TNF: Buccaneers at Falcons (-6.5)
Atlanta is a home favorite because they’re returning to the dome. They beat the Saints in the dome in week 1, before an embarrassing loss at Cincinnati in week 2. Tampa Bay hosted a pair of games to start the season. They lost a slug fest to the rival Panthers before losing to the Rams and third string quarterback Austin Davis. Really, the Buccaneers played against two stingy defenses. In this NFC South rival clash, you might as well toss out the bad losses in week 2 for these teams. Tampa’s cover-2 defense should force Matt Ryan and the top-passing offense in the NFL to be patient because they usually bend but don’t break. Roddy White doesn’t really need to practice, the veteran is getting rest to play on a short week. Doug Martin and/or Bobby Rainey have to continue to move the chains on the ground to have a chance, and they matchup extremely well against the last-ranked defense.
Why not pick an upset here? Bucs on the road for the point spread because there is no D in the A-T-L. Falcons should probably still win, but it could be a close finish.
Chargers at Bills (-2.5)
I am surprised to see the Chargers are underdogs after knocking off the defending champions. The Bolts are usually inconsistent, like beating Seahawks after losing to the Cardinals. Buffalo is 2-0 after edging out the Bears in OT, in Chicago, and flexing against the rival Dolphins last week. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but so far so stout for a Bills run D. They’ve even lost a few defenders to injury. San Diego will ease the Ryan Mathews void with a pair of capable veterans. The Bills look like a better team heading into week 3, and that’s really all that matters right now.
S.D. travels across the country for a morning game, and the Bills are playing good football on both sides of the ball.
Cowboys at Rams (+1.5)
DeMarco Murray is running all over defenses, win or lose. Dallas split their first twi games, dropping the home opener to the 49ers before rebounding in Tennessee in convincing fashion. St. Louis got rolled in their home opener by Minnesota, then gutted one out against the Buccaneers with a game-winning field goal. Actually, Tampa was driving and time expired when Mike Evans got hurt. The Bucs had no time outs and the 10-second run off ended the game. The Rams defense is tough, but was shredded by Bobby Rainey last week. The Cowboys might not stop anybody, as the Titans seemed to stop themselves with mental mistakes, but they’re at least looking better than last season that was historically bad.
Give me the best two offensive players on the field in this one, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant giddy up them Cowboys.
Redskins at Eagles (-6.5)
This is the game of the week that you should expect a shootout. These NFC East rivals have flip-flopped for the division crown in recent years. Washington was contained in week 1 by J.J. Watt and the Texans, allowing Arian Foster to run through them too. Philly has yet to show up for a first half of football, bailing themselves out with offensive explosions and better defense in second halves of play. You can’t expect to go down and comeback every week. Both teams won comfortably over the Jags. The Skins looked better with Kirk Cousins, and they’ll have to keep it that way because RG3 is out for about a month. They need DeSean Jackson, he’s questionable. Philly needs LB Mychal Kendricks, he’s also questionable. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan should win the battle o the edge against some O-line reserves, just not sure the unit can matchup with Shady and Sproles.
Philly is the better team right now and they should win this game, but you might want to bet on D.C. on the point spread.
Texans at Giants (+2.5)
If the Giants can hang onto the ball, they could get off the schneid at home. The defense might be able to hold it’s own, but they have to get the Texans off the field on third down. NY got waxed by Detroit in week 1, and the Cardinals gained separation late to beat them without Carson Palmer. Rashad Jennings has proven he can play, coming off a pair of challenging matchups. Arian Foster is back in the groove and Andre Johnson isn’t showing his age whatsoever. Houston has been relentless at the line of scrimmage, thanks to a charge led by the six-figured J.J. Watt. They should win the battle in the trenches, as the G-Men’s weakness is up front. They just might need their tight ends to block more this week.
The Texans pressure Eli Manning throughout, giving Foster and Johnson ample time to make enough plays on the road.
Vikings at Saints (-9.5)
This is over before it even gets started. Did you see the lifeless Vikings, at home, in that blowout loss to the Patriots? Expect a similar performance from them. Things looked promising after a dominant week 1 over the Rams, but Adrian Peterson has been deactivated. Rob Ryan will dial up the pressure and swarm the box against an unproven backfield. Even without Mark Ingram, the Saints should finally march in and out of their friendly confines for win #1. Losing back to back road games in Atlanta and Cleveland won’t purge the road woes, but sometimes, there’s just no place like home.
High point differential for a winless team. Minny couldn’t handle life without A.P. and New Orleans is salivating to get in the win column.
Titans at Bengals (-7)
Just when some thought the Titans were going to be better this season, reality hit that Ken Whisenhunt can’t work wonders with a team he inherited overnight. After an impressive week 1 win in the tough Arrowhead Stadium of the Chiefs, they really laid an egg at home to the Cowboys. What we know is that both of those scores ended 26-10, will it be three in a row? Cincy continues to be one of the better teams in football.Their defense imposed its will on the Falcons and Ravens so far. Even without the questionable A.J. Green and Tyler Eifer (I.R.), they have enough weapons to move the ball. It could be a big day for Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill.
Whether they kick field goals or the defense puts up a touchdown, the Bengals should find a way to cover and stay undefeated.
Ravens at Browns (+1.5)
Here’s a rival game that you don’t really know what to expect from either team. In week 1 they both came out flat in the first half, only to comeback and fall short. In week 2, the Ravens blew out the rival Steelers unpredictably, while the Browns hosted the Saints and edged them out at the end. Cleveland has played in two close games so far. Baltimore’s defense has looked gritty. Cleveland’s defense has played 6 of 8 good quarters. Something’s got to give. I don’t trust either quarterback. I like the Browns ground game better but the Ravens have a better receiving corps. Sounds like a toss up doesn’t it? You might lean in the comfort of the Ravens because they’ve had recent success, however, the “Land” has new life in 2014 and someone different has been making a play on both sides of the ball.
Give me the Browns in the Land.
Packers at Lions (-1)
Nothing looks pretty in 2014 when it comes to the Packers and Lions. Both are 1-1 and that’s best-case scenario leading up to this matchup. Green Bay was overmatched by the champs in week 1, and woke up in the second half to knock off the Jets. Yes, the Jets called a timeout before the snap on the game-tying touchdown, but who’s to say GB wasn’t going to win in the 4th or overtime anyway? Detroit predictably beat a Giants team that doesn’t measure up to many opponents right now. Then, they left the dome for Carolina and got spanked, slowly but surely. The Lions are back at home to host their rival, who are less physically imposing than the Panthers. I think the Cheeseheads have the size to somewhat stick with Matthew Stafford’s cast, enough for Aaron Rodgers to get some scoring drives going.
Probably a high-scoring affair, when the game’s on the line I’m always going to give the benefit of the doubt to Rodgers, not Stafford.
Colts at Jaguars (-7)
I like Andrew Luck, as most people do. He’s played at an average level overall, with outstanding comeback performances here and there. Just maybe, it’s time to start Ahmad Bradshaw so the offense can finally get balanced. The Colts blew the lead in Philly on MNF, after falling short of a comeback in Denver on SNF. Jacksonville had an awesome first half in week 1, but since then they’ve played a poor 6 quarters. No Cecil Shorts yet, and they lost Allen Hurns who provided some big plays downfield. Toby Gerhart hasn’t had a chance to do anything whatsoever. Indy’s D held down the Broncos in the second half and the Eagles in the first half. Indy bullied Jax in both meetings last season too.
Colts get their first win of the season, keeping the rival Jags winless.
Raiders at Patriots (-14.5)
Oakland lost to the Jets and Texans, without much of a fight. I guess the Silver and black gave the Jets a push, but to no avail. New England rolled Minnesota without Adrian Peterson, that came after blowing a big lead in Miami. The Raiders are looking for answers everywhere. The Patriots discovered the defense and run game they were looking for. It’s an astronomical point spread for an NFL game. The outcome appears obvious, in favor of the red, white, and blue. The Pats have a lot of weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal. The Chandler-Jones and Aqib Talib-led defense should frustrate rookie QB Derek Carr, further intensifying coach Dennis Allen’s hot seat.
When you see a double-digit point spread, you usually bet on the underdog. Oakland has a lot of veterans and that’s the only reason I’m betting against the Patriots, while expecting NE to win the game.
49ers at Cardinals (+2.5)
The 49ers won in Dallas then lost to Bears at home. Arizona edged out the Bolts on MNF and pulled a complete team effort to beat the G-Men without Carson Palmer. Both defenses are good. They hit you hard every down and that includes hits on the quarterback. Put it this way, the Cardinals are not winning this time around if Palmer is on the sidelines. San Fan comes in with the edge because it’s hard to move the ball, let alone with a banged up QB. With or without Vernon Davis, the Niners will at the very least, hang around like the Giants did against Arizona.
The healthier team prevails in this division clash, I’m comfortable with SF winning by a field goal or more in week 3.
Broncos at Seahawks (-5)
Denver started strong and held on to beat Colts and Chiefs. Their biggest concern is second half execution, where both sides of the ball look like they let up or get outcoached, and they present an entirely different team. The Seahawks man-handled the Packers on opening night but came up short in San Diego’s 100-degree weather. Give the Chargers credit for being physical and playing aggressive, I do think the Hawks overlooked them for this collision course. Marshawn Lynch is expected to be OK and the champs have two chips on their shoulder now. The Broncos dropped 40 points a game in 2013, only to be stunted by the Legion of Boom to 8 Super Bowl points. The offense might have changed things to hide their hand by going vanilla, or they’re legitimately struggling to close out games. This time around, Denver believes in their improved defense. Only three teams played it close in Seattle last year, all played 4-3 defenses.
This game will be played with the 12th Man, “so that’s the result you gon’ get!” (Richard Sherman)
Chiefs at Dolphins (-4.5)
Kansas City llost at home to Tennessee and just lost again in Denver, also losing Jamaal Charles. Miami had a great week 1 comeback against the rival Patriots, but didn’t even compete with the Bills after losing Knowshon Moreno early on. The Chiefs won’t change much because well, they can’t. They’re a limited offense as it as. Knile Davis filled in great in a comeback that fell short last week, but even before that Charles couldn’t muster up much behind a struggling O-line. Miami knows about O-line issues, the good news is that center Mike Pouncey returned to practice. No Knowshon, no trust in Miami.
I don’t like either of these teams in their current situations, so I’ll take KC on the point spread.
SNF: Steelers at Panthers (-3.5)
Pittsburgh held on to beat Cleveland but didn’t show up for TNF in Baltimore. The offense has been stymied the past 6 quarters of play. Carolina won in Tampa Bay without Cam Newton and pounced on the Lions in the second half. Just when some thought the Panthers would come down to earth, the defense carries last year’s momentum and Newton moves the chains in his debut. The Steelers are a better pass defense, where as the Panthers strength lies in their run game. Carolina is too physical for them, and Ben Roethlisberger is still feeling last week’s pain.
Take the home team to man up against the finesse Steelers.
MNF: Bears at Jets (-3)
Chicago dropped the home opener to the Bills in OT. Then they arrived on prime time, SNF, to spoil SF’s debut of Levi Stadium. Losing Charles Tillman in the process, rookie corner Kyle Fuller stepped up with a pair of picks. The Jets got the best of the Raiders before blowing a lead vs. the Packers. Right now they have the best ground game in football, between Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. The Bears are reluctant to run and teams are forcing Jay Cutler to beat them, and the Jets are #1 against the run after two weeks. Chi-town is 10th against the pass but can’t slow down the run. Cutler turn it over playing one-dimensional, and Geno Smith could single-handedly give the Bears this game.
I think we see a healthier Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery open things up for Matt Forte a little bit. Chicago usually plays well in prime time, as you saw last week.