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NFL: Week 2 Game Previews and Selections

Panthers QB Cam Newton

Panthers QB Cam Newton

The greatest sport in the world is under fire.

At least its leadership is. Roger Goodell is taking hits on all sides following the release of the infamous videotape that shows former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator.

The NFL has long take a public stance against gambling on the sport, but as Goodell looks for cover, he is probably thrilled that so many of the sport’s fans love to wager on the games. Betting on the outcome takes everyone’s minds off the fact that the commissioner either lied or done his job in an incompetent manner.

We are not here to pass judgment on Goodell, but we are here to help get you through the minefield that is the NFL pointspread. After going 3-2 ATS in the opening week, we have five more offerings for you in Week Two.

Carolina Panthers (-2.5) vs. Detroit Lions

Many of the wise guys thought the Panthers would be in trouble in Week 1 against the Giants because quarterback Cam Newton couldn’t play because of his damaged ribs. That proved to be no issue as backup Derek Anderson stepped into the lineup and helped the Panthers build an early lead over the Tampa Bay Bucs on the road and then hold on for the win.

This week, Newton returns to the lineup as the Panthers play their first home game of the season against a Detroit Lions team that looked superb in taking apart the Giants on Monday night. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was particularly impressive as he looked quicker and more agile than he had in the past, and he avoided the costly interceptions that plagued the team last year and led to head coach Jim Schwartz’s firing.

Lack of discipline may still be an issue for the Lions, as they were penalized frequently against the Giants. If that’s the case again, the Panthers will take advantage of those mistakes. Look for head coach Ron Rivera to have his team fired up as the Panthers take charge in the second half and pick up a big win.

Newton throws two TD passes and the Panthers outfinish the Lions 38-31.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) vs. New England Patriots

Are the New England Patriots going to start the season with two consecutive losses? After falling apart in the second half of Week 1 at Miami, that appears to be a distinct possibility.

The Minnesota Vikings got off to a shockingly good start with a one-sided road win over the St. Louis Rams, and they come home for their first game before Minnesota fans in the Mike Zimmer era. Zimmer is a tough, smart and enthusiastic coach. He may not have a lot of experience, but he may know more about defense than any head coach in the NFL and he appears to be a good match for Bill Belichick.

While the Vikings will undoubtedly come back to earth at some point or another, look for a peak effort here with Matt Cassel managing the game and explosive wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has too much speed for the Patriots.

New England will fight hard behind Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and the defense looks improved as well. But the Pats are not going to have enough to stop the emotionally charged Vikings.

Look for Minnesota to pull off a 24-20 victory at home.

Derick Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Derick Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Cleveland Browns (+6.5) vs. New Orleans Saints

The Browns made a nice comeback in the second half vs. the Steelers in Week One and nearly pulled off a shocking upset. They come home with some momentum and a chance to even their record under first-year head coach Mike Pettine.

That may sound good, but take a look at the quarterback matchup between Brian Hoyer and Drew Brees. It would be one thing if Brees hadn’t started the season in explosive fashion, but that’s just what he did against the Falcons. Atlanta may have come back and won the game in overtime, but Brees was on top of his game and he should be quite sharp in Cleveland.

The Saints are not going to let Hoyer beat them. If the Browns can stay with the Saints into the second quarter, they should be happy with themselves. They will get blown out in the second half, and New Orleans will take home a decisive 35-17 victory.

Tampa Bay Bucs (-6) vs. St. Louis Rams

This seems like way too many points for a team like the Buccaneers that have not proven a thing under new head coach Lovie Smith. While the former Bears head coach will probably build a very strong defense before the end of the season, his record as an offensive leader is dreadful. Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown has some ability and will play hard, but he is not going to take apart the Rams’ speedy and athletic defense.

The Rams were beaten badly at home by the Vikings in their home opener, and getting out on the road will help head coach Jeff Fisher steady the ship. Look for Zac Stacy to give the Rams a credible ground game, and look for the St. Louis defense to keep the team close for 60 minutes.

In the end, Greg “Legotron” Zuerlein will provide the winning points and the Rams will come away with a 20-17 victory.

San Francisco 49ers (-7) vs. Chicago Bears

This game has a chance to get very ugly. The Bears haven’t beaten the 49ers on the road since their legendary 1985 season, and while the 49ers may be distracted by playing in their brand-new Levi’s Stadium, old habits will die hard.

The Bears appear to have a strong offensive team when all its stars are healthy, but that is not the case. Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) are both injured and neither one is expected to be anything close to their best. Additionally, the 49ers know they can count on inconsistent quarterback Jay Cutler for one or two big mistakes.

When the 49ers have the ball, Colin Kaepernick should have a field day against the Bears’ soft and slowish defense. Chicago couldn’t contain Buffalo at Soldier Field last week, so how are they going to stop the 49ers. Frank Gore will pound the Bears linebackers into submission, and the Niners will open their new stadium with a 31-13 victory.


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