Shapiro's Week 2 NFL picks: Brady, Bucs take it to hapless Panthers
Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season is in the books, and it went better than expected. No doubt there were missed tackles, boneheaded decisions, and unpredictable results, but given the current climate, the play was solid.
Fortunately, I was also able to get off to a good start with my selections and can hopefully ride the momentum into Week 2.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sun, September 20 2020, 5:00 PM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The new-look Bucs did not play that well during their season opener in the “Big Easy," but they should have no issue earning their first victory with Tom Brady at the helm in Week 2.
Brady drove Tampa Bay down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive and posted decent numbers but was clearly not at his best against New Orleans. The good news for TB12 this week is that he will take on what could be a historically bad defense in Tampa’s home opener.
Carolina lost a number of key contributors from an already subpar defense a year ago. The Panthers lack experience and it showed in their 38-25 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1.
Look for Brady to find Chris Godwin and Mike Evans early and often against the Panthers subpar secondary.
The Buccaneers roll.
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys
Sun, September 20 2020, 5:05 PM
The high-powered Cowboys offense only scored 17 points in their Sunday-night loss to the Rams, but they should bounce back in a big way against Atlanta.
Dak Prescott threw for 266 yards and just one touchdown in his 2020 debut, but the 27-year-old quarterback has to be licking his chops in anticipation of facing a Falcons secondary that allowed Russell Wilson to complete 31 of his 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1.
Not only are the Falcons completely overmatched on the outside against the Cowboys' loaded receiving corps, but they are also among the NFL’s worst at covering running backs in the passing game. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliott all should be set for a big afternoon. Dallas should visit the end zone regularly.
“America’s Team” may be loaded on offense, but they have major question marks on defense. They have holes in the secondary, especially at cornerback, where they lost Byron Jones to free agency, and now they are hurting in the middle, with Leighton Vander Esch out six to eight weeks with a broken collarbone.
Matt Ryan compiled 450 yards and two touchdowns playing from behind in Week 1 and should have no issue moving the ball with a similar game script Sunday.
I expect a shootout in AT&T Stadium.
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sun, September 20 2020, 5:00 PM
A pair of teams on short rest will meet in western Pennsylvania, and it looks like a mismatch.
The Steelers look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders, with Ben Roethlisberger back and one of the best defenses in the NFL, while Denver must travel after a gut-wrenching 16-14 defeat late Monday night to the Titans.
The Broncos defense looked like a strength just a short time ago, but the loss of star pass rusher Von Miller to an ankle tendon injury was a brutal blow. Things got even worse in Week 1, when they found out cornerback A.J. Bouye is likely to miss time with a dislocated shoulder.
Expect Roethlisberger to have plenty of time to complete passes downfield to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, and the Pittsburgh defense will make life miserable for Drew Lock and the Denver offense.
Ben Roethlisberger on Diontae Johnson: “He’s fast, he’s quick, he can get open, he’s got great hands"— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) September 12, 2020
It’s a big second year for Johnson. He could get a favorable matchup matchup against Corey Ballentine on Monday to start a potential breakout year.
The Steelers will win and cover for the second straight week.