As I'm sure you know by now, if your team starts 0-2 it's unlikely to make the playoffs while a 2-0 start means you can probably make postseason plans. Since 2007, 75 teams have started 0-2, and just seven of those made the playoffs -- two did last year, though, the Texans and Seahawks. Meanwhile, in the 75 times a team has started 2-0 in the past nine years, 44 made the postseason. But last year the Falcons and Cowboys were 2-0 teams to miss out.
We could see every reigning division champion in the AFC repeat as the Patriots, Steelers, Texans and Broncos are all 2-0. I do think that that all four will get back to the playoffs. Pittsburgh already has beaten two playoff teams from last year but is tied atop the AFC North Division with the conference's other 2-0 team, Baltimore. Houston already has a two-game lead over its two expected top challengers in the AFC South, Indianapolis and Jacksonville. The only 2-0 NFC teams are the Giants, whom I predicted to win the NFC East and Minnesota, which got a big win over visiting Green Bay on Sunday night but might have lost Adrian Peterson for a while. The Philadelphia Eagles could join the 2-0 club on Monday night, but I expect them to lose in Chicago.
Close games also have been the story of the early season. A total of 10 games in Week 2 entering Monday were decided by seven points or fewer. Through the first two weeks of the season there have been 21 games decided by seven points or fewer, the second-most in a season's first two weeks in NFL history (22 in 2013).
At BetOnline , New England remains the +600 favorite to win Super Bowl LI even though it appears the Patriots will be starting third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Thursday night against Houston and potentially in Week 4 too. I won't delve into that Texans game here as I will be previewing that on Tuesday here at Doc's. I also won't touch on the marquee Sunday game (Lions-Packers) or the Monday night matchup (Falcons-Saints). Here are some other Week 3 games and opening lines that caught my eye.
Vikings at Panthers (-7.5, 43): This is one of three matchups in Week 3 that feature 2015 playoff teams against one another. Minnesota is awaiting word on the severity of Peterson's injured right knee, but I suppose it's a potentially good thing he didn't hurt the left knee, which already has a surgically repaired ACL. Peterson had minimal swelling and could extend his leg after the game, which is a good sign, but he's likely to miss at a week or two minimum. Peterson left against the Packers in the third quarter, but the Vikings defense and QB Sam Bradford both had strong games in the 17-14 win. Peterson wasn't a factor with 26 total yards on 14 touches before exiting. Still, his loss would be devastating. Carolina was a bit flat early in Sunday's game against San Francisco but woke up in the second half and rolled 46-27. Cam Newton threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns to become the franchise leader in TD passes. However, the Panthers lost their top running back, Jonathan Stewart, to a hamstring injury, and he's not likely this week. Fozzy Whittaker played well in his place vs. San Francisco. The pick: Panthers and "under."
Browns at Dolphins (-9, 41.5): No total posted yet because the "Factory of Sadness" might have to start third-string rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this one. Of course the Browns lost Robert Griffin III to a broken bone in his shoulder in Week 1 and then Josh McCown suffered his own shoulder injury on Sunday as the Browns gagged away a 20-0 lead in their home opener vs. Baltimore and lost 25-20. McCown was to have an MRI on Monday, but based on the amount of pain he was in, the Browns are expecting him to be out awhile. I mean, it's the Browns so you know he will be. Kessler looked overmatched this preseason at times so I'd be betting under on Browns games for a while. The team will certainly need to sign a veteran backup, but there's not much out there. Miami lost starting running back Arian Foster in its loss to New England, and he's not expected to play here. The pick: Dolphins and under.
49ers at Seahawks (-9.5, 40.5): Interesting that Seattle could be a 9.5-point favorite considering it has scored 15 total points this season. The Seahawks were upset in Los Angeles on Sunday, 9-3. To make matters worse, top receiver Doug Baldwin was to have an MRI on Monday on his leg and running back Thomas Rawls injured his leg in the second quarter and didn't return, although his injury isn't thought to be serious. Baldwin, incidentally, has the team's only touchdown. The Seattle offensive line was a concern entering the season and it hasn't played well. It doesn't help that Russell Wilson's mobility is hampered by a high-ankle sprain. The Seahawks might not need many points to win this week as they have won five straight against the 49ers and allowed a total of 43 points in them. The pick: Love the under here. I guess under 10 I'd lean Seattle, but any double-digit spread I'd take the points.
Chargers at Colts (-2.5, 51.5): This has the highest total of any Sunday game by far, as it should (Falcons-Saints is higher next Monday). Neither team is very good defensively. The Colts are absolutely ravaged in their secondary. Already down three cornerbacks, they lost Darius Butler and Rashaan Melvin and safety Clayton Geathers during Sunday's 34-20 loss in Denver. Butler had a clear path to return an interception for a touchdown when his hamstring snapped, leaving him in a heap at midfield. Poor Andrew Luck, as he's going to have to probably lead the offense to 40 points to have much of a chance in most games. It's the third straight season the Colts have started 0-2. Why did GM Ryan Grigson and Coach Chuck Pagano get extensions after last season again? San Diego routed visiting Jacksonville 38-14 on Sunday in the Bolts' home opener to take a bit of pressure off Coach Mike McCoy. Philip Rivers tied his career high with four TD passes but may have lost one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL, Danny Woodhead, for a while. He was to have an MRI on his knee Monday. The pick: Colts and over.
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