NFL Lines Week 2: Predicting Scores for Closest Projected Matchups
The 2013 NFL season is still in its infancy stages, which makes predicting winners of Week 2's tightest games against the spread all the more head-scratching.
Every team is still attempting to establish its respective identity, and the lack of game tape each coaching staff has on its impending opponents allows for plenty of surprises.
With regard to the contests that have lines of three points or less according to Bovada, only one home team out of five should come out on the losing end.
Below is a closer analysis of these games, with final score projections included.
Note: All point spreads are courtesy of Bovada.
Arizona Cardinals (+2) over Detroit Lions
What it all comes down to in this contest is whether or not the Cardinals' offensive line can hold up against Detroit's formidable defensive front.
Having the home crowd behind it should definitely help, but the unit did allow Rams defensive end Robert Quinn to record three sacks last week, which doesn't bode too well.
The good news is that Carson Palmer has Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts to throw to in Bruce Arians' vertical passing attack.
This is a must-win game for the Cardinals to keep up in the supremely competitive NFC West division. The Lions are an undisciplined team that suffered 11 penalties last week; barring a monster performance from Calvin Johnson being locked up by Patrick Peterson, Detroit will struggle to stay close.
Prediction: Cardinals 31, Lions 21
Indianapolis Colts (-3) over Miami Dolphins
A battle of two intriguing quarterbacks from the 2012 draft class features the Colts' No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck doing battle at home in Lucas Oil Stadium against Ryan Tannehill.
Credit the Dolphins' signal-caller for hanging tough in Cleveland, where he was pummeled for four sacks but remained composed and put up a respectable game, despite a phantom performance of one catch for 15 yards from Mike Wallace.
Luck, meanwhile, led his eighth comeback in 17 starts in a 21-17 victory over the Raiders, which was a historic achievement, per NFC Football Communications Director Randall Liu:
Even with slight upgrades to the offensive line, though, the face of the Indianapolis franchise was sacked four times despite just 23 pass attempts this past Sunday. The Dolphins seemingly couldn't be blocked by the Browns' respectable unit, which could pose problems.
However, the clutch ability Luck has already displayed and his mobility should be enough to bail out the Colts and move to 2-0.
Prediction: Colts 27, Dolphins 20
San Francisco 49ers (+3) over Seattle Seahawks
The last time these two teams met at CenturyLink Field, it wasn't pretty for the Niners. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was handed the worst loss of his fantastic tenure by a score of 42-13.
That was without invaluable veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith, though, and he will be a prominent factor against Seattle on Sunday night in prime time.
Apparently there's an eyebrow-shaving bet between Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick, though Wilson later told the Mahler show on 950 KJR-AM in Seattle, via Pro Football Talk's Curtis Crabtree, that the bet is "not real serious."
Both players should be able to put up respectable numbers despite how physical and formidable both these teams' defenses are. Neither team was able to establish the run very well in Week 1, so it will likely come down to which quarterback makes more plays.
Given that the Seahawks didn't lose at home in 2012 and the lopsided outcome of the last contest, San Francisco will do enough to cover the spread in this thrilling clash, but not quite enough to win outright.
Anquan Boldin had 208 yards receiving last week, but he will be marked by Richard Sherman, who is arguably the best corner in the league and one of the few capable of going toe-to-toe with the Niners' new No. 1 target.
That gives the Seahawks an advantage in the red zone, where the Niners converted just one out of four opportunities in the last meeting while Seattle converted all four opportunities.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, 49ers 23
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) over Dallas Cowboys
Which favorite is likelier to lose outright?
It is a bit alarming that the Cowboys needed six turnovers to win by only five points at home against the New York Giants, but it's hard to say how good the Chiefs are just yet.
Kansas City's inaugural outing under head coach Andy Reid was a softball opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were an offensive disaster in a 28-2 blowout.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith averaged only 5.1 yards per attempt, and running back Jamaal Charles suffered a bruised quad. The Cowboys figure to pose a bigger challenge, if only because their offense should force Kansas City to put up more points and press a little more.
It helps the Chiefs that the game will be contested at Arrowhead Stadium, which is a difficult environment to win in no matter what.
Since Reid has said Charlies will be OK to play, though, per the Associated Press via the Washington Post, his running prowess should give Dallas a bit too much to handle as the Chiefs push the spread with a three-point victory.
Prediction: Chiefs 20, Cowboys 17
Carolina Panthers (-3) over Buffalo Bills
The pressure is squarely on Newton to produce winning results after two previous seasons of missing the playoffs. Manuel was solid in his debut against the New England Patriots but will have to attack a bit more to be successful in this one.
Carolina ran the ball reasonably well with DeAngelo Williams against the Seahawks, and the Bills gave up 151 yards to the Pats in Week 1 on the ground.
If the Panthers can control the line of scrimmage that well again, this should result in a relatively easy win for Newton and Co.
The task will be more difficult in Ralph Wilson Stadium, but this is essentially a must-win game for Newton. He won't have a letdown, mostly because he can't afford to.
Prediction: Panthers 24, Bills 13
|Away Team||Home Team||Pick and Spread|
|New York Jets||New England Patriots||Jets (+13)|
|Miami Dolphins||Indianapolis Colts||Colts (-3)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Dallas Cowboys||Push (Kansas City -3)|
|St. Louis Rams||Atlanta Falcons||Rams (+7)|
|Minnesota Vikings||Chicago Bears||Bears (-6)|
|Carolina Panthers||Buffalo Bills||Panthers (-3)|
|Washington Redskins||Green Bay Packers||Redskins (+8)|
|Tennessee Titans||Houston Texans||Titans (+10)|
|San Diego Chargers||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles (-7.5)|
|Cleveland Browns||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens (-7)|
|New Orleans Saints||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Saints (-3.5)|
|Detroit Lions||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals (+2)|
|Denver Broncos||New York Giants||Broncos (-4.5)|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Oakland Raiders||Raiders (-6)|
|San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||49ers (+3)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cincinnati Bengals||Steelers (+7)|
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