Keying on the Patriots, Seahawks and Cards
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.
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.
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.