Check out more from me, including movie reviews & movie trailers, at Archer Avenue (archeravenue.net). Also, follow me on Twitter @OlieCoen for sports & movie talk.
Here are my NFL Week 2 Picks
(7-9 last week, 7-9 for the season)
Bye teams: none
NYJ @ Buf – With Tom Brady sitting the first four weeks, the door was open for a team other than the New England Patriots to take a lead in the AFC East, perhaps to even hold on for the division title. Instead, Jimmy G leads the Pats to victory over one of the best teams in the NFL in Arizona, while every other East team loses, including the Jets at home in New York. Either NE is blessed or everyone else is cursed, or else maybe the East is just plain bad. In their defense though, the Jets almost beat the Bengals, and perhaps would have had their kicker not laid an egg or their star cornerback not been a complete no-show. Either way, they need to win now while they have the chance; enter Buffalo. The Bills were completely awful against a fairly bad Ravens team, only scoring 7 points total in the game. That’s not enough, and it didn’t help a defense that only allowed 13 points to its opponent. Look for Buffalo to right the ship at home; I’m sure Rex will be on their asses over the week. BUT, if I had to put money on the game, I’d choose the team that almost beat a good opponent over a team that got crushed by a bad one.
SF @ Car – The Chip Kelly Era began well in San Francisco, as the Niners completely dominated the hapless Rams in Week 1. How much of that was SF and how much LA is up for debate, and we’ll assuredly find that out as the season progresses. To give myself credit, I’ve been calling for Jeff Fisher to be fired for years; the guy is nowhere near as talented as people have always said, never has been. He’ll eventually be let go & Jared Goff will eventually play, so we’ll see then. Meanwhile, the Niners looked fine, but I think a little of that was fool’s gold, something that should be exposed this week. The Panthers were shocked with a loss last week. The Broncos are better than they’re given credit for; they beat one the best teams in the league (albeit after a missed FG and at home) after turning the ball over like it was their job and committing stupid penalties right & left. If the Panthers can’t win against a mistake-prone team that tried to hand them the victory, perhaps this season doesn’t go as swimmingly as some might expect. BUT, they’ll bounce back here, at home, against SF, with a little anger to shore them up.
Bal @ Cle – No one expects much out of the Ravens this year, and perhaps that will help them to win more games than most would predict they could. It helps that out of the gate they get Buffalo and Cleveland, an easy 1-2 punch that could set them up for success, but Baltimore’s schedule will get harder, so don’t party quite yet. The Bills looked awful and the Ravens barely beat them, so perhaps we shouldn’t give them too much credit, but a win’s a win I guess, and I’m sure they’ll take it. I imagine another one might be coming, at least given what’s going on in Cleveland right now. RG3 comes in, gives the team hope, and immediately gets injured. I’m not the only one who was absolutely positive that would happen, and probably sooner rather than later. The guy is a paper doll, easily torn, and will never make it in the NFL, I think it’s high time teams stop trying to make him. The Browns now turn to Josh McCown, who will probably get injured himself. That would leave Cody Kessler leading a team that very well might go 0-16 and get the first pick in the 2017 Draft. Maybe next year, Brownies.
Ten @ Det – Two defensive touchdowns against them really took the wind out of Tennessee’s sails last week, in a home game vs the Vikings that was certainly winnable, especially considering Bridgewater’s injury & Shaun Hill’s ineptitude. All the offense had to do was not turn over the ball and the Titans would have won that game, but they couldn’t manage that. At least they have some reason to be positive, as Murray looked good running the ball and their defense didn’t look all that bad either. Too bad they have to turn around, go on the road, and face a hot Lions team, because starting 0-2 is exactly what they didn’t want. Detroit escaped Indy last week with a win, after running the ball very well and having Stafford step up when his team needed him most, which has always been his strongest point. The defense was horrific though, and will plague this team the entire year without fail. They’ll have to win games 30+ to 3o+ all season if they don’t improve, the result probably being a .500 season, which isn’t awful, but also not exactly what you’re going for. 2-0 is a good place to start though, can’t complain about that.
KC @ Hou – Boy did the Chiefs escape a close one last week. No one thought that the Chargers would be any sort of competition at all, but they had the lead & blew a game they should have taken. SD lost Keenan Allen for the season, which is killer, and I don’t expect them to be major players this year, so that almost-win over KC might be the highlight of their year. The Chiefs sneak one out, but better fix the problems that reared their ugly heads, because it’s about to get enough tougher. The Texans are for real. They already had a good defense, but now they have a good quarterback too, as much as I hate to say it. I’m still angry at Osweiler for leaving Denver; I wanted him as the starter the entirety of last season with the Broncos and I still can’t believe he walked away. I wish him ill luck, but the guy is talented, and might just lead the Texans deeper into the playoffs than they have been in years. I like them in this game at home, and as long as Brock & Lamar Miller are playing well, I predict that I’ll like them in the majority of their games. It’s still early, but there are reasons to be positive in Houston.
Mia @ NE – Acknowledging that it was against one of the better teams in the league and on the road, the Dolphins were pretty pathetic in their Week 1 matchup. They scored 10 total points and looked pretty inept. They did run the ball fairly well, did hold the Seahawks to only 12 points, but couldn’t scrape out the win when it mattered. And with the division wide open, they need to take advantage of every close game, every possible opportunity, before that door closes in their face and they’re right back at the back of the pack. Speaking of the AFC East, the Patriots were its only team to win last week. That’s not too impressive on its own; that happens all the time, they always dominate. But then you remember that Jimmy G played in place of Tom Brady, Gronk sat, the Pats faced the Cardinals in Arizona, and somehow still came away with a victory. The Jets can’t win at home vs the Bengals but the Pats can win on the road vs the Cardinals? Either this team is magical or it’s time to say that Bellichick really is a football wizard. It pains me to make that admission, and there’s always the spying issues to remember, but NE just wins, period.
NO @ NYG – As a Drew Brees owner in fantasy football land, I’m more than happy with his performance. I hope they have shootouts every single game all season long. Now, I bet the New Orleans coaching staff doesn’t feel that way, since if they had played even a little defense they would have won last week vs the Raiders. And they made improvements over the offseason, perhaps they just need a little time to solidify. Players don’t get enough chances these days to mesh in Training Camp or the Preseason, leading to injuries and bad play early on. The NFLPA did that to themselves, but I think we’ll see improvements across the board in the weeks to come. The Giants were a team that also spent money to improve defense, already trusted their offense, and will look to take advantage of a weak division. I think Eli is going to have an incredible year, I think the defense looks better already (albeit against an offense run by rookies in Dallas), and I think NYG wins the NFC East. I expect another high-scoring game here, but I think the G-men prevail and the Saints get off to a very bad start.
Cin @ Pit – The Bengals played one of the tougher games of Week 1, going into New York and beating a good Jets team, showing everyone that they’re still one of the AFC’s best. A.J. Green looked unstoppable, and should give teams fits all year as he and the Red Rocket hook up time & time again. I just can’t get fully on board the bandwagon and never will until Marvin Lewis is gone. The guy is mediocre, seems content with fine when greatness is what wins championships. That’s why I can only see the Bengals going so far, and often that trip stops in Pittsburgh. The Steelers manhandled the Redskins on Monday Night, something I really did not see coming. I know the Steelers are good, don’t get me wrong, and Big Ben is extraordinary. But Pitt doesn’t do especially well on the road, Washington is incredible at home, and I thought Josh Norman might stop Antonio Brown. Well, the Steelers schemed away from that and crushed the Redskin defense. I think they can think their way past the Bengals too, and they have a history of beating Cinci anyway, so I’m going with the home team here in a game that should be quite entertaining.
Dal @ Was – If the Cowboys had a better defense, I’d be very confident in the fact that they can run the ball well, use Prescott’s athleticism, and pick up a bunch of wins in Tony Romo’s absence. But they don’t, and so they’ll have to rely on Dak too much, something that I don’t think will go well. He’s impressive, I like the kid, I think they’ve found their future. But in Week 1 he played well at the beginning, but couldn’t keep it up when they were forced to throw more & more. He had way too many attempts, which couldn’t have been in the gameplan, and will need more help from his receivers & defense for the team to have hope going forward. Give them some time I guess, but meanwhile they have to play, and it doesn’t get easier. The Redskins dropped their home opener, but I don’t think they’ll let themselves get to 0-2. They know how Pittsburgh exploited them, and they also know how the Giants beat the Cowboys. Look for Gruden to rally his team and get them a home win. That means that the Cowboys start 0-2, but don’t give up on Prescott quite yet; if his teammates can step up a little he can help win some games.
TB @ Ari – My bias against Famous Jameis keeps me from seeing his talent perhaps, but even I can see stats. The guy crushed the Falcons almost single-handedly and right now the Bucs are the only team in the division with a win. Good start, Crab Legs, good start, but not every team is Atlanta. Tampa will have to prove that they can win the big games if they’re to be taken seriously and projected into the playoff picture. Two tough road matchups to start off the season isn’t an easy way to do that, but wining 1 of 2 isn’t awful I guess. If not for a missed field goal in the last minute, Arizona would be 1-0, would have beaten the Pats, and would be sailing smoothly. Well, the FG was missed, the game was lost, and here comes a hot Tampa team. I won’t be giving up on the Cards though, not quite yet. I did predict that they’d be a little behind how well they finished last season, but this is still a good team, and they’ll still get their wins. Another home game won’t hurt, and I think they’ll learn from their mistakes, prepare to face the Bucs, and come away with a victory. If they go 0-2, then we’ll talk.
Sea @ LA – The Seahawks escaped with a win last week after not playing their best offense, though thankfully being propped up by their defense. Wilson won the game late, but neither passing nor running was working out early against a Miami defense that’s good but not elite. This week’s matchup in L.A. will be even harder, as the Rams defense is quite stout, on paper anyway. But I think we can count on Seattle fixing its mistakes and moving the ball much better in Week 2. They know what they did wrong, know what to do, and will score much more than 12 points here, I think that can almost be guaranteed. I’m still calling the Rams defense good even after seeing it allow 28 points to the Niners in Week 1. That was due mostly to terrible offense that either punted or threw the ball away on every possession, scoring not one single point all game. No defense can survive that, and no coach can survive that kind of play from his team long without losing his job. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rams were blanked again, and I definitely predict a Seattle victory, even though the game is on the road vs a solid defense.
Ind @ Den – The Colts score 35 points and lose; talk about a terrible defense. Luck did all he could in his return from injury, but it just wasn’t enough. From the owner to the GM to the head coach, this is an organization that is run terribly. They have had the almost perfect fortune of getting Peyton Manning and tanking just in time to get Andrew Luck. Their QBs are the only reason they have any success; as soon as an injury occurs the Colts go virtually winless. I know QBs are important, but god, have some pride, fix the rest of your team! I can’t stand the coaches & front office of Indy, I think they’re a detriment to their team. Now, the opposite, and I know I say this as a homer, is the Denver Broncos. Elway, Kubiak, Phillips, Dennison; this is about as strong a staff as you could ask for, building a team from its foundations up, making it work & win regardless of changes. Now, the Broncos will lose games, they aren’t perfect, and Siemian’s play is still very important. But others can step up; defense, special teams, running game. That’s what makes Denver hard to beat, especially at home, and especially when things start clicking.
Atl @ Oak – The Falcons can have all the offensive weapons they want, but two things appear as true each season without being changed or even addressed: this defense isn’t good and Matt Ryan, as much as it pains me to say, cause I really like the guy, it simply average. He can sling it, but he’s not that special kind of winner you need to elevate your team. Fine, find the guy a defense so he doesn’t have to do it all, then he can be as mediocre as he wants to be. But no, every year Atlanta allows points galore, nobody does anything about it, and Ryan is forced to throw bombs to Julio all day to give his team a shot. He’s not a magician; give the guy some support. Darek Carr on the other hand might be exactly the Favre/Elway/Young type of gunslinger that can win games no matter what the odds. He’s got that extra something that impresses and boosts confidence, even when other aspects of the team aren’t up to snuff. And hey, if the Raiders can beat the Saints on the road, surely they can beat the Falcons at home. That would be a 2-0 start, and as much as I hate Oakland, the AFC West is always more fun when they’re competitive.
Jax @ SD – It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Jags kept pace with the Packers for a while, only losing by a few points. After all, they had a great offensive season last year and should be much improved defensively in 2016. They were at home facing the Pack, who are trying to re-gel, they lost a close game; sounds about right. They might find themselves in that situation often this season, in close games that they’re just not talented enough to win, yet anyway. But also, they should be good enough to become a team that beats the opponents they should beat, like the Chargers. They made it close, but I never really believed that San Diego was going to beat Kansas City. They just don’t have “it”, and although how much I despise Phillip Rivers does cloud by judgement a little, neither does he. And now they’ve lost Keenan Allen for the season, their best weapon, making it that much less likely that they’ll surprise anyone with a break out year. I think this game will be very close, especially since it’s in San Diego, with the outcome being up in the air until late. The Jags are ascending though, while the Chargers don’t know how to.
GB @ Min – After a rocky 2015, the Pack will need a couple games to get back into the routine of dominating everyone they face. They had a close call with the Jags, as I was just saying, but had to feel pretty confident that they were the better team. They’ll feel that way a lot this season, especially as they get rolling. Rodgers was already finding Nelson, and ironically throwing touchdowns to Adams, something he couldn’t seem to do last year with Jordy out of the picture. This game against Minnesota looked tougher on paper in the offseason before Bridgewater’s injury, but shouldn’t be problematic for the Pack as is. The Vikings defense is stout, there’s that, and they can score defensive touchdowns if Rodgers is off the mark or if Lacy fumbles. But that should be the only way they have a shot in this one. Whether Hill or Bradford starts, the offensive won’t be moving the ball much, and even AP can’t run against a brick wall that isn’t afraid of the pass at all. This game could still be close as GB gets its sea legs and Minn plays strong D, but I’m pretty confident that the Packers move to 2-0.
Phi @ Chi – I heard it said that Carson Wentz played his best game of the season vs the Browns, that he won’t be able to match that against any other team this year. I think that’s true, I think he got the advantage of starting against the worst team in the league, and I’m afraid those easy matchups don’t come very often. Not that the Bears are anything scary, but Wentz will be a rookie on the road and that’s never a good thing. The Eagles are still growing, as is Wentz, and he’ll hit a few bumps along the way, I’m predicting that one will come this week. Chicago got off to a terrible start, absolutely laying an egg in Houston. That’s a tough first game though, and not many teams would have made it out of there with a win. I hate Jay Cutler, don’t think he’s any good, can’t see him lighting it up in 2016, but I give him a fair shot at playing well in this game and giving the Bears at least one victory. When you’ve got Jeffrey out wide you can just throw it up, especially vs a secondary that’s going to be banged up coming into the game. Not the greatest Monday Night matchup perhaps, but football is football, and maybe it’ll be a close game.
Check out more from me, including movie reviews & movie trailers, at Archer Avenue (archeravenue.net). Also, follow me on Twitter @OlieCoen for sports & movie talk.