Week 2 of the NFL season got off to an exciting start with another Thursday night, last second, on point victory by the Washington Football Team over the New York Giants, 30-29.
Now it’s time to enjoy the second Sunday of real football.
Game of the Week
Las Vegas Raiders +6.5 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (1PM ET; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)
Both of these teams are coming off of huge Week 1 wins. First, the Pittsburgh Steelers suffocated the Buffalo Bills offense in a 23-16 victory.
Then last Monday night, the Las Vegas Raiders went to overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. With just under four minutes remaining, the Raiders brought out their field goal unit for a 36-yard attempt to win the game. A delay of game penalty caused Jon Gruden to put his offense back on the field and Derek Carr ended the game himself with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones.
Surprisingly, for two teams that have a history of being fierce rivals, Pittsburgh and the Raiders have not played each other since Week 14 of the 2018 season.
The Steelers made the most of their final four drives last Sunday, three field goals, a touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson in the corner of the end zone, plus a blocked punt for a touchdown. That explosion of scoring helps cover up what was actually a below par offensive output.
Pittsburgh only managed 75 yards rushing in 20 carries, including a 25-yard run by wide receiver Chase Claypool. In the passing game, Ben Roethlisberger finished 18 completions in 32 attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown. He ended up with an 83.9 passer rating.
For the Raiders against Baltimore, Derek Carr was channeling his inner Blaine Gabbert through the first quarter and into the second. As the game went on though, his accuracy improved and Las Vegas began moving the ball against a tough Ravens defense. Carr finished with 34 completions in 56 attempts for 435 yards and two touchdowns.
Pittsburgh has the defense to shut down any offense in the league, as they prove last week in Buffalo, but can Roethlisberger raise his game closer to where it was where he was in his prime. He could only manage a 5.2 net passing yards per attempt average. That left Big Ben 26th among NFL passers after one week.
We’ll see if Carr can continue to keep his play elevated to the level he performed at last week. He’s been frustratingly inconsistent his entire career. Even if there is some fall off though, he’s good enough to keep the Raiders in this battle against. One trend to think about here, Las Vegas has won four of their last five September games.
Nostrathomas says they not only keep this game close but win this game outright.
Las Vegas Raiders 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Cincinnati Bengals +1.5 vs Chicago Bears (1PM ET; Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
This game opened with the Chicago Bears favored by four and has been steadily bet down to the current -1.5.
The Cincinnati Bengals opened at home last week and won a hard fought, 27-24 overtime battle against the Minnesota Vikings.
In Los Angeles, The Bears outgained the Rams 322 total yards to 263, if you don’t count the blown coverages that awarded 123 yards of touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford to Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp.
Chicago has one advantage that could knock the Bengals off their game in Week 2. Cincinnati’s offensive line continued their determination to get quarterback Joe Burrow injured for the second straight season. The Vikings dropped him five times for 44 yards in losses.
The Bears front could impact this game if they had even an average secondary. Unfortunately, they have defensive backs who allowed Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams 11.3 yards of clearance from a defender on his 56-yard touchdown catch. That was the most separation on a completion of over 40 yards in three seasons. That does not bode well for Chicago with J’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins coming to town.
The Bears will also be starting Andy Dalton in this game after a game where he completed 27 passes but only netted 4.3 yards per attempt. Dalton didn’t throw any of his 38 pass attempts more than 10 yards down the field.
Nostrathomas doesn’t think that the Bengals will just cover. He predicts that the Bengals will win this game outright, unless Chicago head coach Matt Nagy finally decides to use Justin Fields as more than just his “Taysom Hill”.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 Chicago Bears 17
New England Patriots -6 vs New York Jets (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Last week, Mac Jones demonstrated why Bill Belichick decided to anoint him as successor to “The Brady.” Jones completed 29 passes in 39 attempts for 281 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 102.6.
What went wrong for the New England Patriots that led to them losing a nail-biter to the Miami Dolphins? New England rolled for 393 yards of total offense yet only put 16 points on the scoreboard. If the Patriots continue such poor use of that level of yardage output, they will find themselves finishing 7-9 for the second consecutive season.
Nostrathomas doesn’t think that inability to score will happen two weeks in a row. Bill Belichick is too good of a coach for that.
For the New York Jets, they have yet to prove that they can run the football well enough to help Zach Wilson. They could only manage 2.6 yards per attempt on the ground against the Carolina Panthers and New England is just as tough against the rush as they are.
New York’s offensive line problems also stood out in the passing game. The Panthers dropped Wilson six times in Week 1. Protection issues get worse with the news that New York’s left tackle Mekhi Becton has been ruled out for this game.
Robert Saleh is a good coach but he has taken over a mess of a team. It’s going to take him time to get the Jets turned around. Having to face New England in his second game as a head coach isn’t a good week for that to start happening.
New England Patriots 25 New York Jets 15
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 vs Indianapolis Colts (1PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
Don’t expect the Rams to enjoy the big plays against the Indianapolis Colts that they pulled off against the Chicago Bears last week. Still, quarterback Matthew Stafford did establish an immediate rapport with his receivers that should continue to carry through this game.
Carson Wentz had a tougher time establishing himself against the Seattle Seahawks but he didn’t play as bad as most seemed to expect. As for Russell Wilson, he did play the game everybody expected.
Los Angeles has a lineup full of playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Colts are still looking for that dynamic playmaker to team up with Carson Wentz on offense. That gives Los Angeles the edge in this game.
Los Angeles Rams 32 Indianapolis Colts 20
Denver Broncos -6 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1PM ET; TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)
The first thing you look for with a rebuilding team is a coach that, at least pretends, to be committed to the process.
The second thing is for that coach to understand that just because a running back gained 1,521 yards for you as a senior at Ohio State doesn’t mean he should be the one carrying the rushing load for your team. Third, try to keep Vic Fangio coached teams off your schedule.
Trevor Lawrence showed some flashes in his first NFL game against the Carolina Panthers. His problem going forward is to try and outplay his head coach while also beating his opponent.
All Teddy Bridgewater has to worry about is moving the ball and scoring against an overmatched defense.
Denver Broncos 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Best of the Rest
New Orleans Saints -3 vs Carolina Panthers (1PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
Jameis Winston threw for 148 yards in his debut as the starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints last week. If I stopped at that, you would think it was a disappointing game. Now we’ll throw in that he threw five touchdown passes against, what appeared to be, a dazed and confused Green Bay Packers team.
Nobody expects him to do that this week against the Carolina Panthers. However, I don’t know many who expect Carolina’s Sam Darnold to complete 24 of 35 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown for the second week in a row.
Let’s put it this way, until either team proves otherwise, I have more faith in Sean Payton, Jameis Winston and the Saints to achieve and hold a higher level of play than Carolina is currently capable of.
New Orleans is on a four-game winning streak against the Panthers. They’ll make it five games in Week 2.
New Orleans Saints 26 Carolina Panthers 18the
Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns -13.5 (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
Last week, Tyrod Taylor and the Houston Texans made Urban Meyer question why he ever left the world of college football. Unfortunately for Houston, they won’t be facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this week.
The Cleveland Browns gave the Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle in Week 1. If it weren’t for punter Jamie Gillan mishandling a low snap, they may have walked away from Arrowhead Stadium with a victory.
It’s obvious that that Houston isn’t going to be as bad as everyone believed they’d be this season. The problems for the Texans is, in Week 1, Cleveland showed that they are every bit as good as they were expected to be.
This is a big spread to expect the Browns to cover so early in the season but one of my rules for picking a road dog is that you only do that if you think they can win. Under no circumstances do I believe Houston can win this game.
Cleveland Browns 35 Houston Texans 19
Buffalo Bills -3 vs Miami Dolphins (1PM ET; Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL)
Josh Allen struggled with the Steelers tough defensive front last week while the Miami Dolphins fought New England to the end for a one-point victory.
The Dolphins are a team on the rise but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will need more playmakers than just Jaylon Waddle for the them to make the next step to contenders in the AFC East.
Right now though, the Bills are the team to beat in the division and they’re not going to go down easy. Look for Buffalo to even up their record for the year.
Buffalo Bills 28 Miami Dolphins 24
San Francisco 49ers -3 vs Philadelphia Eagles (1PM ET; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)
The San Francisco 49ers were on their way to blowing out the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit when they started packing for the return trip home before playing the fourth quarter. The Lions nearly sent them home with a planeload of regrets. As for the Philadelphia Eagles, they embarrassed Atlanta in their home opener.
The problem is, neither victory stands as impressive considering the quality of their opponents. We’re going to find out a lot more about these teams this week.
This early in the season, I’m going to say that San Francisco is still the quality, playoff caliber team. Jalen Hurts might be the answer in Philadelphia but it’s still too early to tell.
Over the past two seasons the 49ers have won seven of eight games in the eastern time zone. Let’s see if San Francisco was scared straight after last week’s game and they play a full four quarters of football against the Eagles.
San Francisco 49ers 25 Philadelphia Eagles 20
Minnesota Vikings vs Arizona Cardinals -3.5 (4:05PM ET; State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)
The Arizona Cardinals put up some big numbers last week and embarrassed the Tennessee Titans in their home stadium. This week they play their home opener against a Vikings team that lost a tough overtime game to the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
Kirk Cousins played well but the Vikings need a bigger game from Dalvin Cook, who only averaged 3.1 yards per carry against Cincinnati.
Minnesota was able to create pressure against the Bengals but that was against Cincinnati’s sub-par offensive line. The Cardinals put a much stronger unit in front of Kyler Murray. That will give him the time he needs to get the ball to his playmakers.
This is going to be a battle but Arizona will succeed in jumping out to a 2-0 start.
Arizona Cardinals 27 Minnesota Vikings 23
Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers -12.5 (4:05PM ET; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)
The Atlanta Falcons have problems with their offensive line and can’t create pressure with their defensive front.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still the defending Super Bowl champions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Atlanta Falcons 10
Tennessee Titans vs Seattle Seahawks -6.5 (4:25PM ET; Lumen Stadium, Seattle, WA)
The Tennessee Titans went into Week 1 expecting to advance farther than the AFC Wild Card round this season. Then they went out and fell flat on their faces against the Arizona Cardinals.
This game won’t be any easier for Tennessee. They’re playing a team that also expects to go farther than the Wild Card round and took a first step towards that goal with a 28-16 victory in Indianapolis over the Colts.
As desperately as the Titans need a win to wash the taste of last week’s debacle out of their mouths, this isn’t the team or location to get it. The Seahawks were 7-1 at Lumen Stadium last season and for 2021, the12th man will be shaking the house down.
Seattle Seahawks 27 Tennessee Titans 20
Dallas Cowboys +3.5 vs Los Angeles Chargers (4:25PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)
This should be one of the most exciting games of Week 2. The Dallas Cowboys gave the defending Super Bowl champions in the kickoff game before falling to Tampa Bay 31-29. The Los Angeles Chargers came back in the fourth quarter of Week 1 to defeat the Washington Football Team 20-16.
Dallas had some rough news this week. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will be out for eight weeks because of a broken foot that he suffered in practice.
Other than that, the Cowboys come into this game riding high off a Dak Prescott performance against Tampa Bay that came within a minute of stealing an opening night victory.
The Chargers were able to come away with a big win in Week 1 but it wasn’t as dominant a performance as many seem to want to make it into.
The key to this game will be if Ezekiel Elliott can get enough carries to make an impact for Dallas’ offense. Prescott isn’t long for this season if Mike McCarthy keeps calling on him to throw 58 times a game.
For this game, Nostrathomas thinks that the Cowboys powerful trio of receivers will enable Dallas to win this game outright as road dogs in what promises to be an exciting game.
Dallas Cowboys 27 Los Angeles Chargers 26
Kansas City Chiefs -4 vs Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night Football; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)
This game opened with Kansas City favored by 2.5 with the spread moving to -4 as of this writing. A couple of things are working against the Ravens this week.
Baltimore is on a short week after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. They will also be missing left tackle Ronnie Staley, who will be out with an ankle injury.
For the Chiefs, they will be getting defensive end Frank Clark and Safety Tyrann Mathieu back in the lineup. Also, Pat Mahomes has won all three of his starts against Lamar Jackson.
If Baltimore doesn’t lean too heavily on Jackson to replace some of the rushing attack the Ravens lost due to injury, we should have another outstanding prime time game on our hands.
Kansas City Chiefs 33 Baltimore Ravens 25
Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers -11.5 (Monday Night Football; Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI)
If you’re looking for a game filled with question marks in Week 2 this is the one for you.
Which Detroit Lions team will we be seeing on Monday Night Football this week? The one that fell to a three-score deficit in the first half last week against the San Francisco 49ers or the on that Jared Goff nearly brought all the way back to a shocking Week 1 win?
On the other hand, which Green Bay Packers team will we see in this game? The one that put up the worst loss ever for a team that appeared in the Conference Championship Game the previous season or the one that played well enough to be in that Conference Championship Game?
I think it’s safe to say that San Francisco not only took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half of last week’s game but they parked the car and went into the house to have drinks and wind down after work. Detroit doesn’t have the defense at this point in their rebuilding effort to keep a game close when their opponent is invested in it.
As for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, if they react to Week 1 like a perennial playoff team that is embarrassed to the bone by the ostrich egg they laid, they should win and cover the double-digit spread. On the other hand, if they continue to play the way they did against the Saints, 2021 will be the season where we witness this era of the Green Bay Packers story come to an end.
Green Bay Packers 35 Detroit Lions 20
All point spreads provided by VegasInsider.com and are accurate at the time of writing.