I almost broke my own rule last week in that I was considering saving a team, in this case the Carolina Panthers, for use in my Survivor Pool down the road. So I was pondering taking the Detroit Lions at home against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.
But then I remembered that I used to live in Michigan and have watched Lions football for decades. They can rip a fan's heart out like no other club -- Browns fans don't count because they are supposed to lose -- with their inconsistency. One week, the Lions can play like a contender as they did in Week 1 with a 39-35 win in Indianapolis. But then the next week, they go all Rod Marinelli 2008 Lions and blow what should be a sure win. Thus, I'm thankful I reminded myself that life -- and Survivor Pools -- are short and simply stuck with the Panthers in Week 2 even though nearly every other competitor did in my competitions as well. They were my top choice and routed San Francisco.
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However, I did mention the Lions as choice 1A if you wanted to play some defense against your entire league picking Carolina. Naturally, the Lions blew a 15-3 fourth-quarter lead in their home opener to the Titans and lost 16-15. Sometimes there's just a culture around a team that it can't shake. The Lions didn't deserve to win in committing a ridiculous 17 penalties, the most by them in my lifetime, for 138 yards. How do you get flagged that much at home?
So the Lions may have knocked a few players out of your competition. Ditto the Seattle Seahawks, who lost at L.A. Rams. Frankly, you shouldn't be taking a road team this early in the season. My three other top choices (second down) last week were Baltimore over Cleveland, Arizona over Tampa Bay and New England over Miami, and all three won -- although the Ravens were somewhat fortunate to do so.
What Week 2 will likely be most remembered for is the week that several starting running backs went down with injury, led by Adrian Peterson. Feels like they were all on my fantasy teams. Sigh. Keep in mind this is the last Sunday before byes begin. Also be wary of picking against 0-2 playoff-caliber teams because those clubs know another loss essentially ends any postseason hopes. So you will see some desperation in Week 3.
So here are the picks for Week 3 with the recommended team listed first.
Miami vs. Cleveland: The Dolphins aren't that far from being 2-0, and they had to open the season in Seattle and New England. I can't see them losing their home opener in the renovated Hard Rock Stadium against a Browns team that will be starting third-round rookie Cody Kessler under center. Maybe the Browns would send a box of Polish Boy sandwiches to Chicago for Jay Cutler? Please!?
Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles: I pondered moving the Bucs up to the top spot and might have if the now West Coast Rams were playing their first 10 a.m. Pacific time start of the season. But this game is at 4:05 p.m. ET for some reason. Can L.A. go a third straight week without a touchdown? Another reason I probably won't move this up is that Jameis Winston is still capable of a rookie-type mistake-filled game as he showed last week.
Green Bay vs. Detroit: The Lions lost top running back Ameer Abdullah to a foot injury in the loss to the Titans, and he's out at least two months. A bunch of key defenders are also hurting. Get that resume ready, Jim Caldwell.
Seattle vs. San Francisco: Something is broken with that Seattle offense, which has totaled only 15 points. The offensive line is going to get Russell Wilson killed. And the Seahawks could be without top running back Thomas Rawls and No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin in this one. I'd definitely take the Niners and the points here, but they are likely to lose by a baseball score of 3-2 or something.
Dallas vs. Chicago: I don't even know what to say about the Bears' effort on Monday night in being dominated at home by a mediocre Eagles team. I don't wish injury on anyone, but I'm glad Cutler will miss a few weeks with his thumb injury. Now if he would go play with poisonous reptiles. Or try freestyle rock climbing. When's the 2017 draft?
Carolina vs. Minnesota: The Vikings will be without Peterson for 3-4 months as he will undergo surgery to repair his torn meniscus on Thursday. That means it's quite possible Peterson has played his last game as a Viking because he has a huge cap hit next year and will be 32 in March. Minnesota's excellent defense could keep this close, especially as the Panthers will be without their top back, Jonathan Stewart.
NY Giants vs. Washington: Both the Redskins as a whole and QB Kirk Cousins are showing they were vastly overrated last season, as I expected. Cousins wasn't very good on the road in 2015, and thus I see little chance for Washington. I wouldn't normally have a ton of interest in watching this game, but it should be fun to see Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. go at it again.
Indianapolis vs. San Diego: Colts are one of those desperate 0-2 teams and probably the best of the eight of them (at least a quarterback). They should hang 40 on the Chargers and be able to hold Philip Rivers and Co. to 38.
Houston at New England (Thursday): The Patriots still haven't said for sure that QB Jimmy Garoppolo won't play due to the strained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in Week 2. It would be a surprise if he did. Thus, I would think Houston should beat rookie QB Jacoby Brissett. This might be the first time this decade I've gone against the Patriots in a home game.
Buffalo vs. Arizona: Cardinals are a far superior team, but this could be tricky with the early kickoff and the fact the Bills are 0-2 and could get a mini-jump start with the firing last week of offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The same thing worked for the Lions in 2015.
Oakland at Tennessee: I was high on the Raiders this season as I expected their defense to be much improved following some big free-agent additions around the incredible Khalil Mack (MAC school!). But that group has been blistered the first two weeks, and this is another one of those early games for a West Coast team.
Jacksonville vs. Baltimore: Thought the Jaguars might win the AFC South this season, but Blake Bortles still throws too many interceptions and all those young, promising defensive players haven't clicked yet. But at 0-2, the Jags will play with urgency Sunday.
Cincinnati vs. Denver: The Broncos will miss pass-rushing linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who will miss about a month with a fractured forearm. The Bengals can't afford to fall to 1-2 and potentially two games behind the Steelers in the division.
Kansas City vs. NY Jets: These teams are mirror images in many ways and I'd simply lean Kansas City because it's home. Sounds like Jamaal Charles might make his season debut off ACL surgery.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: Hard not to root for Carson Wentz to succeed out of North Dakota State. Quite a weekend for that program with Wentz winning his road debut in Chicago and the Bison pulling an upset at No. 13 Iowa. But the Eagles are clearly the worst of the 2-0 teams and should get a wake-up call Sunday.
New Orleans vs. Atlanta (Monday): The Saints have generally owned the Falcons under Sean Payton, but I wouldn't go risking my Survivor Pool on that New Orleans defense. That marks the 10th anniversary of the Saints' epic return to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
I normally would have put the "battle" between the 0-2 Browns and Dolphins here, but I favor Miami too much in that game. That's the only reason I have any interest in it.
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