NFL Insiders predict: Week 2 upsets, flops, NFC East race, more

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Our NFL Insiders predict Week 2's biggest upsets and fantasy flops and sleepers. Plus: Are the Cowboys the clear-cut favorites in the NFC East? And which playoff contender is in the most trouble after losing in Week 1?

What's your top upset pick for Week 2?

Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Broncos over Cowboys. I'm not overly bullish on this Broncos team, but I don't think it deserves to be a home underdog to Dallas. The Broncos looked better against the run Monday than they did in 2016, and until the fourth-quarter turnovers set in,Trevor Siemian was in control against a Chargers defense that has a lot more difference-makers than Dallas. Give me Denver to start 2-0 at home.

Mike Sando, senior NFL writer:Bears over Bucs. I don't see a great one, but the Bears can win at Tampa Bay under unusual circumstances. The Buccaneers could be a little rusty coming off a disruptive Week 1. Jameis Winston has not yet shown he will protect the football. The Bucs will be plenty familiar with Mike Glennon, but Glennon also will know their defense inside and out.

Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders: Eagles overChiefs. The Chiefs had an offensive field day against the Patriots in Week 1, but that's partly because the Pats' defensive strength (outside cornerbacks) badly matches up with the strength of the Chiefs' offense (tight end, running back, crossing patterns). The Eagles' defense is built opposite of the Patriots': phenomenal four-man pass rush, weakness at outside cornerback. An upset is much more likely if Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is healthy enough to play, however. Philadelphia needs him to block Justin Houston.

Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Packers overFalcons. It wouldn't be the most stunning outcome in history, not after the Packers held off a strong Seahawks team in Week 1 and the Falcons barely overcame the Bears. But it would be an impressive feat to go into the Falcons' new home and win the first regular-season game there.

Field Yates, NFL Insider: Bears over Bucs. It's early, so we're still finding out what each team is all about. But I'll echo Mike. The Bears' front seven was active and disruptive in Week 1 against Atlanta. The Tampa Bay offensive line features some shuffled parts this season, which could require a bit of an adjustment period. The Bears' offense will have to find ways to manufacture touches for its two talented backs, as it did in Week 1.

IfEzekiel Elliottdoesn't miss time, are the Cowboys now the clear favorite in the NFC East?

Graziano: Nooooo, it's way too soon to say that. A week ago, I think we all expected the Giants to be a good team, and it would be wrong to let one game change that expectation. There's a reasonable chance Sunday was the worst game the Giants' offense will play all season, and there's a nonzero chance it's the best game the Cowboys' defense will play all season. I expect the NFC East to be a close race. I expect the tougher schedules to make it difficult for the teams at the top to win the 13 and 11 games they won a year ago. I'm not ruling out Philadelphia and Washington as troublemakers or even contenders, assuming the division tightens up as I expect it to. Long way to go in the NFC East.

Sando: I'm not throwing everything out the window after one game. The Giants were my pick heading into the season, with Dallas right there in the mix and Philadelphia as a team with boom-or-bust potential. Odell Beckham Jr.'s health is such a key variable.

Schatz: Yes. The NFC East is strong from top to bottom, but the Cowboys were the best team in the division in 2016 and look like the best team this year now that Elliott is expected to play the whole season. If Jaylon Smith and Taco Charlton can help make the defense even just a little bit above average, Dallas is an even better bet to repeat as division champion. That's tough for the other three teams, each of which might be the favorite if it played in the AFC South.

Seifert: Yes. I didn't think the Giants had done enough to catch up with them during the offseason, and nothing that happened Sunday night changed my mind. There is no way that one non-quarterback, be it OBJor anyone else, can make that big of a difference. The Eagles are intriguing as Carson Wentz develops, but the Cowboys look stronger once again.

Yates: The clear favorite? No. The favorite? Yes. Dallas taking care of business at home in Week 1 was critical, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The defense will be tested far more in future weeks, as the Giants' offense sputtered in the opener minusBeckham.

Who's the player you're picking up for your fantasy team this week?

Graziano: Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears. (Though, not to brag, I did pick him up in a sneaky Saturday night move in one league last week.) One person in the Bears organization told me a few weeks ago, "He's this year's Tyreek Hill." Chicago wants to use Cohen in a variety of roles, and I think you saw a little bit of that Sunday. Some concern about whether he can hold up at 5-foot-6-- yes, I'll field trade offers this week! -- but if he's on the field, he's going to get the ball. Honorable mention for me is Nelson Agholor, who I think is a real part of the plans in Philadelphia.

Sando: You want the truth? I'm in the kicker market after drafting Sebastian Janikowski and then forgetting to make the change while I was traveling to Green Bay for the Seahawks-Packers game. I went into Monday night tied after getting no points from the kicker spot. Once I get a kicker, I'm monitoring Saints receivers Tommylee Lewis and Brandon Coleman, who have a chance to put up some numbers in that offense.

Schatz: Don't overreact to big Week 1 games by lesser-known players. Beware the Ides of Ogletree, and Escape the Fate of Frisman Jackson. Instead, react to injuries: Jacksonville wants a run-heavy offense, but the Jaguars still have to pass the ball sometimes, and Marqise Lee is now the clear No. 1 receiver with Allen Robinsonout for the season.

Seifert: Cohen. I expected him to be a special-teams contributor and possible change-of-pace back for the Bears right away. But I did not think he would get as much work in their passing game, split outside as a receiver and running sophisticated routes. But with the losses of Cam Meredith and Kevin White, who else is Mike Glennon going to throw to?

Yates: It's all about Lions rookieKenny Golladay. The talented third-round pick won't likely repeat his two-touchdown effort against the Giants in Week 2, but it's clear he's going to push for more playing time after logging 62 percent of the snaps in Week 1. He could eventually surpass Marvin Jones for the No. 2 receiver gig in Detroit.

Which potential playoff contender is in the most trouble after a Week 1 loss: Giants, Cardinals, Titans, Bengals or Texans?

Graziano: Cardinals all day. David Johnsonis the offense, and they're in huge trouble while he's out. This was already a team on a tightrope -- an aging roster built to win now with little depth at key positions like QB and WR. The Johnson injury is the most significant thing that happened to any contender this week, by far.

Sando: The Texans are in the most trouble based on their short-term quarterback situation, but there's still a chance the AFC South will bail them out.

Schatz: A lot of teams had offensive line problems this week, but the Bengals can't count on defense like the Giants can, and they can't get their best lineman back from a holdout like the Texans can. All those great skill players might not be very useful if the line can't block and Andy Dalton can't get them the ball.

Seifert:Arizona. I thought before the season began that it looked like an old team with a rapidly closing window. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked old in Week 1 against the Lions, and the Johnson injury robs the Cardinals of the player best suited to carry their offense.

Yates: The Cardinals because of the injury to Johnson. He's not just the focal point of their offense -- he's their franchise centerpiece.

Who's your pick to be a fantasy flop this week?

Graziano: Mike Evans, WR, Bucs. I love Evansthis season, but this Pro Football Focus item showed how great the Bears were against opposing No. 1 wide receivers last year -- that they play a ton of Cover 6 and manage to take away the opposing team's No. 1. And then Julio Jones had 66 yards on four catches against them Sunday. That doesn't mean you can't throw on them, just that this has a little bit of a chance to be a DeSean Jackson game with the better Evans games to come later.

Sando: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. He could face tough sledding again as he draws the Minnesota defense in Week 2, although the Vikings will be coming off a short week.

Schatz: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. Going against Patrick Peterson, with either a terrible quarterback (Scott Tolzien) or one who has been in the offensive scheme for less than three weeks (Jacoby Brissett)? No, thanks.

Seifert: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. After seeing what the Chiefs did to Tom Brady and the Patriots last week, I don't like Wentz's chances of putting up big numbers in Arrowhead Stadium.

Yates: Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys. After a slow start in Week 1, I think heis in for another quiet Sunday against the lockdown Denver defense. He managed just two catches on nine targets in Week 1. Bryant is still working to find a rhythm with Dak Prescott.

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