Here is a 5-Pack of NFL plays for this weekend, highlighted by Andrew Luck’s home debut and the Monday Night Football game.
After a successful 4-1 opening week right here in this space, we are back again with another 5-Pack of NFL picks for the second weekend of the regular season, highlighted by Andrew Luck’s home regular season debut for the Indianapolis Colts and a play on the Monday Night Football game where Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos pay a visit to Matt Ryan and the new no-huddle offense of the Atlanta Falcons.Kansas City Chiefs +3½ (-114) over Buffalo Bills:
We only had one side last week, which was a winner with the Jacksonville Jaguars who nearly pulled the outright upset, and we went 3-1 on our totals. We do an about-face this week however as we see more value in sides in Week 2 than we did on opening weekend.
Thus, we have four sides among our five plays with only one total. All of the NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.
Indianapolis Colts +1 (+104) over Minnesota Vikings: Number one draft pick Andrew Luck showed the composure of a grizzled veteran in is first meaningful professional game last week, but the end results were mixed in a 41-21 loss to the Chicago Bears. On the plus side, Luck passed for 309 yards while completing 23-of-45 passes. On the negative side, he threw three interceptions and fumbled once. Still, keep in mind that the Colts fell behind in that game and needed to throw, which makes playing defense easier. Look for Indianapolis to add some balance this week by establishing the run early, and Donald Brown did look good when called upon last week, rushing for 48 yards on just nine carries (5.3 YPC) and a touchdown. The Vikings won their opener, but they struggled to put away the lightly regarded Jacksonville Jaguars, prevailing in overtime 26-23 after it appeared the Jaguars had pulled off the outright upset, taking a 23-20 lead with 20 seconds left in regulation. Now we get that Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert showed marked improvement during the preseason, but if he could look as comfortable as he did vs. the Minnesota defense, it is scary to think what Luck could do. The heralded Vikings’ pass rush recorded only two sacks, and we simply do not think the Vikes’ overall performance was good enough for them to merit being road favorites here.
Both of these teams struggled in their openers, particularly on the defensive end, as the Chiefs lost to the Atlanta Falcons 40-24 while the Bills were utterly embarrassed 48-28 by the New York Jets in a game they once trailed 41-7
, making the final score cosmetically closer than the game actually was. The difference between the two performances though was that the Chiefs had an excuse, as they had five defensive players inactive for that game, most notably cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Tamba Hali, and yet Kansas City still trailed only 20-17 at halftime. The lack of defensive depth caught up to the Chiefs in the second half though against the new no-huddle attack of the Falcons. The good news is that Hali will definitely be back for this game, and it is conceivable that the defense could actually be at full strength, as Flowers was just upgraded to probable and last week’s other three inactives, Kendrick Lewis, Anthony Toribio and Allen Bailey, all returned to practice this week. The Kansas City offense was actually fine vs. Atlanta while amassing 393 total yards with Matt Cassel passing for 258 of them while averaging a very good 7.8 yards per attempt and Jamaal Charles adding 87 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry. The Bills had no excuses as their supposedly improved pass rush did not record a sack and a lot of their offensive numbers were garnered after the game had gotten ridiculously out of hand. Jacksonville Jaguars +7 (-106) over Houston Texans:
As mentioned earlier, the Jaguars nearly upset the Vikings on the road last week while indeed covering the NFL odds, and Blaine Gabbert looked like a new quarterback, passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns and finishing with a 96.1 quarterback rating
. Do not forget about the performance of Maurice Jones-Drew either, who while playing only one week after finally reporting to the team, carried the ball more than expected due to Rashad Jennings getting injured in the second quarter. Jones-Drew looked really good however while not showing any ill effects from his holdout, as he ran for 77 yards on 19 carries. And all of that came on the road and Jacksonville now finds itself as a touchdown underdog at home. The Texans beat the Miami Dolphins 30-10, but they were not as dominant as many expected them to be and certainly not as much as the final score would indicate. The best rushing offense in the NFL managed only 83 yards on 35 carries for a poor 2.4-yards average and Matt Schaub was efficient as usual but hardly spectacular while passing for 254 yards. The main reason that the score was what it was is because Houston won the turnover battle 4-0 while facing a rookie quarterback in Miami’s Ryan Tannehill. Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams ‘under’ 44½ (-113):
Robert Griffin III had a terrific NFL debut vs. the New Orleans Saints last week, guiding the Redskins to a 40-32 upset win in the Superdome, where New Orleans was undefeated last season. Now we expected Griffin to be good in his rookie year because of his skill set, as he is much more than just a running quarterback. RG3 has a powerful and accurate arm to go with his running ability, and he has an excellent football IQ. With all of that said however, the Saints have a terrible defense right now and Griffin may show regression this week in St. Louis. The Rams’ defense played quite well under new coach Jeff Fisher, who is one of the best coaches in the NFL, vs. the Detroit Lions while nearly upsetting one of the best offenses in the league on the road, falling in the final minute 27-23 in Motown. The St. Louis offense did not help the defense much though, accumulating only 250 yards and we do not expect any improvement vs. a good Washington defense here. Thus, look for a relatively low scoring game.Denver Broncos +3 (+104) over Atlanta Falcons (Monday):
Monday Night Football could have a shootout this week, and we are looking for the underdog Broncos to do slightly more of it. Peyton Manning did not appear to miss a beat in his Broncos’ debut after missing all of last season with four neck surgeries. Peyton completed 19-of-26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns and he looked masterful in the hurry-up offense
in a 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons meanwhile routed the Chiefs, but keep in mind that they were taking advantage of a depleted defense in that contest. Atlanta fans should be alarmed that its undersized defense allowed almost 400 total yards to Kansas City with Matt Cassel at quarterback and the Falcons’ secondary just lost cornerback Brent Grimes for the season. Do not think for one minute that Manning did not take notice! Besides the Denver defense seemingly better equipped to make some stops vs. a one-dimensional passing offense, the Broncos’ offense is more balanced thanks to the presence of running back Willis McGahee. Denver managed 94 rushing yards vs. the stout Pittsburgh run defense. Meanwhile it is amazing how quickly Atlanta running back Michael Turner’s skills have eroded, as he seemed to be running in quicksand over the second half of last season and he only gained 32 rushing yards vs. the Chiefs on 11 carries (2.9 YPC).