Week 2 of the NFL season may well be remembered for the fortunes of several teams changed due to injuries.
The team most hurt is Dallas. After deciding not to re-sign featured RB DeMarco Murray in the offseason, the Cowboys running game entering this season was uncertain at best despite the presence of an outstanding offensive line.
Star WR Dez Bryant was injured in Dallas’ opening week win over the Giants and is expected to miss at least two months. Then, on Sunday, in their 20-10 win at Philadelphia QB Tony Romo suffered a broken clavicle in his non-throwing shoulder that is expected to sideline him for a couple of months.
Fortunately for the Cowboys the other three teams in the NFC East have not gotten off to strong starts, including their main challengers for the Division title, the Eagles. Whether Dallas will be able to overcome these major injuries is questionable. Already we’ve seen a reaction by the linesmakers as Dallas opened a 1-point home underdog to Atlanta this week. The advance line at the Westgate SuperBook late last week was Dallas by 4.5.
QB injuries also affected several other teams. Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford were injured on Sunday and both are listed as questionable for week three with Cutler more likely to be ruled out with a hamstring injury while Stafford is nursing aching ribs.
And as we were going to press, news came out that New Orleans’ QB Drew Brees has rotator cuff issues and is expected to miss Sunday’s game at Carolina with the possibility of an extended absence pending further tests.
As of Monday morning neither the Chicago at Seattle game nor Sunday night’s Denver at Detroit game had posted lines. And the Saints at Panthers game has been taken off the boards.
In Sunday night’s win over Seattle, Green Bay’s star running back Eddie Lacy injured his ankle and is listed as questionable for next Monday’s home game vs. Kansas City. But that injury did not keep the linesmaker from posting the Packers as 7 point home favorites. This just emphasizes the importance of the quarterback compared to other key positions when players are listed as other than “out” or “probable” when it comes to posting lines or keeping those games off the board until status updates are more certain.
Here’s a look at Week 3.
Washington +4 at NY Giants (44): Washington has played much better than expected in splitting its first two games, rushing for 161 and 182 yards. The Giants could as easily be 2-0 as they are 0-2 with mental errors more responsible for their losses than their actual play. The Giants are the more talented team that should take the field almost with a sense of desperation. The spot sets up nicely for the hosts on the short week as Washington plays its very first road game of the regular season. NY GIANTS.
Pittsburgh -1 at St. Louis (47): Pittsburgh responded well to its opening week loss with a solid all around effort in routing San Francisco while the Rams may have been a bit overconfident as they were outplayed in their loss at Washington. The Steelers have the more potent offense, which is offset by the Rams edge on defense. The Rams’ ability to pressure Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should be decisive. ST. LOUIS.
San Diego +2 at Minnesota (45): Both teams showed a better ability to run the ball in Week 2 than in the opening game. The Chargers are playing a second straight road game whereas the Vikes are at home for a second straight week. Both teams have each defeated Detroit with the Vikings’ effort the more impressive. MINNESOTA.
Tampa Bay +6.5 at Houston (40.5): Tampa got a very satisfying Divisional win at Tampa Bay as QB Jameis Winston performed much better than in his opening week loss vs. Tennessee. Considered a Playoff contender, Houston has QB concerns following an 0-2 start. Their play the first two weeks has not merited being this large a favorite but a loss here might be fatal to those Playoff chances. HOUSTON.
Philadelphia NL at NY Jets: New York played at Indianapolis on Monday night. Philly should be about a FG favorite. The Eagles’ offense was MIA in their 20-10 home loss to Dallas with a ground game that gained just 7 rushing yards. The Jets’ approach should be to exercise ball control to keep the Eagles offense on the sidelines and they have the ground game and a veteran QB to do so. UNDER.
New Orleans NL at Carolina: With the news Monday morning that Saints QB Drew Brees has an injured shoulder and is listed as being out indefinitely this game, which had the Panthers favored by 3.5, has been taken off the boards. The Panthers have won and covered their first two games while New Orleans is 0-2 both SU and ATS following last week’s ugly home loss to Tampa Bay. UNDER.
Jacksonville +13.5 at New England (47.5): New England served notice with an impressive win at Buffalo that they remain the team to beat in the AFC East. After a tough loss to Carolina to open the season Jacksonville gutted out a tough win over visiting Miami. The Jags know they cannot trade points with the Pats so their best chance will be to rely on their improving defense to stay competitive for as long as possible. UNDER.
Cincinnati +3 at Baltimore (44.5): The Bengals have looked sharp in winning their first two games vs. Oakland and San Diego. Baltimore is winless but can be excused as they started the season with a pair of road games out west. The Ravens have lost three straight to the Bengals but remain a veteran, well-coached team with a history of resiliency when facing tough situations. Such is the situation this week. BALTIMORE.
Oakland +4 at Cleveland (42): Oakland takes to the road for the first time while Cleveland is at home for a second straight week. Both teams enter with confidence. The Raiders faced a pair of Playoff teams from last season whereas the Browns played teams that were a combined 6-26. It’s hard to lay points, much less more than a FG, with a team that has not won more than 7 games for 7 straight seasons, no matter the opposition. OAKLAND.
Indianapolis NL at Tennessee: The Titans should be an improving team throughout the season but it will take time as rookie QB Marcus Mariota develops. Indy QB Andrew Luck is rapidly becoming an elite QB although he struggles on the road. Still, the Colts have the edge at most positions and should be laying between a field goal and TD. INDIANAPOLIS.
Atlanta -1 at Dallas (44): Both teams are 2-0 but Dallas has major issues on offense. Backup QB Brandon Weeden is lightly tested and a major dropoff from Tony Romo. The Cowboys may need to rely on their offensive line and a still-to-emerge running game to keep the potent Atlanta offense off the field, unable to trade points with what is essentially second stringers at key positions. UNDER.
San Francisco +6.5 at Arizona (43.5): Arizona has been impressive in winning its first two games. The 49ers were in a very bad spot following their Monday night home win over Minnesota and facing a well rested 0-1 Steelers team so their 43-18 loss was not a surprise. The 49ers still have a talented defense. This has been a low scoring series in recent seasons and this is the first time in 10 meetings the Total has been higher than 41. UNDER.
Chicago NL at Seattle: Several key Chicago injuries at QB and WR kept this game off the boards Monday but expect Seattle to be a double digit favorite as they play their first home game. A well worn rule suggests laying double digits in the NFL is dangerous. But there are exceptions to every rule. Such as here. SEATTLE.
Buffalo +3 at Miami (43.5): Buffalo’s defense was torched by Tom Brady and the Patriots last week and now plays its first road game. Miami was sloppy in its last second loss at Jacksonville as they play their home opener. Then its off to London and then the bye week followed by a game at Houston, making this Miami’s only home game in the season’s first six weeks. Buffalo’s shaken confidence and the second best QB in this game sets up nicely for the hosts. MIAMI.
Denver at Detroit: The uncertain status of Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (ribs) keeps this game off the boards. The Lions play their first home game after opening with losses at San Diego and Minnesota. Denver is 2-0 but could easily be 0-2 with tight wins over Baltimore and at Kansas City. The Broncos do have extra preparation time after playing last Thursday. The Lions were an 11 win team last season but did suffer key defensive losses in the offseason. There remain concerns about Denver QB Peyton Manning but the running game has also disappointed, gaining just 69 and 61 yards in their first two games. DETROIT.
KC +6.5 at Green Bay (48): In their last 10 games of 2014, 9 of the 10 teams that played Seattle failed to cover in their next game, a situation that continued last week when the Rams lost outright as a favorite at Washington. Green Bay may not lose SU here, but the rested Chiefs should give the Packers all they can handle. KANSAS CITY.
NFL Last Week: 6-9-0
NFL Season: 16-15-0
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]