Week 2 begins tonight with the first team to bench a starting quarterback this season (Houston) visiting one of the teams most likely to become the second team to bench a starting quarterback this season (Cincinnati).
It’s little surprise that Bill O’Brien lost faith in Tom Savage, although the Bill’s trigger finger was a little itchier than advertised. What is more of a surprise is how Bengals veteran Andy Dalton is pushing the Bengals into having no other choice but to consider A.J. McCarron.
That’s just one of many storylines to watch heading into Week 2. Tops on the list, of course, is watching to see how the Patriots react in New Orleans after giving up 42 points and over 500 yards at home against the Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the Packers are in the Game of the Week for the second straight week. Last week, it was a potential NFC title game peek at home against Seattle. This week, it’s an NFC title game rematch at Atlanta. Although the Falcons are in an offensive funk, we should find out whether Green Bay’s defense is really this good.
Here are this week’s picks. (Warning: We went 10-4 straight up last week, but only 7-7 against the spread with some Reggie Jacksonian swings and misses. See: Bengals over Ravens):
Texans plus-5 1/2 at Bengals: Bengals by 3
I’m lost on both of these teams. And now Dalton is on the verge of being benched after throwing four picks, all of them coming from a clean pocket. And Texans middle linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended for 10 games for PED use. The latter is a crushing blow to an outstanding defense. But, hey, at least Brian had his agent apologize for him.
Vikings plus-6 1/2 at Steelers: Steelers by 3
Give me the home team, and the team that plays defense significantly better than the Saints. If the Vikings do lose, do me a favor. When listing the million things that you think are wrong with the Vikings next Monday, try to remember the million things you listed that were right with the Vikings this past Tuesday.
Browns plus-7 1/2 at Ravens: Ravens by 10
I liked the Browns’ defense and the promise that QB Deshone Kizer showed at home last week. I don’t like Kizer’s chances in his first road game.
Titans minus-1 1/2 at Jaguars: Jaguars by 3
I massively underestimated the Jaguars last week. Who knew their defensive line and a rookie running back would be good enough on the road to hide even Blake Bortles? There’s a throwback movement going on in Jacksonville. The Titans have a better O-line and QB, but I’ll ride the Jags’ momentum at home.
Cardinals minus-7 1/2 at Colts: Cardinals by 10
Chuck Pagano watch is on. Colts look inept on both sides of the ball. Guessing Jacoby Brissett wouldn’t be quite the temporary savior in Indy that he was in New England.
Eagles plus-4 1/2 at Chiefs: Chiefs by 7
We’ll see if that K.C. defense can sustain the loss of Eric Berry, a key piece to the upset at New England.
Bears plus-7 1/2 at Buccaneers: Bucs by 3
The return of Mike Glennon, former Tampa Bay clipboard holder. He’s got five career victories as a Buc and one moral victory as a Bear.
Bills plus-7 1/2 at Panthers: Panthers by 3
Yeah, it was the 49ers. But Carolina played some D last week that was reminiscent of 2015.
Patriots minus-6 1/2 at Saints: Patriots by 7
Should be a high-scoring affair. The kind that New Orleans will, of course, lose. The kind that makes you wonder which team Drew Brees will be playing for next season.
Dolphins plus-4 1/2 at Chargers: Chargers by 7
Jay Cutler era in Miami begins. This is a good team that’s built for a playoff run. No pressure, Jay.
Jets plus-14 1/2 at Raiders: Raiders by 10
The NFL is requiring the Jets to play all 16 games to try and earn next year’s No. 1 overall pick.
49ers plus-13 1/2 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 14
Yeah, I’m really worried about Seattle’s offensive line. Just not this week.
Redskins plus-2 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 7
No Sean McVay mention can come without noting that he’s 31. After last week, we can also mention that his team scored five touchdowns. It took the Rams three games to reach that total last year. Up next is the team McVay learned inside and out as Redskins coordinator.
Packers plus-2 1/2 at Falcons: Falcons by 7
The Packers have a chance to keep Atlanta’s out-of-sync offense pinned to the mat. But go with the home team, and the team that put up 44 points against the Pack in last year’s NFC title game.
Lions plus-3 1/2 at Giants: Lions by 7
If I were the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. still wasn’t ready to play, I’d dress him anyway and at least try to get some early decoy value out of him. After last week’s 233-yard, three-point effort, these are desperate times.
Cowboys minus-1 1/2 at Broncos: Broncos by 3
The Broncos won last week despite playing the sloppiest fourth quarter of any Week 1 winning team. But I think they’ll be more careful with the ball while stepping up the defense to a level we’re more accustomed to seeing from Denver.
Last week straight up; versus spread: 10-4; 7-7
Upset specials: 0-1