2016 NFL Week 3 Bettor’s Guide


2016 NFL Week 3 Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
9.22.2016

An absolutely brutal week in Week 2, with several upsets and total letdowns from some teams. We can only hope to rebound in Week 3, but the NFL is a slippery game to handicap now more than ever. And Thursday Night’s game is not making that assertion any less true, as there are several machinations at play here.

Last Week:
SU: 7-9
ATS: 4-12

Season:
SU: 21-11
ATS: 16-16
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Week 3:
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: HOU +1
Over/Under: Under 39.5

Analysis:
Jacoby Brissett is making his first NFL start as a rookie, due to the injury to Jimmy Garappolo. Brissett played well against Florida State, but that’s college ball. New England’s system trumps New England’s players, so there won’t be that much of a drop off in play regardless of who plays the position. Brissett can also move well outside of the pocket. How well he can elude JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, however, is another story.

The Texans simply need to avoid turning over the football. This is far from a given with the way the Texans have played thus far this season. Brock Osweiler could have easily thrown three interceptions to Marcus Peters alone in Week 2 (had two). Texans can utilize Lamar Miller in the passing game as well as on the ground. Will Fuller has surpassed Jaelen Strong on the depth chart, and Braxton Miller is out. It will be interesting to watch DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins against Malcolm Butler and Fuller against Logan Ryan. This might be an ugly game, and definitely low-scoring, unless there are several turnovers, which could happen. No matter how good New England has been at home, and Bill’s propensity to sell out to stop the one thing a team likes to do best (get Hopkins the ball, in this instance), the Texans still have Fuller as a downfield threat and Miller underneath.

Rob Gronkowski will play, and Martellus Bennett will be out there in a number of two tight end sets, so the Patriots will try to stress the inside linebacking play of the Texans’ 3-4 defense, and force the safeties to come down quite often. If the Texans play nickel too often, the Patriots will counter with LeGarrette Blount on the ground. Houston’s been good against both the run and passing games, so it’s a tough call to pick a rookie in just his second NFL game to win here. Even at home.

Call:
Houston                   19
New England          13
FINAL
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Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
My Call: DEN +3
Over/Under: Over 41

Analysis:
This has been a good game in recent years, but with the way Denver’s defense is playing, and how Cincinnati struggled with Pittsburgh’s defense (which has been much better thus far this season over last), it will take a huge game by Jeremy Hill, and more of what Giovani Bernard did last week (9 receptions for 100 yards vs. PIT) to slow down Denver’s pass rush. We won’t be picking against Denver until given a legitimate reason, although the Bengals will be all over Siemian to start this game, we feel.

Call:
Denver                   24
Cincinnati             20
FINAL
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Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans
Nissan Stadium
Nashville, Tennessee
My Call: OAK +1.5
Over/Under: Over 46.5

Analysis:
The Titans must be licking their chops watching Ken Norton’s defense come to town. The Raider defense that faced a Matt Ryan-led team at home in Oakland, when Ryan often struggles on the road; and particularly out west. The Titans pass defense isn’t good enough to stop the Raiders’ passing attack, however.

Call:
Oakland                   26
Tennessee              23
FINAL
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Arizona Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bills
New Era Field
Orchard Park, New York
My Call: ARZ -3.5
Over/Under: Over 47

Analysis:
This is do or die time for Rex Ryan. If they win, he will get a one-week reprieve (and then be under the gun to beat a rookie 3rd string QB, who, if he loses to, may end his career in Buffalo). Either you believe the Bills’ “simplified” offense will be effective enough to allow whatever adjustments Rex makes over the asinine decision of playing straight man coverage all game against the Jets to take hold against Arizona.

Can’t see it happening, though, even at home in front of a desperate and raucous crowd.

Call:
Arizona                 31
Buffalo                 20
FINAL
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Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
EverBank Field
Jacksonville, Florida
My Call: JAX +1.5
Over/Under: Over 47

Analysis:
The Jaguars should finally play a good game for once… right? Baltimore has been anything but impressive in their 2-0 start, but Blake Bortles has regressed to rookie form, and that’s mind-boggling considering he has a complete arsenal of weapons on offense, and the best defense the Jaguars have had — at least on paper — in years.

Call:
Baltimore                   22
Jacksonville               27
FINAL
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Cleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
My Call: CLE +9.5
Over/Under: Over 42

Analysis:
Does anyone really care, first of all?

But if you do, the Browns may be bad, and on their third quarterback already through two games (at one point, went through all three in four quarters of football); however, why act as if the Fins are good enough to eat 9 1/2 points? Either the Browns will be in it all game until the end or they will backdoor cover in garbage time. Trap bet.

Call:
Cleveland                       20
Miami                             26
FINAL
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Washington Redskins vs. New York Football Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey
My Call: NYG -4.5
Over/Under: Over 45.5

Analysis:
Aside from all the supposed talk of where Josh Norman will line up in the secondary, the Redskins’ front seven is not good, which is of much  more vital importance to anything Norman says or does. Thus far, the Redskins entire secondary has been a sieve, and they are getting their biggest test yet with the Giants’ receiving corps coming to town. Pittsburgh only had Antonio Brown and a couple of very inexperienced receivers along with him (one, a rookie).

If the Giants finally take care of the football and avoid the mind-boggling turnovers  — they have played Kirk Cousins well even with poor defenses — they could make him look foolish on Week 3. However, the Giants never make what should be easy wins… easy. So be careful on that 4 and the hook.

Call:
Washington                      17
NY Giants                          31
FINAL
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Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field
Green Bay, Wisconsin
My Call: DET +7
Over/Under: Over 46

Analysis:
Much has been made of the Packers’ offensive issues, but those are fixable, and we may see evidence of that as early as this week against Detroit. The Lions have blown leads in both games thus far, and very well should have could have lost both. They also will be without Ezekiel Ansah, their best pass rusher. Detroit has a pretty deep defensive line, but David Bakhtiari isn’t the weak link that other teams’ left tackles are. Matthew Stafford has to value the ball better.

Then again, so does Aaron Rodgers.

Call:
Detroit                     24
Green Bay               26
FINAL
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Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
My Call: MIN +7
Over/Under: Over 43

Analysis:
The Vikes do not have Adrian Peterson and several other players (Sharrif Floyd for sure, and likely Xavier Rhodes, to say the least), but with all the rioting taking place in Charlotte, there is no way the NFL is passing on the revenue of playing in Charlotte, so the game was almost certainly not going to be moved unless something catastrophic occurs between now and Sunday morning. Stay tuned.

As for football, the Vikes don’t need to run the ball in superior fashion to match up with Carolina. In fact, the Panthers’ pass defense has been leaky thus far this season. San Francisco was in that game — only down 7 with 6 minutes left, before the bottom fell out — Carolina had trouble with Denver’s defensive front, and the Vikings’ is just as good. This game will be closer than some think.

Call:
Minnesota                     25
Carolina                         20
FINAL

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San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field
Seattle, Washington
My Call: SF +9.5
Over/Under: Over 40

Analysis:
Why is SF getting this many points? SF scored almost three times as many points in one game as Seattle has managed in two thus far, and that’s with a pretty substandard 49er offense against two very good defenses. The Chip Kelly effect? Seattle hasn’t been imposing at all on defense; they have yet to force a turnover. Their offense is arguably the worst in the league. The Rams’ is scoring a few points per game (through two games, not 10, we know…) less, but they have a handicap. Seattle’s handicap isn’t a lack of weapons or a CFL quarterback. They have one of the best QBs in the NFL and several skilled weapons, but the offensive line has been a turnstile with injuries causing players to be juggled in at key positions — most notably, Russell Wilson’s blind side at left tackle. We will take Seattle to win, but 9 and the hook? San Francisco is more likely than not to cover that.

Call:
San Francisco                     17
Seattle                                  24
FINAL

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Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, Florida
My Call: TB -5.5
Over/Under: Under 42

Analysis:
The Rams got their win in their amped up home opener. Their inspired play was expected. This is a rematch of last year’s late-season Thursday Night Football matchup when the Bucs made Case Keenum look like Roman Gabriel.

Being back at home should — SHOULD — help Tampa’s play, as they looked as they never got off the bus in Arizona; the entire team, minus Jameis Winston. Do not expect a repeat against a much less lethal offense.

Call:
Los Angeles                   13
Tampa Bay                    23
FINAL
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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My Call: PIT -3.5
Over/Under: Over 46

Analysis:
The Steelers defense is much better thus far this season, which is key. Carson Wentz has faced the two worst teams in the NFL, and has looked decent (far from great vs. CHI, despite the pundits’ constant heaping on of superlatives). The Eagles defense is good, but not enough to slow down the Roethlisberger-Brown connection.

Call:
Pittsburgh                    34
Philadelphia                24
FINAL
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New York Jets vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri
My Call: KC -3
Over/Under: Under 42

Analysis:
Yuck. Maybe the Jets can get some things done in short, but this has all the makings of a vintage Ryan Fitzpatrick shitfest.

Call:
NY Jets                          10
Kansas City                 16
FINAL
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San Diego Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, Indiana
My Call: SD +2.5
Over/Under: Over 51

Analysis:
Do not allow the aberration that was the Bolts’ showing vs. Jacksonville reel you in, San Diego is as enigmatic as any team out there. The minute you begin to gain confidence in them for betting purposes, they play completely opposite. To the team’s credit, they’ve been very good offensively, even with starting receivers and backs dropping like flies every week, and their defense has been surprisingly good (and this is without Square [suspension] and Bosa). No one has an excuse here. The Bolts are without three of their best offensive players, the Colts are without three of their best defensive players, although they may get two of them back for this game.

Call:
San Diego                 29
Indianapolis            24
FINAL
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Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: DAL -7
Over/Under: Under 44.5

Analysis:
The Bears MIGHT be the worst team in the NFL. It’s arguable. Dallas will win this game and give their league-worst fans (tied with New England) false hope.

Call:
Chicago                      6
Dallas                        23
FINAL
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Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: ATL +3
Over/Under: Over 53.5

Analysis:
The Saints are the most disparate team in the NFL home vs. away. They played their typical, low-octane offensive game on the road in East Rutherford last week, and will be back to their home confines for this rivalry match up with the Falcons this week. The Falcons may have gained some confidence in Oakland, and we know the Saints are down both their starting cornerbacks. The Falcons SHOULD win this game, but Matt Ryan has either been very good or very bad against the Saints. There’s literally no in-between.

Call:
Atlanta                         37
New Orleans               31
FINAL
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2016 NFL Week 2: “What We Know”


2016 NFL Week 2: “What We Know”
M.D. Wright
9.21.2016

After Week 2, we have learned a few things, and we were reminded of several others. As we embark on Week 3 on Thursday, here is what we know after Week 2:

— Rex Ryan’s career in Buffalo is on life support. In fact, he scapegoated offensive coordinator Greg Roman (who was admittedly putrid both in Buffalo and San Francisco with his game plans), but if the Bills do not show well against Arizona, or get blown out — a distinct possibility — Rex may not even make it to Week 4 in Foxborough.

— Can you imagine if somehow Rex DOES get to Week 4 and Jacoby Brissett starts and beats Buffalo? How do you defend Rex if THAT happens?

— The Jets had what will be their season-best offensive performance in Buffalo. Their defense will be a constant (along with Darrelle Revis getting beat deep if his safety help is not there), but will Ryan Fitzpatrick passing for nearly 400 yards?

— Matt Forte is going to get run into the ground this season. On pace for 500 touches this year.

— Eli Manning should have easily had nearly 500 yards passing and three or four touchdowns against the Saints. The Saints weren’t at home, therefore expectations of them matching what should have been a 37-41 point game by the Giants were off-base to begin with.

— Sterling Shepard is in the catbird seat for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he’s not running away with it. Yet.

— The Giants came into the season with a mantra of “Take Care of the Duke” (Wellington “Duke” Mara, late Giants owner has his name embedded on every NFL football), but they’ve done everything but since preseason began. It is really the only reason they’re not scoring 35 PPG.

— Godspeed to PJ Williams (from). He dodged serious injury, but is heading to injured reserve as a result of the impact of the play against the Giants.

— DeAngelo Williams can rush for 150 or grind out 94 on 32 carries. Either way, he has held the fort nicely for Le’Veon Bell.

— Only the Lions invent ways to blow games the way they have.

— Marvin Jones.

— Wait, the Browns found an even more unbelievable way to blow a lead and lose a game.

— Now everyone is injured for the Browns. Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon has warrants out on his name, and Terrelle Pryor — he who was brought into the NFL as a QB, with the Browns, no less — went to Oakland, then Cincinnati, then back to Cleveland (as a WR), and now the Browns have no QB with any NFL experience and Pryor’s the only WR with any real ability. Irony.

— Isaiah Crowell.

— Kirk Cousins does not like Pierre Garçon spouting off to the media behind his back, we are sure.

— Cam Newton better not let his play on the field slip, because the things he says OFF the field are enough to get put into the supplemental racial draft.

— Fozzy Whittaker. WAKA WAKA WAKA.

— G-Reg Olsen notched his career-long reception of 77 yards against San Francisco on Sunday.

— How bad are the Dolphins? It’s bad enough they allowed a backup QB carve them up, but still ran out of time coming back against the backup’s backup.

— Jarvis Landry: Captain of 2016’s Professional Sports Big Numbers on a Bad Team All-Stars.

— Will Fuller.

— The Seabags have major issues along their offensive line, and it is affecting every aspect of the team.

— Weekly Post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_iH4XatU3E

— Tampa Bay may as well have stayed home. Only Jameis Winston came to play on either side of the ball. Including former all-world college kicker, Roberto Aguayo.

— Gus Bradley’s in the same boat as Rex Ryan.

— Phillip Rivers, unlike system-QB Tom Brady, gets it done with FAR LESS.

— What is the deal with Ken Norton’s defense? Not quite time to freak out (2007 Giants started out similarly; actually WORSE), but this team should be much better, with or without Mario Edwards, Jr. Karl Joseph will finally get the start that he deserves at safety.

— Von Miller.

— Andrew Luck gets a pass for bad play most of the time, but somehow he is the only one who plays consistently decent against the Broncos’ vaunted defense.

— Sam Bradford?

— Pump the brakes on the Carson Wentz train. Let’s see what happens in Week 3.

— Jay Cutler owes it to everyone involved with the Chicago Bears from ownership, to the front office, coaches and fans to repay the organization every dime he has been paid.

2016 NFL Week 3 Powre Rankings


2016 NFL Week 3 Powre Rankings
M.D. Wright
9.20.2016

The rankings are going to get a massive shakeup after Week 2’s games. This shakeup is not about Overreaction Monday or a prediction of where teams will ultimately finish, of course. However, some teams showed so poorly during Week 2 that it must reflect in the rankings.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0).
So many people are automatically putting the Patriots in the Super Bowl (for some strange reason), but the Steelers (along with Denver [both are teams that]) can beat them with their style of play. Just imagine if Martavis Bryant could lay off the weed? But they will get Le’Veon Bell back after Week 3, he who is only the best RB in the NFL.

2. Denver Broncos (2-0).
The B-men MIGHT be better than they were last year. DeMarcus Ware’s injury isn’t all that big of a deal, as they have Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett waiting in the stead. Trevor Siemian hasn’t been staggeringly good — although he has not been bad, either — nor does Denver need him to be. Denver did not have stellar QB play at any point last season. Now they have a consistent, unquestioned bell cow at RB with CJ Anderson, and it is paying dividends.

3. Minnesota Vikings (2-0).
Losing Adrian Peterson (although presumably not for season) may set them back slightly, but if they can protect Sam Bradford, the Vikes will be fine. They need to get Xavier Rhodes and Shariff Floyd back in order to further bolster their defensive depth.

4. Houston Texans (2-0).
Houston’s defense is top notch, now they have an offense to go along with it. Although we did not really see that in Week 2, they have several weapons now, instead of one like last season.

5. New York Football Giants (2-0).
The Giants spent nearly a quarter billion dollars in total contracts in order to bolster their league-worst/all-time team worst defense from 2015, and in 2016, no one has been able to run the football on them. Only Green Bay and Seattle have stuffed the run better to this point. This was expected going into training camp, manifested in preseason and continues thus far. The issue has been the offense, which has not hit its stride (and has too many turnovers), but once the team finds a groove, the Giants will arguably be among the top three offenses in the NFC.

6. New England Patriots (2-0).
A plug-and-play system; such as the one the Patriots feature, speaks to the magnificence of the head coach and offensive coordinator over players. This cannot be emphasized enough.

7. Arizona Cardinals (1-1).
The Cards simply didn’t show up Week 1 prepared to play. That was not the case against the Tampa Bay team, which was discombobulated in every single facet of the game.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1).
Cincinnati is gonna play in a lot of dogfights this season. More times than not, they will come out on the positive end.

Until the playoffs, then it is wait-and-see.

9. Carolina Panthers (1-1).
They aren’t as good defensively. They’re opportunistic, but giving up 27 to a Blaine Gabbert-led team — and a game that was a one-score game until the final five minutes of the 4th quarter; thereby distorting how close the game was before Gabbert turned it over at will in comeback mode after Carolina made it 41-27.

10. Green Bay Packers (1-1).
Michael Lombardi made a salient point about the Packers’ offense lacking tendencies (although they do have tendencies; just that it is a tendency to LACK a tendency), and they are pretty easy to defend with most of the looks they provide offensively. Additionally, Lombardi says the Packers’ system favors players over plays, and when too much emphasis is placed upon Aaron Rodgers’ offensive weapons to win their routes (or run effectively, in the case of Eddie Lacy). When they don’t Rodgers is overthinking it in the pocket, leading to some of the struggles the Packers have seen from their offense. It is fixable, however.

11. Seattle Seahawks (1-1).
Darrell Bevell’s at it again, huh? Every season the Seahawks seem to look like 11 guys who just met each other at SeaTac International just before kickoff. To only muster 3 points against a Rams team with an enigmatic defense, and little to no diversity in playcalling is an abomination. The defense is fine, 2nd best in the NFC against the run, but this has been an all-too-common theme for Seattle in the past few seasons.

12. Baltimore Ravens (2-0).
Least impressive 2-0 team, but wins are wins.

13. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1).
The Chiefs aren’t ever going to win anything of substance when they refuse to consistently attempt to pass the ball downfield.

14. New York Jets (1-1).
The Jets got back on track with an obliteration of Rex Ryan’s leaky defense. No one’s really worried about the Jets defensively, or their skill players; although Brandon Marshall may not play in Week 3 with what initially appeared to be a gruesome knee injury. He says he’s fine, but will likely be a gametime decision. The Jets’ fate is all tied to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s ability to avoid choking when the chips are at the middle of the table.

15. Atlanta Falcons (1-1).
This game was more about what the Raiders didn’t do (two vintage tipped passes off Matt Ryan, one resulting in a touchdown, instead of both ending up as Raiders interceptions) and less about what the Falcons did.

16. Oakland Raiders (1-1).
Ken Norton’s defense has major issues. Yes, they are without Mario Edwards, but he’s not the reason they’re getting pushed around and gashed on the back end.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1).
An outlier game. Blowouts aren’t indicative of much, unless they are a regular occurrence. All this game showed is that Tampa is not quite ready to roll with the big dogs. They could be by season’s end, but not now.

18. Detroit Lions (1-1).
Only the Lions find ways to lose games the way they did to Tennessee.

19. Philadelphia (2-0).
The Wentz hype train needs to sit in between stations for a while, like the Morris & Essex line does between Newark and Secaucus until the Eagles actually play an NFL team.

20. San Francisco 49ers (1-1).
How is this team averaging 27.5 points per game?

21. San Diego Chargers (1-1).
The Chargers seem to lose a guy for the season every week (and since Week 3 of the preseason, they actually HAVE), but managed to blow out the Jaguars like THAT? That speaks volumes about how Gus Bradley is not ready to be an NFL coach (12-38 record), more than the Bolts, who blew a lead to a team missing its best player on both sides of the ball.

22. St. Louis Rams (1-1).
We figured the Rams would be amped and ready to play against the team that they own (Seattle), but no one expected Seattle to look completely inept for an entire 60 minutes.

Then there’s this eternal gold nugget that occurred during that game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_iH4XatU3E

23. Dallas Cowboys (1-1).
Battle for the NFC East basement. The winner either way isn’t good.

24. Tennessee Titans (1-1).
The Titans still have a few holes to fill, but they were persistent enough to pull it off on the road in Detroit.

25. Miami Dolphins (0-2).
You knock “Jimmy G” out of the game and STILL lose?

26. New Orleans Saints (0-2).
The Saints still can’t score on the road. Now they are down both of their starting corners.

27. Indianapolis Colts (0-2).
Andrew Luck doesn’t have much in the name of an offensive line or defense, but he doesn’t escape blame — although many are determined to continue to give him passes. The entire organization is a joke from owner, general manager (personnel lacking) and execution on the field.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2).
Gus Bradley is squandering a ton of talent down in Jacksonville…

29. Washington Redskins (0-2).
Kirk Cousins has a chance to get off the 0-26 schneid in East Rutherford against the Giants. We cannot confirm, but almost certain the dissenter who is snaking Cousins to the media is Pierre Garçon. After seeing Garçon’s hissy fit on an end zone interception thrown by Cousins, it is not a far-off assumption.

Cousins has to find Garçon (and not the defenders covering him) if he expects to actually beat a winning team for once. Relying on Jordan Reed and a substandard running game (never mind the soft defense) hasn’t gotten it done for Washington thus far.

30. Buffalo Bills (0-2).
Rex Ryan is on a week-to-week watch  in terms of his job status from this point. If the Bills lose to the Cardinals, he may not even get a chance to travel to New England and get embarrassed yet again.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2).
The Browns aren’t ALL that bad. They’re very bad, but they have talent. It just doesn’t seem to ever be on the same page for more than a half during a game. At best. And this was the case in Week 2. A fantastic 1st half vs. Baltimore, before the bottom dropped out and the Browns blew a four score lead.

32. Chicago Bears (0-2).
What has John Fox gotten himself into. Mercy. Jay Cutler is Jay Cutler, that he has ridiculous turnovers, and is now injured, is no surprise. Danny Trevathan (who Foxy had before and recruited from Denver) is dealing with an injury, so is Lamarr Houston (out for season with an ACL), Eddie Goldman is out for a month, along with several other injuries. Of even more concern long-term, Kevin White looks slow. No one could run with him in college. He is noticeably two steps slower.

2016 NFL Week 2 Bettor’s Guide


2016 NFL Week 2 Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
9.15.2016

Let’s hope we do a better job this season with picks, which would be a reversal of a negative regression over the past three years. The NFL has become increasingly difficult to handicap from week to week, which is a good thing for viewers, but bad for bettors; particularly those who focus heavily on point spreads. Bad beats are more commonplace than ever, as a result. So far, we are off to a good start.

Last Week:
SU: 14-2
ATS: 12-4

Season:
SU: 14-2
ATS: 12-4
_________________________________________________________________

Week 2:
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Ralph Wilson Stadium
Orchard Park, New York
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

My Call: BUF -1
Over/Under: Under 40.5

Analysis:
I am not one to suggest “Buffalo has won five straight against the Jets” because that’s for the media to use as a storyline. In reality, a lot of the players who figured into those results are no longer with either team, so how is it relevant? However, the constants that are still in place for this week’s game include Ryan Fitzpatrick constantly struggling with Rex Ryan’s defenses over the years — including a must-win Week 17 game in 2015 for the Fitzpatrick-led Jets.

The Jets get Sheldon Richardson back for this game, and this was after the Jets dismantled a superior-to-the-Bills’ Bengals offensive line with seven sacks, numerous hurries and hits on Andy Dalton.

Tyrod Taylor was forced to stay in the pocket and make plays by Baltimore, and the Jets both have the personnel (and more) and likely the desire to do the same. Taylor failed his test against Baltimore, but Lesean McCoy is still a dangerous weapon. Sammy Watkins is going to give it a go on a sore foot (when he would probably otherwise sit out), so it is desperation time for both teams. The Jets have a gauntlet first six games of the season, and falling to 0-2 would put them squarely behind the proverbial 8-ball, as the division would almost already be out of the question, and two conference losses (and a division loss) would harm tiebreakers for wild card positioning late in the season. The same scenario exists for the Bills; with the added layer that Rex Ryan’s job is on the line this season. If he misses the playoffs, he’s gone, and he knows it.

Not that desperation and knowing that you are in a virtual must-win means you will pull it off, but expect late season intensity in this game. Rare for a Week 2 Thursday night game. Makes it an extremely tough call. Bank on the under, but avoid the spread unless you really feel one team will win. It’s not worth the risk.

Call:
NY Jets                      16
Buffalo                      19
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions
Ford Field
Detroit, Michigan
My Call: DET -6
Over/Under: Under 47.5

Analysis:
The retirement of Calvin Johnson has forced Matthew Stafford to utilize all of his weapons (and he has many) all over the field. The Lions are better off for it. They have played well since they shook up their assistant coaching staff midseason in 2015, going 6-2 since that time. The Titans can’t ever seem to get out of their way for four-quarters.

Call:
Tennessee                     13
Detroit                           23
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans
NRG Stadium
Houston, Texas
My Call: HOU -2.5
Over/Under: Over 43

Analysis:
This is one of those games where the Chiefs might wish they had Jamaal Charles. As it is, Spencer Ware was beaten up last week, after a highly productive day, but should play. The Chiefs missing Justin Houston is going to have an effect. The Texans have a plethora of options.

Call:
Kansas City                     20
Houston                           27
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
My Call: MIA +6.5
Over/Under: Over 42

Analysis:
Much has been made about Jimmy Garappolo leading the Patriots to a win in Glendale last week. The Dolphins, for their part — unlike Arizona — was ready to play in Week 1, and figure to be again in Week 2 in their personal house of horrors: Gillette Stadium, where they have not won in ages.

Ryan Tannehill’s performance is the chief determinant here, though. He’s beaten New England (albeit with starters resting with a playoff spot clinched and cemented) in Miami Gardens before, but your pick here is all about Tannehill. How much do you trust him?

Call:
Miami                   24
New England      20
FINAL
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Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio
My Call: BAL -6.5
Over/Under: Under 42

Analysis:
No one cares.

Call:
Baltimore                           19
Cleveland                            9
FINAL
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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
My Call: PIT -3.5
Over/Under: Over 48.5

Analysis:
This could be a shootout. Never mind the storylines with players hating each other. This is about handicapping. Pittsburgh usually has to work harder to score against the Bengals more than anyone, but the Steelers played decently well against the passing game on Monday night. That should be encouraging to bettors, as AJ Green comes to town fresh off destroying Darrelle Revis on Sunday.

For now, we feel as though the Steelers have a bit of an edge in the overall passing game. But not much. Tread lightly.

Call:
Cincinnati                     24
Pittsburgh                     30
FINAL
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Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
FedEx Field
Landover, Maryland
My Call: WSH -2.5
Over/Under: Under 45.5

Analysis:
Whether Washington plays majority zone or man to one side and zone to the other, they pretty much know that all they need to do is force Dak Prescott to his right and his completion percentage and accuracy drops significantly. Never mind the Josh Norman/Dez Bryant storyline, it will likely be a lot more of what we saw on Monday night. Dallas moves Bryant around. Norman moves; but not frequently. Bashaud Breeland has defended Bryant well enough man to man, even with Tony Romo at quarterback.

Call:
Dallas                       16
Washington           20
FINAL
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New Orleans Saints vs. New York Football Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey
My Call: NYG -5
Over/Under: Over 53

Analysis:
The Saints are a different team on the road. At home, they can score unlike almost anyone. On the road, things are a bit different. The holdovers from the team that last played the Giants in East Rutherford surely remember the dismantling that occurred at the hands of a fading Giants team that season. The Giants defense is better than it has been the past five or six meetings among these teams, so don’t expect a shootout per sé. The Saints may score, and particularly if the Giants are up multiple scores, as Drew Brees is the king of late game stat-padding (and backdoor covers, for handicapping purposes).

Call:
New Orleans                            23
NY Giants                                 34
FINAL


San Francisco 49ers vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
My Call: CAR -13.5
Over/Under: Under 45

Analysis:
The Niners will realize that the Panthers are not the Rams very quickly. For their part, SF played well defensively, despite the ineptitude of the Rams in Week 1. The Panthers led the league in offense last year, and figure to be better with Kelvin Benjamin back. Unlike Case Keenum, Cam Newton can actually get the ball to his receivers without ducking ghosts in the pocket.

Call:
San Francisco                                6
Carolina                                        27
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, Arizona
My Call: TB +6.5
Over/Under: Over 50

Analysis:
The NFL is a week-to-week league. Do not expect Arizona to play as poorly as they did in Week 1, with the unforced errors that they committed against New England. However, the Cards are actually facing a top notch QB with as many as, if not more, targets than they possess themselves. Should be a shootout, but Tampa should not be road dogs here.

Call:
Tampa Bay                        34
Arizona                              31
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, California
My Call: SEA -6.5
Over/Under: Under 38.5

Analysis:
Russell Wilson will likely play. No other analysis really needed here.

Call:
Seattle                                  23
Los Angeles                          3
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Denver, Colorado
AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK
My Call: IND +6
Over/Under: Under 46.5

Analysis:
For some reason, the Colts play well against the B-men. Maybe it is the shifty, quick twitch WRs the Colts employ. Maybe it is the gambling of Aqib Talib. Maybe it is the capability and willingness of Andrew Luck to stand in and hold the ball (sometimes too long) that enables him to make plays against this defense, whereas some teams struggle. However, the Colts beat Denver on the Colts’ home field last year, and aided by bonehead penalties by multiple Broncos late in the game, so let’s not read too much into last year’s game.

Call:
Indianapolis               17
Denver                         20
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Atlanta Falcons vs. Oakland Raiders
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Oakland, California
My Call: OAK -4.5
Over/Under: Over 49

Analysis:
The Falcons? With “Matty Ice” (the acme of nicknames among misnomers)? Traveling west?

Call:
Atlanta                            16
Oakland                          34
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers
Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego, California
My Call: JAX +3
Over/Under: Over 47

Analysis:
The Jags SHOULD win this game with relative ease. But that is why they play the games.

Call:
Jacksonville                        31
San Diego                            20
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
U.S. Bank Stadium
Minneapolis, Minnesota
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: MIN +2
Over/Under: Under 43

Analysis:
The Vikes have had the Packers’ number of late. But I would avoid this game at all costs. Not worth the risk in any aspect. The Vikes D will be all over the Packers offensive line and receivers. The Packers aren’t shabby on defense, either.

Call:
Green Bay                       19
Minnesota                      20
FINAL


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears
Soldier Field
Chicago, Illinois
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: CHI -3
Over/Under: Over 42.5

Analysis:
Other than these teams’ fans, who cares?

Call:
Philadelphia                   20
Chicago                            27
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

2016 NFL Week 2 Powre Rankings


2016 NFL Week 2 Powre Rankings
M.D. Wright
9.15.2016

Powre Rankings tend to get people in their feelings, as if they are a pronouncement and a portend of the season’s fortunes. We know that this is not the case. It is merely where we are in a given week. Within context. We do not jump to ridiculous conclusions one way or the other based upon one game. If we’re still looking at some of these teams doing similar things five or six weeks from now, then we may have to jump to those conclusions after all.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0).
Martavis Bryant is out for the season, but they will get Markus Wheaton back, and Le’Veon Bell after Week 3. Their offensive line is better than Dallas, without getting away with holding 30 times per game.

2. Seattle Seahawks (1-0).
Miami’s defense struggled in the preseason, which was a carryover from the 2015 season, but they stepped it up in Week 1 on the road in Seattle, limiting the Seahawks to 12 total points. Miami played much better than many expected, but the Steelers’ blowout win (albeit over a flimsy division champion) was more impressive.

3. Denver Broncos (1-0).
It is easy to wonder whether Trevor Siemian is just a coattail-rider or whether he can make the throws. He isn’t afraid to, we know that much. Whether he can all season (he was facing a very good defense vs. Carolina) remains to be seen, but they got the job done, and Siemian made the plays that mattered.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0).
Probably struggled more than some figured, but a win is a win.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0).
Jamaal Charles can take his sweet time recovering from his second torn ACL (as he should), the Chiefs are in good hands without him for now.

6. Green Bay Packers (1-0).
The Packers did just enough to win, Blake Bortles did just enough to lose.

7. Oakland Raiders (1-0).
The Raiders are better defensively than they showed in New Orleans (the Saints are a completely different team on the road, as we all know), and Ken Norton needs to tighten up his schemes, after hanging his corners out to dry in nonsensical coverages against two speedy receivers all game.

8. New England Patriots (1-0).
Pump the brakes on Garappolo praise. Please.

9. Minnesota Vikings (1-0).
The Vikes literally won the game against Tennessee with defense alone. Adrian Peterson was shut down, and Shaun Hill did not do much (although he did have 200+ yards passing).

10. New York Football Giants (1-0).
Dallas fans and media mouthpieces love to speak with qualifiers when it comes to Dallas falling short week to week. It’s always “if, if, if” yet “if” the game was officiated properly, the Giants likely beat Dallas going away.

11. Carolina Panthers (0-1).
No shame in losing to Denver, in Denver — regardless of the quarterback — but Cam Newton has to realize that he has more than Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen to work with in terms of downfield weapons. The Panthers’ offense was not nearly as diversified as it was in 2015 without Benjamin. At least in Week 1.

12. Houston Texans (1-0).
The Texans could end up being the best team in the AFC if all breaks right for them this season.

13. Baltimore Ravens (1-0).
Ugly wins still count as wins.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0).
Yes, the Falcons defense is middling at best, but Jameis Winston carved it up all game. Carolina’s league-best offense couldn’t in the two teams’ last meeting in 2015. The NFL is a week to week league and Tampa is definitely on the come up, now that they play a 21st century defense, unlike last season.

15. Arizona Cardinals (0-1).
Losing to an undermanned team is one thing. To be ill-prepared to play, having a major weakness at a critical position, and failing to adjust to what the other team is giving your offense is another. It’s called being outsmarted and outcoached.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1).
The Jags had every chance to win the game on Sunday and refused to take it.

17. New York Jets (0-1).
Same for the Jets. Brandon Marshall continues to drop critical passes in crunch time.

18. Detroit Lions (1-0).
The Lions blew a huge lead, even though they won. Wins are wins, but you do not get major credit when it comes to rankings for wins like that.

19. Miami Dolphins (0-1).
Almost. But again, critical drops are the theme in some of these teams’ losses. Kenny Stills had one such incident.

20. San Francisco 49ers (1-0).
Easily the least impressive 28-0 win in recent memory. A competent team actually blows out San Francisco with how they played on Monday night. That just reflects on how poorly the Rams were prepared (with weeks to do so) to play.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0).
The Browns.

22. Washington Redskins (0-1).
Kirk Cousin-led Redskins teams are now 0-26 against teams with +.500 records. There is a reason why the terms “de facto division champion” or “fluke season” is befitting of the 2015 Redskins. The Giants win 11 games (at least), and the division by at least two games if they don’t blow several games on the final drive.

23. Indianapolis Colts (0-1).
Stats. Please. I’m watching the game.

24. Atlanta Falcons (0-1).
Feverish comeback, but mostly because the Bucs let off the gas pedal offensively after garnering a big lead.

25. Chicago Bears (0-1).
Another year stuck in purgatory for the Bears with Jay Cutler at the helm.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-1).
The Saints can score at home. Not so much on the road. And can’t defend in any locale.

27. Tennessee Titans (0-1).
The Titans were doing well for a half, and then the bottom fell out, with mind-numbing plays by Marcus Mariota.

28. Buffalo Bills (0-1).
The Bills are already in desperation mode. One week into the season.

29. San Diego Chargers (0-1).
21-3 to losing in overtime is such a post-Marty Schottenheimer Bolts thing to do.

30. Dallas Cowboys (0-1).
Dallas has yet another QB who is a poor passer when flushed to his right. Shades of Brandon Weeden.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-1).
The only reason they are not #32 is because they actually scored points. Something the Rams could not muster.

32. Los Angeles Rams (0-1).
Goodness gracious sakes alive. How does Jeff Fisher retain his job having done nothing of note in this CENTURY?