Giants (1-1) @ Panthers (1-1)
Predicted Line: CAR by 1
Actual Line: NYG by 1
This is one of the biggest flip-a-coin games. It's the Giants first road game, and they are inexplicably better on the road than at home under Eli Manning, who is coming off a crazy 500+ yard game. Steve Smith is dealing with a sore knee but expected to play, while Ahmad Bradshaw is out with a neck injury. (Note: Nicks and Diehl are also out). With a hampered Smith, the Panthers offense might stall on passing downs. Usually I would take the home team for such a close spread, especially on a Thursday night, but since the Giants always play well on the road, and have the QB edge, I'll go Giants in a nail-biter, 26-23.
Lions (1-1) @ Titans (0-2)
Predicted Line: DET by 2.5
Actual Line: DET by 3.5
Excluding Cleveland, the Titans may be the worst team through two games. Chris Johnson has 21 yards on 19 carries, meaning he left off exactly where he was in 2011, and Jake Locker has struggled to move the chains on 3rd downs. When your $53 million dollar running back can't gain more than 37 inches per carry, the quarterback really has no chance, so I'm not bailing on Locker as a quality quarterback just yet.
The Titans' defense has been equally reprehensible, falling into an early 21-3 deficit against New England and then a 14-0 hole against the Chargers in the first quarter. Those are some good offenses, and the Titans' D doesn't have any good players, so it was to be expected ... but still.
It's a good matchup for Detroit, who needs a big win to get their confidence up. It certainly seems like the Lions should be able to win by more than a field goal ... but ... the Lions haven't exactly looked crisp. All it would take would be a couple big runs by Sonic and one long pass to Kenny Britt, and this game would be close. Locker can make plays with his legs, and he can buy time. Tennessee's receiving corps isn't one of the best, but against Detroit's feeble pass defense, guys like Kendall Wright and Jared Cook might have the best games of their seasons. I do like Detroit to get the win, but this game could very easily be close.
However, I'm going to be a homer (again) and say the Lions go up 14-0 early and hold on strong, 31-17.
Rams (1-1) @ Bears (1-1)
Predicted Line: CHI by 6.5
Actual Line: CHI by 8
A couple decent stats that are conflicting ...
Since 2001, the Rams are 20-34 ATS when playing on grass.
Jay Cutler is 32-48 ATS overall.
I guess the real question is, how will Jay Cutler respond to one of the worst games ever played by an NFL quarterback? And how will the Rams play coming off a huge back-and-forth win? Sam Bradford played his best game in a long time last week.
I'm liking what Jeff Fisher has done to make the Rams competitive, and I like the Finnegan-Marshall matchup in St. Louis's favor ... so I guess I'll take the points. Maybe Bradford can keep it rolling a little bit. Bears 30-24.
Bills (1-1) @ Browns (0-2)
Predicted Line: BUF by 3.5
Actual Line: BUF by 3
Driving home from Ohio last weekend, I was able to catch most of the Bengals-Browns on the radio. From that game, a few things were apparent about Cleveland:
-Trent Richardson is awesome.
-Brandon Weeden is not.
-The Browns defense without Joe Haden is just despicable.
Since Haden is still out, I'm going to take my chance with the Bills +4. Buffalo 27-20.
Bucs (1-1) @ Cowboys (1-1)
Predicted Line: DAL by 6.5
Actual Line: DAL by 7
I never like to lay more than a touchdown with a team as inconsistent as the Cowboys. But what the heck. Total talent mismatch. Dallas 34-23.
Jaguars (0-2) @ Colts (1-1)
Predicted Line: IND by 3.5
Actual Line: IND by 3
Blaine Gabbert is questionable with some sort of hamstring malady, but if Chad Henne starts, the line should be about the same. After all, Gabbert threw for 53 yards last week and didn't convert a single third down. So Henne can't possibly be a downgrade.
Luck looked really solid in his first home game last week, completing 20 passes and utilizing Donnie Avery along with Reggie Wayne to pick apart the Vikings D. He should be able to keep it rolling against a lackluster Jags secondary. On the other side, Jones-Drew should be able to move the ball, but 8 or 9 Colts in the box will force the Jags to throw eventually. I like Indy's chances with the points. Colts 23-17.
Jets (1-1) @ Dolphins (1-1)
Predicted Line: NYJ by 3
Actual Line: NYJ by 3
Miami doesn't have any NFL caliber receivers, but nonetheless it would still be helpful for the Jets if they can get Darrelle Revis back on the field. He's still questionable with concussion symptoms, and without him, the Jets defense is really unspectacular.
Miami is coming off a surprising beatdown of the Raiders, with Reggie Bush looking like a legit former #2 overall pick, rushing for 172 yards and 2 scores. Here's a preposterous stat for you: in his first 76 NFL games, Reggie rushed for 100+ yards just 2 times; in his last 6 games, he's gone over 100 yards 5 times, averaging 126 yards per game in those contents. Did we all miss something -- is Bush suddenly a top 10 fantasy running back in Miami, after years of being afraid to run through the tackles? I sure hope not. But I'm extremely confused as to how this is happening.
With Sanchez and Tannehill doing battle, I'm not expecting a whole lot of points, and since Miami has the better O-line, better D-line, and homefield advantage, I guess I'll take the 3 points. How bout Jets 17-16.
49ers (2-0) @ Vikings (1-1)
Predicted Line: SF by 8
Actual Line: SF by 7.5
San Fran sits comfortably atop the Power Rankings on just about everybody's list. Minnesota is rebuilding. So obviously, I'm taking the favorite, right? .... Well, no. I have a problem about laying 8 points with Alex Smith on the road. It seems too weird. Plus, the Vikes do have Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen ... so I will say 49ers win by just 4, 20-16.
Chiefs (0-2) @ Saints (0-2)
Predicted Line: NO by 7
Actual Line: NO by 9
Both teams allowed 40 points in opening day losses at home, and then both teams went on the road and allowed 35 points in week two. Weird. The Saints have actually been scoring points, unlike the Chiefs, but neither team has looked sharp.
The Chiefs are pretty stacked with talent on defense, but I'm taking Brees at home to get the win. But since it's a total desperation game for KC, I think they'll keep it within 9. Saints 33-27.
Bengals (1-1) @ Redskins (1-1)
Predicted Line: WAS by 3
Actual Line: WAS by 4
Driving home from Ohio last weekend, I was able to catch most of the Bengals-Browns on the radio. From that game, a few things were apparent about Cincinnati:
-AJ Green is a beast.
-Andy Dalton ... not that impressive.
-The Bengals secondary really struggles.
The losses of Orakpo and Carriker need to be taken into account ... Cincy should have plenty of time to throw the ball, and BJGE should have plenty of running room. But I still think RG3 is able to outscore them in his first NFL home game. Skins 30-23. Man, I hate siding with Mike Shanahan.
Eagles (2-0) @ Cardinals(2-0)
Predicted Line: PHI by 3.5
Actual Line: PHI by 4
I've heard this described several times as "The Kevin Kolb Revenge Game!!!!!!!"
Which made me wonder .... why does Kevin Kolb want revenge? Because the Eagles drafted him in the early 2nd round, benched McNabb for him on multiple occasions, started him when McNabb was hurt, then traded McNabb so he could be their guy ... but when Kolb's concussion jumpstarted the Michael Vick Redemption Story, the Eagles had no choice but to trade him ... and they were offered 180 cents on the dollar for him, so they gave him to a team that desperately wanted to make him their franchise QB, and then that team immediately gave him a $62 million dollar contract. Yeah, he must be pissed at the Eagles for making his dreams come true and helping him become obscenely wealthy.
Instead, let's call this the "Eagles Are So Glad They Traded Kevin Kolb!!!" game.
Philly by 13. No way Arizona goes 3-0.
Falcons (2-0) @ Chargers (2-0)
Predicted Line: SD by 1
Actual Line: SD by 3
I think the return of Ryan Matthews proves to be a big deal. Matt Ryan struggles on the road, and he struggles even more on grass. Chargers in a big statement game, 34-23.
Texans (2-0) @ Broncos (1-1)
Predicted Line: HOU by 1
Actual Line: HOU by 3
Assuming he doesn't have another 3-INT first quarter, it will be interesting to see how Peyton is able to execute the no-huddle against the ferocious Texans' defense. I'm not going against him, at home, with 3 points. I'll say Broncos win straight-up, 30-29.
Steelers (1-1) @ Raiders (0-2)
Predicted Line: PIT by 6
Actual Line: PIT by 4.5
Steelers rarely lose the week before their bye, so I'm not worried about the long cross-country trip. Oakland might be able to move the ball a little, but their D won't be able to slow down the trio of speedy receivers that Pittsburgh has. Big day for Ben. PIT 35-21.
Patriots (1-1) @ Ravens (1-1)
Predicted Line: BAL by 2.5
Actual Line: BAL by 3
I always like taking the points with elite QBs. I actually like the Pats straight-up, though I'm very torn. Hernandez's injury is huge, but Brady will figure something out. Patriots 27-24.
Packers (1-1) @ Seahawks (1-1)
Predicted Line: GB by 4
Actual Line: GB by 3.5
Seattle's homefield is good, Aaron Rodgers is better. I'm taking the Pack big - 31-13.
That's all I got ... GO LIONS.