NFL Week 2 Predictions: Wilson v. Belichick IV

The NFL is back, but how has it looked so far? The limited crowd seemed more than loud enough at the first Kansas City game on opening night, and the fake noise used in most of the other games wasn’t too much of a distraction to me. There were seven fourth-quarter comebacks in Week 1, including a pair of 17-point comebacks by the Bears and Redskins Football Team. Holding penalties were way down, so that’s good for watching the games, but not so great for fairness. There’s a lot of soft tissues injuries already and some big name pass catchers who will be down this week, but at least the quarterbacks have been unusually healthy to this point. Kickers got off to their worst start since the 9-game strike season of 1982.

This is the first NFL season since 1984 where no team has been a favorite of 10 or more points through the first two weeks. The closest we got there, which is essentially there when rounding, was opening night when the 9.5-point favorite Chiefs beat Houston by 14. Kansas City also has the largest spread of Week 2 with -9 in Los Angeles.

There are nine teams favored by at least 6 points this week, but you can be sure there will be some upsets mixed in with blowouts and games going down to the wire. We already saw the Bengals cover in the final minute against the Browns on Thursday night (to my dismay).

Several of the 0-1 teams will meet each other in what is close to a must-win game if they are to amount to anything this season. Here’s looking at you in the NFC: Cowboys, 49ers, Buccaneers, and Vikings. All face winless teams this week. The Eagles host the 1-0 Rams, but that’s another important early-season game too. The narrative is that Aaron Donald will devour Carson Wentz, who took eight sacks last week behind a banged up offensive line. You might be surprised to see I’m taking the Eagles to win that one, because if that team is going to do anything this year, this is a game where they’ll make adjustments there, play better on offense, and do enough defensively against a Rams team that only scored 20 on Dallas last week to get this win. Remember, a lot of short fields hurt the Eagles against Washington. The defense wasn’t the problem.

There aren’t many games between 1-0 teams, but none are more surprising than the Washington Football Team and Arizona Cardinals (-7). The Cardinals haven’t been a 7-point favorite against any team since they went to Indianapolis (no Andrew Luck) in the second game of the 2017 season. Kyler Murray led his first 4QC win last week against the 49ers, but he still may be a bit of a volume passer instead of an efficient one. It’ll be interesting to see how well he’s protected against the aforementioned Washington defense that had eight sacks last week. Oddly enough, Murray has six games in his career where he’s taken four sacks and five of those games were at home.

SNF: Wilson v. Belichick IV

NBC definitely nailed the best game with the 1-0 Patriots traveling out to Seattle after the Seahawks lit up the Falcons. These teams have played three great games in a row in the Russell Wilson era, and had it not been for you know what call in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks would probably be 3-0 in those games with three game-winning drives for Wilson.

Now you remove Tom Brady and put in Cam Newton, who threw 19 passes and ran 15 times with a couple of touchdowns for the Patriots in his debut last week. He was efficient, and it likely would have led to a 28-point day had his receiver not fumbled through the end zone to trigger one of the dumbest rules in the sport. However, you would expect that Cam will need to throw a bit more on the road to match what Wilson can do on his side of the ball.

The Seahawks were pass happy (for them) last week in Atlanta, but the Falcons have spent over half a decade not figuring out how to stop passes to the running backs. Wilson had two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Carson. It’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks continue to throw more or revert to more of a running game this time around given the better pass defense they’ll see. New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore will also hope to bounce back from a game where he had a couple of big defensive pass interference penalties called on him on fourth down and third-and-18 in the fourth quarter.

Clearly, both teams are going to get a much stronger test than the foes they beat last week. This game could be the shortest of the week if both teams are completing passes at such a high rate with a lot of runs, but I’m thinking more of a defensive slugfest with hopefully another great finish.

Final: Seahawks 23, Patriots 17

Upset Alert: Raiders over Saints (-5.5)

I know, trusting Derek Carr is scary, but one situation where I actually have some confidence in him is with the game on the line. He delivered another 4QC/GWD last week, albeit another one where he needed a pass interference penalty on a third down to keep the drive alive. But Carr won a 34-30 game on the road against Carolina and had the offense moving well. I watched the Saints-Buccaneers game and was generally impressed by New Orleans, but not by the offense. Drew Brees looked old and inaccurate in one of the more disappointing performances from that offense in a long time. Michael Thomas was injured late in the game and his high-ankle sprain will keep him out this week. Emmanuel Sanders is a fine player, but what else does this offense really have at WR now?

That’s why I like the Raiders to open their new Las Vegas stadium with a win on Monday night. They can protect Carr and the Raiders seem further ahead offensively right now than the new-look Buccaneers did last week. If you’re going for an upset this week, this is the one to end the week with.

Final: Raiders 24, Saints 20

NFL Week 2 Predictions

I had a 9-6-1 ATS start to 2020, but already 0-1 in Week 2 after Joe Burrow found a way late to beat the spread in Cleveland.

I’ m not giving up on the Vikings yet, though that’s a game I’d stay away from this week. Could go many ways.

NFL Week 2 Predictions: Mono vs. Stereo Edition

My gut still tells me Week 2 is arguably the hardest to predict in a season since you’re trying to weigh your preseason expectations with that 1/16th of reality from a week ago. What’s real and what’s opponent-based fluff? Some injuries are already real this year, and that can change things for  teams, but I want to see if Lamar Jackson is the new sophomore demigod QB, if the Browns are actually still disappointing, and if the Bears just had another one of their one-year wonder seasons in 2018.

Frankly, there’s a lot of stuff I want to see pan out, so let’s just go over a few select Week 2 games.

Vikings at Packers (-3)

Is the Green Bay defense really that improved, or was Mitchell Trubisky just god-awful bad in Week 1? Can the Packers even prepare much for the Minnesota passing offense after Kirk Cousins threw just 10 passes last week? This was a fantastic game in Lambeau last year that ended in a tie. The Vikings had horrible special teams that day and I felt like Cousins outplayed Rodgers and should have got the win. I’m going with this improved Minnesota team to put the clamps on Rodgers again and for the Vikings to get the upset road win.

Patriots at Dolphins (+19)

A-Fucking-C East I tell ya. What a legacy this division has behind the Patriots. Last year it was Buffalo as a 16.5-point underdog in Week 3 to Minnesota, but the Bills actually won that game. Now the Patriots are a 19-point favorite in Miami, the biggest spread in September since the Seahawks were a 20-point favorite against the 2013 Jaguars (Seattle won 45-17).

Teams favored by more than 14 points in September are 6-14-2 ATS and 18-4 SU since 1978.

As for the Patriots specifically (all months), they are 0-5 ATS when favored by more than 17 points. All but one of those games came in the 2007 season. It’s still worth mentioning that the Patriots are 10-1 ATS when favored by 15.5 to 17 points since 2001. That’s an excellent record as the only game they didn’t cover was the 2008 opener when Tom Brady tore his ACL against the Chiefs.

So the Patriots usually don’t cover spreads this large, and I think -19 should piss every person off in Miami. Of course, that’s assuming anyone there still gives a damn after a housecleaning offseason and a 59-10 destruction last week when they made the Baltimore passing offense look all world and even were destroyed on the ground as well in one of the worst openers ever for a team.

The 2019 Dolphins might be looking to set a record for least effort in a season in NFL history.

Now Belichick’s former assistants have had some success against him, including wins by Eric Mangini (2006 Jets), Josh McDaniels (2009 Broncos) and Matt Patricia (2018 Lions) in the past. Mike Vrabel (2018 Titans) also got a big win over his former head coach last year. The problem with Brian Flores is I just don’t think he’s cut out for this job and his team seems to be quitting on him in record time. I originally thought in my season preview that this would be Miami’s lone highlight of the season as Ryan Fitzpatrick would throw for 350 and the Patriots would drop another shocker in Miami. However, after the way these teams played last week I just can’t see that happening, and we haven’t even mentioned the destructive force named Antonio Brown, who still has some hours to cause another ruckus and not actually make his team debut.

With or without Brown, the Patriots are going to win this game with ease, though I think I’d be all over the “Patriots win by 19-24” bet in this one as I can see it being very close to the Vegas mark.

Seattle at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

I think it’s an advantage for Pittsburgh to get the Seahawks at 10:00 A.M. PST, because I remember the 2007 and 2011 meetings where the Steelers caught them sleepwalking early, winning 21-0 and 24-0 in seasons that still resulted in the postseason for Seattle.

However, those teams didn’t have Russell Wilson at QB. The good news for Pittsburgh is that the Seahawks still insist on running the ball so much on early downs, leading to Wilson having to be a magician on 3rd down and in the 4th quarter. We know he can be, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this game comes down to the final play, but I think the Pittsburgh defense will play much better at home this week against a more old-school offense. We know the Pittsburgh offense also plays better at home generally, and it’s hard to not do better than the 3-point output last week. I think people selling this offense after one game in NE are premature. The Steelers had four drives in a row where they just needed a yard to continue and failed every time by calling really stupid plays or not holding onto the ball. Donte Moncrief had a horrific debut and the Steelers have to get Vance McDonald and James Washington more involved. I think JuJu Smith-Schuster will be fine and Ben Roethlisberger should like what he saw with Andy Dalton throwing for over 400 yards against the new Seattle secondary (in Seattle even) last week.

I had the Steelers winning in Week 2 last year, but Patrick Mahomes carved them up with 6 TD passes. I don’t think Wilson will be allowed to be that great in this spot, but I still think the Steelers are in a dangerous spot to fall to 0-2 here if they aren’t sharp early. I can see this coming down to a last-second field goal win or a straight up loss. Also, Wilson has only lost 4 games out of 126 by more than 9 points. That’s why I love the teaser with Seattle +9.5.

Chiefs at Raiders (+7)

I would put the Chiefs on upset alert this week as they go on the road for the second game in a row. Tyreek Hill is out and Patrick Mahomes was limited a bit after an injury scare in Jacksonville. He didn’t attack deep and may not do much without Hill active as well. I still think he’ll keep his points streak (26+ in every game) alive, but Derek Carr can score on this defense too. He has the last couple of years at home and looked good last week as well. I won’t pick the Raiders to win, but I like them to cover.

Bears at Broncos (+2)

In my season preview I thought this was a lock for Denver at home, but now I’m not so sure after how these teams played last week. Sure, Trubisky and the offense sucked, but the defense still looked 2018 caliber. That’s bad news since Joe Flacco still looked 2013-2018 caliber, and the vaunted Denver pass rush did absolutely nothing against Oakland. Now the game does switch to Mile High where the Broncos are amazing in September, and Vic Fangio should know the Bears very well after being there for four seasons. So I still like some of those matchups, and I will admit that while Flacco was no fun to watch, he finished with a fair stat line and even had an easy TD dropped.

So I think I’m still leaning towards Denver at home, but it’s nowhere near the lock I felt it was going to be. I guess it basically comes down to which struggling QB do you expect to fold more against an elite pass rusher (Mack or Von).

Browns at Jets (+7)

This was a fun game last year as it turned out to be Baker Mayfield’s NFL debut (off the bench). It could have been even better this year if these two teams were looking to turn the tide an AFC where New England and Pittsburgh have reigned for so long. Of course, it’s only Week 2 and this looks like a shitshow already. The Browns were embarrassed at home by Tennessee last week and the Jets blew a 16-0 lead to Buffalo and lost Sam Darnold to mono.

Good luck, Adam Gase. You’re starting Trevor Siemian, though it’s hard to think he can be any worse than Darnold’s dink-and-dunk performance a week ago. The Jets also lost Quincy Enunwa for the whole year again, and there are other notable injuries with C.J. Mosley and Le’Veon Bell banged up.

The spread still looks a little high here as I’m not sure we can trust the Browns just yet, especially on the road where they almost never win this decade. Sure, it’s the Baker era and things are different, but as last week showed, they haven’t earned our trust just yet.

NFL Week 2 Predictions

I tend to believe in regression to the mean almost to a fault. So when I start a season 12-4 ATS, I expect a bloodbath in Week 2 to even things out. As I went over in the above games, not a lot of confidence flowing here, but these are my picks:

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I loved Panthers by 1-6 on TNF, and it likely would have worked if they called a QB sneak with Cam instead of the atrocity they used on 4th-and-inches.

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NFL Week 2 Predictions: The Good Life Edition

I’m not going to say that Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season sucked, but when the first two full games I watched live were Falcons-Eagles and Steelers-Browns, it didn’t get off to the best start. The Week 2 schedule looks really good, but it didn’t take long for injuries to start having an impact. Some of the players missing in action this week include Devonta Freeman, Greg Olsen, David DeCastro, Olivier Vernon, and basically every long-time Seahawk not named Russell Wilson or Earl Thomas. We’re also waiting to see if Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Marcus Mariota are good to go this week at quarterback. We still must wait to see the 2018 debuts of Joey Bosa, Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, and Jack Conklin.

Game of the Week: Vikings at Packers

I really hope Aaron Rodgers plays this one, because it is a huge game for playoff seeding despite it only being Week 2. The Vikings knocked Rodgers out early in the first matchup last year and didn’t have to see him for the second one. They shouldn’t get that advantage again this year. They also have Kirk Cousins now in what is arguably the second-biggest game of his NFL career when you think about it. His only playoff game was also against Green Bay and Rodgers, a 35-18 loss at home in the 2015 Wild Card.

Over the last three seasons in Washington, Cousins was 3-10 on the road against teams that finished the year with a winning record. You’d expect Green Bay to be that kind of opponent this year. However, that 3-10 mark includes wins last season in Seattle and LA (Rams). Cousins also should have had a signature win in Kansas City, but Josh Doctson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone. He can function in these spots and his Minnesota debut last week was solid.

Mike Zimmer’s had some decent success against Rodgers in his career, and this should be the most talented roster he’s taken into a Green Bay game yet. As I pointed out in FOA 2018, Zimmer entered this season with the best record against the spread (44-23) among active head coaches. Last week, his defense forced Jimmy Garoppolo into the worst start (and first loss) of his young career, and covered the spread.

HCATS

We don’t know what the spread is yet for this one because of Rodgers’ health, but clearly he isn’t 100 percent. I think a lack of mobility can be troublesome against such a talented Minnesota defense, and the Vikings should have scoring opportunities on the other side of the ball. That’s why, regardless of Rodgers’ status, I like the Vikings to pull this one off on the road with a superior roster. I know I’m already going against my season predictions where I had these teams splitting the series with each home team winning, but I also didn’t anticipate another Rodgers injury situation so soon.

Chiefs at Steelers

Under Andy Reid, Kansas City has beaten just about every contender in the NFL over the last four years. That includes wins over six of the last eight Super Bowl teams: 2014 Seahawks, 2014 Patriots, 2015 Broncos, 2016 Falcons, 2017 Patriots, and 2017 Eagles. (They didn’t play against the 2015 Panthers or 2016 Patriots, but notched wins against those teams the following season.)

One team Kansas City has not beaten is Pittsburgh, or at least not the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. They won a game at Arrowhead in 2015 when Landry Jones had to start. But Reid is 1-6 in his career against Roethlisberger going back to 2004 with the Eagles. That’s not even necessarily impressive for Ben, because he doesn’t play defense and the number that stands out in those seven games is 16. Reid’s teams never scored more than 16 points against the Steelers in those games.

That could really change on Sunday after the Chiefs come in hot behind new QB Patrick Mahomes after scoring 38 points in LA as underdogs. Mobile quarterbacks have been giving the Steelers fits as of late with Brett Hundley, DeShone Kizer (Week 17), Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor (he actually stunk passing, but still ran well) hanging pretty good scoring numbers on the defense. Now the Steelers could be without Joe Haden and Artie Burns in the secondary, which is bad news with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins coming to town. This isn’t Mahomes’ first road start either so they can’t hang their hat on that advantage, though Heinz Field is a different beast from the Chargers’ small park. He looked pretty poised last week and this is one of the most talented offenses in the league. It just hasn’t clicked in the past against Pittsburgh, though James Harrison is no longer there to own Eric Fisher. T.J. Watt is coming off a huge multi-sack game, and the pass rush looked quite good in Cleveland albeit a very indecisive game from Taylor.

If Mahomes can avoid the turnovers on the road, then the Chiefs have a great shot to win this one. It’s a bad week for Roethlisberger to be questionable and missing practices with an elbow injury, because this defense looked really vulnerable for the Chiefs last week. Philip Rivers had huge numbers that would have been even better without so many drops. Roethlisberger should have success with his weapons at home where the Steelers obviously play much better. I think the conditions played a factor in several of the turnovers last week, a game that Pittsburgh almost certainly wins without the rain leveling the playing field.

It could be a really fun game, but I think the Steelers get a tight win at home to avoid an awful 0-1-1 start to what was supposed to be another season with Super Bowl aspirations.

Patriots at Jaguars

I wish this rematch of the AFC Championship Game was the Sunday night game instead of Giants-Cowboys, but you know we can’t let a September or October go by without getting that matchup at night. When you try to pick out one of the few games the Patriots are going to lose this season, you always start with road matchups against playoff-caliber teams. This should be one of those, though the Jaguars didn’t scream “playoff lock” to me coming into the season. The offense scored 13 points last week against the Giants.

Much of that has to do with Blake Bortles, who lost the two Allen’s (Robinson and Hurns) at WR, and Marqise Lee is out for the season with a torn ACL. I’m just not sure this team has enough firepower to keep up with the Patriots, who aren’t as loaded themselves right now, but still have the best TE in the game. For all the talk Jalen Ramsey did this offseason, I’d like to see him match up frequently with Gronk in this one. Walk the walk, if you will. That’s really the key to slowing them down right now without any Welker clones left (Julian Edelman is suspended for three more games).

It would take an excellent performance from the defense, which has the talent to pull it off, to keep the Patriots under 20 points (preferably under 17). I think that’s what the Jaguars must do to win this one, because I just don’t see Bortles putting up many points. NE played the Texans and Deshaun Watson well last week.

Alas, it doesn’t sound good for RB Leonard Fournette playing this week. I actually think that could help Jacksonville. Maybe they won’t lean so heavily on him, because in that playoff game, the Jaguars tried to run out the clock way too early and weren’t aggressive enough on early downs. Also, Corey Grant had three early catches for 59 yards in that game. Maybe this lets Jacksonville get more people involved and opens up the playbook instead of just trying to grind things out with Fournette.

NFL Week 2 Predictions

I started 10-5-1 for both ATS and SU last week, but fell victim (like many) to the Buccaneers’ shocking upset in New Orleans, the season’s first double-digit favorite to collapse. Starting next week I’ll post a fancier version of my results, but for now, here are my Week 2 picks with a Twitter update to come on my MIN-GB pick (likely going Vikings regardless of spread).

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My three favorite picks: NO -9.5, ATL -6, NYJ -3.

NFL Week 2 Predictions: Big Sunday

In 2016, offenses dominated the league. Quite arguably the best defense (Denver) failed to even make the playoffs. The best defense on paper in the playoff field (Giants) folded in the wild-card round. In the NFC, we saw Atlanta outgun the Seahawks (without Earl Thomas) and Packers. The Patriots and Steelers met for the first time in the playoffs since the 2004 AFC Championship Games, but both defenses were a far cry from where they were that year. The Super Bowl was of course highly offensive.

Now if the first 16 games of 2017 are any indication, then the pendulum may be swinging back to the defense. It wasn’t a pretty start last Sunday, especially when it came to the QB statistics. We have a team like the Bengals doing impotent things that haven’t been done since 1939 like going eight home quarters without a touchdown to start a season.

But I wouldn’t stick a fork in offense yet. This weekend has some stellar matchups scheduled and scoring will undoubtedly go up. It just may not happen when your team is starting Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. I’m also not sure the Mike Glennon Revenge Game is going to be much of anything in Tampa Bay, but glad to see the Buccaneers (and Dolphins) get started. We’ll start with that other Florida team that’s been irrelevant for a long time.

The Biggest Jaguars Game Since 2010

This is without a doubt the biggest game the Jaguars have played since 2010 when they were 8-5 and lost out to lose the AFC South to Indianapolis. Jacksonville has since had some 0-6 starts and really never been in a position to do anything even in a weak division. This week, they have a chance to drop the preseason favorite Titans to 0-2 with a home win. The Texans are struggling at 1-1, the Colts look like they won’t win a game without Andrew Luck, and so the Jaguars can take a nice early lead in this division race with two wins already.

That means it’s also the biggest, and perhaps the first relevant, game of Blake Bortles’ career. Does that mean he becomes a garbage-time hero again? Not if the Titans start slow like they did last year and did last week. I also think this is a game with two of the most uninspired coaching hires in years (promoting Mike Mularkey and Doug Marrone from interim title), but if this is the new race for the AFC South, then this is one to keep an eye on. Leonard Fournette surprised me last week as I really thought the Texans would have a spirited effort defensively.

New England at New Orleans

What an interesting game. Sure, we all expect a 45-38 game here based on the quarterbacks and the way these defenses looked in Week 1. However, don’t you just trust Bill Belichick to figure things out with a few extra days off since the Chiefs loss? Also, that was one lousy game by the Patriots (offense included). The Saints have been lousy on defense for years and I see no resistance coming in this one. The interesting factors are that it is in New Orleans where Drew Brees is usually money, and he does have great career success against Brady/Belichick (should be 4-0, but #DatRobRyanD). Without Danny Amendola, will we see Brady continue to try being a deep thrower like he so uncharacteristically was vs. KC? Then again, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan should all have great matchups against a defense that made Sam Bradford look like the GOAT.

No Dont’a Hightower is another interesting factor to consider for the Saints, but I get the feeling they may try to get the running game going to calm Adrian Peterson down after some early rumblings. The Saints are also missing their tackles and Willie Snead (suspension), so they have key flaws too heading into this one. It’s not like Brees played poorly on Monday night, but the offense definitely seemed to lack efficiency and explosion without Snead (and Cooks off to NE).

I feel like the “remember what happened last time NE got killed by KC in prime time?” thing is a false hope for this year. This is a 40-year-old QB now. This is a defense that is not magically going to be more talented, especially without Hightower available. The best news for NE is that they still play in the AFC East, and who in that division is going to replace them in 2017? So even if the Saints light up the scoreboard and drop the Patriots to an inconceivable 0-2, I still don’t see a need to panic. They’re still likely to have a home playoff game just because of the state of the AFC East.

Minnesota at Pittsburgh

Another good game, though I wonder what’s going on with Sam Bradford’s knee injury. This doesn’t sound insignificant by any means, and we heard nothing about it Monday night, a seemingly perfect night for him. With that injury in mind, I liked the Steelers in this one to begin with. I think while the Vikings offer a tough defense, this is a week where the Steelers will be more comfortable at home in getting Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant better reacquainted with the offense. There was rust there, and it didn’t help that Todd Haley seemed to think he didn’t need to get creative to beat the Browns. The offensive line also didn’t get much push against that front seven (minus Myles Garrett), but I think they’ll put a much better performance on film at home.

Defensively, I think the Steelers contain Dalvin Cook. The bigger issue is defending Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Joe Haden did not have a good debut for the Steelers, and the secondary is still the weakness with this defense. If Bradford can deliver the ball on time, he’ll have great matchups with his wideouts, but I think Cook and Kyle Rudolph can be held in check. Ultimately, I think the Steelers get enough pressure against a quarterback on a potentially bad knee, and that’s enough for the edge at home.

Dallas at Denver

A few weeks ago I pegged this as a loss for Dallas, because I thought Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended. The run defense is the best way to attack Denver, which has suffered some injuries up front so far. Elliott seems to run well against just about any defense he faces, and I liked how Dak Prescott handled the Giants last week. I think this is a very winnable road game for the Cowboys, who can limit big plays for Denver’s offense. Rod Marinelli deserves a lot of credit for how he’s coached that defense. It lacks talent, they give up a lot of short completions, but they keep the play in front of them and tackle well. As long as Demaryius Thomas doesn’t take a short catch the distance, I think the Cowboys hold Denver to another low point total and get this win.

Green Bay at Atlanta

A very nice night cap to the day. I’m not sure much has changed for these teams from last year. It’s hard to outscore Aaron Rodgers three times in a row, but Atlanta certainly can do it with Matt Ryan and this offense. When Julio Jones has a quiet game like he did last week for his standards, he usually explodes the next week. We know he’s had some monster games in the past against Green Bay, including that NFC Championship Game win. Green Bay’s defense looked quite good against Seattle, but that’s probably going up against the worst offensive line in the NFL, and the Packers were not rolling offensively by any means. Ty Montgomery might have a big night here, but Falcons will be happy to have Desmond Trufant back to match up with Jordy Nelson. Ultimately, Atlanta needs the crowd to be fired up in opening the new stadium and to not be afraid to rush Rodgers like Dan Quinn did in the playoff game when they were very aggressive.

2017 Week 2 Predictions

Another Thursday game wrong. Damn those boring Texans and their low-scoring games with the Bengals.

Winners in bold.

  • Patriots at Saints
  • Vikings at Steelers
  • Bears at Buccaneers
  • Bills at Panthers
  • Eagles at Chiefs
  • Browns at Ravens
  • Cardinals at Colts
  • Titans at Jaguars
  • Dolphins at Chargers
  • Jets at Raiders
  • Redskins at Rams
  • Cowboys at Broncos
  • 49ers at Seahawks
  • Packers at Falcons
  • Lions at Giants

Road teams were good last week. TNF excluded, I think home teams rebound this week.

Week 1: 8-7

NFL Week 2 Predictions: Embracing Mediocrity

I always like it when the afternoon games I’m most interested in are on my local CBS and FOX affiliates, which is the case this week. Without failure, each season someone is shocked that I don’t have Sunday Ticket, but why would I ever want or need such an expensive service? I prefer to watch a full live game if I can, particularly the Steelers, but I also have the RedZone channel. Then there’s Game Pass and torrents. So I get the league-wide access I need at a favorable cost. If there’s a drive full of 4-yard papercuts to Jarvis Landry that I need to see, I’ll see it in due time. No worries.

Bengals at Steelers

This is easily the game of the week. That may not mean it will play out as the best, but it is the most important game — the next chapter in a heated rivalry. It also brings up one of the more fascinating stats in the NFL: Marvin Lewis is 6-7 in Pittsburgh, but 2-13 at home against the Steelers (including two crushing playoff losses). The road team just happens to play better in this series, and Cincinnati’s 6-7 record in Pittsburgh trails only Jacksonville (3-1) and New England (3-2) since 2003 among teams with at least 3 trips to Heinz Field. Part of this weird split is that Ben Roethlisberger’s stats are better in Cincinnati than at home where he has had some of the worst games of his career in low-scoring struggles, including last season’s 16-10, three-pick defeat. At least this won’t be a game where Roethlisberger is just returning from injury as was the case last year.

In his career, Roethlisberger is 54-4 at home when the Steelers allow fewer than 21 points, but three of those losses were to the Bengals. Lewis’ defense has a good feel for defending this offense, including pressuring Ben and containing Antonio Brown as a receiver (he does have 3 punt return touchdowns against the Bengals). In Brown’s last 48 games with Roethlisberger at quarterback, he’s had at least 5 catches in all 48, and at least 70 yards in 40 of them. Only the Ravens (4), Bengals (3) and Seahawks (1) have held this duo under 70 yards. I think the Bengals can limit his damage again this week, and A.J. Green is going to have the bigger game. He almost has to with both offenses experiencing many departures, putting the onus on their star receivers to dominate. Heath Miller retired, Ladarius Green and Tyler Eifert are injured, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones are gone, Martavis Bryant is suspended and Markus Wheaton appears to still be injured. This means newcomers have to contribute, including Eli Rogers, Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. While a game of HORSE between Brown and Green would be interesting, the offense that gets more secondary receiver contributions is likely to win this game. I do not think either running game is going to go off, though I’d give the Steelers the edge there with DeAngelo Williams still looking really good at an advanced age behind this offensive line. I’m still not sure what to think of Jeremy Hill after a disappointing 2015, and he’ll especially be happy if Ryan Shazier isn’t at full strength after Shazier’s dominant playoff game helped eliminate the Bengals. The Steelers ought to be happy that Vontaze Burfict is still suspended for this one after Burfcit injured Le’Veon Bell, Ben and Brown on hits last season.

Defensively, I would be concerned that the Steelers did not get much rush on Washington and gave up their share of plays, but got enough big stops to limit the points to 16. That is always key, but a similar offense in Cincinnati should get rid of the ball quickly and there really is no one capable of matching up with Green in this secondary. Andy Dalton is usually one of the best-protected quarterbacks in the NFL, but he took seven sacks on the road last week. The Steelers are going to have to get their front seven to deliver more this week. I would expect a few sacks from the Bengals of Roethlisberger, but he’ll be glad to see no Reggie Nelson in the secondary. The offense had few problems in the last three quarters against Washington, but must build off that performance. You saw the ugly first quarter and how a few turnovers could really change the game around. The Bengals have the better defense in this matchup.

So home field has been established as pretty irrelevant in this particular series, but I do give the Steelers a slight edge going into this one. They’ll be happy to be home given six of their last seven games were on the road thanks to being a 6th seed in the playoffs last year and opening this year on the road. Monday night’s performance was impressive enough for me to think this offense is clicking well enough early despite the personnel losses that they can pull out a close one here.

Bengals 21, Steelers 24

Colts at Broncos

I hope I’m not relying too much on “fighting narratives” to make game picks this season, especially after a bad Week 1. But this was a game where I picked the Broncos to win when I went through all 256 games before opening night. Yes, it is true that Andrew Luck has had great success against the Broncos (3-1), including the most efficient and effective game any QB had against them last year while he lacerated his kidney. Maybe he took those matchups with Peyton Manning personally, really wanting to impress the Indy fans. He doesn’t need any extra motivation to avoid going 0-2 this week, but he hasn’t seen this Wade Phillips’ called defense on the road yet. The Broncos are still very much led by that defense, which feeds on the crowd energy to play even better at home. Trevor Siemian threw one pass over 15 yards in Week 1 and it was intercepted. He may get a boost this week with the Colts’ beat-up defensive unit struggling to get pressure and cover receivers. The Demaryius Thomas injury is a little concerning given Denver is basically two deep at that position, but I like Emmanuel Sanders this week. Right now, Siemian looks like Alex Smith without the draft pedigree, but the Broncos can win with that as long as C.J. Anderson is making great cuts behind an improved run-blocking line. Luck looked great last week, but I fear his line on the road this week against a much tougher unit. I absolutely think the Colts can win this one since you really don’t need to score many points to beat Denver, but I just don’t see it working out this time. The Colts need more of a big defensive effort than a big game from Luck (smart will do).

Colts 17, Broncos 20

Seahawks at Rams

I always like to say I get a lot of predictions wrong throughout the season, but I still get more right. It never fails to amaze me when I mention a long streak and it gets broken in the next game or two. All throughout the summer I feared a Russell Wilson injury this year due to his unusually good durability despite a frantic playing style behind a porous offensive line. Was this the year that would catch up to Seattle? Then he hurts his ankle in Week 1 and just barely limps to a late win over Miami. Unless the Seahawks are covering it up, Wilson seems to have avoided the dreaded high-ankle sprain and will start on Sunday. We don’t know anything about what Injured Russell Wilson looks like since he’s always been healthy. However, if his mobility is limited, then that’s a huge problem against a Rams defense that always gives him fits even when he’s on his game. Who saw the Rams going into Seattle in Week 16 and pulling out that win? Jeff Fisher can’t sniff a real Super Bowl again, so he treats these Seattle games as his team’s Super Bowl, and the success has been pretty good given Seattle’s overall dominance since 2012.

After the game on Sunday, I was determined to pick the Rams to win this game in their home Los Angeles opener given the Wilson injury. And then Monday night happened — an embarrassing 28-0 shutout to Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers, projected to be a bottom-two team this year. They drafted Jared Goff No. 1 to be inactive for this shit? Forget 7-9 bullshit, this looked like the start of 2-14 c*cksucker blues. And they want to give Fisher an extension? It’s madness.

And yet, as much as that game cooled me off the Rams’ upset, I still think they’re going to give Seattle a game here. I just don’t think it’s going to be enough because of that horrific offense against this great Seattle defense. Wilson may not need to throw for 100 yards. Just don’t turn the ball over.

Rams 6, Seahawks 16

Packers at Vikings

Opening a new stadium should be a joyous occasion, but in Minnesota, the throng of yawns in the air have already given the new place a stale smell of boredom and disinterest. Nothing can suck the life out of a fan base more than having to start Sam Bradford at quarterback after trading a first-round pick for him. Vikings fans, get ready to embrace mediocrity.

Mediocrity would actually be an improvement over most of Bradford’s career, but it’s really the best-case scenario this year. He plays at a league-average level, but does just enough in the right moments to get this team enough wins. Adrian Peterson is going to have to play much better than last week, though the Titans were built to stop the run and stink at the pass. Green Bay is a solid, but not great defense, and Sam Shields being out should help. I wouldn’t expect much from Bradford, but honestly, why would you ever expect much from Sam Bradford?

The other side of the ball is what interests me most about this one, because what the hell has happened to this Green Bay passing game? It went from years of being one of the most efficient attacks ever to a broken mess. Where are the timing plays and the chemistry on the back-shoulder throws? Anymore this offense works best by producing broken plays and taking advantage of offside penalties. It’s not sustainable, and it hasn’t been effective even though the Week 11 game in Minnesota is one of two times the offense has scored 30 offensive points in the last 13 games.

Aaron Rodgers has five seasons with at least 8.2 YPA.  He still ranks 5th all time in YPA (7.99). So it’s incredible when one of the most efficient passers ever has been held under 6.0 YPA in five of his last six games. That’s something Rodgers has only done in 12 other starts in his career. He’s been held under 7.0 YPA in 11 of his last 13 games (including playoffs). One of those two was the Hail Mary in Detroit to boost him up. Even though Jordy Nelson returned last week, he wasn’t the same receiver as he didn’t make the big plays. In fact, his 6 catches for 32 yards (5.33 YPC) is the lowest YPC he’s ever had in a game with more than 1 catch.

The effect this stretch of play is having on Rodgers’ career stats is interesting. He was at 8.22 YPA thru 116 regular-season games. Now after going a Joey Harrington-esque 5.96 YPA in his last 11 games, he’s down to 7.99. He still manages his TD-to-INT ratio well, but it’s hard to call this depressed passing game effective. Keep in mind the Packers are 6-7 since a 6-0 start last year. Rodgers has tore up the Vikings many times in his career, but not last year against Mike Zimmer’s defense. I think that defense rises to the occasion in this one, but the offense lets them down as Green Bay does just enough to sneak away with the win in the new stadium.

Packers 19, Vikings 16

2016 Week 2 Predictions

Well I was some 7-9 bullshit in a bad opening week. At least I changed my mind on the Jets starting 0-6 to give them the Thursday win over a growing mess in Buffalo. See, Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks against Rex Ryan defenses, but that Rob Ryan D is another story.

Winners in bold

  • Bengals at Steelers
  • Titans at Lions
  • Saints at Giants
  • Ravens at Browns
  • Cowboys at Redskins
  • Chiefs at Texans
  • 49ers at Panthers
  • Dolphins at Patriots
  • Buccaneers at Cardinals
  • Seahawks at Rams
  • Falcons at Raiders
  • Jaguars at Chargers
  • Colts at Broncos
  • Packers at Vikings
  • Eagles at Bears

Week 1: 7-9

NFL Week 2 Predictions: TD-or-Bust Drives

I didn’t write about it here last week, but I was mentioning on Twitter before the game how Russell Wilson still hasn’t thrown more than 37 passes in a game in the NFL. I believe the last time I wrote about it on here he had 37 the next day in Philadelphia before stopping. Wouldn’t you know on Sunday in St. Louis Wilson hit 41 attempts, albeit in overtime. So that streak is over in his 49th regular-season game.

A lot of times I’ll post a table about a streak and see it broken the next game or sometime soon after. Following Week 1 last year, I showed that the Seahawks had a record 31 consecutive games with a lead in the 4th QT or overtime. In their very next game in San Diego that streak ended with San Diego’s 30-21 win. Are these just strange coincidences or do I have some special kind of jinx power? The answer is really neither, but it’s usually not by accident either. I find a lot of obscure streaks that are records, which means no one else has ever done it before. So if you’re doing something that’s never been done before, it’s very difficult to sustain that. Records are meant to be hard to obtain. So when I keep mentioning Seattle’s NFL record 70-game streak of being at least within one score in the 4th quarter, don’t be surprised if that streak-ending blowout loss is just around the corner.

Last week I highlighted Antonio Brown’s receiving streaks. Odell Beckham’s 9 games with 90+ yards came to a crashing end. Hopefully with Brown on several of my DFS rosters, his streak-stopping day won’t come against the 49ers.

TD-or-Bust Drives

We already had a great start to Week 2 with one of the craziest finishes in NFL history when Jamaal Charles lost a fumble for a game-deciding touchdown in the final minute. I already wrote a 3,000-word recap of the game on Friday, so please check that out.

In that article I mentioned Peyton Manning has had 25 opportunities to start a drive in the final 3:00 of the fourth quarter, down 4-8 points and absolutely needing a touchdown. I just couldn’t let Phil Simms get away with saying Manning’s been in that situation hundreds of times. It’s rare and the number is 25. I showed all 25 of those drives in the article and found that Manning threw an interception of eight of his first nine attempts, all under Jim Mora in 1998-2001 when he was still feeling his oats. When Manning took his game to a new level in 2003 you saw the success start to pile up and he led a total of 8 touchdown drives in this situation. He’s been money in recent years, but how does this compare to his peers? I used Pro-Football-Reference to quickly gather that data, so it’s possible some drives are being omitted due to some timing differences with the kickoff. Example: PFR might say a drive started at 3:03, but it actually started at 2:58 in my data because of the five seconds spent on the kickoff. I base things on when the offense took the field to start the drive. With that said, here are the results for some key active QBs:

Drive3

Thursday night’s success pushes Manning ahead of the pack in TD%, but he also has the highest INT%. Again, all but one of those picks happened in his first four seasons (5 as a rookie in 1998 alone). We also see the Manning brothers had the most average time left while Aaron Rodgers got the short end of the stick there. I’m surprised Roethlisberger is that low, but a lot of his great touchdown drives came in 3-point games (SB 43) or just outside of the 3:00 mark (2008 Ravens). By the way, Tony Romo’s drive last Sunday night is included here so we’ve already seen a couple of great ones this season.

Take away from this what you will, but what I want to highlight is that drives like the one Manning had on Thursday night against the Chiefs are rare and shouldn’t be taken for granted. That’s the kind of moment you remember for years as a fan, whether you were on the winning side or the losing side. NFL Network still airs that 1994 game where Joe Montana threw a late TD to beat John Elway’s Broncos on Monday Night Football. Twenty years from now you might see this game replayed too.

2015 Week 2 Predictions

The quest for one perfect week of picks continues as I’m already 0-1 after picking a team with Alex Smith to beat a team with Peyton Manning starting. Silly me.

Winners in bold

  • Texans at Panthers
  • Lions at Vikings
  • 49ers at Steelers
  • Chargers at Bengals
  • Cardinals at Bears
  • Buccaneers at Saints
  • Titans at Browns
  • Falcons at Giants
  • Rams at Redskins
  • Patriots at Bills
  • Ravens at Raiders
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Dolphins at Jaguars
  • Seahawks at Packers
  • Jets at Colts

The 49ers are still a pretty talented team, but I don’t think they’ll take advantage of the poor pass defense the way you should when playing the Steelers right now. Pittsburgh’s offense pushes them ahead to a home win.

If the Saints lose at home to Tampa Bay, I seriously may not pick that team in another game until 2016. I’ve had it.

The Titans shouldn’t blow a 25-point to Cleveland this year. I’m interested to see Johnny Manziel start, but I expect this offense to continue struggling. Ken Whisenhunt and Dick LeBeau have a lot of experience at beating the Browns. Mariota won’t have to throw too much again.

After having no running game on Monday night and playing Dallas this week, DeMarco Murray is someone I expect to have a huge Week 2. The only thing that might stop him is Chip Kelly’s rotation of the three backs, because that’s a very difficult thing to manage with the talent you get from Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. But I expect Murray to get most of the touches this week. Eagles clean up some things defensively and no Dez Bryant is a big blow to Dallas.

The Jets are a sneaky-tough opponent for the Colts at home, but I think Indy finds a way to win that one at home. Or for Ryan Fitzpatrick to lose it. Either way.

Seahawks at Packers is indeed the big one on SNF. This time it won’t be in Seattle and Kam Chancellor won’t be playing, but neither will Jordy Nelson (and Bryan Bulaga). This is Aaron Rodgers’ best shot to have a good game against this defense, and I think this could be the week Davante Adams actually shines like he was so hyped to do. Remember, he was supposed to be the x-factor in the NFC Championship Game. He caught one ball for 7 yards. With James Jones coming on last week and Randall Cobb always a threat, Adams could have some favorable matchups against a secondary that just isn’t as deep with all the injuries (Jeremy Lane) and holdouts going on this year. This game can basically decide who gets the No. 1 seed in the NFC and it’s only Week 2. Still, I can’t fathom Seattle starting 0-2. I think Marshawn Lynch is a huge part of the gameplan — no 41 throws this week — and the Seahawks grind out a close one.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6

NFL Week 2 Predictions: The Matthew Stafford Playoff Predictor

Boy, after this week Roger Goodell could use an Oswald Cobblepot-type scheme to rescue a “kidnapped” baby to regain public support. Just don’t get caught with the “I played this stinking city like a harp from hell!” audio afterwards.

No matter how many times I try to run through a Ray Rice/Peterson-related monologue in my head, it just doesn’t come out right. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about this stuff all week, so adding to it wouldn’t be very beneficial to anyone. It’s dominated the headlines, so instead of talking about how the Vikings can use Cordarrelle Patterson to drop the Patriots to 0-2 (would be huge), it’s all Peterson talk in Minnesota.

These stories aren’t the NFL I know. They’re the stories we hear every day on the local news, but now replaced with names of people we actually recognize. I just went to a local news’ website and found this familiar headline:

lnews

Following the NFL for a living is a bit of an escape from all the constant reminders of the terrible things that happen across the world each day. Sometimes they happen in the NFL too, but this week (and month, really) has been especially bad.

This is still a human problem, far bigger than the NFL. How does it get better? That’s really not up to Goodell or the league to regulate human indecency. Unfortunately, we’ve had many years to find solutions with little progress. Someone, whether they’re a rich athlete or just living in Wilkinsburg, is going to beat their kids or spouse this weekend. If you listened to that dumbass woman with her Ray Rice jersey, some will think it’s justified.

Every time you justify, another good in you dies.
Faith and fear sears me, and love and you pull all the right strings.
“How we get older, how we forget about each other” she said.
Entwined within the sadder of days.

— Converge, The Saddest Day

Matthew Stafford: Playoff Predictor?

Before the 2013 season I had a stat on how Matthew Stafford was 1-23 against teams that finished the season with a winning record. Now obviously that’s not all his fault. He had good wins over 8-8 teams (otherwise 8-7), he played an unusually tough set of winning teams (none were-9-7) and had some good performances. Arguably the best game of his career was a comeback win over Seattle in 2012. But how did this progress last season when the Lions collapsed after a 6-3 start?

Early in the season, it was easy to joke that the Vikings and Redskins (2012 playoff teams) must be in store for a bad year after losing to Detroit. Then when the Bears were swept and the Cowboys were swept away by a last-minute drive, there were similar sentiments of these teams not finishing above .500. Of course, by season’s end none of those teams did finish above .500, but on Thanksgiving something unusual happened. The Lions mopped the floor with the Packers, who entered with a 5-5-1 record, but had their 4th starting quarterback after the big injury to Aaron Rodgers. That seemed to lock up the NFC North for Detroit, but it would never win another game and Stafford had a brutal December finish.

So he’s upped his record to 2-27 against winning teams, but that Green Bay win almost needs an asterisk. When the Packers had Rodgers earlier in the season, Detroit lost 22-9 in a game without Calvin Johnson.

Staff9

After Week 1, I feel pretty confident in saying the 2014 Giants are destined for a losing record, so Monday night’s game, which was one of Stafford’s best, tells me very little going forward. This week’s game in Carolina will be a much better test. I didn’t have the Panthers finishing above .500 this year, but they were good without Cam Newton in Tampa Bay last week. Derek Anderson really surprised me and the defense was pretty much as dominant as 2013. Cam’s back and this should be a highlight on Sunday’s schedule. Carolina had the best defensive DVOA in Week 1. Another strong performance and Stafford’s stock will deserve to  rise, but another dud and we could have a new addition to the table by December.

NFL Week 2 Predictions

Just .500 last week. I always feel Week 2 is one of the toughest of the year, because how much of last week was useful going forward? I had the Ravens on Thursday night, but the point spread would have killed me the last two weeks. I thought Ravens would win by 3 (the norm in this rivalry), but 26-6 was completely unexpected.

Winners in bold:

  • Patriots at Vikings
  • Cardinals at Giants
  • Falcons at Bengals
  • Saints at Browns
  • Jaguars at Redskins
  • Dolphins at Bills
  • Lions at Panthers
  • Cowboys at Titans
  • Rams at Buccaneers
  • Seahawks at Chargers
  • Chiefs at Broncos
  • Texans at Raiders
  • Jets at Packers
  • Bears at 49ers
  • Eagles at Colts

This is more about the schedule than actual quality of team, but a great shot for Houston to start 2-0. If all goes well for Denver, it could be 2-0 in  a division with three 0-2 teams by Sunday evening. I think Dallas gets back on track offensively and Tony Romo guides a narrow win on the road. The Colts rarely lose back-to-back regular-season games. The Eagles are a tough test, but I like a game-winning drive from Luck in a 31-28 final on Monday night.

Maybe this coming week the news will actually be on the games again.

NFL Week 2 Predictions: The Toilet Bowl and the Manning Bowl

Another NFL week, another high-profile game with the Denver Broncos as they take on the Giants in what should be the final Manning Bowl. Now I like statistical analysis as much as the next guy, but sometimes you have to also factor in more human elements to the game.

Is Eli Manning really going to go 0-3 against Peyton in the NFL? He should get the one win, and the last one for that matter. After a horrible game with two fumbles, David Wilson is all but playing for his career in New York. He should play better because he flat out has to. Denver had 7 TD passes last week while the Giants had 6 turnovers. Those numbers will both come down, favoring the Giants, who at 0-1, cannot really afford another loss to start the season.

There are plenty of real football reasons to like New York in this one. The Giants are at home. They just had three receivers go over 100 yards and Denver’s defense is still missing it’s two best players. Remember when the Broncos couldn’t rush Joe Flacco early? Well now they’ll play an offense with the weapons to take advantage the way Baltimore couldn’t. Jack Del Rio is the master of the “no rush, no coverage” defense. Expect to see a huge day from Eli, who threw for over 500 yards in a similar spot in Week 2 last year against Tampa Bay.

Denver’s offense is still going to be tough to stop, but the running game is not there and this team does get off to slow starts, which is when the Giants need to build a lead. I expect a lot of points in the end, but I also think Eli will be in a similar situation to Sunday: having the ball late with a chance to win, and this time he’ll get it done. Giants win 34-31.

Of course this is self-serving as I picked the Giants to win the NFC East and had Denver starting 1-1, so this probably means the Broncos by 14 points, but we’ll see. I just think this is the game where not having those players on defense will hurt Denver the most.

First Quarter Knockout

Here’s something to watch for on Sunday afternoon. The San Diego Chargers, a Pacific time zone team who just lost a heart-breaker on late Monday night, have to play across the country at Philadelphia in a game that starts at 10:00 A.M. PST. With Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense, can you see another first quarter knockout in the works? The Chargers may get so far behind that Philip Rivers will have no chance to blow it in the fourth quarter this week.

Toilet Bowl

Based on last year, Chiefs at Jaguars and Jaguars at Raiders sounds like the worst possible start to a season for a NFL fan to suffer through. This Week 2 game looked like a good one for the fast track to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, but now it looks like it’d be an upset if the Raiders lost this one at home. Terrelle Pryor did a lot of exciting things in Indianapolis while the Jaguars were downright embarrassing against the Chiefs. Out with Blaine Gabbert and in with Chad Henne, but here’s a stat from Week 1 I never would have expected in a billion simulations:

The Raiders lead the NFL in offensive yards per drive (44.62) while the Jaguars are dead last (9.87).

I still don’t plan on saying this that often this season, but give me the Raiders on Sunday.

2013 NFL Week 2 Predictions

I’ll always take a 11-5 record in Week 1, which is usually one of the toughest to predict. Week 2 can be even harder if you pay too much attention to what happened last week, or too little and not recognize it’s a new year and some teams just aren’t as good (or bad) as you expected. I had the Patriots winning 20-10 on Thursday night, but they somehow got it done by going scoreless in the second half.

  • Browns at Ravens
  • Vikings at Bears
  • Rams at Falcons
  • Dolphins at Colts
  • Cowboys at Chiefs
  • Titans at Texans
  • Panthers at Bills
  • Chargers at Eagles
  • Redskins at Packers
  • Lions at Cardinals
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Broncos at Giants
  • Jaguars at Raiders
  • 49ers at Seahawks
  • Steelers at Bengals

No matter how much I try to tell myself to “trust my gut” I end up picking 14 home teams (counting NE) and practically all the favorites. No chance in hell of that happening, which tells me I should probably pick the Steelers, the Broncos, the Panthers and maybe the Vikings. But I won’t do it. Why? I must just be a *****.

NFL Week 2 Predictions and Writing Recap

Pretty good start to the NFL season. On Thursday I was introduced on Wisconsin radio as someone “who really hates the Packers.” Not true, but good times.

This Week’s Articles

Peyton Manning Ties Dan Marino for Fourth Quarter Comeback Record – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Started the week off in historic fashion with Manning finally tying Dan Marino with his 36th fourth quarter coemback win.

Breaking Down the Pivotal Moments of NFL Week 1 – Bleacher Report

New column to review the weekend’s most interesting action. Putting things into context.

Captain Comeback Week 1: Broncos Skewer Dick LeBeau’s Defense Again – Cold, Hard Football Facts

This season’s first real edition of Captain Comeback where I review this week’s close games. Included: Manning’s record, ugly wins for Stafford/Vick, a historic finish in Minnesota, and those front-running Green Bay Packers.

NFL Week 1 Scoring Record Belies Offensive Issues – NBC Sports

While there may have been a Week 1 record of 791 points scored, there was still plenty of bad offense and ugly special teams play in these games. Quite a few quarterbacks threw pick parades, and the return of defense looks well intact. See Thursday night in Green Bay for more proof this year is going to be different.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 1 at Chicago Bears – Colts Authority

This is an article I had planned to do months before Luck was even drafted by the Colts. Every Wednesday I am going to have the breakdown of his game in ways that I don’t think anyone has ever done before, or at least not all in one place and free to the public. Metrics for how long Luck held the ball, incomplete pass splits, YAC stats, number of pass rushers faced, use of play-action passing, etc.

The Thinking Man’s Guide to NFL Week 2 – Bleacher Report

This week’s preview includes a look at domination by home teams on Thursday night, what 0-2 really means for your playoff chances, an update on the five rookie quarterbacks, and statement games in prime time for Detroit and Atlanta.

Carson Palmer Leads NFL in Failed Completions – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Who was this week’s Captain Checkdown? Carson Palmer of course. He had 13 failed completions. Learn about this statistical concept of measuring passing success for all 32 teams.

2012 NFL Week 2 Predictions

Last week I had a great start with a 12-4 record. I should have picked Tampa Bay too, but their December blowout losses to Carolina scared me away. Off to a 1-0 start this week after rolling with the Packers. Thanks, Jay.

Winners in bold:

  • Chiefs at Bills
  • Saints at Panthers
  • Browns at Bengals
  • Vikings at Colts
  • Texans at Jaguars
  • Raiders at Dolphins
  • Cardinals at Patriots
  • Buccaneers at Giants
  • Ravens at Eagles
  • Cowboys at Seahawks
  • Redskins at Rams
  • Jets at Steelers
  • Titans at Chargers
  • Lions at 49ers
  • Broncos at Falcons

I am very tempted to take Seattle, but I just can’t do it yet. Want to see Russell Wilson with a capable NFL performance first. I think Andrew Luck gets his first win after playing Minnesota’s bad defense at home this week. The Patriots are as much as a lock as you can get this week. The Lions have lost 8 straight to San Francisco, and they have no wins against a winning team under Schwartz/Stafford (0-12). Finally, I rarely ever pick against Peyton Manning, but I just have a feeling this is Atlanta’s big moment in the dome on Monday night. It is very important for their development to win a game like this. I can see a 31-28 finish after playing more keepaway from Peyton. That Denver defense is not Super Bowl-caliber yet.