By Lucas Kochevar
The Cincinnati Bengals might be bad and the Ravens might be really good. Those two teams faced off in week two and the Bengals once again looked flat to start out the game. The Ravens, meanwhile, looked like a serious team overcoming multiple injuries to get a huge win on the road against a divisional foe. Their performance impressed me and the Buccaneers were really impressive. I understand that they played the Bears, and maybe the Bears are a good litmus test for whether or not your team is good or not, but they handled them with ease. Baker Mayfield played fantastic and might've found a home. A couple other thoughts are that the Chiefs offense is less explosive than usual, despite beating the Jaguars. C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson are super legit young guns and hopefully Richardson can recover from his concussion scare. The Dallas Cowboys could easily be the best balanced team with their dominant win over the Jets. The Broncos are the same story as last season, even with Sean Payton. They've collapsed in the second half now in back-to-back weeks. Let's look ahead to week three now.
Los Angeles Chargers (-1) @ Minnesota Vikings
This feels like an early season test for both teams, however, it's not a test to see who is a real contender. These two teams had legitimate playoff aspirations, but an 0-2 start has put a massive damper on their seasons so far. The Chargers especially because they were in positions to win both games towards the very end. Their most recent loss at Tennessee was a tough one because they made Ryan Tannehill looked fantastic. The Vikings defense continues to struggle as they recently lost to the Eagles in a shootout. These teams feel close to figuring something out, but they're just not clicking yet. This game will be a test to see who can climb back from the trenches first.
This game is also intriguing because of how electric both of these offenses are. Justin Herbert and Kirk Cousins are some of the better passers in the game today and they're throwing to some absolute studs. The Justin Jefferson show has been special early-on, despite his fumble touchback last season. Rookie Jordan Addison has been a great compliment to Jefferson with another big touchdown last Thursday. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen turned back the clock and showed he's still one of the most talented receivers in the league with two touchdowns. Mike Williams continues to be one of the best big targets in the league too. The Chargers also might get back Austin Ekeler, who was out with an ankle injury last week. I say all that about the offenses because I really want to avoid mentioning these defenses. I look forward to this shootout in Minnesota.
Atlanta Falcons (-4) @ Detroit Lions
The Falcons have quietly put together a strong start to the season with two statement wins. The Panthers are terrible, but the Falcons defense had a great performance. In week two, the Packers looked to be in control of the Falcons until the offense woke up. Bijan Robinson is awesome and looks to be the engine of this Falcons offense. The Lions are coming off a disappointing overtime lost at home against the Seahawks. It was a great game, however, with the Lions offense keeping up with the Seahawks. Both of those teams love to play shootouts. The big note from this game for the Lions moving forward is what's the status of wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown? He suffered a toe injury that has him listed day-to-day.
This matchup could get ugly quickly if Atlanta comes out of the gate slow like they have the past couple games. This isn't your average Lions team and they could strike quickly if given the opportunity. The Lions offense will be missing running back David Montgomery so rookie Jahmyr Gibbs could get the elevated role and run away with the job. Atlanta has their star rookie running back averaging RB1 type carries, but they also have a bruising back behind him in Tyler Allgeier. Both of these rushing attacks will be key in this matchup. Along with that key will be the trenches. Both of these coaches are hard-nosed, tough coaches so these two lines will be battling all game long. This will be a good litmus test for both teams. The Falcons can see how they stack up against a playoff caliber team. The Lions can see if they can take care of business against a historically unserious team.
Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Super Bowl LVI rematch takes place on Monday night with a very important game in Cincinnati. The Bengals have started off the season horribly for their standards with two losses to division foes. The offense has played with little life, including Joe Burrow, who definitely doesn't look healthy. It's been a story of discombobulation for Cincy while the Rams have shown great promise early-on in this season. A healthy Matthew Stafford looks like his old self and names like Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell have been huge for their success. The defense still has some kinks to iron out but I love what this team has looked like through two weeks, even in a loss to the Niners.
These teams don't look like the ones that competed in the Super Bowl a could seasons ago, however, there's still a number of talented players from that game. The Bengals need to get Ja'Marr Chase going if they want to get back to that elite production they had last season. Chase has been relatively quiet so far with back-to-back five catch games. He's the vertical monster and can really make an impact for the Bengals. Tee Higgins finally had a great game against the Ravens this past week and he could have another big day. The Rams will look to contain that, but also keep their momentum going on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Kyren Williams got the starting nod last week and I think he can be an X-factor for the Rams to hold the ball and keep that Bengals offense off the field. This game should be an exciting one with two offensive coaches and I'm curious to see if Burrow can bounce back.
LK's Bet of the Week: Baltimore Ravens -7.5 vs Indianapolis Colts
We're officially on the board with a win last week with an easy over between the 49ers and Rams. This week I'm back with a spread and I'm sorry to my good friend Jackson, who is a Colts fan. I love the Ravens this week against the Colts back at home. The Ravens have opened up the season in good shape as a 2-0 teams. The first game was sloppy with some turnovers, but the defense held C.J. Stroud to no touchdowns. The second game was a very impressive win to hold on in Cincinnati. This week against the Colts is another test, especially with the injuries they're dealing with. The Colts have been frisky, but I think this can be the game where they comeback down to Earth. There's also a questionable status of Anthony Richardson, who left last weeks game with a concussion. Give me the Ravens to cover this spread and Mark Andrews to have a big day.