Steve Believes: Week 2, 2018 NFL Season

  • Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens are coming off a game, in which they had the biggest margin of victory of all the Week 1 winners. As for the Bengals, they started their 2018 season with an impressive road win against the Indianapolis Colts, despite Andrew Luck’s impressive performance. And now, the two AFC North rivals face off for the first time since the Bengals spoiled the Ravens’ shot at the sixth seed in the AFC Playoffs last season. I expect the Ravens to get a second revenge victory in a row here.
  • Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers are coming off an ugly yet impressive win against the Dallas Cowboys, as they racked up six sacks of Dak Prescott and only allowed the Cowboys to score eight points. As for the Falcons, they were dreadful in the red zone last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and are minus Keanu Neal for the rest of the season, as they lost their star third-year safety to a torn ACL. The Falcons offense is more set at the skill positions than the Cowboys, but defense travels and the Panthers have one of the best in the league, and I look for them to add to Atlanta’s offensive woes this week. Panthers to make it 2-0.
  • Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills. Turnovers and the absence of Joey Bosa doomed the Chargers last week, as they turned the ball over three times and could only muster one sack of Pat Mahomes in a Week 1 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. As for the Bills, they were among one of the five worst teams in Week 1 with their 47-3 loss against the Ravens. The Bills won’t play that badly this week, but I don’t think that they have the offense to match Philip Rivers & Company. Chargers to bounce back this week.
  • Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers. Kirk Cousins was dealing in Week 1, as the Vikings’ $84 million man went 20-for-36 with 227 net passing yards and two touchdown passes. Minnesota’s defense was also impressive, as they held Jimmy Garoppolo to under 50% passing, along with putting up threes in both the sack and interception departments against him. As for the Packers, it took a miraculous return from Aaron Rodgers to eke out a 24-23 win against the rival Chicago Bears. However, the Packers might not be as lucky this week, as Rodgers’ status remains in doubt this week with an apparent lower leg injury. And even if he does play, who knows how effective he’ll be against the vaunted Vikings defense. And given those question marks surrounding Rodgers, I just can’t see the Packers winning this one. Vikings to win at Lambeau Field for the third time in four seasons.
  • Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans. Deshaun Watson looked mostly rusty in his first game since tearing his ACL prior to Week 9 last season, thus the reason why the game against the New England Patriots wasn’t as close as the final score had indicated. As for the Titans, they were on the short end of the longest game marred by weather delays in NFL history. Plus, everyone but Dion Lewis struggled offensively for them. Defensively, the Titans picked off Ryan Tannehill twice and sacked him once in the losing effort. Look for them to confound Watson this week, and look for Marcus Mariota & Company to do just enough offensively to give rookie head coach Mike Vrabel his first career victory. Titans for the win.
  • Cleveland Browns vs. New Orleans. The Brown should be 1-0, as that stupid body weight rule screwed the Browns out of a defensive stand against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and then led to them allowing James Connor to rush for a four-yard TD. And given how their game against the Steelers last week ended in a tie, that penalty against them prevented what could have been a four or seven-point margin of victory. As for the Saints, their resurgent defense of 2017 gave up a league-high 48 points last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And given the pride that they have on that side of the ball, I expect them to take it to the Browns this week. Saints for the win.
  • Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets. The Dolphins withstood two separate weather delays and the resiliency of the Titans to be one of three teams to go 1-0 in the AFC East. As for the Jets, they’re the other AFC East team to go 1-0, as they are coming off a rout of the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. However, neither team came up with a sack in their respective victories, and that’s a concern in today’s pass-happy NFL. Look for that to change for the Dolphins, as I expect their deep and talented defensive line to make Sam Darnold’s home debut a rough one. Dolphins for the win.
  • Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs exploited three Charger turnovers and the absence of Joey Bosa for their ninth win in a row against Los Angeles’ other NFL team. As for the Steelers, they came away with a tie in a game that they should have lost against the Browns. I know that logically I should take the Steelers in this one. However, they’ve not been the same since Week 14 of last season against the Ravens and they face a Chiefs team that wants revenge against them. I think the Chiefs will get that revenge this week with a victory at Heinz Field.
  • Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Super Bowl champs were mostly lethargic on offense against the Falcons in the home opener, only to be bailed out by their defense. As for the Buccaneers, they ended up tied with the Jets, by scoring a league-high 48 points against the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome without Jameis Winston. However, they also gave up 40 points in that game. They won’t score 48 against the Eagles nor will they give up 40 against them, either. I expect a close game throughout, with the champs somehow finding a way to prevail at the end.
  • Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins. The Colts opened the Frank Reich era with a heartbreaking one-point loss against the Bengals and look to avoid an 0-2 start for the fourth consecutive year. As for the Redskins, it’s Mr. Smith’s debut in Washington, as their off-season acquisition makes his first start at FedEx Field in a Redskins uniform. In his first start as a Redskin last week in Arizona, Smith was solid, as he went 21-for-30 for 247 net passing yards and two touchdown passes. And he got help, as another newcomer in Adrian Peterson rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins defense was also superb, as they held the Cardinals to 221 total net yards and six points, along with racking three turnovers and two sacks of Sam Bradford. The Redskins won’t be that dominant against the Colts, but they’ll come close to it against them. Plus, look for Smith and Peterson to each have big days against the Indianapolis defense. Redskins to make it 2-0.
  • Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals opened with a dud in the Steve Wilkes era against the Redskins, in which they scored a league-low six points. As for the Rams, they looked like the best team in Week 1, as they pulled away from the Oakland Raiders in the final game of that week. Look for L.A. to build off of that for a 2-0 start.
  • Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers. The Lions opened with a dud in the Matt Patricia era, as they tied the Saints for the most points allowed in Week 1 via a 31-point loss against the Jets. As for the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo tasted defeat for the first time as a starter against the Vikings, but he still had his team in position to potentially tie that game. Expect him and the 49ers to bounce back, by handing the Lions their 13th consecutive loss in San Francisco. 
  • Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos. The Raiders opened the second Jon Gruden era with a dud last week, as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Rams as the game went on. As for the Broncos, they open the season with two home games for the third consecutive season, as well as for the fourth time in five seasons. The past three seasons in which the Broncos have had two home games in Weeks 1 and 2, they went 2-0 each time. Matter of fact, they have gone 2-0 in each of the past five seasons. Look for Von Miller & Company to extend all of those streaks for the Broncos.
  • New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. Without question, this is the game of the week, as it’s a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Patriots are coming off a win against the Texans that wasn’t close as the final score had indicated. As for the Jaguars, the AFC runner-up is coming off a hard-fought 20-15 road win against the New York Giants. History almost always suggests to pick the Patriots. But the Jaguars are motivated to win their home opener and have the element of a revenge heading into this one. And because of that, I’m taking the Jaguars in what I expect to be the 21st century version of The Body Bag Game.
  • New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys. When Week 2 is all said and done, one of these two will be 0-2 in the NFC Beast, as the Giants are coming off a close defeat against the Jaguars, while the Cowboys’ offense was mostly inept against a ferocious Carolina defense. On paper, the Giants are the better offense, while the Cowboys are the better defense, so this game comes down to the Cowboys offense and the Giants defense. And with that being said, I like the Giants because their defense seems more than capable of neutralizing a Cowboys offense that is still transitioning without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. So with that being said, I like the Giants in this one.
  • Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears. Both teams are coming off heartbreaking losses, as the Seahawks missed a chance to steal one in Denver, while the Bears blew a 20-point lead against the Packers in Lambeau Field. Russell Wilson has started a season 0-2 only once in his magnificent six-year career and history suggests that it will stay that way. However, Khalil Mack & Company are upset about blowing that 20-point lead against their arch-rivals, the Packers, and will take it out on the Seahawks. I got the Bears getting win number one in the Matt Nagy-Khalil Mack era.