*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game
Seattle (@ Los Angeles) – The Seattle Seahawks didn’t have much trouble moving the ball against the Miami Dolphins’ defense in Week 1, totaling 352 yards and converting 21 first downs, but they had problems putting points on the board. Shockingly, they were only able to muster 12 points against the Fins in their win at home. It didn’t help that quarterback Russell Wilson hurt his ankle in the game and was practically immobile afterwards. Head coach Pete Carroll says his injury isn’t anything serious, but I’d still remain somewhat cautious whether or not he plays this week. Seattle will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams who were shut out by the 49ers on Monday night, 28-0. I expect Seattle’s defense to put the clamps on the Rams’ anemic offense and focus on stopping Todd Gurley in this game. The stat that everyone has been mentioning this week is that Gurley averaged 6.4 yards per carry (ypc) in his first four professional games, and has averaged just 3.8 ypc over his last nine games. I expect that Gurley will be bottled up once again all day long against Seattle’s front seven as they will swarm him anytime he is handed the ball. If Russell Wilson plays, which Seattle is insisting will happen, the Seahawks will remain a Strong Play this week. If he doesn’t suit up, I’d knock them down a peg or two, but I believe that the Seahawks defense’ will still win this game for Seattle and could possibly shut the Rams out for the second week in a row.
Next 3 Games:
Seattle: vs. San Francisco, @NY Jets, BYE
Los Angeles: @Tampa Bay, @Arizona, vs. Buffalo
Carolina (vs. San Francisco) – San Francisco came out strong in Week 1 posting a 28-0 shutout against the Los Angeles Rams at home on Monday night. Keep in mind though that it was Rams. There were a lot of positives about the Niners in that game including their offensive line, their running game and their defensive front seven. San Francisco’s running game was the true highlight as Carlos Hyde rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns and Shaun Draughn punched one in from three yards out in the 2nd quarter. Blaine Gabbert made some smart decisions with his legs and on occasion made some really nice throws, but there were times that Gabbert made some really bad passes. He is lucky to have gotten away with that against the Rams, but he faces a completely different monster in the Carolina Panthers this weekend. I don’t expect Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson and company to allow San Francisco to move the chains very easily against their defense. San Francisco will go to a lot of no-huddle offense again this week, but the Panthers will sniff out screen plays to Torrey Smith and should keep Carlos Hyde in check. I think the 49ers’ defense may put up a really fight good against Carolina, but ultimately, they won’t have an answer for Kelvin Benjamin who is coming off a six catch, 91 yard, one TD game against the Broncos. That was also his first game back in over a year and he didn’t look like he missed a beat. I don’t think this game will be a blowout, but Carolina won’t allow this one to slip away like they did against Denver on opening night.
Next 3 Games:
San Francisco: @Seattle, vs. Dallas, vs. Arizona
Carolina: vs. Minnesota, @Atlanta, vs. Tampa Bay
Detroit (vs. Tennessee) – The Detroit Lions are fortunate that they walked off the field in Indianapolis as the winning team on Sunday after blowing a 21-3 lead against the Colts. Thankfully, Matthew Stafford was nearly flawless completing 31 of his 39 passes and compiling 340 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick were also big contributors in the win, combining for 108 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards and three touchdowns. With Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings last week, the Titans focused on stopping Adrian Peterson and only allowed him to rush for 31 yards on 19 carries (1.6 ypc). The Titans will not be able to just focus on stopping the Lions’ running game because they are facing Stafford this week, and not Shaun Hill. I expect that the Lions will once again put up big numbers and could score between 24-30 points in this game. The Titans on the other hand will have to try to keep pace with Lions’ offense. Marcus Mariota may have to throw the ball 40+ times again this week which should also lead to Tajae Sharpe having double-digit targets for a second consecutive week. I do believe Delanie Walker will have a bigger role in this game since the Colts’ Dwayne Allen caught four balls for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Lions’ D. The problem is that the Titans don’t have the same type of offense that the Colts have and will not be able to go point-for-point with Detroit.
Next 3 Games:
Tennessee: vs. Oakland, @Houston, @Miami
Detroit: @Green Bay, @Chicago, vs. Philadelphia
Arizona (vs. Tampa Bay) – Arizona is home for a second consecutive week and will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing loss to a Patriots team riddled by injuries and suspension to key starters. The game ended on a missed field goal by Chandler Catanzaro, but the blame shouldn’t be placed on him for this loss. Larry Fitzgerald showed no signs of aging, but Carson Palmer didn’t have his best game and I’m sure it didn’t help that he was sacked three times and hit an additional five times. The Arizona offensive line will have to play a little bit better this week and keep their quarterback from being under pressure against the Bucs. Tampa Bay’s defense has another daunting task this week after facing Atlanta last week. I expect Palmer will spread the ball to Fitz, Michael Floyd and John Brown in this game just as Matt Ryan spread the ball pretty evenly between five receivers against Tampa Bay. Also look for David Johnson to play a major role in both the running and passing games. For the Buccaneers to have a shot in this game they are going to have to rely on Jameis Winston to play really well again this week. Winston is coming off a very economical game in which he completed 23 of his 33 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns and just one interception. Granted, it came against the Falcons’ soft defense and I don’t expect Arizona to allow Mike Evans to burn them like he did Atlanta. Arizona will have a better showing both offensively and defensively this Sunday and will rebound from their loss against the Patriots.
Next 3 Games:
Tampa Bay: vs. Los Angeles, vs. Denver, @Carolina
Arizona: @Buffalo, vs. Los Angeles, @San Francisco
Jacksonville (@ San Diego) – Although the Jaguars couldn’t find a way to beat the Packers last Sunday, they showed the rest of the NFL that they are to be taken seriously on both sides of the football this year. Heading into last week, I was afraid that turnovers by Blake Bortles would cost the Jags the game against Green Bay. And what do you know, on the very first drive of the game, Bortles threw an interception and the Packers capitalized with a touchdown. But that interception wasn’t the reason they lost. In fact, Bortles showed great maturity coming back from that turnover and threw for 309 yards the rest of the way and led the Jags on two touchdown drives. What really hurt the Jags was their lack of a running game. Chris Ivory was hospitalized so T.J. Yeldon started in his place but couldn’t get anything going, averaging just 1.9 yards per carry. Ivory has been released from the hospital, but I have my doubts he’ll play this week so Yeldon will be in line to get the bulk of the carries. The Chargers defense allowed Spencer Ware to average 6.4 yards per carry in Week 1 so I expect Yeldon to be a factor in this game. I don’t think Yeldon will have as dominating of a game as Spencer Ware had, but he should have a lot more success this week and should be able to average around 3.5 yards per carry. Blake Bortles could also be in line for a monster game and should link up with Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas for 150+ yards and a touchdown or two. San Diego suffered a big blow losing Keenan Allen for the year with an ACL tear in the 2nd quarter against Kansas City. San Diego was leading 21-3 when Allen went down and could only muster six points after his injury. Allen is a huge loss to this offense and they could struggle to score a lot of points this week, which is why I believe Jacksonville is a decent play in Week 2 in Survivor Pools.
Next 3 Games:
Jacksonville: vs. Baltimore, vs. Indianapolis, BYE
San Diego: @Indianapolis, vs. New Orleans, @Oakland
Oakland (vs. Atlanta) – The best game of Week 1, in my opinion, goes to the Oakland Raiders’ come-from-behind win on the road against the New Orleans Saints. I respect Jack Del Rio’s gutsy call to go for two and the win with 47 seconds left in the game as opposed to going for the tie and settling for overtime. The Raiders trailed for the entire second half but they kept battling back, refusing to lose to New Orleans. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper were on the same page in this game and connected six times for 137 yards. Michael Crabtree was also heavily involved with 87 yards on seven catches, including the game-winning two-point conversion. Oakland had a total of 486 yards in that game and they may have a chance to hit 500 total yards against the Falcons in Week 2. Atlanta’s defense allowed 281 passing yards against Jameis Winston so I don’t have any doubts that Derek Carr is going to pick apart the Falcons’ secondary. The Falcons aired it out against Tampa Bay and they will air it out again in Week 2 against Oakland after the Raiders allowed Drew Brees to completely embarrass their defense for 423 yards and four touchdowns. The Raiders’ defense is better than what was on display in Week 1 and I think they’ll be able to slow down the Falcons offense. Julio Jones aggravated his ankle against the Bucs, but is expected to play. If he is isn’t close to 100% or if it comes out before Thursday night that he is unable to play (which I don’t expect), I would bump the Raiders up a spot or two in these rankings.
Next 3 Games:
Atlanta: @New Orleans, vs. Carolina, @Denver
Oakland: @Tennessee, @Baltimore, vs. San Diego
NY Jets (@ Buffalo) – The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills square off on short rest for the Thursday Night game of the week. The Jets’ schedule is absolutely brutal going forward making this a must-win game this early in the season due to their loss to against the Bengals in Week 1. The Jets could have beaten Cincinnati, but they let the game slip away. One of the reasons they lost is because Darrelle Revis couldn’t cover A.J. Green and was torched for a couple touchdowns. The Jets’ offense also needs to take some blame for the loss because they couldn’t find their way into end zone while in the red zone and had to settle for field goals instead. The one positive; their defensive line absolutely abused one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and sacked Andy Dalton seven times along with 10 QB hits. The Jets’ defense should make life miserable for Tyrod Taylor, forcing him to move out of the pocket and to make throws on the run. Bills’ top playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins is questionable to play on short rest this week which would be a big blow to this offense. Even if he does suit up, I don’t think he’s going to be a factor in this game, making the Jets a pretty good option in your pool this week.
Next 3 Games:
NY Jets: @Kansas City, vs. Seattle, @Pittsburgh
Buffalo: vs. Arizona, @New England, @Los Angeles
Denver (vs. Indianapolis) – What can you say about the job that Trevor Siemian did on opening night against the Carolina Panthers? Was he spectacular? No, but he remained calm and poised even after throwing a pair of interceptions against a top defense like Carolina. But the star of the game was C.J. Anderson who looks rejuvenated and ready for a big year. Anderson touched the ball 24 times and rushed for 92 yards and also had 47 receiving yards and two touchdowns. You should expect to see a heavy dose of Anderson against the Colts’ defense that allowed Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick to run all over them for 108 yards on just 19 carries. The Colts’ defense also allowed Stafford to torch them for 340 yards and three touchdowns. I don’t expect those types of numbers from Siemian, but Anderson’s success could lead into more throwing opportunities for Siemian. The Colts fell behind 21-3 early on in the game before the offense turned things on. Andrew Luck finished the game with 385 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, but the defense just kept letting the Colts’ offense down. The Colts have beaten the Broncos the last two times they met (once last year in the regular, once in the 2014 playoffs) and have won eight of their last nine against Denver. Andrew Luck hasn’t put up the best stats against Denver, but he has had success against them, winning three of his four career games against the Broncos. I do think Denver pulls out the win this week but I wouldn’t want to risk my Survivor Pool on Denver in Week 2.
Next 3 Games:
Indianapolis: vs. San Diego, @Jacksonville, vs. Chicago
Denver: @Cincinnati, @Tampa Bay, vs. Atlanta
New England (vs. Miami) – The Patriots are coming off one of the more impressive wins from Week 1, defeating the Cardinals 23-21 on the road in Arizona. The Patriots were obviously without Tom Brady, but they were also without Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski due to a hamstring injury. We know that hamstring injuries can linger for a while so his status this week against Miami is up in the air. Jimmy Garoppolo did a fine job filling in for Brady, completing 24 of his 33 passes for 264 yards against a tough Cardinals’ defense. The Dolphins’ defense will not be a walk in the park, but as long as Garoppolo sticks to short passes, he should have some success again this week. As for Miami, they were only able to generate 214 total yards of offense against Seattle in Week 1. Jarvis Landry did catch seven passes for 54 yards, but the Patriots will make sure that Tannehill doesn’t connect with Landry for any big plays that could potentially lead to touchdowns. As long as they hold Landry and Foster to 70 yards or less receiving and rushing, respectively, I expect New England should enter their matchup against Houston with a record of 2-0.
Next 3 Games:
Miami: vs. Cleveland, @Cincinnati, vs. Tennessee
New England: vs. Houston, vs. Buffalo, @Cleveland
Baltimore (@ Cleveland) – The Baltimore Ravens’ defense stepped up and helped propel the Ravens to a 13-7 win against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. It was a defensive battle between the two teams, but Baltimore’s offense controlled the football for 33 minutes and came up with one big play (Mike Wallace’s 66-yard touchdown reception) and their defense held the Bills’ offense to a measly 160 total yards. In fact, they held the Bills’ running backs to 2.7 yards per carry. Baltimore’s offensive line had a lot of trouble against Buffalo’s defense, allowing four quarterback sacks and nine QB hits which is worrisome. Cleveland’s defense had some success getting at Carson Wentz last week and that will be their game plan against Joe Flacco this week. The Browns actually kept the game within striking distance against the Eagles but things started to slip away about halfway through the 3rd quarter when they allowed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. The biggest issue for Cleveland is whether or not they’ll be able to generate enough offense against Baltimore. The Browns lost their starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III, for approximately eight weeks after he was placed on the IR with fractured bone in his left shoulder and Josh McCown has been named the starting quarterback, which may actually be an upgrade. I just don’t think they’ll be able to put up enough points against Baltimore this week and their lack of offense is going to cost them the game.
Next 3 Games:
Baltimore: @Jacksonville, vs. Oakland, vs. Washington
Cleveland: @Miami, @Washington, vs. New England
Philadelphia (@ Chicago) – Carson Wentz had arguably the most impressive game for a quarterback making their NFL debut last week, leading the Eagles in a win over the Cleveland Browns. Wentz threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns, but most impressive is the fact that he didn’t turn the ball over at all. He will look to build on that performance on Monday night against the Chicago Bears. The Bears were torched for a couple of big plays against the Texans last week and Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor will be relied upon to be the big playmakers in the passing game this week. The Eagles will be hurting on offense with the loss of Zach Ertz who is expected to miss at least the next few weeks and that could actually be a big blow for Wentz. Wentz targeted Ertz seven times in Week 1 and completed six of those passes for 58 yards. Veteran tight end Brent Celek will have to fill that void for the time being. Although I think the Eagles will have success in the passing game, the key player for Philly will be Ryan Mathews and how effectively he can run the football. I’m expecting that the Eagles will have a balanced offensive game plan and will split the passing and running plays just about evenly again this week. If Mathews can find holes and keep the Bears’ defense honest, it will open up the passing game for Wentz and should lead to the Eagles posting 24 or more points on the scoreboard this week.
Next 3 Games:
Philadelphia: vs. Pittsburgh, BYE, @Detroit
Chicago: @Dallas, vs. Detroit, @Indianapolis
NY Giants (vs. New Orleans) – Drew Brees threw for 423 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Raiders and the Saints still found a way to lose the game. In other words, Brees had a perfect game but the Saints’ defense was so bad that they couldn’t pull out the win despite Brees doing whatever he could to put them in position for a win. This week they travel to New Jersey to take on Eli Manning and the Giants. Odell Beckham only had four receptions against the Cowboys, but he will be in line for a massive day against the Saints’ Swiss-cheese secondary. Manning will spread the ball around to multiple receivers including Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard, both of whom came away with touchdowns against the Cowboys. Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo will also want to keep the ball out of Brees’ hands and he can do that by controlling the clock and handing the ball off to Rashad Jennings. Drew Brees could have another big game, but don’t expect another 400+ yard passing day for Brees. He will target Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks roughly 20 times combined in this game, but the Giants held Dez Bryant to just one catch last week and will try to do the same against that duo. Jason Witten caught 9 balls for 66 yards against the Giants in Week 1 so look for Colby Fleener to have a bounce-back game. I like the Giants this week, but this could end up being a shootout and a game that is a little too risky to take this early in the season.
Next 3 Games:
New Orleans: vs. Atlanta, @San Diego, BYE
NY Giants: vs. Washington, @Minnesota, @Green Bay
Green Bay (@ Minnesota) – Green Bay’s offense didn’t play particularly well in their win on the road in Jacksonville, but Aaron Rodgers made some fantastic plays escaping sacks, keeping plays alive with his feet and protecting the football, not committing a single turnover. The Packers have another tough task ahead of them as they are traveling on the road for a second consecutive week, this time against divisional rival, Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings’ defense is expected to be without Xavier Rhodes, which means Trae Waynes will be getting the nod at CB again this week. I expect that Rodgers will attack and expose Waynes early on the game. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says that he will not announce their starting quarterback until Sunday, but I’m predicting that Sam Bradford will get the start over Shaun Hill. If Hill is announced as the starter, I would bump the Packers up a tier, but playing on the road against a tough Vikings’ defense makes them a risky pick this week.
Next 3 Games:
Green Bay: vs. Detroit, BYE, vs. NY Giants
Minnesota: @Carolina, vs. NY Giants, vs. Houston
Dallas (@ Washington) – Week 1 was filled with some gut-punching losses, but I think the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants takes the cake. Everyone is still wondering how Terrance Williams just completely forgot the situation and didn’t get out of bounds to give Dan Bailey a shot at the game-winning field goal. Dallas needs to put that game behind them and just move on and take care of business in Washington this week. Dak Prescott was another quarterback making his first career start last week and looked extremely poised throughout the game. He will need to get Dez Bryant more involved in this game because Bryant was limited to just one catch against the Giants. If Josh Norman covers Bryant, Prescott could rely on Jason Witten and Cole Beasley to receive a bulk of the targets. But Norman wasn’t the primary defensive back covering Antonio Brown last week against Pittsburgh, so I’m not sure if they’ll decide to change that this week after Bashaud Breeland was torched for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Williams carried the ball 26 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns so I expect Ezekiel Elliot to get a couple more touches this week than he did against the Giants and to run the ball more effectively than he did in Week 1. I would avoid taking either Washington or Dallas this week and saving both of these teams for Week 4 when Dallas takes on San Francisco or when Washington hosts the Browns.
Next 3 Games:
Dallas: vs. Chicago, @San Francisco, vs. Cincinnati
Washington: @NY Giants, vs. Cleveland, @Baltimore
Houston (vs. Kansas City) – Kansas City is very fortunate to have defeated the Chargers in Week 1 after trailing 24-3 and showing no signs of life on offense for the first 39 minutes of the game. The 4th quarter is when things started to really click for Kansas City after San Diego failed to capitalize on Alex Smith’s interception on KC’s own 44 yard line. John Lambo missed a tough 54-yard field goal but KC got the ball back and scored touchdowns on three of their next four possessions, including the game-winner in overtime. If Kansas City starts out slow yet again, they are going to have a tough time beating Houston on the road because I doubt they’ll surrender a 21 point lead like the Chargers. Houston is going to need Brock Osweiler to protect the football against the Chiefs’ defense and will need rookie Will Fuller to have another big game this week because a lot of the focus will be on his teammate, DeAndre Hopkins. Kansas City didn’t have much of an answer for Keenan Allen before he went down with his injury, catching six of his seven targets for 63 yards. I expect Hopkins will get off to a fast start like Allen did, but Houston’s offense will need to keep their foot on the pedal and can’t be conservative against KC’s defense if they want to come out on top in this game.
Next 3 Games:
Kansas City: vs. NY Jets, @Pittsburgh, BYE
Houston: @New England, vs. Tennessee, @Minnesota
Pittsburgh (vs. Cincinnati) – Pittsburgh and Cincinnati face off this weekend in a rematch of last year’s Wildcard playoff game. Pittsburgh ended up besting the Bengals 18-16, but A.J. McCarron was forced to start for the Bengals due to Andy Dalton’s season-ending injury against the Steelers a month earlier. This time around the Bengals will have Andy Dalton back and his top receiver, A.J. Green, is coming off a 180-yard game against the Jets, burning Darrelle Revis twice in that game. But in 10 career starts, Andy Dalton’s record against the Steelers stands at just 3-7. This game has the makings of shootout with two of the best receivers in the game. Neither team has easy matchups in the next few weeks, but if you are able to, I’d hold off on taking either of these teams until Week 7 when the Bengals host the Cleveland Browns.
Next 3 Games:
Cincinnati: vs. Denver, vs. Miami, @Dallas
Pittsburgh: @Philadelphia, vs. Kansas City, vs. NY Jets
Week 2 Survivor Pool Rankings:
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Carolina Panthers
3. Detroit Lions
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Oakland Raiders
7. New York Jets
8. Denver Broncos
9. New England Patriots
10. Baltimore Ravens
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. New York Giants
13. Green Bay Packers
14. Dallas Cowboys
15. Houston Texans
16. Pittsburgh Steelers