I swear I had this tweet in my drafts at lunch time before getting stuck in traffic later and sending it after the game started. Here's ESPN's Pigskin Pick'em to prove it, although I couldn't have imagined it being that wild:
Texans +3 at Panthers
I don't feel great about this game with both teams having playoff level talent in some respects but glaring weaknesses, as well. Carolina has home field on their side, hence the 3 point edge, but I'm going with the more dominant defensive front against a still shaky offensive attack.
|When in doubt, take the best player on the field involved.|
Saints -9.5 versus Bucaneers
This line is almost too high to be comfortable with when considering Rob Ryan's defense, but Tampa looked so disappointing last week. Drew Brees should be able to get the New Orleans passing game on track in the Superdome with Brandin Cooks gashing the Bucs for chunk yardage like they gave up to the Titans. Jameis Winston is going to have some growing pains behind that offensive line.
49ers +6.5 at Steelers
The schedule didn't do San Francisco any favors with a short week to go across the country for a 10:00 AM game against a team with 10 days rest, but the initial return looks like my reasonable optimism for the team is warranted. They are catching Pittsburgh with Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant still suspended, so I like their odds of slowing down Big Ben's aerial attack enough to take advantage of a poor secondary.
Vikings -2 versus Lions
With both teams facing an 0-2 start, this should be a tight divisional matchup that I've gone back and forth on. After scoring an impressive TD on his first NFL carry, Ameer Abdullah could replicate Carlos Hyde's standout performance against this defense last week, especially with Detroit's offensive line getting healthier. However, their defense showed some flaws with DeAndre Levy out and Ndamukong Suh gone, and Xavier Rhodes matches up with Calvin Johnson pretty well.
|Charles Johnson let me down in DraftKings' Milli Maker, |
but I think he and the entire offense have a bounce back week.
This could be a letdown game after all of the emotions of the opener back on Thursday, but New England should be prepared to defend the threat of Tyrod Taylor's ground game. They were run on consistently in Week 1, but Buffalo's offensive line isn't as good as Pittsburgh's. The Bills' defense looks to be as good as ever and could have a field day on the interior of the Pats' protection, though, so I can understand by the line was bet down after opening -1.5 in favor of the road team. We'll see how much experience comes into play.
Cardinals -2 at Bears
Rich Hribar had a great note this week that Carson Palmer has 4,466 yards, 30 TDs, and just 12 picks in his past 16 starts, with Arizona going 14-2 over that stretch. He shouldn't face too much resistance in this one, and David Johnson should emerge as their featured 'back soon enough after notching a highlight TD on his first opportunity like his fellow rookie, Abdullah. Patrick Peterson should compete just fine against a limited Alshon Jeffery, so Martellus Bennett will have to take advantage of his match up to take some of the pressure off of Matt Forte as the focal point.
Titans -1.5 at Browns
I accidentally typed "Marcus Mariota -1.5 at Browns" and actually considered leaving it after that perfect debut. More important than the fun nugget that he dealt his counterpart Winston a second consecutive loss after winning his first 27 post-high school games, Mariota only needed one half to tie Fran Tarkenton's NFL record for most TD passes in a first game, finishing with 4 scores compared to just 3 incompletions. Cleveland's pass defense can be good, but I don't think it will be enough, especially if Johnny Manziel continues to turn the ball over now that he's starting.
Bengals -3 versus Chargers
This one was the toughest of the week for me, but I couldn't go against Cincinnati at home after that dominant road opener. Their corners should do a much better job on the short routes of Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson, and they should be able to move the ball consistently on this San Diego defense as long as Andy Dalton takes care of the ball better than Matthew Stafford did.
|Thank you for making my call look good, "this year's breakout tight end..."|
Robert Griffin III will be on the bench for this one against the team that pillaged Washington, preventing them from drafting a team around him. The St. Louis defensive line will instead be all over Kirk Cousins, who will be without his #1 weapon after DeSean Jackson pulled up lame on an overthrown deep ball. The Washington front might be in NIck Foles' face, as well, but he showed he can hang in there last week as he continued to take shots down the field, a trend that should continue to pay dividends in this one.
Giants -2.5 versus Falcons
These two teams are coming off very different prime time endings, with New York basically giving the game away in Dallas and Atlanta holding on at home thanks to Jordan Matthews' drop. The Falcons tend to be a different team on the road, though, and I think Eli Manning bounces back with Odell Beckham Jr. more involved after the first game had a weird game flow. I expect a lot of big plays in this one after seeing what I wanted out of Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, and the Kyle Shanahan offense, but Atlanta's defense seemed to wear down against a no huddle offense, which New York runs, albeit at less of a breakneck speed. Look for Shane Vereen to have a few splash plays out of the backfield after Darren Sproles did in the opener.
Ravens -6.5 at Raiders
Baltimore's offense was bogged down due to a lack of a deep threat with first rounder Breshad Perriman still sidelined, and they face another strong front seven in Oakland. However, the Raiders might have the worst secondary in the league, so I'd look for Joe Flacco to take shots to Steve Smith early and often, along with Justin Forsett getting more touches in the passing game, as well. Terrell Suggs is a big loss for the Ravens defense, but with a banged up Derek Carr still settling for short throws too early, they should be able to key in on shutting down Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper.
Jaguars +6 versus Dolphins
Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment going back to Jacksonville covering at home, but I was a little disappointed by how Miami played in their Week 1 win. I know they were facing a stout run defense, but they need to get Lamar Miller more touches to open up play action more for Ryan Tannehill. The Jaguars offensive line sprung leaks once Luke Joeckel went down, and Blake Bortles should expect a lot of pressure in this one, as well. However, they ran T.J. Yeldon pretty effectively when they could, so I think they can stay in this game at home with their defense looking solid.
Eagles -5 versus Cowboys
I'm not complaining about having an extra afternoon game since the Sunday schedules are always ridiculously imbalanced, but this is a weird start time for a game in Philadelphia. Basically take what I said about their Atlanta and New York counterpart game and apply it here, and then add in the fact that Dez Bryant is unfortunately unable to do his best Julio Jones impersonation due to a broken foot. Game flow should allow the Eagles to stick to the running game they want to stay balanced with, giving DeMarco Murray a shot at taking down his old team, and look for Nelson Agholor to make some plays after a nondescript debut, especially if Jordan Matthews draws extra attention due to his huge mismatch in the slot.
|This missed call cost me in DFS, but I'm going right back to them.|
I told you Seattle had real concerns in their secondary, and now they face a much tougher test in another hostile environment. It was interesting that Richard Sherman moved into the slot in nickel formations, so he might stick to Green Bay's best receiver, Randall Cobb, in this one. Davante Adams and James Jones should take advantage on the outside, and although Bryan Bulaga's injury could prove fatal against this pass rush, Aaron Rodgers will be much more mobile in this one after dealing with a bum calf in the NFC Championship game that they blew. With the way Matt Forte ran on the Pack last week, the Seahawks might just play keep away, though, so Morgan Bennett better be healthy enough to commit to a box safety role to slow down Marshawn Lynch.
Jets +7 at Colts
I'm shocked by how high this line is after the way both teams played last week. Already susceptible to the run, Indianapolis is now without their #2 and #3 corners for this one against an offense that likes to spread it out, and their offensive line could struggle against New York's elite unit. I won't doubt that Andrew Luck works his magic to pull this one out at home, but I can't lay this many points.
Last week: 10-5-1
2015 Season Total: 11-5-1