The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight standout fixtures of Week 2, including a Seahawks-Patriots blockbuster.
History: Played 93: Bengals 51 V Browns 42
Last meeting: December 29, 2019: Bengals 33 d Browns 23 at Paul Brown Stadium
Final Thoughts: The also-rans of the AFC North square off on the back of Week 1 losses. Cleveland Browns were hammered 38-6 by division heavyweights Baltimore Ravens in a harrowing introduction for new head coach Kevin Stefanski. The Browns struggled on both sides of the ball, but most glaringly the expected improvement from Baker Mayfield and the offence was nowhere to be seen.
Cincinnati Bengals were edged out 16-13 by the Chargers, run down in the fourth quarter. The No.1 Draft pick, QB Joe Burrow, rushed in the Bengals’ only touchdown in a patchy but encouraging debut. He drove his team into position and found AJ Green for the potential game-winner that was called back for pass interference, before a missed field goal foiled the Bengals’ bid to take it to overtime.
The Bengals have won eight of their last 11 against the Browns. Last season the Browns won 27-19 in Cleveland in Week 1 – their third straight win in the rivalry – but the Bengals hit back with a 33-23 victory at home in Week 17. None of the teams’ last 15 games have been decided by less than eight points, while the total has exceed 45 points in the past five clashes.
The Browns head in as $1.36 favourites but the Bengals and Burrow showed enough last week to jump on the underdogs with a healthy start.
History: Played 39: Panthers 24 V Buccaneers 15
Last meeting: October 13, 2019: Panthers 37 d Buccaneers 26 at Bank of America Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay began with a 34-23 loss to New Orleans. The G.O.A.T. passed for two touchdowns and rushed in another, but his two interceptions were the main takeaway from a performance that was widely panned. Brady’s QB rating was the sixth-worst in the NFL but he wasn’t as bad as many are making out.
Carolina Panthers went down 34-30 to the Raiders in Week 1, reeling in a 12-point three-quarter time deficit to hit the lead only to give up the game-winning TD with four minutes left. The Panthers butchered a late opportunity to snatch the result in a frustrating first outing under new coach Matt Rhule.
The Panthers have won 10 of the last 14 division clashes with the Bucs. The rivals both chalked up an away win over the other last season: The Buccaneers prevailed 20-14 in Charlotte, while Carolina powered to a 37-26 win in Tampa.
Brady and the Buccaneers will be better for last week’s run against one of the NFL’s benchmark. But there’s plenty of points in this Panthers offence and the line looks way to big in this one.
History: Played 32: Broncos 20 V Steelers 11 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: November 25, 2018: Broncos 24 d Steelers 17 at Sports Authority Field
Final Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger returned from a long injury layoff with three TD passes in leading the Steelers to a 26-16 win over the Giants, a sluggish but satisfactory result. There were enough signs to back up their status as a Super Bowl smoky.
The Broncos went down 16-14 to the Titans on Monday Night Football. Drew Lock had one TD and 216 yards but they were generally an offensive disappointment. Meanwhile, Von Miller’s season-ending injury is a disaster for the Denver defence.
The Broncos have won four of their last five against the Steelers – but all four wins were in Denver. They are searching for their first victory in Pittsburgh since 2006.
The Steelers’ offence looked better as their season opener wore on, while their front seven should be too good for Lock and limited Broncos offence.
History: Played 51: Jaguars 30 V Titans 21
Last meeting: November 24, 2019: Titans 42 d Jaguars 20 at Nissan Stadium
Final Thoughts: AFC South rivals Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars both kicked off their 2020 campaigns with a win. The Titans grabbed a 16-14 result in Denver, Ryan Tannehill throwing for 249 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Stephen Gostkowksi slotted the winning field goal (after missing with four previous attempts) with 17 seconds left.
Jacksonville pulled off a 27-20 upset of the Colts, with Gardner Minshew completing his passes at 95 percent including three touchdowns – perhaps a response to the notion that the Jags will tank this season to get Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence in the next Draft.
The Titans have won five of their last six in this division rivalry, but honours were shared last season. The Jags won 20-7 in Jacksonville, while the Titans romped to a 42-20 result at Nissan Stadium.
Tennessee should grind out the win. But a double-digit line is a tough one to take on – the under shapes as a more astute play.
History: Played 11: Ravens 9 V Texans 2
Last meeting: November 17, 2019: Ravens 41 d Texans 7 at M&T Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: Baltimore Ravens picked up where they left off in the 2019 regular season, thrashing the Browns 38-6. Lamar Jackson passed for 275 yards and 3 TDs – two for Mark Andrews – while JK Dobbins rushed in two touchdowns. The comprehensive display was the Ravens’ 13th straight victory in the regular season.
Houston Texans couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs in the season opener, going down 34-20 after scoring the only touchdown of the first quarter. DeShaun Watson and the Texans’ offence struggled to find their rhythm.
Jackson threw for four TDs in the Ravens’ 41-7 demolition of the Texans last season in Baltimore. But the Ravens haven’t won in Houston since 2010.
The Texans struggled to contain Mahomes and the potent Chiefs offence. They won’t get any respite from Jackson and Ravens side that has hit the ground running.
History: Played 120: Chiefs 63 V Chargers 56 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: December 29, 2019: Chiefs 31 d Chargers 21 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: Tyrod Taylor managed the win on Chargers debut after taking over from 14-season QB stalwart Phillip Rivers, but it was a scrappy performance – completing 16 of 30 passes for 208 yards and zero TDs – in a 16-13 win over the unfancied Bengals.
The Chiefs began their quest for back-to-back Super Bowls with a rousing 34-20 defeat of the Texans. Patrick Mahomes have three touchdowns passes, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire was outstanding on debut with 138 rushing yards and a TD on 25 carries.
The Chiefs have won 11 of their last 12 against the Chargers. Last season the eventual champs got up 24-17 in Inglewood and 31-21 at home, with Rivers tossing six picks across the two losses.
This modest line is a gift for punters, with the firepower-laden Chiefs highly likely to put the rebuilding Chargers to the sword.
History: Played 18: Patriots 9 V Seahawks 9
Last meeting: November 13, 2016: Seahawks 31 d Patriots 24 at Gillette Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Seahawks and Patriots meet for just the second time since the latter’s Super Bowl XLIX victory. But the blockbuster QB match-up this time around is Russell Wilson up against Cam Newton, rather than Tom Brady.
Wilson started the season on fire, completing 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and 4 TDs in the Seahawks’ 38-25 win over the Falcons. Allowing Wilson to pass on early downs – a diversion from last season – paid big dividends.
Newtown steered New England to a 21-11 defeat of Miami in his first outing as Patriots QB. It was Newtown’s trademark running game that was the feature, however, rushing for 75 yards and 2 TDs while passing just 19 times (155 yards, 0 TDs).
The Patriots’ defence remains one of the best in the NFL, while the Seahawks’ secondary looks like being one of the league’s most improved with Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar on board. Wilson should emerge victorious in his duel with Newtown but this shapes as arguably the game of Week 2.
History: Played 13: Raiders 6 V Saints 6 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: September 11, 2016: Raiders 35 d Saints 34 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Final thoughts: The relocated Las Vegas Raiders outlasted the Panthers 34-30 in Charlotte in Week 1. QB Derek Carr made an important early-season statement, while Joshua Jacobs rushed for 98 yards and 3 TDs – including the fourth-quarter game-winner – from 25 carries.
Drew Brees and New Orleans Saints took out their blockbuster with Tom Brady and Bucs 34-23. The Saints uncharacteristically had a bit of trouble with the pass rush – an area the Raiders were particularly strong against the Panthers.
This is a battle of two of the shortest-passing offences in the NFL. But Brees’ superior accuracy should prove the difference on MNF.
The over looms as a sound option but I’ll also take the Saints to cover the touchdown start.