If you tailed my picks last week you’d know I was 1-2 to start the season, not exactly where we want to be right from the jump. Before we jump into this week’s picks, let’s take a look at last week’s picks and see where we went wrong:
Raheem Mostert Longest Carry: Mostert ripped off two ten-yard carries before exiting the game with a knee injury. The 49ers ran the ball very effectively, but unfortunately, Mostert wasn’t involved.
Julio Jones Receptions: Hand up, I was way off the mark with this one. The Titans couldn’t get anything going on offense all day. Chandler Jones lived in the backfield all afternoon, holding Ryan Tannehill to just 21 completions. Big miss here.
Dolphins/Patriots First Quarter Under: I had a great feel for the game flow on this one as there were just four possessions in the first quarter. You could even say the Dolphins got an extra possession based on a phantom fumble. A biased Patriots fan would say Stevenson was definitely down by contact, but I won’t say that, I’ll just think it.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Nelson Agholor O/U 3.5 Receptions
Last week, in the Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins, Nelson Agholor caught five balls for 72 yards and a touchdown. Heading into week two, Agholor should be secure as the Patriots’ top receiver, having run routes on all but one of the passing plays for the Pats during week one. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw the ball 39 times and spread the ball among eight receivers; four different receivers had five or more catches. 39 passes are probably more than the Patriots had planned on Jones throwing, but the game script had the Patriots dominating time of possession and sustaining very long drives. Even with 39 passes, the Patriots still ran the ball 30 times. This week, the total number of offensive plays for the Patriots will probably decrease, but I expect the percentage of pass plays to increase, especially after fatigue was cited as a contributing factor in the game-sealing fumble by running back Damien Harris.
The Jets’ defense managed to hold the Panthers to just 19 points and 24 completions on 35 attempts. Apart from running back Christian McCaffrey, the only receiver who really got going for Carolina was D.J. Moore, who caught six balls on eight targets. Nelson Agholor will be lining up in the same spots as Moore, drawing matchups with corners Brandin Echols and Bryce Hall, who likely aren’t locking down any outside receivers. I like the Patriots to open up the playbook a little more this week for their rookie quarterback and to throw the ball more frequently to lessen the load for their ground game.
Pick: Nelson Agholor OVER 3.5 Receptions (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Chargers Team Total O/U 29.5
The total is set at 55.5 for this matchup between the Chargers and Cowboys. The Chargers are favored by three and a half points, giving us an implied final score of Chargers – 29.5, Cowboys – 26. Last week against Washington, the Chargers managed to score just 20 points and come away with the win. This number could easily have been seven to ten points higher with a few small changes. They managed to score on just two of their six red-zone possessions, with one possession ending in a Justin Herbert fumble that looked a lot more like an incomplete pass. Last year, the Chargers scored touchdowns on 57.14% of their red-zone trips; they should be in line for some positive regression in this area.
On opening night, the Cowboys surrendered 31 points to the Buccaneers while allowing 431 total yards of offense. They also managed to force four turnovers which shouldn’t be expected again in this contest. One of the turnovers was an interception on a hail mary to end the half, while another came on a ball that tipped off Leonard Fournette’s hands and into the arms of a nearby defender. The Cowboys also lost star pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence to a foot injury, adding another weak spot to an already weak defense. Justin Herbert was hit just twice in 49 dropbacks against Washington’s defensive line featuring Chase Young and company, which should be one of the best pass-rushing units in the league. Rookie Rashawn Slater stood out at left tackle by not allowing a single pressure in week one. Getting pressure on Herbert will be key for the Cowboys and I expect it to be difficult for them to disrupt Herbert on the road in Los Angeles.
Pick: Chargers OVER 29.5 Points (-125, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Falcons @ Buccaneers First Half Spread
The Falcons looked like a complete trainwreck week one at home against Philadelphia. This week, they travel to Tampa Bay to face the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. The Buccaneers managed to hold on to the win against Dallas last week despite four turnovers and the Cowboys looking more than competent on offense. The Falcons only put up six points without turning the ball over a single time, and only converted three of 14 third downs. They’ll need to get the ground game going to prevent the Bucs pash rushers from pinning their ears back and going straight for Matt Ryan. This may prove difficult against the Bucs defense that held Ezekiel Elliot to just three yards per attempt on opening night. The Falcons offensive line will need to get its act together if they want any chance of putting up points on Sunday.
A seven-point first-half spread seems like a big number to cover, but considering the game total is set at 51.5 points, it’s not insurmountable. The Falcons allowed 32 points to the Eagles last week despite Jalen Hurts‘ average depth of target being just 3.6 yards on 35 attempts. Atlanta also had no answer for the run, allowing over five yards a carry, allowing the Eagles to dink and dunk their way to 32 points. If the Falcons couldn’t stop Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, we can only assume Tom Brady and his offense will get everything they want on Sunday. The game features two of the top five fastest offenses in neutral situations, which should give the Buccaneers plenty of opportunities to score on Sunday. I see this game as a blowout with Tampa Bay running away with it early.
Pick: Buccaneers -7.0 1st Half (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)