Our NFL expert Paul Higham is back once again with another dose of RedZone action after a hectic week one.
Week One, as always, had some shocks, some surprises and plenty of touchdowns – 90 to be precise which is the joint-most ever scored on the opening week of an NFL season. That bodes well for the season.
No change at the top of the Super Bowl betting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs both looking worthy favourites, while the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers were hugely disappointing and have work to do to prove to us they can be the real deal this season.
That’s because, while starting 0-2 isn’t the end of the world, statistically it greatly reduces your chances of making the play-offs. 0-2 teams have made the post-season just 11.6% of the time over the last 30 years, but 41.6% of teams starting 1-1 make it to the big dance.
That makes this week crucial for every team that started off with a loss, including the well-fancied Browns, Titans, Colts Ravens.
With nine games kicking-off at 6pm UK time then NFL RedZone will again be a must-watch…
"It's a rivalry where you know your opponent well."
Patriots ready for another competitive, division game vs. Jets: https://t.co/7XzypwM29Z
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 17, 2021
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
We all like to see touchdowns but we’ll be cheering on the field goals in this one.
New rookie quarterbacks Mac Jones and Zac Wilson will be seeing a lot of each other over the years with both looking reasonably settled as franchise QBs at the Patriots and Jets respectively last week – albeit both lost.
The QBs are the headline acts but they won’t be piling up the points here with the running games and defences the keys to this AFC East squabble.
Wilson was sacked six times and Jones was continually put under pressure but both rookies showed poise to produce late on and they both looked NFL-ready to most. With Patriots coach Bill Belichick usually feasting on rookie QBs though, you do fear if Wilson will spend more time on the ground than slinging passes.
The Pats are 9-1 in their last 10 games against rookie QBs.
These two combined for just 30 points last week, with the Pats getting inside the 40-yard line six times, into the red zone four times but struggling to convert as they scored just one touchdown and kicked three field goals.
The Jets struggled to move the ball full stop and had to punt six times inside their own 30, so could well give up some nice field positions again. With New England not finishing off drives then kicker Nick Folk could be a busy man again and there’ll certainly be more field goals than touchdowns in this one.
Selection: over 3.5 field goals made – 11/8
What a start for Jameis as the New Orleans Saints' QB1 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Bxp85FNiSq
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 12, 2021
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
The Saints made plenty sit up and take notice when schooling the Packers last week, and after shackling MVPs Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady during their last 10 games, this New Orleans defence now sets it sights on, erm, Sam Darnold.
Carolina beat the Jets last week, but a lot of teams will have that honour this season and this represents a huge step-up especially with the Saints’ defence that gave Rodgers nightmares last week.
The Panthers also saw rookie QB Zac Wilson beat them for two passing touchdowns, Saints QB Jameis Winston threw for five TDs last week and he should be good for at least a couple more as New Orleans look to go 2-0 for the first time since 2013.
Away from the QBs though there are two star dual-threat running backs in the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Carolina’s Christian Mcaffrey – who had 187 total yards in his comeback game last week. They’ll have to lean heavily on their stud RB once again here.
The Saints though have a nice combination of tough defence and clinical offence – if the Jets can slow the Panthers down then New Orleans should have few problems stopping them altogether.
Selection: New Orleans Saints (-5.5) to win – 23/20
— theScore (@theScore) September 14, 2021
Las Vegas Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
It was a crazy, crazy win for the Raiders on Monday night against Baltimore, but as the saying goes what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and it’ll be back to reality when they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.
On a short week, one of the last teams you’d want to face is this Pittsburgh team in their home opener and like all crazy trips to Vegas, the Raiders are likely to be brought back down to earth with a serious bump.
The last four meetings have all been decided by just three points, and although Pittsburgh’s defence should dominate just as it did against Buffalo, the offence will need to sharpen up a bit and points could be hard to come by in the early stages.
Raiders tight end Darren Waller may just be the best weapon on the field on Sunday, and if he can get 100 yards receiving he’ll be the first tight end zine 1970 to have five straight 100-yard games. Shutting him down will be priority number one for Pittsburgh.
Defence will be the big winner in this game.
Selection: Under 45.5 total match points – 1/1
My thoughts on Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears. pic.twitter.com/0OpFVQVPps
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) September 14, 2021
Cincinnati Bengals @ Chicago Bears
It’s always good to select a road underdog to pick off the win and the best of these this week has to be the Bengals to win the Andy Dalton derby in Chicago.
We had eight road wins last week so even with fans back in the building then home advantage isn’t always enough – and in this case it could work in favour of the worst road team in the league since 2018.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow is still looking for his first road win but it’s his predecessor in Cincy, Dalton, who is under a ton of pressure ahead of this game with rookie Justin Fields breathing down his neck for his starting job.
Chicago fans want to see Fields, and Dalton will have to play a heck of a game to stay in a job – he may even get a better reception from the few Bengals fans than his new home crowd, such is the desire to see the exciting Fields in action.
Fields logged just five snaps last week but a rushing TD was among them and you just know the first errant throw or fumble from Dalton will see the call for Fields to come ringing down from the home fans.
And Burrow played pretty well in his comeback game last week with 261 yards and 2TDs, he has a nice rapport with receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon had 127 yards rushing and a score.
With Chicago messing about at quarterback, the Bengals can take advantage with a rare away win.
Selection: Bengals to beat the Bears – 23/20
Nick Chubb has the easiest RB strength of schedule matchup vs Texans in Week 2 🔥 pic.twitter.com/apye8iav6U
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 17, 2021
We’ve talked about Alvin Kamara but the New Orleans Saints running back is one of the top stars in the NFL. He scored last week and he’s run in seven touchdowns in his last seven games against Carolina so a red-hot record for a red-hot running back just makes common sense.
The Cleveland Browns will be an angry team after losing last week and they can take it out on the Texans, who may have beat the Jaguars last week but the Jags are poor and Houston will definitely have a problem here.
Especially in the run game as the Browns averaged 5.9 yards per carry last week, when Nick Chubb turned six red zone carries into two touchdowns. He can find pay dirt again.
Speaking of the Jaguars, Jacksonville surrendered 168 rushing yards and two scores to Houston last week, while Melvin Gordon ripped off a 70-yard scoring run as part of a 100-yard day. Gordon’s nifty footwork and speed can break through this Jags rear guard.
Treble Selection: Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara and Melvin Gordon all to score a rushing touchdown – 8/1