NFL Week 2 Picks (Sun. Sept. 20, 2015)

September 20, 2015 on 4:53 pm | In NFL | No Comments

There’s no shortage of intriguing matchups for Week 2, beginning with New England traveling to Buffalo.  Two of the league’s most exciting receivers will square off when the Giants host the Falcons.  Meanwhile, San Diego visits Cincinnati, where the winner will be 2-0 and start to pick up traction as a team to watch out for in the AFC.

The second Sunday of the 2015 NFL campaign will come to a close on NBC with a re-match of last January’s NFC Championship game between the Seahawks and Packers, only this time it will come in Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

Week 2 got underway on Thursday night with Denver scoring two touchdowns in the final 38 seconds to go from behind seven at Kansas City to winning in improbable fashion.

Both yours truly and my father took the Chiefs to win that one, so it’s a 0-1 start, but we’ll try to turn things around on the rest of the games . . .

Records in Week 1:
Matthew Hatfield 11-5 SU (9-7 ATS) , 3-0 Locks, 1-1 Upsets
Mike Hatfield:  11-5

Week 2 Slate:

New England Patriots (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0) . . . Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick have had some fascinating battles over the years, but this will be the first at Orchard Park.  Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, three to jumbo tight end Rob Gronkowski, in New England’s season-opening triumph over Pittsburgh.  Brady notched his 161st victory as the starting QB of the Pats, the most ever by a player with one franchise.  The Bills bottled up Indy’s high-powered offense in a 27-14 win last week, and Tyrod Taylor connected with Percy Harvin for a 51-yard bomb through the air.  While the Pats try to slow down RB LeSean McCoy, the Bulls will try to get pressure with their front four and contain Gronk.  At home, their defense may be up for the task better than most.

Matt Says:  Buffalo 27-21 (BUF -1)
Mike Says:  New England

Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0) . . . Coach Ron Rivera has to like what his Carolina defense did on the road last week in Jacksonville in a 20-9 win.  They’re getting contributions from a bunch of different players, not just LB Luke Kuechly – whose 480 tackles since 2012 are the most in the NFL.  CB Josh Norman (INT TD, FF, FR in Week 1), LB Thomas Davis, DE Charles Johnson and DE Mario Addison (2 sacks vs. the Jags) all are making plays.  Houston’s defense will have to show better than they did against the Chiefs.  Even with a QB change from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett, the Houston offense has more big-play capabilities, thanks to WR’s DeAndre Hopkins and Nate Washington, than Jacksonville did.

Matt Says:  Houston 21-20 (HOU +3)
Mike Says:  Houston

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) . . . It’s a homecoming of sorts for Niners Head Coach Jim Tomsula, who was born in Homestead, PA.  His San Fran team surprised many in the opener with a 20-3 rout of Minnesota in the second bill of an ESPN Monday Night Football double-dip.  Tailback Carlos Hyde, a standout at Ohio State, erupted for 168 yards and a couple of touchdowns on 26 attempts.  Pittsburgh’s defense struggled versus the pass in their 28-21 loss to New England.  Fortunately for them, they are better equipped to stop the run, got 351 yards passing from Ben Roethlisberger in that game, and DeAngelo Williams filled in for Le’Veon Bell with 127 yards rushing.  The extra few days to prepare and returning home ought to serve them well.

Matt Says:  Pittsburgh 24-8 (PIT -6.5)
Mike Says:  Pittsburgh

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-0) . . . Trends all point towards New Orleans winning and doing so by a wide margin.  Tampa Bay has lost seven straight in the series to the Saints.  While they were relatively close last season with the Saints prevailing 23-20 in Tampa and 37-31 at home in overtime, the Bucs had a hard time on defense in their 42-14 loss to Tennessee in Week 1.  Rookie QB Jamies Winston threw a pick-six on his first NFL pass attempt, becoming the first QB to have that happen since Brett Favre (now if only his pro career turns out the Favre’s did, he’ll be in great shape).  You know Drew Brees, who threw for 355 yards last week, is licking his chops about facing this Tampa secondary after what Marcus Mariota did to it a week ago.

Matt Says:  New Orleans 35-14 (NO -9.5)
Mike Says:  New Orleans

Detroit Lions (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1) . . . Three of the last four meetings have gone to the Lions and both games last year were relatively low-scoring.  Detroit won at home 16-14 behind 103 yards from scrimmage from Joique Bell and 11 tackles by LB DeAndre Levy.  In Minnesota, it was the Lions winning 17-3 with Tahir Whitehead intercepting a pass of passes.  The Vikings also scored three points in last week’s road loss to San Francisco.  Returning home, they should fare better, particularly RB Adrian Peterson, who’s probably looking to take out his frustration on the Detroit defense after being held to 31 yards on the ground on just 10 carries.  The Lions led early against San Diego before fizzling down the stretch, surrendering 483 yards in the 33-28 loss.

Matt Says:  Minnesota 21-16 (MN -2.5)
Mike Says:  Detroit

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1) . . . Coming off a 31-19 win at home over the Saints, this is a grand opportunity for Arizona to get two games up on Seattle in the division potentially since the Seahawks have to visit Green Bay and the Cards are favored here on the road against a Bears team banged up at wide receiver.  Chicago has won four of the past five meetings, though Arizona signal caller Carson Palmer is 3-0 in his career vs. the Bears with an 8-1TD/Int. ratio.  Led by Patrick Peterson (15 INT’s and 5 for TD’s since 2011), Tyrann Mathieu and Rashad Johnson, the Cards have more playmakers on the back end of their defense than the Bears, which could decide things if RB Matt Forte and TE Martellus Bennett don’t have stellar days for the home squad.

Matt Says:  Arizona 23-16 (AZ -2.5)
Mike Says:  Arizona

San Diego Chargers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) . . . Rather quietly last week, Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns in their 33-28 comeback win over the Lions.  I say quietly because you heard more about the play of other QB’s around the league like Tom Brady of New England, Tony Romo from Dallas and Tennessee rookie Marcus Mariota.  Rivers needs one touchdown pass in this one to pass Dan Fouts (254 career TD’s) for most in Chargers franchise history.  Although the Cincy defense held Oakland to just 246 total yards last week, they face a more dangerous offense with Rivers, rookie RB Melvin Gordon, WR Keenan Allen and company.  It might be up to the Bengals offense, which got a career day from TE Tyler Eifert last week, in order to get to 2-0.

Matt Says:  San Diego 20-17 (SD +3)
Mike Says:  Cincinnati

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1) . . . Titans rookie Marcus Mariota out of Oregon was sensational in his debut, completing 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns in a road rout of Tampa Bay as he had a perfect quarterback rating.  There weren’t many positives to take out for the Browns in their 31-10 loss to the Jets in New York.  They finished -4 in the takeaway department and both QB’s, Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel, had passer ratings under 80.  Conventional wisdom says go with Tennessee, even on the road, but Mariota missing injured TE Delanie Walker is going to force the Titans offense to adjust.  Cleveland usually is better at home.  They started 4-1 at the Dawg Pound last year, including beating the likes of recent Super Bowl winners Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Matt Says:  Cleveland 31-26 (CLE +2)
Mike Says:  Tennessee

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1) . . . Are there two more exciting wide receivers in the game of pro football than the Falcons’ Julio Jones and second-year phenom Odell Beckham from the Giants?  Jones simply dazzled in Monday’s victory over the Eagles, hauling in seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.  Simply put, there’s not a defender with an answer for him one-on-one an entire game.  That being said, the Giants did rank #7 in the league against the pass last year and won’t want to let him and Matt Ryan play pitch-and-catch.  Beckham was quieter in his team’s loss to the Cowboys, though Atlanta knows he has a knack for amazing grabs and should be a focal point in this one.  The more desperate team is New York.  Being at home with an extra day to prepare will likely help, too.

Matt Says:   NY Giants 27-24 (NYG -2.5)
Mike Says:  NY Giants

St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1) . . . When these two squared off last December, it was all St. Louis as the Rams dominated to the tune of pitching a 24-0 shutout.  They recorded seven sacks as a defense, forced four turnovers – two on fumbles and two on interceptions – and Tavon Austin returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown.  St. Louis got 122 yards from scrimmage from third-string running back Benny Cunningham in their 34-31 overtime thriller with Seattle in Week 1.  The Redskins blew a double-digit lead at home in a 17-10 loss to the Dolphins.  For Washington to spring the upset, it’s going to come down to their defense creating takeaways and establishing the running game with Alfred Morris against a tough St. Louis front.  With the way their schedule is set up, if Washington doesn’t win this game it could linger into a 0-5 or 0-6 type start.  They badly need a win at home.

Matt Says:  Washington 17-14 (WSH +3)
Mike Says:  St. Louis

Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) . . . At home against Carolina last week, Gus Bradley’s Jaguars had very little offense to speak of with 265 total yards in the 20-9 loss to a pretty good defense.  Miami’s defense is nothing to sneeze at either with a formidable d-line that features Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and rookie Jordan Phillips.  That probably doesn’t bode well for their young offensive backfield tandem of QB Blake Bortles and T.J. Yeldon.  Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is 2-0 in his career against the Jags with a 98.3 passer rating and just one interception.  As long as Miami takes care of the football and doesn’t depend on Tannehill’s arm exclusively to win, they figure to be in good shape to move to 2-0, which is important in an AFC East that appears to be much stronger than in years past.

Matt Says:  Miami 28-17 (MIA -6)
Mike Says:  Miami

Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1) . . . Losing stud pass rusher Terrell Suggs for the season as the Ravens did in their narrow loss at Denver last week is a huge blow to that Baltimore defense.  That being said, they are still a solid favorite on the road to a Raiders team that went to its second quarterback, Matt McGloin, for an injured Derek Carr a week ago.  Carr is expected to go in this one, but the Oakland defense gave up 33 points last week to Cincinnati and Baltimore QB Joe Flacco could be poised for a huge day, even on the road.  For Oakland to drop the Ravens to 0-2, rookie receiver Amari Cooper will have to build on a 5-catch, 47-yard effort in his pro debut.

Matt Says:  Baltimore 24-14 (BLT -6)
Mike Says:  Baltimore

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) . . . Tony Romo engineered a tremendous comeback for Dallas on Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants, finishing 36 of 45 for 356 yards and three touchdowns.  He’ll now be without his most explosive weapon, Dez Bryant, for at least the next seven weeks as the wide receiver sustained an injury in that win.  Philly came out of the blocks too cold against Atlanta before seeing their rally fall short.  Look for Sam Bradford and that passing attack to hum in that one and for Jordan Matthews (10Rec. 102Yds.) to have a big day.  Tailback DeMarco Murray, who ran for only nine yards on eight carries against the Falcons, should fare better against his former team also.

Matt Says:  Philly 31-24 (PHI -5.5)
Mike Says:  Philly

Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0) . . . These two were the NFC favorites a year ago and might be once again this season.  Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception at home since 2012.  Though the Seattle secondary is equipped to make life harder on Rodgers and pick him off, they still miss safety Kam Chancellor, holding out due to contractual issues, and that showed in the 34-31 overtime loss at St. Louis.  Even though the Seahawks made a comeback in that game, one of their scores came on a 57-yard punt return by rookie Tyler Lockett, and the offense isn’t quite at a dominating form just yet.  The Seahawks will need a strong game from RB Marshawn Lynch to win on the road.

Matt Says:  Green Bay 28-20 (GB -3.5)
Mike Says:  Green Bay

New York Jets (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1) . . . It was not an opener that Chuck Pagano and his Indianapolis team would like to remember, losing 27-14 in Buffalo to the Bills in a game that really wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated.  Meanwhile, New York is coming off a 31-point win and benefitted from being +4 in the turnover department.  Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense will hope to take advantage of Indy’s secondary missing two key defensive backs, Greg Toler (neck injury) and Darius Butler (hip injury).  Quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts rebounded from a 0-2 start last year by winning five straight.  That second loss came at home against the Eagles in a game that they led most of the way.  This is a similar spot, at home on a Monday night, and I’d expect them to play with a sense of urgency.

Matt Says:  Indy 30-13 (IND -7.5)
Mike Says:  Indy

Matt Hat’s Hits:
LOCKS –Indy -7.5, Pittsburgh -6.5, New Orleans -9.5, Arizona -2.5
UPSET SPECIALS – Houston SU & +3 and Washington SU +3

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