Two years ago, San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary scowled and made an unforgettable statement.
“I want winners,” Singletary shouted.
We all can relate to that. It took only two weeks for the NFL season to turn most bettors into big losers. But a new week is another opportunity to cash tickets instead of trash them.
Eight teams are 0-2, including San Francisco. Eight teams are 2-0, including Kansas City. The 49ers are better than this, and that’s why a 0-2 team is favored on the road against a 2-0 team.
There is some young talent and promise for the future in Kansas City, finally. The defense is definitely tougher. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are strong runners.
But the quarterback position is a weakness. Matt Cassel, who has completed 52 percent of his passes, barely has played a minor role in the Chiefs’ two victories.
The 49ers, whipped in their opener at Seattle, responded the way Singletary hoped against New Orleans on Monday night. The Saints escaped with a 25-22 win, but San Francisco rolled up a 417-287 advantage in total yards.
Frank Gore ran for 112 yards and Alex Smith completed 23 of 32 passes for 275 yards as the 49ers’ offense looked more fluid than the Saints’ high-powered attack. Smith was more impressive than Drew Brees for long stretches.
As for Singletary’s defense, it is reflecting his personality. It’s rock solid against the run, with linebacker Patrick Willis, the league’s leading tackler two of the past three seasons, leading the charge.
Singletary needs a win, and I want winners, too, so I’ll go with San Francisco and lay the 2½ points at Kansas City.
Four more plays for Week 3 (Home team in CAPS):
■ Bengals (-3) over PANTHERS: Carolina’s quick switch to rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is a good move for the long run. But expect Clausen to come up short against a Cincinnati defense that forced Baltimore’s Joe Flacco to throw four interceptions.
■ Falcons (+4) over SAINTS: We seem to be witnessing the so-called Super Bowl hangover. The New Orleans offense has been sluggish, and Reggie Bush’s absence will hinder the short passing game. Atlanta has the better defense, and at this point it might have the better offense, too. The Saints are 4-10-1 against the spread in their past 15 games.
■ Cowboys (+3) over TEXANS: To be honest, I’ve changed my mind on this game several times. The deciding factor is Dallas’ upset victory at New Orleans in December. Tony Romo and coach Wade Phillips were getting ripped and the Cowboys answered the critics by dominating the Saints. It could happen again. It doesn’t help Houston that wideout Andre Johnson is hobbled.
■ BEARS (+3) over Packers: Jay Cutler is operating a new offense more smoothly than expected, and Chicago’s defense is no joke. Green Bay will miss the physical running of Ryan Grant. Underdogs are 2-1 straight up and 3-0 ATS on Monday this season.
Last week: 2-3 against the spread
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.