Week 2 Review and TNF Prediction

Posted: 09/24/2015 by levcohen in Football

You want to see something weird? Just look at the list of 0-2 teams. In the AFC, only the Ravens, Texans, and Colts are without a win. Meanwhile, in the NFC the Giants, Eagles, Lions, Bears, Saints, and Seahawks are 0-2. What do those teams have in common? Aside from the Bears and arguably the Giants, they were all supposed to be at least decent teams. The favorites in anywhere between three and five divisions are 0-2. Meanwhile, teams like the Jaguars, Redskins, Buccaneers, Browns, and Raiders all notched wins last week, defying logic and everything about football that makes sense. In fact, underdogs went 9-7 straight up last week. What does all of that mean? Right now, I have no idea. Are the 0-2 teams really that bad? The Bears and Saints probably are, but I don’t think the rest of them are much worse than they seemed to be at the start of the year. The Colts and Eagles especially have played some pretty ugly football, but I expect them to turn it around. But the upsets last week should help ensure that we’re going to see some exciting football late in the season, with perhaps a few Cinderellas making the playoffs. Anyway, here are some specific thoughts about week two.

  • The people who thought the Arizona Cardinals were going to step back last year were wrong. After posting an 11-5 record which many people (including most of the smart statistically-oriented ones) thought flattered them, the Cardinals were expected to be worse this season, even though quarterback Carson Palmer was set to return. Guess what? They look pretty darn good so far. In fact, they have the seventh best DVOA through two weeks of any team since 1989. The six better ones went a combined 71-25, so that’s probably a good sign. I still don’t think the Cardinals, and specifically their top-ranked offense, are the best team in football; they’ve played two of the worst defenses and teams in football (Chicago and New Orleans) which helps explain why they’ve scored 79 points already. But this is a legitimate playoff team and at this point the likely NFC West champions.
  • Only four running backs ran for 100 yards last week, a number that just seems really low. And those four included backups Matt Jones and Giovani Bernard, which is even weirder. This just seems to be a continuation of the recent shift towards the passing game or at least to committees at running back. The Eagles were extremely bad (17 carries for seven yards), but they had company.
  • The Patriots are really in “f you” mode. Up 27-13, most teams would shift towards a more run-heavy approach in order to salt away the score. But Bill Belichick has never been averse to running up the score, and the Patriots attempted 24 pass plays against just five runs after that point (not including Tom Brady’s two kneeldowns). It almost came back to beat them, as they only won 40-32, but Brady’s fantasy owners were certainly happy. Through two weeks, he’s completed 69.2% of his passes while throwing for 754 yards and seven touchdowns against zero interceptions. If you own Brady, Julian Edelman, or Rob Gronkowski in fantasy, you’re in for quite a ride.
  • After a bad week one showing, the Vikings really turned things around last week in a 26-16 throttling of the Lions. Teddy Bridgewater was an efficient 14/18 while throwing for 153 yards and a touchdown, while Adrian Peterson ran for 134 yards and turned the Lions over three times. That’s their recipe for success, and I still think they are very possibly a playoff team.
  • If I had to pick between the Raiders, who upset the Ravens last week, and the Jaguars, who beat the Dolphins, I think I would pick Oakland. I was high on them before the season, simply because I think their offense has a chance to be pretty decent. The defense is still a problem, but with some improvement, they can get close to .500.

7-9 straight up… 17-15 total
9-7 against the spread… 15-16-18-7-1 over/under… 17-14-1

Upset picks: 2-2.. 4-4
Lock of the week: 0-1.. 1-1

Washington Redskins (1-1, 1-1 against the spread) at New York Giants (0-2, 1-1):
Spread: Giants favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: I know Washington defeated the Rams last week, but I’m still not very confident in the Cousins-led Redskins. They ran it surprisingly well against the Rams, carrying it 37 times for 182 yards, but now face a New York team who allowed the Falcons to run for just 56 yards on their 22 carries after allowing 80 yards on 23 carries against the Cowboys. Without as much success on the ground, the Redskins are going to have to turn to the air, and we all know what that means. Giants win 27-20.
Giants cover
Over

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