Not a bad start to the season. Last week’s picks went 11-5. I underestimated how truly awful the Indianapolis Colts’ defense is and I obviously did not give Bill Belichick the respect he deserves, but I refuse to take the blame in Atlanta. Falcons at home with one of the best receivers in the league going against a weak secondary led by a rookie. And as for the Panthers and Jets, well they just did not get it done.
So here we go, week 2 and back on the horse.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
After one week, the Bills are statistically the worst offensive team in football (yes, even worse than the Rams) gaining a grand total of 160 offensive yards. And they have the misfortune of going against a defense that sacked Andy Dalton (one of the least sacked QBs in 2015) 7 times.
One thing the Bills have going for them is that the Jets seemingly invent new ways to lose. Last week, despite being dominant on defense and facing a team with a diminished roster, somehow lost a nail biter when they failed to even slow down A.J. Green. But with all of that being said, the Bills have more starters out due to injury than just about any other team, and it appears as if Sammy Watkins will be added to that list.
In short, we have a terrible offense, without their best offensive weapon going against a very good defense, that will be fired up after last week’s loss. I like the Jets to dominate this game.
San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers
The 49ers looked dominant this past Monday. But that is only because they played the lackluster Rams. Like the Bills, the Rams were incompetent on offense, despite having Todd Gurley. The Panthers also have the advantage of coming off a Thursday night performance, thereby giving them more time to prep and to recover.
I have never been a believer in Carlos Hyde, I think Blaine Gabbert is an NFL backup at best, and over the past few seasons the 49ers defense is a shell of its former self and they are going against the defending champions who will be out for blood. I expect Cam Newton to have a monster game and the Panther defense to completely smother Chip Kelly’s offense. Panthers win.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
RGIII is officially on the injured reserve list with a fracture in his shoulder. Ironically, if the Browns even want to win, then they are probably better off with Josh McCown, who is a much better pocket passer and deceptively athletic. Terrelle Pryor has shown that he is a legitimate receiving threat and McCown established a great chemitry with running back Duke Johnson last season. I expect the Browns to be more competitive and sharper offensively than in week 1.
But they are still the Cleveland Browns and they are still going to do Cleveland things. And lets face it, Cleveland is a team that is actively jettisoning talent and doing everything they can to receive a high draft pick next year. I like the Ravens, for the mere fact that they will actually be trying to win the game.
Tennessee Titans @ Detroit Lions
Last week the Titans look bad against a very good team and the Lions looked good against a very bad team. Both of these franchises probably lie somewhere in the middle. The Titans defense looked dominant holding Adrian Peterson to a mere 31 yards rushing and allowing Shaun Hill to accomplish very little, but their offense gave up a touchdown to the Vikings’ defense as did their special teams.
On the flip side, Matthew Stafford had a phenomenal game capping off his performance with a drive in the final 1:45 for the game-winning field goal. But that defense was no match for the Colts’ offense and I do not think that it was due to an over-abundance of talent in Indianapolis. The Lions are going to struggle to stop anyone this year, even an offense as limited as Tennessee’s.
The power run game of the Titans will give them a shot in this one, but I am going with the Lions because of my old rule: better quarterback and home field advantage.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
For the first half of week 1, both of these teams seemed very flawed. In the second half, each team was hitting on all cylinders and dominating their respective foes. The Texans defense showed its dominance stifling the Bears’ run game and making life difficult for Jay Cutler, while the Chiefs systematically dissected the Chargers rallying from a 21-3 deficit to win the game.
The Texans have the home field advantage and also have the best player on the field in J.J. Watt. Coming off of their victory against Chicago, the Texans do not have to travel once again defending their home turf. And while the Chiefs showed a lot of moxie orchestrating their comeback against the Chargers, it does concern me greatly that the found themselves in that position to begin with.
Houston is a team that seems to be gelling quickly with all of their new acquisitions and I like them at home to defeat a Kansas City team that has more holes than they would like to admit.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Stupid Patriots. Can they just stop winning for a season or two? I think most of us predicted that the Patriots would go 2-2 during Tom Brady’s involuntary vacation, but after the game plan put together in defeating the Arizona Cardinals (who I predicted to win the Super Bowl), I do not think any of us would be surprised to see them go 3-1 or even 4-0.
The Dolphins looked great in defeat. For 56 minutes and change, the Dolphins’ defense completely befuddled and shut down the Seattle Seahawks. And if not for an incredibly awful drop by Kenny Stills, the Dolphins would have pulled off a major upset in Seattle. Unfortunately, the Dolphins did what they seemingly always do, come close but with nothing to show for it.
The Miami defense looked great, but they are an unproven commodity and the offense was patchy and inconsistent, although granted they were against one of the best defenses in the league. But at the end of the day the Patriots will be at home, have owned the Dolphins over the past several years, and are led by the best coach in the history of the NFL. I like the Patriots to go to 2-0.
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants
Drew Brees has seemingly not lost a step. He has a massive game and looks a lot more comfortable utilizing the young weapons around him. That being said, the New Orleans defense is still an out-of-control dumpster fire and they are going against a team that threw for 7 touchdowns against them last year. And unlike the Saints, the Giants have actually made a number of significant improvement on their defensive front. With the Giants showing significant improvement on the defensive end I like them to hold serve at home.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the best rivalries in modern football returns to the Steel City. This matchup will undoubtedly be physical and come down to the wire. It is one of those great matchups where the personnel involved rarely seem to matter. This will be a knockdown drag out fight and I will not drone on looking at the analytics involved.
This game will be close, it will come down to the end, and it would not surprise me if it came down to a last second field goal. I am going with the Steelers for the sole reason that they have home field advantage. When these two teams face off again in Cincinnati I will likely pick the Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins threw or a lot of yards and a very respectable completion percentage, but was unable to finish the job and throw any strikes in the endzone. Also, second year running back Matt Jones contributed very little against a Steelers’ defense that is not overly imposing. But the Cowboys had struggles of their own.
Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott looked respectable and poised, but failed to make the game-changing plays. Elliott could never find room to break free and Prescott was unable to utilize his greatest offensive weapon in Dez Bryant. So the question becomes what will happen first? Will Kirk Cousins reclaim his momentum from last season or will the rookie duo from Dallas adapt to the pro-game quickly and lead the Cowboys to their first victory of 2016?
Personally, I like the Redskins in this matchup. They seem to be a bit deeper as far as talent is concerned and Kirk Cousins has shown that he can be effective.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker to a vulnerable Patriots team and conversely Jameis Winston had the game of his life and led the Bucs to victory. But do not let those performances fool you. The Cardinals are still an elite team, the Bucs are still a very flawed one and the Cardinals will be out for blood. I expect this to be a slaughter; and not because the Buccaneers are a bad team, but because they have the misfortune of facing a team will be playing with something to prove.
I expect the Cardinals to score in the 30s if not the 40s and to make life for a Jameis Winston a lot more difficult than Atlanta did. Cardinals win and cover the spread too (for what that is worth).
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
Did any team look worse than the Rams did this past week? You know you are a bad team when the color commentator publicly states that the most exciting part of the game is when a drunk fan runs on the field (if you haven’t seen the clip, check it out: https://twitter.com/TheCSBS/status/775767885817929728).
The fact of the matter is that while the Rams have had unusual success against the Seahawks, they are not going to win many games with Case Keenum at the helm. Plus, lets face it, Jeff Fisher may be the most overrated coach in all of sports. He has not been to the playoffs since 2008 and has not won a playoff game since 2003. He consistently puts forth mediocre teams with no end in sight.
I am not a fan of Pete Carroll, but he is the better coach with the better team and they should win this one in a landslide.
Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos
I do not know what is in the water out there in Denver, but they can seemingly find ways to win no matter who lines up behind center. They won a playoff game with the footballer-turned-baseball player Tim Tebow, went to two Super Bowls with the noodle-armed version of Peyton Manning, and even kept the division lead with Brock Osweiler, who they opted not to resign. Now they have a 7th round draft pick out of Northwestern who in his regular season debut defeated the defending champion Carolina Panthers.
The Colts on the other hand just seem to suck. Their offensive line is still struggling and the strides taken to fix their defense have seemingly had minimal impact. And when you lose your opener to a Detroit team that lacking in talent, then you are in for a long, hard season.
I like the Broncos all day long. Andrew Luck might as well bring a pillow because he is going to be laid out on the turf constantly.
Atlanta Falcons @ Oakland Raiders
Gotta love the balls on Jack Del Rio. Going for 2 points with the game on the line and down by 1. The Raiders struggled all day long to stop the Saints, with little success, but the Falcons are not the Saints and Matt Ryan is not Drew Brees. The Falcons could not take advantage of their matchup against the Redskins and I doubt their ability to do so against the Raiders. Furthermore, even if the Falcons put up a good amount of points, they probably still won’t be able to keep up with that potent Raiders offense.
I like the Raiders to advance to 2-0.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers
The Jaguars are a team on the upswing with a plethora of young defensive talent that are still trying to finding their footing. Luckily for that Jags they get to face the Chargers. This is a franchise that has trouble signing their own draft picks, can’t attract free agents (despite being located in the most idyllic location), and will likely leave because their fans would rather see them leave than pay for their stadium.
The Chargers in the second half last week were dissected by a quarterback who can’t throw more than 15 yards and by a team without its best player in Jamal Charles. What are they going to do against Blake Bortles and his arsenal of weaponry? I have no answer to that question and I do not think they do either. Jaguars win.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
As of this writing the Vikings have made no formal announcement as to who will start week 2 at quarterback, but the smart money would be on Sam Bradford. While Bradford has always been a bit of a question mark, he certainly would appear to be a dramatic upgrade over Shaun Hill. Whatever they do, they better make a change soon, because they won against Tennessee on the strength of defensive and special teams touchdowns.
Green Bay is a far better team than Tennessee and the Vikings will have to establish a consistent offensive attack in order to have any chance. I do not think they will be able to do that. Packers win.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
Not exactly a prime time matchup to get excited over. Philadelphia is in full rebuild mode and the Bears are stuck in neutral due to their inexplicable reluctance to move on from Jay Cutler.
Last week rookie Carson Wentz had a very solid debut throwing for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. But let’s face the facts, playing well against the Browns is hardly an accomplishment and Wentz has only dipped a toe in the NFL waters. This week he is facing veteran head coach John Fox and defensive guru Vic Fangio, who will know doubt throw a variety of looks at the rookie.
I have little faith in the Bears’ offense, but the Eagles defense is a far cry from Houston’s and Chicago will have plenty holes to exploit. I like the Bears in prime time at home with a veteran quarterback to overcome an Eagles team that is not nearly as good as it looked against the Browns.