NFL Predictions 2019: Week 2

Surprises are expected in the first week and it felt as if I got crushed a lot worse than I did. I was 11-4-1 straight up, 7-9 against the spread and 7-9 on the over/under. It’s not ideal to start -4 against Vegas (14-18) but I should be fine. I took the points in half the games, and that’s a high number for me but again openers are unpredictable so it made sense. I actually was 4-4 in those games while successfully predicting both Bay Area underdogs would win. Favorites were 7-9 against the spread in the opening week. Usually defense rules early and I took the under in 12 of the 16 contests. I went 4-8 in those games so that was a poor strategy. It was almost a split this week with 9 games going over and 7 going under. None of this helps with week 2 it’s just fun to think about.

Tampa Bay (0-1) @ Carolina (0-1): Players hate these Thursday night games because it messes with their schedule. They are forced to play on short rest, and in the case of the Bucs deal with travel as well. Where the Panthers are concerned, they just played a really physical game against the Rams and must feel pretty beaten up. Both teams need to recover with a win or face the dreaded 0-2 start that doesn’t necessarily mean the playoffs are out of the question but does create an atmosphere of doubt. Carolina has a serious weapon in CMC and seems to finally have their offense in position to get the most out of their available talent. Tampa Bay found out that Jameis Winston still turns the football over and losing deep threat DeSean Jackson doesn’t help their cause. Bruce Arians is a veteran coach who probably needs a different quarterback. Both defenses just allowed 30-plus points and will be looking to tighten things up. It’s a divisional matchup, but with the visitors having gone through a coaching change that shakes things up. I really like the home team, just not by a wide margin because I don’t see points flying on the scoreboard: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 17 (TB +7/under 51)

San Francisco (1-0) @ Cincinnati (0-1): If the 49ers aren’t careful they might have people talking about them as contenders. The schedule has created opportunity for them and they are in good position to continue taking advantage. The Bengals return from a disappointing loss at Seattle, a team that is a lot better than them. Ross had a huge day, finally showing his first round talent. Mixon and the running game did very little and now their lead back is hurt, possibly out for this one. Coleman is definitely out for the 49ers, but they have Breida and his backup Mostert. That pair had 24 carries for 77 yards last week. Jimmy G did not have nearly the passing effort Dalton did and other than Kittle he’s lacking front line weapons in the passing game. At first I really liked the visitors, especially if Mixon can’t go. Now I’m reconsidering. I like balance because it improves the odds of success. San Francisco has lost a back who also provided help in the passing game, is their offense enough? I don’t know yet and it makes me nervous. Cincinnati should have won at the Seahawks last week and that’s a better team than they are facing here at home, so that’s the direction I’m leaning: Cincinnati 24, San Francisco 20 (CIN +1.5/under 46)

LA Chargers (1-0) @ Detroit (0-0-1): The Lions choked at Arizona last week, plain and simple. They had a rookie quarterback down 24-6 and couldn’t finish the job. The game ended in a 27-27 tie, but it felt like a loss. The Chargers also went OT but they closed out Indianapolis with a touchdown. They were lucky to do so because old man Vinatieri had an awful effort in the kicking game or they would have lost. That’s a bad look against a team that just had their star quarterback retire suddenly. For as fiery as Rivers is, Los Angeles never seems to play with that killer instinct. Perhaps closing the door on Gordon, at least for now, will help. Ekeler has shown he can be productive and the Colts do have a quality roster so at least they beat a team with talent. Detroit was playing a team I think will struggle to win games all season. I think this is a blowout: LA Chargers 31, Detroit 20 (LAC -2/over 47)

Minnesota (1-0) @ Green Bay (1-0): The NFC North is getting down to business early. The Packers scored a huge road win at Chicago and are well rested having played on TNF. Their offense was mostly dormant, but that was a serious defense they faced. Plus their defense came up huge. Minnesota’s defense and running game were so effective that Cousins only threw the ball 10 times in a dominating win over Atlanta. This result will go a long way towards determining the balance of power in the North, which feels like a three-way race with Detroit as a punching bag. Which defense is going to impose their will? Dalvin Cook is back and looks great. I don’t know if the Packers can match that rushing support and that puts a lot of pressure on Rodgers. He can definitely handle it. This one has me torn. Cousins is not great against good teams, that’s a fact until he proves otherwise. I do feel his defense and running game will keep him in this game. I also feel Rodgers has another tall task going up against this defense. He’s at home though, and I think if he was able to get it done last week he can get it done here: Green Bay 20, Minnesota 19 (MIN +3/under 46)

Indianapolis (0-1) @ Tennessee (1-0): The Colts had to deal with the shocking retirement of Luck just prior to their opening loss at the Chargers, but ironically it’s a player who probably should be retired who cost them the game. Vinatieri was a mess with multiple missed kicks and they should have come out with a confidence building victory. Instead they lost in overtime and now travel to play a team feeling great about their prospects. The Titans went to Cleveland and thumped the hyped Browns 43-13 with a late 28-0 burst that served as a knockout punch. Well, multiple knockout punches. They terrorized Mayfield and I see no reason they will not get to Brissett here. Mack was huge in LA last week, rushing for 174 yards and is going to be a factor here. I see some offense. Mariota had a steady opener and these teams are pretty even the way I see it. It comes down to home field and confidence for me, but no result would be shocking: Tennessee 27, Indianapolis 20 (TEN -3/over 43.5)

New England (1-0) @ Miami (0-1): The rule of thumb when gambling is that if a team is a double-digit underdog it pays to take the points. This is one of the biggest mismatches in recent memory. The defending champs just torched Pittsburgh 33-3 and appear in midseason form. The Dolphins made preseason moves indicating they were fine throwing in the towel on 2019. They opened with a 59-10 defeat at the hands of Baltimore. It was every bit as embarrassing as the score would indicate. Young Lamar Jackson, criticized for being a running back playing quarterback, had all day to throw the ball and tossed dimes deep down the field with ease. Tom Brady doesn’t need long to pick apart a defense. He’s a quick thinker and makes decisions fast. It’s just a matter of how much they want to score. Their defense seems determined to stifle every opponent they face so I don’t see a letdown there. Plus, they were shocked by Miami here last season when Gronkowski failed to make a tackle on a desperation final play touchdown. Revenge is probably too strong of a word, but it feels like it here. Antonio Brown probably will not play and maybe is a distraction in his home state where he’s being accused of rape. It matters very little. This is an epic rout: New England 38, Miami 6 (NE -14.5/under 49)

Buffalo (1-0) @ NY Giants (0-1): The first couple of weeks can be huge in determining a team’s fate. The Bills stole a win at the Jets and if they can pull off consecutive road wins in this stadium by taking down the Giants their season is jumpstarted at 2-0. Likewise, New York is already reeling after getting thumped 35-17 in Dallas so if they lose here it’s the same old story at 0-2. Usually with mediocre teams things level out. The Giants have some talent on offense and even if Eli Manning is on a short leash he can still get it done. The Bills are also young on offense, but have already got their new quarterback in place. Allen needs to clean up the turnovers for sure and I think this game is a bit of a tossup. New York lost to a pretty good team last week I can’t hold that against them too much. Buffalo beat a decent team and needed a huge comeback to do it. I’m conflicted. I think logically the road team wins, which is why I’m being stupid and taking the home team: NY Giants 20, Buffalo 17 (NYG +2.5/under 44.5)

Seattle (1-0) @ Pittsburgh (0-1): The Steelers are very lucky this game is at home. They need to be back in front of their fans after that disastrous SNF performance. New England is a great team, but 33-3? The Seahawks picked up Clowney and suddenly have expectations. Squeezing out a home win over a Cincinnati team that is in disarray due to injuries was a bad look. I love the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. They elevate the team around them. Big Ben is going to bounce back and reward fantasy owners who drafted his targets. Wilson will need to adjust without his reliable number one this season, and unlike his counterpart does not have the established alternative options. His defense just allowed four bills to Dalton, and that makes me nervous. Roethlisberger figures to do a lot of damage and get out some frustration: Pittsburgh 28, Seattle 20 (PIT -4/over 46.5)

Dallas (1-0) @ Washington (0-1): Are the Cowboys for real? They overpaid Zeke, and maybe that’s okay because they are keeping the gang together for now. The offense sure looked potent in a rout over the Giants. The Redskins had hope for a while, building a lead in Philly until things fell apart. Now Guice is hurt and while they do have Adrian Peterson his time as “all day” are over. Vernon Davis is beating Father Time for now and Case Keenum threw for 380 yards in his debut as the Band Aid quarterback. It’s not a great recipe for long term success. Washington is going to have a bad season, and Dallas is going to have a very good season. The final score here won’t be a blowout though: Dallas 27, Washington 17 (DAL -5/under 46.5)

Arizona (0-0-1) @ Baltimore (1-0): It’s another Heisman showdown this week and this one is the mobile quarterback edition. Murray started slow and exploded when it mattered, but only got the tie against the Lions. Jackson never let off the gas in picking apart the Dolphins on the road in a 59-10 whitewash. Betting lines are always an overreaction. Miami is a dumpster fire and Baltimore took advantage it’s that simple. Are they really a powerhouse though? I doubt that very much. Jackson felt like he was throwing against air a lot of the time and clearly that team quit. Murray is dealing with his first road start in the NFL against a physical defense ready to welcome him into the league. Maybe he runs for his life and maybe he finds some running room. A lot will be learned about both teams after this one. Arizona is probably a bad team and Baltimore is probably at least a wild card contender. I don’t see a blowout though: Baltimore 23, Arizona 14 (AZ +13.5/under 46.5)

Jacksonville (0-1) @ Houston (0-1): The AFC South is most definitely up for grabs now. Foles is down and will the Jags be able to stay afloat until he returns? Their rookie mustache dude was 22/25 after the injury, but now teams see him coming. Watson was clutch in his two completion “drive” covering 75 yards that should have won the game in New Orleans. I can’t see Minshew matching scores here in his first NFL start, especially on the road. He had no pressure in Kansas City with the Chiefs playing soft protecting a lead. Now it’s for real. This is a division game with a lot on the line. Houston is possibly better off without Lamar Miller in the backfield after Hyde and Johnson combined for 140 yards on 19 carries. Hopkins, Fuller and Stills can ball out and the line figures to be better once Tunsil finds his footing. J.J. Watt will adjust to life after Clowney. I like them to win easily here: Houston 28, Jacksonville 17 (HOU -8.5/over 43)

Kansas City (1-0) @ Oakland (1-0): First place is in the AFC West is at stake! Okay, technically that’s true. We all know the Chiefs own this division. It’s the final NFL game played on a dirt infield so that’s significant. The Raiders got a big win last week to get Gruden to 100 as a head coach, but reality sets in here. Abram is out for the season and that’s a huge blow to a secondary that was made over in his image. Honestly it’s his own fault because he plays reckless. Hill is out for the visitors, who bring a new backfield this year after these teams played a 40-33 thriller here last season. Oakland’s defense is a lot better now and the only problem is that no one can stop this offense. Can they keep up? Jacobs is the pounding back this offense has needed and they can play ball control to keep it close. I can see that for sure. This is a storied rivalry and the final time it will be played in the East Bay. That’s a little sad and the Chiefs get the last win: Kansas City 31, Oakland 21 (KC -7/under 53.5)

Chicago (0-1) @ Denver (0-1): Two really good defenses and two teams who can’t seem to get the quarterback situation right. Flacco in theory provides stability for the Broncos. In reality he couldn’t deliver a win at Oakland, and that’s not a good team. Trubisky was dismal on TNF in a 10-3 loss that ended with an opponent trolling him to the media saying their plan was to make him play quarterback. How much do they really have on offense though? The defense was good enough to frustrate Rodgers and the Packers all night with the exception of one quick touchdown drive. Unfortunately that’s all it took. They are the established roster though. Chicago went to the playoffs. Denver is a shell of the team that won it all just a few seasons ago. Flacco might have a ring, but he’s no Peyton by a long shot. The better defense wins: Chicago 17, Denver 14 (CHI +1/under 41.5)

New Orleans (1-0) @ LA Rams (1-0): Every true football fan wants to see this rematch. The refs screwed the Saints out of what likely would have been a Super Bowl title and while they can’t get that ring back they can take out their frustration. This is a bit like the Patriots playing the Raiders after the Tuck Rule game, and on that night Oakland beat them up physically in a game that ultimately resulted in New England missing the playoffs that season. I expect fireworks. New Orleans has a really good offense and everyone knows they are worse outdoors. It is what it is. Their adrenaline is going to compensate for that. Everyone on the roster is pissed off and rightfully so. I have no idea how the Rams can match that. Los Angeles shook off their Super Bowl embarrassment by posting 30 in a win at Carolina, which was psychologically very important. One thing the hosts do have going for them is a much better lineup than the last time. Kupp is back, and Gurley seems okay. It’s strictly emotional now though. They have wanted this game for months, and they get it done: New Orleans 31, LA Rams 28 (NO +3/over 51.5)

Philadelphia (1-0) @ Atlanta (0-1): I was surprised the Falcons were so flat in their opening loss in Minnesota. Their offense is better than they showed. The Eagles took their lumps, but figured it out in a win over a bad Washington team. They have a lot to prove as well and the pressure is on under the SNF lights. This is a tough game to call. No team wants to start 0-2 and Matt Ryan is historically very good at home. Wentz has weapons as well and probably a deeper group. I feel like the visitors are just a better team. The better team doesn’t always win, I feel better about my predictions if I go that way even if my pick fails: Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 23 (PHI +0/under 53)

Cleveland (0-1) @ NY Jets (0-1): The Browns were humbled last week and could have been in position to fall to 0-2 on national television here. The Jets have made their misfortunes seem minor. New York will be without Darnold (mono) and if they thought about leaning on Bell, his shoulder is banged up. They are on the ropes and it’s awful timing to face a team looking to show last week was a fluke. OBJ makes his return to his home stadium and in primetime to boot. He will want to put on a show. Mayfield was mugged last week and that will not be repeated. This should have been a game between two up and coming teams. Instead it’s looking like the overrated bowl and the less messed up team gets the easy win: Cleveland 24, NY Jets 17 (CLE -2/5/under 45.5)

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