Week 1 was something of a bloodbath in the NFL. Defenses dominated the opening games and five favorites lost outright, including the Patriots who put up a stinker at home in the opener.
Week 2 sees all 32 teams in action as the chaos from Hurricane Irma dies down, and with Miami on the road in LA we can finally see the Bucs and Dolphins in action. How the extra week to prepare will affect the teams we don’t know, but they have a scouting advantage over their opponents this week and that could be invaluable.
We saw a lot of injuries last week too that will play a big factor in the Week 2 lines. How badly will the Cardinals offense be without David Johnson? Can the Bears defense keep up their play without Jerrell Freeman? How will Kansas City cope without Eric Berry? It’s enough to drive someone mad, especially when there is money on the line.
It’s important not to overreact to one loss (Patriots), win (Jaguars) or injury (everyone), but it’s also hard not to factor in the most recent performance. Let’s take a look a the lines this week and pick some best bets…
Dallas Cowboys (-2) over DENVER BRONCOS
Both teams looked good in Week 1, not world-beaters, but good.
The issue here is that for as great as Denver’s pass defense was last year, their run defense really struggled. They were just 21st in DVOA against the run, giving up 4.3 yards a carry and 130 yards a game. That spells disaster against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys.
The Cowboys running back has a temporary restraining order delaying his six-game suspension, and has knocked off some rust with 104 yards against a stout Giants front that gave Dallas fits last year.
While the Broncos front is good, they lost Sylvester Williams in free agency and are without Shane Ray due to injury. They held Melvin Gordon to just 3.0 yards per carry on Monday, but as I said, Elliott and his beasts up front are a disastrous matchup for Denver.
Elliott’s presence and consistent performance sets up the play-action game perfectly and will give Dak Prescott a lot of good looks at the likes of Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley.
On the other side of the ball you have two units that put up good performances in Week 1 but still have great question marks about their consistency. I think Dallas win fairly comfortably.
Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
I don’t think the Chiefs are going to suffer from overconfidence, but the Eagles defense are not the Patriots.
On opening day the Chiefs played with an almost entirely clean backfield, but Philadelphia just dominated a good Washington offensive line that included four sacks and three tackles for loss.
Both sides have lost a key defensive back in Eric Berry and Ronald Darby, which will greatly affect their gameplans on the back end of their defense, making those trench wars all the more important.
As impressive as Kareem Hunt and the Kansas run game was against New England, the Eagles collection of edge defenders and big interior bodies seem set to make life very annoying for everyone in Kansas.
This doesn’t mean I think the Eagles will win of course. I do see scenarios where that can happen, but it should be close with that Philly front causing enough havoc to stop Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce from running through a weak secondary.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7.5) over Cleveland Browns
It’s not that Cleveland weren’t impressive (for them) on Sunday, it’s just that Baltimore’s defense is on a whole other level to Pittsburgh’s.
While they lack the explosion of TJ Watt, they have the veteran savvy of Terrell Suggs, the power of Brandon Williams, and CJ Mosley who will rush and hit everything in sight. The Cleveland offensive line, while full of good names, is going to take time to gel and we saw Pittsburgh get after DeShone Kizer and punish him for holding the ball too long, Baltimore are in an even better position to do that with their ball-hawking secondary.
Baltimore’s offense is not very explosive, but with Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin they can take advantage of missteps by the young Cleveland defense. The ground game is boringly average with Buck Allen and Terrance West, but it will keep them ticking as the defense beats on Kizer like a drum.
Rest of the picks
Texans (+6.5) over BENGALS
Bills (+7) over PANTHERS
BUCCANEERS (-7) over Bears
Vikings (+6) over STEELERS
SAINTS (+6.5) over Patriots
Titans (-2) over JAGUARS
Dolphins (+4.5) over CHARGERS
RAIDERS (-14) over Jets
SEAHAWKS (-13.5) over 49ers
Redskins (+2.5) over RAMS
FALCONS (-2.5) over Packers
Lions (+3.5) over GIANTS
Last week: 6-9-0 (1-2-0)
Overall: 6-9-0 (1-2-0)
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