Words by: Daniel House, Rankings by Paul Charchian
1. New England Patriots vs JAC - 10
The Jags won a game last week and their fans acted like they won the Super Bowl. I know times are tough, but c'mon man, you beat Miami. The only dancing the Jaguars be doing this week is when their busses pull out of Gillette Stadium. No team has recorded more sacks (11) than the New England Patriot defense. Last week, they planted Tyrod Taylor eight times and more of the same can be expected against Jacksonville. The Jags offensive line has allowed the fifth-most five sacks to opposing defensive lines this year, after allowing the most last year. What’s more, New England has registered two or more turnovers in six of their last eight home games. Only three teams have allowed more points (53) than the Patriots defense, but the Jags offense has only scored 20+ points five times dating back to 2014.
2. Seattle Seahawks vs. CHI – 9.75
It took the Pope coming to America to convince Kam Chancellor to end his holdout. Hallelujah! Watch out, Seattle is playing their first home game, are 0-2, and have a matchup with a Jimmy Clausen-led Bears squad. The Seahawks have yet to record a defensive interception, but only two other teams have thrown more interceptions than the Bears offense. Clausen will have an impact on Chicago’s ability to move the ball through the air. Seattle plays significantly better at home and have notched multiple turnover performances in seven of their last nine games at Centurylink Field. The Bears offense is converting first downs a measly 27% of the time and that’s contributed to their poor scoring outputs. Amen.
3. Arizona Cardinals vs. SF – 9.25
Carson Palmer trash talks people on Facebook like soccer moms after their son executes his first slide tackle. However, I must admit Palmer’s Facebook troll game is strong. Only one team has recorded more interceptions (3) than the Arizona Cardinals defense. Colin Kaepernick has yet to throw a pick, but he's done so in two of his last four matchups with the Cardinals. The 49ers will have a difficult time sustaining drives by running the football. Arizona's run defense has been great for years, and they've allowed the tenth-fewest total rushing yards to opposing teams this year. This will force Kaepernick to throw more against a stout secondary that has been creating turnovers. What’s more, the Cardinals have allowed offenses to convert on third down just 30% of the time.
4. Denver Broncos @ DET – 9.25
Not a single defense has been more active than the Denver Broncos. So far in the season, they have notched four interceptions, six sacks, and three fumble recoveries. What’s more, Denver has scored two defensive touchdowns. Just two teams have thrown more interceptions (3) than the Detroit Lions. The Lions offensive line has allowed only two total sacks, but surrendered a whopping eight quarterback hits last week. That’s good news for a Denver defense that has accumulated a fifth-most six sacks.
5. New York Jets vs. PHI – 9.5
No team has more takeaways (10) than the New York Jets defense. Last week, the Jets picked off Andrew Luck three times and their defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage. That trend should continue this week against an Eagles offense that has surrendered the second-most four interceptions to opposing defenses. Furthermore, the New York defense has recovered a league-most six fumbles. The Eagles offense is anemic and has scored the third-fewest total points through the first two week of play.
6. Buffalo Bills @ MIA – 9.0
Rex is looking for redemption and I think he found it. The Bills have recovered the third-most three fumbles and Miami has averaged a third-most 1.5 fumbles per game. Buffalo’s secondary has performed very well, defensing a league-most 15 passes and adding two total picks. This will be the biggest test for a Miami offense that has yet to throw an interception. What’s more, the Dolphins have scored the third-fewest touchdowns this season and their offense has accumulated the sixth-fewest total points.
7. Carolina Panthers vs. NO – 8.75
Could Verizon’s backup quarterback actually play in a game? Luke McCown might get the chance to give Verizon what they wanted – free, unexpected publicity. New Orleans could be without Drew Brees, but it might not even make a difference. The Saints offense has scored just 38 points in two weeks and couldn’t move the ball against the Bucs defense. New Orleans has had issues with ball security and have fumbled the second-most times (5). Their offensive line has allowed the third-most six sacks through two games. Finally, they have the lowest first down conversion percentage in all of football. They’ve truly been sloppy in every phase of the game. That’s good news for a Panthers defense that has registered six total quarterback takedowns and a second-most three interceptions.
8. Houston Texans vs. TB – 8.5
The Tampa Bay offense hasn’t moved the ball well and they’ve accumulated the third-fewest total passing yards per game (187.5). Houston has performed well against the aerial attack and ranks tenth against the pass. The Texans have recorded just one takeaway in each of their first two games, but Tampa Bay has surrendered a fourth-most four giveaways. J.J. Watt could go wild against a Bucs offensive line that has surrendered a third-most seven sacks. Houston has just four sacks through two games, but Tampa Bay’s offensive line is like a revolving door at an hourly motel.
9. Indianapolis Colts @ TEN – 8.25
The Colts defense has created just one takeaway in their first two games and their offense leads the league in giveaways (8). That’s not a good differential. The real issue with Tennessee has been their offensive line. No team has allowed more sacks (9) than the Titans. However, Indianapolis has sacked opposing quarterbacks just once in two games. Nonetheless, Tennessee has been sloppy with the ball and is averaging a league-most 3 fumbles per game. Indianapolis has recovered just one fumble, but they have notched multiple turnover performances in three of their last four matchups with Tennessee.
10. New York Giants vs. WSH – 9.25
According to sources, the Pope has arrived in Washington and already has developed friction with RG3. The Redskins have reached the end zone just twice in their first two games. In fact, only three teams have scored fewer points than the Redskins. In two of their last four matchups with Washington, the Giants have corralled at least two takeaways. New York has registered an interception in each of their first two games and Washington has allowed the fifth-most three total giveaways.
11. Cincinnati Bengals @ BAL – 8.75
Cincinnati has registered the fourth-most six sacks over their first two games and only four other teams have snatched more interceptions than the Bengals. Just two other quarterbacks have thrown more picks than Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. What’s more, the Bengals have recorded two or more takeaways in each of their last four contests against Baltimore. This is probably the worst Ravens team in recent seasons and they’ve done nothing that indicates they won’t struggle with Cincinnati again this year.
12. Cleveland Browns vs. OAK – 7.75
Starting Josh McCown over Johnny Manziel is like choosing the wrong chick on the Bachelor. You’ve had all the time in the world to figure this out, but you pick the one with the least upside?! Cleveland has recovered a league-most three fumbles over their first two games. That aligns great with an Oakland that has coughed it up at least once in every contest this season. Only three teams have recorded more sacks (7) than the Browns defense. What’s more, the Cleveland Browns have allowed a fifth-most five sacks this year. Finally, just five other teams have surrendered more giveaways than the Raiders offense.
13. Kansas City Chiefs @ GB - 8
Quietly, teams are converting on third down a third-most 54% against Green Bay. Not to mention, just one team has corralled more sacks than the Chiefs defense. Green Bay has allowed just two total sacks, but Aaron Rodgers has been hit frequently as he extends plays. Kansas City has created a fifth-most three takeaways, but Green Bay has surrendered just one giveaway all season. Rodgers is efficient at home, but Kansas City will make keep this game low scoring as the Packers could be without several offensive weapons. Notable among them, RT Brian Bulaga will be especially missed. His replacement, Don Barclay was a trainwreck on Sunday night.
14. St. Louis Rams vs. PIT – 8.5
The Rams seriously lost to the Redskins last week. Is it always in the heart of Jeff Fisher teams to get big wins and then drop a dud the next game? Nonetheless, the Rams defense is still a group with big-time production potential. They have accumulated the sixth-most takeaways, but the Steelers have committed just one turnover in each of the first two weeks. However, the Rams have accumulated eight sacks over the first two games and Pittsburgh has surrendered a respectable three quarterback takedowns.
15. Minnesota Vikings vs. SD – 7.75
What mascot deserves to be paid $20,000 per game? Apparently Ragnar thinks he does. I’d grow a beard, ride a chopper, and dance with sexy cheerleaders for $20 a game. I think any guy would. Heck, I might even pay the $20. Ragnar wasn't at the stadium, but last week, the Vikings looked like an entirely different defense. After allowing 230 rushing yards in week one, they held Detroit to 38 yards on the ground. The Vikings defense has accumulated a fourth-most takeaways, including three forced fumbles and an interception. What’s more, just one team has surrendered more turnovers (6) than the San Diego offense. Only three other teams have allowed more sacks than San Diego and Minnesota had a whopping eight quarterback hits and a sack last week. Oh yeah, can someone send me that mascot application? If I start growing my beard now, I'll be ready by 2025.
Atlanta Falcons @DAL
Dallas should just sign Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow, and Trent Richardson and start a reality show. It probably would have better ratings than Hard Knocks. With Romo and Bryant out, the Dallas offense becomes a totally different group. There isn’t one player who is a massive threat to cause havoc. The Falcons have accumulated a fifth-most three takeaways, while Dallas has surrendered a third-most five turnovers. With American hero Brandon Weeden taking snaps, this trend is going to be maximized. Jerry, take my advice start the reality show.