After last weekend’s surprising Antonio Brown/Oakland/New England freakshow, I thought I’d do an intro to one of my columns about the slanted way the media has been covering the whole thing. Then came the news of the sexual assault allegations against Brown, followed by a whole new slew of media takes. So, I revised my plan slightly, based on some pretty outlandish stuff that I’ve heard and read about the whole thing. Then I got busy with other things, and every time I tried to come back to the subject, I just found the whole thing completely overwhelming. At that point, I decided that the only way I was going to get anything done is to just do my best not to think about it for now, until I’m absolutely clear about what I want to say. I’m not one of those sorts of people who just says things for attention or to be controversial or whatever. With regards to the sexual assault allegations, I hope that the league (and law enforcement, should it choose to involve itself), does its due diligence, and, if warranted, metes out a severe punishment. Accusations of this nature should never be taken lightly.
Now it’s time for Week Two, the week when everyone overreacts to everything that happened in Week One. If you listened to all of the crowing/howling this week, then I’m sure you heard that Pittsburgh is done, Cleveland is a fraud, Atlanta is a dud, San Fran is a contender, Lamar Jackson is a superstar, Dallas is a juggernaut, and they’ve already started engraving “New England” on the Lombardi Trophy, not to mention a bunch of other stuff.
Let’s see how things go this week. We’ve got some pretty good matchups, plus a few more that look like mismatches, or just plain misses. But that’s why they play the games; you never know.
Now here’s the picks. As you'll see, I'm not shy about picking road teams.
Winners in Bold:
Arizona at Baltimore
Either Arizona forgot who they were, or Detroit remembered who they were, but Arizona showed some life last week after some early troubles. If they play well, they might give Baltimore some trouble, especially since Baltimore might still be suffering from the “bad team hangover” after playing Miami. I know Lamar Jackson threw for five TDs last week, but don’t start fitting him for a gold jacket just yet.
Dallas at Washington
Dallas looked about as impressive as I expected them to be last week, while Washington got off to a fast start, but faded against Philly. Even on the road, Dallas should outclass Washington.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Cleveland might have laid an egg a bit last week, but they got drubbed because Tennessee is a good team. Indy played a spirited contest against the Bolts, showing that they’re not laying down this season. This should be a pretty good game.
Seattle at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh got dominated in every facet of the game against New England last week. Seattle is no New England, but their defence is pretty good, and Pittsburgh’s offence is all-of-a-sudden looking like it’s short on skill players.
Buffalo at NYG
I thought that Big Blue got off to a decent start last week, but they got steamrolled by a top-tier Dallas team. I didn’t like the criticism of Saquon Barkley getting too few touches; no sense running him into the ground in a lost cause. The absence of Sterling Shephard this week ups the difficulty factor for NY. I’m pretty high on Buffalo; after a rough start, they came back and took care of business. Buffalo’s defence is stifling, and the offence overcame some early jitters.
San Francisco at Cincinnati
I still think that San Fran is overrated, and beating a lousy Tampa team isn’t going to convince me otherwise. Cincy, on the other hand, looked really good last week in a tough road contest in Seattle, especially Andy Dalton. Keep it up, Andy.
LAC at Detroit
It’s year two of the Matt Patricia regime, and Detroit still hasn’t grasped that they have to play a full 60 minutes in order to win a game. Detroit had last week’s game against Arizona well in hand, but ended up with a tie. It only gets more difficult from here, as the Bolts come to town this Sunday. LA is dealing with more injuries, as Hunter Henry is out, so they have their work cut out for them on the road.
Minnesota at Green Bay
I’m hearing a lot of hype about Green Bay’s defence after one week. I watched the Chicago game, and a lot of what was wrong with Mitch Trubisky had little to do with Green Bay’s defence. I also saw Aaron Rodgers get sacked five times. Minnesota’s defence might be as good as Chicago’s; Minnesota’s offence is definitely better than Chicago’s.
Jacksonville at Houston
For the second year in a row, Jacksonville’s defence came up small against KC, even after Tyreek Hill got knocked out of the game. Houston’s offence looked pretty good against New Orleans last week; Deshaun Watson was sharp, and the running game was effective. Looks like Gardner Minshew gets the start at QB in Nick Foles’s absence. CB AJ Bouye is a key scratch for Jacksonville.
New England at Miami
New England might be the best team in the league right now. Miami is definitely the worst. There’s nothing else to say.
KC at Oakland
Oakland looked sharp and spirited against a sluggish Denver squad last week. KC is a bit more of a tall order.
New Orleans at LAR
Two evenly-matched teams, looking for an early edge in the race for top seed in the NFC. Lots of talent on both teams, on both sides of the ball. On offence, I’d say that LA has a slight edge in terms of players at the skill positions (other than QB), while on defence, New Orleans might have a slight edge in terms of pass rush. I’m leaning towards New Orleans here, because I’ve seen what happens to Jared Goff when he’s under pressure, and it’s not pretty.
Chicago at Denver
Judging by quality of the defences (particularly the pass rushes) relative to the offences, this has the potential to be a really low-scoring affair. I know they’re on the road, but I’m counting on Chicago to bounce back after a rough first outing. The key here is that I think Chicago’s defence is a bit stouter against the run, and with offence being sparse in this contest, any advantage is a huge one.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
Atlanta’s retooled OL got pushed around by Minnesota last week. I don’t think Philly’s D is quite in the same class as Minnesota’s. I’m not ready to give up on Atlanta just yet, like a lot of others already are.
Cleveland at NYJ
So, Sam Darnold has mono. Next on the QB depth chart is Trevor Siemian, and no one in NY wants that, believe me. CJ Mosely is out for NY as well. Cleveland apparently believed their own hype and got thumped by a really good Tennessee team. That should serve as a wake-up call. It had better.