As is the case every season, more questions are raised than are answered in the first week of play as it takes another game or two for the results of the opening game to be placed into perspective.
For instance, will the New York Giants’ offense be as anemic as it looked in Sunday night’s 19-3 loss in Dallas, or is the Cowboys defense better than many people expect it to be given the significant turnover in personnel from last season?
Will New England’s defense have more games such as we witnessed last Thursday or has the addition of RB Kareem Hunt and emergence of WR Tyreke Hill transformed Kansas City into a much stronger offensive team than we have witnessed in the first three seasons with Andy Reid as their head coach?
Are the Rams improved more than they are thought to be or is Indianapolis, sans QB Andrew Luck, as bad as they looked in their one-sided loss?
In a few weeks we will look back upon these opening week results and they will start to make sense. For now, let’s turn our attention to Week 2, which will provide some initial answers to Week 1’s questions while raising entirely new questions as well.
Here are previews of the 16 games that comprise the Week 2 schedule.
Texans +3.5 at Bengals (38.5): Both teams, considered Playoff teams by many, are in danger of starting the season 0-2 after each was upset as a home favorite on Sunday by Division rivals. The Bengals are in the more precarious situation as a loss would drop them to 0-2 at home. QB Andy Dalton had arguably the worst game of his career and will face another top defense here. The Texans may already have a QB controversy after rookie QB DeShaun Watson replaced Tom Savage after Savage was sacked 7 times and was otherwise ineffective. Much of his woes can be attributed to poor offensive line play. With the Bengals also having an above average defense this game handicaps as low scoring, barring defensive or special teams touchdowns. UNDER
Titans -1.5 at Jaguars (44): Jacksonville seeks to start 2-0 for the first time since 2006 and both wins would be against AFC South foes after winning at Houston to start the season. The Titans were upset at home by Oakland and seeks to avoid that dreaded 0-2 start that severely hampers a team’s chances to make the Playoffs. Tennessee has the better overall roster that includes a QB edge with Marcus Mariota decidedly better than Blake Bortles. It’s tougher to win on the road than at home but the Titans are stepping down in class in playing the Jaguars after playing Oakland in what was a competitively played game throughout and statistically even. TITANS
Browns +7.5 at Ravens (41): Baltimore’s defense was all over Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton all game, sacking him 4 times and forcing a fumble. Yet despite the 5 takeaways the Ravens put only 20 points on the board in their shutout win. They held the Bengals to 3.8 yards per play while only gaining 4.5 ypp on offense. This is a second straight Divisional game for both teams and another low scoring game would not surprise. Both offenses should show steady improvement as the season unfolds but the strength of both teams entering the season was expected to be their defenses. UNDER.
Bills +7.5 at Panthers (42.5): Both teams opened the season with wins over inferior opponents. Buffalo struggled at home to defeat the Jets 21-12 while Carolina overcame a sluggish start to win 23-3 at San Francisco. Carolina QB Cam Newton looked rusty but still rates a significant edge over his Buffalo counterpart, Tyrod Taylor. Both teams have solid ground games with mobile quarterback’s able to contribute. Carolina has the fundamentally better defense and that should be the key as the Panthers play their home opener. Expect Carolina rookie RB Christian McCaffrey to have more of an impact on a week to week basis. PANTHERS
Patriots -4.5 at Saints (53.5): New Orleans played at Minnesota on Monday night with New England projected to open about a 5 point road favorite. The Patriots have had extra time to prepare following their shocking fourth quarter collapse to Kansas City in their opening 42-27 home loss. That loss led to questions about the demise of the New England defense and age finally catching up to QB Tom Brady. New Orleans also has a future Hall of Fame QB and a solid head coach, Sean Payton. But the Pats have perhaps the best coach of all time, Bill Belichick, and he will have his team well prepared on both sides of the football. While expected to be improved, the Saints’ defense is still below average. The Pats have lost their opening game just once in the past decade, in 2014 at Miami. They followed that loss with a 30-7 win at Minnesota en route to a 12-4 season and that Super Bowl win over Seattle. The Pats have not started the season 0-2 since 2001 – when they won their first of 5 Super Bowls in the Brady and Belichick era. PATRIOTS
Arizona -7.5 at Colts (44): Arizona QB Carson Palmer looked his age throughout the loss to the Lions, picked off 3 times and suffering a sack. RB David Johnson was injured and his status for this game is uncertain as of Monday. Sharp handicappers and bettors often look first to backing underdogs, especially home underdogs. But with a team as lacking in overall talent as the Colts, led by one of the weaker back up QBs (Scott Tolzien) it becomes very tough to take the points. Perhaps a better way to avoid laying the points with Arizona is through the Total. OVER
Eagles +4.5 at Chiefs (47.5): KC is rested following their upset win at New England as Chiefs coach Andy Reid prepares to face his former team for the second time. The Eagles opened with a solid road Divisional win at Washington, a team to whom they had lost 5 straight times. Philly played solid defense and although they must play a second straight road game to start the season this is a game they can win. Kansas City was 12-4 last season and has added playmakers on offense like Kareem Hunt. Alex Smith remains one of the NFL’s most underrated quarterbacks. This game handicaps as being contentious throughout which makes taking more than a FG attractive. EAGLES
Vikings +7 at Steelers (45): Sam Bradford is a competent QB and the Vikings have an above average defense. The Steelers’ defense is still in transition and should improve throughout the season and could be a strength come December. The offense may be the best balanced in the NFL with QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and a host of quality receivers. The Vikings will still rely on their defense considerably more than their offense for their success and that defense will be tested here, especially on a short week. Having just been tested by what is considered an explosive New Orleans offense the Vikings defense should be prepared for a similarly potent Pittsburgh attack. Coming up big on third down and forcing field goals rather than extending drives should be the key. VIKINGS
Bears +6.5 at Bucs (43): Tampa had its season debut delayed to the preparations for Hurricane Irma that caused their game at Miami to be postponed until week 11. Chicago did a good job of frustrating Atlanta’s offense in last week’s 23-17 loss. The offense had four cracks inside the red zone to win in the final minute but could not convert. Tampa is expected to be a contender for the Playoffs this season and could win the NFC South. The coaching staff does have the benefit of having seen the Bears already having played a game that counts. Tampa QB Jameis Winston has shown solid development in his first two seasons and the coaching staff also has the benefit of knowledge of Bears’ QB Mike Glennon who spent the past couple of season’s as Tampa’s backup to Winston. BUCS
Dolphins +4 at Chargers (44.5): QB Jay Cutler is reunited with Miami coach Adam Gase who coached Cutler to perhaps his best season in his NFL career while offensive coordinator in Chicago in 2015. Miami earned a Wild Card last season but the schedule is tougher this season. The Chargers’ Philip Rivers is one of the best QB’s in NFL history not to make it to a Super Bowl and the Chargers were better than last season’s 5-11 record would suggest, losing many close games. This could be one of the week’s most entertaining games. The added rest and time to prepare are edges for the Dolphins who easily could win what might be a shootout. DOLPHINS
Jets +14 at Raiders (43.5): The Jets were not embarrassed in last week’s loss at Buffalo but the competition gets tougher this week. The Raiders went cross country and won at Tennessee, continuing their success East of the Mississippi they enjoyed last season. QB Derek Carr has many options at his disposal with solid running backs and gifted receivers. While it is always dangerous to lay double digits in the NFL there is no compelling reason to take the points with the Jets, a team that should struggle to win more than 2 or 3 games all season. But the double digit spread could signal a high scoring game and at a Total in the low to mid 40’s there is some value in such a play. OVER
Redskins +2.5 at Rams (46): It’s hard to glean much from the Rams’ rout of the Colts other than to surmise the Rams will be improved over last season, especially on defense. Washington lost at home to Philly last week, considered a Playoff caliber team. Washington was itself such a team the past two seasons, winning the NFC East in 2015 and missing the Playoffs last season with a week 17 loss. A loss here would have the Redskins at 0-2. They have the edge at QB with Kirk Cousins vs Jared Goff and a complimentary roster of supporting talent. REDSKINS
Cowboys -2.5 at Broncos (43): The status of Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliot is somewhat uncertain pending any court rulings this week but he played – and played well – in Sunday night’s win over the Giants. Dallas’s defense played much better than expected and faces a Denver offense that is not the team’s strength. Dallas has the much better roster but the offense will be challenged for the second week in a row by a top flight defense. Dallas’ edge on offense is offset by playing at a tough venue. This could be another game in which both defenses come up big on third down, a condition that is conducive to lower scoring games. UNDER
49ers +12 at Seahawks (43): Seattle will be in an angry state of mind following their 17-9 loss at Green Bay in what many believe was a very poorly officiated game that tilted the field against the Seahawks. The San Francisco defense played well for a while in their 23-3 loss to Carolina but the offense did very little, averaging just 4.0 yards per play. In the 2 seasons since Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers the Seahawks have won both home meetings by 16 and 19 points. And both of those wins followed losses. SEAHAWKS
Packers +2.5 at Falcons (53.5): Despite their huge edge in prior Playoff experience Green Bay was a 6 point dog in the NFC Title game but only a 3 point dog in the regular season matchup. Falcons QB Matt Ryan is almost at the level of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers but does have the better balance supporting cast. It’s tempting to take the points with the Pack but Atlanta may still be the better team. OVER
Lions PK at Giants: The status of Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Jr has this game up in the air. The Giants should be well prepared for this game and although there still are issues with the offensive line the defense faces less of a challenge this week as Detroit QB Matthew Stafford lacks the support of the running game that supports Dallas QB Dak Prescott. GIANTS
Last week: 5-7-1 (w/o MNF)
Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach provide popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long-time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]