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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

NFL Week 2 Picks 2015 (September 17-21)

I have made a decision to try and keep the weekly picks posts as clear as possible compared with last season and will do my best to maintain that through the season.

That is especially the case when it comes to my NFL Picks threads which were extremely long last season as I had placed a lot of other information in the post too.

For the Week 1 Recap, Top Ten and Bottom Five Rankings plus a recap of how the Week 1 Picks went, you can read the post here.

Week 2 Picks
As with other weeks, I will put up my Thursday Night Football pick first, if I have one of course, and then will round out the weekly picks as soon as I have settled on them.

Last week was a good one, but patting myself on the back for one week in seventeen is going to lose focus and I am not interested in celebrating one good week. The trick is to push on this week and put up some more winners and keep this moving in the right direction.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: If you have read my Recap from the link above, you will know that there has to be some concerns with how Peyton Manning played against the Baltimore Ravens. It wasn't a good performance, but I think the Ravens Defense played very well and Manning might have had some teething problems with a new Offensive system in place.

Things could quickly change by Thursday Night Football.

I don't suddenly expect Manning to throw for 300 yards with 4 Touchdown passes simply because the protection wasn't that good from his Offensive Line and Kansas City have the pass rush to rattle him. However, the Chiefs don't have the best rushing Defense and that is where Denver can have more joy than what they got out of Baltimore.

The Houston Texans missed Arian Foster on Sunday, yet they still managed to pick up 4.7 yards per carry so CJ Anderson, if healthy, or Ronnie Hillman could have a big day moving the chains on the ground. Keeping Manning in third and short compared with third and very long on Sunday will help the Quarter Back make the passes to keep the chains moving and also just slow down Tamba Hali and Justin Houston for long enough for Manning to make those throws.

Kansas City are also not as good in the Secondary as Baltimore and I don't think they will be able to take away the Denver Receivers as easily so there is a real possibility for the Broncos to score plenty of points in this one.

Running the ball is key for Manning to be successful I think, but he can also look to a Defense that might be amongst the best in the NFL. For all the issues Manning had on Sunday, Denver really took away the Baltimore Offense as they kept Joe Flacco under immense pressure for most of the contest.

It began by taking away the running game Baltimore had and while it will be more difficult against Jamaal Charles, the Kansas City Offensive Line didn't open too many holes for him against Houston in Week 1. If Denver can force Alex Smith into the uncomfortable third and long spots, there is a healthy pass rush the Broncos have that can rattle this Offensive Line and get in the face of the Quarter Back and force some mistakes, especially with Aqib Talib likely taking away Jeremy Maclin as a target.

Denver have also dominated this series since Peyton Manning came to town and I think the spread making Kansas City a healthy favourite looks off to me. The Broncos are 5-1 against the spread in their last 6 games in Kansas City and I am stunned a Peyton Manning led team has really been disregarded as much as they seem to be with this spread.

It was a solid performance from Kansas City to beat Houston, but the Texans made mistakes in the first half to put themselves in a big hole. If Manning can avoid those, I think Denver have enough success on both sides of the ball to keep this very competitive and the upset is most definitely on. However, I will take the generous points being offered and look for the Broncos to keep this to a close loss at the very least.

I'll take away some of the juice by taking Denver with the hook which still looks a decent shout.

Houston Texans @ Carolina Panthers Pick: There are some Quarter Back issues at the Houston Texans with Bryan Hoyer likely pulled in favour of Ryan Mallett as the starter after Bill O'Brien made that decision during the home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Falling into a 0-1 hole to open the season will make the Houston Texans a little more focused and they are playing a Carolina Panthers team that took advantage of Offensive issues that Jacksonville Jaguars had last week. Carolina might feel they can do the same this week against an inexperienced Quarter Back on the road, but Luke Kuechly might be missing and that is a huge presence in the middle of that Defense.

It might mean more running room for Alfred Blue, who continues to deputise for Arian Foster, and Carolina were surprisingly ineffective against the run against Jacksonville. While I expect that to improve over the course of the season, losing Kuechly is big for the Panthers.

The Offensive Line of the Texans has to improve having seen Carolina feast on a poor one in Jacksonville, but the key for Houston is limiting the mistakes that produced short fields against Kansas City.

The Chiefs have more Offensive weapons than Carolina who have lost Kelvin Benjamin for the season and Cam Newton did have a hard time last week extending drives. If given short fields Newton will be fine, but this Houston Defensive Line limited Jamaal Charles last week and will believe they can do the same to Jonathan Stewart and force Newton to throw from a collapsing pocket.

Houston didn't defend the pass well last week, but I expect an improvement against a limited Offense like Carolina and the Texans can keep this competitive.

With New Orleans next up on deck, the Panthers might be caught looking ahead against a non-Conference opponent like Houston and I think the Texans are worth taking with the points on board. Keep the mistakes off the field and Houston are a live underdog that can win this one straight up.

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: It was a terrible performance all around from the Minnesota Vikings as they were blown out on Monday Night Football by the San Francisco 49ers. They now look to bounce back against the Detroit Lions, who also lost on the West Coast, as both NFC North Divisional rivals try to right the ship after a defeat.

Teddy Bridgewater was expected to make strides in his second season now he has Adrian Peterson back alongside him in the backfield, but Minnesota didn't use the latter that effectively. It also meant Bridgewater was struggling behind in the Offensive Line which gave up five Sacks and he had a hard time finding rhythm as the Vikings struggled.

DeAndre Levy looks to be missing another game for the Lions and I expect Minnesota don't forget about their Running Back again this week. While Detroit played the run effectively, they didn't get enough pressure on Philip Rivers who carved up the Secondary, and I do expect Bridgewater to have success throwing the ball.

It should be a game where the Vikings can find a better execution on Offense, but the Defensive unit will need to much stouter than last week if the Vikings are to win the game. Carlos Hyde battered Minnesota on the ground and Ameer Abdullah could have a big game after showing off some talent in his first game at this level.

However, Matt Stafford is banged up and that might mean he is not able to drive this Offense as he is usually capable of doing. The Vikings didn't get enough pressure on Colin Kaepernick last week, but there is a pass rush there and I think they bounce back from a pretty poor performance.

Minnesota have covered in 5 of their last 7 games against Detroit while the Lions are 3-5 against the spread as the road underdog in Divisional games. The public seem to be all over the Lions off the back of a poor Monday Night Football showing from Minnesota, but I am having a small interest in the Vikings in this one.

Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears Pick: After the beating that Vegas took in Week 1, it can be dangerous backing teams that have perhaps been heavily backed by the public. That has been the key to my research this week, but there is one team I can't ignore and that is the Arizona Cardinals who looked like a Super Bowl contender in Week 1.

This is the same Arizona Cardinals that opened last season with a 7-1 record before Carson Palmer was lost to injury and the Quarter Back was back and looking as good as ever against the New Orleans Saints. That was at home and indoors, two changing factors this week, but Palmer had plenty of time to throw the ball and connect with a very under-rated Receiving corps.

The expectation is that Palmer will get plenty of time to hit John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Darren Fells this week too as Chicago have struggled to generate much of a pass rush. It might be a little more difficult for Palmer if both David and Chris Johnson cannot make up the rushing Offense in the absence of Andre Ellington, but the Bears struggled to take down Eddie Lacy as expected last week.

That might have been down to focusing on stopping Aaron Rodgers, but Palmer needs to be respected and I expect him to have a lot of joy against this Secondary if even a semblance of a running game can be established.

Chicago will have a tougher time establishing Matt Forte between the Tackles, but the Running Back is very effective catching the ball out of the backfield and he will have a big game. The Bears need Forte at his best if they have a chance of earning the upset, especially if Jay Cutler can't get the mistakes out of his game which cost Chicago last week.

Jay Cutler might have some joy if the Arizona Secondary play like they did last week against New Orleans, but Drew Brees is a much better Quarter Back and Cutler's Offensive Line hasn't protected as well as the Saints. It will also take Chicago some effort to lift themselves from a really disappointing Divisional loss in Week 1 even though Arizona have to avoid looking ahead to a couple of Divisional games over the next two weeks.

Even my concerns about the Cardinals playing on the road outdoors against a non-Divisional opponent have been eased seeing they are 7-2-2 against the spread in that spot over the last three seasons. They are 3-0 against the spread in those games as the road favourite and I think Arizona can win in Chicago and cover a small number.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills Pick: I really was hoping that the Buffalo Bills were beaten by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 because I had circled Rex Ryan going against the New England Patriots as a perfect spot to back the Bills. A defeat to the Colts would likely have seen the Buffalo Bills given a lot of points as the public would have pounded New England to win here, but instead the Bills won and go into the game as the favourite.

The public are still mainly behind the New England Patriots, but the sharps have hit the Buffalo Bills and that has seen them go into favourites despite beginning the week as the small underdog.

New England certainly look like a team that is inspired by being dogged in games and they are 3-1 against the spread against Divisional rivals in the road underdog spot, while they are 12-4 when set as an underdog of three points or fewer.

However, I don't think the Buffalo Bills are going to be anything but focused against a hated Divisional rival who have dominated the series in recent years. This Buffalo Defense is for real and I expect they are going to get a lot of pressure on Tom Brady through the game which could see the future Hall Of Fame Quarter Back really struggle to find the time to hit Receivers downfield.

Taking away Rob Gronkowski won't be easy for Buffalo unless the have signed King Kong this week as Rex Ryan suggested Kong is the only entity that could cover the big Tight End. However, making Brady feel the pressure has rattled him in the past and I think the Bills have success doing that after getting to a more mobile Quarter Back in Andrew Luck throughout the game in Week 1.

That forced Luck into a couple of Interceptions, while the returning LeGarrette Blount won't have a lot of running room against a Bills Defense that is stout up front and then has considerable depth through the Linebackers and Secondary.

Of course New England and Bill Belichick have had ten days to prepare for Tyrod Taylor who has not previously shown the composure behind Center in the NFL as he did last week. He avoided the big mistakes and Taylor made a couple of big throws including a huge Touchdown to Percy Harvin, while being able to use his legs to punish the Colts on the ground along with LeSean McCoy and rookie Karlos Williams.

The running game that Pittsburgh generated without Le'Veon Bell last week has to be a concern for the New England Patriots, but they might have schemed for this. However, I think Buffalo will be able to do enough Offensively to make them the favourites to win this game especially as the Defense should be able to rattle Brady throughout this contest.

You can't dismiss the ridiculously good record that New England have in road games in Buffalo but I like the Bills to win their first home game against them since 2011.

St Louis Rams @ Washington Redskins Pick: Every one and their dog is going to be on the St Louis Rams this week to win in Washington against the Redskins, but that is the one concern I have after the way Week 1 went down.

I can't expect all the favourites to beat out the Vegas oddsmakers for a second consecutive week and the public are pounding the Rams, yet the line is inexplicably not moving. Well it isn't that inexplicable as it looks a trap game for the Rams who won a huge Divisional game against Seattle at home and now make a long trip east and also play on the road.

However, I am going to have a small interest in the Rams because the Washington Redskins are a terrible team who have now lost DeSean Jackson. He is someone who can take the top off of a Defense, but now Kirk Cousins is going to need to rely on short throws and hope he can do enough to keep Washington moving.

Cousins is unlikely to get much support from Alfred Morris out of the backfield, while he showed again last week that the Quarter Back looks nothing more than a career back up. He struggled against the Miami Dolphins despite Morris helping the team average 4.4 yards per carry, and Cousins simply won't have as many third and short situations to convert.

Instead he will be faced by an unbelievable pass rush that is going to put immense pressure on him which should lead to more mistakes and help Nick Foles and the Offense win the field battle and have a better chance to score points.

To be fair to Washington, the Defense didn't play that badly last week and the Redskins were only undone by a Special Teams Touchdown. While they might be able to take away some of the St Louis Offense and prevent scoring drives, the Rams also have a very good Special Teams unit and might earn something special from them.

St Louis have won two of their last three visits to the nation's capital and they did win in a blowout while keeping Washington off the board last season. A small interest on them to make it two from two here in consecutive seasons has to be warranted, but a small interest because of other factors that I have mentioned.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: Both teams came out of Week 1 with contrasting emotional feelings and now the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles meet in a big NFC East game in Week 2.

I don't know how Dallas managed to win their game against the New York Giants after being aided by their opponents who completely messed up their clock management when leading by three points and ninety seconds left to play.

Dallas drove up the field to win that game by a point, while Philadelphia Eagles missed a game leading Field Goal with just over two minutes left against the Atlanta Falcons.

Even with those results in the books, Dallas might feel they haven't had any luck by losing both Dez Bryant and Randy Gregory to injury. Philadelphia will have been much happier with how the Offense played in the second half after removing the rust from their play and Sam Bradford was effective at Quarter Back.

Tony Romo led a great drive and he should have some success throwing the ball against a Philadelphia Secondary that struggled against the Atlanta Falcons despite the pressure Matt Ryan had in his face. The Cowboys Offensive Line might offer Romo a bit more protection, but they will also be looking to open more holes for any of the Running Backs on the depth chart.

This is an Offensive Line that has prided themselves on being able to give any Running Back the holes to rush for considerable yards. However, the Eagles are pretty good defending the run and that might mean more pressure is on Romo to make the plays against the Secondary without Dez Bryant at Receiver.

One of the big storylines is DeMarco Murray facing the Dallas Cowboys for the first time since moving across to the rival Philadelphia Eagles. Murray didn't play that well against the Atlanta Falcons, but I would be concerned if I was a Cowboy fan in wondering if that performance was because of Murray was looking ahead to this game.

Murray will look to punish Dallas up front, but the Cowboys did play well agains the New York Giants against the run. However, Philadelphia will look to wear them down by running lots of plays quickly and Sam Bradford might look at this Dallas Secondary as one he can throw effectively against.

Give the Cowboys credit for limiting Odell Beckham as well as they did in Week 1, but again it is the speed of the Eagles play that might be an issue. That also has an effect on the Eagles though whose own Defense doesn't get the time to rest up as they might like and I do think the Cowboys can have their success too.

The road team have won the last four games in this series and the road team is 8-2 against the spread in the last ten in the series. Dallas might just rally together for a big effort to make up for the big players they have lost to injury and I still think they can score enough points to make this a competitive game, although it is hard to see the Philadelphia Eagles fall into a 0-2 hole.

Both teams should have their success Offensively, but I like Dallas with the points to at least keep this close.

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers Pick: I am a big fan of the Green Bay Packers and the way they go about their business and genuinely think they can go all the way this year to Super Bowl success. This is a huge game for them as they try to gain a measure of revenge for the ridiculous loss in the NFC Championship Game last year when the Packers blew a big lead thanks to a strange set of circumstances.

This time Green Bay are playing at home where they have been dominant under Aaron Rodgers and Seattle are coming in off a disappointing road loss in St Louis. Russell Wilson may think he will have a little more time to make plays in this one as he won't be seeing a Defensive Line that the Rams have, but Green Bay can get some pressure and Seattle's Offensive Line has been porous to say the least.

Marshawn Lynch will have seen Matt Forte have some success running the ball for the Chicago Bears and I expect he can help to keep the Green Bay Offense off the field, but the key for Seattle is getting the Defense back on track.

Kam Chancellor remains out and Byron Maxwell's move to Philadelphia does make it seem like the Secondary is lopsided and now they face Aaron Rodgers who doesn't make mistakes at Lambeau Field. Seattle can get some pressure on Rodgers up front, but he showed in the NFC Championship Game that he can get through that, especially as Rodgers is healthier now than he was in January.

The Packers win and cover at a huge rate at home with Rodgers under Center, but I like Seattle to rally together and make this a very competitive game. I am surprised they are being given more than a Field Goal in terms of points and I do think Russell Wilson can make enough plays to score points against the Green Bay Defense.

I will keep the interest to a minimum only because Green Bay are so good at home and likely have circled this game after the way the last season ended. However, Seattle do look under-rated and the public are hammering Green Bay in Vegas which is enough for me to back the Seahawks who will be desperate to avoid a 0-2 hole.

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The Indianapolis Colts were embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, but I am expecting them to bounce back in Week 2 against the New York Jets. Not many would have picked the Jets to be 1-0 and the Colts to be 0-1 going into Monday Night Football, but that means the home team might be a little desperate to make amends and I expect them to do that.

Even though Indianapolis begin Divisional play next week, I don't think they can afford to lose focus against the New York Jets.

Andrew Luck struggled against the Buffalo Defense, but the New York Jets don't have the same depth through the Defensive unit as their AFC East rival does. The Jets played well against the Cleveland Browns once Johnny Manziel came in as Quarter Back, but won't have that luxury against Andrew Luck and the fear of this Quarter Back might give Frank Gore to have some success on the ground.

The Jets also don't have the same pass rush as Buffalo and giving Luck a little more time means he can hit his Receivers downfield if not scrambling for gains himself. Losing TY Hilton is an issue for the Colts, but New York could be without Antonio Cromartie which hurts a team that is going to struggle in the Secondary when teams target away from Darrelle Revis.

Luck should be able to have the Colts move the ball much better than they did against Buffalo and the question for the New York Jets is whether Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Offense can keep up.

Fitzpatrick is a limited Quarter Back who got away with his mistakes against Cleveland thanks to the even worse Manziel, but he won't be able to give the Indianapolis Colts more Offensive series and expect to see the Jets win the game.

I don't doubt that Chris Ivory will be able to run the ball effectively while the game is close, but New York will have to move away from the Running Back if they fall two scores behind. Putting the pressure on Fitzpatrick to try and make the throws to lead the comeback just won't end well for the Jets and I think Indianapolis will eventually pull away in this one.

The Jets are 2-11-2 against the spread as the road underdog against non-Divisional teams over the last four seasons, while Indianapolis are 7-3-1 against the spread when favoured by more than three points and less than ten points.

Monday Night Football can be a time when people chase their losses and batter the favourite for a recovery, but the Colts should be good enough to cover this week and put both of these teams at 1-1 going into Week 3.

MY PICKS: Denver Broncos + 3.5 Points @ 1.83 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Houston Texans + 3 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Minnesota Vikings - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Arizona Cardinals - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills - 1 Point @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
St Louis Rams - 3 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Dallas Cowboys + 5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks + 3.5 Points @ 2.00 William Hill (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts - 7 Points @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Week 1: 5-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 2015: 5-2-1, + 6.46 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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