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It’s been an tough week, but Dan will be cheered a little by the Dolphins getting their first win of the season. I know that one team will leave the match of the Bengals and Eagles with their first win of the season, but I wouldn’t like to say which. In theory there should be more 1-2 or 2-1 teams that winless or lossless teams, but I’m not sure how easy that will be to pick this week once the lines are in place.

My other concern is that we have our first positive Covid-19 test of a player since the season started, and now that games have been for long enough to be through the incubation period of the virus we shall see truly how the Covid protols hold up.

Early Games:

I think there are two stand out games in the early slate of games, although there is still plenty of interest in all games.

The Buffalo Bills host the LA Rams, which is a fascinating matchup of the Sean McVay’s rejuvenated Rams’ offence against a the Bills defense who have slipped out of the top ten by DVOA so far this season, but should provide an interesting matchup. I’m also curious to see if Josh Allen can continue his streak of throwing for over three hundred yards thanks to off-season addition of Stefon Diggs and a possible further improvement in the young quarterback’s play. I’m not looking forward to picking the game but I definitely think this is one to watch.

The other game that leaps out of the early slate is the 2-0 Las Vegas Raiders travelling to take on the New England Patriots. The Raiders offence looks promising, but as I said in my preview, the Raiders won’t be able to take advantage of this development if their defense doesn’t improve markedly and whilst a ranking of thirtieth by DVOA is technically an improvement on last season, it won’t be enough for them to be serious contenders. I think this is where they get a dose of reality as the New England Patriots may only just be top ten in overall DVOA but boy Cam Newton looked good last week in their close loss to the Seahawks. I trust Belichick and his staff to make a good enough defense by mid-season for them to be competitive and I think both teams leave this game with a 2-1 record.

Other things of interest:

  • I am curious to see if the Atlanta Falcons get their season turned around and it feels to me more likely that the Falcons will get their first win than both team’s current streak continues. That said, the Bears top ten defense might contain the Falcons offence, whilst the questions around Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will not be answered by his performance against the Falcons’s twenty-eighth ranked defense.
  • The Eagles may well get their first win this season, but asking them to win by a clear touchdown against a team that has kept both games within a touchdown as Joe Burrow impresses early.
  • The Browns got a good win last week, but this is another line where I’m not sure it’s really justified. The Washington Football Team are not good, but whilst I only saw a quarter of the Cardinal’s offence going against the Football Team’s defense, I was impressed with what I saw from the Cardinals and Washington’s defence is ranked first by DVOA. I was also impressed by what the Browns did last week, but I think the Browns are going to have to prove it to me before I start picking them with this kind of line.
  • This might be a trap, but with a defense that is ranked twentieth by DVOA and an offence that seems to have real problems I am really not sure that the Vikings can turn it round. The Titans may have been in two close games, but they have won them both and I have a feeling they will run out close winners. However, there are both numbers and record reasons to think that the Vikings might do something in this game, if nothing else because the question is are the Titans really good enough to start the season 3-0. I’m really not sure.
  • The 49ers are having all kinds of injury problems and still are favourites to beat the New York Giants. Even though they will be missing Saquon Barkley I like the Giants to keep this one closer than five points at home.
  • I have a feeling the Texans might just be bad this season. The offence is struggling without DeAndre Hopkins and the defence hasn’t inspired. I think the depth the roster has lost through trading away draft picks is hurting this team and that GM Bill O’Brien has let down coach Bill O’Brien. It’s not impossible that the Steelers will have a let down this game, but at home I like them to win and cover a line where the half point scares, except the consensus is another half point higher. I would stay away from this game if I could but I can’t.

Bears @ Falcons (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Falcons
Dan’s Pick:       Falcons

Rams @ Bills (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Rams
Dan’s Pick:       Bills

Bengals @ Eagles (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Bengals
Dan’s Pick:       Bengals

Washington @ Browns (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Washington
Dan’s Pick:       Browns

Titans @ Vikings (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Vikings
Dan’s Pick:       Titans

Raiders @ Patriots (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Raiders
Dan’s Pick:       Patriots

49ers @ Giants (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Giants
Dan’s Pick:       49ers

Texans @ Steelers (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Steelers
Dan’s Pick:       Steelers

Late Games:

There’s several interest contests in the late games this Sunday, but the pick has to the Dallas Cowboys taking on the Seattle Seahawks. This is going to see two teams powered by their offence do battle and it could well be this game is decided by who has the ball last. The interesting thing is that the disparity between offence and defense is actually biggest for the Seahawks, but Russel Wilson is playing so well that I’m confident that this will be a great game, but very possibly another close one for the Cowboys and I very much doubt that the best special teams in the league by DVOA through week two will gift them anything on special teams like the Falcons did last Sunday.

Notes from the other late games:

  • The Jests are such a mess that this line is massive, and is actually higher by consensus, which means there could be value in picking the Colts. I’m really not sure where to go in this game as although I expect the Colts to win, are they going to be dominant for a second week in a row?
  • The Panthers are still looking for their first win of the season, but with the Chargers giving the Chiefs a tough game last week despite being forced last minute to start rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. However, the injuries are still piling up for the Chargers again so whilst I like them to win this game, I think the Panthers could well keep this one close.
  • The Bucs are my survivor pick of the week, based on the injuries that the Broncos currently have and chasm between them by overall DVOA. The Broncos have played tougher than I expected, but wile I think the Bucs will win this game the line worries me. I want to stay away but as I can’t I’m going to grab the points at one of the few places where there is still a definite home field advantage, or at least early in the season.
  • I’ve seen a quarter of one game of the Cardinals offence so I really can’t draw any firm conclusions, but I did lke what I saw and it does feel like the Cardinals have enough to beat a Lions team who seem to be the same again under Matt Patricia. I will be curious to see if the Lions can be more competitive this week.

Jets @ Colts (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Colts
Dan’s Pick:       Colts

Panthers @ Chargers (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Panthers
Dan’s Pick:       Chargers

Cowboys @ Seahawks (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:       Seahawks

Buccaneers @ Broncos (+5.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Broncos
Dan’s Pick:       Buccaneers

Lions @ Cardinals (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Lions
Dan’s Pick:       Cardinals

Sunday Night Football:

Packers @ Saints (-3.5)

I think I have to say that I was wrong about the Packers. I thought they were prime candidates for regression after last season and the lack of receivers they added to the offence, but they have come out and scored forty points each week and looked dominant against the Lions in week two. There are questions surrounding the Saints at the moment and Drew Brees in particular. This could well be the beginning of the end for the forty-one year old quarterback, but any offence is going to miss a piece as important as Michael Thomas is to the Saints and so whilst I don’t think it is time for them to panic yet, the extra half point has me leaning the other way as without the noise of their home fans I expect the Saints to struggle or possibly even lose to the Packers.

Gee’s Pick:       Packers
Dan’s Pick:       Packers

Monday Night Football

Chiefs @ Ravens (-3.5)

This might be the matchup of the regular season yet alone the week. The Kansas City Chiefs had a bit of scare last week against the Chargers, but like most good teams found a way to win and certainly a team with Patrick Mahomes always has a chance. However, the Baltimore Ravens are top five by DVOA in all three phases of the game and their offence is coming off a week that saw them put up thirty-three points against the number one ranked defence in the league by DVOA. I also think that the Ravens’ strength in running the ball matches up well with the Chiefs’ defensive liability against the run (twenty-sixth in the league by DVOA) so whilst the Chiefs offence might well be explosive enough to keep them in the contest, I fancy the Ravens to win this one, and could do so well.

Gee’s Pick:       Ravens
Dan’s Pick:       Ravens

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.