Week 2 saw some injuries to teams’ key players, including Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo. With a short week leading into their Thursday night matchup with the Texans, the Patriots are turning to rookie third-string QB Jacoby Brissett to hold down the fort until QB Tom Brady returns from his Deflategate suspension following Week 4. In other notable games coming up this week, the Packers look to bounce back from a Week 2 loss to the Vikings when they play the Lions at home, and the Steelers head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in a battle of undefeated in-state rivals. I went 7-9 last week to put me at an even 16-16 through the first two weeks of the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red
Thursday Night Football
Texans at Patriots (-0.5) – The Texans have a good defense and with Brissett making his first career start and TE Rob Gronkowski potentially missing the game, I think the Texans defense will be able to keep the Patriots offense from getting a lot of points.
Sunday 1PM games
Cardinals at Bills (+4.5) – The Bills haven’t gotten off to a good start to the season. They’ve been able to put up points in the first two games, but their defense also given up a lot of points. I think the Cardinals will be able to score with QB Carson Palmer leading the way and they’ll be too much for the Bills to overcome.
Broncos at Bengals (-2.5) – I’m surprised the Bengals are favored. I think the Broncos are the better team overall, with one of the league’s best defenses and an offense that has done better than expected thus far. I think the Broncos win outright, let alone get within the 2.5 points.
Browns at Dolphins (-9.5) – Against most teams, I think I would lay the 9.5 points against the Browns, but the Dolphins haven’t looked good in their first couple of games. I expect the Dolphins to win the game, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think they’ll win by double digits, which is what they’d have to do to cover this spread.
Lions at Packers (-7.5) – Here’s another game where I think the favorite will win the game but not cover. The Packers offense didn’t look good last week and the Lions can put points on the board so I expect them to keep it relatively close. I think Packers win by less than a touchdown.
Raiders at Titans (-1.5) – Neither of these teams has looked very good yet. The Raiders were a trendy playoff pick for this season but haven’t lived up to the hype. I don’t like picking west coast teams heading east, but I the Titans aren’t very good so I think the Raiders have a better-than-average chance to pull out the victory.
Vikings at Panthers (-6.5) – Both teams looked good in their wins last week, but RB Adrian Peterson is now out for the season after tearing his meniscus in Week 2 against the Packers. Combine that with QB Sam Bradford under center and I expect the Vikings offense to be worse than last week. The Panthers are also likely to be without RB Jonathan Stewart, but that should have less than a negative effect than Peterson’s absence for the Vikings. Give me QB Cam Newton over Bradford in this one.
Redskins at Giants (4.5) – The Giants put up a surprisingly low score against a bad Saints defense last week, while poor play by QB Kirk Cousins reportedly led to tension in the locker room. I think the Giants will win the game at home, but I think it’ll be close so I’ll take the points with Washington.
Ravens at Jaguars (+0.5) – The Ravens offense has looked better than I expected so far this season and the Jaguars defense hasn’t lived up to expectations. With a .5-point spread, the Ravens simply have to win the game to cover, and I think they’ll do that.
Sunday 4PM games
Rams at Buccaneers (-4.5) – Through two games, the Rams have scored only nine points and not gotten into the end zone. They have a decent defense but their offense leaves something to be desired. I think QB Jameis Winston can help the Bucs score enough points to win by a touchdown or so, so I think Tampa Bay covers.
49ers at Seahawks (-9.5) – With QB Russell Wilson nursing a bad ankle, the Seahawks scored just three points last week. The Seahawks’ offensive line doesn’t seem to be very good right now. I think 9.5 points is way too much for the Seahawks to be favored by at this points so I’ll go with the 49ers and the points.
Chargers at Colts (-2.5) – After losing WR Keenan Allen to a season-ending injury in Week 1, the Chargers lost RB Danny Woodhead to a torn ACL last week. Those injuries will negatively affect the offense. The Colts have a bad defense, but their offense can score. With the Chargers’ injury woes, I expect the Colts to cover.
Jets at Chiefs (-2.5) – The Chiefs only scored 12 points against the Texans last week while the Jets scored 37 against the Bills. With an extended period of rest following a Thursday night game in Week 2, I think the Jets will be able to go into Kansas City and beat the Chiefs, who haven’t looked like the same team from last year so far in 2016.
Steelers at Eagles (+3.5) – Rookie QB Carson Wentz has looked good in his first two games, but that was against bad teams in the Bears and Browns. The Steelers will provide Wentz with his first real challenge in the NFL and I think he’ll struggle a bit. I’ll take the team with QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB DeAngelo Williams on offense.
Sunday Night Football
Bears at Cowboys (-5.5) – The Bears haven’t looked good in their first two games, while the Cowboys have done respectably without QB Tony Romo. The Cowboys offense should be able to score on the Bears defense, and with QB Jay Cutler likely missing the game for the Bears with a thumb injury Chicago’s offensive output should be limited.
Monday Night Football
Falcons at Saints (-3.5) – I think these teams are pretty evenly matched. Both have good offenses but suspect defenses. Saints QB Drew Brees seems to play better at home than he does on the road so I’ll give the Saints the win at the Superdome.