By Jimmy Canuso
Week 2 is a very interesting time in the NFL season. You start to form opinions on teams based on “knee-jerk” reactions you have to things that happen in the week one matchups. There are so many unknowns that make it hard to assess a team’s potential before they have made adjustments going into the rest of the season. Was the hiring of Matt Patricia a bad move for the Lions? Or is the former New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator gonna help his new team get to ten wins for the first time since 2014? Will we ever see Eli Manning in the playoffs again, or will he continue to lose very winnable games like the Jaguars in Week 1? Here are the Ball Talk Week 2 NFL picks….based solely on knee jerk reactions from week one.
Chiefs @ Steelers
Advanced data from pro-football-reference.com has shown that the home team in an NFL game has about a 57.2% chance of winning. The data also shows that when turnovers occur in a game, it drastically changes that win probability percentage. Each team only gets about twelve possessions per game, so it makes sense that if a home teams gets one turnover, they have a 69.6% chance of winning, and two turnovers gives them an 83.9% chance of winning. When the Steelers walked into the Dawg Pound and got 5 turnovers, they had 95.8% chance to lose the game… and they walked out with a tie. Needless to say, the Steelers played a very sloppy game. Big Ben looked like he was completely ignoring any pass rush to get sacked 4 times with two strip sacks, threw 3 interceptions with one of the better receiving cores in the league, and the Steelers had 3 fumbles lost. The Steelers also let the Browns get 6 first downs due to penalties. Luckily James Connor put up 135 yards and two rushing TDs to keep Pittsburgh in the game in his first ever NFL start, which would be miraculous for the second year running back to do again in Week 2. The Chiefs obviously looked much better in their Week 1 appearance, with new QB Patrick Mahomes connecting with Tyreek Hill 7 times for 169 yards and throwing no interceptions. The Steelers’ defense is gonna have a much bigger challenge against Andy Reid’s West Coast high efficiency passing offense than Hugh Jackson’s mediocre play calling and with Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, who led the Browns in rushing yards and completed 15 of 40 throws. I think the Steelers have the pieces to be competitive in this game, but the Chiefs look much tighter and polished right now so I’m gonna have to pick them to come out of this one victorious.
Texans @ Titans
Editor’s Note: This was wrote before it was announced that Marcus Mariota and Jadeveon Clowney were both inactive for the game.
This one won’t be very fun to watch, and these teams are fairly evenly matched, I’m picking the Titans because they have a veteran QB and they have home field advantage. I’m not ready to trust in Deshaun Watson as a good decision maker until he can get a solid win under his belt this season.
Chargers @ Bills
Not a tough sell here. The Bills lost 47-3 against the Ravens in week one. Rookie Josh Allen out of Wyoming will start against the Chargers instead of Nathan Peterman, but he didn’t do anything noteworthy while he was in for the second half against Baltimore. The Chargers had an all around solid performance on offense in their loss to the Chiefs; Phillip Rivers threw for 424 yards and a 67% completion rate with one interception while Melvin Gordon contributed 64 rushing yards. If you think the Bills are winning this game, chances are you live in Buffalo and it’s wishful thinking.
Panthers @ Falcons
I had to really think about this one. It seems as though the Falcons’ game plan on offense can be summed up pretty simply: throw to Julio Jones to get downfield, and then continue to throw to Julio Jones in the Red Zone even though he’s being triple teamed. Jones put up 169 yards in the week one matchup against the Eagles while no other receiver put up more than 30. The Falcons frustrate me because I thought RB Devonta Freeman was a beast in past years for them while it seems his usage has gone down considerably. He led in rushing with only 36 yards, and he’s not even going to be playing in week two. The Panthers don’t look much better on offense, with no player besides QB Cam Newton putting up more than 50 yards, receiving or rushing. They didn’t play considerably better than the Cowboys, but they at least ended up on top. I’m going with the Panthers here solely because they have a win under their belt and probably a higher morale going into week two. Let’s see what happens.
Browns @ Saints
It was exciting last year when the Saints started running the ball well, but since Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season, they’re back to primarily passing, with Alvin Kamara leading the team in rushing for only 29 yards in the first game. Their offense still looks good though; where Drew Brees threw for 439 yards with no interceptions or sacks an insanely efficient completion percentage of 82%. The Saints should have no problem against the Browns defense as long as Brees can continue to get the ball off quickly, but DE Myles Garrett was a beast for the Browns in Week 1 so that is something to watch for.
Eagles @ Buccaneers
If you are reading this article, chances are you follow football, which means you’ve probably heard a lot of mania about Ryan Fitzpatrick, the backup QB for the Buccaneers who put up 417 yards at a 77% completion rate against the Saints in the midst of starting QB Jameis Winston’s 3 game suspension. While I think Fitzpatrick is a talented player, I’m not convinced based on his overall career that he’s able to be consistent and have multiple games in a row like that. Also, he likely will not be able to get those kinds of yards with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at cornerback for the Eagles. Ronald Darby was all over Julio Jones in Week 1 when the Eagles played the Falcons, so I don’t think he’ll have a problem handling Mike Evans. The Super Bowl Champions aren’t at full strength, with WR Alshon Jeffery and RB Darren Sproles hurt, and RB Legarrette Blount and WR Torrey Smith both being traded. Regardless of this, backup quarterback Nick Foles has been connecting well with WR Nelson Agholor, and RB Jay Ajayi has been handling a bigger workload well. Not to mention that it seems like Coach Doug Pederson’s play calling always finds a way to get them the win, the Eagles will get the higher score in this one.
Colts @ Redskins
Luck is officially back. While throwing for 319 yards he was able find 9 different receivers in the Colts’ week one loss against the Bengals, and 3 of those receivers had over 50 yards. That’s a true sign of a solid quarterback. Any QB can connect with top ten receivers. On the other side, former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had an efficient game completing 21 out of his 30 pass attempts for 255 yards. Also, RB Adrian Peterson, also a new Redskin, rushed for 96 yards and a TD to dismantle the Cardinals 24-6. Peterson, one of the oldest running backs in the NFL, is also the most accomplished, and I think he still has the ability to put up consistently solid rushing performances while the Redskins have gotten by as a pass-first offense in recent years. The Colts may have a slightly better receiving depth, but not much, and they have a more mediocre running game. The Skins defense were able to hold the Cardinals to zero touchdowns and star RB David Johnson to only 37 yards, while the Colts defense gave up 34 points in Week 1. These two pass-first teams are more evenly matched than most of the other games in Week 2, but Washington holds the advantages and will win this game.
Dolphins @ Jets
The Jets destroyed the Lions 48-17 in week one. If we see the same good decision making from Jets QB Sam Darnold we saw in week 1 against the Lions (except for the pick 6), he should be able to lead this team to a win against the Dolphins.
Vikings @ Packers
What Aaron Rodgers did in week one was nothing short of great, but I’m picking the Vikings to come out of this one on top. The Vikings have the top ranked defense in the league. And although it is arguable that the Bears have one of the better pass rushing in the league with the addition of Khalil Mack, they ran out of steam in the second half of the Week 1 game. That won’t happen with the Vikings pass rush. They’re gonna be going after Rodgers the entire game, and they’re not gonna be easy to stop. Rodgers is gonna have to get the ball off quickly again like he did in the second half against the Bears, and I don’t think he’ll be able to find those tight windows as easily like he did in those TD passes to Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb against the Vikings cornerbacks and safeties. The Vikings have more pieces on offense who can do more on the run than the Packers, whose yards will be inflated because of Rodgers immaculate ability. The Vikings will come out of this one victorious, although it could be close.
Cardinals @ Rams
Easy pick. The Cardinals weren’t really able to generate any momentum on offense against the Redskins, as they scored no touchdowns. With the Rams having a defense consisting DE Ndomukong Suh, NT Aaron Donald, CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib, the Cardinals now have a much harder secondary to face. Jared Goff had a tough time establishing the pass against the Raiders in Week 1, but Todd Gurley put up some good numbers and Goff was able to make some plays in the second half to get to 33 points for the win. The Rams won’t have much trouble winning this one.
Lions @ 49ers
Jimmy G was able to have 260 passing yards against the Vikings defense in his first loss as a starter in Week 1, which should be much easier against the Lions defense. Lions QB Matt Stafford had a very below average performance against the Jets, new RB Legarrette Blount from the Eagles wasn’t able to do as much in his rushing performance as I thought he would, and I’m not ready to trust Matt Patricia as a good head coach, so I’m picking the 49ers to win this game.
Raiders @ Broncos
Case Keenum had a good showing against the Seahawks in Week 1, and I expect nothing less against the Raiders defense. TE Jared Cook was the big target and playmaker for the Raiders in week one against the Rams. The Broncos are most likely game planning to shut down Cook, which means the other talented Raiders receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson will be opened up and will probably get some more targets. This one will be close, but I think the Raiders have more pieces offensively, will the Broncos didn’t really establish a run in Week 1. Raiders get the pick here.
Patriots @ Jaguars
The Jags barely came out of week 1 with a win against the Giants, and RB Leonard Fournette will not likely be playing for Jacksonville, so the Jags will not be able to get it done against the Patriots, who looked good in Week 1 despite WR Edelman being out. Brady was still able to throw for 277 yards with 3 passing TDs.
Giants @ Cowboys
The Giants put up a mediocre showing against in their los against Jacksonville in week one. Their new shiny toy Saquon Barkley had some good carries and a TD, but they might ended up regretting their decision to not get Sam Darnold, when their current QB is still seemingly on the decline. The Cowboys lost to the Panthers in week one, and it seems as though Ezekiel Elliott is the only spark in their offense. WR Cole Beasley is the only receiver Dak Prescott can connect with right now, but I think he can be a playmaker. Dak Prescott is still playing better right not than Eli is, and I’d always hesitate to not take the Cowboys at home. Cowboys will come out with this one.
Seahawks @ Bears
On the Bears defense, LB Khalil Mack will be able to generate pass rush and, if rookie LB Roquan Smith gets more playing time, Russell Wilson will be experiencing a lot of pass rush pressure and will not be able to make plays as easily as he did against the Broncos. Mitch Trubisky was phenomenal in the first half against the Packers in Week 1 against the Packers, but in the second half, head coach Matt Nagy started playing not to lose and the Bears weren’t able to get up to the momentum they had with the creative play calling they had in the first half. If Trubisky can generate the kind of passing game we saw from him in the first half of Week 1, along with Jordan Howard having another good rushing performance, the Bears should be able to win this one on Monday night.