The NFL is already in midseason form. The Thursday night game usually features some tired players and borderline-unwatchable football. And while the Week 2 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs did have some ho-hum moments, the last few minutes were about as exciting as the end of a football game can get.
Peyton Manning helped his team tie the game late with a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Most fans likely expected head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs to kneel on it and take the game to overtime. Instead, Alex Smith handed off to Jamaal Charles, Charles fumbled and Bradley Roby returned it for a touchdown.
If every Thursday game is as exciting as this one was, we are in for a treat this season. The rest of Week 2 has some more exciting matchups in store, so let’s take a look at some odds projections as well as some players who could pop for your fantasy team this week.
We have to start with the first line listed. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are heading to Orchard Park to face the Buffalo Bills, who put the league on notice with their Week 1 destruction of the Indianapolis Colts.
This is shaping up to be one of the biggest home games for Buffalo in recent memory. It’s only Week 2, but the Bills are riding high after their Week 1 win. Knocking off the Patriots in Week 2 would put them well on their way to ending their 15-year playoff drought.
The football world is paying attention, too. According to Mark Belcher of News 4 in Buffalo, SportsCenter will broadcast live Sunday morning from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Bills fans are also ready, as Matt Warren of Buffalo Rumblings pointed out that Guinness World Records will be on hand to see if fans can break the record for the loudest stadium crowd.
Now, we move on to the line. As of this writing, the game is a pick ’em. Bettors are hammering the Patriots, though, as Odds Shark shows 62 percent of the bets are coming in for the road team. It’s hard to expect the unflappable Tom Brady to be unnerved by the crowd noise, so it’s easy to see why many are taking New England.
But if head coach Rex Ryan‘s defense can attack Brady like it did against Andrew Luck last week, the Bills can hang with the world champs. The biggest key will be quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who needs to continue to take care of the ball and get it to his playmakers on offense. If the Bills feed off the raucous crowd and play the way they played in Week 1, they can shock the world.
The other noteworthy line is giving the San Francisco 49ers seven points against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Even though many expected the 49ers to take a step back this season after losing several key players, they looked dominant in their Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Carlos Hyde, in particular, looked strong and could be in for another big day against a Steelers defense that didn’t look up to the task in Week 1 against the Patriots. The Steelers may win, but expect it to be closer than a seven-point game.
Fantasy Players In for a Big Day
We can start with the aforementioned Hyde. It was just one week, but he looked unstoppable against the Vikings, racking up 168 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
Dion Lewis of the Patriots gained 4.6 yards per carry against the Steelers in Week 1, and that was while playing for a team that was committed to passing. The 49ers, so far, are a run-first team, so expect another heavy workload for Hyde.
Another running back to watch is Bishop Sankey of the Tennessee Titans. He’s more of a flex option, considering he got only 14 total touches in Week 1, but he got the most out of them. He gained 74 yards on 12 rushes and 12 yards on two catches, scoring two total touchdowns.
Against a Browns defense that gave up 154 yards and two touchdowns to New York Jets running backs, Sankey could be in for another productive day. He could be a good, cheap option to round out a daily fantasy team that you stack with studs elsewhere.
And one receiver to keep an eye on is Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens. Smith’s Ravens are in Oakland to face the Raiders, who are banged up on defense, as Bill Williamson of ESPN.com pointed out. Charles Woodson, the best defensive back for the Raiders, dislocated his shoulder in Week 1 and is 38 years old.
Even if Woodson plays, Smith could have a big day as the Ravens offense looks to bounce back from a poor showing against the Broncos.
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