Green Bay, Miami, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville are all facing difficult challenges at home this week as they try to stave off 0-2 starts, and not only that, each are facing opponents who may be able to key in on their weaknesses.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-4.5, 51)
The Bears’ run defense vs. the Packers’ awful ground game
Several teams – San Diego, Arizona, Tennessee and New Orleans among them – struggled to move the ball on the ground in Week 1, but the Packers are taking little solace in that as they try to rebound after losing at home to San Francisco. Aaron Rodgers scrambled his way to 27 yards rushing in leading the team, and besides him only Cedric Benson (18 on 9 carries) had positive yardage. Yes, it’s a passing league, but when the Pack got down against the Niners they didn’t even try to run it. Now they say hello to the Bears, who gave up only 63 rushing yards in beating the Colts in Indianapolis.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (Raiders +1, 38.5)
The Dolphins vs. History
It’s way too early to talk about 0-16. But we will anyway. The Fins have no playmakers on offense, only a few on defense and a rookie quarterback whose name is not Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. There are rumblings that they could be as bad as the 2008 Lions. The line may seem small as everyone may be reacting to Oakland’s loss to San Diego.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5, 41.5)
Pittsburgh’s defense and sense of urgency vs. Mark Sanchez
The Steelers gave up too many big plays against the Broncos in Week 1, which completely negated their edge in time of possession. That won’t happen twice in a row. The Steelers might be getting LB James Harrison back (he was a game-time decision in Denver). The 0-1 Steelers will play with focus, especially at home, and should show that Sanchez’ solid game against the Bills was made up of empty calories.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7, 41.5)
The Texans’ desire to run the ball vs. the Jags’ mediocre defense
They’re talking Super Bowl in Houston, and why not? The AFC South is ripe for the picking and the Texans have the most talent. One thing: They won by 20 on opening day and are still ticked that they couldn’t run the ball. So they’ll work on that in practice, and it’s doubtful that Arian Foster and Ben Tate will be contained by the Jaguars’ lackluster defensive unit.