Last week: 10-6, a pleasant forecast for the first week of the unprecedented season
Week 2 is often “overreaction week” as what we saw in Week 1 can have too much influence on what we expect out of teams in Week 2. The small sample size is relevant but it shouldn’t override the bigger picture of what is expected and known about the teams. Figuring out if strange outcomes in Week 1 were outliers or bigger signs of unexpected developments is what Week 2 is all about.
- Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-6): The Battle of Ohio features three of the last four No. 1 overall picks. The first of those, Myles Garrett (class of 2017) figures to make life very difficult for the most recent, Joe Burrow (class of 2020). Garrett had a quiet Week 1 in a lifeless Browns loss. I expect him to wake up against the Bengals and Bobby Hart, arguably the worst starting tackle in the NFL.
Let’s just hope, for all fans’ sakes, that this game doesn’t come down to a field goal. Austin Seibert was the Browns kicker last week, but he missed his one field goal attempt as well as an extra point. Now he’s in Cincinnati, which endured a game-tying miss from Randy Bullock as time expired and appeared to injure himself with the cramp of shame. Cleveland’s new kicker if Cody Parkey, their kicker from the 1-15 campaign of 2016. I suspect Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry will make sure it doesn’t come to that. Tepidly. Nothing is certain with these Browns...
Browns 20, Bengals 14
- Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5): Philadelphia's struggles in Week 1 are a definite concern. Carson Wentz looked lost, something that should not happen to a QB of his accomplished pedigree. The offensive line was completely overwhelmed by Washington’s strong front, and now they play Aaron Donald and the Rams. Bad, bad time for this particular matchup for the Eagles. What is even worse is the Rams actually can field a healthy WR corps for the second week in a row for what seems like the first time since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were catching passes in St. Louis.
Rams 27, Eagles 19
- Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5): Write off Tom Brady at your own peril. Did he look washed in Week 1? Yes, yes he did. Does that mean he will in Week 2, against a vastly inferior defense to the one he faced in New Orleans? No, no it does not. I sense some extra mustard from the Bucs this week.
Buccaneers 37, Panthers 17
- Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (-5.5): Atlanta was quietly one of the more disappointing teams of Week 1, though some of that probably has to do with playing what looks like a great Seattle team. Dallas also disappointed with their banged-up OL and inability to get off the field on third down on defense. Something’s gotta give here, and one of these two teams will be 0-2 and wondering how they can stay afloat in a tough NFC in 2020. Dallas has the better defense and the benefit of being at home, which may or may not (read: certainly will) have an impact on the officiating.
Cowboys 26, Falcons 24
- Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5): Two teams coming off Monday night games convene in Pittsburgh. The Steelers beat a Giants team in New York that appears better than this Broncos team that lost at home to Tennessee despite the Titans playing about as bad as they possibly could. Don’t overthink this one.
Steelers 33, Broncos 13
- Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (+5.5): Because nothing in the AFC East is ever easy for Buffalo. Because Ryan Fitzpatrick is now due for a Fitzmagic game after a relative clunker in the opener. Because the Dolphins run defense can’t possibly be as bad as it was last week (211 yards) while playing a similar style of offense, so they won’t be so taken aback when the quarterback tries to run instead of throw. Because the Heat are hot and something about a transitive same-city, cross-sports momentum that will make the analytical wonks’ heads explode.
Dolphins 18, Bills 15
- San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets (+7): The 49ers team we saw in Week 1 isn’t a touchdown better than anyone, not on the road and not with Jimmy Garoppolo playing so lackluster. Fortunately for San Francisco, the Jets are not the Cardinals and it’s no longer Week 1. Expect a rebound from Jimmy G, even with his injury-riddled offensive cast. The Jets have no bounce to them.
49ers 29, Jets 10
- Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-6): The Packers should cruise here, but the NFL gave them some added insurance by assigning Clete Blakeman and his crew to officiate. The last time Blakeman officiated a Lions/Packers game (Week 6 last year) it spawned me to write this, via Lions Wire:
I’ve been covering the NFL professionally since 2004 and watching football since the mid-1970s. I have never seen a single instance of the officials deciding the outcome of a game at any level of football more than this one. The Lions absolutely got hosed by Clete Blakeman and his clueless, biased crew. Blakeman effectively admitting he didn’t know what was going on in his postgame press conference–which he abruptly stopped–only reinforces my position.
Again, the Packers shouldn’t need the help, but just in case...
Packers 34, Lions 22
- New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-5): Just a hunch on this one, but the cloud patterns indicate the Giants’ truly terrible offensive line play will doom them to failure in Soldier Field. Saquon Barkley averaging negative yardage before first contact in the run game last week isn’t going to get fixed overnight. Going against a solid, sound Bears defense is no picnic.
Bears 20, Giants 16
- Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts (-3): This is low-key a very big game for the Colts. After losing to the Jaguars, the presumptive worst team in the AFC in Week 1, they have to regroup quickly against a talented Vikings team that realized about two quarters too late that the regular season had started. Expectations for Indy are high with Philip Rivers taking over, but the veteran looked uninspiring and slow to process the action in Week 1. If they lose this one, things could go south quickly for the Colts.
They do match up well with the visiting Vikings. The Colts LB corps is a nice foul for the Gary Kubiak middle-of-field passing combinations, and the secondary can get physical outside. The Colts OL built around Quenton Nelson is built to withstand the strong Vikings front on D, too.
Colts 24, Vikings 21
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-9): It took the Jaguars to play almost completely mistake-free football to barely beat a flat Colts team in Week 1. As I noted in this week’s $.10, it’s extraordinarily unlikely that Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars will have such a near-perfect outing again. The Titans will need to be much sharper than they were in surviving a nightmare evening from kicker Stephen Gostkowski to escape Denver with a win. I suspect they will be in their home opener, even on short rest.
Titans 32, Jaguars 16
- Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (+7): Opening against the Chiefs and Ravens is some sort of karmic punishment for the Texans for continuing to let Bill O’Brien shop for his own groceries and then do the cooking. Except O’Brien shops at the Save-A-Lot but expects to win every episode of Hell’s Kitchen. This schedule is Gordon Ramsay cutting him down as only the profane Brit can. It’s not apt to go well for the Texans at home, because Baltimore can really cook on both sides of the ball.
Ravens 31, Texans 21
- Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (+8.5): Until I see any cracks in the Chiefs armor, there is no reason to pick against them. They’ll slip up here or there, but it’s unlikely to happen against Tyrod Taylor and the Chargers. It could, but it’s as unlikely as a hurricane hitting Newfoundland. The Canadian province, not the giant lovable dogs...
Chiefs 34, Chargers 22
- Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals (-7): Washington’s suffocating defensive front was one of the feel-good stories of Week 1. The Cardinals OL is still a work in progress, but it showed capability in Arizona’s impressive win over the dominant DL in San Francisco. Don’t sleep on this game; it might be the lowest profile of the later-day matchups on Sunday, but it could very well be the most entertaining and competitive too.
Cardinals 25, Football Team 21
- New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (-4): There’s just something about Pete Carroll vs. Bill Belichick that elevates this occasional rivalry to must-watch status. They are two of the best coaches of the last decade (obviously Belichick goes back deeper) and they got to that status with such different styles and demeanors. I just don’t see how the Patriots stop Russell Wilson and his great start towards his first MVP award. The Seahawks size and speed outside on offense is a problem, too.
Seahawks 28, Patriots 20
- New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders (+6.5): I am excited to see the new Raiders home in Las Vegas. The place looks fantastic, and the new stadium smell has a way of giving some buzz to the home team. If only they started this game more than 30 minutes before my typical bedtime I might even enjoy the game itself. I have a feeling the Raiders offense won’t enjoy Cam Jordan and the Saints very active, fast defense. I do like the Raiders to cover the big spread. I’ll find out Tuesday morning if I’m a little richer...
Saints 31, Raiders 28
All lines are as of 1:42 p.m. ET on 9/15 via BetOnline