NFL 2017 – Week 2 Preview & Picks

Houston Texans (0-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
1:25am Friday 15th Sep (UK time)
J.J. Watt thinks it’s good the Texans have a short week, coming off an abysmal loss to Jacksonville. Hopefully they can quickly put the poor start to the season behind them, and bash some Bengals. However, Cincinnati might be thinking the same, coming off a 20-0 loss to the Ravens, in a game where Andy Dalton managed to throw an impressive 4 interceptions. For the Bengals to bungle isn’t totally unknown though, whereas Houston displayed a complete inability to play football last week, most shockingly with a completely porous defense against Jacksonville’s run game. Things did look up in the second half though, after supposedly-starter QB Tom Savage was replaced by potential star rookie Deshaun Watson, who managed a couple of nice drives and a touchdown before the meagre Texans O-line caused him to panic. Both teams should improve this week (they can’t get any worse), but the Bengals are likely to be the better football team this Thursday night.

Arizona Cardinals (0-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Another two teams with poor starts to the season – week one wasn’t a great showing for many teams. The Cardinals were overtaken by the Lions last Sunday and lost star running back David Johnson, with a wrist injury that could take him out for most of the season. The Colts managed to lose 46-9 to the Rams, which could be a combination of the Rams getting good and the Colts being quite bad – especially without Andrew Luck. Neither team looks particularly competent right now, but it remains to be seen how badly the loss of Johnson will effect the Cardinals. They should at least be better than the Colts this week.

Buffalo Bills (1-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Buffalo managed to comfortably walk over the Jets last week, whilst Carolina solidly stomped the 49ers. Neither team completely lit up the passing game though. This looks like an even match-up with similar playstyles. Expect a tight game, run heavy, with solid defense. The Panthers might just have the edge.

Chicago Bears (0-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Due to Hurrican Irma, Tampa Bay had to take their bye week in week one. That could be good or bad – they’ve had more time to practice, but hopefully they don’t put in a poor season opener like so many teams did last week. Chicago didn’t do too badly in their week one loss to Atlanta, with a solid run game. As this season’s Hard Knocks stars though, it’s hard not to root for the Buccaneers, with Jameis Winston’s charm backed up by solid QB skills and a great pair of receivers in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Tampa Bay should have the extra power required on offense to overcome the Bears.

Cleveland Browns (0-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Fun fact: the Browns might not be awful this season! Well, more of an observation than a fact. But rookie QB DeShone Kizer put in a respectable performance in his first game, putting him in line to be the best Cleveland quarterback this century. The Ravens have just come off a 20-0 win over the Bengals though, which could be down to an incredible defense or Cincinnati’s inability to keep hold of the ball. Baltimore should be favourites – they have the elite dragon Flacco – but don’t expect Cleveland to roll over.

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
On the extensive list of surprising things from week one, Vikings’ QB Sam Bradford looked impressive. Bradford and receiver Stefon Diggs showed good chemistry in their 29-19 win against the Saints last week. The Steelers come into this game as the favourites – it’s hard not to, with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and the home advantage – but Bell looked uninspiring last week, managing only 32 yards. Expect a hard fought game, and the possibility that the Steelers get their shit together and get the W – just.

New England Patriots (0-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-1)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
For half a game last week, the Patriots looked Madden-esque, making football look easy. Then the Chiefs came back to beat them in a huge upset that must have put smiles on a lot faces. The Patriots won’t be so arrogant this week, so expect them to come back with a vengeance – New Orleans being their first victim. Really at this point, how good the Saints may or may not be doesn’t factor into things – throughout the week Brady and Belichick will have performed numerous ritual sacrifices to the football devil, angered at last week’s loss. The Saints playing at home should be helpful, in that it will be a shorter trip home to recover from the beating.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Wentz’s 58 yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor was one of the highlights for Philly last week, in addition to an impressive defense that made Washington look sloppy. The Chiefs on the other hand, are coming off their incredibly impressive week one victory over the Patriots, in a game where Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill all managed to put up insane “fantasy MVP” level stats – Kareem Hunt rushing and receiving for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns, a performance almost worthy of a record book. Based purely on the evidence of one win against the Patriots and too much hyperbole from this writer, the Chiefs could be sneaky Super Bowl contenders. Of course they’ll beat the Eagles at home this week.

Tennessee Titans (0-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
The Jags are no longer candidates for the worst team in the AFC South – the Colts and Texans are both fighting hard for that position. This season the Jags are a candidate for most improved team in the NFL, with (seemingly, based on a thumping of a very poor Texans team) two things they didn’t have last season: a defense and a run game. The Titans are also an increasingly improved team, but couldn’t manage to win against the Raiders last week. This one could be both interesting and too close to call – even the bookies think so. The team that puts on the better performance this Sunday could claim the AFC South, and with it, the chance to get beaten by the Patriots, Chiefs, or some other top level team come play-off time.

Miami Dolphins (0-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)
9:05pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
The Dolphins were the other team that had to take a premature bye week for the season opener – pesky hurricanes. So we’re still waiting to get aboard the Cutler hype train and ride it to ProbableDisasterVille. The Chargers couldn’t quite beat the Broncos last week in their first game as the LA Chargers, but you could possibly blame that one on the kicker. Rivers and Gordon still look solid. This one should be quite easy to call, and not as close as the bookies think – Chargers all the way.

New York Jets (0-1) @ Oakland Raiders (1-0)
9:05pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
The bookies have this as the most one-sided game of the week, with Raiders -14 against the spread. That’s because the only debate here, is how badly the Jets will lose. The Jets basically have no passing game, whereas Oakland’s Carr and Cooper combo is one of the better ones in the league. Of course Oakland will win, and they could beat the spread too, because the Jets won’t be putting up much resistance.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (1-0)
9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Film critics have called this game “superb”, “unmissable” and “the closest match-up of the week”. That last one might have just been the bookies. Denver do come into this with the home advantage, but Dallas as the slight favourites – and that makes sense, because they have one of the better offenses in the league right now, a complete package, and the D aren’t too shabby either. Denver will do everything they can to stop them, turning this into a gritty, low scoring, hard defense game. I’d put your money on Dallas though – and maybe mine too.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Despite the Seahawks’ O-line looking a bit lost against the Packers last week, few teams looked more lost than the 49ers. Whilst San Francisco always have the ability to turn a division game into a battle, there’s a reason why bookies have Seattle as huge favourites here. This might not be quite as lopsided as suggested though – the 49ers can’t put up much points, but their defense should be able to frustrate Seattle to keep the score relatively low and limit the loss.

Washington Redskins (0-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
Coming off a 46-9 win over the Colts last week, would it be controversial to say the Rams are a good team now? Goff managed a QB rating of 117.9 – either a fluke or a sign that he has improved hugely over his first season. Kupp looks impressive, and Todd Gurley is back to being Todd Gurley, so it might not be too crazy to suggest new head coach Sean McVay is turning the Rams into a good team. The bookies have the Rams as the slight favourites, and that seems about right really.

Green Bay Packers (1-0) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
1:30am Monday 18th Sep (UK time)
It took Green Bay until the 3rd quarter to finally get a touchdown and beat out Seattle. They did demonstrate that their run game isn’t too bad though, and Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. Atlanta looked solid against Chicago in their week one win, although not firing on all cylinders, and their best receiver was somehow tight end Austin Hooper. Whilst Atlanta are slight favourites this week (with the bookies), the Packers should shore up their offense and rise up against the Falcons. Green Bay for the win?

Detroit Lions (1-0) @ New York Giants (1-0)
1:30am Tuesday 19th Sep (UK time)
The Lions managed a surprising comeback, to beat the Cardinals in week one. Matt Stafford trying to prove that he’s worth that Matt Stafford money. Whether it was the impressive Dallas defense, or other factors, Eli Manning demonstrated how to run around aimlessly and throw the ball nowhere for much of the Giants’ game against the Cowboys last week. There is one notable difference this week though – the return of Odell Beckham Jr. On paper, the Lions should have the weapons to score and the defense to rip apart Eli. However, Detroit being Detroit, they should find a way to blow this. Expect the Lions to throw away a small lead at the last minute – perhaps through an injury, silly turnover or awful kick – and hand the Giants the game. As is the Detroit way.

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