By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If you happened to be scanning through Twitter or watching RedZone on Sunday afternoon, you might have confusedly believed that you had accidentally stumbled into a viewing party for a slasher film. Bodies were dropping left and right — including some main characters.
Tua Tagovailoa left on a cart. Baker Mayfield was in the blue tent. Andy Dalton came up lame. Carson Wentz managed to injure both of his ankles. (What?) Tyrod Taylor pulled his hamstring. Outside of the QB position, guys like T.J. Watt, Jarvis Landry and Bradley Chubb all got hurt, too.
It was grisly.
And it was a reminder that life in the NFL can change in an instant. No matter if it’s Week 2 or Week 20, you can’t ever get comfortable in a league like this one.
Some of those fellows returned to their games, some will be back this week, and others will be out for a while. It figures to make this a rather challenging week to make picks — as opposed to all of those other, extremely easy weeks to make picks that we’re always talking about.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Carolina (-8) over HOUSTON
Is this line serious? Are we OK here?
Granted, the Panthers are the Panthers. Yes, they’re 2-0. No, they’re not great.
But the Texans … listen. The Texans entered this year as an absolute mess. They beat the awful Jaguars, huzzah for them, but they’ve since lost their quarterback and they had their head coach admit that he isn’t quite fit to make head coaching decisions during football games. (If you haven’t read this little story, make sure you do; it’s incredible.)
So, I mean, look, it’s your life. If you want to go ahead and put your eggs in the basket of … (literally Googles “Texans quarterback” despite having seen it already 15 times this week) … Davis Mills? That’s your decision. Not mine though.
Atlanta (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Kind of sad that one of these teams will get a win.
The Giants could win, but they won’t win again until Week 12 at the earliest.
The Falcons might actually get red hot, coming off a surprisingly decent showing in Tampa. If not for those pick-sixes (an admittedly large caveat), the Falcons were competing in that game. They trailed by just a field goal five minutes into the fourth quarter. They sacked Brady and forced a punt with a chance to take the lead. They didn’t take the lead. But they had a chance to take a lead, which is an accomplishment for the Falcons.
I mean, their defense is horrible …
The Falcons have allowed 80 points through 2 games this season, most in franchise history.
It breaks a record they set… last season (78 points). pic.twitter.com/YyoKAR3f2O
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) September 22, 2021
… but who wants to talk about that??
Maybe they ride that little bit of positivity into Week 3. If so … they could legitimately beat Washington in Week 4, and the Jets in Week 5, hitting their bye at 3-2.
They’ll be bad, sure. But they’ll be bad and be 3-2.
Arizona (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE
It’s always important to remind people that professional sports team’s social media producers are a separate entity from the football operation. Just because something goes out on social media doesn’t mean the football side of the franchise had any knowledge or input on the content.
Only at an organization that is truly clueless can have:
A) An embarrassing meme go out like this:
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 20, 2021
B) An IMPOSSIBLY MORE EMBARRASSING FOLLOW-UP TWEET GO OUT THE NEXT DAY:
"Hey can I copy your homework?"
"Yeah fam just switch it up a bit." https://t.co/hPnIBcVF4x
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 20, 2021
This is painful.
I feel bad for Trevor Lawrence.
He’ll never be great on that team.
They are dreadful.
Cincinnati (+3.5) over PITTSBURGH
Is the Bengals’ defense good? That would be interesting.
In any event, congratulations to the Steelers for making it a whole two weeks into a season before having to talk about Ben Roethlisberger being hurt. Summer doesn’t officially transition into fall until that happens, so it’s nice they kept things on schedule this year.
The Steelers have a sneaky difficult schedule. They’ll go to Green Bay next week, then face the Broncos (who aren’t so bad, apparently) and Seahawks. They come out of their bye with a trip to Cleveland. At 1-1, Pittsburgh would be fortunate to come out of that stretch at 4-3.
NEW ENGLAND (-3) over New Orleans
I was covering the Patriots game, so I was only following the Saints’ game on the box score. It looked like they were getting shellacked.
But then I watched the game, and outside of some horrific offensive line play, they really played decently. Considering they were playing without eight coaches, perhaps a disjointed showing should have been expected.
The Patriots have offensive line issues of their own. Maybe Trent Brown alleviates that, but maybe his calf goes haywire again on Sunday. As boring as it may be, the winner may just be the team with the offensive line that holds up.
I don’t feel great about either one, but considering the Saints are merely days away from somewhat returning to normalcy in New Orleans, and considering Jameis Winston will be helming that shaky O-line in a road environment, perhaps this doesn’t turn out to be their finest showing.
KANSAS CITY (-6.5) over Los Angeles Chargers
The Chiefs losing on national TV on Sunday night brings to mind the time that happened in New England in 2018. After that 43-40 shootout where the team that had the ball last was always going to win the game, Mahomes threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-10 win over the Bengals.
I’m thinking we see that Mahomes again this week. The man lost his perfect September record. He’s not going to be pleased.
TENNESSEE (-5.5) over Indianapolis
“If Carson Wentz can’t go, the Colts are confident in Jacob Eason.”
I saw that headline. That’s nice for the Colts. Very cool. Good for them.
Baltimore (-7.5) over DETROIT
I feel as though what we saw Monday night from the Lions will be what we see from them quite a bit this year. They’ll come out, they’ll be all hot and bothered, they’ll play competitively for a half or so, and then they’ll just kind of peter out. They don’t have the talent to not do that, they don’t have the quarterback to not do that, they don’t have the coaching to not do that.
One thing, though: Alex Anzalone looks cool as hell out there.
I bet Dan Campbell freaking loves that guy. So cool! How does he have such a huge face? I wish I had a huge face. I bet I’d look cool.
CLEVELAND (-7) over Chicago
Lots of intrigue with Justin Fields getting the start, and the Bears may be coming in with a lot of juice from that. Justin Fields seems like the type of guy that’ll fire up his teammates. More so than Andy Dalton. A little bit.
He’s got me juiced up, too. But I must pick with my head over my heart, and I just don’t know enough about the Bears right now to like them in this spot.
BUFFALO (-9) over Washington Football Team Of Football Players In Landover, Maryland, Near Washington, D.C.
The Bills bounced back, eh?
LAS VEGAS (-4) over Miami
Every time you get behind Brian Flores’ Dolphins, they let you down. Every time.
Coming off what was kind of a gift-wrapped win in New England, they just were absolutely putrid vs. Buffalo. With Tua out, I’m not sure how much worse they are, but you still can’t love them here.
DENVER (-10.5) over New York Jets
I’m not sure Zach Wilson ever recovers from last weekend. I mean, I assume he will. But I’m not sure.
He definitely won’t recover by Sunday afternoon. That’s for sure.
Tampa Bay (-1) over LOS ANGELES RAMS
This was actually going to be one of the rare weeks where I go against the Bucs. They’ve shown some issues, despite the 2-0 record, that makes me somewhat rueful of my bold undefeated talk from the preseason. And I think the Rams’ passing offense will present some problems for Tampa here.
But, come on. A point? I’m supposed to doubt Tom Brady’s ability to win a game? When he can add a new road stadium to his conquest list, no less? In this economy?!
Seattle (-2) over MINNESOTA
I don’t really have the Seahawks at 1-2 to start the year. I also don’t have the Vikings at 0-3. But, one supposes, one of those things must come true.
Green Bay (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
What a game. Theoretically speaking, anyway.
I’m guessing the line leans a half-point in San Francisco’s favor because Green Bay’s traveling on a short week, and because the stench of the Packers’ Week 1 dud has not fully subsided? I’m just not sold on San Francisco, a team that’s won a pair of one-possession games against the Eagles (bad) and Lions (worse).
Preseason’s over for the Niners.
DALLAS (-4) over Philadelphia
Lying to the media is part of the job of an NFL head coach. Some are great at it, some are mediocre at it, and some are terrible.
Mike McCarthy, my goodness, man. You are terrible at it.
After unforgivably flubbing the end of game situation in Los Angeles on Sunday, McCarthy claimed that the clock that he had been looking at in the stadium suddenly stopped displaying the time. (Sure it did!) He also claimed that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had his vision of a clock blocked by a camera.
The dog also ate his homework. And there was a car accident that caused a lot of traffic, which is why he’s late. And he definitely has a girlfriend … but she lives in Canada and you wouldn’t know her.
I almost want to believe that the Eagles will go in and whoop their division rivals as a force of cosmic karma. Almost.
Last week: 10-6