Week 1 of the regular season went unlike most kickoff weekends, as 6 favorites—the Falcons, Browns, Chiefs, Broncos, Giants and Buccaneers—lost. Another three teams—the Chargers, Jaguars and Jets—failed to cover. As the season continues fans will get a better grasp of what teams are legitimate and what squads are poor.
It's time to buy the low stocks of teams that showed signs of being alright for the rest of the season even though suffering ugly losses. Selling stock for teams that performed well is also crucial in dominating the picks for week 2 of the regular season. The theme for this week's upset specials is road teams winning.
As noted before, six favorites went down in week 1. Expecting that number to go down slightly, here are five week 2 underdogs that will "steal" games from its opponents and how they'll do so.
The issue with Houston is the team tends to buy into its own hype way too often. Receiver Kevin Walter will not be able to help Andre Johnson as Walter is out with a collar bone injury. New England's passing offense has four receivers with different skill sets, constantly rotating in and out.
Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will be able to better handle the Texans' offense by familiarizing themselves with the same receivers they'll be covering all game. It's not as if Houston's secondary is completely fixed from the historically terrible 2010 campaign. As for the Texans running on the Dolphins, Tony Sparano has big, quality bodies in his front three that will not make Houston look like it did against the soft Indianapolis Colts.
Chad Henne will be better this game than against the Patriots because Reggie Bush won't have to run through Vince Wilford and Albert Haynesworth. Houston's front three will show that they haven't exactly mastered Wade Phillips' new defensive system.
Houston is favored by a field goal, but Miami will negate the three point spread because of a nice performance on the ground by Bush.
The Falcons were beat by the Bears week 1 on the road in Chicago, scoring just 12 points. The team will need to use him for explosive plays rather than short passes agaisnt the Eagles, even though Atlanta is going up against a good secondary.
While having good corners, Philadelphia doesn't have a true corner to cover slot receivers. Harry Douglas will be more involved than he was in Chicago while Michael Turner will be used early to set up big plays. The Eagles' defensive tackles and middle linebacker weak, while the Falcons' guards are as physical as any other combination in the NFL.
Despite losing and being lit up by Jay Cutler, the defense of Atlanta sacked him four times. Philadelphia's offensive line is comparable to Chicago's, which isn't a positive. Atlanta's cover guys aren't largely known but Dunta Robinson and company are underrated, something DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick know very little about.
Look for the pass rush to jump start the secondary into a couple of interceptions.
Philadelphia is favored by three, but Vick will go home empty handed.
Lightning is said to never strike twice in the same place unless that location is at a very high point and the Bengals are anywhere but near the top of the football spectrum. Picking Cincinnati over Cleveland should have been enough, but there's strong evidence for a Bengals win come Sunday afternoon.
Andy Dalton will be playing but he'll still be a rookie quarterback making his first road trip against the nice pass rush of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. Expect Cedric Benson, who just swapped his other orange suit for a Cincinnati uniform, to take advantage of a weak interior defensive line that is also without its best linebacker D.J. Williams.
The Bengals did lose left tackle Andrew Whitworth, but guard Bobbie Williams and is decent enough to get the ground game working. Denver's receiving threats do not go as deep as Cincinnati's, so if A.J. Green is completely neutralized by other Champ Bailey it won't be a death sentence for Dalton.
The Bengals' quarterback can still look for receiving targets like Jermaine Gresham who's coming off a six grab, one touchdown performance to open up his sophomore campaign. The Broncos will be passing a lot like usual and Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Crocker and company are underrated as a collective unit.
Oddly enough, the Bengals will get their second win before division play opens for them. The spread pick wouldn't hurt if the Bengals lose anyway because the team is getting six points. Denver fans will continue chants of, "We Want Tebow!", as Orton will start screaming, "I Want Help!"
One would think that the odds makers would favor the team with a better record by four games from a year ago if both organizations lost in week 1. But, the thinking must be that the Bucs are likely to lose on the road against the NFC North team if they just lost at home to one in the Detroit Lions. Donovan McNabb may have been a better quarterback than Josh Freeman two seasons ago, but that's not the case in 2011.
Tampa Bay's secondary was lit up by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but Minnesota has no such weapons of mass destruction. If McNabb looks like he did Sunday, the only way Percy Harvin will be able to score is on another kickoff return.
Adrian Peterson will get the Vikings going with good carries, but the Bucs actually stopped the Lions' ground attack. While Peterson will surely do much better than Jahvid Best, it won't be enough to carry the entire offense.
Tampa Bay's young defensive front is made for pass rushing on turf and McNabb will have another dreadful performance. LeGarrette Blount will be used much more in week 2 and it won't help that Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams is suspended for another game.
Blount hurdles his way to a 100 plus yard performance while Freeman keeps his mistakes to a minimum in a game that Minnesota is favored to win by four.
San Francisco enters this game favored by three against Tony Romo and his high powered, mistake prone offense. The 49ers allowed only 155 passing yards in week 1, but that was against Tarvaris Jackson. The only disturbing stat the Cowboys must be worried about is that the offensive line gave up four sacks to the New York Jets and the 49ers had five sacks against the Seahawks.
With that out of the way, Dallas will win this game comfortably. The Cowboys held the Jets ground and pound attack to 2.5 yards per carry while the 49ers only made 2.7 yards a pop week 1. Alex Smith may be good enough for the current names that reside in the Dallas secondary, but DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are still on the edge.
Michael Crabtree isn't up to full speed for San Francisco anyway so Braylon Edwards will be targeted plenty. As far as San Francisco's secondary is concerned, Dallas' receivers will be too much to handle for a unit that is expected to be poor again this season.
The game isn't in prime time, so Tony Romo shouldn't choke away this game like last week.