Week 1 Review, TNF Preview

Posted: 09/15/2016 by levcohen in Football

Until Monday, Week 1 was almost unbelievably exciting. There were four one-point and two two-point games (those six combined 1-2 point games are the most in any single week in the history of the NFL), and only one matchup ended with a spread of more than nine points (the Eagles over the Browns 29-10). Then came the two Monday Night Football games. First, the Steelers drubbed the Redskins 38-16. Then came San Francisco’s 28-0 win over the Rams, which was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen. Let’s hope this week’s action is more like the first 14 games of the weekend than like the last two. Here are some takeaways from Week 1:

  • I’m going out on a limb here, but it looks to me like the Minnesota Vikings are the class of the NFC North… or will be when Sam Bradford is starting and relatively comfortable. The Vikings had an ugly-looking offense with Shaun Hill at quarterback in Tennessee, but their defense more than made up for it en route to a 25-16 victory. This came in a game in which Adrian Peterson averaged 1.6 yards per carry and didn’t have a run longer than nine yards. The defense might be dominant, which will make any gains the offense might make just the cherry on top. Meanwhile, the Packers were seriously pushed by a Jacksonville team I just don’t think is very good. They ended up holding on, but their offense still looks more like the 2015 version than the dominant previous iterations. That may change as Jordy Nelson gets healthier, but for now I think the Vikings are simply the better thing. These two teams play this week.
  • It wasn’t pretty, but the Texans reinforced by belief in their ability to win the dreadful AFC South. While all three of their division mates look seriously flawed and lost in Week 1, Houston came back to beat an admittedly-terrible Bears team by nine points. Their defense was dominant in the second half, and Brock Oswiler looked just good enough for the team to have a pretty good regular season. The best news was that rookie receiver Will Fuller had a huge week, catching five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Any Fuller success will just lessen the burden — and the defensive attention — on stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins.
  • Dak Prescott is not good! This is relieving for non-Cowboys fans. I know that a lot of people are still fawning over the rookie quarterback, but it took him 45 attempts to amass 227 yards and he showed a total inability to throw the ball down the field. Yes, he’s probably better than the quarterbacks Dallas threw out last year to replace an injured Tony Romo, and he might look better when (not if) rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot gets going, but people need to realize that he’s not the next Tom Brady. At best, he’ll be a good game-manager who can win his team games they should win. But he’s not at his best yet, which means the Cowboys should be (and probably are) counting down the days until Romo is healthy enough to play.
  • Antonio Brown is utterly unstoppable. For people who were wondering whether the Steelers could keep up their efficient offense even without Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, wonder no more. As long as Brown and Ben Roethlisberger are healthy, the offense will be great. That should scare other teams, because Pittsburgh’s defense looked pretty solid on Monday too. I don’t think the defense will look as good against quarterbacks better than Kirk Cousins, but it’s certainly good enough to allow the Steelers to cruise to the playoffs.
  • Shame on me for locking up a team playing against the Patriots. I should have known better. Somehow, New England, legitimate underdogs for once, went into Arizona and knocked off a team that went 13-3 last year. And they did it without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, inarguably their two best and more important players. The Jets looked pretty good in Week 1, but they lost along with the Bills and Dolphins. It’s only been one week, but Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. already seem to have locked up the division. When Brady comes back after his four game suspension, he’ll be able to go on autopilot until the playoffs.

Last week’s picks:
11-5 straight up
11-4-1 against the spread
10-5-1 over/under

3-2 on upset picks
0-1 on my lock

Best picks of the week:
Bengals 24, Jets 23…. Actual result: Bengals 23, Jets 22
Raiders 34, Saints 31…. Actual result: Raiders 35, Saints 34
Buccaneers 30, Falcons 27…. Actual result: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24
Texans 26, Bears 17…. Actual result: Texans 23, Bears 14

Worst picks:
Cardinals 30, Patriots 13…. Actual result: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21
Rams 28 (!), Niners 27…. Actual result: Niners 28, Rams 0
Titans 17, Vikings 13…. Actual result: Vikings 25, Titans 16

New York Jets (0-1, 1-0 against the spread) at Buffalo Bills (0-1, 0-1):
Spread: Pick ’em
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Some sportsbooks have the Bills favored by a point, but the majority have it as a pick, so I can’t make this an upset pick. But I certainly like the Jets in this game. I was encouraged by their close Week 1 loss to Cincinnati and especially by their ability to get to the quarterback. They sacked Andy Dalton seven times, and that was without Sheldon Richardson, who’s back this week. Their defensive line is dominant, and this week they get to face an offensive line that’s far worse than Cincinnati’s. Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor was awful last week, throwing for just 111 yards, and he’ll face a lot more pressure this week. If I were New York’s defensive coordinator, the one thing I’d be worried about is the possibility for a big-play receiver to go off on a declining Darrelle Revis. A.J. Green did it last week, and I’d bet on Sammy Watkins to be able to do it this week… except that Watkins is still hobbled by a foot injury and is playing through significant pain. That really limits what Taylor and the Bills offense will be able to do against the strong Jets defense. On the other side of the ball, I was cautiously encouraged by what I saw from the Jets last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked fine, Matt Forte looked explosive, and they got a lot out of third receiver Quincy Enunwa. They’ll get a lot more from Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall going forward, which will only help the offense. The Jets are just the better team. Jets win 23-10.
Jets cover
Under

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