by Noah Pires
September 12, 2018
Let’s get it out of the way, week 1 wasn’t great in terms of my picks as both my lock of the MF century, as well as my survivor pick lost. To be fair, I did preface it with the fact that nobody really knows what to expect week 1, as seen in the Saints Bucs matchup, where Fitzmagic abused what was thought to be a well above-average defense. All we can do is put week 1 behind us and chalk it up as a minor setback for a major comeback, so let’s head into week 2 with our heads high and wallets ready.
RAVENS @ BENGALS (-1)
PICK - Ravens (+1)
CONFIDENCE - 7/10
Both the Bengals and Ravens benefitted from poor defensive play by their opponents in week one, but heading into week 2, one of these teams won't be as lucky as they were in the past.
Although the Bengals looked good, they faced a bottom of the pack Colts defense, one on the other side of the spectrum of the Ravens. Sure, Mixon looked great, and Dalton had a decent game, but it shouldn't be expected that this is a trend to continue due to them facing a soft Indy defense, especially now coming up against one of the league’s premier defensive units.
As for the Ravens, they took the Bills to poundtown. Their offense was no slouch, as Joe Falcco looked to be...elite...thowing touchdowns to each of his new targets John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree. On the ground, Alex Collins scored, but wasn't much of a factor, which should play out differently in what should be a much closer game.
Altogether, I think both teams flashed good offensive play, but what stands out is the Ravens defense. Although the Bills offense may be the worst in the NFL, they still held them to 3 points, which is impressive, no matter who you play. They also held McCoy to 22 rushing yards, which is no easy task no matter who is blocking for him. In the end, I think Baltimore’s defense outshines the Bengals’ O while the Ravens can continue to show out with their offensive pieces against a mediocre Cincy D, leading them to victory on the road Thursday night.
CHIEFS @ STEELERS (-5.5)
PICK - Steelers (-5.5)
CONFIDENCE - 8/10
In week 1, everything that could’ve went right for the Chiefs, did, and everything that could’ve went bad for the Steelers, did as well. On the Chiefs side, they began the game with a 91 yard punt return for Tyreek Hill, followed by 2 TD “passes” on the goal line, blown coverage on a fullback, and another 58 yarder for Tyfreak. I’m not discounting what may be one of the better offenses in the league, but it’s unreasonable for them to keep up this level of efficiency. Not only should their offense see some regression, their defense is nowhere near elite, continuing 2017’s form, allowing over 400 yards and 3 TDs for Rivers.
As for the Steelers, even though Ben was on the road in shitty weather, both James Conner and JuJu surpassed 100 yards and AB put up 93 and a tug. They are still loaded on offense, and their defense is far better than the Chiefs’. With Big Ben playing at home against a shitty defensive unit, he, and the entire Steelers team, should bounce back for a W in week 2.
DOLPHINS @ JETS (-3)
PICK – Jets (-3)
CONFIDENCE – 8/10
Not to brag, but I kind of predicted what would happen week 1 for the Jets. Not only did their defense show out, I said that I though the Lions would let Darnold get comfortable, allowing him to produce in his first ever start. Now, the Lions did look terrible, but the Jets looked great on all 3 phases, scoring TDs on offense, defense, and special teams. Their running back combination is nothing to scoff at and they have a bunch of tall, athletic receivers who have shown they can produce.
As far as the Dolphins, they pulled some Super Bowl 47 shit, delaying the game for about 57 hours. Along with the delay, the Titans were stuck with Blaine Gabbert behind center following Mariota’s injury. Despite all this, they only won by one score, which I guess is decent as they headed into the game as 1.5 point dogs, but considering what played out during the game, it wasn’t very impressive. Against the Jets, who have shown potential to be above average in all facets of the game, I don’t think the Dolphins will be able to keep it within 3, especially on the road.
EAGLES (-3) @ BUCCANEERS
PICK – Eagles (-3)
CONFIDENCE – 10/10
This is the Lock of the MF Century. That may not give you much confidence as I’m 0-1 with my LOT(MF)C, but there’s good reason behind it.
Firstly, the Bucs played out of their GD mind. Fitzmagic looked like Michael Vick had Tom Brady’s arm and Mike Evans transformed into prime Randy Moss. DJax even turned back the clock, putting up 146 and 2 scores on limited snaps. All of this was a complete shock, as the Saints were expected to be a well above-average defensive unit heading into the year, which was proven to be incorrect. Unlike the Saints, though, the Eagles showed not only last year, but also in week 1, that they are one of, if not, the league’s best defensive units. Because of this, I don’t expect Fitz to repeat his performance in week 2.
Along with their unsustainably efficient offense, their defense was BAD. They were one of the worst units last year, and continued that into week 1 of 2018, letting up 439 and 3 scores to Brees, while only throwing 8 incompletions on 45 attempts (82% completion). Because of this, the Eagles may be able to hide their biggest flaw, Nick Foles. With their offensive weapons, playing a week defense, Foles should be able to not F up, allowing the Eagles to steamroll the Bucs in week 2.
BROWNS @ SAINTS (-10)
PICK – Saints (-10)
CONFIDENCE – 6/10
I have no doubt the Saints will be able to score on the Browns, especially at home, but my main concern is their defense. Before last szn, the Saints were the doormat of the league, allowing any and everybody to walk all over them and looked to revert to their old ways in their opening game. Hell, Fitzmagic put up 5 TDs against them week 1. Along with the Saints defense not looking great, the Browns don’t look to be the complete and utter shitshow they have been in the past. Even in poor weather conditions, the Browns kept it close with the Steelers, bringing it to OT and ending in a tie.
The reason for my low confidence is if the Saints D is really this bad, this could be a shootout. The Browns have a pretty good QB in Tygawd Taylor with a ton of receiving weapons, as well as an above-average runner in Carlos Hyde. If we see the same out of the Saints as we did in week 1, then I’m not sure NO can win by 10+ points.
On the other hand, the Steelers looked good on offense, despite Ben being on the road and facing heavy winds. James Conner put up over 100 yards and a couple tugs while Juju hit the 100 yard mark and AB scored. Similarly, the Saints have a bunch of elite weapons behind a great o-line. Because of this, and playing at home, I think Brees will continue his elite play from last week. The defense can’t look much worse than it did against the Harvard Grad, so I’m picking the Saints to cover. It’s risky since it’s such a huge spread for a team that got tucked in, pulled down their pants, and shit the bed week 1, but I’m putting my faith in Brees to show out and lead the Saints to a big time W.
COLTS @ REDSKINS (-5.5)
PICK – Redskins (-5.5)
CONFIDENCE – 7/10
Alex Smith looked great in week 1 against what was supposed to be a decent defense. Along with Smith, ‘Ol Jordan Reed proved to be an elite receiver and Chris Thompson carried over his efficiency from 2017. Also, AP showed he may never die, surpassing 100 all-purpose yards. The Redskins defense also looked better than advertised, holding the Cards to 6 points and limiting DJ and Fitz’s effectiveness.
As for the Colts, Luck looked decent, but not the guy we remember from before his injury. Despite this, he took advantage of what the Cincy defense gave him, putting up 300+ yards and 2 scores. What worries me, though, is the Colts’ defense, as they’re still bottom of the league, allowing Joe Mixon and Andy Dalton look elite. With the Redskins offensive weapons, they should do the same while the Colts offense may not have the same success against a stronger (in comparison to the Bengals) Skins’ defensive unit.
CHARGERS (-7.5) @ BILLS
PICK – Chargers (-7.5)
CONFIDENCE - 9.5/10
Not much to say here. The Chargers were shown up by the Chiefs week 1, giving up a couple of huge plays to Tyreek Hill. Heading into week 2, they have nothing to worry about. The Bills’ receiving core consists of Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, and a bunch of guys I’d have to do research on to find. The offense is also headed by Josh Allen after Nathan Peterman once again drew a terrible matchup and performed as such. The last time the Chargers drew the Bills, they blew them out, and I expect much of the same. Neither side of the ball boasts anything special for the Bills, while the Chargers have shown above average play on both offense and defense. Rivers should eat, Gordon should eat, Allen should eat…you get the picture. All things considered, I don’t think the spread is big enough, making them an easy pick for me.
VIKINGS @ PACKERS (-2)
PICK – Vikings (+2)
If the Packers had any QB in the league other than ARod, I’d be confident saying Minny would be at least 5 point favorites. The thing is, Rodgers IS their quarterback, and they’re at home this week. Despite this, I’m still leaning Vikings.
ARod looked great, no way around it, but he also looked like he was in pain all game, wincing o almost every throw. The Bears were all over him, thanks to the addition of Khalil Mack, and I expect much of the same week 2. The Vikings have proven to be an elite defense and were responsible for Aaron’s injury in 2017 when Anthony Barr snapped his collarbone like a twig. I expect the Vikings D to play the Packers tough, limiting their offensive upside, despite having Rodgers at the helm.
As far as the Vikings go, they have weapons all over the field. They boast 2 elite receivers, an elite RB, an elite Redzone TE, and a very good QB in Kirk Cousins. The Packers defense, although much improved, still allowed 16 points (7/23 Bears points were on defense) to an up and coming Bears offense, so in an offense with established studs, I can see a decently high-output for the Purple People Eaters. Even with the Packers at home, I like the Vikings in this game and expect them to win outright.
PANTHERS @ FALCONS (-6)
PICK – Carolina (+6)
The Falcons, once again, showed their ineptitude near the goal line in 2018 after having Julio lead them down the field only to sit him down once in scoring range. Matt Ryan looked like 2015 Peyton Manning, noodle arm and all, while they suffered injuries on both sides of the ball. Freeman, with a knee injury, should be back in time for this matchup, but for Safety Keanu Neal and LB Deion Jones, they aren’t as lucky. These blows to their defense are huge, as Neal is one of the league’s best young safeties and Jones is an elite coverage LB.
What makes me favor the Panthers in this game is Christian McCaffrey. Sure, he hasn’t proven to kill defenses between the tackles, but what he’s good at, the Falcons are bad at stopping. Without Deion Jones, the Falcons may be even worse against RBs out of the backfield. Even though the Panthers lost Greg Olsen, they still have Funchess, D.J. Moore, and Newton at the helm. They aren’t short on weapons and should be able to exploit the missing pieces on the Falcons. Because of this, I like the Panthers, especially as 6 point dogs.
TEXANS (-3) @ TITANS
PICK – Texans (-3)
CONFIDENCE – 3/10
Let’s get this out of the way, Deshaun Watson looked awful week 1. The Texans o-line did nothing to help him either, letting defenders in the backfield every other play. Despite this, the Texans kept the game within 7 against on of the league’s best teams. Now, facing the Titans, who just took an L to Miami, they should have a much easier time and a better result.
Deandre Hopkins still looked solid, Lamar Miller put up almost 100 rushing yards, and their defense performed, especially in rushing the passer. Now, facing a Titans defense that allowed 27 points to Miami, Watson should be able to bounce back and find success through the air. On the ground, Miami gained 109 yards between Gore and Drake, and with Miller looking better than years past, should see success.
As far as Tennessee goes, I’m just not sure their QB situation will allow them to prosper offensively. Mariota didn’t look good and dealt with an injury that kept him out of parts of the game. He’s expected to play week 2, but even with him at the helm they aren’t very impressive. Derrick Henry disappointed while Dion looked great, getting and scoring on a carry inside the 5. Altogether, it doesn’t look like the Titans have everything put together, and facing a strong defense, that won’t cut it. Despite playing at home, I don’t think Tennessee will be able to iron out the kinks in time to keep this game within 3.
CARDINALS @ RAMS (-13)
PICK – Rams (-13)
The only reason my confidence is so low is because of how large the spread is. The Rams pretty much need to win by 2 touchdowns, and although I think they’ll cover, it’s gonna be close. Last week, the Cards couldn’t keep up with the Redskins, an objectively less talented team on both sides of the ball in comparison to the Rams. Was this because of rust? DJ was in his first actual NFL game in almost a year and Bradford played his first regular season game as a Cardinal. Sure, they may kick off some rust, but will it be enough to keep this game anywhere close? I think not.
Firstly, the Rams boast an elite defensive line and cornerback duo, one which forced Derek Carr into multiple turnovers and limited Amari Cooper to a dud of a game. With the Talib/Peters pairing, the Rams certainly have the ability to shut down their only real WR threat. Jared Cook, however, saw HUGE success against the Rams, most likely because they focused on Amari Cooper and Jordy, so the lack of other WR options in Arizona will allow them to not only focus on RSJ, but also limit DJ. Slowing down DJ is no easy task, but he wasn’t extremely productive against a worse Redskins D.
As far as the Rams offense goes, they have so many weapons all over the field with Kupp, Woods, Cooks, and Gurley, so I’d expect them to have no problem scoring against the Cards, who gave up 24 points to the Redskins, not to mention they did so at home. Now, traveling to LA, I expect similar struggles in week 2, giving the Rams the opportunity to win by 2+ scores.
LIONS @ 49ERS (-5.5)
PICK – Detroit (+5.5)
CONFIDENCE – 4/10
Stafford looked nothing less than AWFUL against the Jets on Monday night, but I don’t expect that to continue. He was getting blown up dropback after dropback, causing him to make errant throws throughout the night. Despite this, he still has one of the best receiving cores in the league with Kenny G, Golden Tate, and Marvin Jones, paired with Theo Riddick and Kerryon out of the backfield. With these options, if Stafford is healthy, I expect him to bounce back in a big way against a defense that wasn’t as impressive as the Jets were.
As far as the 49ers go, they had a tough week 1 matchup against a Super Bowl caliber team and obviously play a much less formidable defense in the Lions. Marquise Goodwin, Jimmy’s favorite target, is dealing with a deep thigh bruise that kept him limited week 1. Because of this possible limitation, he’d be down to George Kittle, Pierre Garcon, and a mixture of Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis, as neither RB has shown to fully gain Jimmy’s trust. Along with their limits on offense, their defense is nothing special, which should help in getting Stafford back to his usual form.
All in all, I’m not sure Detroit wins this game, but I think they can keep it close, certainly within 5.5 points.
RAIDERS @ BRONCOS (-5.5)
PICK – Broncos (-5.5)
Case Keenum looked good week 1 against the Seahawks and should continue this form into week 2 against the sorry Raiders defense. With weapons like Demaryius Thomas, Emanuel Sanders, and Courtland Sutton, paired with a strong rushing game with a “thunder and lightning” approach. Because of this, I don’t see any situation where the Raiders are able to stop the Broncos weapons.
As far as Oakland’s offense goes, they struggled against a formidable Rams team. Heading into week 2, they face another elite defense with a scary pass-rush that got to Russell Wilson 6 times. Now, the Raiders obviously have a better line than the Seahawks, but the pairing of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller will inevitably pressure Carr, and we saw just how poorly he looked when he was rushed. With Denver continuing to show their elite defensive play along with their improved offense due to having a competent QB at the helm, I’m confident the Broncos can cover the spread in the Mile High City.
PATRIOTS (-2) @ JAGUARS
PICK – Jaguars (+2)
CONFIDENCE – 5/10
Last year, these teams matched up in the AFC Conference championship game where the Patriots bested Jacksonville by 4 points. Despite losing, the Jags were up 20-10 in the 4th quarter before allowing Danny Amendola to score twice to get the W. This was a game the Jaguars should have won, a game where many thought was poorly played due to Jacksonville’s hesitancy to attack while the Pats were in the hole. Heading into this matchup, I think the Jags are looking for revenge.
The Pats’ offense, although losing guys like Sony Michel, Isaiah Wynn, and a bunch of pieces from 2017 (Cooks, Amendola, Malcolm Butler, etc.), looked good against a stout Texans defense, showing that no matter who is out there, Brady will make them look good. Despite all this, the Texans certainly aren’t on the same level as the Jags in terms of locking up, so Brady will have a tougher time making Phillip Dorsett look like Brandin Cooks.
As far as the Jags’ offense, Blake isn’t great and Fournette is banged up, but there’s a silver lining here. First, Blake wasn’t good last year either and kept the game within 4, and the Texans kept it within 7 last week with Deshaun Watson essentially looking like Blake Bortles. As for Fournette’s injury, it doesn’t really matter, as whoever the Jaguars deploy in the backfield is just as, if not, more, efficient than Leonard. Because of this, their concerns aren’t HUGE issues, and with their stout defense and playing at home, I can see a scenario where Jacksonville keeps it within 2.
GIANTS @ COWBOYS (-3)
PICK – Giants (+3)
The Giants are coming off a terrible game but faced the league’s best defense in that matchup. Despite this, Saquon Barkley and OBJ looked really good, and against the Cowboys, although not a poor unit, is nowhere near Jacksonville’s caliber. Because of this, I think Eli Manning will perform a little better than he did week 1, allowing his weapons to flourish.
As far as the Cowboys’ offense goes, they looked nothing short of pathetic. Outside of Zeke, who had his day salvaged by a 4th quarter score, they looked to have no type of firepower. Dak didn’t look good and their receiving core was paced by 4’10” Cole Beasley, so if that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what could. Now, the Giants defense didn’t do a great job week 1 against the run, allowing Fournette, Yeldon, and Bortles all surpass 40 rushing yards a piece, averaging 4.96 YPC on those totes, and if there’s one thing the Cowboys’ offense CAN do, it’s run. Dak is mobile and Zeke is one of the best pure runners in the league, but despite this, they have nothing of threat through the air, which will allow the Giants to focus on this one aspect of the game. All things considered, I don’t think the Dallas offense has enough pieces to keep up with the Giants, which is why I believe the G-Men can keep it close.
SEAHAWKS @ BEARS (-3.5)
PICK – Bears (-3.5)
CONFIDENCE – 9/10
Well, we all saw the impact Khalil Mack had for the Bears’ defense, and Aaron Rodgers certainly felt him. Heading into week 2, he should continue his dominance as the Seahawks o-line is lightyears behind Green Bay’s. Another difference between Seattle and the Packers is the lack of weapons in the Hawks offense, especially now without Doug Baldwin, sidelined with a knee injury. The Bears defense should have no problem covering the likes of Tyler Lockett, BMarsh, and Will Dissly, while plugging up the run game. Now, Russell Wilson is still an elite quarterback despite the lack of weapons and usually does a decent job of avoiding pressure by using his speed and agility, but even last week against a similarly dominant Broncos D-Line, Wilson hit the deck 6 times.
As far as the Bears offense goes, early in the game, they looked great. Mitch has certainly improved and with their new weapons, he actually has people to throw to. In the running game, Jordan Howard looked his usual self, dominating between the tackles while seemingly adding pass-catching to his repertoire. Facing a defense who lost a ton of playmakers in the offseason, they should have a fairly easy time getting the ball moving. At home, the Bears should have no problem covering the spread against a depleted Seahawks’ roster.
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by Nick Ercolano
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