Last week, I got off to a dismal 3-10-2 record against the spread, but that leaves almost the entire season to improve. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk, and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. Let’s go.
Texans at Bengals (-6.5) – Well, you certainly won’t find two teams who looked worse in their openers. Despite that, this is a pretty simple game to size up. The Texans are banged up and traveling on a short week. Additionally, Andy Dalton is still Cincinnati’s quarterback for better or worse. He has proven he is capable of at least moderate success in this league. The same level of certainty cannot be applied to Houston’s quarterback situation. Cin 24 Hou 13
Cardinals (-7) at Colts- After last week’s embarrassment, there are not many reasons for Colts fans to be optimistic. The return of Andrew Luck is nowhere in sight. Whether it is Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett who faces Arizona, it will be an uphill battle.
The Cardinals are not exactly a well-oiled machine at the moment, especially without David Johnson. Even so, Los Angeles hung 46 on Indy last week. The Jared Goff led Rams struggled to score 46 points in a month last year. Arizona should have enough firepower to get the job done. This strikes me as a game where professional pride may kick in for the Colts. After last week though, it is hard to see them keeping it close with any average team. Ari 31 Ind 17
Bills at Panthers (-7)- Christian McCaffery has certainly added something to a Panthers offense that already did a lot of exotic things with its running backs. Cam Newton missed some easy throws last week and appears to still be struggling with a bad shoulder, but he did not need to do much last week and won’t need to here either.
Yes, it was just the 49ers last week. Even so, the Panthers defense showed flashes of its great play from two years ago that helped the team reached the Super Bowl. The Bills struggled to put away the Jets last week. It is hard to imagine that going on the road against a much better opponent will help them. Car 27 Buf 17
Bears at Bucs (-7) – This game is tough to get a read on since Tampa Bay did not play last week. The theory of playing for an entire city after a hurricane certainly did not work when it came to Houston last week. However, the Bears are not very good and the Bucs have one of the better collections of offensive talent in the league. Thus, I will use the Houston theory again here. TB 31 Chi 21
Browns at Ravens (-8) – The Browns were one of the few things I had right last week. If there ever was a moral victory, that was it. The Ravens are benefiting too much from Cincinnati not showing up at all last week with this line. The offense didn’t look sharp. Granted, it didn’t need to. An outright upset would not shock me here. Bal 21 Cle 20
Vikings at Steelers (-5.5) – The Steelers are fantastic at home. Any team with their offensive weapons is a tall order for any opponent. Before the Vikings can be taken seriously as a real contender, their offense has to show it can be productive against more than just the Saints defense. Pit 27 Min 19
Patriots (-6.5) at Saints- This will be a fun watch featuring two of the best quarterbacks of this era desperate to avoid 0-2 starts for their teams. If Kansas City can put up 40+ on the Pats in New England, the Saints will surely be able to score in the Superdome. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company won’t start 0-2, but they will be made to sweat. NE 34 NO 31
Eagles at Chiefs (-5.5)- Philadelphia did a nice job of going out and backing up the preseason hype that surrounded them last week, but this is a tough task. While the Kansas City hype train needs to slow down a bit, beating the Patriots in their building may be the most challenging thing to do in the NFL. Andy Reid coached teams almost never lose when given extra time to prepare. For young football team like the Eagles, Arrowhead Stadium combined with a physical Chiefs defense is more than likely going to be a case of too much, too soon. KC 28 Phi 21.
Titans (-2.5) at Jaguars- This is your classic Week 1 overreaction line. Yes, the Titans were soundly beaten by the Raiders, but the Jags are getting way too much credit for manhandling in the opener. While early returns on Leonard Fournette are good, the Texans helped Jacksonville out a lot. The Titans won’t be nearly as generous. Blake Bortles is not going to beat many teams completing 11 passes and barely breaking 100 yards. Ten 21 Jac 13
Dolphins at Chargers (-4.5) – After a one week hurricane delay, we finally get our first look at the Jay Cutler led Dolphins. The move did not make sense to me then and won’t until I see differently. Despite good individual members from time to time, having Cutler on your team has never meant winning football games on a consistent basis. In fact, it has usually meant just the opposite.
The Chargers finished last week’s loss against Denver really well. Their pass rushers will cause problems for every team they face this year. Also, the Bolts should be eager to open their time in LA with a win. Lac 30 Mia 21
Jets at Raiders (-14) – As bad as the Jets are, they hung around in Buffalo last week. The game would have been even closer had they not bungled an interception return. 14 points is just too many to swallow in the NFL unless the team that is favorite is angry or desperate. After last week’s win Oakland has no reason to be either. Oak 28 NYJ 17
Cowboys (-2) at *Broncos- Another week, another stiff test for Dak Prescott in his second year. He passed the first one with flying colors, but this one comes on the road at one of the toughest places to play in all of football.
This game is really a coin flip. Other than a rough few minutes in the fourth quarter, Denver dominated the Chargers last week. The balance they showed last week, a great defense that is already playing really well and playing at home will be enough for a minor upset. Den 21 Dal 17
49ers at Seahawks (-13.5) – Here, we have the same basic logic as the Jets/Raiders matchup. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Seattle has all the incentive in the world to be angry and desperate after being smothered by the Packers last week. Sea 24 SF 6
Redskins at Rams (-2.5)- Fortunately for Rams fans, the team that destroyed Indianapolis last week looked nothing like the disorganized mess that we saw last year. It is too early to say whether or not they are legitimate contenders, but this is a good matchup for them. Kirk Cousins was very pedestrian in the opener and committed a few big turnovers. The Rams defense will probably force him to do the same this week. Lar 23 Was 17
*Packers at Falcons (-2.5) – After barely escaping Chicago with a win last week, the Falcons seem to be missing something after the offensive coordinator change. Seattle may be the toughest defense Green Bay faces all year long. They scraped by them last week. I expect that confidence to help the Packers get on a nice early season roll. GB 31 Atl 24
Lions at Giants (-3.5) – Desperation is a big theme this week. Teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs less than 15% of the time. The Giants were my preseason NFC Super Bowl representative. That looks shaky at best after last week, but the defense still did a solid job against Dallas.
Whether Odell Beckham Jr plays or not, the offense cannot be any worse. The Lions kept up with their 2016 theme of fourth quarter comeback wins last week against Arizona. They are loaded with talent, particularly on offense. However, their lack of a run game combined with their tendency to fall behind early make them tough to trust. NYG 27 Det 21