NFL Handicapping: An Early Look at the Week 2 NFL TotalsWith one week in the books, the picture gets a little clearer on who can score. Here is a handicapping breakdown and quick look at the totals for Week 2 in the National Football League:
Buffalo at Green Bay (43): When looking at the Bills, you always have to look at the under first. The Bills allowed only 15 points to the Dolphins. They also only allowed 3.7 yards per rush and 4.8 yards per pass play. For scoring 27 points, the Packers averaged only 4.7 yards per play. You are going to need two-way scoring for the total to go over, and it’s not clear if Buffalo can keep up their side of the game.
Kansas City at Cleveland (38): The Chiefs are the poster child for poor offense. Against the Chargers, they completed only 10 passes, averaging 2.8 yards per pass. They were 1-for-11 on third downs. Conversely, their defense allowed only 4 of 15 third-down conversions and 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. The Browns are facing QB problems with Jake Delhomme’s status unclear with his injured ankle.
Baltimore at Cincinnati (40): This number has jumped two points, basically as a knee-jerk reaction to the Bengals getting blitzed by the New England Patriots. Take a breath and examine this matchup. This historically has been a low scoring game. Only one time in the past two seasons has the game hit 37 points and the under is 3-1 in that span. The only game that went over, was when they combined for 37 and the number was 36. Both teams stress defense. Because the Patriots opened an early lead, the tempo of the game was changed and the Bengals has to open it up. That should not be the casein this AFC North showdown. The Ravens only averaged 1.4 yards per rushing play. If they do not improve that, there is little chance of the Ravens scoring enough to push the total over.
Pittsburgh at Tennessee (37 ½): The hamstrung Steelers offense will have trouble scoring against the Titans. Prior to the 50-yard winning touchdown run in overtime, the Steelers were averaging only 3.1 yards per rushing play. They had only 57 plays, which is below average. For the total to go over, it will have to rely on the Titans, which were impressive in their 38-13 victory over Oakland. The Titans average 5.3 yards per rushing play and 8.2 yards per passing play. If they grab the early lead, the Steelers will be forced to open it up and that could push the total. Otherwise, Pittsburgh will be content to play a low-scoring chess match.
Philadelphia at Detroit (41): Both starting quarterbacks probably will not play, but that gives the advantage to the Eagles. Michael Vick came in and ignited the Eagles offense in the second half as they rallied, falling short of the Green Bay Packers, 27-20. The Lions offense was anemic against the Bears, but even with Shaun Hill, look for them to improve this week against a suspect Eagles defense. They were torched by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Lions allowed 362 yards passing to the Bears and the pass-happy Eagles will probably post similar numbers.
Chicago at Dallas (40 1/2): Neither team posted many points last week. The Bears has some impressive yardage. They had 362 yards passing and 101 yards rushing, but only scored 19 points off those totals. They ran 66 plays and averaged seven yards per play. Those numbers would think that the Bears would score more points. The Cowboys have been struggling offensively in the preseason and that carried over to their 13-7 loss to the Redskins. If their offensive line gets healthy this week, it could help turn things around. The recipe if there to score some points but will these teams put it together.
Arizona at Atlanta (43): Both teams underachieved last week, offensively. The Cardinals put up some decent yardage numbers against the Rams. They passed for 266 yards, while rushing for 112 yards. They averaged 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. The Falcons’ running game was stymied by the Steelers. They rushed for only 58 yards, while passing for 237. The Falcons need more balance on offense to be effective. At home, you would expect that to happen and for the Falcons to get back on track.
Miami at Minnesota (40): This number seems a bit high for what these teams produced in the opener. The Dolphins rushed for 132 yards, which is all right, but only passed for 164 yards as they scored 15 points against the Bills. They will be stepping up in competition this week with a Vikings defense that can dominate the game. The Vikings ran only 50 offensive plays as they tried to control the clock with their running game. If both teams try to exert their running game, that will shorten the game, and tend to lower the scores.
St. Louis at Oakland (37 ½): If this game goes over, it’s because of poor defense that will make the offenses look a bit better than they are. The Rams allowed 378 total yards, and allowed 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. The Raiders allowed the same rushing average, while giving up 345 total yards and 38 points. It’s not a big number and with these soft defenses, it will be hard to get there for the over.
Seattle at Denver (39 ½): Both teams scored enough points last week that it would seem logical that they would go over this total. But the Seahawks only ran 46 plays, while the Broncos ran 58. Both numbers are low to encourage scoring. Seattle had only 242 total yards. Denver’s total was a little more respectable at 363. Both teams passed at least 50 percent or more of the time, which would lead to more scoring.
Houston at Washington (44): This is a story of two conflicting offensive teams. The Texans had 257 yards rushing and score 34 points. The Redskins only gained a total of 250 yards and scored 13 points. If this gets to the total, it will only get there because the Texans pushed the scoring. Otherwise, the Redskins will try to muck up the game and limit scoring.
Jacksonville at San Diego (45): The Chargers put up nearly 400 yards offense, but only accounted for 14 points. As Phillip Rivers gets more comfortable with his new receivers, you can expect scoring to increase. Jacksonville had its typical performance in Week 1. The Jaguars had 134 yards rushing and 164 yards passing, nothing too flashy. But they did score 24 points. The Chargers gave up 135 yards rushing to the Chiefs, so look for Jacksonville to try and establish the ground game first.
New England at New York Jets (39 ½): The over has gone 2-1-1 the past two seasons. With Mark Sanchez at quarterback, the Jets will struggle to score. With the Jets defense, other teams will struggle to score. Don’t expect the Patriots to get off to the fast start they did against the Bengals. This is an early divisional matchup of two teams that expect to be in the hunt to win the division. Scoring will be at a premium in this game.
New York Giants at Indianapolis (48): This is the highest total of the week, and for good reason. The Colts’ defense was exposed last week against the Texans and it’s likely the Colts will have to try and flat outscore opponents to win. They cannot rely on their defense to do the job. The Giants started off slow against Carolina, but picked up the pace in the second half to score 31 points. The Colts had 463 yards offense, while the Giants had 376 yards. Expect fireworks in this game.
New Orleans at San Francisco (44): The 49ers fell flat last week against the Seahawks, and their job does not get any easier with the Saints coming to town. This is a high number for two teams had had trouble scoring in their opener. Neither team did much on offense. Look for both teams to stress defense here and it may be hard to get to this total.
The Tampa Bay-Carolina Panthers game is still off the board until Panthers’ QB Matt Moore is determined.
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