By Mike Crum
Dallas Cowboys Team Analyst and Co-Host of the Across The Cowboys Podcast
Pctions Week one is always one of the toughest weeks to predict games. Teams
Photo from PrintYourBrackets.com
Week one is always one of the toughest weeks to predict games. Teams have a full offseason to prepare and weird things often happen. So, starting out 12-4 is fantastic for me. Great start, but it won't matter if I put up a dud this week. Fingers crossed that I have another strong showing in week two.
Alright then, let’s get to my picks.
Cincinnati Bengals (CIN) at Cleveland Browns (CLE)
One of the most difficult things to do in the NFL is win a road game on a short week. I almost always pick against road teams in that situation. Add to that that the Browns got embarrassed just four days earlier in Baltimore and I think Cleveland gets a win on Thursday. I like both of these rosters, but Baker Mayfield and the Browns badly need this W, even this early in the season.
New York Giants (NYG) at Chicago Bears (CHI)
The Giants looked really poor on paper, and nothing from week one vs Pittsburgh changed my thoughts on that. If the Steelers' defense can shut the Giants' offense down, then the Bears defense should be able to do the same. Mitch Trubisky is coming in hot off that fourth quarter he played, coming back for a victory against the Detroit Lions. I expect them to win by double digits.
Los Angeles Rams (LAR) at Philadelphia Eagles (PHI)
I’d love to go with the Rams here vs the Eagles, especially after the Rams beat my Dallas Cowboys last week, but I can’t. The Eagles' front four are built to attack what the Rams do well. The Rams' running game should be much less successful and that will lead to a less effective play action passing game. On the other side of the ball, Wentz gave away the game against Washington last week with awful turnovers. He will be prepared to make up for it this week. I believe the Eagles have an offense that can attack the Rams' weaknesses. Jalen Ramsey is wasted outside on the wide receiver (WR) position because the Eagles will attack the Rams' linebackers with their two excellent tight ends and their running backs out of the backfield.
Atlanta Falcons (ATL) at Dallas Cowboys (DAL)
The Falcons defense isn’t built to stop the Cowboys offense. Whether it’s through the air or the ground game, Dallas should control this game the way Rams did to them on Sunday night. Yes, I’m worried about the Falcons passing game, but I believe the Cowboys defense is set up to stop a Falcons-style offense better than the Rams style they faced week one. The Falcons like more deep drop backs, attacking with their great WRs, but this opens up plenty of pass rushing opportunities for Cowboys. I expect the Cowboys to create a couple of turnovers and to get enough stops to win this game by more than a touchdown. If the Falcons can get Gurley working up the middle and keep possessions down for Dallas' offense maybe I’ll be wrong, but that’s not Gurley's style so I’d have to see it first. Matt Ryan has never started a season 0-2, but I think that changes this week. The Cowboys need this win with a trip to Seattle upcoming, and I believe they improve to 1-1 this week.
Carolina Panthers (CAR) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB)
I’ll make this quick. Tom Brady will bounce back, the Panthers certainly aren’t the New Orleans Saints, and if the Bucs lose this one they will be in trouble already. Tampa by a comfortable amount.
San Francisco 49ers (SF) at New York Jets (NYJ)
Ok so going into the season I saw the 49ers winning a close division game in week one against Arizona, while the Jets, I figured, would get blown out by the Buffalo Bills. Then I thought that the 49ers, having to travel across the country in week two, might get shocked by the Jets. Not now though. After the 49ers suffered that tough loss to the Cardinals last week, the Jets are about to get a beat down. The 49ers are going to overwhelm them.
Denver Broncos (DEN) at Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT)
The Steelers defense looks to be championship level, Ben Roethlisberger looks to be back in good form, and the Steelers have weapons all over the place. Even backup RB Benny Snell went for 100 yards on the ground. The Steelers are going to be a problem. Drew Lock will certainly have issues in this game, which means Pittsburgh is going to win by a couple scores.
Jacksonville Jaguars (JAX) at Tennessee Titans (TEN)
I expected the Jags to get run over by the Indianapolis Colts last week, and boy was I wrong. Similarly, I thought the Titans would look better in week one and they didn’t either. That said, I still expect the Titans to beat the Jags rather easily. I will look at Jacksonville differently if they pull another upset, but until then I’m not picking them.
Detroit Lions (DET) at Green Bay Packers (GB)
Man, the Packers looked really good on Sunday up against a division rival, and the Lions defense blew a game to Mitch Trubiski last week, so this one isn’t too difficult for me. Aaron Rodgers should have another “burn the league down” performance, as he is clearly still motivated by his team selecting Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. I don’t see Matt Stafford being able to keep up, so Green Bay wins in a shootout. However, if the Lions could pull off the upset here, I think that would tell us that the Packers might actually be a more mediocre team in 2020. That may be true by the end of the season, but I’m still taking GB here.
Buffalo Bills (BUF) at Miami Dolphins (MIA)
If I had any guts I’d pick an upset here for Miami. Their defense has the ability to shut this Bills offense down. If they had a certain rookie playing quarterback for them this weekend I might’ve done it, too. I just think Ryan Fitzpatrick will give the Bills defense a couple turnovers and eventually Josh Allen will break through to score on this Dolphins defense. The turnover battle will tell the story of this game, so I'm going with the favorite on the road.
Minnesota Vikings (MIN) at Indianapolis Colts (IND)
Another “pick em” game. I can see this game playing out as a win for either team rather easily. Both are coming off week one losses in division home games. Both defenses drastically underwhelmed. Philip Rivers terrifies me against those Minnesota safeties, but I’m going chalk with the home team for a second straight game, this time with the home team. Lean more on your offensive line, Indy, and Jonathan Taylor and the run game as well. Win the time of possession battle, don’t turn the ball over, and you have a good chance at a tough win. I'm not super confident here, but I'm still taking the home team.
Washington Football Team (WAS) at Arizona Cardinals (ARZ)
Both teams are coming off division upset wins, but this game is tougher than it seems on paper. The match up of Washington’s defensive line (DL) versus Arizona's offensive line (OL) could wreck this game, as it did against the Eagles last week. I would not be surprised if Washington puts up points on this Cardinals defense, but I’m going to show some early support for Arizona and say they handle their business this week. As good as the Washington DL is, I think Arizona’s weapons, along with Kyler Murray’s ability to move around, will get them some big plays versus a suspect secondary. Arizona will get a turnover, maybe more, and get the win.
Baltimore Ravens (BAL) at Houston Texans (HOU)
This was a tough one. It took me a while to come to this decision. The Texans played on opening night, so they got some extra rest and time to prepare for the Ravens. I’m an enormous fan of Deshaun Watson and I really want to pick him in this game, but the Ravens are just so loaded. The mix of no star/go-to WR, along with the OL problems that always exist for the Texans, and I think Baltimore will be able to contain the Texans offense. On the other side of the ball, I don’t know if any team can contain the Ravens attack. They have a complete weapon at QB, two serviceable running backs, a great TE, and big play WRs. Tough to deal with. Watson will make plays like he always does to try and make it competitive, but the Ravens are simply too potent, so they'll chalk up another win.
Kansas City Chiefs (KC) at Los Angeles Chargers (LAC)
I’d be really excited about this matchup if Andy Reid wasn’t getting ten days to prepare. Yes, he is that good that any extra time is a big advantage for his team. He will have something ready for a really talented defensive unit the Chargers are bringing to the table. On the other end, I actually like Tyrod Taylor against this Chiefs defense. He won’t panic or force things that would put his talented defense in bad positions. If KC had the usual seven days worth of rest, I might pick the Chargers in an upset, but not with extra time for Reid. This will be a close division war which I believe will be much lower scoring than most people are expecting. (Hint: bet the under at 47.5.) I'm thinking we'll see a 24-21 type win for KC.
New England Patriots (NE) at Seattle Seahawks (SEA)
I hate this match up for New England. Not only do the Patriots have to go across the country, but the Seahawks have an offense made to exploit what Pats are now missing on defense due to their many COVID-19 opt outs. I think Russell Wilson will make plays on third down and a few times in the red zone, which means they'll pull out a close, low scoring game. If New England does somehow manage to win this game, it will most certainly mean that they are going to win that damn division again, because let's face it, Bill Belichick is just too damn good.
New Orleans Saints (NO) at Las Vegas Raiders (LVR)
This is one of those games where my gut says the Raiders are opening a new stadium, they have a lot of offensive firepower, the Saints have a multitude of injuries, and are coming off an emotional win vs their biggest division threat. Maybe this is a type of trap game which the Raiders might be able to steal. Unfortunately, the Saints are just way too stacked and I’m afraid to pick against them this early. The Raiders will bring a good game, but look for a high scoring, fun Monday Night Football game to finish the week. Nevertheless, the Saints remain undefeated.
Ok y'all, those are my week two picks. What do you think about this week's selections? Hit me up on Twitter(@cdpiglet) and let me know!
Week Two Pick Summary:
CLE over CIN
CHI over NYG
PHI over LAR
DAL over ATL
TB over CAR
SF over NYJ
PIT over DEN
TEN over JAX
GB over DET
BUF over MIA
IND over MIN
ARZ over WAS
BAL over HOU
KC over LAC
SEA over NE
NO over LVR
Across the Board Sports