My golden rule for Week 1 in anything – especially when it comes to football is – TRY NOT OVERREACT! Like thinking Baltimore’s offense led by Lamar Jackson is the second coming of Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City. Not happening…yes, the Dolphins are just THAT bad on defense. Or that the Browns are the same old team we’re used to. Also not true despite a 43-13 home thrashing at the hands of Tennessee.
Based on my preseason expectations, I’ll rank each team in one of three categories after one week:
-They Are Who I Thought They Were (GOOD, BAD, or MEDIOCRE)
-I Might’ve Been Way Off (BETTER or WORSE)
-I Have No Clue
It’s a fun exercise…and one I’m sure I’ll revisit multiple times throughout the season.
They Are Who I Thought They Were
Arizona – BAD
Baltimore – GOOD
Carolina – MEDIOCRE
Dallas – GOOD
Denver – MEDIOCRE
Detroit – MEDIOCRE
Green Bay – GOOD
Houston – GOOD
Indianapolis – MEDIOCRE
Kansas City – GOOD
Los Angeles Rams – GOOD
Miami – BAD
New Orleans – GOOD
New York Giants – BAD
Pittsburgh – MEDIOCRE
Philadelphia – GOOD
San Francisco – GOOD
Seattle – MEDIOCRE
I Might’ve Been Way Off
Atlanta – WORSE
Cincinnati – BETTER
Chicago – WORSE
Cleveland – WORSE
Jacksonville – WORSE
Minnesota – BETTER
New England – BETTER
Tampa Bay – WORSE
Tennessee – BETTER
Washington – BETTER
I Have No Clue
Los Angeles Chargers
New York Jets
On to the picks…and it wasn’t good in Week 1 with a dismal 9 straight up wins and a 6-10 record against the spread. Time to bounce back with a slew of minor upsets in the mix.
Week 2 Picks
Last Week: 9-6-1 Straight Up (SU), 6-10 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 9-6-1 SU, 6-10 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
CAROLINA PANTHERS 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 (ATS: Buccaneers +6.5)
Cam Newton’s arm strength has diminished and I have serious concerns about him being able to throw the ball down the field consistently. I also believe that Tampa Bay can’t be nearly as bad as they looked in Week 1. Panthers win but I like the Bucs with the points.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 27, Seattle Seahawks 16 (ATS: Steelers -3.5)
Play of the week material (see below) with the Steelers only giving 3.5. Seattle has to travel across the country and play an early game against a team out to prove their Week 1 performance was a fluke. Easy $$ here it seems.
GREEN BAY PACKERS 27, Minnesota Vikings 23 (ATS Packers -2.5)
Both teams showed improved defenses in Week 1 but Green Bay’s offense was essentially non-existent in Chicago. Expect a close game throughout but I’ll take the better QB on his home turf for a tight win.
New England Patriots 38, MIAMI DOLPHINS 13 (ATS: Patriots -18.5)
I usually love playing home underdogs of 10+ points but this one makes no sense considering how awful Miami is this year. New England likely will be able to name their score. But will the Antonio Brown nonsense, now that he’s in a Patriots uniform eventually cause them more harm than good?
Dallas Cowboys 27, WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20 (ATS: Cowboys -4.5)
The Cowboys’ passing attack can’t be as good as they looked last Sunday against the Giants…400+ yards and two receivers with 100+ receiving yards? The Redskins showed plenty of fight in Philly and I expect them to do so again here. But I can’t play them to cover the 4.5 against a much superior team.
San Francisco 49ers 26, CINCINNATI BENGALS 21 (ATS: 49ers +1.5)
I’m big on SF this year yet I didn’t pick them in Week 1…whoops! Cincinnati looked better than I anticipated but I’m going to pick the rare west to east winner in the early time zone. SF’s defense might be a lot better than most people anticipated.
DETROIT LIONS 23, Los Angeles Chargers 17 (ATS: Lions +2.5)
Great spot to pick the home ‘dog here. The Chargers are going east, playing an early game, and dealing with a multitude of key injuries especially in their passing game. I don’t think much of the Lions…but I think the spread should be reversed here.
TENNESSEE TITANS 23, Indianapolis Colts 21 (ATS: Colts +3.5)
I said it on The Daily Blender on Wednesday and I’ll stand by it throughout the season…the Colts will be a team who does a lot better covering the Vegas spreads as compared to actual wins. My theory will go 2-0 as the Titans sneak out a close win in front of their home crowd.
BALTIMORE RAVENS 33, Arizona Cardinals 10 (ATS: Ravens -13.5)
The Ravens looked like world beaters against a hideous Dolphins team last week while the Cardinals for three quarters looked more like Miami! Tough spot for AZ traveling across the country in Week 2…easy pick and cover by Baltimore.
NEW YORK GIANTS 20, Buffalo Bills 19 (ATS: Giants +2.5)
It’s the NFL’s 100th season – why not pick the exact score of Super Bowl XXV for a matchup between two mediocre New York teams? Crazy that Buffalo played their first two weeks in the same stadium…which ISN’T at home! Tough game to predict but I’m banking on the Giants being better than they showed in the final three quarters in Dallas.
HOUSTON TEXANS 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 13 (ATS: Texans -8.5)
Tough spot for the Jags with a rookie QB making his first NFL start against an angry Houston team on the road. Texans should roll.
Kansas City Chiefs 41, OAKLAND RAIDERS 24 (ATS: Chiefs -8.5)
How do you pick against the Chiefs right now even if Tyreek Hill is out? Oh wait – Oakland also will be without both of their starting safeties. Patrick Mahomes should have a field day in KC’s final game at the Oakland Coliseum.
DENVER BRONCOS 20, Chicago Bears 17 (ATS: Broncos +1.5)
Flip a coin. I’m going with Denver because former Bears DC Vic Fangio now coaches the Broncos and he should have plenty of insight into his former team. Both offenses left something to be desired in Week 1.
New Orleans Saints 33, LOS ANGELES RAMS 30 (ATS: Saints +2.5)
This is either a genius pick due to the NFC Championship Game revenge angle or a stupid one based on logistics. New Orleans is going on the road, across the country, on a short week to face an elite team. No doubt this is the game of the weekend and another one that’s an absolute toss-up across the board.
ATLANTA FALCONS 34, Philadelphia Eagles 31 (ATS: Falcons Pick’em)
Tough call on this one. I was bullish on Atlanta before their Week 1 stinker against the Vikings…and of course I’m sticking with the Eagles as my future Super Bowl champs. Atlanta needs this one more…a lot more…and they’ll get it on a game winning Matt Bryant field goal.
Cleveland Browns 24, NEW YORK JETS 14 (ATS: Browns -2.5)
Both teams had meltdowns in Week 1. The Jets blew a 16-0 2nd half lead to the Bills while the Browns frankly didn’t show up against the Titans. I’ll chalk Cleveland’s disaster up to continued Week 1 disfunction…so give me the more talented team on the road. UPDATE: I edited the Jets’ points downward on Thursday morning with the news that Sam Darnold is out with mono on Le’Veon Bell has a bum shoulder.
Week 2 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 1-0): Steelers -3.5
Underdog (LOSS, 0-1): 49ers +1.5
Bet the Over (LOSS, 0-1): Falcons / Eagles Over 51
Bet the Under (LOSS, 0-1): Lions / Chargers Under 48
Week 2 Fantasy Football Guidance
(15+ PPR fantasy points from a non top-10 player)
Last Week: 0-3
QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)
RB: Marlon Mack (Colts)
WR: Robert Woods (Rams)
(12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 2-1
QB: Russell Wilson (Seahawks)
RB: Leonard Fournette (Jaguars)
WR: Julian Edelman (Patriots)