Here is to hoping that the first week was not a fluke for most teams. It looked like that Thursday night with Baltimore not looking so impressive against Cincinnati. There are a few more division match ups this week that could be telling. The Giants and Cowboys will see who will remain at the bottom of the division. Jon Gruden and the boys in black will try to get their first win against Denver. Arizona will attempt to redeem themselves competing with the L.A. Rams. Tannehill and the ‘Phins match up with rookie Darnold and the Jets. Carolina and Atlanta could be the game of the week. Should be an exciting week. Let me dive into my picks for the week. I am starting out 1-0 this week. Hoping this dictates the kind of week I am going to have.
CAROLINA PANTHERS vs ATLANTA FALCONS:
Who thinks Matt Ryan should get a “do over”? Who thinks that this is just how the season will go for him and the Falcons? This will not be his “do over” game. Falcons fans may have to get used to this being just how it will be for the season. Ryan did not have his greatest game and could not be the bread winner for the team when it came down to it. The thought of this being a “redemption” game against the team you lost to by a hair in the playoffs should have been the motivation needed to make it happen. Apparently not. Cam Newton on the other hand. When he saw that it was not getting done against the Cowboys, stepped right on up and got it done. The Panthers are not the healthiest bunch, but their defense can handle the Falcons offense.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS VS WASHINGTON REDSKINS:
Most of the analytics worked the numbers and got the pick of the Redskins right last week. The Redskins may be the real deal with Alex Smith under center and a vet like Adrian Peterson giving the offense a boost. Will it hold true for the game with the Colts? It stands a better than great chance. With Andrew Luck back in action, it is still not enough for the lackluster offense and no existent defense. The Colts will work back up to being a force as soon as they can determine who they need to put around Luck since he has returned. IF the Redskins can play the way they did last week, they walk away with the W.
HOUSTON TEXANS vs TENNESSEE TITANS:
It is tough to start the season playing the New England Patriots. It is even harder when your key players are coming off injury. Not the kind of game a team needs to ease into the season. Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, and Jadeveon Clowney get a reprieve when they face the Tennessee Titans this week. As if the Miami Dolphins were much better, the Titans were awful. On top of that, Marcus Mariota hurts his hand and Blaine Gabbert stepped in. And did he step in it! PEE EWW! Houston will be playing the game the probably should have gotten week 1. Even if Mariota starts, there will be no upside to their game.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES vs TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS:
Bucs fans were over themselves with that win over the Saints. Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and fans almost forgot about Jameis Winston sidelined for four games. Reality will hit this week. Nick Foles and the Super Bowl defending Eagles will bring them down to earth. The Eagles defense will not get torched for college type scores. Nor will the Bucs defense be ready for the running game display that the Eagles have in store. Take the week 1 win and look forward to week 3. Philadelphia on the road has this one on lock.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs PITTSBURGH STEELERS:
How do you come back from a tie game against a team that won one game last season? Teams always say that you move on to the next game, but this game had to have lingered. Pittsburgh is going to have to execute much better than they did in Cleveland. It hurts not having Le’Veon Bell, but that does not mean that they cannot win without him. Ben Roethlisberger was a turnover specialist unable to showcase the skill most know he has. On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes was looking like a superstar shining all over the L.A. Chargers on Sunday. He was in total control of the offense so much that you almost did not miss Alex Smith being there. Steelers defense will have to stop the likes of Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Sammy Watkins, and (if he shows up) Travis Kelce. This will be a test.
MIAMI DOLPHINS vs NEW YORK JETS:
The rookie and the Jets. Sam Darnold was strutting his stuff in front of the Detroit faithful last week. Wonder when the boo birds will be out for Matthew Stafford. He has not shown he is worth that enormous contract he signed a few years ago. Detroit has been competing since Calvin Johnson left. Was that the reason why the Jets were able to exploit them like that with a rookie quarterback? The performance was great for the first timer. That may be just enough to get one against Miami. The Dolphins have Tannehill back and are trying to get back on track. It was a confidence booster to play a less than pedestrian Tennessee Titans team. The same could be same for the Jets playing the Lions. Let’s hope youth dominates in this one.
New York Jets
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS vs BUFFALO BILLS:
How can you go from the playoffs to bottom of the heap that fast? Nate Peterman got the start for the Bills last Sunday. Looked like he picked up right where he left off with the five interceptions in one game last season. Getting the brakes beat off of you like that is totally unacceptable. The Chargers did not get the win against the Kansas City Chiefs, but looked like they could have. Chalk that loss up to week 1 jitters. Phillip Rivers and company should be back to business this week. The Bills will be in for a long season.
Los Angeles Chargers
MINNESOTA VIKINGS vs GREEN BAY PACKERS:
OMG! OMG! OMG!! Minnesota looked so good under the control of new arrival, Kirk Cousins. Maybe he needed more competent pieces around him. Maybe he needed money that he kept saying it was not about. No matter what the reasons were, he looks pretty good behind center for the Vikings. They are going to make a run. Green Bay needed all of the football gods to help out with Chicago. Aaron Rodgers is questionable for this week. Questionable after just getting back after being out with a collarbone break. That would give the start to DeShon Kizer. In a division game, that situation would not be ideal. Even if Rodgers is able to play, he would not be 100%. The Vikes would take full advantage and make it very hard for The Pack at home in Lambeau.
CLEVELAND BROWNS vs NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:
No one thought that either one of these teams would be where they are after the first week. Cleveland tied with Pittsburgh. New Orleans ended up on the losing end of a shootout with Tampa Bay. So where does that leave either team this week. Cleveland is not looking too bad with Tyrod Taylor leading the charge. The Browns defense caused five turnovers last week. Meanwhile back in New Orleans, the Saints defense could not put a stop to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers offense. This should be a game where the Saints defense can rally back. Drew Brees does not have much trouble in the scoring department with Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Benjamin Watson, and Ted Ginn, Jr. New Orleans will right the ship.
New Orleans Saints
DETROIT LIONS vs SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:
Jimmy Garoppolo started his first full season against the Minnesota Vikings defense last week. YIKES! Or VIKES! He made it interesting though. He will have none of that when going up against Detroit. Hopefully, he has learned from the last minute mistakes that were made near the end of the Vikes game and make better ones against the Lions. Detroit is going to need that secondary to step up. There was no excuse for the New York Jets rookie QB to come in and destroy them like that last Sunday. Matthew Stafford should also improve with the offense this week. This has the potential to be a shootout, but not so much.
San Francisco 49ers
ARIZONA CARDINALS vs LOS ANGELES RAMS:
Did everyone think that with the return of David Johnson that the Arizona Cardinals would be much improved and make a little noise? Well, they did not. They barely scored six and David Johnson was not even a blip on the radar. Head coach Steve Wilks needs a new game plan. What did not work against the Washington Redskins will definitely NOT work again facing the L.A. Rams. Johnson needs the ball often. The Rams defense will not make that easy, but the Cardinals do not have many options. Jared Goff and crew should have no problem getting the win here at home.
Los Angeles Rams
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS vs JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:
With the loss of Leonard Fournette for Jacksonville, this matchup does not seem that appealing. Who wants to watch Blake Bortles try and take on Tom Brady and the Patriots? Not even the Jags defense is going to make a win here happen when they scraped by with a win from the New York Giants. It still will not be easy pickings for the Patriots, but Brady never had an issue taking advantage of the path of least resistance. This game could very well turn out to be exciting, but it is doubtful.
New England Patriots
OAKLAND RAIDERS vs DENVER BRONCOS:
Raider Nation should buckle in for a rocky ride. Old school tactics in a new school world are not going to lead this franchise to the promised land. Jon Gruden is doing way too much with too little. Offensively, they are not getting it done. Khalil Mack is gone, so defensively, they are not getting it done either. Although Denver is not the greatest, they are doing much better with Case Keenum in command of the offense. It is possible that Gruden can come up with a solid game plan, but highly unlikely.
NEW YORK GIANTS vs DALLAS COWBOYS:
That Sequon Barkley!! WOW! The Giants really should have won last week. Another week of putting things together should give them the confidence they need to have a decent season. Eli Manning seems comfortable. Odell Beckham, Jr. is seemingly back to normal. Defense is stronger. There is no excuse for them not to win over the Cowboys Sunday night. Nice division game that decides the bottom feeder. Dallas will not go down easy though. The Cowboys are still banking on the Dak Prescott/Ezekiel Elliott combination to bring back the glory. Unfortunately, it will not be enough against a pretty loaded Giants team.