Bet the NFL: Jared Hackmyer picks Sunday's slate of games, highlighted by Bills vs Rams, Cowboys vs Seahawks, Packers vs Saints
FALCONS (-4.5) Bears (46.5)
Jared’s Pick: Falcons
Breakout Player: RB Todd Gurley
Last week Atlanta lost ugly to the Dallas Cowboys after blowing a huge lead. Aside from the loss, QB Matt Ryan had a big day with 273 yards and 4 touchdowns with a 126.3 rating. Even with an 0-2 start for Atlanta, Ryan has been putting up great stats against good teams which means we could expect to see the Falcons win some games. WR Calvin Ridley has been phenomenal for Atlanta in his 3rd season with two 100+ yard games and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta’s biggest problem is their defense. Yes, they played two amazing offenses in their first two games, but they have let up a total of 78 points in only two weeks. Something has to change because their offense is going to waste.
The Bears’ defense has looked amazing the past two weeks; I can’t say the same about their offense. Once the Bears start to play some better teams, we’ll see QB Mitch Trubisky and the offense struggle more. The Lions and Giants are two teams most teams shouldn’t barely beat, and both teams were within one score until the clock hit zero. Someone to watch this week on Chicago is WR Allen Robinson. The Falcons have let up a total of 772 passing yards in two weeks, and I would expect Chicago to take advantage of that.
BILLS (-3) Rams (48)
Jared’s Pick: Bills
Breakout Player: RB Devin Singletary
As well as the Bills have been playing, this will be the first week we get to see what they are really made of. Bills QB Josh Allen has looked great in the first two games of his third NFL season, but this will be our first time watching him go up against a top defense. WR Stefon Diggs has been a huge boost for Allen and I can definitely see Buffalo’s offense keeping up its intensity in week 3. Watch for a big day from RB Devin Singletary with rookie RB Zack Moss out.
The Rams are an interesting team to watch go against this elite Bills defense with stars Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee having a big first two weeks. QB Jared Goff has looked promising after a weak 2019 season, and I believe he can bring this team back to the playoffs after their Super Bowl run the yea r before. I don’t see a clear winner in this game with both teams on fire in weeks one and two.
BROWNS (-6.5) Football Team (45.5)
Jared’s Pick: Browns
Breakout Player: QB Baker Mayfield
Cleveland is one of the most interesting NFL teams this season. They have one of the most talented offenses on paper, but can’t execute against good defenses. If Cleveland continues to feed RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, they will be as explosive every game as they were on Sunday.
I don’t see Washington’s offensive line stopping Brown star DE Myles Garrett as he continues to show everyone how unstoppable he is. The Football Team’s offense wasn’t able to move well against Arizona last Sunday, but with Brown CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams questionable, QB Dwayne Haskins might be able to boost this offense this week. Washington's 2020 2nd overall pick, DE Chase Young, is tied with stud edge rusher TJ Watt for first in the NFL with 2.5 sacks. Young has made this defense look a lot better than they should. I still think this team needs work, but against Cleveland a close game wouldn’t shock me.
Titans (-5) VIKINGS (47.5)
Jared’s Pick: Titans
Breakout Player: WR Adam Thielen
The Vikings have been a huge disappointment even with their extremely talented roster. Now with star Anthony Barr out, their elite defense will be short their top linebacker. Last week Minnesota was held to only 11 points against the Indianapolis Colts. QB Kirk Cousins threw for a total of 113 yards, and 3 interceptions with a 15.9 QB rating. Someone to watch this week is Viking RB Dalvin Cook. Cook is a player every defense should be watching, but with Tennessee’s talented secondary I would expect a big game from Cook on the ground.
Tennessee has looked great on both sides of the ball so far in this 2020 season. QB Ryan Tannehill has been lighting up defenses with a 6-0 touchdown to interception ratio and he's been without WR AJ Brown. So Tannehill has looked to TE Jonnu Smith, who recorded 83 yards and 2 touchdowns last week against Jacksonville. Tennessee’s defense let up 30 points to a weaker Jacksonville offense last week, but they are still among the league’s best. I see this as one of this week's higher scoring games because of all of the weapons both teams have in offense.
PATRIOTS (-5.5) Raiders (47.5)
Jared’s Pick: Patriots
Breakout Player: WR Julian Edelman
The Patriots hit a home run this offseason with the QB Cam Newton signing. Even with 8 season opt-outs, this team has clearly showed they have what it takes to win the division. Seattle is arguably the best team in the NFC and the Patriots were one play away from beating them in week 2. Newton has loved veteran WR Julian Edelman, and he’s looking like his favorite target. Once receiving RB James White comes back, Newton will gain another great pass catcher. The Patriots did let up 35 points to Seattle, but not many defenses could do better than New England did.
Las Vegas looked amazing last week in their upset over New Orleans. Derek Carr threw for 283 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. I can’t say the outcome of the game would’ve been the same if star WR Michael Thomas was active for the Saints last week, but either way Vegas’s defense looked great. One player I’d watch on Vegas this week is TE Darren Waller, who exploded last week with 103 yards and 1 touchdown. Carr will continue to look for him. Waller had a huge 2019 season, and now he’s known as one of the league’s best tight ends. I see that Patriots winning on Sunday, but Vegas will not go down without a fight.
49ers (-2.5) GIANTS (40.5)
Jared’s Pick: 49ers
Breakout Player: WR Brandon Aiyuk
This is definitely one of the more interesting games of the week. The 49ers will be short QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Raheem Mostert, RB Tevin Coleman, DE Dee Ford, TE George Kittle, LB Dre Greenlaw, CB Richard Sherman, DE Nick Bosa and DE Soloman Thomas . . . and they're still favored on the road. Even without these players, San Francisco still has a very powerful defense, but this game will definitely be closer than it should be. The Giants are avoiding an amazing pass rushing defense with Bosa, Thomas and Ford out, but San Fransisco will have all of their elite linebackers in attendance. New York’s defense has been acceptable these past two weeks, and with QB Nick Mullens starting for the Niners, I don’t see the offense putting up an absurd amount of points. One player to watch this week is RB Jerick McKinnon with Coleman and Mostert’s absences.
The Giants will be short RB Saquon Barkley and WR Sterling Shepard this week. I wouldn’t expect a big workload from new Giants’ RB Devonta Freeman in his first week so we could see a big week in the air from QB Daniel Jones. Jones has struggled in his first weeks of the new season, but without much pass rush, the job should be mush easier for him and this offense.
EAGLES (-4.5) Bengals (44.5)
Jared’s Pick: Eagles
Breakout Player: RB Miles Sanders
This injured Eagles team has looked awful these last few weeks. They are now 0-2 after losing to the Football Team and the Rams, letting up a total of 64 points. The Eagles would be a completely different team without a rash of injuries, but right now they are looking to place dead last in the NFC East. I would look for a big day from RB Miles Sanders with WRs Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor.
These past two weeks, 2020 first overall pick QB Joe Burrow has been huge for this Bengals offense, despite their 0-2 record. Burrow has been dealing with an awful offensive line, and still threw for 316 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions last week against Cleveland. RB Joe Mixon has been affected by his O-line with only 115 yards in two weeks. On the other side of the ball, the Cincinnati defense struggled greatly last week letting up 35 points, 215 rushing yards, and 219 passing yards. Burrow gives this team hope, but they have to get more pieces on both sides of the ball to compete.
STEELERS (-6) Texans (46.5)
Jared’s Pick: Steelers
Breakout Player: WR Diontae Johnson
TJ Watt and this Steelers defense have looked unstoppable so far. In only two weeks, the team already has 10 sacks. After missing the entire 2019 season, QB Ben Roethlisberger has looked promising with a 5-1 touchdown/interception ratio. The Steelers don't have one of the highest scoring offenses, but with their elite defense giving up very few points, their offense has been getting the job done. I would watch for a big game from WR Diontae Johnson after leading the Steelers with 150 yards in weeks one and two.
The Texans have had two very tough weeks by playing arguably the two best teams in the NFL, the Chiefs and the Ravens. I don’t see this Houston team as a lost hope, but with their struggling offense they might have a hard time against this Pittsburgh defense. One matchup I’d watch is star OT Laremy Tunsil against edge rushers TJ Watt and Bud Dupree. Tunsil is questionable with an elbow injury, which would be a huge loss to Houston. If Tunsil plays, he might be able to contain this elite Pittsburgh pass rush which would be a great help to QB Deshaun Watson.
COLTS (-9.5) Jets (44)
Jared’s Pick: Colts
Breakout Player: RB Jonathan Taylor
The Colts dominated Minnesota last week and the Vikings aren’t an easy team to hold to 113 passing yards and 80 rushing yards. Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor showed he is ready to take over for injured Marlon Mack after his big game against Minnesota. Taylor recorded 101 yards and 1 touchdown. I think this game could easily be a blowout by Indianapolis. The New York Jets will be without some of their top weapons on offense, and I don’t see them putting up many points against this very explosive Indianapolis defense. Sam Darnold still needs time to develop and with all of these injuries on offense, Sunday won’t be easy.
CHARGERS (-6.5) Panthers (43.5)
Jared’s Pick: Chargers
Breakout Player: TE Hunter Henry
In a very close game against the Kansas City Chiefs, rookie QB Justin Herbert looked very promising for the Chargers. Herbert threw for 311 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. It’s not easy to go into your NFL debut against one of the league's best teams, and be in the game until the very end. WR Keenan Allen looked like Herbert’s favorite target Sunday, so I’d look for a big game from him.
L.A.’s defense looked great Sunday while only letting up 23 points to an elite offense. With star RB Christian McCaffrey out for the next few weeks, look for this offense to convert to the passing game. QB Teddy Bridgewater has loved WR Robby Anderson as they've connected for 223 yards and 1 touchdown in two weeks. I would definitely watch for Panther WR DJ Moore to get more targets as well due to the likely increase in the passing game. This Carolina defense has let up a great amount of points (65) in these last two weeks and after the loss of starting CB James Bradberry, the secondary has looked weak. They still have some talent up front with DE Brian Burns, DE Yetur Gross-Matos, and DT Derrick Brown. I don’t see this game as very high scoring, but I can definitely see LA moving to 2-1.
CARDINALS (-7.5) Lions (51.5)
Jared’s Pick: Cardinals
Breakout Player: QB Kyler Murray
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray has been dominating in this new season, in large part due to new WR DeAndre Hopkins. The two have connected 22 times for a total of 219 yards and one touchdown in only two weeks. I would watch for the two RBs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds this week. Detroit has let up 408 rushing yards going into week 3. With the two Arizona RBs becoming more reliable, we could see one, or maybe both of them break out Sunday.
Arizona’s defense only averages 341 yards allowed per game (7th in the NFL), and 17.5 points per game (2nd in the NFL). With the NFL’s leading receiver in touchdowns in 2019, Kenny Golladay, possibly out for the third consecutive week, we could see another rough week for Detroit. Last week, Detroit’s defense was torched by Green Bay’s offense. The Lion’s let up 42 points and lost by 21. With Arizona’s offense exploding these past two weeks, I don’t see Detroit’s defense holding up well which could lift the Cardinals to 3-0.
Buccaneers (-5.5) BRONCOS (45)
Jared’s Pick: Buccaneers
Breakout Player: RB Leonard Fournette
The Buccaneers ran all over the Panthers last week without WR Chris Godwin and Tom Brady is finally expected to have WRs Mike Evans and Godwin 100% healthy this week. Also, the Buccaneers are starting to use RB Leonard Fournette more in this offense after a big day on the ground last Sunday. I wouldn’t be too worried about Denver going into week 3 if I were Tampa Bay.
With WR Courtland Sutton out with an ACL tear, Denver now has to rely on Jerry Juedy and KJ Hamler to take over at the wide receiver position. One player to watch on Denver’s offense is TE Noah Fant, who's put up great numbers against two great defenses. Now that Sutton is out, whoever Denver's QB is will look more to the TE position.
Both defenses have looked acceptable. If I were to chose one I would take Tampa Bay’s, especially because Denver will be short on offense. Also, Tampa Bay was able to hold stud RB Christian McCaffrey to 59 rushing yards. I don’t see this game as a definite win for the Buccaneers because they haven’t completely impressed me yet, but Denver is a very beatable team.
SEAHAWKS (-4) Cowboys (54.5)
Jared’s Pick: Seahawks
Breakout Player: WR Tyler Lockett
With two of the highest scoring teams in the league going at it, we could see a shootout in Seattle. Seattle’s defense struggled last week against New England, but I still view them as one of the league’s best with Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner. Dallas, however, has some of the best weapons in the league. I have no doubt this game will be close.
QB Russell Wilson has been unstoppable these past two weeks with 610 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 1 interception. With Dallas’ secondary struggling, Wilson could have another huge week. One player to watch on Seattle is WR DK Metcalf. Metcalf has been looking like Wilson’s number one target because of his size and athletic ability. Dallas may have a hard time stopping Metcalf as 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, CB Stephon Gilmore, wasn’t able to stop him last week. One player I’d watch on Dallas is 2020 first-round WR CeeDee Lamb, who had his first 100+ yard game last week against Atlanta. QB Dak Prescott has so many options in the passing game, plus star RB Ezekiel Elliott. There’s no reason this offense should struggle too much, even going against a defense like Seattle.
Packers (+3.5) SAINTS (51.5)
Jared’s Pick: Packers
Breakout Player: RB Aaron Jones
With Packer star WR Davante Adams questionable with a hamstring injury, Qb Aaron Rodgers will definitely need WRs Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to step up if they want to stay undefeated. Luckily for Green Bay, RB Aaron Jones has been on fire. Last week Jones recorded 168 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 68 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown against Detroit. With star RBs Barkley and McCaffrey out, it wouldn’t at all be crazy to call jones a top 2 running back.
Last week, QB Drew Brees showed he clearly needs WR Michael Thomas in order to get the passing game going. With Thomas likely out again this week, Alvin Kamara is looking like Green Bay’s biggest threat. Not only is the Saints' offense struggling, but the Raiders lit up their defense. New Orleans certainly should not have given up 34 points to a Vegas offense when Raider RB Josh Jacobs struggled with a mid-game injury. The Saints are definitely one of more talented teams in the NFL, but after last week they don’t look so promising in a matchup gainst an even better team.
Jared Hackmyer is the founder of GOATNYG Instagram.