Football, like life, is often unpredictable. That’s where I come in. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Luke Milik, but you can call me ‘The Prophet’. Like Nostradamus before me, I have a gift of future sight; however my ‘gift’ specifically gives me the clairvoyance to predict the outcome of NFL games, something I do with chilling accuracy. So whether you are looking to win that bet against your annoying co-worker, choosing between teams for an eliminator challenge, or you just simply want to know who will walk away with the victory before a ball is ever snapped, you have come to the right place. So without further ado, welcome to the first edition of “The Prophet’s Picks”. Let’s get started.
Steelers @ Rams:
It’s a matchup between two 1-1 teams as Big Ben heads to St Louis. It looks like everybody got a little too excited about the Rams, who followed up their impressive week 1 victory with a disgusting performance against the ‘Skins last week. Meanwhile the Steelers have shown that they can destroy defenses even without explosive playmakers Le’Veon Bell and Martavius Bryant. DeAngelo Williams had 3 TDs! What?! If he can do it, I doubt the Rams will be able to stop Le’Veon from doing something similar upon his return from his 2-game suspension.
The Rams’ running game should be a different story. Pittsburgh Linebacker Ryan Shazier is turning into an elite rush stopper this season and he and the Steel Curtain should be all over a so far disappointing tandem in Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason. St. Louis’ run game should be improved this weekend as highly touted first round draft pick running back Todd Gurley should make his NFL debut, but I don’t expect much from him in this game as I’m sure he will be eased into game action after recovering from a torn ACL.
And let’s not overlook Rams’ QB Nick Foles just because Chip Kelley did. The kid still has some potential and some young receivers to build a strong passing game with. Foles might have his way with a pretty weak Pittsburgh secondary, but the Prophet says the Steelers will still get the win, 38-33.
Chargers @ Vikings:
The Vikings win against the Lions last week is a perfect example of how unpredictable this league really is. Even I, the Prophet, didn’t seem that one coming after the hideous start Minnesota had on Monday Night in San Francisco in Week 1. Their unexpected win had a lot to do with them deciding to feed the beast, as Adrian Peterson officially reminded everyone that he is back. I expect the same from him this week against the Chargers, but AP won’t be the only running game to have success in this match up.
I love the combo of rookie RB Melvin Gordon and perennial ‘underdog’ Danny Woodhead for San Diego. Phillip Rivers looked ok last week against a tough Bengals defense, but things won’t be too much easier in Minnesota. The crystal ball shows a close game here, but in the end Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater will not have the fire power to outscore the San Diego offense. The prophet says the Bolts get the road win, 31-28.
Buccaneers @ Texans:
The Jameis Winston Express is starting to get fans excited in Tampa Bay after a big win against divisional rival New Orleans last week. But can he really do it against the NFL’s best pass rush this week? Don’t make me laugh. I like Jameis down the road, but JJ Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, and Vince Wilfork are way too scary, and too strong, to let a rookie quarterback get comfortable in the pocket. Good news for Winston is that if he just closes his eyes and throws the ball down the field, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will most likely have a chance to haul it in, as they are both freakishly large wide receivers.
Now lets talk Texans offense. Quarterback Ryan Mallet took the starting job from Brian Hoyer last week and left some to be desired. I wasn’t sure why a consistent loser like Hoyer got the nod over a young passer with some serious arm strength in the first place, but then I saw Mallet go 0-14 when under pressure last week. Now I get it! Good news for the Texans is that they might not need a passing game this week as the Buccaneers look to be one of the league weaker rush defenses. Look for the Texans to have some fun running the ball this week, however star RB Arian Foster will sit out one more week before his return to the field for Houston.
With Foster on the sidelines for one more week, The Prophet says the Buccaneers will get it done on the road in a defensive battle, 17-13.
Eagles @ Jets:
Oh boy, this is a fun one. I cannot wait to watch “Mr. Risk-taker”, Chip Kelly, head to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets’ defense. I don’t want to be too harsh on the Sam Bradford and the Eagles offense as they are going through a huge transition, and I really do think that they will turn into an elite NFL offense if Bradford can stay healthy, but transitions take time. Unfortunately for Chip Kelly time is something he is suddenly finding less of as Eagles fans are punching holes in their walls after two weeks. Lets hope they don’t realistically expect things to change against what I think is the best defense in the league, for Chip’s sake.
How about those Jets? What a huge win over Andrew Luck and the Colts on Monday Night. This defense is scaring every quarterback in the NFL, and yes that includes Tom Brady, but this team hasn’t been all about the defense like previous years under Rex Ryan. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Chris Ivory, and Ryan Fitzpatrick have all had beautiful starts to their 2015 campaign. Marshall specifically is proving that he needs to be put back into the conversation when ranking the NFL’s top wide-outs. The man is simply a beast. Look for him and Fitzpatrick to have some fun with a sketchy Philadelphia secondary. The Prophet says the Jets will win their third game in a row, 30-20.
Saints @ Panthers:
Things are not looking too good in New Orleans. Drew Brees is hurt and they just lost to last year’s worst team in the league at home. A lot of people were excited about the idea of Mark Ingram splitting carries with CJ Spiller, but it ain’t looking very sexy so far. Unfortunately for Saints fans, I don’t expect them to do any better against Luke Kuechley and a tough Panthers defense. With Drew Brees out, the Saints offense is going to have a lot of trouble hitting double digit first downs. That should not be the case with Carolina. I’m not sure if there is an uglier offense on paper than the Panthers, but don’t tell Cam Newton that. No Kelvin Benjamin. No DeAngelo Williams. No problem. Cam was very comfortable last week, even with a terrifying defensive line starring him down. No way can the Saints do what the Texans couldn’t. Expect another big game from Newton this week. The Prophet says the Panthers win, 34-17.
Jaguars @ Patriots:
The Jacksonville Jaguars finally showed some life last week after beating the Dolphins in a game that went down to the wire. They really look to have some depth on the offensive side of the ball. Blake Bortles has a nice group of talented young receivers to work with, while TJ Yeldon spear-heads a group of running backs who all have starting experience. Bill Belicheck better not under estimate this offense’s potential, especially after what they did against an impressive Miami defense.
On the other side of the ball, we all know Paul Posluszny and the Jag’s defense will have their hands full with the best quarterback in NFL history. Yes, that’s fact. I have spoken. This team just keeps getting the job done, year after year. Seriously…. how the hell is Dion Lewis this good? New England always makes the playoffs because they don’t lose the games they are supposed to win and this is one of them. The Prophet says the Patriots win at home, 42-28.
Bengals @ Ravens:
You just gotta love these AFC North match-ups. Well, unless the Browns are involved. This is definitely one of the games you have to watch this Sunday as these games always seem to come down to the final drive. The Bengals are off to another impressive start to their 2105 season after taking care of the Chargers last week. Dalton has been playing mistake-free football, which honestly shouldn’t be too hard when you are surrounded by elite playmakers like AJ Green, Jeremy Hill, and Giovani Bernard, but the Baltimore defense should be his first real test. Even without Terrell Suggs, that Ravens defensive line is still above average. I know they didn’t show it last week in Oakland, as the Raiders pulled off a big upset at home, but they are on the rise. When you look at the Ravens last season, every time they had a bad loss, they followed it up with a win the following week. The Bengals defense is very strong, but my crystal ball shows another big week from Joe Flacco, Steve Smith Sr., and Kamar Aiken. The Prophet says the Ravens get the win, 33-31.
Raiders @ Browns:
A game that I never would have tuned into last season, this match up now seems like it could be somewhat relevant in 2015. The Browns will start Josh McCown on Sunday over future star Johnny Manziel (yea, I said it) as Oakland counters with second year starter Derek Carr. Carr looked great in Week 2 victories as he out gunned Joe Flacco at home, pulling out a surprising upset boding well for the Silver and Black’s future.
On the other sideline, expect to see a couple more big plays by Travis Benjamin this week in Cleveland. I don’t know why super back-up Josh McCown is starting over Johnny Football, especially as Manziel can definitely hit his boys down field in stride, but the Raiders don’t have the best secondary, especially after losing their leader Charles Woodson, so I still expect Cleveland to move the ball in the air. If only Cleveland’s running game could get going, and I believe it will be a little better this week as the Raiders’ had the worst rush defense in the league last year. Karlos Dansby, Joe Haden, and the Cleveland defense will make this a tough outing for Carr and his young receivers, especially at the “Dog-Pound.” Browns at home, 28-23.
Colts @ Titans:
After losing to two teams from AFC East the Colts find themselves 0-2 for the second year in a row. Now it is time for them to head back to their own crappy division to try to turn things around as they head to Nashville to take on the Titans. If you remember last year, they started the season 0-3, only to finish 12-4 so it is not time for Colts fans to panic just yet. The Titans defense has been ok so far in 2015. They’ve created some turnovers, but they have gone up against the Browns and Buccaneers so far so read into it as you will. Andrew Luck will surely be a change a pace. Look for the Colts to start this game on the ground, as they desperately need to get their running game going so Luck can start to incorporate some play-action passes to his deep threat targets, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Frank Gore has looked a little old, which is why the 49ers axed him after last season. The Titans should be able to make this competitive at home. Their rookie quarterback, Marcus Mariotta has been working well with Kendall Wright and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. But the crystal ball shows Vontae Davis shutting down Wright when it counts. The Prophet says the Colts will finally get their first win, 28-20.
Falcons @ Cowboys:
Matt Ryan and the Falcons have pulled off two wins as underdogs to get to 2-0. Julio Jones has been making circus catches, and there is no reason why that shouldn’t continue against a troubled Cowboys secondary. But Ryan can’t only throw to Julio. Roddy White had zero receptions last week against the Giants. He has to be able to link up with Ryan this year for this team to have any real shot at the playoffs so look to see Ryan trying to get White more involved in the offense.
While their secondary is below average, the Cowboys run defense is much more impressive. They were able to hold ex-teammate DeMarco Murray to 12 total rushing yards last week against Philly. The Falcons’ RB Devonta Freeman will have trouble getting past the Dallas linebackers.
The Cowboys will be without their two golden boys, as Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are both out. Do we really expect Brandon Weeden or the newly acquired Matt Cassel to be able to lead this team to victory? Somehow they did it against Philly, and they were able to do it with Weeden at the helm for a couple games last year. They still have a chance, right? Wrong! That lucky trend ends on Sunday. Weeden and Cassell are absolute garbage. The Prophet says the Falcons take down the Big D in Jerry’s World, 24-14.
49ers @ Cardinals:
Seems like reality finally set in for the 49ers last week as they got absolutely spanked by Pittsburgh. What happened to this franchise in the last year is one of the saddest things I have seen happen to an NFL team. I was amazed their defense held the Vikings to 3 points in Week 1, after all of their off-season departures. They do have some hope in the offense as Torrey Smith and Anquan Bolden are both excellent, under-rated wide outs, but they will have to deal with two beasts in the Arizona secondary this week in Tyron Mathieu and Patrick Peterson. Look to see Colin Kapaernick trying to pick up third and long conversions with his feet rather than his arm with those two on the prowl.
The Arizona defense shouldn’t have too much trouble holding this offense to minimal points. As for the Cardinal’s offense, they will most likely be without stud RB Andre Ellington yet again. They will try to keep Larry Fitzgerald going this week after last week’s unbelievable three TD performance. Larry really looked like his old-self but there is no way he can keep that up. Carson will end up using John Brown and Malcom Floyd towards the end of the game, which he will not regret. Cardinals take down the Niners at home, 23-10.
Bears @ Seahawks:
Ah….let’s think here. A Jay Cutler-less Bears squad against Seattle and their 12th man as they desperately crave their first win. Sorry Chicago fans, but this one is a no brainer for even those without prophet-like powers. With Cam Chancellor expected to return this weekend, the Bears will not have enough weapons to deal with this lethal defense at home. I expect to see Jimmy Clausen to be sacked about 8 times as he runs scared for 60 minutes. That Chicago offensive line is one of the worst in the league every single year. I just don’t get it. You would think after watching your star quarterback get sacked and injured countless times, that they would dedicate a couple off-seasons to bringing in somebody! Their defense ain’t bad though, which will cause some problems for Russell Wilson, who is still yet to figure out who his new favorite receiver is. Might be time to line up Jimmy Graham out wide, and let Luke Wilson handle the blocking. In the end Matt Forte’s one rushing TD will be the only score for the Bears all day. The prophet says the Seahawks will destroy them, 30-7.
Bills @ Dolphins:
Two teams who experienced tough losses in Week 2 look to rebound this week as Buffalo and Miami square off. It always seems like you can never predict what will happen in these AFC East match ups. Miami is coming off a terrible loss to Jacksonville. If Ryan Tannehill had trouble against the Jags, he is in for a real shock with Rex Ryan coming to town. He has to be able to hit his receivers for big gains if he wants to succeed in this league. I expect the Dolphins to continue to try for the short gains and conversions with Jarvis Landry and the run game.
The QB on the other side is also in for a rude awakening as he has to deal with Ndhamakun Suh and a solid Dolphins defense. Tyrod Taylor continued to impress in Week 2, but he threw too many picks and was not consistent enough. The crystal ball shows Dolphins CB Brent Grimes making some plays in the secondary as Tyrod tries to hit his speedy receivers, Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin, down field. This ultimately will end up costing him big, as I foresee Tannehill making more plays in the 4th quarter as he leads the Fins to victory at home over a frustrated Rex Ryan, 20-17.
Broncos @ Lions (SNF):
I couldn’t have been more disappointed in the Detroit Lions last week, as they took a terrible loss to a Vikings team that had been embarrassed themselves, the week before. They have all the weapons to be one of the NFL’s best offenses, yet they continue to underperform. Matthew Stafford knows that he will have to score some points to compete with Peyton Manning on Sunday Night. Expect to see Golden Tate and Megatron receiving a serious amount of targets, as well as Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah on some tricky screens and passes out of the backfield.
As for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, they have had a nice 10 day break after playing Thursday Night last week. That is exactly what they need after getting a little lucky in Arrowhead. I see this Broncos offense unleashing an onslaught on the very average Detroit defense. CJ Anderson will finally start to get rolling. He has been pretty ineffective through the first two weeks, but the Broncos need to get him going in order to preserve Peyton for long run. The Prophet says Peyton will also have a big night as the Broncos put Lions’ fans to bed early, 42-24.
Chiefs @ Packers (MNF):
The Monday Might match-up is a good one this week as the Chiefs head north to Lambeau. Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense came very close to pulling out a big win at home against the Broncos last Thursday, but their hopes were crushed by a late Jamaal Charles fumble. Charles has not had a standout game yet, which is why he will be picking up some serious yardage against a Packers defense that hasn’t been great at stopping the run in recent years. Meanwhile the Green Bay star RB Eddie Lacy is in doubt for this one after picking up an injury against Seattle last week. James Starks will be a decent replacement, but he will not be enough to get by Lamar Houston and a very physical Chiefs defensive line. The Packers injuries will start to show this week, but Aaron Rodgers is just too damn good. We have seen him put the team on his back before, and I believe he will do it again Monday night. James Jones and Randall Cobb will both find the back of the end zone. The Prophet says the Packers will edge out the Chiefs in a close one, 28-24.