NFL Preview: Week 2
The Chickens have come to roost
Week 1 record: 7-8-1
Overall record: 7-8-1
La Cerradura De El Padre: 1-0
A rough week one sees me sliding slower than Cris Collinsworth these days. Let’s take a quick look back at the week that was.
Best Call: La Cerradura De El Padre got off to a strong start, as the Rams were never really in serious, Mike Richards’ style jeopardy. The Rams will have a strong defense again this year, and, after a slow start, the offense got rolling under Matt Stafford. Meanwhile, the Bears had some good moments, but the tone was set when new acquisition Andy Dalton threw a pick in the end zone that was immediately followed by a Kyle Fuller-less secondary giving up a TD bomb. That exchange (Fuller for Dalton) is going to define this season for the Bears.
Worst Call: Plenty of candidates in a down week, but what the Texans did to the Jaguars after I laughed at them was unholy. They tore apart a totally unprepared Jaguars squad that looked as out of place as a Jaguar would in North America. I am not sure where these two teams go from here, but I do know that I won’t forget the pounding I took on this call.
Bad Beat: The 49ers built up a massive lead over a totally overmatched Lions group then completely fell apart after Jason Verrett’s injury and let the Lions come back from being down 30 to end up in a push at 8 points. The Lions almost tied up the actual game too, but fell about 20 yards short. It was the ultimate back door cover by a team that should only be familiar with the back door.
On to week 2! It was an exciting week last week with several of the marquee games providing big time fun, including Bucs-Cowboys and Browns-Chiefs. We have a few good matchups this week, like the Bills/Dolphins, Cowboys/Chargers and Chiefs/Ravens. I am a little worried that I am going to be picking too many favorites, but as you will see, it’s going to be hard not to. Let’s get to the games and spreads:
New York Giants vs. Washington Football Team (-3)
Nope. Another TNF near miss where I get the winner right, but don’t cover. Picking spreads is the only serious way to pick games and this is why. This game really surprised me in a lot of ways. It was exciting (never saw that coming). Way more points were put up than I was expecting. Daniel Jones played really well. I have picked on him a lot in this space, but this was quite possibly his best game ever given the circumstances. The Giants offensive line is a disaster, but he still put up numbers in the air and on the ground and avoided bad turnovers. If he could play like that every week, the Giants would have something. The problem is the Giants still have a coaching staff that sets the team up for things like getting a delay of game after a timeout to cost them 3 points (3 DESPERATELY needed points). On the WFT side, their defense has some real questions to answer after giving up 20+ in back to back home games. The jury is now out on what WAS a stellar unit last year.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears (-2)
I wanted to take the Bengals here so much. The Bears keep rolling Andy Dalton out there. They gutted their secondary to do it. They have a bad GM and bad coach. But the Bengals also have a bad GM and coach. They have a bad offensive line, going up against a very strong Bears defensive line. It’s the Andy Dalton Revenge game (Red Dead Revengetion). They are at home. They are coming off a bad loss, and the Bengals are coming off a lucky win. This line has moved a point and a half. I just can’t do it. I’m sorry. I liked it at Bears -3.5. I swear I did. Please forgive me. Bears (-2)
Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns (-12.5)
The Texans won on Sunday, so the drive for 1-16 begins now. With the fear of going 0-17 gone, this team can relax a little and just cruise into their draft pick, just like the Jags last year. This is really the best case scenario for them. Meanwhile, the Browns lost a heart breaker to the Chiefs in Arrowhead having dominated most of the game, until Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes’ stuff and ruined it. The Cleveland Browns are about to take out their frustration on a team that looked way better than it is against the Jaguars. I think what happened Sunday was a gamblers delight, as the Texans kept this spread from getting crazy and the Browns loss keeps their heads and ego in check and focused on this week. Browns -12.5
Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts (+3.5)
The Colts got pushed around on Sunday by a pretty mediocre Seahawks defense. Carson Wentz did not look ready. The Colts weakness vs. the deep pass was exposed and the Colts were out of it pretty quickly. I am worried about the Colts. This feels like the start of something bad for them. While I admire their balance, and I like that they are a home dog (It’s hard to imagine this pretty good team losing two straight home games), I don’t like them against this very tough Rams defense and improved Rams offense that is very good with the deep ball, and rapidly gelling. Until Quentin Nelson (I’m scared for his foot trying to hold back Aaron Donald who knocks over a 330 pound man in the above clip) and Carson Wentz are back to 100 percent, they will make me nervous. Rams (-3.5)
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (+3)
The Dolphins are a very feisty home dog here. After a tough game up in New England where they came away with a dirty win that cannot have satisfied them, they come home to an embarrassed Bills team that is NOT interested in being 0-2. The Bills have had the Dolphins number with Josh Allen at QB. His 5-1 record against the Dolphins is the best of any team, and last season he tore them apart. This year’s Miami team is better than last though. They will be adding Will Fuller this week, and their very young team has had yet another week to season. It’s also that special time of the year where teams coming from up north get the joy of 90 degree heat and 99 percent humidity. Last year’s Miami game was decided by one possession. I don’t love the Dolphins here, but I think they remember very well what happened at the end of last season. They want revenge, and they can cover. Dolphins (+3)
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (+5.5)
The Jets were terrible on the road against the terrible Panthers, picking up two scores in garbage time. Meanwhile, the Pats were solid against a better than you realize it Dolphins squad. I think Mac Jones has a much better eco-system to work in than Zach Wilson and it will show here. Bill Belichick has something special for this rookie QB coming in, and it isn’t a warm hug. My main concern here is whether the Pats can score TDs. While the praise came pouring in for Mac Jones in week one, he was mostly throwing check downs and quick first read passes. That works great between the 20s, but won’t get you anywhere in the red zone. They have to improve there if they want to cover here, and I think they will with the Jets porous secondary. Not having to avoid Xavien Howard the entire game might open up their offense. Pats (-5.5)
San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
I think it is going to take a little bit for people to realize how broken the 49ers secondary is. Look at those names. Now, with a totally washed Josh Norman joining two people I have never heard of and the humbled striker from Ted Lasso, they are facing a much bigger challenge. They got torn apart by Jared Goff and a motley crew of skill position players that can’t hold a candle to Philly’s group. This came despite the 49ers KNOWING the Lions had to pass. They are going to scare me all season with lines, because I don’t trust them to keep the other team in check. Meanwhile, Philadelphia set fire to Atlanta and watched the ashes blow away from the tombstone of Matt Ryan’s career. I don’t think it was Philadelphia being great, but more Atlanta being awful, but you know what else is awful? The 49er secondary. I’ll take the home dog. Eagles (+3)
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
The Raiders played one of the wildest games you will ever see on MNF. Despite their continuous player errors and coaching blunders (the highlights of the Manning brothers continuous confusion over what they were doing all night reached its pinnacle in the above video), they came away with a exceptionally undeserved win. I have no idea if that is who they are or a bad day at the office that ends with a promotion, but I can’t wait to assess this when they finish going 8-8-1 (they were sooooo close to getting that 1 on Monday). The Steelers defense looked completely overwhelming in week 1, just annihilating the Bills offense that was incredible for most of last season. Lost in the shuffle was that, just like their fast start last season, Ben Roethlisberger still cannot throw the ball down the field. The only throws that were successful were quick hitting screens, or deep lobs that were jump balls. The offensive line wasn’t good and still could not create any meaningful running room. I like the Steelers defense a lot, but asking for 6.5 points is too much for me here. I don’t trust the offense to get it. I’ll take the Raiders (+6.5).
Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (+6)
Absolutely not. The Jaguars do not get to be only +6 in this game in front of no one. This absolutely must be double digits. The Broncos obliterated the Giants on Sunday, and all of a sudden, that looks pretty impressive after they put up almost 30 on WFT on the road. Meanwhile, the Jaguars GOT obliterated by a terrible Texans team. I know the Jaguars are embarrassed and all that, but this just isn’t enough of a cushion to find out if that matters. The above headline came out BEFORE the game Sunday, not after. Think about that. This is also La Cerradura De El Padre (for the ACTUAL team of DREW LOCK. Think about that). Broncos (-6)
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers (+3.5)
This line is brought to you by people who didn’t watch week 1. Look, I didn’t see a lot from the Saints heading into this season, but that’s why they play the games. The Saints are VERY ready, and VERY motivated following another area disaster. They look galvanized in the way they were after Katrina. The Panthers barely made a dent against a terrible Jets squad. The Saints are going to tear the Panthers apart. It’s gonna get REAL ugly. Kind of like that weird Panther graphic that I find so unsettling. The only “mixed reality” Sunday was Sam Darnold winning a football game. Saints (-3.5)
Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals (-4)
What if I told you that was only the second best Kyler Murray highlight last week? This is another game line from the same people who brought you Saints -3. I saw the games on Sunday. The Vikings are still pretty mediocre, and the Cardinals got better. -4 is not enough. I think that the Cardinals were made to look better than they are by that bad Titans defense, but the Cardinals are at home. If you subtract the -3 for being at home, do I think the Cardinals are only 1 point better than the Vikings right now on a neutral field? Absolutely not. Cardinals (-4)
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers (-3.5)
Everyone keeps forgetting the Chargers don’t have a home field advantage. They have no fans. They are not from LA, so no one in LA cares. The people in LA root for the Rams (and apparently still for the Raiders). The Cowboys barely losing to the Bucs is not worse than the Chargers narrowly beating the Fitzpatrick-less WFT. There will be more Cowboys fans at this game than Chargers fans and it won’t be close. This is a HOME game for the Cowboys that they are an underdog for. And it’s not in a soccer stadium anymore where it’s only 18K. It’s gonna be like 40K Cowboys fans. The one big worry I have is the Demarcus Lawrence injury is a huge blow to their already bad defense. I will take the Cowboys (+3.5). (P.S. this game should be fun as hell to watch)
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12.5)
The Falcons looked completely lost on Sunday, at home, against the NFC East, with everyone healthy. The Falcons made an enormous mistake by passing on QB (or at least trading down) in this past draft. I know Kyle Pitts is very physically gifted. Eventually he will be a huge difference maker in the NFL. But Matt Ryan is done, and their defense is nowhere near playoff caliber. They need pieces everywhere. They need to tear it all down, but instead of that, the new regime wanted to “compete now”. Well, they can’t compete now, and they are stuck in limbo, as a non-playoff team that probably won’t be bad enough to get a top 5 pick (or are they…). The Bucs looked a little rusty against the Cowboys, and the Cowboys passing attack proved to be the perfect antidote for the Bucs defense. The Falcons don’t have that attack. They don’t have an acceptable defense either. This line is higher than I’d like, but I can’t take the Falcons on the road after week 1. I need to see something resembling dignity first. Buccaneers (-12.5)
Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)
The Titans are headed into the lions den on the road against a Seahawks team that looked ready in week 1. I REALLY don’t like the Titans secondary against Russell Wilson, and Russell faces another great matchup against a team that can’t stop the deep ball. While I don’t love the Seahawks defense, they have the ability to slow the run enough to get out in front. The Titans are going to be bad trying to come from behind all season, and if they fall behind here in the land of the 12th man, they are going to be in big trouble. Seahawks (-6.5)
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens (+3.5)
Patrick Mahomes is so fun. It’s like he was made in a lab to make me happy. The Chiefs did Chiefs stuff on Sunday, but still failed to cover the spread, which is becoming a weekly thing for them. Meanwhile the Ravens players’ health is bordering on nevermore. Another offensive line injury, and a string of injuries elsewhere are compounding pre-existing roster issues. It’s worth noting that on Lamar Jackson’s game-costing fumble, it was their 4th string running back who blew the blitz pickup. This team is going to struggle to stay over .500, even with the talented Jackson. I will take the Chiefs (-3.5).
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers (-11.5)
This line is PERFECT. The Packers were just humiliated, right after the Lions showed everyone their heart and hustle. This line is going to tilt in ways that make absolutely no sense. A very angry Green Bay team is going to take their very bad feelings out at home on a very bad Lions team. Unlike the 49ers, the Packers won’t let them back up, and might even stomp on them extra out of sheer rage. I mean, what are the odds Rodgers will get hit in the nuts again this week. (I have no idea what kind of excuse this is, just know that it will be my preferred excuse for any NFL player’s mistake moving forward). Out of all of the super big lines this week (Browns/Texans, Bucs/Falcons and this one) this is my absolute favorite. If you want to bet a big line, this is the one. Packers (-11.5)