Key­ing on the Pa­tri­ots, Sea­hawks and Cards

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - SPORTS - Dan Nowak

When it comes to hand­i­cap­ping, the ad­van­tage of Week 2 is that there is a full slate of games to digest from Week 1.

The teams to fo­cus on to­day are New Eng­land and Seat­tle, two teams com­ing off bad losses, and Ari­zona, which takes on the An­drew Luck-less In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

The Pa­tri­ots, 42-27 losers to Kansas City in Week 1, travel to New Or­leans and are banged up on both sides of the ball.

Sure, the Pats’ of­fense looks vul­ner­a­ble with re­ceivers Ju­lian Edel­man out for the sea­son and Danny Amen­dola ruled out with mul­ti­ple in­juries, in­clud­ing a con­cus­sion. While Brady still has Chris Ho­gan and Brandin Cooks to throw to, the key is tight end Rob Gronkowski. The medi­ocre Saints de­fense will have no an­swers for Gronk.

Seat­tle is com­ing off a 17-9 loss to host Green Bay, but the Sea­hawks re­turn home where they usu­ally dom­i­nate. They face a weak San Fran­cisco team still try­ing to find some rhythm on of­fense. The 49ers are get­ting 14 points, but the Sea­hawks will click on both sides of the ball for an easy cover.

Ari­zona trav­els to In­di­anapo­lis, which will still be without the in­jured Luck. The key here is the Ari­zona de­fense. Although it strug­gled in a los­ing cause against Detroit last week, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half, the Car­di­nals’ de­fense should dom­i­nate the weak of­fen­sive line of the Colts. If this was a dou­ble-digit spread in fa­vor of the Colts, maybe you con­sider tak­ing them at home, but Car­son Palmer & Co. should score enough to cover 7 points.

TO­DAY

Ten­nessee at Jack­sonville (+2): Many are on the Ti­tans’ band­wagon early in the sea­son, but the Jaguars’ de­fense was im­pres­sive against Hous­ton last week. Nowak’s pick: Jaguars 24-13. Cleve­land at Bal­ti­more (-9): This is a lot of points, but the Ravens’ de­fense is tough. Nowak’s pick: Ravens 27-14. Buf­falo at Carolina (-7): Pan­thers should dom­i­nate in their home opener. Nowak’s pick: 31-17. New Eng­land at New Or­leans (+6.5): See above. Nowak’s pick: Pa­tri­ots 35-27. Ari­zona at In­di­anapo­lis (-7): See above. Nowak’s pick: Car­di­nals 27-17. Philadel­phia at Kansas City (-5.5): Is Kansas City QB Alex Smith for real this sea­son? Maybe, but the key here will be two tough de­fenses with the Chiefs get­ting the edge at home. Nowak’s pick: Chiefs 23-14. Min­nesota at Pitts­burgh (-5.5): Quar­ter­back Sam Brad­ford was im­pres­sive last week and Dalvin Cook is the real deal for the Vik­ings, but Pitts­burgh will be pumped up for its home opener. Look for Pitts­burgh’s elite of­fen­sive stand­outs to dom­i­nate early and of­ten. Nowak’s pick: Steel­ers 35-20. Chicago at Tampa Bay (-7): The Buc­ca­neers should be pre­pared for this af­ter hav­ing last week’s game post­poned due to Hur­ri­cane Irma and ex­tra time to plan for their sea­son opener. Nowak’s pick: Buc­ca­neers 30-20. Miami at LA Charg­ers (-4): Like Tampa Bay, Miami gets to open its sea­son af­ter last week’s game was post­poned due to Irma. The Charg­ers should win, but I think Miami’s Jay Ajayi does enough to keep this one close. Charg­ers win, Dol­phins cover. Nowak’s pick: Charg­ers 27-24. Jets at Oak­land (-14): I don’t think any­one is pick­ing the Jets to cover in this spot, but their de­fense kept the game in Buf­falo rel­a­tively close last week and I think it does the same here. Nowak’s pick: Raiders 24-13. Wash­ing­ton at LA Rams (-2.5): The Rams looked aw­fully good on both sides of the ball last week. Nowak’s pick: Rams 30-17. Dal­las at Den­ver (+2.5): On pa­per, Dal­las should win eas­ily, but the odd­s­mak­ers see this dif­fer­ently and that makes me think they know some­thing we don’t. Make this on an up­set special. Nowak’s pick: Bron­cos 27-24. San Fran­cisco at Seat­tle (-14): See above. Nowak’s pick: Sea­hawks 31-13. Green Bay at At­lanta (-3): Home-field ad­van­tage gives edge to the Fal­cons in a high scor­ing game. Nowak’s pick: Fal­cons 31-27.

Mon­day’s game

Detroit at Giants (-3): I am on the Matthew Stafford band­wagon this sea­son. The tough Giants de­fense didn’t look so tough last week, al­beit against Dal­las. I see Stafford pumped up to make a state­ment on Mon­day Night Foot­ball. Nowak’s pick: Lions 31-24.

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