Week 2 is down, so what will Week 3 bring?
And our milquetoast statement above isn’t supposed to mask the surprise we had at some of Week 2’s results. We were 10-6 in picks, though we didn’t do very well against the spread. The Minnesota-Green Bay tie was shocking, and the Jags upset of the Patriots and Kansas City outlasting Pittsburgh wasn’t in our wheelhouse.
Otherwise, it was business as usual for some winners like Cincinnati, Kansas City and Denver and losers such as Buffalo, Cleveland and Oakland.
There are only two inter-divisional rivalry games this week, so predictions and point spreads are set accordingly (not many over -3.0. It’s a short season and while it is just the third game for each franchise, teams like Pittsburgh (0-1-1), a favorite in the pre-season, can’t lose this week.
With all that in mind, we are diving in with the Crystal Ball set and putting out our second weekly predictions on all games from Thursday to Monday (with point spread favorite denoted).
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-3.0) – Thursday
Who’s Hot?: After a big win in Week 1, the Jets came back to earth in a loss to Miami. Safe to say no one other than maybe leading receiver Quincy Enunwa is hot. Cleveland snatched defeat from jaws of victory last Sunday, blowing a late lead to New Orleans. However, rookie WR Antonio Callaway had himself a day, catching three passes for 81 yards and his first touchdown. Sophomore DT Larry Ogunjobi shone, recording four tackles and two of Cleveland’s three sacks.
Who’s Not?: Sam Darnold wasn’t so hot in the loss to the Dolphins, throwing two picks against one TD, giving him three and three on the season. The Browns’ Myles Garrett wasn’t near as dominant as he was in Week 1, with just a tackle against New Orleans.
Key Injuries – Jets: FS Marcus Maye (ankle); LB Josh Martin (concussion); TE Neal Sterling (concussion).
Key Injuries – Cleveland: LB Christian Kirksey (shoulder); DE Emmanuel Ogbah (ankle); WR Jarvis Landry (knee); DB Damarious Randall (heel).
Pick: Jets win 20-13, covering the spread.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings (-17.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot?: Buffalo suffered yet another big defeat last week and only one player could be described as mildly hot and he is LB Lorenzo Alexander. He had seven tackles against the Chargers, as well as a sack and a pass deflection. Even though it was a 29-29 tie, the game against Green Bay last Sunday was a thriller. So many Vikings players are coming in hot against Buffalo, including Kirk Cousins (425 yards, 4 TD against the Packers), WR Adam Thielen (131 yards, TD), and WR Stefon Diggs (128 yds., 2 TD). The defence was solid, too.
Who’s Not?: One Bills player currently not earning his paycheque is RB LeSean McCoy (61 yards rushing, 0 TD). And we don’t need to mention that DB Vontae Davis packed it in, mid-game, against the Chargers. The Vikes don’t currently have a cold player.
Key Injuries – Buffalo: WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee); DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring); CB Taron Johnson (shoulder); RB LeSean McCoy (ribs); DB Phillip Gaines (elbow).
Key Injuries – Minnesota: C Pat Elflein (ankle); RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring); OT Rashod Hill (ankle).
Pick: Vikings trounce Buffalo 45-10, more than covering the spread.
Green Bay Packers (-3.0) at Washington Redskins – Sunday
Who’s Hot?: While Aaron Rodgers was not his usual superstar self in the tie with Minnesota (he was outdueled by Kirk Cousins), TE Jimmy Graham finally came to play, catching six passes for a team high 95 yards. Nothing about an egregious 21-9 loss to Indianapolis could possibly have us tab even one Redskin as coming into this contest “hot.”
Who’s Not?: Packers WR Randall Cobb was fairly invisible against Minnesota last week, catching four passes for just 30 yards. DE Muhammad Wilkerson wasn’t a factor either, with only a tackle. Where do we begin with Washington after failing to score a TD against the Colts D last weekend. Adrian Peterson was ice cold (20 yards, 11 carries) after a decent week 1, while Alex Smith wasn’t great in the red zone (0 TD passes).
Key Injuries – Green Bay: QB Aaron Rodgers (knee); S Josh Jones (ankle); CB Kevin King (groin).
Key Injuries – Washington: WR Paul Richardson (shoulder); RB Rob Kelley (toe); DB Troy Apke (hamstring); OT Trent Williams (UNK).
Pick: Packers win 34-20, covering the spread.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5) – Sunday
Who’s Hot?: A look at Case Keenum’s line (222 yards, INT) from a second consecutive Broncos victory against Oakland in Week 2 wouldn’t suggest hot, but he was the catalyst again of a late-game drive to win it on a field goal. He also scored a rushing TD as Denver overcame a late 12 point deficit. Von Miller stayed warm with five tackles and a sack, too. Only newly acquired WR John Brown is bringing it into Week 3, coming off a four-catch, 92 yard and TD game in loss to Cincinnati.
Who’s Not?: Denver star WR Demaryius Thomas is still in a funk and has just 21 yards receiving on the season. The Baltimore O-line was porous against Cincinnati, allowing Bengals defenders to sack Joe Flacco four times.
Key Injuries – Denver: QB Case Keenum (knee); DB Adam Jones (hamstring); OT Jared Veldheer (concussion).
Key Injuries – Baltimore: RB Kenneth Dixon (knee); CB Maurice Canady (thigh); LB C.J. Mosley (knee).
Pick: Broncs win 20-17 against the spread.
Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) – Sunday
Who’s Hot?: The Colts came to play when it was needed in a 21-9 victory over Washington. WR T.Y. Hilton had his best game so far, snaring seven passes for 83 yards and a TD. Rookie LB Darius Leonard has his fingerprints all over that Colts win, recording an eye-popping 19 tackles, along with a sack and a pass defence. Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor played admirably in a loss to Tampa Bay. TE Ertz caught 11 passes for 94 yards and WR Agholor snagged eight for 88 yards and a score.
Who’s Not?: Andrew Luck isn’t hot yet, by his standards, which should have the Eagles concerned. The Eagles running game leaves a lot to be desired and their pass defence was shredded big time by Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. As we said, if Andrew Luck finds his game, the Philadelphia DBs will have a rough day.
Key Injuries – Indianapolis: DE Denico Autry (ankle); OT Anthony Castonzo; OT Denzelle Good (knee); DB Chris Milton (concussion); CB Quincy Wilson (concussion).
Key Injuries – Philadelphia: WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder); RB Darren Sproles (hamstring); RB Jay Ajayi (back); WR Mike Wallace (IR); LB Nate Gerry (groin); LB D.J. Alexander (knee).
Pick: Eagles win 24-20, but don’t cover spread.
San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo was pretty good — and lucky — in a tight win over Detroit in Week 2. He passed for 206 yards and two TDs, which was the good part. The lucky part was a holding call on the Lions defence after he threw a late pick in the 30-27 victory. Second-year RB Matt Breida was outstanding, rushing for 138 yards and a TD. Chiefs second-year QB Patrick Mahomes is scalding hot right now, having thrown six TD passes as K.C. stunned Pittsburgh 42-37 in Week 2. In fact, the whole offence is clicking on all cylinders.
Who’s Not: San Fran DB Richard Sherman still hasn’t had a statement game, but it may be coming. Kansas City’s defensive secondary was lit up by Steelers pivot Ben Roethlisberger, so they’ll have to tighten things up going forward.
Key Injuries – San Francisco: FS Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder); CB Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle); OT Mike Person (foot).
Key Injuries – Kansas City: S Eric Berry (heel); DE Chris Jones (groin).
Pick: Chiefs win 27-17, covering the spread.
New York Giants at Houston Texans (-6.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot?: Though he didn’t have quite the game he did in Week 1, rookie Saquon Barkley still piled up 108 all-purpose yards against Dallas. Houston (0-2), showed some signs of life in a 20-17 loss to Tennessee. Deshaun Watson passed for 310 yards and two TDs, one each to Will Fuller V (113 yards) and DeAndre Hopkins (110 yards).
Who’s Not?: The Giants offensive line, for lack of a better descriptor, is stone freakin’ cold. There were so many holes in that 20-13 loss to Dallas that Eli Manning was sacked six times. While Manning was getting dropped regularly and rushing throws, the Giants D did little to pressure Dak Prescott. They need to assert themselves. Houston’s J.J. Watt needs a big game, including maybe a sack or two — which he doesn’t have yet — on Eli Manning to get the lukewarm Texans D fired up.
Key Injuries – Giants: TE Evan Engram (ankle); LB Connor Barwin (knee); CB Eli Apple (groin); OG Jon Halapio (lower leg).
Key Injuries – Houston: WR DeAndre Hopkins (foot); LB Jadeveon Clowney (back); WR Will Fuller (hamstring); TE Ryan Griffin (hip).
Pick: Texans win 13-9, not covering the spread.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-3.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: It wasn’t pretty but the Saints shook off a demoralizing Week 1 loss with a narrow 21-18 victory over Cleveland. Drew Brees was his usual efficient self, throwing for 243 yards and two TDs. Third-year receiver Michael Thomas stayed hot, catching 12 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons also got off the Schneid in Week 2, beating rival Carolina as Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and ran for a pair of scores too. RB Tevin Coleman is off to a good start and had 107 yards rushing and 18 yards receiving in the victory.
Who’s Not: Not many glaring weaknesses on two teams who will butt heads Sunday.
2017 Head to Head Record: The teams split.
Key Injuries – New Orleans: DT Tyeler Davison (foot); WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee); G Andrus Peat (quadriceps); OT Terron Armstead (knee); LB Manti Te’o (knee).
Key Injuries – Atlanta: WR Julio Jones (calf) DE Takkarist McKinley (groin); RB Devonta Freeman (knee); OG Andy Levitre (triceps); DE Derrick Shelby (groin).
Pick: New Orleans wins 31-28.
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers (-3.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: Andy Dalton has been a revelation so far as the 2-0 Bengals have won by identical 34-23 scores in back-to-back weeks. He outwitted a tough Baltimore defence, throwing for four TDs, including three to A.J. Green. Bengals DE Geno Atkins was a catalyst on defence, recording five tackles and two sacks against the Ravens. Second-year Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was a force in the Cats loss to Atlanta, despite not scoring a TD. He rolled up 37 yards rushing and 102 yards receiving.
Who’s Not: The Carolina defence needs to step up against Dalton and the Bengals after surrendering 442 combined yards and four touchdowns to Atlanta.
Key Injuries – Cincinnati: LB Preston Brown (Ankle); RB Giovani Bernard (knee); CB Tony McRae (knee); RB Joe Mixon (knee); DE Michael Johnson (knee).
Key Injuries – Carolina: CB Donte Jackson (groin); OG Trai Turner (concussion); WR Damiere Byrd (knee); TE Greg Olsen (foot); OT Jeremiah Sirles (hamstring).
Pick: Cincinnati wins 34-23.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (-3.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: Provisionally, the 0-2 Raiders did show signs of breaking out of a collective funk. Derek Carr was efficient in a 20-19 loss to Denver, completing 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and TD. WR Amari Cooper showed up too, snagging 10 passes for 116 yards. The Fish are flying high and have the defence to thank for a 20-12 win over the Jets. Kiko Alonso (13 tackles) and the gang harassed Sam Darnold all day last Sunday, intercepting two of his passes and sacking him three times in the victory.
Who’s Not: The Oakland defence looks lost without Khalil Mack, who we pointed out is outperforming his old team. Dolphins new WR Danny Amendola has just 58 yards receiving so far and no TDs. Time to break out.
Key Injuries – Oakland: G Gabe Jackson (pectoral); C Rodney Hudson (ankle); DT P.J. Hall (ankle); RB Marshawn Lynch (shoulder); DB Leon Hall (illness).
Key Injuries – Miami: DT Jordan Phillips (knee); FS Reshad Jones (shoulder).
Pick: Miami wins 20-10, covering the spread.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (TBD) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: With Marcus Mariota ailing, Blaine Gabbert was actually fairly warm as the Titans got to 1-1 with a 20-17 win over Houston in Week 2. He was 13-for-20 for 117 yards and a touchdown. The Tennessee defence, as a whole, played good (but not great), logging four sacks, an interception and four pass deflections. Jacksonville, 2-0 after beating the Patriots handily in Week 2, is totally hot. We won’t name names because they are too numerous at this point.
Who’s Not: Titans LB Brian Orakpo has yet to make his considerable presence felt. He has three tackles and no sacks, so far.
2017 Head to Head Record: Tennessee won both games.
Key Injuries – Tennessee: QB Marcus Mariota (elbow); RB Derrick Henry (back); TE Luke Stocker (calf); OT Jack Conklin (knee); TE Delanie Walker (IR); OT Taylor Lewan (concussion).
Key Injuries – Jacksonville: RB Brandon Wilds (illness); OT Jermey Parnell (knee); C Brandon Linder (knee); TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (general soreness); RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring); RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle); OT Cam Robinson (knee-IR) .
Pick: Jaguars win 27-21.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (-7.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: Sure, it was against a horrid Buffalo Bills team, but the Chargers found their range in a 31-20 victory in Week 2. Philip Rivers was 23-for-27 for 256 yards and three touchdowns, two to RB Melvin Gordon (who added a rushing TD to give him three on the day, on just 66 all-purpose yards). The Chargers D had five sacks and two interceptions on the day. The Rams defence has thus far been a brick wall, throwing up a shutout against Sam Bradford and the Arizona Cardinals, 34-0. The D allowed just 137 yards and needed just a sack and four pass deflections to subdue the Cards.
Who’s Not: Even as good as the Rams defence has been, newcomers Ndamukong Suh and Aqib Talib could contribute a little more.
Key Injuries – Chargers: WR Travis Benjamin (foot); DE Joey Bosa (foot); OT Joe Barksdale (knee); TE Antonio Gates (illness).
Key Injuries – Rams: LB Mark Barron (ankle); NT Michael Brockers (shoulder); C John Sullivan (ankle); K Greg Zuerlein (groin).
Pick: Rams win 27-10, covering the spread.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-1.0) – Sunday
Who’s Hot: The Dallas D worked over the New York Giants offensive line in a 20-13 victory in Week 2, with six different players recording a sack on Eli Manning. No one offensive player is hot yet, but there were signs this group could break through. The Seahawks are an early season mess, having lost two straight, so there are no players currently in the hot group.
Who’s Not: The Seattle Seahawks offensive line was just as irrelevant as the New York Giants unit, allowing six sacks on Russell Wilson in a 24-17 loss to Chicago. Wilson may want to wave the white flag, as he’s been dropped 12 times already this season.
Key Injuries – Dallas: C Travis Frederick (illness); LB Sean Lee (hamstring); DT Maliek Collins (knee).
Key Injuries – Seattle: WR Doug Baldwin (knee); OG Ethan Pocic (ankle); OT Justin Britt (shoulder).
Pick: Dallas wins 17-14.
Chicago Bears (-6.5) at Arizona Cardinals – Sunday
Who’s Hot: The Bears roll into Arizona reasonably hot, especially their defence. They sacked Seattle’s Russell Wilson six times, swatted away five passes and had an interception by Prince Amukamara, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. Big time newcomer Khalil Mack already has two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pick six in two games. No one on the Cards roster can be considered “hot.”
Who’s Not: Chicago could be getting a lot more out of QB Mitch Trubisky, who hasn’t yet found a way to get a touchdown pass into the hands of a healthy Allen Robinson. Where do we begin with the 0-2 Cardinals? They own the league’s worst offence, owning just six points in two games (an unconverted touchdown). Their defence has also surrendered 861 yards and 58 points. Ugh.
Key Injuries – Chicago: None.
Key Injuries – Arizona: DT Robert Nkemdiche (foot); DT Olsen Pierre (toe); WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring); OT Andre Smith (elbow); DB Rudy Ford (ankle); OG Mike Iupati (chest); .
Pick: Chicago wins 27-7, covering the spread.
New England Patriots (-7.0) at Detroit Lions – Sunday
Who’s Hot: Tom Brady showed up in the Patriots loss to Jacksonville in Week 2. Too bad there were too many passengers to count, though. The 0-2 Lions have little to crow about, except for the fact that QB Matthew Stafford was pretty darned good in a narrow 30-27 loss to San Francisco in Week 2. He passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Who’s Not: New England’s defence did little to put Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles off his game, allowing four touchdown passes against, as well as an astounding 480 total yards. Lions RB LeGarrette Blount has been invisible, with only 35 yards rushing in two games. Detroit’s run defence has also been poor, surrendering 359 yards and three TDs in two games.
Key Injuries – New England: RB Jeremy Hill (IR); DB Eric Rowe (groin); DB Nate Ebner (hip); OT Marcus Cannon (calf); WR Josh Gordon (hamstring); DB Patrick Chung (concussion); DB Trey Flowers (concussion).
Key Injuries – Detroit: DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder); G T.J. Lang (back); CB Jamal Agnew (shoulder); CB Darius Slay (concussion).
Pick: New England wins 45-24, covering the spread.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Monday
Who’s Hot: Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was superb in a 42-37 loss to Kansas City. He threw for 452 yards and three touchdowns and also ran another one in. Jesse James (5 catches, 138 yds., TD) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (13 catches, 121 yds, TD) are also hot. FitzMagic was at it again against another quality opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, in Week 2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is the starter in place of Jameis Winston until further notice, passed for another 402 yards and four touchdowns as the Bucs shocked the Eagles 27-21.
Who’s Not: The Steelers defence, particularly the backfield, was MIA in the loss to Kansas City. Six aerial touchdowns and 449 total yards against put and awful damper on Big Ben’s big day. Sooner or later, the Buccaneers run game is going to have to contribute. With just 43 yards against Pittsburgh and 155 overall, they aren’t impressing anyone.
Key Injuries – Pittsburgh: DE Tyson Alualu (shoulder); DB Joe Haden (hamstring); G David DeCastro (hand); OT Marcus Gilbert (hamstring); OT Ramon Foster (knee).
Key Injuries – Tampa Bay: CB Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder-IR); DT Vita Vea (calf); DB Brent Grimes (groin); DT Beau Allen (foot); FS Chris Conte (knee).
Pick: Pittsburgh wins 28-27, just covering the spread.