Divisional matchups are on display in NFL Week 2. These games between longtime rivals are always unpredictable, so we’re bound to see some upsets this weekend.
Can the Kansas City Chiefs take down a top AFC contender on the road for a second straight Sunday? Will the Dallas Cowboys bounce back from a lackluster season opener, or will the New York Giants pull off the upset in Arlington?
We’re looking into these situations and more as we diagnose which teams are on upset alert in NFL Week 2.
Note: Odds courtesy of oddsshark.com
Houston Texans (-2.5) vs. Tennessee Titans
Based on the way both teams’ quarterbacks struggled in Week 1, this contest could become an ugly defensive struggle.
It’s hard to love Tennessee’s offensive gameplan, which is set to feature both Blaine Gabbert and Marcus Mariota. However, if the Titans can generate pressure against Deshaun Watson — a reasonable assumption based on Houston’s porous offensive line — the home team has a real chance to pull off a win over their rival to move to 1-1 on the season.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (-2.5)
Aaron Rodgers didn’t practice all week leading up to Saturday as he rehabbed his sprained knee, suffered in Sunday night’s battle against Chicago. We saw how deadly he was on one healthy leg, but remember, the Packers would have lost to the Bears if only Kyle Fuller didn’t have an awful case of butterfingers.
Minnesota’s defense rivals Jacksonville as the best in the league. The Vikings sport a dominant front line, outstanding linebackers and a tremendous secondary. They can limit the damage Rodgers and Co. do through the air.
If Kirk Cousins can take care of the football and generate consistent movement on offense, then the Vikings will win Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)
Sure, the weather had something to do with an atrocious opener from Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three interceptions in the first half against Cleveland and generally was out of sync with his receivers. But that bruised elbow on his throwing arm didn’t help, either, and it kept him out of practice until Friday. That’s still going to be at least a minor issue he’ll be dealing with Sunday at home against Kansas City.
The big reason to think the Steelers will win, despite the injury to Big Ben, is that Kansas City’s defensive secondary is paper thin. The big reason to think the Chiefs will prevail is that their offense is about as explosive as we’re going to witness this year. Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes have some exciting chemistry, and with Kareem Hunt to pound the ball on the ground there’s balance, too.
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons (-4)
The Falcons are going to be without Devonta Freeman, who suffered a knee injury last week. Telvin Coleman is an outstanding back, but he’ll be hard pressed to continually win going up against Carolina’s stout front seven, and we don’t trust Steve Sarkisian to engineer a winning game plan through the air when it comes time to score.
On the other side, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are both coming off very good season openers. And while the loss of Greg Olsen will test Newton, he has a wealth of pass catchers at his disposal this year, and Norv Turner will get them in position to make big plays.
On top of all that, the Falcons will be without starting safety Keanu Neal and starting linebacker Deion Jones, both of whom were lost for the foreseeable future due to injuries sustained in Week 1.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
New York nearly defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend. In the loss, two things were evident. First, that Saquon Barkley is just as good at the pro level as he was in college. Secondly, that Odell Beckham Jr. is going to be a monster this year.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, were a wreck offensively. It’s clear that Dak Prescott is still struggling with many of the same things that hindered him last season, especially as it concerns his ability to connect with receivers outside the hash marks. Barring a complete Ezekiel Elliott takeover game, we’re leaning toward the road team to come out ahead on Sunday night.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears (-3)
There are definitely some strong components to Chicago’s attack right now that lead us to believe the Bears have what it takes to win at home Monday night against the Seahawks.
Obviously the big one that everyone’s focusing on right now is the way Chicago can get after the quarterback with the addition of Khalil Mack, who was unstoppable for a stretch against Green Bay last weekend. Combined with the fact that Seattle’s offensive line is as imposing as an overcooked spaghetti noodle, Russell Wilson is due for a long night running for his life.
But we’ve seen him overcome those odds on far too many occasions to think he can’t do it again. And while the Bears did show some very good things offensively in the first half last Sunday, the second half showed there’s plenty of work left to be done before Mitch Trubisky and Co. are rock solid.