Let’s not panic after one week, folks. Save that for Monday morning. Everyone knows that if you go 0-2, you are screwed, even if you play in the AFC South and the only team to win is the Jackonville Jaguars.
Here are this week’s picks over who will be panicking:
Thursday, Cincinnati (-6) vs Houston
These teams combined to score 7 points in week 1. This is the first matchup in week 2 between two teams that failed to score more than 7 points in the opener since 2007 (Chiefs-Bears). Thursday Night Football has returned!
In all seriousness, one team just turned the ball over and got off to a rough start. The other one has exactly one competent receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) after all three tight ends were diagnosed with a concussion after week 1 and the 2nd most-targeted receiver was Bruce Ellington (2), has a rookie QB who averaged under 5 yards per pass in the opener and didn’t look ready, and has another QB’s agent complaining about him getting benched at halftime.
Pick: Cincinnati -6
Tennessee -1.5 at Jacksonville
Remember when the Titans were a playoff contender? And the Jaguars sucked? Well, the Jaguars can go to 2-0 and jump to a lead in the division with a home win. I’ll also point out that the Titans are an incredible 2-16 on the road in the last six years against division rivals. (1-15-2 ATS). This hasn’t exactly been the Murderer’s Row of divisions the last few years either.
So of course, I’m going Titans -1.5. The Jaguars can’t have nice things.
Baltimore -8 vs Cleveland
Cleveland was competitive against Pittsburgh at home. Baltimore barely had to pass the ball a week ago as the Bengals couldn’t out of their own way. Flacco completed 9 passes and Danny Woodhead, who missed most of the game after getting hurt, was the leading receiver.
Cleveland–for all their suckitude–has generally played well (grading on the point spread curve) in Baltimore, last season excepted. Browns +8.
Carolina -7 vs Buffalo
These two teams scheduled directional schools last week (49ers and Jets) so this is the first opportunity to see what will happen when they play a Power 5 opponent. Who knows what to expect? Not me. Bills +7 I guess, and keep an eye on the Newton injury report news.
New England -6.5 at New Orleans
I would call this the Brandin Cooks revenge game, but how much revenge could you have in your heart after getting sent to the Patriots after never making the playoffs?
Saints are 7-3 straight up and 8-2 ATS during Drew Brees’ tenure (excluding one week 17 game where they rested starters) as a home underdog. Patriots are the better team and I expect them to get things figured out, but I’m not ready to lay that number after seeing the Pats defense a week ago. Saints +6.5 and you’ll know the defense is bad if Adrian Peterson breaks a big play.
Arizona -7 at Indianapolis
This line suggests that Vegas thinks the Colts are the worst team in football without Luck. I think that is probably overrating them, if anything. I mean, this team was still splitting reps with Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett this week.
That’s a big number and David Johnson is out, blah blah blah. If Bruce Arians, who was the coach in Indianapolis filling in for Pagano before moving to Arizona, has any chance, you know he’s pouring on the gasoline. And as we saw last week, Colts are flammable. Arizona -7.
Kansas City -5.5 vs Philadelphia
As a Chiefs fan, I’m going to be a pessimist and worry about a letdown after winning at New England. Alex Smith was throwing the ball aggressively downfield. Andy Reid utilized the two-minute offense and timeouts flawlessly at the end of the first half. Kareem Huntlooked like the next Priest Holmes.
The Eagles had a pretty good defense and are a live enough dog this week that I’ll hedge my emotions. Eagles +5.5.
Pittsburgh -5.5 vs Minnesota
Colin Cowherd was espousing a theory that Pittsburgh and Seattle were much better at home than on the road because of their emotional coaches. I don’t know, I gave up. He was trying to justify how the Steelers were about a 6 point favorite at home to the Vikings. Here’s an easier way: Steelers were in the AFC Champ game last year, Vikings a middle-of-the-road team (though one that got there in streaky fashion). Not sure what you expect the line to be. Steelers -5.5.
Tampa Bay -7 vs Chicago
Tarik Cohen was a revelation in week 1. The Bears remained competitive even though Mike Glennon is–in the words of Dennis Green, R.I.P.–who we thought he was.
Tampa Bay has been disrupted on practice and is opening as a big favorite against a team that has some actual game reps. Bears +7.
LA Chargers -4 vs Miami
Los Angeles is going to be rocking with two NFL games at the same time. If they don’t sell out this tiny stadium, then expect plenty of laughter. Normally, home field advantage is weak the first year in a new stadium, but I’m throwing that out because all that data and research is based on playing in actual football stadiums. Dolphins +4.
Oakland -13.5 vs NY Jets
The median time for an expansion team to make the playoffs is four seasons later, so keep that in mind Jets fans. Don’t expect miracles by 2019. Raiders -13.5.
LA Rams -2.5 vs Washington
Rams became only the 2nd team since 1990 to score on two pick-sixes on opening day (Vikings vs. Falcons, 2007). Kirk Cousins against his old offensive coach, who is anything but old. The Rams showed signs of life last week but also drew the best possible opponent. Washington +2.5 will prove a tougher task.
Dallas -2 at Denver
Imagine where Denver would be if they had taken Dak Prescott instead of Paxton Lynch. The last time these two teams met, by the way, it was a 51-48 shootout between Peyton Manning and Tony Romo. Man, the NFL changes so quickly in four years. Broncos +2 as the home dog.
Seattle -14 vs San Francisco
It might surprise you to learn that Seattle is 13-6 SU and 12-7 against the spread when favored by more than a touchdown since the start of the 2014 season, since there are games that stick out where they played to the level of the competition.
Seattle has some offensive line concerns, but I’m not sure where San Francisco, who scored 3 points a week ago, gets the offense against the Legion of Boom. Reluctantly, Seattle -14.
Atlanta -3 vs Green Bay
You want to give me points with Rodgers right now, I’ll take them. Packers +3.
NY Giants -3.5 vs Detroit
Once Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall start playing, the Giants will be better off. Lions +3.5.
TOP PICKS: Packers +3, Saints +6.5, Redskins +2.5, Titans -1.5, Browns +8