We’re back with the second edition of MTS’ weekly NFL picks for the 2016 season. Lawrence put forth his best effort in an always difficult Week 1, going 6-9-1 ATS, and now Perry faces the daunting task of trying to decipher what we saw and turn it into some Week 2 gold.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 2 ATS Picks
Thursday, September 15
NY Jets at Buffalo (-2.5)
Both teams enter this game 0-1; the Bills lost to the Ravens in a defensive battle, while the Jets got torched through the air by the Bengals.
The Bills took both meetings between these two in 2015 by a score of 22-17. (Yes, both games ended that way.) The Jets turned the ball over seven times in those games, and the Week 17 loss cost them a spot in the playoffs. Todd Bowles and company will want revenge.
The Bills’ best chance of winning this game was Sammy Watkins, but it’s looking like the receiver may not be available due to a foot injury. The Jets’ defense recorded seven sacks against a very good Bengals offensive line, and now they get Sheldon Richardson back from suspension.
Matt Forte eats up the Bills’ defense, while Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy are held in check.
Pick: Jets (+2.5)*
Sunday, September 18
Dallas at Washington (-3)
The ‘Boys, led by rookie Dak Prescott, put up a fight against the Giants and would’ve had a chance for a game-winning field-goal (albeit a very long one) if Terrance Williams had gotten out of bounds.
Washington, on the other hand, had multiple drives stall early in the game and had to settle for too many field goals against the Steelers. They quickly found out that you can only keep Antonio Brown quiet for so long.
Dallas has the offensive line and running game to control possession, and they’ll give Prescott a little more freedom early in the game. Cousins will bounce back from a rough game, but his defense won’t be able to stop the Cowboys’ rushing attack.
Pick: Cowboys (+3)
San Francisco at Carolina (-13)
The 49ers’ defense may have shutout the Rams’ offense, but it looked like Blaine Gabbert didn’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt, almost giving away points on multiple occasions.
The Panthers got dominated in the trenches by Denver in Week 1, and Cam Newton took a beating in the fourth quarter. But thanks to playing Thursday, the team has had a few extra days to heal up and prepare.
San Francisco doesn’t have the receivers to threaten Carolina’s weak secondary, and Gabbert’s misplaced throws won’t fall to the turf against the defense he faces in Week 2. The Panthers’ offense strikes quick in this one, while Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis punish Gabbert when he gets outside of the pocket.
Pick: Panthers (-13)*
Tennessee at Detroit (-6)
The Titans’ “exotic smashmouth” was held to 2.9 yards per carry in Week 1, but that was by a stout Viking defense. Tennessee’s defense made Adrian Peterson a non-factor, slowing him to 31 yards on 19 carries, while only allowing Shaun Hill to complete 54.5-percent of his passes. The difference in the game was two turnovers that the Vikings returned for touchdowns.
The Lions, on the other hand, squandered a 21-3 lead, and needed a 43-yard field goal in the last 30 seconds to prevail over the Colts.
Dick LeBeau’s defense is much better than what Matthew Stafford faced in Week 1, and the Lions’ defense won’t be able to stuff the exotic smashmouth the way Minnesota did. Detroit wins the game, but only by a field goal.
Pick: Titans (+6)
Miami at New England (-6.5)
The Dolphins should have beaten the Seahawks on the road in Week 1, but fell victim to one of the worst drops I’ve ever seen and a Russell Wilson-led comeback.
Jimmy Garoppolo not only impressed in his first NFL start, but also got his Patriots the win over a very good Cardinals team. But with Garoppolo under center, I don’t see the Patriots blowing anyone out. They’ll run the ball and control the tempo, especially against a Dolphins defensive front that was after Russell Wilson all day.
The Pats are 7-3 straight up against the Dolphins in their last ten meetings, but are only 5-4-1 against the spread in those games. New England wins, but Miami gets the backdoor cover. Side note: road games at the Clink and Foxborough to start the year? Who did the Dolphins piss off at the league’s front office?!
Pick: Dolphins (+6.5)
New Orleans at New York Giants (-4.5)
Up until the fourth quarter of their Week 1 matchup, we actually believed that Dennis Allen had turned the Saints defense into a respectable unit. Everything went to s*** when Delvin Breaux got injured. But hey, the offense is still there.
Conversely, the Giants at least improved one aspect of their defense, holding the Cowboys to an average of 3.4 yards per rushing attempt.
The Saints offense will be able to overpower the Giants defense in this one, while Eli and company should have a field day against the NO defense. This game will come down to the last possession, and will be won by a field goal.
Pick: New Orleans (+4.5)
Kansas City at Houston (-2.5)
The Chiefs were the biggest disappointment in Week 1 … for about a half. Then Alex Smith brought them back from a 21-point deficit, eventually beating the Chargers in overtime (33-27). But that doesn’t change the fact that their defense only recorded one sack on the day and allowed San Diego to pound the ball down their throat for an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
Houston’s defense came alive in the second half, not allowing a single Bears drive to go beyond 24 yards; however, their offense didn’t run the ball efficiently, and they left a lot of big plays out on the field.
Kansas City’s defense will bounce back and Alex Smith will make fewer mistakes than Brock Osweiler.
Pick: Chiefs (+2.5)
Baltimore (-6) at Cleveland
The Browns looked like their usual selves in Week 1 (losing 29-10 to the Eagles and rookie QB Carson Wentz). They’ll enter Week 2 with Josh McCown under center as RGIII has been placed on the IR with a broken bone in his non-throwing shoulder. (Slide already!)
Whoever Baltimore chooses to run the ball – they’ve got about 12 mediocre options to choose from – will have a much easier time against the Browns’ defense and Joe Flacco will be able to do as he pleases.
Pick: Ravens (-6)
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-3.5)
The Bengals were saved in Week 1 by the combo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green (and Mike Nugent’s leg), but their offensive line struggled against a talented Jets front, giving up seven sacks.
The Steelers put on a passing exhibition against Washington, and Antonio Brown had his way with Bashaud Breeland.
Pittsburgh’s defense doesn’t compare to the Jets, while Cincinnati’s secondary will do a much better job against Brown. They may not win, but the Bengals keep this within three.
Pick: Bengals (+3.5)
Tampa Bay at Arizona (-6)
I’m glad I don’t have to report to Cardinals practice this week after they allowed a Brady-less (and Gronk-less) Patriot team to leave Arizona with a win.
The Bucs shut down the Falcons’ rushing attack, but David Johnson presents a much bigger challenge. Arizona will play overly aggressive on both sides of the ball and make a statement.
Pick: Cardinals (-6)*
Seattle (-3.5) at Los Angeles
Case Keenum looked awful against a very mediocre 49er defense; the Rams D, meanwhile, got pushed around all night.
Seattle managed to escape their game against Miami with a win, but Russell Wilson got banged up in the process. Right now, it’s unknown whether Wilson will play in Week 2, which is why this line remains low.
The Seahawk defense will win this one on their own.
Pick: Seahawks (-3.5)*
Jacksonville at San Diego (-2.5)
Both of these teams are coming off heart-breaking losses in Week 1, both to very good teams. The Jags failed to run the ball against a Packer defense that is soft up the middle, and Chris Ivory remains hospitalized with an illness.
The Chargers lost Keenan Allen for the season, again, but Danny Woodhead is proving to be one of the most dangerous players in the league when he has the ball in his hands.
I’ll take Rivers at home in what promises to be a game of 700-plus passing yards.
Pick: Chargers (-2.5)
Atlanta at Oakland (-4.5)
It took them a while to wake up, but Derek Carr finally got the Oakland offense rolling in Week 1. The defense was in full-on slumber mode all day, getting torched by Drew Brees and the Saints offense to the tune of 34 points. A gutsy two-point try late in the fourth earned Oakland a one-point win.
The Falcons offensive line struggled to get any push on Sunday, and by the time they decided to spread it out and attack vertically, it was too late. They’re comeback came up one score short against Tampa (31-24).
The Raiders overcame a nearly flawless game by Drew Brees, but won’t have to face the same quarterback play in Week 2. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will combine for 250 receiving yards.
Pick: Raiders (-4.5)
Indianapolis at Denver (-6)
Trevor Siemian had his ups and downs against the Panthers, but that was a very good defense he was lining up against. That won’t be the case in Week 2.
The Colts defense was lucky that the Lions got conservative with a big lead; otherwise, they would have given up way more than 340 yards through the air. They also allowed Detroit to rush for an average of 4.8 yards per carry, which isn’t a comforting sign heading into a matchup against an offensive line that won the battle in the trenches against Carolina.
The Broncos offense pounds the ball all afternoon while the D leaves Andrew Luck in pieces.
Pick: Broncos (-6)
Green Bay (-2.5) at Minnesota
The Vikings offense will have to run the ball far better than they did against the Titans if they want to make an early statement in the NFC North. But they weren’t the only offense that looked out of sync; Aaron Rodgers didn’t appear to be on the same page as his receivers for much of Green Bay’s 27-24 win in Jacksonville.
However, Rodgers isn’t a second-year quarterback who is still learning to play the pro game, and presents a much tougher challenge for the Vikings defense.
AP will run all over the Packers defense, but Rodgers will put forth an MVP performance and come away with the win.
Pick: Packers (-2.5)
Monday, September 19
Philadelphia at Chicago (-3)
The Eagles were made to look much better than they actually are in Week 1. Thanks Cleveland! Nonetheless, Carson Wentz looked good in his NFL debut, posting a 101 passer rating.
Chicago’s offense put together two scoring drives against a tough Texans defense, but only managed eight first downs on their other ten drives.
Wentz will be given the time to take advantage of the Bears’ weak safeties, while the Eagles defense does just enough on the road.
Pick: Eagles (+3)
Photo credit: ShoneBK (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.