Last week: 14-2, a fantastic forecast that pushes some sunshine onto a season record of 24-8.
This week saw the seasonal change to autumn, bringing an end to a summer that many would love to forget. Some NFL teams would, too. The 0-2 teams are facing do-or-die in terms of playoff viability in Week 3. Expect to see extra urgency from those 0-2 teams that realistically expected to be 2-0.
- Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5): The Jaguars and QB Gardner Minshew have been one of the pleasant surprises of the young season. They play inspired, largely mistake-free ball that maximizes the talent on hand. That is not true of the 0-2 Dolphins, who have had major trouble in coverage, and tackling, and pass rush, and well, pretty much anything and everything defensively. It’s still not Tua time, but that Fitzmagic clock is ticking loudly in coach Brian Flores’ telltale heart.
Jaguars 23, Dolphins 20
- Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills (-2.5): Reigning FedEx Air player of the week Josh Allen finally gets a legit defensive challenge in the Rams. This is a good test for Allen’s improved accuracy and decision-making. Aaron Donald and the Rams have ruined afternoons for significantly more accomplished passers than Allen. Jared Goff and the Rams offense is healthy and firing nicely in its own right, while the Bills have several key defensive components battling nagging injuries. This one should be entertaining, if unpredictable...
Rams 26, Bills 24
- Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots (-6): In the battle of head coaching ad pitchmen, gimmie Bill Belichick’s wry wit and a Subway footlong over Jon Gruden’s snarling smile shilling Coronas. I know, he handed those duties off to Tony Romo...
Now what we need are cameos by Cam Newton and Julian Edelman in the next Subway ad starring the sleeveless Belichick. Maybe get Steve Belichick and his growingly luscious mullet in on the act, too.
*In Guden voice*--man, think about that Belichick family. Bill hasn’t slept in days, man. I wonder who cuts the sleeves off his hoodies, or do they come like that? I wonder if its the same scissors they use on Steve’s bangs? Man, I could go for a BMT right now. Three kinds of meat can’t be beat!
Patriots 20, Raiders 17
- Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns (-7): Come for the rookie matchup between No. 2 overall pick Chase Young and No. 10 pick Jedrick Wills. Both have looked very good thru two weeks. Stay for the old Ohio State battle of Terry McLaurin vs. Denzel Ward, another mano a mano matchup where both players are off to Pro Bowl starts. Cleveland’s rebuilt offensive line just might be the best in the league, and that is an effective stymie for what might be the NFL’s best defensive front in Washington. For a non-marquee game, this one should be worth the price of admission.
Browns 26, Football Team 22
- Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings (+2.5): Last week Vikings QB Kirk Cousins posted an absurdly low 15.9 QB Rating, meaning he was actually worse throwing the ball than if he had just taken every snap and hurled it into his center’s feet. Between Cousins’ struggles and the Vikings lifeless defense (dead last in pass defense), it’s hard to see the home team outscoring a balanced Tennessee attack that is getting a nice boost from WR Corey Davis in the slot. The Vikings will be better this week. They’ll have to be much better to beat the Titans.
Titans 36, Vikings 27
- San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants (+4): What’s left of the 49ers sticks around for a second straight week in MetLife Stadium. A cavalcade of serious and impactful injuries befell the Niners a week ago in crushing the witless Jets. Now they are seriously shorthanded as they face the slightly more imposing Giants. Alas, New York suffered a devastating injury of its own last week with RB Saquon Barkley tearing his ACL. Even Nick Mullens at QB can top that, though the Giants passing game could ruin the stay in New York for the dilapidated San Francisco defense.
49ers 30, Giants 28
- Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5): The schedule makers apparently had a serious beef with Houston. After facing Kansas City and Baltimore in the first two weeks, now the Texans travel to Pittsburgh and the resurgent Steelers. For my money, those are the three best teams in the AFC. These Texans could very well wind up being the best 0-3 team ever, if they can keep Deshaun Watson protected from T.J. Watt and a well-coordinated, fast Steelers defensive front.
Steelers 32, Texans 24
- Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles (-6): Carson Wentz’s struggles are becoming a big issue for Philadelphia, where the Eagles did not expect to be 0-2. The Bengals defense could be just what the doctor ordered. Last week they had no answers for Baker Mayfield and the Browns, who lit them up for five TDs and met little resistance. The Eagles don’t have the run game or OL that Cleveland does, however. Wentz will need to pick it up because Week 2 proved the Bengals and Joe Burrow will keep throwing. And throwing. And throwing...
Eagles 34, Bengals 31
- Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3): The undefeated Bears are underdogs to the winless Falcons, fresh off Atlanta suffering the worst collapse in NFL history, or at least since the Falcons’ last Super Bowl appearance. And I concur with the bookies. Water finds its level; Chicago is not a 3-0 football team any more than Atlanta is an 0-3 team. Bet on that more than what you’ve seen from these two in the first two weeks.
Falcons 23, Bears 18
- New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-11): The biggest line of the week is more a reflection of how bad the Jets are than any overriding validation of the Colts. It’s that bad for Adam Gase’s team. Based on Gase’s history, it’s not going to get better for the Jets anytime soon.
Colts 24, Jets 10
- Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Chargers (-6): Justin Herbert gets his second start thanks to the inability of the Chargers team doctor to properly administer a pain-killing shot to Tyrod Taylor. Herbert impressed against the defending champion Chiefs in his emergency start a week ago. I do wonder if the nerves will hit him now that the rookie has had some time to ponder his starting role. Fortunately for him, the Panthers without injured superstar Christian McCaffrey will have trouble keeping up even if Herbert has some struggles.
Chargers 23, Panthers 9
- Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5): Significantly worse Cardinals teams than this one have beaten significantly better Lions teams than this year’s lifeless vintage. Detroit’s nonexistent defensive scheme will be lucky to stop Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and the Cardinals offense from scoring on every drive. The Cardinals are a no-brainer survivor fantasy pick this week.
Cardinals 42, Lions 23
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos (+6): No Drew Lock means it’s Jeff Driskel time in Denver. Driskel moved the ball well in emergency duty last week, but there’s a key tell against Driskel that makes it nearly impossible to trust him: sacks. He’s been sacked 6 times in each of his last two games, Week 2 and his final start with the Lions a year ago. Facing Tom Brady and doing so without top WR Courtland Sutton? Driskel could go down 6 times in the first half. If you burned the Cardinals in fantasy survivor leagues last week, this is a great time to use Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers 33, Broncos 12
- Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5): Russell Wilson’s MVP candidacy takes another big step forward when he picks apart an inconsistent Dallas defense. It’s going to be tough--but not impossible--for Dak Prescott to keep pace behind Dallas’ weakened offensive line. The Cowboys issues in coverage will bite them here.
Seahawks 33, Cowboys 26
- Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (-3): Drew Brees has completed just two passes all year that have traveled more than 20 yards down the field. He’s going to have to take more shots against a very solid Packers defense if he wants to keep up with a red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the big-play run game from Aaron Jones and the Packers. Unless Green Bay gets careless and commits a costly turnover, I don’t see it happening, not with a diminished (if at all) Michael Thomas.
Packers 24, Saints 20
- Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5): The two best teams in the NFL get the primetime treatment. This one is worth staying up for, even those of us in the Eastern Time Zone with a normal bedtime that generally comes around the end of the first quarter of the MNF game. I’ll be staying up to watch the last two MVPs go at it for AFC supremacy.
I like the Ravens to prevail for a couple of reasons. First, their CB duo is as well-equipped to handle the speedy outside passing game form Kansas City. Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey are playing great, and the addition-by-subtraction gamble with safety Earl Thomas is working so far.
Second, the Ravens are so good at not making any critical mistakes. No devastating penalties, no bad fumbles, no special teams gaffes. The Chiefs don’t always match that, and the pressure of trying to do it against a great all-around team is asking a lot.
Ravens 28, Chiefs 27
All odds are from BetOnline as of Wed. at 1:50 p.m.