NFL Picks Week 2: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Predictions
Welcome back to another edition of NFL picks with "The Oracle."
I should get business cards printed out. After all, I did go 11-5 last week—and three of those losses were one-point games—armed with nothing but preseason tape and a knowledge of how all 32 teams work. Pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself.
I won't deviate from my formula in Week 2. I sit in a quiet side office, pop on some film and write down anything I see that could give one team an edge. Is their offense simple to defend? Do their linebackers keep contain or play hero ball? Is their coach willing to scrap his game plan at halftime?
You won't find that in-depth stuff anyplace else. That's an "Oracle" guarantee.
Jets at Bills
If the Bills thought Baltimore's defense was for real, they're in for a shock against the Jets on Thursday Night Football.
Their AFC East rivals boast the NFL's deepest collection of pass-rushing beasts. Leonard Williams reintroduced himself with a 2.5-sack opener. We know Muhammad Wilkerson is always 2.5 seconds away from landing on top of your quarterback. And, oh, yeah...Sheldon Richardson returns for this one.
Tyrod Taylor might not have a pocket to scramble out of. With Cordy Glenn hurt, his two starting tackles might be Cyrus Kouandjio and Jordan Mills. Neither one inspires much confidence.
The pick: Jets
Saints at Giants
These two teams basically played a game of Madden at the Superdome last year.
Only one team has fundamentally changed since then. The Giants can actually rush the ball and the opposing quarterback, and for those two reasons, I'm going with them.
Big Blue's defense is armed with a few physically gifted guys who crashed Dallas'—yes, Dallas'—offensive line. I haven't seen a team on film play them to a draw. That's how good Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and the rest of that room can be.
New Orleans' run defense could use Sheldon Rankins back. With him on the sideline in a cast, they're still prone to game-changing runs (see: the 75-yard touchdown from Oakland's Jalen Richard in the fourth quarter). New York will pull a guard here, run zone there and establish the edge physically.
Dolphins at Patriots
What a brutal start to the Adam Gase era in South Beach.
First, a cross-country flight to Seattle. After a crushing two-point loss, it's back to Miami. Next, a flight up the coast to face a team that has historically dominated the Dolphins this decade.
Miami is in for a struggle. New England's defense doesn't have superstar names, but it's every bit as good as Seattle's. Jabaal Sheard, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower will line up wherever Bill Belichick thinks Miami can be beat. That right side of the Fins offensive line looks like a good place to start.
Cowboys at Redskins
This game will mirror what two wounded boxers do to each other after the bell. They'll find the spot that hurts. And they'll throw more punches at it to make it hurt even worse.
Dallas will cram the ball between the tackles after a lackluster Week 1. Ezekiel Elliott is in line for 25-plus touches, and Washington won't do anything about it. If it could, DeAngelo Williams might've been held in check a little better on a national stage.
Then the Redskins will throw a counterpunch. From what I see on film, they'll spread the Cowboys out with three- or four-wide sets and look for the best mismatch. There'll be plenty of them if defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli uses single-high safety looks as much as he normally does.
Last team standing gets to limp home a winner. I expect Zeke to be the difference in this one.
49ers at Panthers
Double- and triple-check that chinstrap.
We're in for a physically bruising game at Bank of America Stadium. I have to take the team that got its NFC championship belt by beating others up.
The Panthers can crack (or, if you will, quack) this "Mighty Ducks" defense. They'll maneuver around giant ends DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead the usual way—with misdirection and brute force. Then, when San Francisco's safeties creep up, it's Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen over the top.
The Panthers create their own big plays just like that. I'm not sold that Blaine Gabbert can lead his offense to do the same.
The pick: Panthers
Titans at Lions
We're about to learn a lot about Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff.
They'll have seven days to completely switch gears opponent-wise. These Titans are the polar opposite of Detroit's Week 1 foe, the Colts, and the switch won't be easy.
It's one they'll be able to handle on Sunday, though. They have enough big people defensively—Haloti Ngata, Ezekiel Ansah and tape standout Kerry Hyder—to get in the way of a Pound-and-Pound offense. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry should find yards tough to come by again.
Matthew Stafford can take it from there. Especially against a secondary with some real red flags.
The pick: Lions
Ravens at Browns
The Browns are turning to another quarterback.
The Ravens defense is physically dominant.
Both sound familiar? They should. You can copy and paste those two storylines dating back to when the Browns left town for Baltimore.
A familiar game should have a familiar outcome. Josh McCown has a live arm, but his receivers can't break free. I also don't see what the big deal is about running back Duke Johnson. He's only OK.
It'll take more than that to best the resurgent Ravens. On defense, they'll plug holes with two monstrous defensive tackles. I love their deep-ball-oriented offense, but Joe Flacco will hand it off, too. Ronnie Stanley and that O-line looked ready and willing to run-block against the Bills.
The pick: Ravens
Chiefs at Texans
Revenge is a dish best served in the Texas heat.
The Texans haven't forgotten the two recent defeats they suffered at the hands of Andy Reid's team. One of those losses bounced them from the playoffs, and the other was just embarrassing. Houston head coach Bill O'Brien isn't the type to be whooped a third time.
His defense should prove a tougher test than the one KC topped in San Diego. Those Chargers couldn't stop the pass; these Texans hope you attempt one. They'll get home a few times with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, John Simon and my man crush, Whitney Mercilus. Captain Checkdown Alex Smith will be back in action.
The pick: Texans
Bengals at Steelers
Better bring a bucket for all of the bad blood this weekend.
The only thing that's missing? Vontaze Burfict, of all people.
Everything else suggests we're in for a vintage AFC North showdown. Despite different outcomes, both defenses looked good in their respective Week 1 outings. Both quarterbacks showed a willingness to air out the deep ball and trust their game-changing receivers.
I give the slightest edge to Pittsburgh on the offensive line. This isn't a new showdown for Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and others. The film offers an attack plan…right through Geno Atkins. I think offensive coordinator Todd Haley is bold enough to call a few plays and test Cincinnati's trench monster.
The pick: Steelers
Buccaneers at Cardinals
Everyone's preseason Super Bowl darlings are on the edge of an 0-2 start.
I like Tampa Bay. I love Jameis Winston. But give me a crazed Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and his still-talented team backed up against a wall.
Desperate times call for desperate measures in the desert. Arians might ask defensive coordinator James Bettcher for a few wacky pressures to test whether the Bucs line is really better. Think: Honey Badger coming off the slot and making a play.
Speaking of offensive lines—I've trashed the Cardinals' one this week, according to some of you. Let me be clear: New England's defense is so, so good. But Carson Palmer stood in a clean pocket late last Sunday night and could've pulled a win off. I think he gets it done this week.
Seahawks at Rams
Football in Los Angeles is back and lower than ever.
Up next for that miserable offense? Just a showdown with the Legion of Boom.
But let's not jump to any conclusions. These games are usually played close, and the Rams are rightfully pissed off about an embarrassing national-TV performance. They know it can't go down like that in front of their new (old) home fans.
The Seahawks offense won't like what Aaron Donald does in Week 2. But how could I possibly pick the Rams?
The pick: Seahawks
Falcons at Raiders
I've taken some heat on social media for my stance on Seattle-style defenses.
Here are two of the more notable ones. Falcons-Raiders makes for an interesting matchup, but can either side make any stops?
Maybe one can. The Silver and Black were Drew Brees'd last week; many teams have been there. In my mind, they're just too talented to let up another dud in pass defense. I think Khalil Mack gets loose, too.
Atlanta will sit back in that Cover 3 and prevent Amari Cooper from going long. The thing is, the Raiders can still find Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford or my personal favorite, DeAndre Washington, out of the backfield. This might be the week he becomes a not-so-secret weapon.
The pick: Raiders
Jaguars at Chargers
It's off to the West Coast for Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley and Co.
The goal? Avoid an 0-2 start that'll reignite some "same old Jaguars" hot takes.
These aren't your older brother's Jags. I just think a cross-country trip and a showdown with Philip Rivers won't end the way this lady thinks it will.
San Diego has the corners to deal with a bevy of Jaguars weapons. More importantly, when the Chargers get backed up in the red zone, they match up well against fades and back-shoulder throws. Blake Bortles loves 'em.
Philip Rivers knows where to go with the football against this defense. He sees it twice a year in Oakland. I like his team's odds, even without Keenan Allen.
The pick: Chargers
Colts at Broncos
Remember how good the Colts receivers looked once Andrew Luck found his mojo?
That groove won't come as easily this week. Not against the best secondary the NFL has to offer.
Luck's offensive line is a soft spot on this team, and Von Miller is coming. He won't have much time to review any deep options. Running the ball isn't something the Colts like to do.
The Broncos, on the other hand, love their ground game. They'll use it early and often against an average defense that set the bar even lower in Week 1. Trevor Siemian might not need to eclipse 25 passing attempts.
The pick: Denver
Packers at Vikings
Let's talk about Green Bay's defense, which is woefully overlooked. I can't figure out why after holding Chuckin' Blake Bortles to 23 points and causing a turnover and a few sloppy throws.
The Packers' young secondary, led by Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, is good. Like, very good. Like, they-can-give-Green-Bay-its-best-defense-since-they-won-it-all-in-2010 good.
So they'll stick to that championship-winning formula: Rodgers gets a lead and the defensive backfield protects it. Shaun Hill won't get pulled, but he also won't make a "wow" throw against these ball hawks. You warmed up for Week 3, Sam Bradford?
The pick: Packers
Eagles at Bears
In more than one way, the lights are clicking on for Carson Wentz.
It's Monday night. Everyone back in Fargo, North Dakota, will be watching. And all he has to do is repeat the dazzling debut performance he put on in Week 1.
I'd rather be Wentz facing the Bears than his counterpart, Jay Cutler, facing the Eagles. That front four is as good of a group as Cutler will see this season. Warm up, Josh Sitton.
Want one last nugget to back my pick up? Of course you do. Jim Schwartz, now the Eagles defensive coordinator, has some insider knowledge about Chicago play-caller Dowell Loggains. They both were on Jeff Fisher's Titans staff when I played in Tennessee.