Last week feels like an aberration. 14-2 seems really hard to do in a league filled with parity. But, somehow, it happened. Some games were lucky, some were dumbfounding (Arizona losing still bugs me, but I’m kicking myself for doubting Belichick), and others were straightforward. I shouldn’t overreact though, because I’m sure I’ll be humbled somehow this week.
Last week: 14-2
This week: 1-0
It seems like a Niners tradition to do well on opening Monday night. They dominated playoff bound Minnesota last season, so shutting out the Rams shouldn’t propel them any higher than a team in rebuilding mode. The Panthers will humble them on Sunday by rebounding from an opening night loss in Denver. The Niners defense is underrated, but covering Benjamin and Olsen won’t be an easy task. I expect Newton to regain an MVP like form.
The Browns still look like the basement of the league after getting handed a loss from rookie Carson Wentz. If things weren’t bad enough, RGIII could be done for the season with a shoulder injury. The Ravens, on the other hand, are coming off a defensive battle against Buffalo. Road divisional underdogs always seem to play better than expected, and even after getting dominated, the Browns should put up a fight. I expect Baltimore’s run game to control the clock and hang on at the end.
The Titans put up a fight against the Vikings last week, and kept Adrian Peterson in check with 31 yards on 19 carries. I don’t expect the Lions to be any better on the ground, but through the air, Stafford will thrive. Meanwhile, the exotic smashmouth should do better against a vulnerable Lions D, and Delanie Walker should find holes in soft coverage. But, Stafford and company will be too much.
Talked about this one on the podcast. I am not the biggest fan of Brock Osweiler, and even though the Chiefs defense isn’t fully healthy, it still has the talent to hold Osweiler and Miller better than Chicago did. The Chiefs may have found the heir apparent to Jamaal Charles in Spencer Ware, who is just as effective through the air as he is on the ground. Alex Smith will make good decisions, and this Chiefs group will win a tough game on the road.
The Dolphins proved their defense can hang with the best of them, giving Seattle serious fits until the final drive. Facing Jimmy Garoppolo and the Pats is another tough test, but the Fins will hang around for most of the game. Adam Gase’s offense will have a little more breathing room to work this week as well, which should be another boost to Ryan Tannehill. But, the better coaching will win out in this one.
This could easily be the best game of the day. The rivalry between these two continues to grow, and an early divisional tilt is just what the fans ordered. Featuring two Super Bowl contenders, I expect a back and forth battle all game long. DeAngelo Williams can still do it all at 33, and Antonio Brown showed last week why he’s the best. The Bengals are coming off an impressive road win where AJ Green toasted Revis Island over and over. The defense still looks strong, and should be able to get more pressure on Big Ben than the Redskins did. Drama will ensue, but the home team wins out here.
This won’t be the high scoring affair we saw last season, but it is the Saints defense we all know so well. They gave up yards in bunches last week, and with an even stronger passing offense here, it could get ugly. Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard will torch a Saints secondary that will be without Delvin Breaux. The Saints struggle at times away from the dome, and with an improved defense, the Giants move to 2-0.
The Redskins should be able to bounce back from an embarrassing home opener, in which they allowed DeAngelo Williams to run free and Antonio Brown to run free. It won’t be easy with almost no tape on Dak Prescott, and I expect Elliott to have a better day against a softer Redskins D. But, the Dallas defense will struggle trying to cover the likes of Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson, which will ultimately be their demise in another close divisional game.
The Cardinals brought the shock to our faces last week, losing to a Patriots team without Brady and Gronk. This week, I expect them to respond after the critics are wondering if this team will begin to crumble under the expectations. I say that won’t happen. This team is top ten on both sides of the ball and will bottle up the offense led by second year pro Jameis Winston. The Bucs are improved on defense too, but containing David Johnson and all those receivers will not be easy. Arizona begins the playoff trek with a solid win.
Seahawks 20, Rams 10
Seattle showed some weakness against Miami in what many thought would be a blowout. It took 56 minutes for Seattle to figure it out and put the Fins away. The Rams defensive line is even better than Miami’s, and they could have Wilson running for his life. The Rams will keep it close all game long, but a late Seahawks TD will put them away. In other news, the Rams do score points this week.
Broncos 24, Colts 17
The Broncos defense proved that even losing a couple studs doesn’t weaken the defense. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware still look great off the edge, and the corners are still great. Andrew Luck will have a tougher time finding open receivers this week, and his offensive line could really be exposed this week. Ryan Kelly can’t block the edge rushers. CJ Anderson should run very well again this week against a mediocre Colts defense that may make Siemian look excellent. Defense wins again this week.
Raiders 31, Falcons 23
All aboard the Raiders hype train. Going for two on the road is as gutsy a call as I’ve seen the past several years. The Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree trio is very hard to stop. Atlanta’s defense has not gelled into a good unit yet, and it will struggle this week. On the other side, Matt Ryan will hit Julio Jones plenty, but the Raiders defense is better than it showed last week. Chalk this one up for Oakland, who will look very good at 2-0.
Chargers 21, Jaguars 18
There are two things to expect from this game. The first is that cross country trips never end well for the road teams. The second is that when every single person expects a shootout, it won’t be one. I expect those two things to occur here. Bortles and company will struggle against an underrated pass defense led by Jason Verrett. Running the ball well with Melvin Gordon will be the key, and a home run ball to Travis Benjamin could seal the deal.
Packers 24, Vikings 20
The Vikings home opener in their new stadium will not be easy. The Packers seemed to find a little of themselves last Sunday, and Rodgers continues to amaze us with throws we never thought could be made. The Vikings defense isn’t the Jags defense though. Eddie Lacy will have to be running well to open up the play action. Jordy Nelson and the receivers could have a better day with Xavier Rhodes out. The Packers defense bottled up the run game last week, and did do much better against Peterson last season. It’ll be a close one, but the Pack will grind out a tough one on the road.
Eagles 20, Bears 16
Carson Wentz has a ways to go before we believe he’s the real deal, but a road win against a tough front seven could boost his stock. He will be able to lean on Ryan Mathews to carry the load, and Jordan Matthews should run free in a below average Bears secondary. Jeremy Langford should have a good game this week, as well as Alshon Jeffery, but a Cutler turnover could end this one late.
Thursday’s Pick: Jets 23, Bills 20
Enjoy week 2 folks, and I will be back this week on the site for some articles and fun times!