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Week 2 NFL Picks

As injuries keep mounting in Dallas, the pressure on Dak Prescott and the offense grows. I’m sure they’ll be up to the task. (Photo by Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Last Week:     7 – 9 – 0
Season:           7 – 9 – 0

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Giants 29 at Football Team 30
Let’s do bullet points.

  • Washington’s defense isn’t as advertised, not even close. It’s a long season and I’m sure they’ll improve but the Giants punted once in the 2nd half on Thursday. On the other hand, Washington won that game because their defense kept New York out of the end zone for most of the night, only surrendering field goals.
  • I thought the Kenny Golladay explosion in the final minutes was expected and probably overdue. Did the Giants not watch film before signing him to a lucrative contract? Golladay is a big play receiver. He got a big contract because he consistently won 50/50 deep balls from Matthew Stafford. The Giants haven’t used him in that capacity at all. As the great Nick Sirianni says, don’t fit players into your scheme. Fit your scheme to what players do well.
  • Despite the victory, I don’t think a 2:1 pass/run ratio is a winning formula for Washington. I thought Taylor Heinicke played worse than the stats show. He takes A LOT of chances in the middle of the field and he was not particularly accurate. Washington’s receivers made a number of great grabs.

 

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bengals at Bears
If I were a Bears fan I would absolutely want Justin Fields under center. From the outside looking in, there are three things at play when it comes to Andy Dalton starting at quarterback. 1. Fields isn’t ready. I’d rank this as the least likely of the three because Dalton hasn’t been anything but average for three years now and Sunday night wasn’t much different. 2. Chicago did not want Fields to begin his NFL career against Aaron Donald and one of the league’s best defenses. This is somewhat understandable but still not likely. 3. Delaying Fields’ NFL career extends Matt Nagy’s coaching career in Chicago. DING DING DING We have a winner. After the Bears start 3-7, Nagy can insert Fields and perhaps buy himself another year by selling the hope of developing Fields and pinning the dreadful season on Dalton. The biggest problem here is losing the locker room. If Fields is actually good enough to play now, we’ll see the frustration on the field from other players. Allen Robinson was leaking this frustration Sunday Night. BEARS -2

Texans at Browns
I thought Mayfield was great Sunday. His stats and flash weren’t better than Patrick Mahomes, but I thought Mayfield played better. Mayfield was more accurate and was exceptional when throwing deep downfield. Most importantly, he played within the offense and didn’t try to do too much… right up until he did. That game clinching interception was the only blemish on a perfect day for Mayfield. Observations after one week don’t mean much of anything, but the Browns clearly look like one of the best teams in the AFC. BROWNS -12.5

Rams at Colts
Good news for Colts fans: I didn’t think Carson Wentz was one of the top seven reasons Indianapolis lost to Seattle. Bad news for Colts fans: I didn’t see much that led me to believe Wentz was any closer to his 2017 self. He still held the football for too long. Still tried to make something out of nothing when nothing was the better option. Still lacked accuracy at times. Indianapolis’ schedule isn’t doing Wentz any favors, either. The Rams certainly won’t provide an ideal environment for Wentz to grow comfortable with his new team. I’d prepare for things to get worse for the Colts before they get better. They will get better, though. I think. Also, anyone else find it weird how many media members are openly rooting against Wentz? I thought the media was supposed to report without bias. RAMS -4

Bills at Dolphins
Though Josh Allen is awesome, running the football isn’t a bad idea. Buffalo could have used something different to get their offense on track Sunday against Pittsburgh. But nope, they just kept dropping Allen back and letting it fly. Buffalo dropped back to pass 60 times in a game they led for nearly 49 minutes. 60 times against only 13 rushes is not sustainable, especially against TJ Watt. DOLPHINS +3.5

Patriots at Jets
The Jets have picked inside the top 11 for five straight years. Three of those years they were inside the top 3. How are they still this bad? Zack Wilson is a lot more fun than Sam Darold ever was, so at least Jets fans will be reasonably entertained while losing. PATRIOTS -6

49ers at Eagles
The Eagles did a great job of keeping Jalen Hurts out of 3rd and long situations. While Hurts did complete some throws in tight spaces (the DeVonta Smith touchdown), he was generally throwing to open receivers within the offensive scheme. Essentially, the Falcons did a poor job of keeping Hurts in the pocket and forcing him to find a receiver outside of his first or second option. (No, that’s not an easy ask for a defense, but it’s been the book on Hurts since college.) Also, I’d like to extend my gratitude to Nick Sirianni for including Miles Sanders in the offense. He’s one of the more electrifying backs in the NFL as proven by his yards per touch (3rd behind only Nick Chubb and Aaron Jones). Sanders needs the football in his hands at least 20 times a game. As I said last week, I believed the Eagles would be a playoff team behind two solid lines and speed at the skill positions. EAGLES +3.5

Raiders at Steelers
Pittsburgh’s offense was a disaster in the first half and only slightly improved to “stuck in mud” in the second half. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger needed a week to get his legs under him. There’s too much talent on that offense for them to be that ineffective. Also, still not buying the Raiders. That was by far the flukiest win of the week. STEELERS -5.5

Saints at Panthers
Speaking of not buying… I do not believe the Saints are 38-3 over the Packers good. Despite the 38 points, that offense still looked pretty limited at times. A division rival like Carolina will be a good test for Jameis Winston and the Saints. The Panthers have been relatively effective at limiting Alvin Kamara, so more of the offensive load will land on Winston’s shoulders. PANTHERS +3.5

Broncos at Jaguars
If not for the disappointing Falcons and Titans, the Jaguars would’ve been the worst team of Week 1. Jacksonville looked unprepared and overmatched against a team many expect to be one of the worst three teams in the NFL. The offense had no rhythm and the defense kept getting burned by Brandin Cooks like it was 2016. Again, overreacting to Week 1 isn’t good business, but man does this feel like Steve Spurrier 2.0. BRONCOS -6

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Vikings at Cardinals
Fun fact only I care about… The Vikings, 49ers and Cowboys are the only teams still on the road in Week 2. This is probably a blessing for Minnesota since they slept walk through most of Week 1 and lost to the lowly Bengals in overtime. Keep a close eye on Justin Jefferson this season. Kirk Cousins had trouble getting Jefferson involved in the offense until late in the game Sunday and Jefferson was not shy about his frustration. With Mike Zimmer on the hot seat tensions in Minnesota will remain high this season. The Vikings have that car wreck season stench to them. CARDINALS -3.5

Falcons at Buccaneers
Atlanta’s offense can’t be that bad. Can they? Tampa Bay’s defense was shockingly bad opening night against an explosive Dallas offense. The Falcons offense is also supposed to be explosive. The Bucaneers will win but expect the Falcons to bounce back from an ugly Week 1 performance. FALCONS +12.5

Cowboys at Chargers
The DeMarcus Lawrence injury is a killer for the Cowboys. The pass rush was Dallas’ best hope at a respectable defense. The Cowboys back seven is weird. There is a lot of elite talent there, especially at linebacker, but they just haven’t figured it out as an NFL defense. Dak Prescott and the offense will make for exciting television and keep Dallas in every game. I don’t think their defense can hang with the Chargers, though, especially on 3rd down. Keenan Allen is wizard on 3rd down. CHARGERS -3

Titans at Seahawks
The Titans were the no-show winners of Week 1, barely edging out the Atlanta Falcons. Tennessee couldn’t run the football. They weren’t much better through the air. Ryan Tannehill was sloppy with the football and the offensive line was more matador than protector. Did I mention the Titan defense surrendered 38 points in only three quarters? Arizona literally stopped playing offense in the 4th. The Texans are going to be in first place in the AFC South after two weeks. SEAHAWKS -6.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Chiefs at Ravens
Baltimore’s secondary was a mess Monday night against Derek Carr. Defensive back Chris Westry is now out for extended time. I’m pretty sure Patrick Mahomes is not the cure for what ails the Ravens right now. CHIEFS -4

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Lions at Packers
Imagine working as hard as you possibly can for a spouse that you know doesn’t want to be with you. This doesn’t work in real life, so why should it be different for an NFL team? Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to be in Green Bay. He’s said as much. I think he’ll still try his best. I think the team will still try its best. However, when things get tense and losses start stringing together, the fault lines in this Green Bay marriage will definitely show. It’s human nature. Remember the Golden State Warriors in 2019? They all knew Kevin Durant was as good as gone. As soon as the season reached a moment of adversity, the finger pointing and blaming began. You can’t have a successful team when every member knows one guy is already out the door. The doubt is already in the subconscious just waiting to seep out when the opportunity arises. Now, does that mean the Packers will go 0-17 or even miss the playoffs? I doubt it. There is too much talent there and Rodgers is too prideful to just suck for an entire year. But this team won’t go far if a certain someone doesn’t have a change of heart. (Packers win. Don’t cover.) LIONS +11.5

*****

 

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