In a world where bigger is better than big, the NFL has done its part during the first two weeks of the season by galloping to its highest offensive production ever. Get this: Teams have already scored 186 touchdowns and 1,611 points.
By the way, the over-under on NFL points this week, according to betonline.ag, is 810 1/2. There were 852 scored in Week 2. Take a shot, why not?
Still, the show has come at quite a cost. Injuries have already piled up leaving contenders and pretenders wondering what to do about it.
Here’s a look at just a few of the problems as we head into the third weekend of the season.
Niners Down For The Count
San Francisco comes into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants a 31/2-point favorite and we all know the spread should be wider. The Giants stink. But the Niners come into this game without QB Jimmy Garoppolo (knee), DL Solomon Thomas (knee), DE Nick Bosa (knee), RB Tevin Coleman (knee) and DE Dee Ford (back). Andon Friday we learned they will again be without TE George Kittle, who injured his knee in the season opener.
Not only are the Niners injured, they’re freaked out about playing on the MetLife Stadium playing surface, which their organization blamed for many of the injuries that occurred last week against the Jets. At their behest, the NFL checked out the place this week and said all looked well.
Nick Mullens will replace Garoppolo and Jerrick McKinnon will get most of the snaps at halfback. The over-under on passing yards for Mullen is 225½. Take the under.
If you thought the Giants might be at an advantage because of the Niners injuries, think again. They have their own problems. RB Saquon Barkley (out for the year with an ACL injury) and WR Sterling Shepard (turf toe) won’t play. In Giants world, this is akin to losing Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
To compensate, the Giants signed free agent Devonta Freeman, who gained at least 1,000 yards in two of his six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons before they ditched him to make room for Todd Gurley. Everything considered, we’d take Niners and the under (41½).
Jonesing For Their Star
The Falcons will try to avoid starting the season 0-3 for the first time since 2013 when they host the 2-0 Chicago Bears. After blowing a 20-point lead in Dallas last week, these are desperate times for the birds. It’s likely they will play without their Pro Bowl WR Julio Jones, who has a bad hamstring. Jones is a game-time decision. Coach Dan Quinn would not rule him out. “He’s a guy who knows his own body,” Quinn said.
We’re betting Jones knows it well enough to sit this one out. Normally we’d tell you this would put the Falcons, a three-point favorite, in a tough spot. But they have one thing going for them. Calvin Ridley is just the fifth receiver in NFL history to have at least 100 yards and two touchdown receptions in each of the first two weeks of the season. Frankly, we’re more worried that LB Foyesade Oluokun from Yale might not play. The kid has become a force.
McCaffery’s Loss Will Sting
How would you like to be the Carolina Panthers this week, 0-2 and 61/2 underdogs to the Chargers in Los Angeles? They will be without one of the top five offensive players in the league, Christian McCaffrey, who may miss two months with a high ankle sprain. Let’s break this down this way: That’s about 150 touches the Panthers will need to reallocate and frankly Mike Davis, who had a career-high 74 receiving yards in last week’s loss to Tennessee, will not frighten anyone.
With rookie QB Justin Herbert set to start for Chargers for the second straight week for injured Tyrod Taylor – whose lung was punctured by an injection from a team physician before last Sunday’s game against the Chiefs – look for LA to easily cover and help take a run at the over (43 1/2).
Thomas Not Easy To Replace
The talk this week has been that Saints QB Drew Brees, now 41, may be finished. Right. Sure. Let’s compare him to Marcus Mariota while we’re at it. The big problem is he’s without his star receiver, Michael Thomas, who set an NFL record in 2019 with 143 receptions.
Without Thomas, the offense has become more predictable since his replacement, Emmanuel Sanders, has made only four catches for 33 yards this season. The Saints are three-point favorites at home against Green Bay on Sunday night. Unless Alvin Kamara catches 15 balls, look for the high-powered Packers, with a motivated Aaron Rodgers, likely without WR Davante Adams, to cover. They’ve scored at least 40 in both of their games. Will they do it again? Yes (+300), No (-500).
Raiders’ Offense Banged Up
Las Vegas opened their new stadium with a flashy win over the Saints last week, but they come to New England a 5 ½-point underdog and potentially without many of Derek Carr’s weapons. RB Josh Jacobs (hip), TE Darren Waller (knee) and rookie WR Henry Ruggs III (knee) were in and out of practice this week. Veteran guard Richie Incognito’s stint on IR (Achilles) will put additional pressure on offensive line that’s already down to its third-string right tackle. Jacobs and Waller did practice on Friday.
The Raiders have scored TDs on eight of their 18 possessions this season, but beware of a Patriots team coming off a loss. Still, we think it will be close enough to invest in Las Vegas.