Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn (left) celebrates with general manager Thomas Dimitroff (right) following their 26-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
The Falcons pulled up the upset last weekend in a game most had them pegged to lose. Atlanta’s defense continued to look reinvigorated and revamped, stifling the Eagles the entire first half and allowing DeMarco Murray only nine yards on the evening and only 64 rushing yards total, tied for second in the NFL. The Eagles were without a doubt one of the most formidable offenses on the Falcons’ schedule; the fact that the defense kept them in check for so long is a very encouraging sign to start the season.
New York didn’t look particularly strong against Dallas last weekend. Without Jason Pierre-Paul, they have very little in terms of pass rush. The Falcons should hold the advantage on both offense and defense. The Giants’ lines are nowhere near the level of the Eagles; the Falcons’ offense and defense could have even more success against them. If the Falcons come out swinging like they did on Monday Night Football, Atlanta will start the season 2-0.
Pick: Atlanta 31, New York 20
Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
This is a bit of a tough matchup to predict. Both teams will be relying on their defenses to win the game, making this a prime candidate for a low-scoring slugfest. I would normally favor Houston in that situation, but without Arian Foster and on the road, Carolina gets the nod.
Pick: Carolina 17, Houston 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
Both these teams disappointed in their debuts, but nobody had it worse than the Bucs. They were embarrassed at home by the second worst team in the NFL last year. It’s too early to call the Mariota-Winston debate, but Winston will certainly need better help from his supporting cast in the future.
The return of Mike Evans will make Tampa a little more competitive in this one, but the Saints have the stronger team all-around. Though truthfully, neither team looks particularly fearsome at this point. The good news is, no matter what, one of these two NFC South teams will start the season 0-2.
Pick: New Orleans 27, Tampa Bay 17
Last week: 3-1
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