So here we are, and it’s already week two but before we get down to the second week of picks let’s see if either of Dan or I can actually score a point in the trivia competition so here’s a reminder of the question:
‘This week I want to know what connects the following teams:
Chiefs, Packers, Raiders, Bengals and Bears.’
Now I think that what links all these teams is that they lost their last Super Bowl appearance, so let’s see what Dan thought:
‘This is an absolute guess this week, and resisting the urge to put “They all have an ‘E’ in their name” and being correct on a technicality I’ll say…. Have none of them had the first Draft pick??’ [I happen to know the Bengals have – Ed.]
Panthers @ Falcons (-5.5)
This should be an interesting game between two division rivals but I worry for the Atlanta Falcons as not only did Matt Ryan look off last week, but they lost key players up the spine of their defence in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. This is the NFL so I’m not saying that the Falcons can’t win this game, and if the years picking games has taught me anything it’s that teams are more likely to go 1-1 than win or lose both games, but this is too many points going against a Carolina Panthers team that looked good on defence last week.
Gee’s Pick: Panthers
Dan’s Pick: Falcons
‘The Falcons didn’t win last week, but played quite well. So did the panthers, but they were probably helped by the Cowboys not looking great. I’ll go Falcons this week.’
Chargers @ Bills (+7.5)
The Bills looked bad last week and the response is to give Josh Allen his first start, which was not the plan going into the season. This is a big swing in points, but the Bills looked horrible and so I think the LA Chargers will pick up their first win of the season but what worries me is that they are coming across the country to play the Bills in Buffalo and I wonder if this game could be closer than I think. I am tempted by the Bills to cover in a loss, there has to be a reaction to last week’s game in this their home opener and I don’t exactly trust the Chargers so I am finding this one really hard to commit to. In the end this is too many points for me in a game that I don’t have that strong a lean in terms of line.
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
‘If the Bills play like they did last week, they’re going to struggle to get many wins this season, and I don’t envy their rookie QB’s position. I’m going Chargers.’
Browns @ Saints (-8.5)
The New Orleans Saints lost their home opener to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week in a game where they scored forty but conceded forty-eight. Funny things can happen in divisional games but this week they welcome a Cleveland Browns team who failed to grasp the opportunity to beat the Steelers despite generating six turnovers. The Browns’ defence looks like it will be nasty and Myles Garrett looked every inch the high first round pick that he was, but Drew Brees continues to play other worldly football. I think that Saints bounce back in this one and their defence, which played so much better last season will be determined not to let the Saints go 0-2 whilst I don’t have faith in Hue Jackson at all.
Gee’s Pick: Saints
Dan’s Pick: Browns
‘The Saints will win this one, but I think this will be another close one, so I’m backing the Browns to cover.’
Vikings @ Packers (-0.5)
As I’m writing this we don’t know if Aaron Rodgers will be able to start given his knee sprain from last week, and there’s been plenty of talk that the Minnesota Viking defence is not the unit for Rodgers to face with a dodgy knee. The problem with that is DeShone Kizer completed four of his seven passes and managed a pick six in his limited time leading the Green Bay Packers offence whilst Rodgers was getting evaluated. It’s not often these days that picking against the Packers at home is good pick but the fall off if Rodgers can’t play is dramatic and I think the Vikings are as good a shout as anyone for the best team in the league and so in what is basically a pick’em game I’m backing the Vikings.
Gee’s Pick: Vikings
Dan’s Pick: Packers
‘Another close one I’m struggling to pick. With the roar of the Lambeau behind them, I’ll pick Green Bay.’
Texans @ Titans (+2.5)
This game pits two winless teams against each other but the Tennessee Titans are still waiting to see if oft injured quarterback Marcus Mariota can play with the pinched nerve in his elbow that is causing loss of sensation in his fingers, but we do know that both of their starting offensive tackles are ruled out of this game and Delanie Walker is done for the season. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when head coach Mike Vrabel says that they’re anticipating having both Mariota and Blaine Gabbert play. The Houston Texans have injury concerns of their own on an offensive line that was a concern coming into the season, but they were a frequent pick to be one of the teams of the AFC and they need to get back to winning ways quickly if this is to hold true. I don’t have a lot of faith in the Texans but two road games that opens in New England is a rough way to start the season for any team and so I’m not reading too much into the week one loss.
Gee’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Pick: Texans
‘The Titans are knackered, and the Texans looked ok last week despite a loss against the Patriots, so this is quite an easy one. I’ll go Texans.’
Colts @ Washington (-5.5)
The Indianapolis Colts lost to the Bengals last week in a game where Andrew Luck returned from his long injury layoff and looked good but otherwise this rebuilding team struggled. This week they travel to face a Washington team who won a game very competently against the Cardinals. The experienced quarterback Alex Smith threw for over two hundred and fifty yards and two touchdowns whilst Arian Peterson ran for the ninety-six yards and took three receptions seventy yards. I don’t know how sustainable this kind of production is for Peterson but it does seem that Smith is a good fit for Jay Gruden’s system and it looks like Washington are in position to get off to a better start to this season than has been the case in recent years. I like Washington to run out winners in this one and whilst the points worry me a little, I’m placing some trust in Jay Gruden’s men. I hope I don’t regret it.
Gee’s Pick: Washington
Dan’s Pick: Washington
‘Colts aren’t going to do well this year – that much seems fairly clear already. Luck will be Lucky(!) to last the season if he keeps getting hit! Redskins for me.’
Chiefs @ Steelers (-5.5)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still without Le’Veon Bell and whilst James Conner was a very competent replacement in the running game, Ben Roethlisberger had a rotten start to the season in week one throwing three interceptions as the Steelers tied with the Cleveland Browns. This week they welcome a Kansas City Chiefs team that looked really good on offence in their first game and looked a bit better on defence. This game could be a real offensive show as I’m not convinced by the Steelers defence these days and I’m definitely going to be watching this one. I’m slightly surprised by the number of points that the Steelers are getting and whilst I expect them to be better and winning the game would hardly be a surprise, I can’t pick them to win by six against this Chief who look explosive on offence.
Gee’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs
‘Picking Chiefs, but Steelers to win the game.’
Dolphins @ Jets (-2.5)
I am really intrigued by this game because the Miami Dolphins ground out a win against the Titans in difficult circumstances thanks to the weather, and this week travel to New York to face a Jets team who easily beat a woeful Lions team. Now, this could very well have made Sam Darnold look better than he actually is, but the buzz around the Jets’ rookie quarterback is incredibly positive and I want to know if the Lions made the Jets look good last week, or if the Jets are going to be a danger in the AFC East. The worry for me in this game is that the Dolphins went 2-6 in the division last season, losing all their divisional games road games and are in fact 2-11 against the spread in their last thirteen divisional road games. I may well regret this but Todd Bowles has at least kept the Jets competitive and with a live arm at quarterback I’m going against Dan in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Jets
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Eagles @ Buccaneers (+3.5)
This is a curious game for me as the Philadelphia Eagles offence continued to struggle in week one with Nick Foles not looking good and he remains the starter as the Super Bowl winners travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers coming off a win. The history of Ryan Fitzpatrick is not of consistent good performances from week to week otherwise he wouldn’t have moved around so many teams and the Eagles defence at least looked very good last week. There are a number of home underdogs this week and it’s not likely that they’ll all lose, but I have more faith in Doug Pederson and his coaching staff than the infrastructure in Tampa and so whilst I don’t like the points particularly, I think the Eagles will get another win and I just hope it’s by enough to warrant this pick.
Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
‘Sorry Bucks fans, but I can’t see them repeating their performance from last week, so Eagles on this one.’
Lions @ 49ers (-5.5)
There are signs that things are really not going well in Detroit with continued rumblings about Matt Partricia coming from the locker room and talk from the Jets that they knew the Lions’ calls and what was coming on offence. Having been so thoroughly dismantled by the Jets they now travel to face the San Francisco 49ers who are coming off their own tough start in Minnesota. However, even against the tough Vikings defence Kyle Shanahan was able to scheme players open and whilst Jimmy Garoppolo no longer has an unbeaten record, this was always going to happen at some point and I fancy them to get back to winning ways. The points in this game do worry me a little, but the Lions look like things could go really wrong for them and I’m not convinced of a turn around this week.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: 49ers
‘Something’s telling me that Jimmy G’s team will take this one fairly comfortably. Could be wrong, but I’m picking San Francisco.’
Cardinals @ Rams (-12.5)
This is a horrible game to pick just because of the line. The LA Rams went on the road and ran out convincing winners against the Raiders and this week they welcome an Arizona Cardinals team who got blown out by Washington last week. It was always going to be hard to turn things round after losing Bruce Arians as coach and Carson Palmer as quarterback. They drafted Josh Rosen for the future but right now Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback but I struggle to see them turning things round against a Rams team who invested in their defence in the offseason and who have one of the best young coaches in the game. The problem is that this is a huge line and I feel like I should pick the Cardinals but having got blown out against Washington at home, I don’t see how they will do better against a stacked Rams team on the road. I could really regret this one.
Gee’s Pick: Rams
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals
‘This is horrible given the size of the spread. I’ll go Cards, reluctantly.’
Raiders @ Broncos (-5.5)
This looks to be a horrible spot for the currently Oakland Raiders who lost the late Monday night game and now travel to face the Denver Broncos. The Raiders lost badly and the situation with Jon Gruden has the potential to go seriously wrong. This feels like a lot of points for the Broncos to give up, but they have a definite home advantage and got the job done last week despite Case Keenum throwing three interceptions to go with his three touchdowns. In a familiar theme, this feels like a lot of points but I do not trust the road team and so I’m hoping the Broncos build on last week’s win.
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
‘The Broncos pulled off a bit of a surprise last week in beating the Seahawks. I fancy the Raiders this week though.’
Patriots @ Jaguars (+2.5)
If there is a home underdog that could be the one to go with it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars who host the New England Patriots in a rerun of last season’s AFC conference championship game. The Jaguars look pretty much the same as last year with a dominant defence and a limited offence that will not be helped by Leonard Fournette being questionable thanks to a hamstring injury. The Patriots got their season off to a winning start against the Texans last week and it looked like their defence could be better although the Texan’s offensive line will have helped that. It’s always dangerous to pick against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and I’m really looking forward to taking a look at the coaching tape to see what the Patriots offence schemes up to take on the Jaguars’ defence. I don’t want to pick against all the home underdogs but I can’t quite bring myself to pick the Jaguars with the injuries on offence and it’s not hard to see the Patriots winning this one by a field goal.
Gee’s Pick: Patriots
Dan’s Pick: Jaguars
‘What a game this will be. I’ll go Jaguars in the hope they stick the first L to the Pats.’
Giants @ Cowboys (-2.5)
This is a straight up battle for the first win of the season between two struggling teams. With Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham in the huddle the New York Giants have talent on offence but weren’t able to generate that much last week against the fearsome Jaguars defence. That said the Dallas Cowboys have continued their struggles from last season and their offensive line is struggling with injuries. I’m not exactly convinced by either team so I’m going to grab the points with the Giants but it really feels like a shot in the dark.
Gee’s Pick: Giants
Dan’s Pick: Giants
‘Big divisional game here from 2 teams who aren’t their normal selves this year. Giants to win for me.’
Seahawks @ Bears (-3.5)
The Seahawks have got a rough start to the season with two road games and having lost narrowly to the Broncos last week they travel to Chicago this week to face the Bears before they get to play in Seattle. If things weren’t difficult enough for Russell Wilson, his favourite receiver Doug Baldwin injured his good knee last week and is out for this game. The problem for the Bears is that they looked good for a half but can they be consistent for an entire game versus a Seahawks team who are always competitive. It’s a long way to travel for the Seahawks but I can’t quite bring myself to have the Bears win by more than a field goal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears win as I think they showed a lot of potential in their last game and they could very easily make me look foolish.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Bears
‘This is really tough. Really tough. The Bears look really good with Khalil Mack, and the Seahawks lost to the Broncos last week… I’ll go Chicago.’