Last week: 10-6, counting the tie between Detroit and Arizona as a loss. It sure felt like one as a Lions fan…
Week 2 is a week where forecasters must be careful to not overreact to Week 1. Every year the first week provides us with strange outcomes which wind up being extreme outliers. The trick is knowing which they were.
All lines are from BetOnline.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-7): Jameis Winston threw away a potential Buccaneers win in Week 1 with two pick-6s on his three INTs against San Francisco. He also fumbled twice. Those are the errors teams cannot afford to make against an aggressive Carolina defense. Of course the Panthers committed three turnovers in a tough loss to the Rams, so maybe we’ll watch this game of mistake-prone teams with little time to prepare or fix those errors with an eye towards who can go the longest without screwing up. My bet is on the home team. Watch only if you’ve got literally nothing else to do.
Panthers 24, Buccaneers 20
- New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5): Last year’s two NFC Championship finalists meet in Los Angeles and away from the scene of the officiating crime. The location change sure seems to favor the beneficiaries of that non-call, as the Rams have lost just once in L.A. in the last year. Plus it’s outdoors, and while Drew Brees has largely disproven the stigma of not being as good playing outside on grass, there is a difference; even last year when the Saints went 5-0 outside, his completion percentage, YPA, TD rate and sack rate were all demonstrably lower in those games than indoors. Methinks the Rams won’t need an officiating gaffe to help them win, but the Saints seem quite prone to being on the wrong end of that hose lately, too…
Rams 23, Saints 17
- Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3): The Quenton Nelson for MVP campaign sees the Colts fantastic guard head to Tennessee to bust some pretty tough skulls. Nelson might be the NFL’s most talented player regardless of position, and he proves it in Tennessee against a solid defense. Tennessee blew out the Browns but got a lot of help from Cleveland in doing so. I don’t think the Colts will be so accommodating in their own demise.
Colts 26, Titans 21
- Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3): These two teams each won in Week 1 thanks to impressive defensive showings. The difference is in the offenses. Minnesota ran wild, quite literally, in their romp over the Falcons. Kirk Cousins barely hit double-digits in passing attempts. The Packers offense had exactly two good plays, with Aaron Rodgers looking like he lost something off his fastball and the offensive line struggling badly in Chicago. If Rodgers rebounds from his rusty first action, the Packers should prevail. But I am a believer in the Vikings more complete attack.
Vikings 20, Packers 16
- Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions (+2.5): The Chargers continue to have the injury bug biting them like a cheap hotel bedbug infestation. TE Hunter Henry will miss this trip to Detroit, while WR Mike Williams is doubtful. They’re already down Derwin James, and based on his history Joey Bosa might pull something while clipping his toenails. It’s hard to have faith in the Chargers. It’s even harder to have faith in a Lions team that gave away an 18-point 4th quarter lead in Week 1 to the lowly Cardinals because the coaching staff flipped the switch from trying to win to trying not to lose.
Chargers 24, Lions 21
- Buffalo Bills at New York Giants (+1): Buffalo tries for the New York sweep, this time facing the Giants. Last week the Bills impressively rallied for a win over the Jets. I don’t think they’ll need to rally in this one…
Bills 28, Giants 17
- Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos (+2.5): The Vic Fangio bowl! Just what everyone who enjoys offense wants to watch on the last Sunday of summer! First team to 10 can turn off the lights, that party will be over.
Bears 13, Broncos 6
- Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+1): I was bullish on the Falcons entering the season, but they got stomped in Minnesota in all phases of the game. The Eagles are a very difficult foe to rebound against, as they are one of the most complete all-around teams. Very curious how this plays out for Falcons coach Dan Quinn and his talented but turbid team. This would be the last game I would have a strong feeling about one way or the other as to who will win.
Eagles 30, Falcons 27
- Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-13): The Terrell Suggs revenge game should be a little more entertaining and competitive for Baltimore than the opener. Suggs proved he’s still got it in Week 1, destroying Detroit for a sack, a couple of QB hits and a lot of embarrassment for the Lions line.
The Ravens will know how to counter T-Sizzle. They’ll also know how to corral Kyler Murray. If you’re still alive in your survivor fantasy game, this is a good week to use the Ravens.
Ravens 33, Cardinals 13
- New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+19): Unbelievable. Nineteen points. At home. The over/under on the game is 48, so the bookies are basically predicting the final score to be 34-14. The Patriots beat the Steelers much bigger than that. There is no earthly reason why anyone would expect Miami to finish within 3 TDs other than Bill Belichick taking mercy on protege Brian Flores. The Hoodie has had issues beating his former underlings in their first meetings (remember last year’s spanking in Detroit by Matt Patricia’s winless Lions?) so I guess it’s not impossible, but it’s more likely that Donald Trump gets endorsed by the NAACP than it is for the Dolphins to win this game outright.
Patriots 40, Dolphins 8
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-8.5): Gardner Minshew and his fantastic mustache make their starting debut for the Jaguars in Houston. The rookie played well in relief of Nick Foles, once again injured (who could have seen that coming…), but the Texans bring a different level of defensive intensity with their front 7 than the Chiefs did in Week 1. Points might be hard to come by in this one, though I do expect DeAndre Hopkins to post another TD. That should be enough.
Texans 19, Jaguars 12
- San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5): It’s interesting to see the Bengals favored here. The 49ers got a win last week and are one of the more (inexplicably) hyped teams in the NFC. Cincinnati lost, albeit in a valiant effort against Seattle. I know the 49ers have been awful on the road of late (1-8 in their last 9 away from the Bay), but they theoretically have a lot more talent and more to prove in this game. If they lose here, the fraud meter goes sky high for SF. Pour one out in memory of Tim Krumrie’s ankle from the Super Bowl between these two all those years ago, strangely still the one thing I remember about that game.
49ers 30, Bengals 27
- Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4): My initial inclination just looking at the line here was to text my bookie a picture of my pay stub with the message “Seattle”. The Seahawks won in Week 1, while Pittsburgh looked like the second-worst team (after Miami) in the opening weekend. But then I went back and watched some of Seattle’s win over Cincinnati. And here’s the thing I discovered: outside of Russell Wilson being amazing and the Bengals collapsing, they looked just as bad as Pittsburgh in its humiliation by New England. Now factor in Seattle’s troubling recent history: 1-8 in their last 9 September road games. Text canceled; I still think Seattle can win and should cover, but I’m of little faith.
Steelers 20, Seahawks 17
Dallas Cowboys at Washington (+4.5): Washington might’ve fired out its best shot all season in the first half of Week 1. Then DeSean Jackson and the Eagles ran all over them. I see more of the same when Dallas comes to town with Dak Prescott still hungry for a new contract.
Cowboys 32, Washington 12
- Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (+7.5): Just when you thought the whole Antonio Brown saga couldn’t get weirder, former Chiefs star RB Larry Johnson weighs in with an, umm, unique perspective on what’s going on with the ex-Raiders diva. If the dark lord Baphomet is indeed sticking his goat nose into Antonio Brown’s business, may God help us all. The Raiders will need divine help to stay unbeaten, too.
Chiefs 37, Raiders 28
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets (+2.5): The line here was from before when the Jets announced starting QB Sam Darnold will miss the game with mono. Kiss this one goodbye, Jets fans. The Browns players are dedicating this latest incarnation of the original Monday Night Football game to DE Chris Smith, who watched in horror as his girlfriend was killed in a tragic car accident on Wednesday in Cleveland. It’s the kind of tragedy that can bring a team together after such an awful Week 1, and I expect a much more focused and cohesive Browns team in New York.
Browns 38, Jets 10