Week 2 is so hard to predict in the NFL. A team could look impressive in a Week 1 win, but if the team they beat was abysmal, that momentum could mean nothing in Week 2. As Week 3 of the 2019-20 NFL season dawns on us, the picture becomes a little clearer, though many questions remain.
For instance, the Buffalo Bills are 2-0 and stock is high on quarterback Josh Allen, but if the New York Jets and Giants end up being two of the worst teams in the league, does it really make Buffalo a good team?
They meet a team on the other side of the spectrum, the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were easily dispatched by the 49ers in Week 2, but played the Seahawks tightly all the way until the end of their Week 1 matchup.
Long story short: it’s still too early in the season to judge team’s based off their record. Of course, many of the best teams in the league are 2-0 (Patriots, Chiefs, Ravens, Cowboys, Seahawks, Rams.) As the teams eventually face off head-to-head, the undefeated teams will quickly dissipate and leave only a few elite teams.
The Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs will kick off such a matchup on Sunday. The two teams, led by two MVP candidate quarterbacks, both hope to establish themselves as competitors to the Patriots AFC crown.
Week 3 has a few historic point spreads (The Cowboys and Patriots are 20+ point favorites against the Dolphins and Jets, respectively) as well as some games that may be too close to call on paper. Ravens at Chiefs, Texans at Chargers, and Rams at Browns highlight some of the best games of the week.
Week 1: 9-6-1
Week 2: 9-7
In Week 2 I incorrectly predicted:
- Panthers over Buccaneers
- Giants over Bills (why? who knows)
- Vikings over Packers
- Bengals over 49ers
- Chargers over Lions
- Saints over Rams
- Eagles over Falcons
Thursday Night Football
Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-2.0)
The skippable Thursday Night games have already begun. Don’t get me wrong, if you love football, have players on your fantasy team, have a bet on the game, or are interested to see how Gardner Minshew has been playing, you should tune into this game. But for casual to mild fans, this game will likely be forgotten, featuring two teams with low playoff aspirations.
The Jaguars haven’t been horrible with Minshew under center. They “only” lost by 14 to the high-scoring Chiefs, and lost to their AFC South rival, the Houston Texans, by just one point in Week 2. The Titans have a blowout win of the Browns under their belt with a narrow loss to the Colts also on their record.
This game should be close, and relatively low-scoring. I think the Jaguars get their first win of the season on Thursday Night Football.
Jaguars win 20-17, Jaguars win ATS
Sunday Day Games
New York Jets (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
Line: New England Patriots (-23.0)
I have 16 game previews to write, so pardon me for keeping this one brief: the Jets don’t stand a chance against the Patriots on their home turf. Third-string quarterback Luke Falk was highly accurate last week and Le’Veon Bell found some offensive rhythm. The Jets still only mustered three points the entire game. If they couldn’t score on the Browns defense, Bill Belichick’s defense should have another shut-down day on their hands.
If my score prediction comes true, the Patriots would fail to cover the spread. 23 points is a lot, and the Patriots may take the scoring easy in the second half.
Patriots win 33-10, PUSH ATS
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-6.0)
As mentioned early, this is a big identity game for Week 3. Are the Bengals as bad as their 0-2 record suggests? Can the Bills push their hot start to 3-0?
Josh Allen looked like an NFL quarterback against the Giants and Jets, and now gets his first home game of the season. The Bengals have been outscored by 25 points this season, but most of that came from Jimmy Garroppolo lighting them up win Week 2.
I’m tempted to give Andy Dalton a bounce-back win, but I think Buffalo will ride the crowd’s energy in their home opener to a narrow victory. Also could be a lower-scoring affair.
Bills win 17-13, Bengals win ATS
Miami Dolphins (0-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-21.5)
Just like Dolphins-Patriots, there’s not too much to say about this game. I’m not sure the Dolphins will go 0-16, so while I think they’ll get a surprise win or two, it won’t happen in Dallas. Unlike New England, the Cowboys are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in regards to consistent winning ways. By this I mean Dallas could pull out any and every thing in their playbook just to see what sticks.
The Cowboys find all kinds of ways to score, while the Dolphins will be lucky to taste the endzone even once.
Cowboys win 53-10, Cowboys win ATS
Denver Broncos (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Aaron Rodgers has led the Packers offense to 31 points, ranking 27th in the NFL. Yet, Green Bay is 2-0. A home game against an alright Broncos defense will likely give Rodgers a chance at another low-scoring win.
Joe Flacco has done little to inspire faith in Denver’s chances this season, but I think the game could be close.
Packers win 18-13, Broncos win ATS
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (1.5)
One of the most even matchups of the week, with Jacoby Brissett and the Colts being slight 1.5 point favorites. Personally, I like the Falcons odds a little more, though I agree with having a tight spread.
The Colts have never been out of a game this season: they took the Chargers to overtime and edged out a 19-17 win over the Titans. At the same time, they’ve never taken a big lead or found drive-to-drive consistency on offense.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Colts win, I just think Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the Falcons offense is equipped to put up a few more points.
Falcons win 27-24, Falcons win ATS
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
The most electrifying matchup of the week: Lamar Jackon vs. Patrick Mahommes. Ravens vs. Chiefs.
Disclaimer: These kind of matchups have a history of failing to live up to the hype. But if we’re lucky, this game could be this season’s version of the Rams-Chiefs Game of the Year from last season.
Despite the chatter that it was just the Dolphins and Cardinals, Lamar Jackson is establishing himself as an elite NFL quarterback and making the Ravens a legitimate threat in the AFC. Their revamped defense will be the toughest that the Chiefs have faced this season.
Kansas City has been doing this longer though, scoring in flurries almost every game since last season. They’re the favorites for a reason, and should thrive in their first home game of the season. Still hoping Jackson and Mahommes go blow for blow and make this a game of whoever has the ball last.
Chiefs win 33-27, Ravens win ATS
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Line: Minnesota Vikings (-8.5)
Despite having the same record, Vegas sees the Vikings as solid favorites. I do see the Vikings as NFC North contenders, but I’ve also been impressed by the Raiders so far. Maybe impressed isn’t the right word, but I thought they’d be among the worst teams in the NFL. They’ve exceeded my personal expectations, with a win and “only” an 18-point loss to the Chiefs.
I’m not sure why I’m leading with this with Raiders praise though, as I’m still going with the Vikings. Kirk Cousins might not deserve to be the highest-paid QB in the NFL, but he’s better than people are currently giving him credit for. Minnesota gets back on track with a decisive win.
Vikings win 27-13, Vikings win ATS
Detroit Lions (1-0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
The Detroit Lions haven’t lost any football games yet this season. The Philadelphia Eagles have.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles had the chance to down the Atlanta Falcons on the road, but came up just short while trying to match Julio Jones late-game heroics. The Eagles have shown flashes of brilliance, but have hardly been consistent. They found themselves down 17-0 to the Redskins before roaring back to victory.
I figured Detroit’s last matchup would be a shootout with Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Instead, Matt Stafford led a game-winning to win 13-10.
This should be a tight matchup, and I think people are sleeping on the Lions. I’m going with Detroit in an upset. Wentz has another up and down game, and the absence of Desean Jackson hurts Philadelphia’s offensive depth.
Lions win 20-17, Lions win ATS
New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
After two embarrassing offensive outputs, the Giants have decided to pull the trigger early to try and save their season. Rookie Daniel Jones faces a challenge against an experienced Tampa Bay defense.
My gut is saying the football Gods smile on Jones, and New York gets some lucky plays and poor play from Jameis Winston, a recipe that could lead to a victory.
But after last week’s beatdown by the Buffalo Bills, I’m not ready to pick the Giants to win until they show me that they can. I’m not super high on the Buccaneers overall, but they handle the rookie quarterback at home.
Buccaneers win 23-16, Buccaneers win ATS
Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Line: No Line
Vegas is withholding a line for this game as quarterback Cam Newton is questionable with a foot injury. Their backup is Kyle Allen, a second year player out of Houston
If Cam can go, this is still a pretty even matchup. If Allen is forced to start, I would give Kyler Murray the edge in his 3rd NFL start (it would be Allen’s 2nd.)
Carolina is desperate for a win, but with or without Newton, they may struggle to find it in Arizona.
Cardinals win 17-13 (Subject to change)
Houston Texans (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Line: Los Angles Chargers (-3.5)
The Texans want to be a great team this year, but they still have a ways to go. After their defense blew a lead in the final minute to the Saints, Houston bounced back with the narrowest of wins in Week 2 (13-12 over the Jaguars.)
Deshaun Watson will keep them in most games, and the Chargers defense isn’t as stout as the Jacksonville squad they only mustered 13 points against. But the Texans defense also leaves a lot to be desired. Houston could be 2-0 if not for the sloppy play at the end of the Saints game.
I think the defense struggles again and Rivers puts up some points at home. It should be a fun game: unless you’re a Texans fan, because I see them falling to 1-2.
Chargers win 30-27, Texans win ATS
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Line: San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
The San Francisco 49ers are going to start 3-0, with wins over the Bengals, Buccaneers, and a Steelers squad without their franchise quarterback.
It’s not the 49ers fault they’ve had a relatively soft schedule. Jimmy Garroppolo has looked great, and has improved his record to 10-2 as an NFL starter. He should be able to roll over a Steelers defense allowing 30.5 PPG.
Mason Rudolph wasn’t bad in relief of Big Ben last week, but the 49ers defense hangs strong at home.
49ers win 27-13, 49ers win ATS
New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-4.0)
I’m surprised the Seahawks are only four point favorites here. Seattle is one of the toughest places in the league to play, and a dome team is coming in with their backup quarterback(s) (Bridgewater and Taysom Hill are expected to both see the field.)
To be fair, Seattle is a relatively weak 2-0, beating the Bengals by 1 point and the Steelers by 2 points for just a +3 point differential on the season. But I trust Russel Wilson, and the Seattle defense, to carry the team to 3-0 with a home win. Bridgewater, perhaps the best backup quarterback in the league, will keep the game close, but won’t be able to pull off a road upset.
Seahawks win 24-17, Seahawks win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-3.0)
Odell Beckham Jr. lit up the Jets defense last Monday night, highlighted by an 89-yard reception to put the game away in the third quarter. But let’s say that play didn’t happen, and the Browns failed to score on that drive. Then they could’ve finished the game with 16 points, just a slight improvement over their 13 point output in Week 1.
The Brown were the beneficiary of playing a depleted Jets squad on Monday Night Football. They may not fare so well in their second straight primetime game: this one against the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams.
Though 2-0, this Rams season doesn’t have Super Bowl appearance written on it quite yet. They narrowly handled the Carolina Panthers and then beat the New Orleans Saints after knocking out Drew Brees in the first quarter.
Still, the Rams offense will put up at least 20-30 points, and their defense could give the Browns more resistance than they faced Monday Night. OBJ doesn’t repeat his electric performance, and the Browns find themselves without a winning record for yet another week.
Rams win 28-20, Rams win ATS
Monday Night Football
Chicago Bears (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)
Line: Chicago Bears (-4.0)
The Bears offense is desperate for a spark, as their 9.5 points per game ranks 30th in the NFL. Luckily for Chicago, only the Dolphins have allowed more points than the Redskins this season (63 points allowed, tied with Giants for 2nd-most in the NFL.)
Washington isn’t in the same garbage pile as the Dolphins and Giants: their offense is a bit more competent and their defense has flashes of success. But they’ve been unable to compete for four quarters over their first two games.
Chicago’s defense, on the other hand, has played hard from kickoff to the final whistle. They limited Aaron Rodgers to 10 points and Joe Flacco to 14 points, earning them the 3rd-best scoring defense in the NFL so far.
I think Mitch Trubisky can break 20 points for the first time this season, and bring the Bears to a confidence-boosting win that keeps them right in their NFC North race.
Bears win 23-13, Bears win ATS
Header photo credit: Acquired via Sky Sports.com
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