NFL

NFL Week 3: Part 1

The NFL Week 2 action did not reflect many of the opening week performances we saw in Week 1. The Titans sprang to life in Seattle, rallying in the second half to take down the Seahawks, while the Packers completely took over in their second half against the Lions.

Regression to the mean is typical for Week 2 of the NFL, but we saw some really strange trends this year, as 15 interceptions had been recorded across the league within two hours of kickoff of the noon games on Sunday. Oddities aside, the NFL gave us a lot to handle this past week.

A Look Back on our Week 2

Last week, we ended the week with an 8-8 record. The Panthers, Broncos, Bears, Colts, Patriots, Titans, Bucs, and Ravens all came through for us. On the season, we’re keeping track of the teams we pick, so you’ll get feedback on the teams who are predictable and those who aren’t.

This week, we’ll cover the first eight games of the week in this article and the last eight in part two.

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Panthers -8.5 at Texans

The Panthers were who we expected they’d be in Week 1. Week 2 was a little surprise, but one we correctly sniffed out. Regression is a normal thing in the NFL and the Saints were bound to have setbacks, following their week 1 (perfect timing for the Panthers).

It’s about time for us to start taking the Texans seriously. After playing a clean Week 1 and taking advantage of the Jaguars’ impatience, the Texans followed their big opener with a solid performance against the Browns.

Even without Tyrod Taylor late, the Texans still kept this game within reach. This week, the Texans will be without Taylor again, which leaves them in a difficult position, as they’ll be starting a rookie (Davis Mills).

I trust a lot of what the Texans have done to this point, as they’ve been somehow effective on the season. The absence of Taylor really frightens me this week, even in the friendly, home stadium. I like the Panthers to win, and feel great about how their defense has performed thus far.

Panthers 30 Texans 13

 

Bears +7 at Browns

I don’t know if we should be disappointed with how the Browns played last week or impressed with the Texans. The Browns defense, though strong in the pass rush, has been relatively weak elsewhere. Even with a rookie (Justin Fields) starting against them, there should be cause for concern.

The Bears might be full steam ahead with Justin Fields, but that could be a problem this week. The double-edged sword of this matchup is Fields under pressure vs Fields’ ability to scramble. If the Browns can get to Fields on his back, problem solved. If he escapes, the Browns are in trouble.

The Bears did well against the run last week, as well as forcing issues with the Bengals passing game. With how banged-up the Browns receivers are, the Bears may be able to focus on stopping the Browns on the ground.

I like the Justin Fields edge in this game. If Fields can beat the Browns with his feet, it should keep the chains moving and allow the passing game to open up for him. I like the Browns to win but the Bears to cover on the road.

Browns 27 Bears 24

 

Ravens at Lions +9

The Ravens are riding high off their game against the Chiefs at home. Despite some costly mistakes, Lamar Jackson kept the Ravens in the game late. After a fortunate fumble recovery, the Ravens iced the game after converting a fourth down.

The Lions are fresh off a road performance in Green Bay, where they nearly upset the Packers (until the rain got the best of Jared Goff).

I like what the Ravens are doing offensively, but I have serious doubts on the defensive side for them. I don’t expect the Lions to take the top off the defense, but I do expect they’ll give the Ravens problems on the ground and in the short passing game.

As tempting as it is to take the Ravens here, I like the emotional and needs-based aspect to the Lions here. They’ll come out hungry and motivated, while the Ravens might overlook an inferior opponent on the road.

Ravens 31 Lions 26

 

Cardinals -7.5 at Jaguars

The Cardinals are not a good team to trust. Last week, we noticed some odd things with the offense. Even though it works, it’s become clear there is no real organization to this offense. Every play is Kyler looking at his first read, scrambling around, and then finding a guy on a broken play.

That’s not a reliable offensive strategy. On the other hand, the Jaguars are terrible. It’s hard to game plan against a mobile QB, but even more difficult to plan against a team with no real offensive strategy. The Jaguars are a dumpster fire, and Urban Meyer has done little to snuff the flames.

Eventually, the Jaguars have to cover, but I’m not wandering into that territory until they cover at least once.

Cardinals 34 Jaguars 17

 

Chargers at Chiefs -6.5

Both the Chargers and Chiefs are coming off games both teams probably should’ve won. The Chiefs did what they did a lot of a year ago (not putting a team away after building a nice lead), while the Chargers did what they do best (get TDs called back and miss easy FGs).

The Chiefs will be making their home debut this week. They are one of the two or three best teams in the NFL. Even with some issues on defense, the Chiefs’ offense is nearly impossible to stop.

My only pause here is the Chargers’ new coach and their defensive health (Joey Bosa likely won’t play). The Chargers have a legitimately solid defense in 2021. Though it’s a good reason for concern, the Chargers will likely find some way to shoot themselves in the foot.

Chiefs 31 Chargers 24

 

Saints at Patriots -3

The Saints are on the short list of teams who have had a Jekyll and Hyde start to the season. Following a tremendous Week 1, the Saints couldn’t have looked much worse in Week 2. Meanwhile, the Patriots are a defense-first team working on finding their offensive identity through a conservative game plan.

I like the consistency by which the Patriots have operated this season, but their offensive potential doesn’t really move the needle for me at the moment. On the other side, I worry about any game which puts Jameis Winston against Bill Belichik.

I like the Belichik vs Winston narrative here as to my choice to go with the Patriots at home. Though I’m worried about the Patriots offense against the Saints, expect the Patriots to use the ever-dependable James White in the short passing game to neutralize the Saints blitz and draw-in the safeties. I’m trusting BB in this one.

Patriots 23 Saints 17

 

Colts at Titans -5

The thing about this game that terrifies me the most is the absence of Cason Wentz… Okay, it sounds bad when I put it that way. I actually find it odd how close this line is. Even without their starting QB, this line is oddly close.

One thing to point-out here is the implied scoring totals. With an O/U at 48, it’s implied the Titans win 26-21 or 27-22. What about losing their starting QB leads oddmakers to believe the Colts will score three TDs? The answer is the Colts run game.

To this point, the Colts have faced two strong run defenses (Rams and Seahawks). Though the Seahawks let Henry run through them last week, that’s excusable (it’s Derrick Henry). The general thought here is that the Colts have an amazing run defense and the Titans do not.

My only pause with this thought is knowing the difference between trying to stop a team’s offense and keying-in on just the run game. I think the Titans will do the latter and take the chance Jacob Eason won’t beat them through the air. I like the Titans’ balanced offense too much at home, considering the lack of a viable QB on the other side.

Titans 27 Colts 20

 

Washington Football Team at Bills +8

The WFT notched their first win in an ugly Thursday game last week against the Giants. They haven’t been as solid defensively as a year ago, but the one-dimensional Buffalo offense will pose a new threat this week.

Buffalo has had a very offensively sluggish start to 2021. After putting up only 17 in Week 1, Buffalo erupted for 35 Sunday against the offensively inept Dolphins. Though the game was 14-0 for a long time, the Bills broke the dam late in the contest.

The question here is, how much are we worried about the WFT’s pass rushing problems? I still think they’re a good unit, but Buffalo is a tough place to win. Washington’s ability to move the ball on the ground should at least keep them close, but the Washington defense has been too suspect for my liking this season.

Bills 30 WFT 20

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