Week 2 was a wacky one, but at least this weekend is already off to a better start. Although this was a weird one itself from what I saw after, it at least went as it should with New York continuing taking advantage of Washington's secondary to get on the board at home. I missed this Thursday Night Football matchup last year due to a dinner engagement and then had a rare Thursday class for this one, so maybe third time will be the charm next year.
Falcons -1 at Cowboys
Am I missing something there? Atlanta has pulled out back to back wins against NFC East opponents to start the season thanks to a surprisingly stingy defense under Dan Quinn and now gets a Dallas team missing both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo. Yes, the Cowboys' defense has looked better than expected thanks to a healthy Sean Lee, but they're short on pass-rushers while no one can cover Julio Jones. The Falcons might not move the ball consistently with stud rookie RB Tevin Coleman's rib injury, but they should still make enough plays to outscore Brandon Weeden and the 'Boys' RBBC.
|Despite still getting used to LB/DEs in the 40's, I'm counting on Vic Beasley making life tough for Weeden.|
Andrew Luck hasn't been sharp in the early going, but now he gets a defense that just got exploited by Johnny Manziel. Expect more big plays from Donte Moncrief, whom I loved as a rookie out of Ole Miss but was worried Indy was down on after the surprising draft choice of Phillip Dorsett and signing of suddenly slow-looking Andre Johnson. The other veteran Miami free agent, Frank Gore, has looked effective, though, and taking advantage of a soft Tennessee front on the ground should take some of the pass rush pressure off Luck. Marcus Mariota could turn this into a shootout with the Colts missing their number 2 and 3 corners, but the coaching staff needs to take the reigns off stud rookie Dorial Green-Beckham opposite Kendall Wright.
Raiders +3.5 at Browns
Despite the Manziel theatrics, Josh McCown is back as the starter against one of his (many) former teams now that he is cleared from his concussion, but this Cleveland passing attack still isn't too threatening, even against Oakland's shoddy secondary. The Raiders should be able to stop the run and get their own ground game going, and Derek Carr showed last week that he can win a game when he pushes the ball down the field.
Ravens -2.5 versus Bengals
The team that Carr beat is finally at home but draws the best team in the division. Baltimore will need to find a way to generate some pressure on Andy Dalton, who has taken advantage of all the talent around him to start the season strong. I'm counting on the Ravens having the better rushing day for them to get into the win column.
Jaguars +13.5 at Patriots
The fact that the game is in New England makes this tempting, but I can't lay this many points with the Pats' inconsistent defense. Jacksonville being down two starters on the offensive line will likely add to New England's league leading 11 sacks, but T.J. Yeldon and Allen Robinson have the talent to take make big plays. On the other side, the only question will be whether the Patriots get LeGarrette Blount more involved in their offense since the quickness of Dion Lewis has added another element to Tom Brady's relentless attack with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. A healthy Sen'Derrick Marks would have made the interior pass protection interesting.
Panthers -8 versus Saints
Despite the line jump, this pick became even easier once Drew Brees was ruled out, leaving Verizon commercial star Luke McCown to take on a tough defense on the road. The New Orleans offense was already sputtering, so they better get the running game off to a good start with Mark Ingram if they want to have a chance in this one. Similarly, this is a great opportunity for Jonathan Stewart to get on track so that Cam Newton doesn't have to carry the entire Carolina offensive load.
I might regret being so bullish on this Philadelphia team because New York poses a brutal matchup with their stout defensive line going against horrid guard play. However, I think Sam Bradford rights the ship and gets the up-tempo attack going to tire them out and open up some holes for the running game. Brandon Marshall has looked rejuvenated in New York and has a juicy matchup for the Jets, but with Eric Decker banged up, the Eagles should give extra attention to him and stay in the game with their tough run defense.
Buccaneers +6.5 at Houston
Tampa Bay looked much better against the hapless Saints but face a much more dangerous pass rush here, so this is a tough call for me. As long as Nuk Hopkins is good to go after his concussion, Houston should have enough offense to get their first win, but Ryan Mallet wasn't exactly inspiring much confidence last week, completing under half of his 58 (!) passes for just 244 yards. The Buccaneers should at least make enough plays to stay in the game, and for what it's worth, they are 3-6 on the road under Lovie Smith compared to 0-9 at home.
Vikings -2.5 versus Chargers
I still don't have a great feel for either of these squads, so I'm going chalk with the home team and a small spread. After some good runs against the Bengals, I think this could be Melvin Gordon's breakout game against he defense that made Carlos Hyde a star on Monday Night Football in the season opener, and Stevie Johnson should continue to feast on underneath plays. However, San Diego's defense hasn't won me over yet, and Adrian Peterson should be in line for a big day.
Steelers (PK) at Rams
This feels like a trap game like Seattle's trip to St. Louis in Week 1, and the line has actually been bet down after opening -1.5 in Pittsburgh's favor. Getting Le'Veon Bell back from suspension will provide a boost to an offense that was already firing on all cylinders, though, and the Rams' elite defensive line was just gashed for 187 rushing yards last week. This will likely be the first game for rookie Todd Gurley, as well, and dynamic linebacker Ryan Shazier will be missing this one for the Steelers. Nick Foles and Jared Cook could take advantage of this secondary to turn this one into a shootout, but I'm sticking with the better team.
|If it's close, you can almost guarantee Antonio Brown will make a play|
49ers +6.5 at Cardinals
The San Francisco letdown occurred in a big way, and now they face a similar vertical passing game on the road as 6.5 'dogs again. With normal rest on both sides, they should be more prepared for a divisional rival to stay in the game, but they'll need to take advantage of a weaker offensive line to generate some pressure on Carson Palmer after firing blanks in Pittsburgh. Arizona's sturdy defensive could definitely win it for them, though, so this might just be a stay-away for me.
Dolphins -3 versus Bills
With Branden Albert unlikely to play, Buffalo should dominate the line of scrimmage, but I can't go against the superior quarterback at home. Miami's best chance is to spread them out and execute with quick passes like the Patriots did last week, and that is one of Ryan Tannehill's strengths, anyway. Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh will have to dominate in their own right for this defense to live up to expectations and bounce back from a game they should have won last week.
Seahawks -14.5 versus Bears
In the battle of 0-2 teams, Seattle should let out its frustrations at home against a Chicago team without Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery. Matte Forte is capable of carrying an offense, but this game is set up for a big Marshawn Lynch day.
|The narrative writes itself with Kam Chancellor's return in front of the 12th man.|
Unlike the other 0-2 teams at home, Detroit isn't favored, and for good reason. Denver's defense matches up well, and they've had 10 days rest to fix their problems on offense, especially with C.J. Anderson's toe and ankle issues. It will be interesting to see if their offense reverts back to Gary Kubiak's system or keeps Peyton Manning comfortable in his usual shotgun, but the Lions do not have the defensive personnel to slow them down like in the past.
Chiefs +6.5 versus Packers
I'm a bit surprised that the line is this high, especially with the Packers a bit banged up. Morgan Burnett tweaking his calf is good news for Travis Kelce, and Jamaal Charles doesn't need much room to create big plays. Green Bay should take care of business with Aaron Rodgers at home against a secondary that blew a lead to start last week's craziness, but they might not have Eddie Lacy to help put the game out of reach against a quality opponent.
Last week: 8-8
2015 Season Total: 19-13-1
2015 Season Total: 19-13-1