Welcome to this week’s edition of NFL Breakdown. We focus on three games you need to check out and all the info that you’ll need ahead of the contests. This week, our attention is on the matchups between the Panthers vs Buccaneers, Broncos vs Steelers, and Ravens vs Texans.
Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Spread: Buccaneers -9 (-110)
- Point Total: 47.5 (-110)
Both the Panthers and Bucs began a new starting QB era in week one of this season. Teddy Bridgewater, fresh off his five-game heroics with the Saints, did not throw a pass in the second-to-last drive sealing the loss to the Raiders. He and Christian McCaffrey picked up where a healthy Cam Newton left off, combining for 133 yards on the ground. They’ll almost definitely face a tougher challenge against a Ndamukong Suh-led defensive line that only allowed 86 total rush yards to the Saints last week.
Tom Brady‘s kicked off his Buccaneers career in disappointing fashion, throwing two interceptions. His streak of games with a pick-six now pushed to three, questions about his future grow ever louder. The Bucs went all-in on veteran players with potential. Will Brady, Gronk, Shady, Fournette, and company be able to find their respective roles with such little time together?
Expect a heavy dose of Ronald Jones early and often as Bruce Arians looks to replicate the success Josh Jacobs and the Raiders saw against the Panthers last week. Bridgewater has to improve his accuracy instead of leaning on his mobility against this defense. There are two new sheriffs in town, and both are looking to get their teams back on track after lackluster showings to start the season. DraftKings currently has the Panthers as a 9 point dog, but that may be relying a little much on the Brady Bunch’s reputation.
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Denver Broncos vs Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: Steelers -7 (-110)
- Point Total: 40.5 (-110)
The much-anticipated return of Ben Roethlisberger did not disappoint. Against the lowly Giants, Big Ben looked like he hadn’t missed a beat in spite of the lack of preparation and preseason this year. Juju was the biggest beneficiary, catching all six of his targets, including two touchdowns. Benny Snell filled in exceptionally well for the injured James Conner, tearing off 113 yards on 19 carries. Derrick Henry found success against Denver’s Von Miller-less defense, but it took 31 carries to get just three more yards. Drew Lock looked very much like the sophomore quarterback he is and was unable to get anything going in the last few drives.
The real success for the Steelers came in holding Saquon Barkley to 6 yards rushing. Denver will have to get their yards from Lock, and he’ll have to be much more accurate than Daniel Jones. Two big questions stand out, can the Steelers lean into their lowest points per game defense, and can the Broncos limit their mistakes and close should they find themselves ahead near the end of the game? Graham Gano is no washed up Stephen Gostkowski, and the Steelers may very well cover the 7 point spread.
Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans
- Spread: Ravens -7 (-110)
- Point Total: 50.0 (-110)
Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens laid waste to division rival Cleveland in week one, and in the previous matchup of these teams last season thrashed the Texans 41-7. Houston and absolute nutjob decision-maker Bill O’Brien are left reeling from their game one loss against the Chiefs. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire torched their defense for 138 yards on the ground. What might be thought of as a marquee matchup before the season began has serious blow-out potential.
Baltimore’s defense deflected 8 passes last week, led by Calais Campbell’s three. While Lamar Jackson is seemingly lightyears ahead of Baker Mayfield, that kind of intensity will be extremely tough to overcome. Not to mention, Brandin Cooks’s limited participation in practice and Will Fuller’s injury history, though he managed to snag 8 passes for 112 yards last week, does not give Jackson a reliable target to go to consistently. The brightest light for the Texans in week one was David Johnson who averaged 7 yards per carry. Houston must get him going early and test the Ravens’ line that gave up 132 yards to Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb.
Yes, the Chiefs are explosive and look to have potentially gotten better with the edition of Helaire, however, Houston did absolutely nothing to be proud of on defense. Definitely a tough draw to get Kansas City and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks to start the season, and it doesn’t look like the Texans will be up to the task. The Ravens are currently a 7 point favorite, but I’m honestly surprised it’s not significantly higher.
*Odds via DraftKings