Rine’s Week 2 Predictions
I often catch grief for what I write in this space. Sometimes it concerns the ripping of someone’s team, but mostly it’s my record at actually picking the games. I’m here to tell you, folks, that for the most part, trying to select the winner of NFL games is no easy task because of the number of variables involved.
How else do you explain the Patriots getting leveled at home by the Chiefs? Or the Jaguars manhandling the Texans? Every week this league is unpredictable.
That being said, what did we learn in Week 1 of the 2017 season?
∫ For starters, New England has some issues. It doesn’t have a ton of speed or a back capable of carrying the load. But the Patriots will figure it out because they always do.
∫ Kansas City has a vertical passing game for once.
∫ Cincinnati stinks.
∫ Arizona is in trouble because David Johnson is out two to three months.
∫ Adrian Peterson isn’t going to help your fantasy team all that much.
∫ Chicago receiver Kevin White, a WVU grad, can’t stay healthy. He’s out of the season with a broken shoulder blade.
∫ Sam Bradford looked pretty darn good Monday night.
∫ The Raiders are for real.
∫ Buffalo leads the AFC East.
∫ Jared Goff looks like a franchise QB for the Rams.
∫ San Francisco stinks.
∫ As long as Andrew Luck isn’t playing, the Colts are in big trouble.
∫ The Giants stink.
∫ Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley loves him some wide receiver screen passes.
Now on to this week’s picks.
Houston 13, Cincinnati 10
Given all they were playing for last week, the Texans sure stunk up the joint. Tom Savage’s run as starting quarterback ended after one half. If his ankle is OK, this is Deshaun Watson’s team. Did I mention the Bengals stink? Goodness. Getting shut out in the opener by the Ravens? It still amazes me Marvin Lewis has a job.
Kansas City 22
Thoroughly impressive performance last week by the Chiefs, who handed Tom Brady his first home loss when leading after three quarters in 151 games. The offensive looked explosive with Kareem Hunt, who set a NFL rookie record for most yards from scrimmage in a debut. The only downside — it’s a big one — is that All-Pro safety Eric Berry was lost for the season. Carson Wentz looked like the real deal for the Eagles, but he’s going to need more from his running game.
Arizona 32, Indianapolis 10
Things didn’t look good at all for either of these teams. Not only did the Cardinals lose Johnson to a dislocated wrist, but they had 45 dropped on them by the Lions. The Colts did them one better, though, getting blasted by the Rams, 46-9. There wasn’t a lot to like there, particularly the play of QB Scott Tolzein who was 9 of 18 for 128 yards.
Pittsburgh 27, Minnesota 17
Nobody who watched these two play last week wouldn’t agree that the Vikings will pose a real test for the Steelers. Bradford was precision-like, completing 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Dalvin Cook set a team record for yards rushing (127) by a rookie in his first game. Pittsburgh had an uneven opener with highs and lows. Antonio Brown and T.J. Watt were bright spots, but overall it’s clear more work is needed.
Baltimore 21, Cleveland 3
Poor Browns fans. As if losing Game 1 to the team you feel is your bigger rival wasn’t enough, word began to circulate that coach Hue Jackson and team management don’t see eye-to-eye. It was reported Jackson was irate when he found out Joe Haden, who signed later that day with the Steelers, was let go for absolutely nothing. And poor Ravens fans, also. After all, you are Ravens fans and not much is worse than that.
New England 34
New Orleans 23
As stated earlier, the Patriots are going to get things figured out. However, last week’s performance makes everyone in the league feel a little more optimistic about their chances. I was struck by how often Tom Brady tried to go deep in the opener, something he doesn’t do all that much. Mike Gillislee was solid, if unspectacular, with three TD rushes. It’s got the makings of a long season in NOLA.
Tampa Bay 31, Chicago 10
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, this will be the Buccaneers’ debut this season. Will there be rust? Does Chicago have an advantage having already played a game? The answer to both of those questions is probably ‘yes’, but it won’t be enough to make a tangible difference. Jameis Winston and Tampa are thinking playoffs.
Carolina 25, Buffalo 18
Those first-place Bills are headed south to take on a Panthers team that basically had a bye last week in San Francisco. Cam Newton had a decent debut, completing 14 of 25 for 171 yards and two touchdowns while James Stewart (18 carries, 65 yards) and Christian McCaffrey (13-47) offered a nice 1-2 punch at running back. Buffalo will be back in a familiar place after this one.
Tennessee 28, Jacksonville, 16
Was that the real Jaguars team we witnessed last week? We make fun of him a lot, but Blake Bortles won’t have to do anything but manage the game if his defense is going to play that nasty. He has a heckuva back to lean on also, in Leonard Fournette. I thought the Titans had more firepower than what they showed, giving up 10 points in the fourth and losing by that same margin. More is expected.
Oakland 41, N.Y. Jets 9
The Black Hole is open for business. Derek Carr and the Raiders are going to give their passionate fans quite the show this week against the hapless Jets. Carr has weapons aplenty and can pick and choose where to go with the football. meanwhile, the Jets scored 12 points … against the Bills.
L.A. Chargers 19, Miami 17
Like the Buccaneers, the Dolphins received an unwelcome bye last week and will play 16 straight games. Not ideal, but it could have been a lot worse. It will be interesting to see what Jay Cutler can do as Miami’s QB after reuniting with one-time offensive coordinator Adam Gase. The Chargers make their debut in L.A., coming off one of the opening week’s most interesting games.
Seattle 54, San Franciso 13
You think the Seahawks are upset after being held out of the end zone against Green Bay? You think the 49ers can do anything about it? Yeah, me either. This one is going to be over in a hurry as Russell Wilson, who is Seattle’s leading rusher with all of 40 yards, will be throwing early and often in the direction of Doug Baldwin.
L.A. Rams 26, Washington 23
The Redskins always seem to hover around the .500 mark every season and this one doesn’t appear to be any different. They got smoked by the rival Eagles in the opener and now head across the country to face a suddenly dangerous Rams offense. Goff completed 21 of 29 for 306 and rookie Connor Kupp hauled in four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Denver 24, Dallas 9
My buddy Rob Blake has been on me constantly about the Cowboys since the preseason began. He says they are going to win the Super Bowl and I, of course, disagree completely. At some point Zeke Elliott is going to get suspended and when that happens, things are going to go downhill. Heck, he’ll play this week and it won’t be enough. How you like them apples, Holmes?
Atlanta 25, Green Bay 19
Sure it’s only Week 2 and it seems crazy to say it already, but this one could have bearing on homefield throughout the playoffs. While the numbers don’t jump off the page, the Packers had pretty good offensive balance against the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers threw for 300-plus (shocking, I know) and Ty Montgomery did just enough in the running game to keep the defense honest. The Falcons had more trouble than expected with the Bears, but they will get things figured out, particularly running the ball.
Detroit 29, N.Y. Giants 11
Another primetime game for the Giants? I get the market size, but do people realize how terrible this team is? New York doesn’t have an offensive line or a running game. I am told the defense is pretty good. The Lions really caught my eye with the way they moved the football.
Shawn Rine can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org