Carolina @ Atlanta
Looks like I’ve picked up right where I left off. One week in and I’ve got a perfect record, just like last season. Hey, what are you doing? Don’t go back and check my picks, that’s not necessary ... why are you like this?!? I just wish we could trust each other again. That’s probably the same sentiment in the Falcons’ locker room after they began their 2018 season in almost the same exact fashion that their 2017 season ended, with repeated failed attempts to score the game-winning touchdown from 1st & Goal in Philadelphia. That’s a total of 9 attempts over those two games with 0 points. In last week’s game the Falcons had five trips inside the Philly 20 and only came away with 10 points. Clearly Atlanta has a broken red zone. That sounds hemorrhoidal, and for Falcons fans I’m sure it’s been precisely that painful. There’s so much pressure tied up in this situation that something is going to burst. Either with a torrent of points, or a catastrophic failure that results in Matt Ryan not being able to sit down without a donut. I’m guessing they’ll come through at home.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Buffalo
Last week in this column I wondered, in all sincerity, who would finish Week 1 at quarterback for the Bills. As it turned out, it was not Nathan Peterman, who started the game and went 5-18 for 24 yards and 2 interceptions. It’s hard to get much worse than that. In fact, according to the quarterback rating calculations, you can't get worse than that, his rating for the game was a 0.0. Buffalo ended up losing the game 47-3. I don’t blame Peterman though, it’s not like he made the decision to start him. What’s he supposed to do, tell the coaches and front office that he’s not good enough to play? That’s just not realistic; we’re not living in a Sportsmanship, pass it on PSA. The Bills have been left with no choice but to start rookie Josh Allen at this point, though I would argue that they didn’t have a choice to begin with, yet still managed to make the incorrect one. Even with a new QB they probably won’t get a win ... perhaps this whole season.
Minnesota @ Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers wowed fans across the nation last Sunday night when he returned to the field post-leg amputation, and still bleeding from multiple open and stab wounds. I didn’t see the game, but that’s what I’ve come to understand of the situation after hearing the postgame analysis and reading the internet. The Packers were lost without Rodgers when he was out in Week 1, and they won’t stand a chance against the Vikings if he doesn’t play this week. But, if Rodgers can somehow find the courage and strength to make it to the field Sunday the Packers have a shot. Who am I kidding, of course he’ll find the courage! He’s Aaron Rodgers, one of the most determined, intrepid athletes, nay, men in the world today. This man will limp his way through the game even if he doesn’t need to! He’s a hero damn it! That being said, I’m taking Minnesota.
Houston @ Tennessee
Last week Bill O’Brien displayed maddeningly inconsistent strategy in regards to his 4th down playcalling against the Patriots. With 10 minutes to go and his team down 21-6 O’Brien went for it on 4th & 5 from the New England 17. It was an aggressive call, but probably the right one. It was also a call that makes this next one a bit of a head-scratcher. On 4th & 8 from his own 36, with 4:30 to play and his team down 27-13, O’Brien decided to punt. Obviously the field position isn’t optimal there, but with that much time left wouldn’t it make sense for the coach to stay aggressive and try to keep possession? It’s as if earlier in the game O’Brien thought, “This is how the Eagles beat these guys. We’re going for it!” But later in the game said, “That shit didn’t work. We’re punting.” As it turned out, the Patriots muffed that late punt leading to a Texans touchdown, but that’s not the point. The point is, I’m not sure Bill O’Brien knows exactly what he’s doing out there, and that makes Houston games even more entertaining than they already would have been.
Cleveland @ New Orleans
The bar was set so low for the Cleveland Browns that after their tie last Sunday they have officially clinched a better record than they had last season. Imagine that, coach Hue Jackson can already claim that this season is an improvement. Sure they still haven’t actually won a game, but you gotta crawl before you can walk. And then sometimes you get so excited that you're finally crawling that you try to go too fast and fall right back on your face. That’s most likely how it will go for the Browns this week. But they shouldn’t feel too bad, that happens to a lot of people in New Orleans. Normally it’s not in the middle of the SuperDome but on a curb in the French Quarter after a weekend you can recall very little of but you know on a deep, visceral level that it’s changed you forever ... Going against what promises to be an angry Saints team look for Cleveland to fall before they can once again crawl.
Miami @ New York Jets
Sure the Jets turned some heads on Monday night, putting up 48 points and scoring in all three phases of the game, but I’d argue that the Dolphins’ Week 1 win was even more impressive. They outlasted the Titans in a 7 hour marathon! Miami can now lay claim to a win in the the longest game in NFL history. Sure the length was due to multiple, hours-long weather delays, but if we’re going to start focusing on technicalities and “facts” we’re not gonna have a whole lot of fun here folks. At this point I’m guessing you thought, “This is supposed to be fun?” To which I’d say, you’re still reading it ain’t ya jocko?!? Now at this point I’m furiously refreshing to verify that somebody has visited this page. It would make sense to side with New York after their breakout win last week, but methinks these Jets may be flying a bit too high. I’ll take Miami. And now ... REFRESH!
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Get ready for some points baby! Will this game be high scoring? All signs point to yes! Don’t bring your balloons up in here, there are going to be too many points! There are gonna be more points made than a debate tournament. We’re talking more points than a Sheraton hotel chain (I now realize that would only require the teams to combine for a total of 5 points, so maybe that one’s not as appropriate). The Chiefs’ offense looked electric last Sunday, and we all know how prolific the Steelers can be, especially at home. Meanwhile, both defenses struggled in Week 1. Factor all of that in, and this game figures to have more points than a bed of nails ... extra pointy nails!
Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay
I have more faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick than most people, but even I was stunned by the numbers he put up in Tampa’s Week 1 win in New Orleans. Over 400 yards passing, 4 TDs through the air and another one on the ground. As I type this Ryan Fitzpatrick is the 2018 NFL MVP. Of course, most sportswriters wait until the end of the regular season to send in their MVP vote, but not me baby! That vote was immediately sent back to me with a note from the league claiming to not know who I am. Well clearly you know my e-mail address, and my name’s right in there, so I guess you do know who I am. Haha! Now who’s the idiot? You? Or me, the guy who mailed in an unsolicited MVP vote for Ryan Fitzpatrick after the first week? You can e-mail me your response.
Indianapolis @ Washington
I’ll be honest, I didn’t get to see either of these teams play last week. I mean, the Sport Clips I watch games at only has so many TVs. From what I can tell though Andrew Luck looked decent in a home loss, and Washington was very solid in a road win. After processing that detailed, nuanced information it seems like Washington is the reasonable pick. And I’m nothing if not a reasonable guy who likes to chill, watch football, and chop it up with the boyz at Sport Clips for 6 hours every Sunday; haircut optional.
Arizona @ Los Angeles Rams
The Cardinals only managed 6 points in a home loss to Washington last week. The good news is that I’m not sure many people even realized that that game took place. The bad news is at least one person in the league office found out, because if you take a look at the official standings, Arizona is, in fact, listed at 0-1. If that first game is any indication, the Cardinals may prefer to not be noticed for the rest of the season. Sam Bradford amassed 153 yards on 34 attempts, a stat line that is more commonly referred to as a “Bradford” by league insiders. Much like the Peterman situation in Buffalo though, I don’t blame Sam Bradford. If teams are willing to give him 10s of millions of dollars to be mediocre or worse of course he’s going to accept. Hell, the league commissioner does the same thing. Ooh that’s right, I burned ya Goodell. Come at me bro! (He probably reads this, don’t you think?) Bradford and Arizona’s assignment figures to be more difficult this week, so expect another double-digit loss from the Cards and a single-digit yards per completion average from their QB.
Detroit @ San Francisco
Hearts were broken across the nation last Sunday when Jimmy G lost his first game as a starter. The homeostasis we were living in was more delicate than we ever realized. Now as a people we must rebuild. Looking on the bright side, it was a tough match-up for the Niners at Minnesota in Week 1, so they can be forgiven for taking the L. The Lions, on the other hand, deserve our scorn and ridicule after an embarrassing 48-17 home loss to the Jets. If I simply compare those results San Francisco looks like the clear choice. But if I factor in the ... no, I got nothing else.
Oakland @ Denver
Reportedly, one of the main reasons the Raiders didn’t make an attempt to give Khalil Mack a contract extension was that they didn’t want a giant chunk of their payroll tied up in two huge contracts. With Derek Carr being their other player under a mega deal, that means they basically chose Carr over Mack. After one week it appears obvious that that was a mistake. Carr was serviceable for stretches in Oakland's Week 1 loss, but threw 3 picks, while the Raiders' D struggled to generate a pass rush. But hey, enough about the Mack trade, it’s time to move on, regardless of how severely it will haunt Oakland for years to come. Look for the Broncos to get the win here, because ya know, they held on to their perennial all-pro pass rusher.
Jacksonville @ New England
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday Jags coach Doug Marrone revealed that he didn’t watch last year’s Super Bowl, and in fact, he hasn’t watched any Super Bowl for the past 30 years or so, due to the frustration he’s felt from not reaching the big game, be it as a player or coach. I suppose I can see where he’s coming from, but can you imagine what his reaction will be if he does get to the Super Bowl after not having seen one since the 80s? Does he know about Media Day? Or about all the pregame hoopla? Is he going to bring his team back out of the locker room after 15 minutes of halftime and say, “Why the hell is there a concert on the field? Whoa is that Lady Gaga?!?” Jacksonville has a shot at making it this season; if I were him I’d check out a couple of replays on the NFL Network to get acclimated just in case. Obviously the tension will be high on Sunday in this AFC title game rematch, and I expect the Jags to have vengeance on their minds. Will it drive them or blind them? Hard to say. Hopefully it doesn’t blindly drive them, that would be dangerous.
New York Giants @ Dallas
Both teams come in to this match-up at 0-1 and desperate for a win to calm their fanbase. The best way I know to calm any fanbase is to listen to Cris Collinsworth speak, so here ya go:
Be well Cris.
Seattle @ Chicago
It’s week 2 of the Brandon Marshall Revenge Tour. Last week, against his former team the Broncos, he had a touchdown catch in a loss; so perhaps this week he’ll have a loss in a touchdown catch. No, that doesn’t work. Anyway, since the Seahawks don’t play the Dolphins, Jets, or Giants (jeez this guy’s played on a lot of teams, maybe that’s not a good sign ...) Marshall will have to unleash all of his remaining vengeance on Chicago this Monday. And Seattle will need him to with Doug Baldwin missing from what was a thin receiving corps to begin with. However, we now know that they have the ultimate weapon in blocking tight end and 100 yard receiver Will Dissly, so that should help. But back to Marshall; they say when setting out on a mission of revenge, dig two graves. Hopefully Marshall doesn’t take that literally, because that would just be a waste of energy, and he’d probably incur some sort of penalty for defacing the field. But if he strictly focuses on football (and catches like 3 touchdowns) Seattle should get the win.