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

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Thursday, 15 September 2016

NFL Week 2 Picks 2016 (September 15-19)

The NFL Week 2 Picks will be on this shortened thread and published while I am going to be on holiday... I've been able to put up some analysis for a few of the picks, but not all of them and this thread might not be back to usual until Week 4 if I don't have enough time from returning home and being able to set up the Picks.

The research has been done before I went over to the States for these games.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: The NFC North was expected to be a battle between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings through the entire season before Teddy Brdgewater went down with an injury. The Quarter Back has been lost for the season and the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford as the Vikings are seen to be in a win now position.

The Defensive unit is legit and any team that can look to ride the back of Adrian Peterson are going to be dangerous. Minnesota don’t really want to be looking to Shaun Hill at Quarter Back for too long and I would be surprised if Bradford is not given the start in Week 2.

Only big time Defensive turnovers which led to Touchdowns from that unit helped Minnesota overcome the Tennessee Titans on the road last week. It was an issue for the Offense to move the ball against a fairly average Defense that the Titans own, but that isn’t the case for the Green Bay Packers.

There are some injuries in the Secondary following a win last weekend in Jacksonville with Sam Shields expected to sit. However the Packers played the run well and I can see them loading the box and forcing Minnesota to look elsewhere than pounding the ball with Peterson.

I expect Green Bay to have success slowing down the run and they will get plenty of pressure on whichever Quarter Back is behind this Offensive Line. Clay Matthews is back in his familiar spot and seemed to be everywhere last week, while neither Bradford nor Hill are going to escape the pocket to make plays too often.

The key for Minnesota if they are going to open their new Stadium with a regular season win over a Divisional rival is being able to slow down the Green Bay Packers Offense. You have to say it is a big task for any team in the NFL to have success keeping Aaron Rodgers from scoring points and he was brilliant again in the win over Jacksonville.

Some outrageous plays were made as Rodgers moved around in the pocket and that included a Touchdown pass thrown to Devante Adams while in the grips of a Defender who was pulling Rodgers back. This Vikings Defense is very strong, but it will be tough to limit Rodgers who is being ably backed up by a fit Eddie Lacy at Running Back.

If Minnesota move men into coverage, Rodgers is happy to take the yards on the ground, while loading the box means he can throw to his Receivers who are good enough to make plays. The returning Jordy Nelson is a huge boost for Green Bay and I expect him to get stronger as the season goes on, while the likes of Adams and Randall Cobb will find more space now Nelson is back in the line up.

I am finding it difficult to imagine how Minnesota can not only keep Rodgers quiet, but also to score enough points to beat Green Bay. The spread can play mind games with us when you imagine it is two or three point short because the layers don’t often get things wrong, but I can’t see why you should ignore Rodgers and Green Bay trying to cover less than a Field Goal here.

Playing back to back road games is a tough task, while Minnesota have the excitement of opening a new Stadium. However teams are just 1-4 when doing that in recent seasons and I like the Packers in this one to show they are still the cream of the NFC North Division.

The Packers are 9-3 against the spread as the away favourite in Division games. Surprisingly they are not as effective as a small favourite of three points or fewer as you may imagine, but I think Green Bay cover this spread in the late Sunday night game.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans Pick: Both Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs come into this regular season game with a 1-0 record, but I am trying to figure who was the more unimpressive. At this point of the season a win is a win, but both the Chiefs and Texans could easily be coming into this one at 0-1.

The Chiefs in particularly somehow came out with a win against the San Diego Chargers despite trailing 24-3 at one point in that game at home. While you have to give Kansas City credit for the fightback to win, I can’t help wondering that the Chargers threw away the victory and Kansas City will have to be a lot better in Week 2.

It will be much more difficult against the Houston Texans this time around who the Chiefs have beaten in the Play Offs in each of the last couple of seasons. The Chiefs did win here in the regular season last season too as well as in the Play Offs, but they are going to have a more difficult time establishing the run meaning more emphasis on Alex Smith making the plays.

Smith has played well with his short passes and check downs but he is going to have to scramble and make some plays with his legs in this one. That is because the Houston Texans will likely get plenty of pressure against an Offensive Line that has struggled at times even if JJ Watt remains limited.

The bigger reason that I do think the Texans will be able to get some revenge on the Chiefs is the improvement they have made to their team Offensively. There were some teething problems on that side of the ball against the under-rated Chicago Bears, which is understandable with some new players at the skilled positions.

However they got a little something going in the second half with Brock Osweiler settling in at Quarter Back and Lamar Miller running the ball effectively. Both players could have their success in this one, especially Osweiler who won’t have too much pressure from the Chiefs front seven who are missing Justin Houston.

Miller is a threat Receiving the ball out of the backfield, while the Texans have brought in Will Fuller in the Draft to give DeAndre Hopkins some help in the Receiving department. Braxton Miller is another player taken in the Draft to provide more weapons in the passing game to complement what Hopkins will give them, although it does have to be said that the Kansas City Secondary is pretty good.

However the lack of pressure up front means Osweiler should have time to make plays to a host of options he has in the Receiving department. That should give Houston the chance to move the chains fairly consistently in this game and much better than when they were shut out in the Play Offs by the Chiefs.

It also should mean the Texans can earn some revenge over Kansas City and I like them to cover what looks a number that should be at least a Field Goal rather than below that key number. The Texans are now 8-3 against the spread as the home favourite under Bill O'Brien and they are 4-1 against the spread when favoured by three points or fewer.

Under Andy Reid, Kansas City are 3-5 against the spread as the road underdog when facing a non-Division opponent and I think the Texans cover the number on Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers Pick: There was to be no revenge for the Super Bowl loss for the Carolina Panthers as they were downed by the Denver Broncos in Week 1. They have had a few extra days to get ready for Week 2 and I am expecting the Panthers to bounce back with a big victory on Sunday.

They are facing a San Franciso 49ers team that were dominating winners on Monday Night Football in Week 1, but there are some similarities with the 2015 season. The 49ers upset the Minnesota Vikings as the underdog in Week 1 on Monday Night Football last season and then travelled east for a road game where they were blasted out by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Panthers look a stronger team on both sides of the ball and they have had a little more time to prepare for the game. On the other hand San Francisco are on a short week, which is always difficult, and they will need a lot more out of their Offense to earn some success in this game.

One area that the Panthers will look to strengthen is the run Defense having allowed CJ Anderson to have too much success in Week 1. Carlos Hyde is a decent Back when you take away the concussion issues, but the Panthers might be more willing to load the box and look for Blaine Gabbert to beat them than they even were when it came to Trevor Siemian.

Gabbert did have a clean pocket when it comes to making plays last week, but I am not sure if that more to do with the Los Angeles Rams Defensive Line underachieving than the San Francisco Offensive Line being that good. Carolina should generate more pressure on Gabbert and I think the 49ers Offense will be bogged down more often than not.

It was the San Franciso Defense that impressed so much last week after looking to be heading into a transitioning year on that side of the ball. However Case Keenum is not Cam Newton and the Panthers have plenty of Offensive weapons that are going to give the 49ers lots to think about. Covering Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen is going to be tough, especially when you think Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Fozzie Whittaker should be able to establish the run against them.

Double digit favourites can be difficult to trust, but Carolina have destroyed four of the last five teams they have faced at home. All of those four wins have come by at least 28 points per game and the Panthers had a huge lead against Seattle in the exception before the Seahawks fought back. I think the 49ers speed will mean they are worn down on Offense as Carolina make some big defensive plays to cover the 13.5 points this week.

Tennessee Titans @ Detroit Lions Pick: It is funny how one week in the NFL can change the views about a team so significantly as the Detroit Lions win at Indianapolis Colts has done. Both teams are seen in a different light going into Week 2, although the answer is that they are both somewhere in the middle.

Playing a home opener should keep the Lions focused, but this is not a great spot for them when you think they are going on the road to the Green Bay Packers next weekend. However, I still think Detroit will be too good for the Tennessee Titans who struggled in Week 1 as they made too many mistakes against an Offensively weak Minnesota Vikings team.

It was the Offense who threw away the chance of winning that game and it began with the fact that Tennessee could not run the ball effectively against Minnesota. DeMarco Murray should have better success in this one after watching Frank Gore have success for the Indianapolis Colts against the Detroit Defensive Line last week.

Being able to establish the run is going to make life a little more comfortable for Marcos Mariota who would otherwise be under intense pressure from the likes of Ziggy Ansah who can get hits on the Quarter Back.

Mariota doesn't have the same skill players at the Wide Receiver position as Andrew Luck and the Colts but he should have some success against this Secondary that struggled last week. He still won't want this to develop into a shoot out with the Lions who looked very comfortable with Matt Stafford at Quarter Back last week.

Stafford didn't face a lot of pressure last week and was able to carve up the Colts all day- he should have the time to his his playmakers in this one too even if Tennessee are not as bad in the Secondary as Indianapolis. Giving Stafford time will make life easy for the Quarter Back who has players like Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron who are able to make the big catches.

One thing Tennessee need to be given credit for last week is the way they shut down Adrian Peterson, but that might have been because they didn't respect Shaun Hill at Quarter Back. That isn't the case with Stafford behind Center and I can see Detroit establishing Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick as they did in the Week 1 win on the road.

The Titans have been an awful 4-11 against the spread as the road underdog the last couple of seasons although they have been much worse in Divisional games in that spot. They are off a loss they will feel they gave away and they are 4-10 against the spread when given between 3.5 and 9.5 points on the road the last couple of years.

Detroit are now 8-1-1 against the spread when coming off a win as the underdog and they are 8-2-1 against the spread as the home favourite under Jim Caldwell. That reads 6-1-1 against the spread when facing non-Division teams at home and I like the Lions to back up their Week 1 success with a win by a Touchdown in Week 2.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: Teams in the AFC North don't like each other, but the Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry with the Cincinnati Bengals might be the one filled with most disdain these days. Anyone who saw their Play Off game against each other last year will have seen that while the Bengals have been blamed for targeting injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

Both teams won in Week 1 and they are expected to battle for the AFC North title through the season, even more so than the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers are coming in off a short week having been part of the Monday Night Football doubleheader, but they are still seen as a healthy favourite to see off the Bengals at home who are playing back to back road games to open the 2016 season.

Bell is missing this game for the Steelers because of a suspension, but DeAngelo  Williams showed he is one of the best back ups in the League. He dominated against the Washington Redskins and would have been encouraged with the way Matt Forte was able to establish the run against the Bengals last week. Cincinnati are missing Vontaze Burfict to suspension for his actions in the Wild Card loss to the Steelers last year, but I still think the Bengals Defensive Line will be better this week.

I don't think Cincinnati will have much of an answer for Antonio Brown, but their best bet will be to get some pressure on Roethlisberger. Washington were able to do that for a while which led to an Interception and another fumble which was recovered by Pittsburgh, while the Steelers do have some question marks outside of Brown in the Receiving positions.

This might still develop into something of a shoot out and Andy Dalton showed last week he can make the big plays at the moments they are needed. Unlike against the Jets, Dalton should be helped by Jeremy Hill establishing something of a running threat in this one which will open up the passing lanes.

Like Pittsburgh, there is a significant drop off from AJ Green to the Number 2 Receiver in Cincinnati these days. Tyler Eifert is out, but Green should still win plenty of his battles outside and I can see him matching Brown for a big game. The Steelers did allow Kirk Cousins and the Redskins move the ball fairly consistently through the air even before they had a big lead to protect so it is not that difficult to see a situation where Dalton can do the same for the Bengals.

The Bengals are now 13-5-2 against the spread as the road underdog in recent seasons and they are 4-1 in this spot against Divisional opponents the last couple of seasons. Pittsburgh have been a good favourite to back at home in recent years, but I think getting the hook on the Bengals is hard to ignore in a game where a Field Goal win looks the most likely outcome.

MY PICKS: Green Bay Packer - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Caroline Panthers - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Detroit Lions - 6 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Cincinnati Bengals + 3.5 Points @ 1.87 William Hill (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys + 2.5 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (2 Units)
New York Giants - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts + 6 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Los Angeles Rams + 7 Points @ 1.87 Bet365 (2 Units)

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