Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals (Cowboys -11.5)
This maybe the biggest spread we take all year. The Cowboys head into the desert as 11.5 point favourites and I don’t think it’ll be close.
Through 2 weeks Dallas have outscored their opponents 70-10. They have a defense which has led the league in takeaways the past 2 years, and they’ve picked up right where they left off last season…. +7 in takeaways, 5 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries! 1 returned for a touchdown.
Then there’s the game wrecker, Micah Parsons. He already has 3 sacks this year. He is nigh on unblockable right now and his standard of play is that good, he may well just be the best player in the NFL through 2 weeks this season. The New York Giants tried blocking him with 3 players at one point in the 1st week. Last week the Jets doubled up on him and he still chased down Dalvin Cook, tackled him and flat out ripped the ball off him!
Now put this defense on the field against a team which is rebuilding, with a QB who only signed for them 4 weeks ago…. they are going to continue to feast!
We haven’t even mentioned the Dallas offense. A unit which hasn’t turned the ball over so far. A unit which features playmakers like of CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, Brandin Cooks and Tony Pollard. A unit which frankly hasn’t had to get out of second gear to this point in the season.
Sometimes the eyeball test is all you need. Arizona shipped 24 unanswered points at home to the Giants last weekend – late in the game to lose 31-28. The Giants aren’t in the same league as the Cowboys and while Arizona may well show some fight early on. If Dallas get up early, we may well witness a 40 burger on the scoreboard in back to back road games for big D!
PICK: Dallas Cowboys +11.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Las Vegas Raiders (Steelers +2.5)
What to make of 2 teams with a 1-1 record? Firstly, don’t expect a high scoring game. To this point the Raiders haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game, the Steelers offense haven’t fared any better – remember, of the 26 points they scored against Cleveland on Monday night, 2 touchdowns came from their defense!
TJ watt said this Steelers defense wants to be a difference make – the reason Pittsburgh wins games. Well, you suspect they’ll need to play a lot more like that and less like the unit which gave up 30 points in week 1 to the 49ers, if that’s to be the case. On offense, QB Kenny Pickett has got to start playing a LOT better than we’ve seen though the first 2 games. Najee Harris has got to be able to run the ball – an average of just 48 rushing yards as a team in the first 2 weeks isn’t going to get it done in the NFL.
For the Raiders, credit where it’s due. They went into Denver and silenced the Broncos in week 1. Last weekend, they were on the receiving end of a Bills backlash in Buffalo. Newly acquired QB, Jimmy Garoppolo is a steadying influence. The fact Davante Adams has been cleared of concussion this week is a definite positive but like the Steelers, they have to find a way to ignite their rushing attack.
Vegas lead this series 14-11 and they’ve beaten the Steelers in 2 of their last 3 meetings. This is a first home game of the year for the Raiders and Pittsburgh are coming off a short week with question marks hanging over the status of star safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The line on the game suggests odds makers see the result is a coin flip and history suggests it’ll be close – 5 of the last 6 meetings have been decided by 3 points or less. The steadier hand at quarterback may well be the key to the outcome.
PICK: Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5
New England Patriots @ New York Jets (Jets +2.5)
All week long last week, the talk was of how the Jets defense needed to play well, if they were to beat Dallas. The Jets defense did ok, but they weren’t taking the ball away and while they limited the touchdowns, they still couldn’t stop the Cowboys keeping the scoreboard moving with field goals. Coming into this season this was a unit that was seen as elite, well now they need to start playing that way.
Nobody’s pretending Zach Wilson is Aaron Rodgers but he’s capable of making plays if this defense can keep the Jets in the game. They had a chance last weekend. Down 10-7, “Sauce” Gardner should have had a pick 6. He dropped the ball; Dallas went on to score and the rest is history.
Now a division rival enters MetLife stadium – a rival who is 0-2 and struggling to find their identity. The New England Patriots have lost back to back home games against the Eagles and Dolphins. If they go 0-3 and lose to a Jets team without Aaron Rodgers…. that could be enough to lend weight to calls for change in Foxborough.
This week we’ve heard Matt jones talk about working harder and studying more film. Well, no doubt the Jets have seen their fair share of film on the Patriots. Noticed the turnovers and will be looking to grab some of their own.
Again, don’t expect this to be a particularly high scoring game. Both teams will be keen to establish and lean on the run. But the bottom line is, the longer this game remains close, the better I like the Jets’ chances. They go into this matchup as 2 point underdogs. Not only do I expect them to cover, expect the Jets to claim the win as well.
PICK: New York Jets (+2.5)