Not in a huge writing mood, so I’ll keep this one fairly blunt.
[New England @ Buffalo]
Rex Ryan looked really good in his debut as the head coach for Buffalo. Tom Brady looked really good in his debut game after a disastrous offseason of scandals and court battles. Pit these two legends together and you have Tom Brady winning by about three points. He’s 9-4 against Rex Ryan’s teams. Then again, Ryan’s teams never had a quarterback like Tyrod Taylor.
Winner: New England
[Tennessee @ Cleveland]
Tennessee had a big win last week against a really bad team. This week, they’re going up against a bad team with a (usually) good defense. This will be Marcus Mariota’s first big test as an NFL starter. And wouldn’t you know it; Terrance West, after being traded by Cleveland two weeks ago, already gets to face his old team. It’s like they planned this or something.
Johnny Manziel had one good series last week before becoming essentially worthless to finish off the game. Now that he’s the announced starter, he should be able to get some adequate game planning in before the game. Then again, it’s Cleveland, so who knows how adequate it may be. All I know is that Cleveland’s offense is nowhere near as good as its defense. I also didn’t think Tennessee’s defense was all that good, either, but it held Tampa Bay to 14 points. Let’s hope Johnny Manziel doesn’t throw a pick-six on the first play.
[Houston @ Carolina]
Well, Carolina isn’t facing Jacksonville, so this makes this pick tougher.
Luke Kuechly may not play this game, which is a huge blow to their defense. Even if he doesn’t play, I expect their defense to play well. Maybe not to their full extent, but well enough. Houston is already switching starting quarterbacks after Brian Hoyer’s miserable day against Kansas City last week. Will Ryan Mallett provide a difference for this Houston offense? Probably not. The bigger question for me is this: will Nate Washington have another 100-yard game? That was the biggest surprise for me last week.
[Arizona @ Chicago]
Jay Cutler looked okay last week, thanks in part to a strong running game. Nevertheless, he ended the game with only 50% passing and a pick to end the game. Arizona’s run defense is really, really good. Put those two facts together and you get a very one-dimensional offense, which makes it easier for the defense to adjust. For me, this one isn’t even close. Arizona is stronger in just about every category.
[San Diego @ Cincinnati]
Y’know, my initial thoughts were that San Diego should win this game. However, I was watching the NFL Network last night when something popped up on the bottom of the screen for this game. It claimed that Cincinnati had one the last seven match-ups against San Diego. Curious, I looked up how many times this was within Andy Dalton’s timeline, and sure enough, he’s 2-0 against San Diego (in the regular season).
I declined to mention that both of those game were decided by only a single score. Maybe this game will be the same? Who knows. Regardless, I don’t think Cincinnati’s defense is the same as years’ past. Regardless of the previous regardless, Andy Dalton has a knack for making me look stupid in the regular season. What the hell? I’ll take Cincinnati and the trends.
[Detroit @ Minnesota]
Minnesota looked atrocious last week against San Francisco. They couldn’t get Adrian Peterson going. Their run defense was essentially paper. The receivers couldn’t get open. It was a terrible travesty. Detroit’s defense, too, looked pretty bad against San Diego last week. But was that because of Philip Rivers and his established near-elite passing? Perhaps. Teddy Bridgewater may not be as much of a threat.
If Detroit’s defense is still as good as it was last year, this match-up should be no problem. But Minnesota’s at home this week, and they aren’t nationally televised, either (which may or may not have been a problem with San Francisco). Matthew Stafford’s throwing arm is injured, too. Will that affect the game?
[Tampa Bay @ New Orleans]
Drew Brees at home? Against Tampa Bay’s defense? Struggling or not, they have to get it done here.
Winner: New Orleans
[Atlanta @ New York (Giants)]
Atlanta looked really, really good last week against Philadelphia. New York looked really, really good against Dallas because Dallas kept shooting themselves in the foot. Atlanta, like New Orleans, tends to do much better at home than on the road, so it’ll be an interesting transition. Nevertheless, Atlanta’s the much better team on paper. It’s actually not even close.
[San Francisco @ Pittsburgh]
This is probably the most interesting match-up of the week. San Francisco looked like a rough and tough team against Minnesota last week. It looked, dare I say, like the Pittsburgh teams of old: strong running game, decent quarterbacking, and a stingy defensive front. Pittsburgh looked okay offensively against New England, but their defensive secondary was awful. If Kaepernick takes advantage of this, he may be able to have a good game against them. Otherwise, he’ll just have Hyde do all the dirty work.
Pittsburgh is still without Le’veon Bell, but DeAngelo Williams proved a suitable replacement with over 100 rushing yards against New England. If Pittsburgh can actually put some points on the board against what looks like a powerful defense, I don’t think San Francisco has the firepower to keep up with them. It’ll be a fun one, for sure. I wish I could see it.
[St. Louis @ Washington]
Washington’s defense actually looked pretty good against Miami’s offense last week. This is surprising because I thought the final score would more like this: 49-3. St. Louis’s offense may not be as loaded with talent as Miami’s but I think they’ll put up a decent game. St. Louis and Miami are actually kind of similar, with St. Louis’s special teams play a tad better with Tavon Austin returning punts.
But to be honest, it’s really hard to pick Washington against, well, anyone.
Winner: St. Louis
[Baltimore @ Oakland]
Oakland showed last week that they are still Oakland. This pick’s easy.
[Miami @ Jacksonville]
Okay, really? Miami’s got a really lucky early schedule to be facing the likes of Washington and Jacksonville in the first two weeks of the season. Miami had a bizarrely difficult time scoring points against Washington last week. How close will this match-up be? Despite how close it may be, Miami should win this game 99 out of 100 times.
[Dallas @ Philadelphia]
Another interesting match-up. Philadelphia looked good whenever it was in rhythm against Atlanta last week. But when it wasn’t in rhythm… ouch. Dallas should’ve destroyed New York last week, but the NFL told Jason Garrett that it was Sunday Night and the game had to be exciting to boost up the ratings. So, Garrett told Romo to fuck up a little and keep the game close until the final drive where he can show off how unbelievably one-sided the game actually was. Really, it should’ve been 70-26.
Dallas is the better team on paper on offense. Philadelphia is the better team on paper for defense. If Phildelphia’s defense played like it did against Atlanta, then Romo should only target whoever Byron Maxwell is covering. If Dallas’s offense played like it did against New York, Philadelphia should win. Dez Bryant is out, too, so that takes out some of Dallas’s firepower. But there’s one statistic that speaks volumes for Dallas going into this game: their record (last season) on the road.
[Seattle @ Green Bay]
Y’know, I’m kind of tired of seeing this match-up. We had the Fail Mary play a few years ago. We had the opening night game last year. We had the 2014 NFC Championship miracle win. Now, we have this. Something smells like big business here and I don’t like it.
Initially, I would be a little hesitant about picking a winner in this game. However, without Kam Chancellor last week, Seattle’s defense looked a little deflated. Green Bay’s offense, however, barely skipped a beat without Jordy Nelson. Then again, they were up against Chicago. Oh, and Green Bay was 8-0 at home last season. Yeah, Green Bay is definitely looking like the better choice here.
Winner: Green Bay
[New York (Jets) @ Indianapolis]
Indianapolis got destroyed by a gruesome defense last week. This week, they get to go up against another gruesome defense. I’m sure Andrew Luck is thrilled. However, this week Indianapolis is playing at home, so it should provide some sort of a motivational boost, at least.
FitzMagic played an okay game last week against a typically good defense. Now he gets to face a typically okay defense, so I think he’ll have a good game. His running back options are limited, but Indianapolis did a decent job against the run last week, so I don’t think it’ll much matter. He still has Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Indianapolis’s offense is a little shaky. Their offensive line looks to be under construction and despite a new running back in Frank Gore, he only carried the ball eight times last week. If they want a more complete offense, they need to be more willing to give him a shot.
On paper, this is kind of an evenly matched duel. It’s a tough choice, and my mind actually wants to side with New York. However, I’m not giving up on Andrew Luck and his uncanny last name. It’s hard not to lean his way.