Scott Shapiro's Week 2 NFL Six Pack
An extremely entertaining opening NFL Sunday that featured a number of lopsided scores, but also a couple thrillers, got the 2019 season rolling.
A slate loaded with 1 p.m. ET starting times and a number of road favorites awaits pigskin fans in Week 2.Here is my Six Pack for Week 2 (all games Sunday).
The Eagles offense got off to a slow start in its opener against the Redskins, but came on strong in the second half behind quarterback Carson Wentz. Philly now travels south to take on a Falcons team that was dominated in Week 1 by the Vikings.
In their lid lifter, Atlanta’s offensive line was unable to consistently block a ferocious Minnesota defense and that could be a problem all season, especially given the injury to rookie guard Chris Lindstrom. I am not sure it will hold back the Falcons in Week 2 against an Eagles defensive unit that is solid up front against the run but has struggled against the pass. And now the Eagles will be without recently acquired Malik Jackson, who is likely out for the season with a Lisfranc injury. If Matt Ryan is given ample time Sunday night look for Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons will have their way with an Eagles secondary that once again appears to be the weak link on an otherwise serious contender.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles' top-tier offensive line and skilled position players around Wentz should have a field day against a Falcons defense that was dominated by an average Vikings offensive line. I struggle to see how one of the league’s best offensive units does not move the ball easily in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The last couple of battles between the Falcons and Eagles have all stayed under the total, but this prime-time contest has the makings of a shootout.
Best bet: Over 50.5
The Steelers did not do much well in their opener in Foxborough, but that should change Sunday, when they head back to Pittsburgh to take on the Seahawks.
Look for Pittsburgh’s offensive line to control the line of scrimmage against a Seattle defense that was not nearly as successful as I expected in Week 1 against the banged-up Bengals. The Seahawks’ secondary that was awful in the season opener and will now meet a passing attack led by future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger and wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster. Expect several trips to the end zone for the Steelers.
Pete Carroll’s club has better offensive weapons in 2019 than it did over the last few years with Chris Carson, but it will not be enough to overcome traveling cross country to take on a playoff-caliber team that needs to avoid an 0-2 start.
Pick: Pittsburgh -4
One of the bigger surprises in Week 1 was the performance of Cincinnati. The Bengals went into a hostile environment and gave the Seahawks all they could handle as significant road underdogs. Cincy did not make many significant moves to a roster that had a terrible 2018 and was without No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Green, yet looked like a different team under first-year head coach Zac Taylor.
San Francisco did not play very well in Week 1, but took advantage of a number of key mistakes by Tampa Bay to earn a win. If Jimmy Garoppolo does not play significantly better in the second of back-to-back contests away from home, the Bengals should get Taylor his first victory.
Pick: Cincinnati -2.5
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense could not have been more impressive to start the season, after a 59-10 demolition of the hapless Dolphins. The good news for Baltimore is it faces another defense that is among the league’s worst, at least until it gets back cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford later this season.
Heisman Trophy winner and first overall pick Kyler Murray and the Arizona attack struggled mightily through the first three quarters in their home game against the Lions, but found a rhythm in the fourth quarter that allowed them to come from behind and tie Detroit 27-27. They'll face a Ravens defense that only allowed 10 points in Week 1, but lost a number of key contributors in the offseason and is unlikely to be a dominant bunch in 2019.
Expect the Ravens to score early and open up a double-digit lead, but the Cardinals to post enough points to get this over the total.
Pick: Over 46
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio will host his old employer in a contest between two teams that disappointed in Week 1. Since 2000 Denver is 18-1 straight up and 11-4-4 ATS in home openers, so the Broncos are likely to play much better in the thin mountain air than they did in Northern California on Monday night. It could be a long day for their offensive line, though, especially if tackle Ja’Wuan James is out of the lineup.
I am not one to play many Unders in out-of-conference games, because more often than not they lack the same level of intensity as inter-conference contests, but this one is unlikely to fit under that theory.
Pick: Under 40.5
The Jaguars struggled to defend Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense in Week 1 and will take on another one of the league’s best young quarterbacks Sunday, but this still seems like too many points for this AFC South clash.
The Jaguars should be able to get pressure on Deshaun Watson and score enough points under rookie QB Gardner Minshew against a subpar Texans defense to keep this relatively close.