Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans Saints -9
The Browns have recently become a somewhat popular pick this week which makes me have some doubts. I have been on this pick since the pre-season thinking that they could capitalize in week 2. Where I was wrong was I thought they would lose week 1 and then come into the Superdome as double digit underdogs to a New Orleans team I picked to win in week 1. Neither of these results happened as the Browns tied and the Saints lost. The week 1 results has brought a new perspective to this game now where people are starting to believe the Browns may actually pull off the upset. The reasoning is correct. The Browns have a great defensive line and their defense as a whole looked very intimidating. They kept pressure on Ben Roethlisberger all day and got a total of 5 turnovers from him. I don’t think the Saints defense will look as bad as they did last week, but I don’t think their offense will look as good as they did last week either. The Browns are a much better defensive team than the Buccaneers and should be able to do a better job of keeping the Saints offense in check. I see the Saints offensive line having issues with Myles Garrett and the Browns pass rush which should result in some turnovers. Tyrod Taylor is known for being careful with the football. The Browns should be able to control the clock and make enough plays to put some points on the board. The Saints offense will find a way to make plays as well, they have too much talent not to. The Saints will have chances to win this game but I see the Browns winning somewhere in the vicinity of 27-23.
Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This number started at -3 but recently started to tick up as more people start to enter the market. The Buccaneers were 9.5 to 10 point underdogs last week and won outright. They made a lot of big plays with 3 of their TDs coming off deep passes and they also added a defensive TD. Although their defense scored, other than that play they looked pretty non-existent. The Saints were still able to put up 40 points and gain a total of 475 yards gaining an average of 8.1 yards per play. The Saints fell behind pretty early and abandoned their run game were they gained 43 yards on only 13 attempts. The Buccaneers will not have the same benefit when they play the Eagles this week. The Buccaneers would have been double digit underdogs if the lost again and rightfully so. The Eagles are coming into this game with extra time to prepare after the season opener on Thursday night where they won against the Falcons. The Eagles used their running game to control the clock and keep their defense off the field. When their defense was on the field they used their ferocious pass-rush to keep pressure on Matt Ryan and force him into bad decisions. Last week against the Saints, we saw Ryan Fitzpatrick throw deep TDs on plays that had a lot of time to develop. He will not be getting that same time against the Eagles pass rush. He will need to get the ball out quickly and if he doesn’t he will pay. Last week seemed to be Fitzpatrick’s coming out party. People are remembering that the old gunslinger from Harvard can still throw and thinking their may be a QB controversy in Tampa. This week Fitzpatrick comes back down to Earth and people remember why he has been a backup for most of his career. I see this being a classic Ryan Fitzpatrick game and by that I mean a game where he throws about 4 INTs. The Eagles are gonna win this one easily.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons +5.5
This line opened at -6 but has come down. I think people are seeing what I referenced in my teaser leg blog that Atlantas offense is putrid. They are currently ranked 29 in overall efficiency and 31 in passing efficiency. Former MVP QB Matt Ryan looks very mediocre without Kyle Shanahan calling plays. I do not think Matt Ryan should be considered an elite QB. He had one good season on a great offense that got hot but before and since then he has not done much. A lot of this line has to do with public perception. When people think of the Falcons they think of a high scoring team with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones who are both still on the team. The problem is the plays are now being called by Steve Sarkisian. With the league being player centric the public won’t pay attention to coaching changes as much as professionals would and I think that is why you see this number going down. The Panthers came into this season as a team expected to struggle and regress. I do not understand why people feel this why. They have some injuries to their offensive line but I don’t think that is being overblown. They still have Ryan Kalil at center who is one of the best in the league. The offense ran for 147 yards last week with 4.6 yards per rush. People highly tout Matt Ryan as a former MVP but it is easily forgotten that Cam Newton won the same award. I think the way Cam plays suits the Panthers perfectly. He is always a threat to run the ball which keeps the defense off balance. The Panthers offense seems to always play very efficiently and keep games close. They run the ball well and do not turn the ball over a lot. Their defense appears to be very good this year as well. They got 6 sacks last week against a Cowboys offensive line that is portrayed as the strength of the team. If the Panthers lose this game it will be close. The Falcons do not have the same offense that can blow people out anymore. Cam Newton was born and raised in Atlanta. I see him coming home and leading the Panthers to a win.