By: Matt Doherty and Liam O’Brien
Week 1 was an incredibly entertaining beginning to the NFL season. Week 2 has some juicy matchups on the table and should make for some interesting action.
Liam: New England at Jacksonville (+1)
Patriots as an underdog? Inject this into my veins.
This is the first time a New England opponent has been favored since Week 1 of the 2016 season when Jimmy Garoppolo was leading the troops into the Big Toaster in Arizona. There’s a reason for this, and the Patriots’ performance in Week 1 did nothing to suppress the argument this team is still the class of the AFC.
Aside from one poorly thrown ball which resulted in an interception, Tom Brady was his traditional self, completing 67% of his passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. What wasn’t traditional was the New England pass rush.
After struggling in that regard last season, the Patriots dominated the Texans’ offensive line and collapsed the pocket around Deshaun Watson on nearly every passing play. Expect New England to pressure Blake Bortles and force him into some costly mistakes.
Pick: New England +1
Matt: New England at Jacksonville (+1)
Like Liam, I am on the Patriots. When was the last time Tom Brady was not favored? 2009?!? I couldn’t believe this line when I saw it. I simply can not pass up taking the Pats in a spot like this. Yes, Jacksonville’s defense is scary/surreal/game changing but Leonard Fournette is banged up and might not play AND the rest of the Jagaurs skill position players are hot garbage.
Let’s say Brady has a bad game. That still means the Pats put up somewhere between 17-20 points which will be enough. The much improved Patriots defense won’t be threatened by Blake Bortles, TJ Yeldon, and Keelan Cole.
Pick: New England +1
Liam: Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5)
I’m a little surprised Pittsburgh is favored by more than a field goal considering their near-loss to Cleveland in Week 1.
The Browns gobbled up 177 yards on the ground against the Steelers, and if Tyrod Taylor had a stronger arm they could have gashed Pittsburgh through the air as well. Hitting receivers who get separation on their cornerback counterparts is not a problem for Patrick Mahomes, who has displayed the ability to air out the rock while passing for four touchdown passes in his Week 1 start against the Chargers.
The Chiefs are 11-4 against the spread in their last 15 road games while the Steelers have failed to cover in their last five games at Heinz Field.
Pick: Kansas City +5.5
Matt: Carolina at Atlanta (-6)
You know when a baseball pitcher who throws 95 mph starts to fade and all of a sudden he can barely hit 92 mph? And as a fan of that player/team, you know he’s hit the back nine of his career? Yeah, that’s what it felt like watching Matt Ryan against the Eagles in the season opener. He looked like he needed to take a visit to Dr. James Andrews for Tommy John surgery on his UCL.
Ryan’s arm strength, or lack thereof, was concerning, as was his accuracy and touch. The Falcons mustered just 12 points and now they go up against a Carolina defense that just made Dak Prescott look like he belonged in the Big 12.
To make matters worse, Atlanta will be playing this game without two of its top defensive players in Keanu Neal and Deon Jones. This line is too high. I love Carolina and the points.
Pick: Carolina +6
Liam: New York Giants at Dallas (-3)
Great, another Giants-Cowboys Sunday Night Football game at the beginning of the season.
This one should transpire differently than when New York kicked the tires of an abysmal season with a 19-3 loss at Jerry’s World in Week 1 of the 2017 season. This time, the Cowboys appear to be the team on a collision course with a coaching change.
Dallas gained just 237 yards on their 57 plays in a 16-8 Week 1 loss to Carolina. Dak Prescott appeared lost behind an injury-ravaged offensive line, averaging 3.8 yards per completion while enduring six sacks. The Cowboys limited Cam Newton and the Panthers offense, but their defensive line is hampered with Randy Gregory nursing a concussion and Demarcus Lawrence dealing with a groin strain.
New York lost as well in Week 1, but Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley each totaled over 110 yards from scrimmage against the highly touted Jaguars defense.
Dallas is 3-11 against the spread under Jason Garrett in home games in which they have been favored by no more than three points.
Pick: New York +3
Matt: Los Angeles at Buffalo (+7.5)
The Bills have serious 0-16 potential, so don’t be afraid of the seven point line. LA has a far superior roster than Buffalo and the only red flag is that the Chargers are traveling across the country for a 1 PM kick off. But, LA won both of their game last year in the same time slot against the New York teams.
And the red flags go away when you remind yourself that the Chargers are only laying a touchdown against a team that is A.) starting a rookie quarterback, B.) has the worst offensive line and wide receivers in the league, and C.) just lost by 44 points. 44.
Pick: LA Chargers -7.5
Liam: Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (+3.5)
Expect Tampa Bay to come out on top in the Backup Quarterback Bowl on Sunday.
Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed like a new man last Sunday in New Orleans, obliterating the Saints defense for a career-high 417 passing yards, 36 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Fitzpatrick has arguably one of the premier wide receiving corps in the NFL, with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin all catching touchdown passes in Week 1. The Eagles secondary was brutalized by Atlanta’s Julio Jones for 169 yards on 10 catches last week and would have allowed a few more scores if not for the Falcons’ ineffectiveness in the red zone.
Tampa Bay is dealing with injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and their unit did not hold up well against Drew Brees last week. However, the Eagles put up just 232 yards of total offense against Atlanta and Nick Foles looked like a shell of the Super Bowl MVP he was last winter.
Pick: Tampa Bay +3.5
Matt: Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5) and Arizona at Los Angeles (-13)
Tampa Bay screwed up our three team teaser last week with their stunning upset over New Orleans. So for this week’s teaser we’re sticking to two teams.
The first half of the teaser involves Kansas City. Pat Mahomes was electric in Week 1 and this offense is down right scary. They shouldn’t have a problem putting up 30ish points against a poor Pittsburgh defense.
The second half of the teaser involves the LA Rams at home against the Cardinals. Sam Bradford should send a thank you letter to Nathan Peterman for overshadowing him for “Worst Performance in Week 1.”
The Cards scored six points and now they travel to face a Super Bowl favorite with a loaded defense. I like LA in this situation because they aren’t afraid to run up the scoreboard and feed Gurley in garbage time.
Pick: Kansas City (+5.5 up to +11.5) and LA (-13 to -7)