. Sometime.
Kids: Denver (9.5-point favorite)
Kansas City (0-1) at CHICAGO (0-1):
I guess I'm not the only one who has a feeling of doom about the Chiefs this season. The Bears got manhandled by San Diego last week, which isn't the way to open defense of your conference championship, but then again, the Chargers aren't in the Bears' conference, so it's probably OK. I'm going to go on record predicting a big game for Rex Grossman.
Kids: Chicago (12-point[!] favorite)
Sunday night game
San Diego (1-0) at NEW ENGLAND (1-0):
Two of the holy triumvirate of AFC powers get together -- unless Cincinnati or Baltimore or Denver or Pittsburgh or even Jacksonville are as good as they might be, in which case, is there such a word as "octumvirate"? -- for a potential AFC Championship Game preview, which come to think of it might happen every week. But this is kind of an upper-echelon one. There were several game-of-the-week candidates last week, but this is the one in Week 2.
LaDainian Tomlinson ought to be motivated. Remember his whining about the Patriots dancing on the Chargers logo after New England's road playoff win last year? Then he was held to 25 yards by Chicago last week. Grr! Go get 'em, LT! I'll be over here picking those classless, cheating Pats to torch the San Diego pass defense -- thanks to illegal decoder rings!
Daisy: New England
Buster: San Diego
Monday night game
Washington (1-0) at PHILADELPHIA (0-1):
The Eagles seem to be satisfied that Donovan McNabb's so-so outing in the loss in Green Bay was just a case of rust. Could be. Could be the injuries are starting to pile up on him and, at almost 31, he's not ever going to be the Donovan McNabb we've gotten used to again? And if there's one team that could go a long way toward providing an answer to that question, it probably isn't Washington.
Kids: Philadelphia (7-point favorite)
Season record: 12-4
Last season: 146-110 regular season; 6-5 playoffs, why do you keep bringing this up?
What the Heck Picks: 0-1
Injuries sustained while writing this column: 0 (stretching is key)
Previous column: Great moments in losing
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