Thursday, September 11, 2014

Week 2 Preview

Justin's 2015 Mock Draft

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-1)
Vegas Line: Baltimore -2.5

While the NFL has a black eye from the general public following Ricegate, no team has handled the grunt of the scandal worse than the Baltimore Ravens, the team who employed Ray Rice. While his name has dominated headlines since Monday, the Ravens will look to move on as they face the Steelers Thursday night. Baltimore has not started off 0-2 since 2005 and have had a highly-competitive series against Pittsburgh since 2009.

Pittsburgh was able to hold off a comeback attempt by Cleveland in a game that will be remembered more for Antonio Brown's martial arts skills than it will for football. The last time Pittsburgh won their first two games was in 2010, which ended with a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.

In a contest between two very equal teams - two former giants in a division known for defense that are now aging - I think Baltimore should be able to escape this game with a win. They have the home field advantage and the team will be a little more motivated to make a statement to help blow away the Ray Rice coverage.

Final - Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 17

Detroit Lions (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
Vegas Line: Carolina -3

Good news for Panthers fans, Cam Newton is back! Derek Anderson played adequately in a spot start and helped Carolina take a win from Tampa Bay. The last time the Panthers started the season off 2-0 was in 2008, when they went 12-4 en route to a Divisional Round loss to Cinderella team Arizona.

Detroit's offense looked as good as ever in their Monday night win over the Giants, but they play a much more competent defense this time around. The last time Detroit began the season with two wins was in 2011, their only playoff season of the new millennium.

Cam Newton is a big difference maker, but the Detroit Lions front seven will severely limit running opportunities. This game will be a big chance to see just how well Newton and new wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin can work together, but in the end, I think Detroit will sneak away with a road victory.

Final - Detroit 28 Carolina 20

Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)
Vegas Line: Miami -1

Slugging it out in a battle for first place in the AFC East are...the Dolphins and the Bills? I kid you not, but the real question is whether or not these two teams will be having this same battle in November.

The Dolphins showed promise last year, beginning the season with three straight wins until the team imploded on itself, allowing a bullying scandal to dominate headlines and losing two very winnable games against Buffalo and the Jets at the end of the season to be knocked out of the playoffs.

Buffalo started off 2011 3-0, but then won only three games for the remainder of the year. Miami is an up-and-coming team while the Bills would like to make a statement that they will make the playoffs for the first time since the Music City Miracle.

Despite being on the road, I like Miami's chances in this game. They face Buffalo on the road early in the season, which is great for a warm-weather team as it means they will not need to face the Bills in the dead of December and Ryan Tannehill is a better quarterback than EJ Manuel.

Final - Miami 31 Buffalo 21

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
Vegas Line: Washington -6

Both teams started the season off 0-2 last year. In fact, Jacksonville has began the season 0-2 four times in the last six years.

Robert Griffin III again looked terrible in the season debut, allowing a clearly superior defense to expose him. Meanwhile, Jacksonville looked great for one half against the Eagles until Philadelphia decided it was time to play football.

Despite being on the road, I could still see Jacksonville winning this game if they play four quarters. Their defense seems to be a bit underrated and if they get to RGIII early, they can set the tone for the game.

Final - Jacksonville 17 Washington 10

Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
Vegas Line: Tennessee -3.5

Boy did Tony Romo look horrific against San Francisco. In a game that was expected to be a shootout, Dallas got their doors blown off early and Romo admitted yesterday that he wasn't "mentally prepared" for the game, a pretty poor excuse for a guy who is in his 11th season.

Tennessee, meanwhile, went to Kansas City and rattled Alex Smith into throwing three interceptions in a win. The running game, led by Dexter McCluster and Shonn Greene, looked good and that was without their best runner, rookie Bishop Sankey, touching the ball until the fourth quarter.

Dallas' defense has downgraded extremely in the offseason and Romo looked awful in his season debut. He should be better Sunday, but still not good enough.

Final - Tennessee 24 Dallas 17

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
Vegas Line: Arizona -2.5

Apparently, winning two Super Bowls isn't enough for a Giants fan who decided to burn Eli Manning's jersey following a poor performance against the Lions. Maybe it would help if his offensive line actually decided to block as well. 

Meanwhile, Arizona needed a fourth quarter comeback from Carson Palmer in order to escape with a Week 1 win over San Diego. Carson Palmer again tossed a few bad passes but also did not get picked off.

Everyone is low on the Giants, but this seems like the type of game they would win. Expect the Giants to win their home opener.

Final New York 30 Arizona 23

New England Patriots (0-1) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
Vegas Line: New England -3

The last time the Patriots began the season 0-2 this happened:

And by the way, Drew Bledsoe started the first two games that year. Simply put, New England isn't going 0-2 because Tom Brady isn't going to let it happen. Miami stunned New England and their running game punched them in the mouth, but the Patriots defense will be more prepared for Adrian Peterson. 

Minnesota is sitting high and mighty after thrashing the lowly Rams, but New England is a better team and will be ready for them.

Final - New England 34 Minnesota 21

New Orleans Saints (0-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Vegas Line: New Orleans -6.5

New Orleans lost a shootout on the road to Atlanta, while Cleveland's comeback bid against the Steelers came up short. Starting off 0-2 is nothing new to Cleveland as the team has dropped their first two games five times in the last six seasons.

Cleveland's defense is again a tough unit, but I think Drew Brees and company have a big bounce-back game against the Browns.

Final - New Orleans 30 Cleveland 17

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
Vegas Line: Cincinnati -5

Cincinnati escaped with a victory over Baltimore following an acrobatic grab from AJ Green while the Matty Ice froze the Saints in overtime for the Falcons last week.

The Falcons are eager for a bounce-back campaign after a dismal 2013, while the Bengals are looking to continue to build momentum.

In the end, I think the Bengals defense will be a bit too much for Atlanta. Giovani Bernard should have a big game against a run defense that finished 31st in the league last season.

Final - Cincinnati 31 Atlanta 24

St. Louis Rams (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay -6

St. Louis is down another quarterback and to make matters worse, Chris Long is now out for a significant amount of time. This team just can't catch a break.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was unable to capitalize on a chance to defeat Carolina without Cam Newton. Tampa Bay turned the ball over three times and only had possession for 24:48.

Tampa Bay has the home field advantage and at least their quarterback is healthy. Expect them to win on Sunday.

Final - Tampa Bay 21 St. Louis 13

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-1)
Vegas Line: Seattle -6

Seattle began the season with a thrashing of Green Bay, showing everyone that they are still the best team in the league. San Diego, on the other hand, couldn't stop Arizona in the fourth quarter of a Monday night loss.

Seattle is on the road, but they are still on the West Coast and benefit from having additional days off from playing a Thursday game. San Diego, however, played a Monday game and will take on the defending Super Bowl champions on short rest.

This is a recipe for disaster for San Diego despite being at home. Seattle should be able to handle this one.

Final - Seattle 27 San Diego 10

Houston Texans (1-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)
Vegas Line: Houston -3

Houston defense looked great in a thrashing of Washington, but they lost Jadevon Clowney for the next month in the process.  Oakland's offense couldn't get anything going against a stout Jets defense.

Rookie Derek Carr is facing two tough tests early in his career with New York and Houston's defenses. He has the advantage of playing at home, because if he was playing in Houston, a team where his older brother was once the face of the franchise, I think he would face an extremely hostile crowd.

Overall, I think Houston's team is better, especially on defense, and will flex their muscles in another win.

Final -Houston 21 Oakland 17

New York Jets (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-1)
Vegas Line: Green Bay -8

Can anyone guess who leads the league in completion percentage? If you guessed Geno Smith, you would be correct.  Green Bay's defense isn't that great, but they should be a step above the Raiders and will challenge Smith a bit more.

Green Bay is home and will be looking to bounce back from a poor showing against Seattle. Aaron Rodgers faces another tough defense in New York, but the Packers offensive strength in the passing game should expose the Jets weak pass defense.

Final - Green Bay 28 New York 10

Kansas City (0-1) at Denver (1-0)
Vegas Line: Denver -13

Kansas City looked awful in a match against Tennessee. To make matters worse, they lost Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito to torn Achilles, just in time to face Julius Thomas, who scored three touchdowns last week.

Denver took an early lead against Indianapolis last week and halted a potential fourth quarter comeback from Indianapolis. 

The difference maker in this game again is Peyton Manning. If the Chiefs pass defense can't get it together again, Manning will have a field day and the Chiefs will be forced to play catch up.

Final - Denver 41 Kansas City 27

Chicago Bears (0-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
Vegas Line: San Francisco -7

The Chicago Bears run defense, which was terrible last year, has not improved and hurt them in a loss to Buffalo. This week, they face Frank Gore, a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick and the team's running back of the future in Carlos Hyde.

Despite missing key player son defense, San Francisco looked dominant against the Cowboys and should be able to give problems to the Bears offense. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery could create some opportunities in that secondary though.

San Francisco should be able to sneak away with a win here by relying on their running game.

Final - San Francisco 27 Chicago 21

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) Game of the Week
Vegas Line: Indianapolis -3

Philadelphia was able to escape from a shocking defeat to Jacksonville last week, riding a 34-0 second half to ensure the win.

Indianapolis was down early to Denver, but nearly pulled off the win with another fourth quarter comeback from Andrew Luck.

The Colts run defense is still poor and I expect LeSean McCoy to expose that on Monday night, but the Eagles defense is nothing spectacular either. I can't see Indianapolis dropping two consecutive prime time games at home either.

Final - Indianapolis 33 Philadelphia 30

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