September 15 New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Point spread: Bills -2.5
The Bills are led by former Jets coach Rex Ryan, and Ryan got the last laugh on his former team last year. Buffalo swept the season series by the oddly identical scores of 22-17. That includes a Week 17 home win that knocked the Jets out of a potential playoff spot. Both teams lost in Week 1.
NFL Football Sunday
September 18 Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Point spread: Steelers -3.5
This game could be a blood-bath after all that went on between the teams in last year’s wild-card game, an 18-16 Pittsburgh road win. The Bengals imploded in that game with two stupid late penalties, including a brutal late hit by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict on star Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. The Steelers lost a close game in Denver the next week without Brown, who had suffered a concussion. Pittsburgh players believe they would have beaten the Broncos with a healthy Brown. There won’t be payback on Burfict in this game as he’s suspended. Short week for Steelers.
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions
Point spread: Lions -5.5
Detroit opened the season with a 39-35 wild win at Indianapolis as Matt Prater kicked a 43-yard field goal with seconds left; the final score was a 4-point difference because the Colts took a safety as they were trying all sorts of crazy laterals on the next kickoff. Matthew Stafford was great for Detroit, throwing for 340 yards and three TDs, although the Lions did blow a big lead. Tennessee lost 25-16 at home to Minnesota in Week 1. The Titans won the day statistically but had three turnovers, two that led to Vikings defensive touchdowns.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Point spread: Ravens -6
Update: Ravens -7 (with injury to Robert Griffin III)
These teams split two close games last year, each winning on the road on the final play of the game. The one in Cleveland was one of the great endings of 2015 as the Browns were lining up for a potential game-winning 51-yard field goal, but it was blocked and returned for a touchdown as time expired for a 33-27 Ravens win. Cleveland is projected by many to be the worst team in the NFL this year and that looked true in a Week 1 29-10 loss in Philly. Robert Griffin III injured his shoulder in the loss but should be good to go here.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Point spread: Redskins -3.5
Teams split two meetings last year, each winning on the road. Dallas’ starting QBs in those games were Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore as Romo was out injured. The 19-16 win in Washington was the only Cowboys win of 2015 in 12 games without Romo. Dallas lost Week 1 at home to the Giants thanks to a knucklehead decision by receiver Terrance Williams. It’s a short week for the Redskins.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
Point spread: Giants -4.5
Pick: New York
Teams played an epic shootout last year in New Orleans with the Saints winning 52-49 on a 50-yard field goal as time expired. Drew Brees tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes and threw for 505 yards. Eli Manning threw for 350 yards and six scores. The 13 combined TD passes was an NFL record. The 101 points tied for third most in an NFL game. Both offenses combined for 1,030 yards. The Saints defense looked terrible again in Week 1 loss to Oakland.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Point spread: Panthers -14
On paper, this looks like one of the biggest mismatches of the season. The Panthers lost in Denver on Thursday in Week 1, 21-20, in a Super Bowl rematch when kicker Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal in the final seconds. Carolina quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton took a few big shots to the head but came out OK. While the Panthers are on extra rest, it’s a short week for the Niners.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Point spread: Patriots -4.5
Pick: New England
Miami hasn’t won at New England since 2008 — which also happened to be the last time the Dolphins played there when the Patriots didn’t have quarterback Tom Brady, who will be serving the second game of his four-game suspension. The Patriots impressively won in Arizona on Sunday night despite no Brady and an injured Rob Gronkowski so monitor whether Gronk will play this week as that certainly will affect the spread and total. Miami nearly pulled a big upset in Seattle on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Point spread: Texans -2
The Texans no doubt would like some payback here. Kansas City won in Houston 27-20 in Week 1 of 2015. But more important, the Chiefs went there for the wild-card game and embarrassed the Texans 30-0 for Kansas City’s first playoff win since 1994. The Chiefs held the Texans to 226 yards and Houston QB Brian Hoyer had five turnovers. That’s a big reason why the Texans went out and got Brock Osweiler this past offseason. He played well in his Houston debut, a win over Chicago. The Chiefs staged a huge rally to beat San Diego.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
Point spread: Seahawks -3.5
Pick: Seattle if Wilson plays
The NFL has officially returned to Los Angeles. The last time the Rams played a game that mattered in the Los Angeles area was Dec. 24, 1994, at Anaheim Stadium when the Rams lost to the Washington Redskins. The St. Louis Rams upset the Seahawks twice last season. This line/total will be in flux all week depending on the status of Seattle QB Russell Wilson. He hurt his ankle in a Week 1 close win over Miami. Short week for the Rams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Point spread: Arizona -6.5
Arizona lost a heartbreaker to New England on Sunday night as kicker Chandler missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds; the snap wasn’t great so that might have played a role. Larry Fitzgerald has two TDs in the loss, giving him 100 TD catches for his Hall of Fame career. The Bucs won in Atlanta 31-24 behind four touchdown passes from Jameis Winston.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
Point spread: Chargers -3
Could this be the final home opener in San Diego for the Chargers? The team could move to Los Angeles as soon as next year if a referendum on Nov. 8 for a tax hike to build a new stadium doesn’t pass. San Diego won in Jacksonville last season, 31-25. Philip Rivers threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, two to tight end Antonio Gates. The Bolts choked away a 27-10 fourth quarter lead in Kansas City in Week 1 and lost 33-27 in overtime. San Diego also might have lost top receiver Keenan Allen to a season-ending knee injury. Jacksonville lost a thriller at home to Green Bay, 27-23.
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders
Point spread: Raiders -4.5
Could this be the final home opener in Oakland for the Raiders? If the Chargers get their new stadium, then the Raiders have the option of moving to Los Angeles as soon as next season. Oakland won a great game in New Orleans on Sunday, 35-34 as Coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for the winning 2-point conversion with 47 seconds left instead of the sure tie. Atlanta lost at home to Tampa Bay 31-24 despite 334 yards passing and two TDs from Matt Ryan. Star receiver Julio Jones appeared to be a bit gimpy during the game with an ankle injury so monitor his status.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Point spread: Broncos -6
In his first career start, Broncos QB Trevor Siemian was serviceable in Denver’s 21-20 upset of Carolina on Thursday night in Week 1. The Broncos outscored the Panthers 14-3 in the fourth quarter. Denver is the first defending NFL champion since 1933 to win its opener after trailing by more than seven in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis lost 39-35 at home to Detroit after staging a big rally to take a late lead. The Broncos were unbeaten when they visited Indianapolis in Week 9 last year and were upset 27-24. Colts QB Andrew Luck suffered a lacerated kidney in that game, which would end his season. He was fantastic in the Week 1 loss.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Point spread: Packers -2.5
It’s the first game that matters in Minnesota’s new U.S. Bank Stadium. The last time these teams played was Week 17 last season in Green Bay and the Vikings pulled off a 20-13 upset in a de facto NFC North title game. Check out a preview of this Sunday night game later this week.
Monday Night Football September 19
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Point spread: Bears -3
Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz barely played in the preseason due to a rib injury but he looked terrific in his debut, throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-10 win over the visiting Browns on Sunday. Chicago led in Houston 14-10 at halftime Sunday but was shut out in the second half in a 23-14 loss.