NFL Odds: Week 2 Matchup Power Rankings
by Alan Matthews - 5/27/2014
Week 2 of the 2014 season brings us a first: CBS' Thursday Night Football coverage, featuring Pittsburgh at Baltimore, although you can also still watch it on the NFL Network should you choose. If you have to play one of those short-week games, it's probably a benefit to get it out of the way so early in the season. Here's my rankings of each game for Week 2 with opening odds.
1. Bears at 49ers (-7): I believe these are both playoff teams, which alone makes it the best matchup of Week 2. It's also the Sunday night game. To add a bit more spice to it, it's the Niners' first regular-season home game at the new Levi's Stadium, also the site of the Pac-12 title game this year and a Super Bowl following the 2015 season. The last time the 49res and Bears played, it was Colin Kaepernick's first NFL start in 2012, and the Niners crushed the Bears, who were without Jay Cutler, on a Monday night at Candlestick Park.
2. Eagles at Colts (-2.5): I think the Colts could be staring at a 0-2 start. They almost surely are going to lose Week 1 in Denver. Meanwhile, the Eagles get to beat up on visiting Jacksonville on the opening Sunday. Remember, no Robert Mathis again this week for Indy as the NFL's leading sacker in 2013 serves Game 2 of his four-game suspension.
3. Falcons at Bengals (-3): Cincinnati was dominant at home last regular season, only to lose 27-10 to San Diego in the wild-card round. One interesting story line in this one is which young receiver is better: the Bengals' A.J. Green, the No. 4 overall pick in 2011, or the Falcons' Julio Jones, who went two spots after Green?
4. Seahawks (-2.5) at Chargers: San Diego also could be looking at a 0-2 start, which is never easy to recover from and make the playoffs. The Bolts are also dogs Week 1 in Arizona, so that's two very tough defenses they have to face in the first two weeks. Seattle hasn't played a true road game since Week 15 of last season.
5. Steelers at Ravens (-2): There's one thing you can all but guarantee when these two play: a close game that goes right down to the wire. That was the case in both last year, when Pittsburgh won at home in overtime by a field goal and Baltimore won by two at home, stopping a Steelers' tying two-point conversion with 1:03 left.
6. Lions at Panthers (-3.5) It's Carolina's home opener, and the Panthers' only regular-season loss in Charlotte last year was the opener against Seattle. It's also a matchup of former No. 1 overall picks in Detroit's Matthew Stafford and Carolina's Cam Newton. When the two faced off in 2011, Stafford had five touchdowns and Newton four interceptions.
7. Jets at Packers (-8.5): Green Bay catches a minor advantage as it will have a few extra days to prepare as the Pack open on Thursday night in Seattle. The Pack have lost two straight home games with Aaron Rodgers as the starting QB: His Week 9 injury game vs. the Bears and the wild-card loss to San Francisco. I already think this line is too high.
8. Dolphins at Bills (-1): It's the home opener for the Bills, which I'm sure will mean some sort of tribute to late owner Ralph Wilson, who passed away in March and is really the only reason that team stayed in the city. Buffalo beat the visiting Dolphins 19-0 in Week 16 last year, holding Miami to just 103 yards and six first downs.
9. Chiefs at Broncos (-7): I already think this line is too small. I do wonder, however, if this is a trap game for Denver because it then travels to Seattle for the Super Bowl rematch in Week 3. The Broncos beat the Chiefs by 10 in their visit to Denver in Week 11 last year, the first loss of the season for K.C.
10. Cardinals at Giants (-3): It's the home opener for New York, and it enters on a short week after visiting Detroit in Week 1 (and I believe losing) on Monday night. The Giants were one of the NFL's worst rushing teams last season at 83.3 yards per game, while Arizona was No. 1 against the run at 84.4 ypg.
11. Patriots (-3) at Vikings: It will be a little odd to see the Vikings playing a home game outdoors, but that will be the case here in their home opener against New England. The Vikes presumably will be quarterbacked by Matt Cassel, who is the last player not named Tom Brady to start at QB for New England.
12. Rams at Bucs (-2.5): It concludes an opening two-game homestand for the Bucs, and playing at home in September in Florida is often an advantage because it's so hot and humid that the opposition gets worn down. The Bucs better not start worse than 1-1 because the next three games they will be dogs on the road. Tampa lost 23-13 in St. Louis Week 16 last year, with the Bucs held to 170 yards.
13. Saints (-2.5) at Browns: Again, this game would be moved significantly up the list if Johnny Manziel is under center. I'm a bit surprised the Saints aren't bigger favorites, but they aren't the same club in outdoor stadiums. This is one of only five non-dome games on the 2014 schedule for them.
14. Cowboys (-2.5) at Titans: Not sure why Dallas deserves to be favored here. The Cowboys should lose Week 1 at home against the Niners, so I wonder if the calls to fire Jason Garrett start already after Week 2 should the Cowboys fall in Nashville. This is the Titans' only home game in their first four. I love them as home dogs here right now.
15. Texans (-2.5) at Raiders: New Oakland quarterback Matt Schaub gets a chance for payback against his former Houston teammates in this one after the Texans basically gave him away this offseason to the Raiders -- and frankly, Houston is worse for it even with how much Schaub struggled last year. Oakland's final win in 2013 was 28-23 at home against Houston in Week 11. Schaub was 12-for-25 for 155 yards with no scores.
16. Jaguars at Redskins (-9): This is Washington's home opener, and I don't think it deserves to be a nine-point favorite over anyone. Jacksonville played a lot better in the second half of last season, and the Skins ended 2013 on an eight-game losing streak. Washington was just 2-6 at home overall, while the Jags had three road wins.
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