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Coaches say any football team makes its greatest improvement between Weeks 1 and 2.
Thankfully, me too this year.
After going 8-8 with my NFL winners picks (straight up, not against the spread) I went 14-2 in Week 2, one of my best weeks yet in five seasons of doing this.
On to Week 3:
Miami at Jacksonville, Thursday
KRYK PICK: Jacksonville
Yeah, I bought into the Gard’shew hype, forgetting that FitzMagic only gets spun in September. Down to 2-1 on Thursdays.
Chicago at Atlanta, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(TSN3-5; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Atlanta
As bad as the Falcons defence is, it’s hard to see Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears keeping up with Matt Ryan and the high-octane Atlanta attack, Julio Jones or no Julio Jones.
L.A. Rams at Buffalo, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV Toronto, Northern Ontario, Kitchener; CTV2 BC, Alberta, Ottawa, Atlantic; RDS; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Buffalo
The Rams played at Philadelphia last Sunday, then flew home afterward. So before playing the Bills they’ll have flown cross-country a third time in eight days. Advantage, Bills.
Washington at Cleveland, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Cleveland
There will be sacks, and lots of them. Washington’s best chance in every game is to attack the opposing QB in the hope of keeping the score low, to give its bad offence a chance. But no.
Tennessee at Minnesota, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: Minnesota
The Titans could easily be 0-2, like the Vikings. But they’re 2-0. Ryan Tannehill has out-quarterbacked Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins so far. Whoever runs it the most, wins: Vikings.
Las Vegas at New England, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV BC, Alberta, Atlantic; CTV2 Toronto, London/Windsor; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: New England
The Raiders really looked good on Monday. It only seemed like Derek Carr threw to TE Darren Waller on every play. But gotta go with resurgent Cam Newton and the Pats, at home.
San Francisco at N.Y. Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: New York
San Fran not only is without Jimmy G (Nick Mullens will QB), plus both top RBs and TE George Kittle, they’re terrified of the MetLife Stadium playing surface. The 0-2 Giants are desperate.
Cincinnati at Philadelphia, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Philadelphia
If the 0-2 Eagles cannot defeat the visiting 0-2 Bengals, not only is their season all but over already, but Philly head coach Doug Pederson’s seat will start to feel warm indeed.
Houston at Pittsburgh, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Pittsburgh
It’ll be a weekly dilemma. How good is Deshaun Watson and the Texans offence without all-pro WR DeAndre Hopkins? So inconsistent. And the Texans defence just is not good.
N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Indianapolis
The Jets appear on an unmistakable trajectory toward finishing 32 nd and thus earning the No. 1 overall draft pick next April. QB Sam Darnold’s development should be the Jets’ only priority.
Carolina at L.A. Chargers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Los Angeles
If rookie QB Justin Herbert can come that close to engineering an upset of the Chiefs, then in his second pro start he ought to be able to replicate that performance — and more.
Detroit at Arizona, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Arizona
Detroit hopes to have its top WR Kenny Golladay back, but he says he’s not 100%. Regardless, Detroit’s defence under Matt Patricia remains a total disaster. And the Cards are rolling.
Tampa Bay at Denver, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
(TSN 3-5; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Tampa Bay
Jeff Driskel quarterbacks the Broncos, with Drew Lock out for a few weeks. Meantime Tom Brady and the Bucs attack took a big step forward last week, and should do so again.
Dallas at Seattle, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
(CTV nationally except Atlantic; CTV2 Atlantic; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Seattle
Both pass rushes are so bad there might not be a single sack. Russell Wilson right now is the NFL’s best player. Dak Prescott must be tired of having to spin late-game comeback magic.
Green Bay at New Orleans, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
(TSN3-5; CTV2; RDS; via NBC)
KRYK PICK: New Orleans
If Aaron Rodgers’ only impact pass-catcher, wideout Davante Adams, can’t play (doubtful with a hamstring injury) this might not be close. Packers can’t stop the run; allowing 5.2 per carry.
Kansas City at Baltimore, Monday, 8:15 p.m. EDT
(TSN; RDS: via ESPN)
KRYK PICK: Baltimore
Last time Ravens lost a regular-season game? Sept. 29 of last year. Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson could be incredible prime-time entertainment. Let’s hope. Edge to the home team.
BYES THIS WEEK: None.
SEASON RECORD: 22-10 (.688), through Week 2.
SEAN VS. SEAN IS ON
Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams take on Sean McDermott’s Buffalo Bills on Sunday, in the first head-to-head matchup of these head coaches. Both were hired in 2017, and both instantly turned around the sad-sack on-field fortunes of their respective franchises.
McVay, 34, took the Rams to the playoffs in each of his first two years, reaching the Super Bowl in 2018. His Rams are 35-15 (.700).
McDermott, 46, took the Bills to the playoffs in 2017 and 2019, but lost both times in wild-card squeakers. His Bills are 27-23 (.540).
What adds to the intrigue of this game is that both teams are 2-0, and that McVay is chief offensive strategist of the Rams while McDermott is chief defensive strategist of the Bills.
In that sense, it’s a true head-to-head coaching matchup.
“You certainly are aware of what a great job (McDermott) did going back to his days as a coordinator in Carolina, when I was in Washington,” McVay said this week. “But it’s different. We have different players. He’s adjusted and adapted. We’ve got some things that are totally different than the way we operated in Washington.
“They’ve been really tough. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
THIS JUST IN
SATURDAY MOVES — Atlanta placed rookie CB A.J. Terrell on the reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning this year’s 16th overall draft pick either has the coronavirus or came in close contact with someone with it … Tampa Bay activated RB Kenjon Barner from the practice squad … Detroit downgraded CB Desmond Trufant to out … Minnesota, decimated by injuries in the secondary, activated CB Mark Fields II and S George Iloka from the practice squad … Indianapolis placed LB Matthew Adams (ankle) on IR … Houston ILB Peter Kalambayi (hamstring) didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh … Cincinnati elevated DT Kahlil McKenzie from the practice squad.
FAKE BOOS NEWS — According to NFL Network, stadiums accommodating 2,500 fans or less may now play “curated” crowd-noise audio up to 80 decibels, from 70, while games with more than 2,500 fans in attendance no longer are required to play such in-stadium fake audio at all.
There is no mandated change to the separate fake crowd-noise audio that networks add to their telecasts, and we hear on widescreen TVs.
FIVE KEY QUESTIONS
1. Is anything wrong with Drew Brees? Maybe, at age 41, he has hit the old-age wall. Just hasn’t looked himself after two games. A chance again in prime-time to show he’s still got it.
2. Is Justin Herbert the real deal? With Chargers starting QB Tyrod Taylor still recuperating from the punctured lung he suffered from that misplaced painkiller needle he was injected with last Sunday, between sore ribs, the rookie faces a sub-standard Panthers defence.
3. What’s the deal with the Vikings? The defence has been disastrous, and Gary Kubiak’s offensive game plans seem designed to protect Kirk Cousins at all costs. Can’t fall to 0-3.
4. Can Jared Goff and Josh Allen keep it rolling? Both QBs were under intense pressure coming into the season, and both have performed masterfully. That makes Rams-at-Bills a fascinating matchup.
5. Will the MetLife Stadium turf monster feast again? The NFL and NFLPA oversaw further tests done this week on the newly laid artificial playing surface, and signed off. Nothing’s wrong with it. Will the 49ers believe it?
THE BIG NUMBER — 221
Number of games QB Ben Roethlisberger will have played for the Pittsburgh Steelers after Sunday, setting a new franchise record. He currently is tied at 220 with Hall of Fame centre Mike Webster.
The Washington-Cleveland game is the first NFL game in which each team will have a female coach on the sideline. What’s more, a female will help officiate the game in between. Washington’s Jennifer King is the first Black woman hired as a full-season NFL coach — as an intern helping on the offensive side. Cleveland’s Callie Brownson is head coach Kevin Stefanski’s chief of staff. And Sarah Thomas, a full-time NFL official since 2015, will act as down judge.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“(We’ll) see what nickname maybe comes my way later in my career. But we’ll stick with Mapletron for now .” — Chase Claypool , rookie Steelers WR, on the moniker Pittsburgh fans gave him, a mashup of his Canadian upbringing and Megatron, the nickname given to retired Detroit Lions great Calvin Johnson.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020