Week One did not disappoint, unless if you’re a newly hired head coach. The highly-anticipated showdown between Odell Beckham and Jalen Ramsey was ultimately won by the former, Ryan “Fitzmagic” demonstrated he very well could maintain Jameis Winston’s spot under center, and the Bills reminded us that their first playoff appearance during this millennium was merely an aberration. I was just 9-7 last weekend with my picks, so I’ll be looking to rebound. I’ll be keeping track of my record for the rest of the season, too.
But enough reminiscing. Here are my Week 2 picks.
Ravens vs Bengals: The first Thursday night football game of the season featured a Ravens team that annihilated the Bills in what was just one of multiple blowouts during Week One, and Joe Mixon and A.J. Green rallied the Bengals past the returning Andrew Luck and the Colts. Baltimore will be looking for revenge after being knocked out of playoff contention last year in Week 17 by these very Bengals, and I expect Dalton, who owns a career 74.1 passer rating against the Ravens, to struggle, and Baltimore will be off to a 2-0 start.
Packers vs Vikings: Aaron Rodgers facilitated one of the greatest comebacks of his Hall of Fame career back on Sunday night, only moments after myself and all other Packers fans held our collective breaths in hopes of him not having sustained a season-ending injury. While his status for Week Two remains in question, there remains little doubt that he’ll play. No team can stop Rodgers when he is operating the no-huddle, up-tempo spread West Coast attack that neutralized Kahlil Mack in the second half, and look for that to also neutralize Minnesota. The Packers take this one and take a seemingly menial but important early hold of the NFC North.
Panthers vs Falcons: The Falcons and their offensive ineptitude in the red zone (I mean, a stretch play on fourth and goal?) picked up right where it left off from last year against the Eagles, and Deion Jones and Keanu Neal will both be out for the long haul. Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams are hurt, so both of these NFC South rivals will be clashing while being considerably undermanned. But the Falcons remain better at every position offensively, and that is the difference in this game. The Falcons will notch their first win of the season.
Chargers vs Bills: The Chargers showed the rest of the league what happens when a defense fails to game plan for Tyreek Hill. The Bills showed the league what happens when perhaps a historically bad roster is assembled. Of course, the fact that Philip Rivers got no help from his receivers did not help his cause, but even woeful punt coverage and a receiving corps that needs adhesive gloves won’t stop the Chargers from an easy win against Josh Allen and the Bills.
Browns vs Saints: Well, the Browns are already better than last year. Despite forcing an incalculable number of turnovers, they settled for a tie against the Steelers on Sunday, and the Saints let Drew Brees down for the umpteenth time. Unlike the Steelers, the Saints are not suffering from any notable absences, and they will rebound from a loss that may have served as an early wake-up call. The Saints will Brees by in this one.
Dolphins vs Jets: It was like watching a Lord of the Rings movie last week for Miami, as they played in the longest game in NFL history after dealing with two different weather delays. Sam Darnold threw a pick-six on his very first NFL pass attempt, but recovered quickly as his Jets soared over the Lions. Miami’s struggles with rush defense continued on Sunday, and look for that to be a major factor against Isaiah Crowell and the Jets on Sunday, and Sam Darnold will emerge victorious in his first two NFL starts.
Chiefs vs Steelers: We all saw the fireworks display that Patrick Mahomes set up on Sunday. The Steelers yet again succeeded in playing down to their competition, which has become an unsettling trend for the Black and Gold. The Chiefs have lost three straight to the Steelers, but look for that to end this weekend, especially if Roethlisberger plays the way he did against Cleveland. The loss of Ryan Shazier has crippled Keith Butler’s squad.
Eagles vs Buccaneers: Now on his seventh NFL team, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had the top performance of any quarterback in Week One, as he joined a short list of quarterbacks who have successfully won shootouts against Drew Brees. Doug Pederson proved that he still has quite a few tricks up his sleeve back on Thursday night. Foles had a medicore performance but should enjoy a bounce-back performance against a Buccaneers secondary that is still arguably the worst in the league, and the Eagles will maintain their momentum.
Texans vs Titans: As previously mentioned, the Titans were a participant in the longest game in NFL history on Sunday, and Deshaun Watson struggled against the Patriots, granted it was his first game since tearing his ACL. The last time these two AFC South foes encountered each other when Watson was healthy, Watson completed all but nine passes and totaled five touchdowns (one rushing) in a 57-14 victory. I do not expect a lopsided affair, but the Texans will be facing a team they have beaten in six of their last eight meetings, and that will become seven of the last nine.
Colts vs Redskins: Considering the fact that Andrew Luck had not played a game since Week 17 of 2016, he performed very well against the Bengals despite the loss. The defensive line of the Redskins had a field day against a suspect offensive line, and the Colts’ offensive line is worse than suspect, as Luck was sacked twice, and the Colts averaged just 4.9 yards per play and 3.4 yards per carry. The Redskins could be dominant in the trenches all season long, and no amount of Luck can conceal an offensive line as bad as what Indianapolis has. Alex Smith and his buddies in DC will win this game.
Cardinals vs Rams: David Johnson’s extension was about the only positive thing for the Arizona Cardinals last weekend. After a slow start against the Raiders, Todd Gurley and the Rams rallied for what turned out to be an easy win on Monday night. The Rams are double-digit favorites for a reason; Arizona will be dominated on both sides of the trenches and have no firepower to match that of the Rams. Sean McVay will guide the Rams to a 2-0 start.
Lions vs 49ers: Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo both posted passer ratings below 50 in Week One, and there haven’t been any awkward handshakes in a while between these teams. The 49ers were bound to lose eventually with Jimmy G, and although Week One reactions tend to be hyperbolic in nature, what is not on overreaction is the fact that Garoppolo has a very weak supporting cast. This game has all the makings of a classic high-scoring affair, especially after Darnold’s debut in Detroit, and I see the Lions winning in an upset.
Raiders vs Broncos: Case Keenum looked more like his pre-2017 self on Sunday, though him and Emmanuel Sanders could potentially develop a very prolific chemistry. Jon Gruden’s return to the Black Hole was spoiled by the Rams, and will now have another opportunity against another good defense in Denver. Two teams who have found themselves at a crossroads is the main theme behind this match-up, as the Raiders are looking to get back to the playoffs, and the Broncos are looking to be riding high after a meteoric fall from grace after winning Super Bowl 50. The Broncos will win this game, and will also be able to delve further into whether Keenum is the answer, and the Raiders may have a few questions of their own about Carr.
Patriots vs Jaguars: The Jaguars were only minutes away from their first-ever Super Bowl appearance when they played the Patriots back in January. Their special teams were good, and they contained Saquon Barkley until his 68-yard touchdown run after an inside zone play. Jalen Ramsey ultimately struggled against Odell Beckham, but there is no Julian Edelman for him to guard in this game. Gronk will be the focal point for the Patriots’ offensive game plan this Sunday, and Bortles will have to play better. In a rematch of the AFC Championship game, I’m taking Brady and Belichick.
Giants vs Cowboys: The two NFC East rivals have become Sunday Night Football darlings. Dak Prescott has not once proved he can play at a high level without everything being near-perfect for him, and Dallas gave up 147 rushing yards (4.6 yards per carry) to Cam, McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson. There is also not a single defensive back on Dallas’s roster who can cover Odell Beckham. A blowout Giants win would hardly astonish me.
Seahawks vs Bears: Khalil Mack had one of the most dominant halves of any defender in NFL history on Sunday night, and keep in mind that he was playing on a snap count. Russell Wilson was sacked six times against Denver, so look for Mack and Co. to feast on him all night long. The Bears will roar their way to a Monday night win.