Week 1 is always a crapshoot — there’s a reason I strongly urge people to go easy or lay off betting on early week games altogether.
Still, I got through the week just a few games below .500 and managed to put up some winners in Best Picks. Cool.
Now we’re on to Week 2. The main things to remember about this week is that the spreads get influenced much too heavily by what happened last week, as compared to what you know about these players and teams from (in some cases) years of watching them compete.
In other words, if it looks funky, it’s probably because it is funky. And by funky, of course, I mean an opportunity to cash in.
The other noteworthy aspect of this week is that there some hella big games for so early in the season. The Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots is an unexpected big one early, the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game is a fan favorite NFC East rivalry and of course the crown jewel this week is Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks.
Last Week’s Picks: 7-10-1 / Best: 3-1
Season Totals: 7-10-1 / Best: 3-1
Houston (+3) @ Carolina (Westgate Superbook)
I have to say, this is the toughest kind of game for me to handicap. These are two average to below average teams, likely to finish in the 7-9 range. Neither team has a trend going right now because it’s only Week 2, and the spread is your standard three points for the home team.
So what do you do with that?
In my book, you don’t touch it, but I have to, so I am going with the Panthers mainly because I think Cam Newton is quite underrated. The Panthers have spent a lot of capital building a defense, and they have a good one, but they’ve left their franchise quarterback with next to nothing in the way of offensive weapons and yet the guy still manages to produce at least passable numbers. How is Houston’s anemic offense suppose to do anything against a good stop unit like that?
As an aside, I like the under on this game although I’m not taking it. It’s bad enough I have to pick a side in the first place.
Carolina Panthers 20, Houston Texans 16
Tampa Bay (+9.5) @ New Orleans (Westgate Superbook)
Here’s another game I’m not crazy about. Tampa Bay is probably the worst defensive team in the league, and for right now, they are lousy offensive team also. The trouble is that New Orleans is nothing close to what they used to be, and I could easily see them only winning this game by a touchdown.
But I’m not touching the Buccaneers right now. I’ll give as many points I have to to be on the other side.
Luckily, the spread has fallen below double digits. Again, this is not a game I would touch.
New Orleans Saints 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
San Francisco (+7) @ Pittsburgh (5Dimes)
The 49ers looked better than a lot of people, including me, expected last week. Now don’t get me wrong — when the Niners have to take on those great NFC West defenses they’re going to struggle, but the Steelers defense is really quite poor, so I don’t think they’re going to be covering a touchdown spread against a game opponent who might just upset them if they’re not on their toes.
This is a game where I have a slight lean on the over but I don’t want it at 45 points. If you see it below say, 43, then jump on it.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24, San Francisco 49ers 22
Detroit (+2.5) @ Minnesota (Westgate Superbook)
I picked the Vikings to make the playoffs this year, and while their performance last week was seriously underwhelming, I’m taking them here more or less on faith.
If Minnesota can’t hold serve against the Lions, it’ll be time to reevaluate them seriously.
Minnesota Vikings 24, Detroit Lions 21
New England (pick’em) @ Buffalo (5Dimes)
Rex Ryan as coach of the Jets always played the Patriots tough in the first meeting of the season. If the teams were close, the Jets would win. If the teams weren’t, the Jets would at least cover. Then in the second game, New England would usually run over them. That’s a trend that may follow the coach instead of staying with the team.
If so, this is Buffalo’s turn to win.
I like the Bills this season and I predicted a split with their biggest divisional rival. I like them coming off a huge confidence building win to beat a Patriots team at home that does not look nearly as good on either side of the ball as the team that won the Super Bowl last season.
Buffalo Bills 23, New England Patriots 20
Tennessee (pick ‘em) @ Cleveland (Wynn Las Vegas)
Yuck. Cleveland is simply too bad with Johnny Manziel under center right now to take in any game. He looks like the greenest rookie in the world despite having had a year on the Browns’ bench.
That’s what happens when you draft a guy in the first round and try to break him instead of grooming him for the top job when you know you’re starter is gone after the first season. Stupid Browns, again.
By contrast, Marcus Mariota had the benefit of playing what is possibly the league’s worst defense, and although the Browns were supposed to have an effective stop unit, they looked porous against a Jets’ offense that is decidedly low octane. Lucky you, Marcus.
You won’t play a scary defense until after the bye, in your fifth NFL game. Nice way to ease in to it.
Tennessee Titans 21, Cleveland Browns 13
St. Louis (-3) @ Washington (WilliamHill)
St. Louis is in a lookback situation here, coming off a huge win against Seattle. It won’t matter playing hapless Washington, however, and three points is a surprisingly stingy number to have to give to NOT be on Washington’s side.
St. Louis Rams 20, Washington RacialSlurs 14
Atlanta (+2.5) @ NY Giants (MGM Mirage)
This line has been moving toward the Giants side and there’s a reason. The Giants simply must avoid an 0-2 start and these are two relatively evenly matched teams. Atlanta is not the same team on the road that they are at home, and I think New York cleans up the mistakes that kept them from stealing last week’s game with Dallas.
New York Giants 27, Atlanta Falcons 23
Baltimore (-6) @ Oakland (Westgate Superbook)
Both of these teams were disappointing last week, and I’m hoping the Raiders can find their stride as the season progresses. But this week the Ravens need a bounce back win and they will have their act together more so than Oakland. I was considering taking home dog when the spread was at a touchdown but now that it’s down to six the choice is clear.
Take Baltimore, give the points.
Baltimore Ravens 28, Oakland Raiders 20
Miami (-6.5) @Jacksonville (CarbonSports.ag)
When the spread is more than three points, the Dolphins have only been good for a cover about one third of the time. They’re simply not built to run away from teams. The danger? Jacksonville may not be able to score to cover this spread even if Miami only scores in the high teens or low 20s, but I’m play the trend here and hope the Jaguars show a little more fight this week.
Miami Dolphins 21, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Dallas (+5.5) @ Philadelphia (CarbonSports.ag)
The home team in this rivalry has fared terribly over the last 5 years, but the Eagles simply can’t start 0-2. That said, what have the Eagles shown to justify a spread this large against a Dallas team that has plenty of weapons to use against the Eagles shit defense. Philly to win, Dallas to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles 28, Dallas Cowboys 24
Seattle (+4) @ Green Bay (CarbonSports.ag)
It’s hard to pick against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers at home, but it’s also hard to believe that Seattle is going to start this season 0-2. Maybe they were guilty of a look-past last week or maybe, as I think, St. Louis is just a damn good team that’s gonna be hard for anyone to beat in their own building this season.
Either way, I think the Seahawks come out and show why they’ve won back to back NFC championships this season. I also think the Packers show that they still can’t beat teams with mobile quarterbacks. They haven’t fixed it yet, so why start now?
Seattle Seahawks 31, Green Bay Packers 28
Arizona (-1.5) @ Chicago (William Hill)
Carson Palmer has effectively made the transition from cannon armed gunslinger to veteran game manager, and the Cardinals have smartly built a run-first team with a very good defense around him. There is a lot to like about the Cardinals right now, and one of the things is that they’re a Bears team that S-T-I-N-K-S stinks.
Giving a mere 1.5 points? HA!
Arizona Cardinals 24, Chicago Bears 16
San Diego (+3) @ Cincinnati (Westgate Superbook)
The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that was somewhat written off preseason but came out and looked like they had no intention of going quietly. Let’s remember, this team’s problems are almost exclusively of the post season variety. In the regular season, they’ve been damn good, especially at home.
The Chargers are not pushovers, but they’re not the kind of team that’s likely to walk out of Cincinnati with a win, either.
Cincinnati Bengals 27, San Diego Chargers 21
St. Louis @ Washington over/under 41.5 (William Hill)
I’m putting Washington in the Best Picks again, and for good reason. St. Louis may have the best front four in football. Kirk Cousins will be lucky to escape this game alive. The Rams are also likely to have a bit of a Seahawks hangover. Perfect spot to pick the under. Washington won’t be putting up any big offensive numbers this season.
St. Louis Rams 20, Washington RacialSlurs 14
Miami @Jacksonville over/under 41.5 (MGM Mirage)
I can’t pass up the under on this game. It’s hard to imagine these two teams combining for more than 40 points.
Miami Dolphins 21, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
NY Jets (+7) @Indianapolis (Westgate Superbook)
Andrew Luck is 13-1 against the spread following a loss. That’s as close to a mortal lock as you will find in the NFL. Don’t be fooled by the Jets’ win last week. They’re better than they were advertised, perhaps, but the Colts are 10 times better than Cleveland.
Jets get blown out this week.
Indianapolis Colts 34, New York Jets 21