Week Two Predictions

Posted: 09/20/2015 by levcohen in Football

Let’s call this the week of early and important divisional showdowns. The Broncos already beat the Chiefs in an AFC West battle on Thursday (in a seemingly-rare great TNF game), and we have a lot of great divisional showdowns coming today. It seems weird to say this early in the season, but the divisional games especially mean a lot. The Chiefs might have just cost themselves a chance at the AFC West championship with their heartbreaking home loss to Denver in a game in which they outplayed their opponents. Key divisional matchups today include New England-Buffalo, Detroit-Minnesota, and, best of all, an early dose of Philly-Dallas. Oh, and while this might not be a divisional matchup, the Green Bay-Seattle game might also be pretty interesting to watch, given what happened in the NFC Championship game less than a year ago. It’s another week of toss-ups, with only the Saints being favored by more than a touchdown. So I will again have my work cut out for me.

*- upset pick

Houston Texans (0-1, 0-1 against the spread) at Carolina Panthers (1-0, 1-0):*
Spread: Panthers favored by 3
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Um, so it’s Ryan Mallett time in Houston. Already. We could kind of tell from HBO’s “Hard Knocks” that Brian Hoyer would have a short leash as the starter, but this short? It looks as if Hoyer’s starting tenure in Houston lasted all of three quarters. That’s not to say that he will again start later this season, because I think he will. Mallett is not very good, and Hoyer is at least mediocre. But we know that Houston coach Bill O’Brien is already desperate, which is less than ideal. Then again, the Panthers don’t look too great, either. They have a stagnant offense and a defense that will be without stud middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. They also will have to block against J.J. Watt with Michael Oher, probably the worst starting tackle in football. I think that will be the matchup that leads Houston to victory in a low scoring and nearly unwatchable game. Texans win 20-17.
Texans cover
Under

San Francisco 49ers (1-0, 1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1, 1-0):
Spread: Steelers favored by 5.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: Let’s not overreact to one game. The Steelers lost, but only by a touchdown against the Super Bowl favorite Patriots. And the 49ers just hammered a team with a QB in Teddy Bridgewater who looked as if he had no idea what he was doing. I think the Steelers’ passing game will have a massive day in a fairly comfortable win. Steelers win 28-20.
Steelers cover
Over

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1, 0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Saints favored by 8.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: After opening at 10.5, the spread has quickly been shaved by a couple of points simply because some people have quite rightfully little confidence in the Saints. Now, we all know the Saints are a better team than the trainwreck that is the Buccaneers. But I also know that you get in trouble when you pick mediocre teams to cover 8.5 points spreads, which I’ll take the points and the Bucs. Saints still win, though, 27-21.
Buccaneers cover
Over

Detroit Lions (0-1, 0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Vikings favored by 2.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Can Adrian Peterson get going against a Lions’ run defense that was historically great last season but looked mediocre last week? That’s probably the key question in this game, since these teams are otherwise pretty even. I think the answer to that question is “yes,” and I’m going to pick the Vikings by a smidge. Vikings win 23-20.
Vikings cover
Under

Arizona Cardinals (1-0, 1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Cardinals favored by 1.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Maybe this is a trap, but I think the Cardinals should be favored by at least a field goal here. I thought they looked pretty good against the Saints, especially offensively, and the Bears will be without top weapon Alshon Jeffery. They might have to grind it out a bit, but I expect the Cardinals to win it fairly comfortably. Cardinals win 31-20.
Cardinals cover
Over

New England Patriots (1-0, 0-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-0, 1-0):*
Spread: Bills favored by 1
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Yeah, not willing to pick the Bills over the Patriots yet. Patriots win 23-20.
Patriots cover
Under

San Diego Chargers (1-0, 1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0, 1-0):*
Spread: Bengals favored by 3.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Let’s just say I’m more confident in the Chargers following a comeback win over the Lions than I am in the Bengals after a blowout win against the Raiders. I think Philip Rivers will have another great week en route to another win. Chargers win 27-23.
Chargers cover
Over

Tennessee Titans (1-0, 1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Titans favored by 1
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Ew. Nothing to say about this game, but I have to take the Titans because the Browns are really, really bad. I didn’t want to overreact to Marcus Mariota’s first start, but the Titans simply look like the better team here. Titans win 21-17.
Titans cover
Under

Atlanta Falcons (1-0, 1-0) at New York Giants (0-1, 1-0):*
Spread: Giants favored by 1.5
Over/under: 49.5
My prediction: I was really impressed with the way the Falcons played in week one against the Eagles, while I think the Giants were lucky to even have a chance to beat the Cowboys. It’s always risky to pick a team like the Falcons on the road, but I’m going to do it here. Falcons win 28-24.
Falcons cover
Over

St. Louis Rams (1-0, 1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1, 0-1):- Lock of the week
Spread: Rams favored by 3
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: Did you watch week one? Yeah, I did too. I think the Rams might actually be really good. The Redskins? Not so much. They stayed in the game against the Dolphins, but that was more Miami’s ineptitude last week than anything else. Rams win 24-14. And let’s lock it up.
Rams cover
Under

Miami Dolphins (1-0, 1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Dolphins favored by 6
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: I can’t take the Jaguars. Dolphins win 28-17.
Dolphins cover
Over

Baltimore Ravens (0-1, 0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Ravens favored by 4
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: I also can’t take the Raiders, especially after last week. It might be a good idea to keep taking road teams (look how many I’ve taken this week), but this early in the season, I just tend to take the team I think is better. Ravens win 21-10.
Ravens cover
Under

Dallas Cowboys (1-0, 0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Eagles favored by 6.5
Over/under: 54.5
My prediction: It’s weird that the Eagles are favored by this much even after they lost and the Cowboys won last week. But they turned it around in the second half, while the Cowboys were lucky to walk out with a victory and saw their best offensive player, Dez Bryant, go down with an injury. Still, I can’t bring myself to pick the Eagles to cover a spread this big against a pretty good Cowboys team. Eagles win 31-27.
Cowboys cover
Over

Seattle Seahawks (0-1, 0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0, 1-0):
Spread: Packers favored by 3.5
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: This is probably the game of the week, and it’s a really difficult one to predict. I think the Packers are the better team, but I also think the Seahawks are being written off way too quickly. I’ll take Green Bay to win 24-21 but the Seahawks to cover the spread.
Seahawks cover
Under

New York Jets (1-0, 1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Colts favored by 7
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: The Colts’ start was worrying, but I’m not losing any hope yet. I also think the Jets are being extremely overrated after beating up the Browns, who are a really bad football team. I’ll take the Colts 28-14.
Colts cover
Under

Upset picks:
Texans over Panthers
Patriots over Bills
Falcons over Giants
Chargers over Bengals

Lock of the week:
Rams over Redskins

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