Week two NFL Sunday matchup analysis

The teams that I think will win in each matchup are listed in italics in their matchup titles.

Raiders at Steelers

  • The Raiders defense will dominate the Steelers as Maxx Crosby and Quinton Jefferson will prove too difficult for the bad Steelers o-line to stop. The Raiders linebacker group of Littleton and Perryman, with a sprinkling of Kwiatkowski (24%) will also aid in preventing Ben from getting the ball away via blitz, or stopping his trademark short-area passing. KJ Wright had 54% of snaps in Week 1, who is a clear downgrade on the others, but hopefully for the Raiders sake they limit him to a similar snap count, else he might give up some plays against Ebron in coverage and in stopping Najee Harris against the run. The others should do a fine job in that facet however. Trayvon Mullen and Casey Heyward are reliable enough to stop the Steelers receivers. A concern might be that the Raiders safety group is bad, but Ben cannot pass down the field to where that will be a big concern.
  • Najee Harris is already a top-level running back, but I predict the Raiders front seven will overwhelm the bad Steelers line. Kalen Ballage is on the Steelers roster and might provide a big boost, but he didn’t appear in Week 1 so the Steelers might opt for Benny Snell to spell Harris instead (if they do at all). The Steelers pass the ball a lot anyway, so worrying about the run isn’t worthwhile.
  • Kolton Miller will negate any blindside pressure on Derek Carr. TJ Watt will likely get consistent pressure against Alex Leatherwood. The rest of the Raiders o-line aren’t outstanding but can still win their matchups against the Steelers front. Carr can get passes off quickly to short options like Waller and Renfrow anyway. Waller, Ingold and Kenyan Drake might be able to help on Watt effectively.
  • The only player to worry about in the Steelers linebacker and secondary group is Minkah Fitzpatrick. If he plays deep safety as he has previously, big plays might be hard to come by. The Raiders receivers include a solid Henry Ruggs and Zay Jones and a bad Bryan Edwards. I think they’ll still be able to get open against that Steelers secondary, I just wouldn’t expect many big plays.
  • Marcus Allen is good enough to affect the result of the game if he gets snaps, but the Steelers seem to opt with Schobert and Bush over him, and don’t run a third off-ball linebacker.
  • The Raiders will have a good running game as Kenyan Drake will take most of the injured Josh Jacobs’ snaps.
  • The Raiders have one of the best special team units in the league, with kicker Daniel Carlson reliable from 45 and Trent Sieg being the best long snapper. AJ Cole is an ok punter but watch out for good pressure against him, as he needs to improve the quickness of his punt.
  • The Steelers have a good kicker in Boswell, terrible punter in Pressley Harvin who gives me the jitters with his slowness in releasing his punt, and a quality long snapper in Christian Kuntz.

Bengals at Bears

  • The Bengals can have an elite passing attack with the above-average Burrow passing to Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Drew Sample, a solid CJ Uzomah with Jamarr Chase an ok option but not as good as Auden Tate (12% snaps Week 1). Will he have enough time to get passes off against the Bears coverage? Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Bilal Nichols, Robert Quinn and Kyhiris Tonga will give Burrow only around 2.2 seconds to get passes off. The fact Bears coach Nagy opts for Angelo Blackson over those aforementioned elite DTs on occasion is not enough to limit the concern for the Bengals pass protection, as not one of the lineman (except for Isaiah Prince possibly replacing Jonah Williams or Riley Reiff through injury) can provide much blocking prowess. The Bears back seven is so inadequate, however, that the Bears will be vulnerable against big plays, just as they were against the Rams. Kindle Vildor is their best DB, but even if he takes away one Bengals receiver, there are others to pick up the slack. Overall, I think the Bengals passing offense will still have a slight edge over the Bears defense.
  • The Bengals will have basically no running game against that Bears front. Samaje Perine played some snaps in Week 1 so he might be able to pick up 3 or 4 yards on occasion. Again, the Bears will be vulnerable to big plays, but I think that front is too good to allow that to happen. The Bears have a clear edge over the Bengals in this facet.
  • The Bears offense is likely to throw more picks than TDs, particularly if Dalton starts and plays a lot. Allen Robinson is the only quality receiver and might even be negated if Eli Apple, a solid corner, is matched on him. The quality safety duo of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell are likely to negate big plays. Jesper Horsted is a great tight end, but even if he is active, I think he’ll be buried on the depth chart. Allen Robinson plays around half of his snaps in the slot, but Mike Hilton should take him out of the game. The Bengals will get good edge pressure as the Bears tackles are bad. James Daniels is elite and Cody Whitehair is good, but a combination of DJ Reader, Larry Ogunjobi and BJ Hill, particularly against Sam Mustipher at center, will give Dalton/ Fields only around 1.5 seconds to throw, and Dalton cannot evade the rush nor feel pressure, leading to turnovers.
  • David Montgomery and Damien Williams are not good enough to beat what will be an above average run defence. They might break one or two 10+ yard runs due to Logan Wilson being bad and Daniels and Whitehair being effective, but Montgomery in particular is a fumble risk. The Bengals run support from their DBs and solid LBs like Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis Gaither will help make running ineffective though.
  • The Bears have an elite kicker in Cairo Santos, but it is unlikely he’ll ever get into field goal range to make that relevant. Pat O’Donnell is a good punter, and he will give the Bengals some tough field position. This will probably be enough to negate any pass-advantage the Bengals have over the Bears defence.
  • Bengals punter Kevin Huber will be good enough to get the Bengals out of trouble and pin the Bears back on occasion. Clark Harris is a bad long snapper. Evan McPherson is solid, but not remarkable. Brandon Wilson and Darius Phillips are meh returners, but Tyler Boyd might be impactful if he does have some return reps (based off of the Bengals’ unofficial depth chart).
  • Ultimately, the Bears superiority in the specialist game will not be enough to negate the Bears liability for turnovers. Khalil Herbert and Nsimba Webster are meh returners.
  • Will Fields starting over Dalton swing the outcome? He is likely to be sacked a lot as his pocket presence and ability to quicky diagnose a defence is lacking. The biggest threat is if he spams quick passes to Allen Robinson when he’s matched on Chidobe Awuzie, but Mike Hilton is dominant in the slot so he might help in preventing that. Fields will make some plays with his legs and might be good for a few first downs by that alone. He might also hit his receivers on some broken plays on the edge.
  • Overall, the Bears with Dalton will be overwhelmed and lose the game based on turnovers and giving up big plays to the Bengals receiving corps. If Fields plays, he might get them down the field enough to hit some long field goals, a big play or two with his legs or throwing outside the pocket, and perhaps a rushing TD in the red zone. I don’t think that will be enough to stop Burrow hitting his receivers downfield though. 

Texans at Browns

Browns will win off the top of my head, but they’re paying only 1.14 for the win, so is not worth betting on due to risk of loss of multi.

OR!

Whitney Mercilus will dominate Jedrick Wills and/or Chris Hubbard (depending on whether Wills is out due to injury), Ross Blacklock with destroy the weak Browns interior, Charles Omenihu and Jacob Martin will also terrorise the edges, Zach Cunningham and Kamu Grugier-Hill will stop the good running of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, AAAND *breather* Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper could still kick that terrible secondary’s butts. But Odell is out and Stefanski is stupid enough to play Peoples-Jones and Schwartz instead of Rashard Higgins, and the Texans’ talented LBs could take Hooper away.

I might have to pump the brakes on the Texans front-seven hype due to personnel choices. They play Christian Kirksey over Grugier-Hill and they play Maliek Collins over Ross Blacklock (36% snaps). Martin had 45% of snaps and Mercilus 65%. Still, I think that the Texans can reliably get to Mayfield and affect his throws downfield.

Can the Texans stop the Browns’ run? I think the front-seven matchups are favourable, so can Nick Chubb and Kareem Hut pick up the slack? The two shared the same amount of snaps in Week 1, yet Chubb ran 15 times and Hunt 6 times. I think the Texans can definitely stop Chubb, and Hunt might not run enough to give them problems. Stopping Hunt in the receiving game will be big, and perhaps Cunningham is up to the task. All-in-all, I think the Browns offense has a slight edge over the Texans defense, as Hooper will probably run wild if Kirskey plays a lot in Wk2 and Jarvis Landry is the best WR in the NFL.

Can the Texans pass against the Browns? The o-line is horrific, with Justin Britt, Max Scharping and Marcus Cannon ineffective. Tyrod ain’t it, while the only quality receiver in Amendola played in just 20% of snaps week 1. The RB group is insane but, of course, Culley went with the mediocre Mark Ingram on 40% of snaps compared to Philip Lindsay and David Johnson at 20% each. The Texans are going to be murdered by Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Malik McDowell and the solid corps of linebackers in the front seven while Troy Hill shuts down the slot and Denzel Ward, MJ Stewart and John Johnson do a solid job in the secondary. The Texans special teams unit will dad-dick the Browns’, but it’ll be for naught due to the Texans’ personnel choices. Such a bummer.

Rams at Colts

  • The Rams will pass all over the Colts. DeForest Buckner will get some occasional inside pressure, but Stafford will be good enough to negate that. Thakkarius Keyes, who didn’t play Week 1, will not be enough to stop a Stafford-Kupp combo, which combined with Desean Jackson (27% snaps) and the solid Robert Woods and Van Jefferson will result in many big plays due to the Colts terrible secondary.
  • The Rams will likely struggle to run the ball, with no quality running backs, o-lineman or tight ends to help them.
  • The Colts have recently been great at running the ball and should continue to be as all but right guard Mark Glowinski are atleast above-average offensive lineman, with Ryan Kelly the best center in the game. Braden Smith is out though, and he’s likely to be replaced by Matt Pryor (bad) or Julie’n Davenport, if Eric Fisher starts over him at left tackle. Either option will be a downgrade and work against the Colts. Jonathan Taylor is not as good as Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack (based on his 2019 college tape), but will still be a problem in short yardage situations. Can the Rams run defense stand up to them? They have an elite DT corps in Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, Sebastien Joseph-Day and potentially Bobby Brown if he plays. Ashawn Robinson is meh but didn’t play in Week 1. Leonard Floyd and Justin Hollins on the edge are just ok, while one of their backups in Terrell Lewis was pretty good out of college and might make a slight impact in limited opportunities. The Rams will be ok on the second level, with Jalen Ramsey and David Long above-average corners.
  • Will the Colts’ rushing attack be enough to make up for their bad receiving corps? Jack Doyle is great and will expose the Rams linebackers. Will Wentz have enough time to throw against that Colts o-line? Quenton Nelson is overrated and Glowinski is bad, so Wentz will have around 2.6 seconds to throw IMO. Will that be enough time for Wentz to find the open man and/or scramble for a trademark lazer-beam throw on the run? With David Long healthy, I don’t think so.
  • Both teams punters and kickers aren’t good, while Luke Rhodes at long snapper is a liability in protection. Zaire Franklin will make plays for the Colts, while Isaiah Rodgers isn’t a game-changer as a returner. Cooper Kupp would be elite for the Rams if he does return kicks, but Tutu Atwell and Jake Funk would not be.
  • I will conclude that the Colts’ effective running game and ability to give Wentz time to scramble will not be enough to overcome the Rams’ deep passing attack and interior defensive pressure.

Bills at Dolphins

  • Tua has improved enough to where he isn’t a massive turnover liability. A huge question mark is his offensive line – if Austin Jackson starts over Greg Little or Liam Eichenberg, the offense will struggle to get passes away. Coach Flores has stated Jackson is the designated starting tackle when he’s healthy, but didn’t play him in Week 1 after activating him from the Covid list. Michael Deiter is the only above-average lineman w/out Eichenebrg or Little in the lineup. For now, let’s assume that Jackson is starting.
  • The Dolphins’ receiving corps is amongst the best in the league with Waddle, Albert Wilson and Devante Parker great. If Jakeem Grant gets snaps there is no drop-off either. They will likely abuse the Bills’ woeful cornerback group, with Micah Hyde’s brilliance likely not enough to negate that. Even if Jackson plays at tackle, the Bills don’t have enough front-seven ability to affect Tua getting the ball to those receivers. Flores is smart enough to have played Durham Smythe more than Mike Gesicki in Week 1, as he provides a nice short-area option passing-wise too. I suspect that Efe Obada, AJ Epenesa and Greg Rousseu will be the only possible pass rush threats for the Bills and none played over 50% of team snaps in Week 1.
  • Will the Bills’ offense be enough to overcome their disadvantage defensively? Josh Allen is still mediocre, with Stefon Diggs the only big-time threat at receiver. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones and Nik Needham are good cornerbacks, with Jason McCourty and a solid Eric Rowe providing some help. As a result Diggs might be able to make atleast one big play on the game, but will otherwise be suffocated, unless the o-line can give Allen time to stand like a statue like he does until a receiver gets open..
  • Zach Sieler (37% snaps Week 1) and Christian Wilkins (56% snaps week one) are amongst the best young DTs in the NFL. Flores went with Adam Butler (64% snaps) over them moreso last week, but the latter two still made a big impact. The Dolphins edge rushers in Emmanuel Ogbah (64%), Brennan Scarlett (35%), Jaelen Phillips (29%) are solid, while Sam Eguavon (48%) is a big difference maker, often rushing from the off-ball linebacker spot. Jerome Baker is also a good pass covering LB and will likely cover any gaps the Phins DT’s give up against the run.
  • Can the Bills o-line stop that front? Mitch Morse and Daryl Williams are above average at center and right tackle, while Cody Ford is elite at right guard. Jon Feliciano is below average while Dion Dawkins is meh. I think the Bills’ edge protection will be fine, but they’ll give up some pressure inside, particularly if Wilkins and/or Sieler line up over the Bills left side, like they did at times against New England. The Bills’ running backs will be a liability in pass protection, even if Zach Moss plays after being in Coach McDermott’s doghouse. This lack of quality running back (I didn’t see much improvement between Moss’s solid college play and his NFL rookie season) will also mean the Bills will have basically no running game.
  • Can the Dolphins run the ball? Guards Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt weren’t good in college IMO but Michael Deiter is very good. Jesse Davis is ok at right tackle. The situation will improve if Eichenberg and/or Little play, but again, watch this space. Myles Gaskin is a quality running back, so him being spelled by Malcolm Brown creates a solid running game, particularly against that weak Bills front.
  • Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders gives the Dolphins the clear edge on special teams as he’s a top-five kicker in the league. The Ferguson brothers at long snapper for their respective teams are solid. The Bills punter Haack is merely ok, while the Phins’ Palardy sucks. The Phins Jakeem Grant is a great return man.
  • So, will that Allen-Diggs connection be enough to win the Bills the game? Despite the Bills above-average o-line, their deficiencies at receiver, running back and defensively will be too much against a pretty well-rounded Dolphins team. 

Pats at Jets

  • The Pats are almost certain to start Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews and Shaq Mason. Trent Brown, the best o-lineman in the league IMO, is out. If Yodny Cajuste, who is also questionable, starts instead of him or plays instead of incumbent left guard Mike Onwenu, they will be fine. If Justin Herron plays at right tackle, though, there will be a disadvantage on that side.
  • The Jets defensive front is super talented, but its effectiveness is decided by who plays. In Week 1 vs the Panthers,  the d-line rotation included these guys:

I see no reason for this to change. If Nate Shepherd gets around 70% of snaps, then the Jets will likely dominate the Pats o-line, despite its strength. It looks like the primary d-line is Franklin-Myers (elite), Quinnen Williams (good), Bryce Huff (good), Shaq Lawson (ok) and Sheldon Rankins (ok), with Shepherd (HOF) and Tim Ward (meh) providing spells for those players. If Franklin-Myers is lined up opposite the right tackle like he usually was in Week 1 he’ll be a BIG problem for Herron. Otherwise (unless Shep plays more!), even Mike Onwenu’s mediocrity will not impact the Pats’ pass protection much.

  • So, If Mac Jones is protected, can he beat the Jets DBs? With Lamarcus Joyner on IR, most definitely. Jonnu Smith is the only below-average receiver in the rotation IMO, with Jakobi Myers and Kendrick Bourne (44% snaps in Wk 1) elite. Throw in James White and Damien Harris, with only CJ Mosley and Marcus Maye providing any solid resistance, and the Jets will struggle to stop the Pats’ run and pass.
  • The Jets o-line and QB situation is still terrible. Morgan Moses is a good tackle but his effort will likely not be enough to stop Matt Judon, Davon Godchaux, an increased workrate for Josh Uche with van Noy out and the occasional Don’t’a Hightower rush. Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore and Deatrich Wise are all meh and got between 45 and 55% of snaps each, but their mediocrity will likely be overshadowed by the quality of the previous group of guys I mentioned.
  • If Wilson has little time to throw and can’t sense pressure well, will he be able to get passes out to his receivers quickly enough, and can they get YAC? Of the guys who played week 1, Corey Davis is good, but Berrios and Elijah Moore are meh IMO. Saleh isn’t smart enough to play Denzel Mims apparently. The tight ends and running backs suck too. Keelan Cole is a top-10 receiver in the whole league IMO, but even if he plays, which isn’t a sure thing due to his knee injury, I don’t think it’ll be enough to make the Jets offense function. In the Pats’ secondary, JC Jackson, Kyle Dugger and Jalen Mills all suck yet were given most of their team’s of snaps week 1, so that is a concern. Devin McCourty (100% snaps) and Jonathon Jones (48%) are good, as is Joejuan Williams (24%), but the secondary might still be porous due to those bums I mentioned. Hightower is solid in coverage, but Jawuan Bentley is lacking there.
  • It’s safe to say the Jets will have zero running attack, unless Josh Adams plays, which is unlikely as they relegated him to their practice squad recently, which indicates what they think of him. Will the passing attack make up for that? Let’s say that Keelan Cole is starting (which ain’t even a guarantee considering the other WRs on the depth chart). I think that the only way for the Jets to score TDs is through broken coverage (which Devin McCourty is probably good enough to negate) or quick screen passes, which probably won’t break big even with Cole in, as the o-line and everyone outside of Corey Davis won’t win the blocking matchups. So, the Pats secondary might be shaky due to their personnel choices, but I think the d-line pressure against that weak Jets o-line, as well as the solid play of McCourty, Jones and Hightower in coverage, will be enough to negate quick passes to Corey Davis, as well as any magic Keelan Cole creates.
  • The Pats specialists include the quality Joe Cardona at long snapper, a solid Nick Folk at kicker and the blocked-punt liability in Jake Bailey. The Jets have an elite long snapper in Thomas Hennessy and an elite punter in Thomas Morstead, who has replaced the injured Braden Mann. Therefore, the Pats will likely have tough field position for a lot of the game, while the Jets will have pretty good field position. The Jets kicker Ammendolla sucks, so even if Wilson and co can somehow get into field goal range, I wouldn’t count on points being converted. The Pats’ Gunner Oscdswei is a solid returner, as is the Jets’ Berrios. The Pats Brandon Bolden is mediocre, so no game changers there, UNLESS Cole plays.
  • As in Week 1, Keelan Cole watch is a cause of anxiety for this game. So let’s imagine Cole plays, and lo and behold he plays most WR snaps and field most/all returns. Is he, as well as the punting team superiority, enough for the Jets to overcome their non-existant running attack, bad QB and o-line play, and horrible secondary? Also, if Herron starts at right tackle, will that be impactful enough for Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff to win the game for the Jets? I don’t think so. The Pats have too much talent despite their shortcomings, and the Jets o-line and secondary are too weak to stop what the Pats will want to do.

Niners at Eagles

  • An ok Jimmy G at QB, HOF talent Mike McLinghchey at RT, a solid Trent Williams and Laken Tomlinson at LT and LG, mediocre Alex Mack and Daniel Brunskill besides them, no good running backs, Kittle and Deebo the only good receivers. They’ll be against an Eagles front of Hargrave (56% snaps) and bums (Cox, Graham, Sweat, Kerrigan, Barnett, Milton Williams, Hasson Ridgeway). Hargrave will reliably get pressure inside, but no real pass rush threat otherwise.
  • Eagles DBs of Anthony Harris, Steven Nelson and K’Von Wallace will be impactful, Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox less so.
  • The Eagles will therefore be able to negate the Niners run and give Garoppolo some trouble from the interior. Will the quality DBs on the Eagles roster be able to stop Jimmy G getting the ball to Kittle and Samuel and having them get first downs and potentially big plays? They’ll do ok. The edge probably goes to the Niners offense here due to the good edge protection and Kittle and Samuels.
  • The Eagles have Mailata, Kelce, Brooks and Johnson as good-to-elite o-lineman, with Seumalo ineffective. They should match up well against the pass rush – Arik Armstead is good with 67% of Wk 1 snaps, Kevin Givens is really good with 47% snaps in Week 1, but Bosa, Kentavius Street, DJ Jones, Dee Ford and Samson Ebukam are mediocre. Arden Key is incredible but played just 42% of snaps. Even if Key plays that or more snaps in Wk2, that Eagles o-line with Hurts under center is good enough to negate any pressure.
  • Hurts will throw to Goedert, Zach Ertz, Devonta Smith, Jaelen Raegor and Quez Watkins, against a defense that has a good Fred Warner in the intermediate levels, with limited help from Al Shaiir, Deo Lenior and K’Wuan Williams. Jimmie Ward is ok and Jaquiski Tartt is good, while the DROY-level talent in Talanoa Hufanga came in for around 20% of snaps in Week 1. A great player in Dontae Johnson is likely to replace Jason Verrett at corner as Verrett tore his ACL, with the good Ambry Thomas possibly playing some as well. Even if the best Niners DBs play, the Niners will have a hard time stopping the Eagles’ ridiculous tight end duo, and solid receiving corps.
  • Quez Watkins is a meh returner, but Jaelen Raegor is quality. Ambry Thomas returned kicks for the Niners in Week 1 and is pretty good. Arryn Siposs is a good punter, but Rick Lovato is an iffy long snapper. Mitch Wishnowsky is a great punter, but Taybor Pepper is a dreadful long snapper, so there’s a risk of mistakes there. Gould and Elliott as kickers are quite dependable from atleast 35 yards. Overall, both special teams units are pretty evenly matched.
  • With the talent on the Eagles’ o-line, the Niners will be unlikely to stop the run even if Warner is a good ‘backer. Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell are the Eagles RBs – Sanders is ok, while Gainwell (35% snap count) is a fumble risk with little ability to help in pass pro nor get open quickly.
  • I think the Eagles will probably smash the Niners due to their offensive firepower and improved secondary. Alex Singleton is medicore at LB but TJ Edwards is solid, while Shaun Bradley (12% snaps Wk1) and Genard Avery (31%) will provide big boost if injected into the game.

Saints at Panthers

  • James protected by Armstead, Peat, TBA, Ruiz and Ramcyzk. To solve the center issue, either Throckmorton (a blocking liability) will play at RG and Ruiz at center, or the solid Austin Reiter will start at center. They’ll be against Brian Burns, Hasson Reddick, Derrick Brown, Daquan Jones, Morgan Fox, Gross-Matos (30% snaps), with the threat of Shaq Thompson and Jermaine Carter rushing from the LB position. Jameis will likely face some interior pressure from Derrick Brown even if Reiter plays, but not much on the edge.
  • Jameis will pass to a mediocre group outside of Kamara out of the backfield and Deonte Harris (44% of snaps). LilJordan Humphrey and Taysom Hill could be impactful but had less than 35% of snaps each. Garrett Griffin is an above average tight end, but played in just 27% of snaps, with the mediocre Adam Trautman taking the majority if snaps there. They’ll have to beat a contender for the worst secondary in the league. Kamara should be able to run all over the Panthers, particularly on outside runs where the tackles can make a bigger impact, but his backup Tony Jones is mediocre and will likely get swarmed by a solid d-line. Overall, the Saints should be able to move the ball ok, but the lack of receiving weapons could cause Jameis to hold the ball too long and make bad decisions. I expect around two touchdowns for Jameis, with a pick, while Kamara will likely pick up a rushing TD.
  • The Panthers have an elite o-line and will negate even Cam Jordan due to Taylor Moton’s ability. They’ll be able to block all Saints front seven guys in passing and rushing, including the good Demario Davis, and especially the mediocre Kwon Alexander and Kaden Elliss. Desmond Turant and Malcolm Jenkins might not be impactful anymore, and Paulson Adebo might not be able to overcome the severe shortcomings of Marcus Williams and CJ Gardner-Johnson. Marshon Lattimore is questionable to play, and as the best cornerback in the game, his presence could decide the outcome of this matchup. ANOTHER player to watch is Payton Turner – if he plays, he’s likely to line up opposite Cam Erving, which is a huge mismatch.
  • Sam Darnold will have the good-to-great combo of DJ Moore and Robby Anderson to throw to with little coverage resistance. Christian McCaffrey is a solid running back who’ll put up some big numbers running behind that o-line, while making around 60 yards receiving. His other receivers (apart from the good Brandon Zylstra at 19% snaps), tight ends and running backs will likely not be factors.
  • Aldrick Rosas is a god-tier kicker, Blake Gillikan Is a great punter and Zach Wood at long snapper sucks. The Panthers have a great long snapper in JJ Jansen, a good punter in Joseph Charlton and a beyond-fathomably bad kicker in Zane Gonzalez. Deonte Harris is a big threat on returns.
  • I think this will be a very close game. A lot depends on if Marshon Lattimore plays and whether Payton Turner gets a lot of snaps. If that happens, the Saints have the edge. However, Turner is listed well down the depth chart, with Carl Granderson likely to take Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon’s snaps (if the latter is injured). This is speculative, but that doubt is not enough to convince me of the Saints’ victory. Jeff Heath is another game-changing threat if he gets snaps, but that might be unlikely behind entrenched encumbents in Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins at safety. I actually think I’ll steer clear of betting on this game, as the injury report will dictate the outcome, so I don’t want to bet on something I can’t foresee.

Broncos at Jaguars

Can the Jags stop the Broncos studs on the d-line in Shelby Harris and Von Miller? Yet again, Brandon Linder’s quality play will not be enough to stop Lawrence get sacked around 6 times by my estimation. The Broncos will also be good enough to stop the great play of James Robinson due to guys like Josey Jewell and Justin Simmons on the second level. Kyle Fuller is the Broncos only good CB IMO but then again, Shenault is the only good WR for the Jags. O’Shaughnessy is solid at tight end for JAX but won’t be enough to prevent the Jags getting beaten up in the trenches and the Broncos capitilising on Lawrence’s lack of pocket presence or good decision making.

K’lavon Chaisson is the Jags best player defensively. They’re probably going to give up 40 points. Brandon McManus is still in ace, Sam Martin is bad at punter, and Bobonmoyer is ok at long snapper, while Josh Lambo is a top-10 kicker leaguewide, but none of that will matter, as the Broncos will smash the dreadful Jags, particularly offensively.

Vikings at Cardinals

Kyler Murray has developed into one of the best QBs in football, and throws to two top 10 receivers in Deandre Hopkins and Rondale Moore (29% in Week 1 of snaps wtf?), while AJ Green and Christian Kirk are good also. The o-line is ok. The RBs are great. They’ll be against a Vikings D that is limited due to Anthony Barr’s injury absence, while the highly impactful Sheldon Richardson and Stephen Weatherly played in less than 35% of their team’s snaps in Week 1. The Cards will likely drop atleast 40 points on that Vikings defense.

For the Vikings offense, Rashod Hill is a great left tackle, but that Cards front will still have their way. Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cooks, and Tyler Conklins solid play won’t be enough to overcome the studs that the Cards have. The Cards will have difficult field position due to the best punter in the league Jordan Berry and will likely miss some kicks due to Matt Prater being old AF, but it won’t matter due to the Cardinals quality talent at most positions.

Falcons at Bucs

Tom Brady ain’t good anymore, but will it matter? He’ll be protected by a great o-line that will probably limit even Grady Jarrett. Dante Fowler will likely do well against Donovon Smith. Deion Jones will fly around and probably prevent some Gronk short receptions. Tuoti-Mariner played in just 35% of Wk 1 snaps so probably isn’t a big threat therefore. Antonio Brown will probably run amok against a bad Falcons secondary. Coach Bruce Arians is STILL supportive of Ronald Jones as RB1 despite being benched after an early fumble in Week 1. Fournette and Gio Bernard are much better than RoJo. Assume that RoJo plays around 40% of snaps – the Bucs will still be able to run the ball ok due to that o-line and Gronk. Their pass game won’t be great due to the continued overrated presence of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Can the Bucs D pick up the slack?

Old-ass Matt Ryan will be protected by Jake Matthews (good), Kaleb McGrary (mediocre), Jalen Mayfield (bad), Chris Lindstrom (bad) and Matt Hennessy (good). Hayden Hurst can help out in pass pro, playing in 60% of wk 1 snaps alongside Pitts who had a similar rate. The RBs won’t help Ryan much, against a front that includes Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh and Nunez-Roches (33% snaps). The good LB duo of David and White could be a threat rushing and will stop short throws (which will be important against Hurst), and will clean up what will likely be a non-existant Falcons running game. Calvin Ridley is the big threat. The Bucs secondary is still mediocre, although Jamel Dean might provide some resistance.

On Special teams, Koo is a great kicker but Succop is god-tier. Both teams have good long snappers and iffy punters (RIP the elite Sterling Hofrichter).

This will be a closer game than the odds suggest (Bucs paying just 1.13 for the Win). Should I take the Falcons +11.5 handicap? Since I’m avoiding betting on three games this NFL Sunday, I shall in order to increase the potential winnings in my multi.

Cowboys at Chargers

Dak, one of the worst QB’s in the league, is protected by Tyron Smith (a mediocre tackle at this point), Connor Williams (All-Pro level guard), Biadasz (good), Zach Martin (good), and reportedly Terrence Steele (bad). That edge protection will be a huge problem, particularly because Dak is horrendous at feeling pressure. Joey Bosa is solid on the edge and should win consistently against Steele, while Uchenna Nwosu could tally atleast three sacks if he has a similar snap count to Week 1 (51%).

Dak has Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin to pass to at tight end, quality receivers in Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson (who’ll presumably replace the injured Michael Gallup), and SheeTee Lamb. He’ll predominantly have Zeke in the backfield, which is awesome for pass protection against blitzers and as a hot read pass option.  

The offense will face problems against Derwin James on the fringes and in the box, Nasir Adderley (if he plays, the mediocre Alohi Gilman would likely replace him) deep and Kyzir White in the short to intermediate. The ‘Boys o-line should handle Linval Joseph, and manhandle Jerry Tillery, Kenneth Murray and Kyler Fackrell. The Chargers will struggle to stop the pass attack with bad cornerback play.

Zeke would likely run the ball well against the Chargers, but with just 11 carries in Week 1, Dallas might try to use its huge investment in Dak in the pass game moreso again. I think that Dak will ultimately have some trouble getting passes off with Steele protecting his right side, and big plays will be hard to come by with the Chargers’ (healthy) safety group. If Zeke does get some runs, he’ll probably be successful as Nwosu had just 50% of snaps Wk 1 and Derwin can only do so much in run support. Overall, I think Dak will throw around 2 TDs but give up three or four turnovers, while Zeke will rush for a TD.

The Chargers O will face edge pressure whenever Dorance Armstrong is in the game, which will be a lot due to Demarcus Lawrence’s injury and Randy Gregory’s Covid. Tarell Basham, the other backup d-end, is unlikely to be a factor. That o-line is ill-equipped to deal with Armstrong – Bryan Bulaga is now in IR at right tackle, but his likely replacement Storm Norton is actually a slight upgrade in my opinion.

On the second level, McCarthy is dumb enough to play Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal at LB over vander Esch (22%) and Jaylon Smith (25%). Therefore, the Cowboys will be completely hopeless against the pass with their league-bottom secondary. Herbert has some solid o-line play in front of him and has the still-elite Jared Cook to pass to quickly, as well as good receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (Jalen Guyton is mediocre). The quality Donald Parham even got 51% of snaps as TE2 in Week 1. Austin Ekeler (58%) and Larry Rountree (27%) are solid out of the backfield and should have no problems running against that weak Dallas front seven due to the ‘Boys personnel choices.

The special team units are equally bad, apart from the Cowboys great long snapper in Jacob McQuaide.

The Cowboys have some elite talent but fail to use it. Chargers by atleast two touchdowns.

Titans at Seahawks

The decent QB in Ryan Tannehill will be protected by an outstanding o-line, bar Quessenberry on the right side. He’ll pass to an outstanding receiver in Julio Jones, but has mediocre options in AJ Brown, Chester Rodgers, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim. Running back Derrick Henry is solid in pass protection and the receiving game.

They’ll match up against a front that has no great weapons outside of Darrell Taylor, who played in just 35% of Wk 1 snaps.  Bobby Wagner is a good linebacker but the o-line should handle him, as well as Jamal Adams in run support. DJ Reed is a good corner, but Tannehill will have a long time to throw, and the other Seahawks DBs are bad. So Tanny should have around 4TDs with Henry providing 2TDs via the run.

Russell Wilson is outstanding, but he STILL has little protection, as Duane Brown and Brandon Shell at the tackle spots are merely ok while those inside of them are straight liabilities. He does have the All-Pro level tight end in Gerald Everett (72% of snaps) and the quality Will Dissly to pass quickly too though. Freddie Swain is the only quality receiver and was WR3 with 43% of snaps in Week 1, but his workload may increase with D’Wayne Eskridge out. Chris Carson is still a beast, and the quality Alex Collins could get some reps as RB2, but will they be able to run against the Titans?

Jeffery Simmons is a top-15 DT in the league and will likely crush any rush attempts, as well as make Russ run for his life. The great Bud Dupree is questionable to play, but his possible replacement in Derick Roberson has Pro-Bowl talent. Coach Vrabel could opt for and Ola Adeniyi on the edge however, who is one of the worst players I graded from the 2018 draft class. The much improved Harold Landry will harass from the edges, likely giving Russ less than two seconds to pass before he has to run. Can he beat the Titans secondary outside of the pocket? He’ll likely get around three first downs with his legs as the Titans’ back-seven sucks.

The Seahawks have a great specialist team, as Jason Myers is reliable from around 40 yards, and Michael Dickson will give the Titans tough field goal position all game long. Deejay Dallas isn’t a good returner, but he will likely split reps with Freddie Swain, who could break a couple of returns open if he has adequate blocking. The Titans have brought in Randy Bullock at kicker, who is no improvement over the woeful Michael Badgley. Brett Kern is past it and could be a liability, while their long snapper Morgan Cox is mediocre. Chester Rodgers had all reps in returning, but if Cam Batson gets some reps, he’s a huge play potentiality.

I think the Titans will do enough to stop the run and harass Russ – no receivers outside of Swain and Everett can really hurt them. Russ might still throw for two TDs due to his ability, and they’ll get maybe three FGs due to their special team prowess, but the Titans O will do enough to take the game.

Chiefs at Ravens

Patty Mahomes is good, and he’ll have good blindside protection with Orlando Brown Jr, but will face pressure from the likes of Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams on the interior. If he is flushed, Kelce and Tyreek Hill will still be huge threats. DeShon Elliott, Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey will likely prevent big plays, but Chuck Clark, Chris Westry, Brandon Stephens and Tavon Young provide little resistance. Malik Harrison is solid and Patrick Queen is meh at the backer spots – they are likely to give up around six first downs to Kelce. The Ravens like to play Tyus Bowser and Chuck Clark at the backer spots at times – neither will provide an improvement. There is little talent for Mahomes outside of Kelce and Hill however and the run game might have negative yards due to the Chiefs having the worst RB situation in the league. Mahomes will probably still throw 2TDs, but perhaps have a couple of turnovers too.

The possibility of Campbell being out due to injury is a fraught one for the Ravens, if they replace him with Madubuike or Justin Ellis instead of the stud Broderick Washington. All three of those guys had around 20% of snaps each in Week 1 – there’s no clear indicator of who is Campbell’s direct backup. It is thus more likely that all three of those guys get increased reps. If Washington gets the nod, there will be no concern, but otherwise, Mahomes will have much longer to throw in the pocket, which is hazardous. It might be a difference between 2 seconds and 3.3 seconds to throw. Ultimately this shouldn’t be a swing factor as Campbell could still play and Washington is just as likely to play as his replacement – but it could still be a deciding factor.

The Ravens have perhaps the best o-line in the league, with Ben Powers at left guard a solid player beside his elite counterparts. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is a good player who might be out due to injury, but this might be a good outcome – the elite tackle Villanueva is pegged to move to left tackle, and the solid Patrick Mekari will come in at right tackle. This means that the utterly dominant Frank Clark would face a better tackle than Stanley in his usual defensive alignment, and the drop off to Mekari isn’t significant enough to be a concern, and the other Chief edge rushers are non-factors. If Chris Jones lines up on the edges as he has recently, it’ll mean the insignificant interior defenders like Derrick Nnadi (32% snaps) and Tershawn Wharton will get snaps, which is a good outcome for the Ravens. Jarran Reed (68%) is a solid d-tackle but should be handled by Bozeman and the elite guard Zeitler. The Chiefs linebackers will likely be exposed, but Juan Thornhill and a likely-to-be-healthy Tyrann Mathieu might clean up some of their mess. Mike Hughes is an All-Pro level CB, but other DBs like Sorenson (100% snap count in Wk1, WTF!?), Charvarius Ward and L’Jarius Sneed blowing.

Lamar has shown some improvement in reading defenses over the offseason. He has a great Sammy Watkins on the outside, a meh Marquise Brown, and the ever-reliable Mark Andrews at tight end. The running game should be good, particularly if Latavius Murray and the recently-activated Devonta Freeman play more snaps with Trenton Cannon gone. Ty’Son Williams will probably still get snaps, and while he’s inferior to his aforementioned counterparts, he can still run for a 3-4 yard average behind that great o-line. Against a healthy Chiefs front, Lamar will still get sacked 4-5 times in this game IMO, but I think he’ll have enough time to find his weapons against what is likely to be a weak shallow defense, and he’ll be able to scramble easily against them as well, picking up 3-4 first downs.

Butker is a great kicker, but Justin Tucker is still levels above him. The Chiefs snapper Winchester is a top3 LS league-wide, while punter Tommy Townsend is just ok. The Ravens have an outstanding long snapper in Nick Moore and a still-elite punter in Sam Koch. Byron Pringle and Hardman are better returners than Duvernay, but aren’t game-breakers.

To summarise, Lamar is likely to throw a TD or two to Andrews, perhaps one to Watkins, while the Ravens RBs will get a TD, and Lamar will probably scamper for three or so first downs, with Tucker nailing any FG attempt from within 60. Mahomes will be harassed all game, and the Ravens have enough in their secondary to limit Kelce and Hill. Frank Clark could break the game open, but his health issues and the good play of Ronnie Stanley or Alejandro Villanueva will likely mitigate that.

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