I am going to avoid writing about last night’s Broncos at Chiefs game in case you’re trying to catch up with it without hearing the score. I will write it up over the weekend as it is a good one, but for now let’s take a look at the rest of the week 2 games.
Falcons @ Giants (-2.5)
The Giants managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory that I was really not expecting them to be in a position to get. In fairness, whilst they did okay in the run game, the passing game did not go as well as you might expect and the Cowboys offence outgained them by one hundred and forty-six yards. This can be highlighted by Odell Beckham’s modest forty-four yards on five catches, but the real story is that they were in a position to win the game, but bad clock management between Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin gave Dallas enough time to go seventy-two yards in seventy-six seconds.
This week the Giants host a Falcons team coming off an impressive win in Philadelphia, although the Eagles did come back strongly against them in the second half. They are still making changes to their offence line, which is a worry, but the Falcons have a true franchise quarterback and receiver Julio Jones was amazing against the Eagles, amassing one hundred and forty-four yards from nine receptions and with the Giants’ questions in the secondary, this will be a match up to watch. The Falcons were setup to let the Eagles have the short throws and were betting they couldn’t sustain enough drives to win, which was a bet that paid off for them. We don’t know how typical this approach will be as it is too early in the season, but the defence is already looking better than last season.
I am still not convinced by the Giants, and whilst there are still questions around the Falcons on both sides of the ball, I just think they have enough talent to beat this Giants team.
Gee’s Pick: Falcons
Dan’s Pick: Falcons
Patriots @ Bills (+0.5)
The Bills defence were as impressive as we were expecting, with the changes Rex Ryan made paying off, but they also executed their plan successfully on offence as well as defence. The Bills offence ran the ball successfully, Tyrod Taylor looked after the ball, and he made enough big passes and runs to get them the win. However, it was Rex’s pressure on Andrew Luck that meant he wasn’t able to perform in the way we have come to expect. It will be fascinating to see what plans Rex Ryan has to deal with the Patriots offence.
The Patriots got the win against the Steelers, but whilst their offence was working very well, they were going against a defence in transition that was having all sorts of communication issues, and not just due to headset problems. I very much doubt that we will see Rob Gronkowski that open in this game. The other thing that struck me about the Patriots was that their defence seemed to be functioning much more of a bend don’t break principle, and whilst you would expect them to improve as the Patriots usually do through the season, they looked soft against the run game and the Steelers had no problems in the passing game until they got near the red zone.
I could regret this one, but I am getting a half point for a home team with a defence that is nasty, and a team that I think will be able to run the ball against the Patriots. No one should take a quarterback with as few starts as Taylor against Tom Brady, but that is what I am going to do this week.
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Patriots
Cardinals @ Bears (+2.5)
The Bears are a team in transition, and they may have lost their opener to their hated rivals the Green Bay Packers, but a 31-23 loss does not seem that bad in the grand scheme of things. There are questions all round this team, but they ran the ball well and generated over four hundred yards of offence, even if Jay Cutler did throw one of his obligatory interceptions. The Packers didn’t exactly light up the Bears defence if you look at the statistics, but Rodgers is a great quarterback and still managed to throw for three touchdowns. It is going to be a long season, but this is not a team that I think will suffer the meltdowns they had last year.
The Cardinals had questions about their defence having lost Tod Bowles as defensive coordinator, and their offence given that Carson Palmer was coming back from a season ending injury. However, whilst the questions may remain about the defence, Carson Palmer looked good, throwing for three touchdowns without an interceptions, and over three hundred yards. This is a coaching staff that I still believe in, and I think even though they are on the road, that they will have too much for the Bears.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals
Chargers @ Bengals (-3.5)
The Bengals couldn’t have got off to much of a better start last week against the Raiders. Their offence was clicking, with the offensive line remaining as good as they were last year, and the players returning from injury meant that they just had too many weapons for the Raiders defence to stop. There was a real effort in the offseason to improve the depth as the tight end position, but Tyler Eifert really caught the eye with his two touchdowns, and one hundred and four yards, on nine receptions. The other side of the ball also played well, with the defensive line rotation continuing to look better than last season, and the secondary looked strong as well. The Raiders were 33-0 down going into the final quarter and the Bengals were playing a lot of backups in that final quarter.
In their home opener they welcome a Chargers team who won their opening game, but whilst Philip Rivers looked good, even whilst throwing two interceptions, there still are questions about their defence. In the game against the Lions they outgained Detroit by one hundred and eighty-one yards, but only won by five points.
I’m trying not to be too much of a Bengals fan about this one, but I like how the team look right now, and whilst the Chargers offence is going to be good, I think there are enough questions about their defence that I think the Bengals will take care of business in their home opener, particularly as they are still carrying a grudge from the post season loss two years ago.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Titans @ Browns (+1.5)
The Browns took a lead in the second quarter, but by half time they had surrendered it to the Jets in what was eventually a lopsided loss. The passing defence that was so good last year seemed to regress back to average and the Jets were able to run for one hundred and fifty-four yards. Whilst on offence they lost Josh McCowan to a concussion on the opening drive as he dived for the end zone, the Browns did manage to put up over three hundred yards with Johnny Manziel in the game. However, whilst he looked better than last year when he was simply horrendous, there are still questions about Manziel and his play was uneven to say the least. He managed to couple four fumbles, all of them lost to the Jets, and an interception, with his first NFL touchdown pass. The Browns are finding out Friday morning if McCowan will pass the league’s concussion protocol, and will start if he does, so we don’t really know what to expect this week except that the offensive line didn’t do a great job at the Jets and the running game was not that great. One of their big problems is that there are not a lot of their recent first round picks working out at the moment, and you can’t win if you routinely don’t hit often enough in the early rounds of the draft.
For the second season in a row the Titans got their season started with a win, but it was a real beat down they gave to the Bucs last week. Marcus Mariota looked good as he threw for four touchdowns without an interception, as Ken Wisenhunt used a number of familiar Oregon concepts to help his rookie quarterback settle into the NFL. It helped that the Bucs played with a lot of easy to identify coverage concepts, but already the decision to pick Jameis Winston is getting questioned. Part of that was the reads Winston had to make against an improving Titans team that added Dick LeBeau into the defensive brain trust in the offseason.
I don’t want to get too carried away with the start the Titans made, but they already look a more interesting team than last year, and I fancy them to get a win against a Browns team that just can’t seem to get everyone pulling in the right direction.
Gee’s Pick: Titans
Dan’s Pick: Titans
Lions @ Vikings (-2.5)
The Vikings were a team we were all expecting to make a step up again this year, and whilst it is too early to say that they won’t, it was no the start they would have wanted losing to the 49ers who had so much turmoil in the offseason. The offensive line problems that hampered them last year were not much better this year, and Adrian Peterson did not run the ball like he has in past years, although he didn’t get the number of carries he would usually expect. This perhaps is not that surprising as the Vikings defence gave up nearly four hundred yards, and I would imagine that Mike Zimmer will furious about the two hundred and thirty yards they gave up on the ground to the 49ers.
The Lions went into half time with an eleven point lead, and then watched it disappear in the second half, with Matthew Stafford throwing two picks to go with his two touchdowns. The Lions ran the ball modestly, but Ameer Abdullah got his first career highlight with a move on Eric Weddle that left him helpless as Abdullah fizzed past him to run in his first career touchdown. The defence is still adjusting to the offseason personnel changes, and they will be hoping that DeAndre Levy gets back from his hip injury quickly.
I’m a little worried about this pick, but whilst I think that the Vikings will do okay this season, and that Mike Zimmer will at least stiffen their defence again, I’m not sure that things will turn quickly enough for this game as they are on a short week, so I’m reluctantly taking Matthew Stafford on the road..
Gee’s Pick: Lions
Dan’s Pick: Lions
Rams @ Washington (+3.5)
The team from Washington might have got the result that I was expecting, but perhaps they were not quite the team I thought they were. The defence was improved on last year, but more impressively they were able to run the ball effectively with Alfred Morris running for over one hundred and twenty yards. They are still a mess at quarterback with Kirk Cousins throwing two interceptions, but they kept the game close against a team that may were tipping for the playoffs before the start of the season.
The Rams play the Seahawks tough at home, but they did a little more than that in week one, getting one of the results of the first week. There do appear to be problems with the Seahawks secondary and line, but the Rams defence got six sacks with Aaron Donald getting two whilst being very disruptive at defensive tackle. If the Rams defence was as good as we had expected, the play of Nick Foles shows there may be some hope for the Rams offence this season, throwing as he did for nearly three hundred yards and a touchdown without any interceptions. Add to that a run game that generated over a hundred and twenty yards, and a time of possession advantage of nearly nine minutes and you can see how this team beat the Seahawks.
They may be coming across the country to play this game, but I think they have enough to win in Washington.
Gee’s Pick: Rams
Dan’s Pick: Rams
Bucs @ Saints (-9.5)
The Saints travelled to Arizona and lost against a good Cardinals team. They threw the ball more than I was expecting, and did look effective doing it, although Drew Brees threw an interception to match his touchdown. The running game stuttered with them only gaining fifty-four yards at 2.7 yards per carry so you can perhaps understand their sticking with the pass. However, if the offence continues to put up over four hundred yards, it will have to be more efficient in their opponent’s half as they only managed one touchdown in this game, and were forced to kick four field goals. All of this as their defence gave up one hundred and twenty yards and a touchdown against the run, and over three hundred yards and three touchdowns in the air.
The Buccaneers had an awful start to the season and for once it doesn’t seem sensationalist to write that a coach could be on the hot seat after game one. Their first round quarterback threw a pick six on his first NFL play, and threw a second later in the game as the Bucs were thoroughly out played. Worse still was the defence, which was picked apart by a rookie quarterback for four touchdowns. The defensive problems are even more concerning given that Lovie Smith is a defensive coach, and it could be a very long season for the fans in Tampa Bay.
I am pretty certain that the Saints are going to win the game, and the points scare me, but as much as I want to take the Bucs to cover, they just lost by twenty-eight points to the Titans and so I can’t bring myself to do it.
Gee’s Pick: Saints
Dan’s Pick: Saints
49ers @ Steelers (-6.5)
The Steelers looked good on offence, moving the ball well despite their suspensions, but ran into an angry Patriots team that simply does not lose at home very often. Their defence though was a real mess in coverage, and whilst I’m sure this will improve over the year, it will continue to worry when they are giving as many points as this.
The 49ers came out in their Monday night game and physically dominated the Vikings, running the ball very effectively and containing the Vikings’ offence. I’m not sure how good they will be across the season, but they are not going to be the car crash that many were predicting. That said, there still are doubts about Colin Kaepernick in the pass game, even having spent the offseason working with Kurt Warner, but if NaVorro Bowman continues his impressive return to form on defence, then this team will be a tough one to face each week.
This is a tough travel week for the 49ers, coming across country after a late Monday night game, but whilst I think the Steelers will win this game, I think that between their defence and the missing offensive starters, the Steelers won’t cover this spread.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: 49ers
Texans @ Panthers (-3.5)
The Panthers ran out comfortable winners in their opening game despite losing Luke Kuechly to a concussion. However, the offence I was worried about was actually outgained by the Jaguars, but they took better care of the ball and got the job done. However, I’m still worried about their receivers, Cam Newton ran the ball more than you would want, and whilst the front seven of their defence looks good, the secondary doesn’t inspire confidence yet.
We don’t know how this team have practiced, so we can’t put too much stock in the comments we saw in Hard Knocks, but it is interesting that after seeing Hoyer be told he wouldn’t be on a short leash when given the starter job, he was pulled in the opening game. The Texans gave up five sacks to the Chiefs, Hoyer only threw one interception, but Bill O’Brien was clearly not happy with what he saw. On defence, JJ Watt got two sacks and was his usual disruptive self, but the team still gave up three hundred and thirty yards and three touchdowns.
I’m finding this a hard game to pick as I don’t really trust what I think about either team yet. The Panthers have injuries to deal with, but the Texans are in a mess at quarterback again and don’t have their Arian Foster in the running game. However, that extra half point just pulls me towards the Texans and JJ Watt.
Gee’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Pick: Panthers
Ravens @ Raiders (+6.5)
The Raiders start to the season was horrible on both sides of the ball. There is plenty of time to turn things round, but there must be a real sense of not again floating around Oakland right now.
The Ravens fell in a close game to the Broncos and lost Terrell Suggs for the season to an Achilles tear. The defence is still going to be solid, but this is going to weaken their linebacker corp. Their offence however is thing that could be a cause of concern. It is best not to overreact to their week one showing given how good the Broncos look to be on defence, but there seems to be a lack of weapons in their offence and even the line was not at their best last week.
However, it is going to take a lot more points that this for me to back the Raiders against a good team.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Ravens
Dolphins @ Jaguars (+6.5)
The Jaguars actually outgained the Panthers in their first game, but it was a familiar result for them, and they won’t win with Blake Bortles throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. Living in the UK you hear a lot about the Jaguars because of their commitment to playing over here, but they really need to do something to convince me that they are going to turn the corner that we keep hearing they might do.
The Dolphins made hard work of beating Washington, and didn’t exactly set the world on fire on either side of the ball. You can understand why they paid Suh the money they have, but the Dolphins won’t want him overstepping the line of hard play into dirty like he did against the Washington. That said, this is a game for them to get things going again, and I am not picking the Jaguars again until they can prove to me they have earned it.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Cowboys @ Eagles (-4.5)
The Eagles had a slow start in the first half of this game, and finished strongly, but couldn’t quite climb out of the hole they had dug for themselves. Perhaps more worrying was how they struggled to cover Julio Jones, and the play of Byron Maxwell will be a concern given the amount of money they gave him in the offseason. However, things really clicked in the second half for the offence, and the front seven of their defence looks very good.
The Eagles welcome a Cowboys team that stole a win from the Giants last week. The defence is still a concern, and you have to wonder how they will cope against the fast paced Chip Kelly offence if gets into gear again. However, in addition to the defence, the running game did not look good last week against the Giants, and the injury of Dez Bryant is huge, and I really hope they don’t’ rush him back as he has the same fracture that did for Kevin Durant’s season in the NBA this year.
The amount of points worries me in this game, but I have a lot of questions about this Cowboys team who were lucky to win last week, and so I’m sticking by the Eagles for now.
Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys
Seahawks @ Packers (-3.5)
The Packers got their win against the Bears to start the season, and Aaron Rodgers was his usual other worldly self, resuming his chemistry with James Jones despite no offseason working with the receiver, as he threw for three touchdowns but only one hundred and eighty-nine yards. Despite losing Jordy Nelson, the worry for this team could well be on defence. They lost middle linebacker Sam Barrington for the year so they could well be thin there, and giving up four hundred yards to the Bears is not exactly encouraging, particularly giving up one hundred and eighty-nine of them against the run when the Seahawks are coming into town this week.
However, there may be some cracks appearing in the Seahawks this year. On offence it might be time to invest some time in their offensive line as they struggled last week against a good Rams front, but it would have been worse if Russell Wilson wasn’t such a mobile quarterback, and he was still sacked six times. If that wasn’t enough, the hold out of Kam Chancellor, and the depth at corner means that there are now questions about the Seahawks secondary for the first time in years, I was not expecting them to move Richard Sherman into the slot when playing nickel.
This should be a cracking game, but with Green Bay playing at home, and I would imagine desperate to make amends after the horrible playoff loss last season, I am backing them to get the win at Lambeau.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Packers
Jets @ Colts (-6.5)
The Colts really struggled last week against the pressure that Bills’ defence got against them, even if it only yielded two sacks, Andrew Luck threw for twenty-six completions on forty-nine attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. I am still stunned that they didn’t pick an offensive lineman until the seventh round, and in my opinion they had enough depth at receiver that they could have addressed this need in the first round rather than picking the receiver they did. The other worrying thing for Colts fans was the familiar one hundred and forty-seven yards they gave up on the ground against the Bills. This was a real problem for the defence last year, and this could be a tough second week for them given that they are playing a very similar team in the Jets.
The Jets also have what looks to be a tough defence, and an offence very capable of running the ball. The defence might not rush the passer as much as Ryan’s Bills last week, but you have to imagine that they have seen the tape and will be looking at trying to disrupt the middle of the Colts line again. They also ran for over one hundred and fifty yards last week on offence, and while Ryan Fitzpatrick might not have the legs of Tyrod Taylor, his best years in Buffalo were under current jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
I’m not sure if I would go as far as to predict a win for the Jets, but I’m not sure the Colts are worth this many points at home, and so I’m backing the Jets to keep this game close.
Gee’s Pick: Jets
Dan’s Pick: Colts