Week Two Pick ‘ems.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith looked as comfortable as ever under center this past weekend as he completed 66 percent of his passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Chiefs to a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans. The Chiefs defense started the game strong, forcing an early fumble that quickly led to a 27-6 lead. A late-game quarterback change to Ryan Mallett resulted in 11 points for the Texans but not enough to come away with the win.
Despite a win against the visiting Ravens, Denver scoring only 19 points at home is a huge red flag. Peyton Manning only threw for 175 yards and failed to throw a touchdown, a statistic that you rarely hear associated with the veteran quarterback. Manning was also sacked four times, the most since week one of 2013. In addition to the disappointing performance of the vertical game, running backs Ronnie Hillman and C. J. Anderson ran for only 70 yards on 24 carries.
The highlight of the game was actually the Broncos’ defense. Defensive backs Aqib Talib and Darian Stewart both intercepted Joe Flacco; Talib returned his interception 51 yards for a touchdown, Denver’s only touchdown of the game. The Broncos face a feisty Chiefs defense and a hot Chiefs offense. Unless major changes are made at practice this week, it could be a rough week for Denver.
Denver Broncos 20 Kansas City Chiefs 24
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Before reading any further, now is the time where I must admit that I happen to be a New York Jets fan. That being said, my confidence in the Jets this year is sky-high following last week’s beat down of the Cleveland Browns. Running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell carried the offense, posting a combined 153 rushing yards. In their Jets’ debut, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Brandon Marshall hooked up for a touchdown in the third quarter — in classic Brandon Marshall fashion, it was a one-yard goal line fade. Defensively, the Jets looked to be in true form, intercepting Brown’s quarterback Johnny Manziel as well as causing (and recovering) four fumbles.
Perhaps one of the more disappointing games of the week was the Colts’ loss to the Bills. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck struggled to find his receivers, completing 26 of 49 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Give credit where credit is due — the Bills defense surpassed nearly everyone’s expectations. Yet, the Colts defense allowed Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to complete nearly 75 percent of his passes and the Bills to rush for 147 yards. Either way I look at it, the Colts got crushed. The more I think about it, as biased as I may be, the more I see the upset of the week.
New York Jets 27 Indianapolis Colts 23
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
In what will be his most controversial Week 1 game of his career, New England quarterback Tom Brady did what he does best … and absolutely picked apart the Steelers defense. Brady completed 25 of 32 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Eleven completions went to wide receiver Julian Edelman, a man that has consistently been a key staple in replacing Wes Welker in the slot wide receiver position over the past few seasons. Rob Gronkowski caught five passes totaling 94 yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers lacked running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant, two critical starters and staples in their offense, but that wouldn’t have changed the outcome. The score didn’t show it, but the Steelers did post nearly 500 yards of offense, with 350 in the air and 130 on the ground. Don’t count the Steelers out just yet.
Despite the dominating performance that the Bills put on last week, I have a tough time thinking that they’ll do the same thing to the Patriots this upcoming Sunday. The real question for me is how well Buffalo’s defense will prepare for Tom Brady. Though they controlled Andrew Luck, Brady is a more mature quarterback whose offense is adaptable to nearly any defense. I predict a close game with the Patriots narrowly edging out the Bills.
New England Patriots 30 Buffalo Bills 24
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
Tampa Bay is definitely having second thoughts about passing on Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. Mariota posted four touchdowns on 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards against the Buccaneers in the Titans’ opening 42-14 win. Complementing Mariota were running backs Bishop Sankey and Terrance West, who ran for 115 yards on 25 carries. I don’t know whether to credit the Titans or simply to discredit the Bucs, but regardless, the Titans were impressive.
The Titans will face a Browns team that was dismantled against the Jets. After taking over for quarterback Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel showed an immediate sign of hope — throwing for his first NFL touchdown on a 51-yard bomb to wide receiver Travis Benjamin. However, Manziel quickly followed with two fumbles and an interception, raising Browns’ worries and questions regarding whether Manziel will ever develop into an NFL quarterback.
Fortunately for Manziel and unfortunately for Browns fans, that question will immediately be put to the test, as McCown has been ruled out for Week 2 due to the NFL’s concussion rules. I don’t think Manziel is quite ready yet, and you can be sure that the Titans will pressure him early in the game.
Tennessee Titans 27 Cleveland Browns 17
Last Week’s Record: 2-1
Season Record: 2-1