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

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Thursday, 12 September 2019

NFL Week 2 Picks 2019 (September 12-16)

It might not have been a very good week for the NFL Picks, but I have to say it is great to have Sunday evenings back reserved for the League and knowing that will keep me ticking over for the next several months.

I love College Football too, but Saturday's can be a little busier to sit down and enjoy hours of the games on that day. Instead I tend to see the late primetime game and catch some of the 8:30pm kick offs (UK time), but Sunday is a day to lounge in the evening and that means watching a lot of Football.

There were some upsets and some blow outs in Week 1 of the NFL, but you don't want to be someone who makes grand overreactions to what you have seen. I will have a few thoughts down below before we get into the Week 2 Picks and my top five and bottom five teams, although again I would not want anyone to believe those are set in stone with injuries and a quick turn in form very possible at this time of the season.

Cleveland Browns are going to finish under 0.500- going into the new season, the Cleveland Browns had to be seen as a lively contender in the NFL this year after making some huge moves in the off-season. Many would have been tipping them up to win the AFC North and they would also have been seen as a real challenger to the New England Patriots to reach the Super Bowl.

A blow out home defeat to the Tennessee Titans would certainly have been an eye-opener for many, but that was a very difficult Week 1 game against a tough organisation who would have made it a scrap. Even then it was a game in the balance until Baker Mayfield got himself a little flustered and started turning the ball over and things would have felt a lot different if Cleveland had managed to sneak away with a win that was entirely possible going into the Fourth Quarter.

It would be easy to write off the Browns as being the same old team that struggles to compete, but there is too much talent here to think Week 1 will define their season. There was always the possibility that Cleveland would not be able to put it all together, but I expect a reaction from them and getting into the Bye Week at 3-3 would give them every chance to build some momentum into the rest of the regular season.

This week is a big game for Cleveland as they face another team who were upset in the opening week of the 2019 season and the Monday Night Football lights will be on them. The Dawg Pound will be hoping this will be the time they can remove the paper bags from their heads and be very proud of their team, but if the Browns fall to 0-2 I can see some major questions and decisions being asked and made.

Miami Dolphins might be the worst team in NFL history- this is a franchise which is the only one to have completed an unbeaten season in the NFL, but the current Miami Dolphins are a long way from that.

They looked completely disinterested when allowing the Baltimore Ravens to destroy them in Week 1 and now face the New England Patriots who could have Antonio Brown lined up for them.

Suggestions that there has been a mutiny with players demanding a trade away after the collapse against Baltimore did make me laugh... Miami have already traded away all of their best players aside from Xavien Howard, and so I would love to know which players have been on to their agents outside of the Corner Back who just signed a huge new deal with the Fins.

This looked a bad team before the season started and if the Secondary, which is the strength of the team, continues to perform at the level they did last week this is going to be the first franchise to ever have an unbeaten season and a winless season.

As a Dolphins fan I didn't expect much else, but there is light at the end of this miserable tunnel. If Miami can end up with the Number 1 Overall Pick in the Draft, they can begin to turn things around with the host of Picks they have stocked up and I would expect a much more competitive team in 2020.

Personally I would trade down from the Number 1 Pick and stock enough Draft Picks to have a chance of bringing in Trevor Lawrence in 2021, but I am not sure Miami fans will be looking to tank in back to back seasons before seeing a reason behind it. Either way, 2019 is going to be a miserable season in which one win will be tough to find if the effort does not improve significantly.

New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game is inevitable- if these two teams steer clear of injury I do think it is very difficult to see another team that can prevent them from making it consecutive AFC Championship Games against one another.

Last season the Patriots won on the road at Arrowhead so the one change I am anticipating is the venue, but New England and Kansas City look way ahead of the chasing pack in this Conference.

Inevitable is a strong word though- last week we saw Patrick Mahomes take a big hit and have to come to the sidelines to get checked out and an injury to either starting Quarter Back would send these teams back to the middle of the pack. The NFL season is a long, arduous one, and injuries can prove to be the key difference between those teams who make the Super Bowl and those who are also-rans, but I had these teams as the top two in the AFC before a Down had been played and I haven't seen anything to change my mind.

What to make of Antonio Brown?- Add in the fact that the Patriots have picked up Antonio Brown after his release from the Oakland Raiders and you have a potent Offense which is backed up by a better than expected Defensive unit.

Rob Gronkowski returning at some point this season would surprise no one, but it isn't all plain-sailing in the New England waters.

Antonio Brown might have signed, but it has since come out that he has been accused of sexual assault which leaves his participation clouded as the NFL work out their options. This is the latest of another controversy surrounding the Wide Receiver ever since he was traded to the Oakland Raiders from the Pittsburgh Steelers and the new story has covered up some of the suggestions that Brown and New England were in cahoots in bringing his time at Oakland to an end.

I do think there is a very fishy smell about how it all went down, but it might be a moot point if the assault is proven as I think that could spell the end of Brown's season before he has played a Down in the regular season.

I used to really respect Brown, but it is hard to do that considering all of the issues created over the last couple of months. You are innocent until proven guilty, but this assault complaint is the last thing he needed to add to his issues and it is very difficult to root for someone like this compared others around the League.

AB is not going to care what I think anyway, but that is beyond the point.

My Top Five
1) New England Patriots- the Super Bowl Champions who will be even more dangerous if Antonio Brown is cleared to play. Hard to see them beaten if they get to host the PlayOffs in January.

2) Dallas Cowboys- might be a strange choice at this high, but I think Dallas have all the tools to be the team to beat in the NFC this season. They will be challenged by the likes of the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, but the Cowboys look strong on both sides of the ball and I would favour them against all three if they were to host the PlayOffs.

3) Kansas City Chiefs- there are some questions Defensively, but as long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, the Chiefs can score enough points to beat any team in the NFL. Tyreek Hill is out for a few weeks so I am interested to see if that has any impact on this team which will be something to keep in mind for later in the season.

4) Philadelphia Eagles- I loved the Eagles before Week 1 and I still think they are going to be there or thereabouts come the end of January. Carson Wentz needs to stay healthy, something he has not managed to do in each of the last two seasons, and the Secondary needs to play better, but the Eagles are a team that will be very dangerous if they make the post-season.

5) Green Bay Packers- we are going to find out plenty about the Packers in the weeks ahead considering the schedule, but if it really was the Defense's performance and not the week Chicago Offense that saw them give up just three points in Week 1, Green Bay are a live contender in the NFC.

My Bottom Five
32) Miami Dolphins- I expect I will be able to copy and paste this every week.

31) Arizona Cardinals- Kyler Murray had three poor Quarters and then exploded to help the Cardinals finish with a tie with the Detroit Lions. However I do have to think we are going to see more of the early play from the rookie and it could hold the Cardinals back.

30) New York Giants- I do think it is a matter of time before Daniel Jones takes over from Eli Manning as starting Quarter Back, but the Giants won't be competitive unless they play much better Defense than they did in Week 1.

29) New York Jets- not a good time to be a fan of either team from Gotham, especially after seeing the Jets blow a 16-0 lead against Divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.

28) Jacksonville Jaguars- I will hold my hands up and admit I thought the Jaguars could win the AFC South this season. But Nick Foles has gone down in what looks a long-term injury which means a rookie Quarter Back coming in, and I fear this may be a season that is lost much like those spent believing in Blake Bortles.

Week 2 Picks
It says something about my expectations that I end Week 1 with a 4-4 record and I am disappointed with the way the NFL Picks went. It was actually a winning record because of the split of the units, but I think it could have been a lot better if one or two things had broken my way.

The Washington Redskins Touchdown with 6 seconds left on the clock was irritating considering they converted two Fourth and longs on the drive. It was also the second time a team had thrown a backdoor cover against my pick in two days (Texas A&M the other) which was a blow.

Carolina also had their chances in their defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, although I was miles off the mark when it came to the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars. Thankfully I had only one unit on the latter and so it turned into a positive week for the Picks, but one I am looking to improve on the several months ahead.

Week 2 begins with a Divisional battle between two 0-1 teams and ends on Monday Night Football with two more losing teams taking each other on. At this stage you can't secure PlayOff spots, but you can certainly put yourself in an early hole so look out for some tense Football games to be played in the days ahead.

It is the Panthers hosting Tampa Bay where Thursday Night Football heads in Week 2, but the line looks right on the money and I really can't find myself leaning one way or the other. I have to expect the Buccaneers to be better than what they showed in Week 1, but Carolina are desperate off a loss too and neither team has played as well on Thursday as they would have liked.

The Picks from the Sunday and Monday offerings will be found below and I will add them when I can over the next couple of days.

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: It would be very easy for people to draw a line through the Pittsburgh Steelers and suggest they are not the team they used to be now both Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell have left and coming off a Week 1 blow out at the hands of the New England Patriots.

However I don't think this is the time for grand sweeping statements about a team and I do think the Steelers are just simply not built to match up well with the Patriots. This week they are facing a team who are not up to the same level as the Super Bowl Champions and I also know the Steelers are usually far better at home than they are on the road.

The Seattle Seahawks arrive in town off the back of a very narrow win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which they could have easily been beaten. At least the Seahawks have found a way to get to 1-0, but this is not an ideal spot for them facing an irritated Pittsburgh team and also playing in the early Eastern Time slot.

It says a lot about the performance last week that the Seattle Seahawks actually finished with almost 200 fewer yards than the Bengals. Russell Wilson will always give the Seahawks a chance in games, but he does not have the most effective supporting cast on either side of the ball and I do think that is something we will see on Sunday.

Offensively they have lost Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson which means a new Wide Receiver or two are going to have to step up for Wilson. Unfortunately he is not expected to have a lot of support on the ground with Chris Carson likely to be running to a pretty strong Steel Curtain on the Defensive Line and keeping Seattle in third and long spots will give the Steelers every chance to get after Wilson at Quarter Back.

The Offensive Line has struggled in pass protection and last week the Bengals took full advantage. We didn't see the Pittsburgh Defense have much success in Week 1, but Tom Brady is much better protected and I would expect the Steelers to stall some drives with the pass rush forcing Wilson to release the ball quicker than he wants and asking Receivers to win battles they are perhaps not ready to do right now.

Pittsburgh don't have a great Defensive unit and they are coming off an outing where they allowed over 350 passing yards, but I expect the pass rush pressure to help the Secondary make some plays here. That could be important to get the Seahawks off the field and give the ball back to Ben Roethlisberger who was highly critical of his own performance last week.

Losing Bell and Brown was always going to have an impact on the Steelers, but James Connor and JuJu Smith-Schuster are ready to step in. Connor had a big year in 2018 with almost 1000 yards on the ground and Smith-Schuster was the top Receiver with the team, although facing off against the Number 1 Corner Back from the opposition is going to be a new challenge for him.

Both came out of Week 1 a little banged up, but both are also expected to suit up in this one. James Connor did not have a very good game against New England and Seattle's Defensive Line played pretty well in Week 1, but I still believe this Pittsburgh team can establish the run through their main workhorse in the backfield.

I also am expecting to see a much better performance from Smith-Schuster assuming he is close to 100% after hurting his toe last week. The Seattle Secondary made some awful plays against much weaker Receivers than the young Smith-Schuster in Week 1 and I do think Roethlisberger will be much more effective at getting the ball out to the new Number 1 Receiver in Steel City.

In Week 1 Andy Dalton had almost 400 passing yards against Seattle despite missing AJ Green and I do think the whole Steelers Offense will look much better in Week 2 compared with their efforts on Sunday Night Football. They do need another Receiver to step up and open things up for Smith-Schuster, but there is some talent here and I am looking for the home team to bounce back and get back to 1-1.

The spread won't be easy to cover because of the issues the Pittsburgh Secondary are going to have for much of the season. Russell Wilson might then have a chance for a late drive to earn a backdoor cover, but I think this is going to be a big bounce back spot for the Steelers and I am looking for them to win and cover the number.

The favourite has covered in five straight games in the series between these teams, although it is one that is played every four years so not largely relevant. There is one trend that really does bother me about the Steelers, but I expect them to be very focused in this one coming in off a loss where they do have a strong record as a home favourite, while also being 39-27 against the spread coming in off a loss under Mike Tomlin.

Ben Roethlisberger is 45-32 against the spread off a straight up loss, while the Seattle Seahawks are 0-8-2 against the spread in their last ten games as non-Conference road underdogs of less than 7 points. I think the Pittsburgh Defensive Line will be key to stopping the Seahawks and I do think the Steelers Offense will bounce back from a poor showing in Week 2.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers Pick: The NFC North looks to be a highly competitive Division and there are three teams who will have felt they can lead the way into the PlayOffs in January.

Two of those met in Week 1 when the Green Bay Packers started the season with a 1-0 record thanks to a win over the Chicago Bears. By the end of Week 2 the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, who beat Atlanta in Week 1, will be the only team with a 100% record (assuming no tie like last season) in the NFC North.

Both teams are going to be looking for the Defensive units to be the key to the outcome of this game after both restricted opponents in Week 1. That means they are asking their current Offenses to do just enough to win games and it was certainly the case last week as neither team got close to reaching 300 total yards from an Offensive standpoint yet still managed to head into Week 2 with 1-0 record.

For a long time in Week 1 the Minnesota Vikings managed the lead they had and both of these teams will know there is some real room for improvement. Both were actually outgained in terms of yardage in Week 1 and that is not a sustainable way to go on and keep winning games and you can see the layers are not finding it easy to separate the teams with Green Bay favoured thanks to being at home.

I was behind the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 and they can really build some momentum over the coming weeks if they can win this game. Five of the six games will be played at home, but Aaron Rodgers and the Offensive unit have to get on the same page if they have serious ambitions of putting a strong winning start on the board with a difficult schedule ahead.

There might be a feeling that Green Bay can get a little more going Offensively having played on Thursday in Week 1 and having a couple of extra days to prepare for this one. I expect to see a little more out of Aaron Jones and the running game for the Packers after some of the difficulties the Vikings had up front in Week 1 and that is going to be important for Green Bay in being able to give Aaron Rodgers the best chance to move the chains.

Last week the Chicago Bears were able to get to Rodgers in passing downs and the Vikings were also very good with the pass rush in their win over the Falcons. If the run can be established then at least the pass rush is slowed down enough for Rodgers to set up play-action and to throw into a Secondary which gave up 272 passing yards to Matt Ryan in Week 1.

Davante Adams is the key for Green Bay, but they do have younger Receivers who can step up as long as Aaron Rodgers has the time to make plays and I do anticipate the Packers having success moving the chains.

It feels like they will have more success than the Minnesota Vikings despite what looks a big win on paper against the Falcons last week. Dalvin Cook was a huge influence on the day, but running the ball against the Green Bay Packers might be a difficulty for every team around the League and that could be very important on the day.

Unbelievably Minnesota scored 28 points last week despite Kirk Cousins throwing for fewer than 100 passing yards. Head Coach Mike Zimmer does want the Vikings to be a smash-mouth team that can run the ball effectively, but if the Packers can at least put the clamps on Cook it will have to be a change of tactics from the visitors and the responsibility of moving the chains will be shouldered by the arm of Cousins.

The Quarter Back was largely well protected last week, but some of that was down to not throwing the ball and the run constantly hurting the Falcons. This week will be different with the Packers likely to unleash a strong pass rush to get into the face of Kirk Cousins and I do think that can help them stall drives and perhaps even lead to a mistake or two from a turnover-prone QB.

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have to be respected as Wide Receivers, but the Packers might have one of the more under-rated Defenses in the NFC and I expect them to make enough plays to slow down the Vikings. Kirk Cousins will take risks and some will pay off, but I would not be surprised if a critical turnover or two costs the Vikings here, especially alongside what I believe will be a more effective Offensive outing from Green Bay.

Green Bay have lost three of their last four against Minnesota, but Aaron Rodgers is 36-29 against the spread playing with revenge and is also 46-28 against the spread as the home favourite. The Packers are 11-1 against the spread as favourites of less than 8 points off a Divisional game and they are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight following a game against their rivals Chicago.

The Packers are also 10-1 against the spread when favourites in a Divisional game immediately following a Divisional game and playing a rival who have won a non-Divisional game.

In the first quarter of a season the Vikings are 2-11 against the spread as road underdogs when playing an opponent off a Divisional game. While I like Minnesota as a team, I think the Green Bay Defense is going to be the better of the two units on the day and I think that will give the Packers the edge as they win and cover at home.

It can only be seen as a bonus that the Vikings are getting more of the money in Vegas so far, although I doubt this spread gets any lower than where it stands now.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans Pick: Two AFC South teams who started the season 0-1 meet in Week 2 and it is a big game with an open Division very much up for grabs. I would not rule out either the Jacksonville Jaguars nor the Houston Texans from recovering from 0-2, but both Head Coaches will be keen to avoid having to find out when they meet in Houston on Sunday.

Later this season these two teams will head to London to face one another, but that is for another as they look to recover from opening defeats. The Houston Texans might have had the more heartbreaking of the losses having given up a Field Goal with time running out on Monday Night Football at the New Orleans Saints, but the devastating injury suffered by Nick Foles of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes it difficult to know how they are going to recover.

Nick Foles had been signed by the Jaguars to help them move to the next level with the fans and the Coaches finally having enough of Blake Bortles. Having a Super Bowl winning Quarter Back is obviously an upgrade, but the injury suffered in the blow out defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs at home has set them back.

Gardner Minshew had to come in for Foles last week and while performing well enough, it is a significant pressure for a rookie to be given the keys to a team that were hoping for a PlayOff spot as a bare minimum. He might be able to have some success if Leonard Fournette can back up his strong performance in Week 1 when averaging 5 yards per carry against the Chiefs.

That is not going to be easy for the Jaguars to have the run established when you think the Houston Texans have been one of the stronger teams against the rush in 2018. They did struggle against the New Orleans Saints, but Alvin Kamara is a special Running Back and the respect for Drew Brees is unlikely to be replicated in this game as the Texans try and take away a key player for Gardner Minshew.

The Quarter Back may have some success throwing the ball, but I also think he is going to be dealing with plenty of pressure up front if the Jaguars are not able to run the ball as they would like. Houston might have traded away Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt is coming in off a quiet week, but the Texans should have more successes getting after Minshew whenever he is in third and long spots and I do think Houston can slow down this Offensive outfit, especially one led by a rookie Quarter Back who was a project selection rather than one expected to challenge for a starting role in 2019.

As long as Houston respect the situation that is in front of them they should have a chance of restricting the Jaguars Offensively. It will be a different challenge on the other side of the ball for the Texans even with one of the most improving Quarter Backs in the NFL on their side.

Deshaun Watson had a strong outing against the New Orleans Saints and almost did enough to lead the Houston Texans to a win, but the Offensive Line is still a major issue for this team. He will be looking for Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson to pick up from where they left off against the Saints when they had a very strong day running the ball and putting the Texans ahead of the chains will be crucial in moving into a position to win this game.

They had a bad day in the office as they allowed six Sacks to the Saints, but the Offensive Line were better in setting up the run and I think they can get the chains moving on the ground in this one. Deshaun Watson is another who can make plays with his legs as his Touchdown against the Saints showed, but he did bang up his back in that run and Houston will be better served looking for the Quarter Back to protect himself having had injuries in each of the last two seasons.

Watson should be able to make some big plays against the Jaguars Secondary which did not perform anywhere near the standard they should have been at in their Week 1 loss. I can expect the Jaguars to want to step up their play to try and protect their rookie Quarter Back, but Watson is a stand out Quarter Back who has some big weapons in the passing game that will become all the more dangerous if Houston are running the ball effectively.

Houston beat the Jaguars in both Divisional games in 2018 and limited them to 10 total points in those games. I like the Texans to continue their dominance of the Jaguars with the desperation of wanting to avoid a 0-2 hole keeping them focused against an opponent missing their starting Quarter Back.

Deshaun Watson is 5-2 against the spread off a loss and he has been solid enough in Divisional games where he has helped the Texans produce a 5-3 record against the spread. The Texans are 23-14 against the spread as the home favourite coming in off a loss.

The recent trends for the Jaguars don't make good reading and being able to oppose where the action has been for this Week 2 game makes me very satisfied in backing the Houston Texans to win and cover a big mark.

San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: The San Francisco 49ers used some big plays from their Defensive unit to come up with a big win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, but they are going to need more from the Offensive side of the ball to fulfil predictions of being a dark horse in the NFC.

The spot in Week 2 is not an ideal one as the 49ers play the second of back to back road games and also in the early Eastern Time slot against the Cincinnati Bengals who came close to a big upset in Week 1. The Bengals came up short against the Seattle Seahawks on the road, but they were superior in almost all aspects of the game and very unfortunate to leave the West Coast with a defeat.

It is a new era in Cincinnati who are now Coached by Zac Taylor in place of Marvin Lewis and he was pretty critical of the performance in Week 1 despite the Bengals coming as close to the upset as they got. There are areas on the Offensive side of the ball that Taylor will want to see cleared up and Andy Dalton does have an opportunity to back up his personal performance in the opening game when facing this 49ers Defense.

Dalton will be keen to have Joe Mixon on the field after the Running Back suffered an injury in the loss to Seattle. The participation of Mixon will become clearer in the next couple of days, but it does feel like he is going to miss out and so Cincinnati are going to need someone to step up to try and keep the Offense in front of the chains in this one.

That is quite important for the Bengals, but the Offensive Line is one that has a lot of work to do to get together. It was not only rushing the ball that was difficult for Cincinnati last week, but they struggled to protect Dalton as they would have wanted to which is going to be an issue against the 49ers pass rush that has been revitalised with Draft Picks and Free Agent signings.

Andy Dalton did have a very good passing game last week though and he should have some success against this 49ers Secondary which is not as good as it might have looked in Week 1. Richard Sherman is still a strong Corner Back, but outside of him there are some holes that can be exploited and I think Dalton can have success even without AJ Green.

If it wasn't for some of the turnovers in the win over Tampa Bay, San Francisco might have had a few more questions to answer about their Offensive unit and Jimmy Garoppolo in particular. The Quarter Back is coming off a major knee injury, and he has not looked right in practice, pre-season or in Week 1 of the season when he would have expected to have a decent match up against the Tampa Bay Secondary.

Garoppolo was held to under 160 passing yards and the 49ers could not get the running game going at all with Tevin Coleman going down with an injury. Now they are going to use Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert in a committee at Running Back, but neither is expected to have a lot of success in this game if the Bengals Defensive Line can pick up from where they left off in the defeat to Seattle.

This is where the strength of the Bengals Defensive unit lies and they will believe they can force San Francisco to have to rely on the arm of Garoppolo to move the chains. With the pass rush looking in good shape in Week 1 and the Secondary looking like it could also be better than some believe, the Bengals will believe they have a team that is set up to win this game even without a key Receiver available.

Turnovers are going to be important, but I think Cincinnati can use the spot to get the better of their visitors. The Defensive unit should be able to restrict what San Francisco are able to do and I think Andy Dalton will be able to make enough plays against the San Francisco Secondary to give his team the chance to move back to 0.500 for the season.

The Bengals are favoured and so far Jimmy Garoppolo has been a Quarter Back you want to back in an underdog role. However I am not convinced he is at 100% following his return from an injury, and the Bengals have improved to 11-2 against the spread when facing NFC opponents in the first quarter of the season.

Playing the early Eastern Time spot after being on the road last week is not ideal for the 49ers either and I think the Bengals can make the plays they need on both sides of the ball to win this one and cover the spread.

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins Pick: Blowing out one Divisional opponent will have gotten the fans behind them, but the Dallas Cowboys will really have the rest of the NFC taking notice if they can beat down another. They are big favourites to do that on the road this week against the Washington Redskins who blew a 17-0 lead in Week 1 to be downed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Expectations with the Redskins have to be limited when you look at the roster and most are looking forward to seeing Dwayne Haskins taking over at Quarter Back at some point this season. That is not a slight on the Case Keenum performance in Week 1, but most know what they are getting with the veteran and instead it is expected that the keys will be turned over to younger players going foward.

Derrius Guice was supposed to be the start of that at Running Back, but an injury saw him miss his rookie year and the injury bug has bitten again early in 2019. He had made Adrian Peterson a healthy scratch in Week 1, but that won't be the case in Week 2 with Peterson expected to be the feature Running Back and Chris Thompson spotting him in passing downs.

Both Peterson and Thompson could have strong weeks if the Dallas Defensive Line is not significantly better than they were in the win over the New York Giants. The win has to be celebrated, but the Cowboys gave up 151 yards on just 17 carries last week and can expect the Redskins to try and pound the ball behind his makeshift Offensive Line in Week 2.

The Offensive Line issues are a concern for Washington, but I think they can have a better time of it at home and especially knowing they are going to try and lean on Peterson. If the veteran can pick up some big plays on the ground, it will make life all the easier for Case Keenum and allow him to work from third and manageable spots.

It is a key to the chance of success for the Redskins as Keenum will have opportunities to make plays against a Dallas Secondary that gave up over 300 passing yards to Eli Manning and the Giants last week. He will want to get the ball out of his hands quickly so being in short distances for First Downs has to be a benefit for Keenum who could also have Jordan Reed back this week for additional Receiving options.

Sustaining drives will also be key in giving the Washington Defensive unit a chance to rest and recuperate having seen that unit worn down in the loss to the Eagles as the Divisional rivals were able to keep them on the field for long periods while the Washington Offense became bogged down.

Stopping the Dallas Cowboys looks like it could be a big challenge, but you don't want to make sweeping statements from the Week 1 performance. Dak Prescott was very good, but the Washington Redskins Defense look stronger than the one the New York Giants sent out onto the field and they should feel they can at least give the Cowboys something to think about.

The strength of the Redskins is on the Defensive Line and they can at least make Ezekiel Elliot work for his numbers. To be fair to the Giants, they actually played the run pretty well last week and Washington will feel they can follow that blueprint to at least make Dak Prescott beat them with his arm.

Prescott has been given some big Receiving weapons in the last twelve months with Amari Cooper joined by an improving Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb and a returning Jason Witten. The Offensive Line might not have opened a lot of holes for big runs, but they did protect their Quarter Back who responded by throwing for over 400 yards and there are some holes in the Washington Secondary that I expect Dak Prescott to expose.

Washington do have a better pass rush than the Giants too, but they might not be able to disrupt Prescott as much as they would like. While they can make some plays on the Defensive side of the ball, the Redskins have to make sure they control the clock as much as possible if they are going to earn the upset at home.

I am not sure that will happen, but I do think the Redskins can keep this one close as they play a second Divisional game of the season. The underdog has a very strong 31-11 record against the spread in the last forty-two between these teams and Case Keenum improved to 16-8 against the spread in the underdog role last week.

Dak Prescott has been very strong in the role of the road favourite which has to be respected, but they are 1-7 against the spread when playing after a game against the New York Giants. I am a little wary about how well Dallas have played against their Divisional rivals in the last two seasons and they improved to 11-2 against the spread in their last thirteen Divisional games, but Washington can provide enough Offensive output of their own to keep the game close.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders Pick: A major Offensive weapon is going to be missing for a few weeks for the Kansas City Chiefs, but in an alternative reality it would have been Patrick Mahomes going down instead of Tyreek Hill. I have no doubt that Hill is a loss considering he produced almost 1500 Receiving yards in 2018, but if Mahomes had gone down to a serious injury I think the impact would be much greater and one that could have seen most draw a line through them as a Super Bowl contender.

Patrick Mahomes is that important to the Chiefs and he showed he can still move the chains and help the team produce big points in the blow out win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Sammy Watkins might finally be ready to show that he can be a top Wide Receiver if he can stay healthy, while Travis Kelce will be difficult to slow.

It is very difficult to know how the Oakland Raiders are going to slow the Kansas City Offense even though they are coming in off an emotional victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The Raiders have had a tough off-season mainly down to the drama caused by Antonio Brown, but they have drawn a line under that and the team look like they are together and playing for one another.

While they did limit the Denver Broncos to 16 points, the Oakland Raiders were not involved in a dominant Defensive effort in the win. The Kansas City Chiefs should be able to establish LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams against the Raiders who gave up 4.3 yards per carry in Week 1 and who will be more aware of trying to slow down Patrick Mahomes and his attack through the air.

With the Chiefs moving the ball on the ground, it should open things up for Mahomes at some point and both Running Backs are decent Receivers coming out of the backfield too. Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins will provide Mahomes with the Receivers he needs to make the big plays he enjoys and I think Kansas City are going to get into a routine Offensively as they did last week, especially more so considering Gareon Conley is going to be missing in the Secondary for the Raiders.

The best bet for Jon Gruden and his Raiders team to have a chance of winning this game has to be by putting some long drives together and keeping the Chiefs Offense on the sidelines. Losing Antonio Brown the player is a blow, but the person was a distraction and Oakland did look like they were playing hard for one another last week as Derek Carr helped lead them to the win over the Denver Broncos.

Rookie Josh Jacobs had a big day running the ball and he might have a little more room to operate in this one, while Carr will look for Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams to pick up from where they left off on Monday Night. We saw last season that it is possible to make plays against the Kansas City Secondary and that was the case again in Week 1 so I do think Oakland will have some success, but the pressure of matching the Offensive output that Mahomes provides for the Kansas City Chiefs could eventually force Oakland to crack.

The Chiefs are 11-5 against the spread in the last sixteen visits to the Oakland Raiders and the favourite is 9-4 against the spread in the last thirteen overall. Oakland also put in a lot of emotional effort into the win on Monday Night Football and they are 1-4 against the spread in their last five Sunday games following an appearance on the nationally televised last game of the week.

Oakland are 0-11 against the spread when winning both straight up and against the spread in their previous game and facing a Divisional rival who have won a non-Divisional game. The Raiders are 1-8 against the spread when winning as the underdog and facing a Divisional opponent who have won by at least ten points in their last game.

At the same time the Chiefs are 7-1 against the spread off a straight up win and facing a Divisional rival who are off an underdog win. The only shame is that the public seem to be fully behind the Kansas City Chiefs at the moment and the sharps are with the Oakland Raiders, a position I don't like opposing too many times.

However the trends favour the Chiefs and I think they can find too much scoring to move clear of the Oakland Raiders in a big AFC West game. I expect Patrick Mahomes will lead to at last one more scoring drive than Derek Carr, but I will look for the Chiefs to continue finding the End Zone instead of settling for Field Goals too.

Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos Pick: One of the teams that were considered a real favourite to win the NFC Championship and represent the Conference in the Super Bowl were beaten in the first game of the 2019 NFL season. The Chicago Bears will be looking for much better when they head into Week 2, although they are going up against a Denver Broncos team who have also dropped their opening game of the season in the last game played in Week 1.

In usual circumstances a non-Conference game would not have the same edge as other games, but neither team will want to head into Week 3 at 0-2 which is a tough position for teams to make the PlayOffs down the years. But the added intrigue to this game is that Vic Fangio has taken over as the Denver Head Coach in 2019 having been the Chicago Defensive Co-Ordinator in 2018 when helping the Bears become one of the best Defenses in the NFL.

From the minute this game was scheduled the feeling was the Denver Broncos should be a narrow favourite considering the inside knowledge that Fangio would have about what has been a limited Chicago Offense. After seeing Mitchell Trubisky struggle in Week 1 you might have expected Denver to be a slightly bigger favourite, but the Broncos were pretty awful themselves on Monday Night Football.

Even with that in mind I think the Broncos being the underdog of almost a Field Goal amount of points does not feel right and I like Denver to find a way to keep this one competitive. Vic Fangio will have spent the last few days preparing his team to deal with the nuances of the Chicago Offense but the relatively one-dimensional performance of the Bears in Week 1 should make it a little easier for the Head Coach.

The Denver Defensive Line will be looking to clamp down on David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen from the Running Back positions and make sure that Trubisky is going to have to beat them with his arm. The Quarter Back can move the chains with his legs too, but Chicago struggled to run the ball as a team against the Green Bay Packers and now have to try and find a way to establish the run against this Denver Defensive Line that just held Oakland to 3.5 yards per carry.

It is the strength of this Denver team even if they underperformed in Week 1 and I expect the whole Defensive unit to step up in the first game at Mile High on Sunday. If they can keep Chicago in third and long spots, the Denver Broncos can turn their pass rushers loose and get after Trubisky whose Offensive Line allowed 5 Sacks in the defeat to the Packers last week.

I expect Mitchell Trubisky will struggle, but Joe Flacco is another who could have a difficult day after a poor debut for the Denver Broncos on Monday Night. Part of the problem for Flacco is that the Offensive Line is one that looks pretty weak having needed to be rebuilt this off-season and they struggled to protect the Quarter Back and now have Khalil Mack and the Bears coming to town fresh off of Sacking Aaron Rodgers 6 times.

Flacco, like Trubisky, is going to need to have the run established to just open things up Offensively and also keep him in third and manageable spots. However the Chicago Defensive Line remains strong and the feeling is that we are going to see a low-scoring game where both Defensive units are coming out on top more often than not.

Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders could make some big plays for Denver against a Defensive unit that have lost some key players in the Secondary. Noah Fant will also need to be used more than he was in Week 1, but I can see why Denver are the slight underdogs in a game that might not feature a lot of scoring.

I go back to Vic Fangio and his insider knowledge being the key difference between the teams. While he will know the tendencies of Mitchell Trubisky and the way the Offense wants to get going, his knowledge of the Chicago Defense will also be very important in helping Joe Flacco and the Denver Offense put a successful game plan together.

The public don't believe that with Chicago getting the majority of bets being placed on them, but I think it is an overlooked factor that could provide the difference on the day.

Chicago are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six games before playing on Monday Night Football, while Denver are 10-0 against the spread as a home underdog playing a non-Divisional opponent following a Division game.

The Bears have been good off a loss which has to be respected and they have had a lot more time to prepare than the Denver Broncos. However I will back the home underdog with the insight from their Head Coach proving to be critical on the day.

MY PICKS: Pittsburgh Steelers - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 2.5 Points @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 8 Points @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Cincinnati Bengals - 1 Point @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Washington Redskins + 6 Points @ 1.85 Coral (2 Units)
Kansas City Chiefs - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Denver Broncos + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Week 1: 4-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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