NFL 2019 Week 2 Predictions

The NFL kick off week brought the excitement of a Saints versus Texans Monday Night Football classic and the unexpected dullness of a Pittsburgh Steelers' shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots.


Even off the field issues like the Antonio Brown saga came to a head with his release via the Oakland Raiders, which led to his ironic signing by the Patriots. Brown also now faces three accounts of sexual misconduct including one rape allegation. While the circus surrounding Brown is ever-changing, do not let clowns and funhouse antics distract you from the inaugural BushLeagueSports Player of the Week.


NFL Week One Players of the Week:

Offensive -

Ravens' quarterback Lamar Jackson outplayed his "running quarterback" stereotype with a dominating performance against the Miami Dolphins. In just three-quarters of play, Jackson totaled an 85% completion rate with 324 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 59-10.


Defensive -

Cory Littleton came on to the scene in 2018 after two years of minimal play by starting every game last season with the Rams. Starting all 16 games, Littleton totaled 125 tackles, four sacks, and three interceptions. He brought the same aggressive play last week against the Panthers where totaling 14 tackles and forcing two turnovers.


This week, while clunkers still exist within the schedule like tonight's Buccaneers versus Panthers matchup, a rematch of the last season's NFC Championship highlights week two.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-0) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-0)

The Rams & Saints comes in as the number two and eighth offenses from the 2018 season (via Sharp Football Analysis)

The rivalry that began last season as NFC powerhouses the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams met twice. In the first regular-season meeting, the Rams traveled to New Orleans where the Saints pulled out the late game 45-35 victory.


Their second meeting was far more controversial. With just minutes left, it looked as if the Saints were once again going to trounce Los Angeles, but the aforementioned pass interference no-call changed history as we know it. The no-call allowed the Rams to hold the Saints to a field goal, giving Los Angeles enough time to tie the game and send it into overtime. Los Angeles would go onto score another field goal and stop the Saints from scoring, enacting their revenge all the while sending them to the Super Bowl.


The missed pass interference call lived with New Orleans after the game and months after the game even bleeding into Monday night's game against the Texans.


With boos coming from the fans, the referees almost cost New Orleans a second straight game. Following a Deshaun Watson 42-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Still to pull Houston within one, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn ever so smartly flopped and received a roughing the kicker penalty as a reward.


This penalty once again did not go in the Saints favor, but Drew Brees and the offense were able to march down the field and secure a victory via a game-winning field goal by Wil Lutz.


Now traveling to Los Angeles to face the Rams, the Saints have a score to settle.


The Rams, following a week one victory of the Carolina Panthers where the defense racked up three turnovers, play their first home game of the season. Home games for the Rams came easy as the team went 7-1 (week 11 vs. Chiefs was originally located in Mexico City), where they averaged 38 points a game.


Compare that to the Saints 28 points averaged on the road last season, and we could be in for a not-so-classic of a game, but with the rivalry in mind, stats can be somewhat thrown to the side.

To protest Super Bowl 53, Saints fans posted billboard all across Atlanta (Los Angeles Times)

New Orleans faces a must-win against the Rams. It's a personal battle from coach Sean Payton to the roster and the entire city of New Orleans. The Saints have to prove to fans the game was a fluke, that they should have been in the Super Bowl despite being outplayed in every single statistical category in the NFC Championship game.


For the Rams, they could care less. In fact, it's not their problem as stated by Los Angeles' cornerback Aqib Talib made clear in an interview with ESPN, "That's a New Orleans Problem."

This Sunday's game is just a week two matchup for the Rams, but for New Orleans, pride is on the line and their resiliency can lead to victory.


New Orleans, led by Brees, know it's not over till it's over and will fight till the final second. Even for Brees, who threw for 370 yards with two touchdowns last week, and the versatile Saints offense that can score any way via Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, or even swiss army knife Tayson Hill, Sunday does not lean in their favor.


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According to USA Today, the Rams are a 2.5 points favorite over the Saints with a copious amount of reasons backing the math.


The Rams are 2-1 against the Saints in their last three meetings despite New Orleans having the point advantage 88-87 in those games. Los Angeles also is 5-1 against NFC opponents in the six games with the Saints 0-4 against the spread versus opponents with a winning record.


With that said, the Saints have not won a game decidedly since week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. The average point differential since week 14 sits at 4.5 in team wins with the team averaging just 22 points over their last six games.


There is hope for New Orleans and that comes in the form of Todd Gurley. Gurley, a former MVP-finalist, has seen an up and down workload. Practically non-existent in the last meeting against the Saints, Gurley only saw the ball four times for a total of 10 yards. The following week against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Gurley saw the ball 10 times for just 35 yards.

Stopping Todd Gurley is the Saints priority for victory on Sunday (via Sports Illustrated)

Following offseason knee surgery, Gurley is expected to be at full health but last week against the Panthers Gurley saw the ball just 14 times, but it was what Gurley did with those 14 touches that matter. Totaling 97 yards, (44 more yards than second-string rookie Malcolm Brown) Gurley looked explosive but protected meaning the Saints road to victory is stopping Gurley and taking away the running game.


The Saints ranked as the number two rushing defense last season despite giving up 180 yards on the ground last week.


Verdict:


The Saints have a realistic chance of knocking off the Rams at home, especially if they can stop Todd Gurley. New Orleans also has the firepower on offense to hang with Los Angeles' trio of Goff, Gurley, and Cooks.


Coming into Sunday, the offenses are expected to be explosiveness, and the ball is going to fly around the field with Brees and Goff slinging it. Goff plays far better earlier in the season, meaning the Saints will see the 'prime time' Jared Goff on Sunday in Los Angeles.


If comparing each roster, the Saints may take the edge, but the Rams have the historical advantage along with a current streak that does not see them playing sub-par football like the Saints.


Expect Goff to control the offense while Gurley has an impact just enough to beat the Saints for the second consecutive time.


The heartache lives on in the heads of Saints fans following Sunday as they cannot avenge last season's playoff loss.


Final Result: Rams 30, Saints 26


Week 2 Predictions:


Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers: Panthers 27, Bucs 20 (Thursday) -

Arizona Cardinals vs. Baltimore Ravens: Ravens 29, Cardinals 16


Los Angeles Chargers vs. Detroit Lions: Chargers 27, Lions 23


Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans: Titans 24, Colts 23


San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 49ers 27, Bengals 23


Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans: Texans 30, Jaguars 17


Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers: Packers 23, Vikings 20


Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins: Cowboys 36, Redskins 17


Seattle Seahawks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers 27, Seahawks 26


Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants: Bills 26, Giants 17


New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins: Patriots 33, Dolphins 16


Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders: Chiefs 36, Raiders 24


Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos: Bears 23, Broncos 20


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons: Eagles 27, Falcons 23 (Sunday Night)


Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets: Browns 29, Jets 16

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