Last week was a little better, but not much. Despite correctly calling the Broncos upset of the Cowboys, I posted a record of just 5-11 last week and sit at 8-20-2 through two weeks. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. The quest for improvement continues.
Rams (-2) at 49ers- Taking a road team on Thursday night is always dangerous, but Jared Goff looks like a legitimate NFL quarterback two weeks in to his sophomore season. Despite being an offensive guru, Kyle Shanahan’s new 49ers offense has not really gotten off the ground yet. The Rams’ defense is among the last a struggling offense would like to face. Lar 20 SF 10
Ravens (-3.5) at Jaguars (London) – The number here is shockingly low. It makes me wonder if Vegas knows something the rest of the world does not. Baltimore is far from an offensive juggernaut, but they have not needed to be one thus far. The defense has carried them to an undefeated start by dominating bad teams. Jacksonville is most certainly a bad team. If they wait three quarters to show up like they did last week, Baltimore will eat them alive. Bal 27 Jac 15
Falcons (-3) at Lions- This has a chance to be really good. Two hot quarterbacks with lots of weapons. Atlanta passed its first true post Super Bowl meltdown test by throttling Green Bay last week. Detroit is white hot in the early going as well and showing more offensive balance than we are used to. It seems like every time the Lions have a chance for a big statement win, they come up short. Thus, Atlanta wins a shootout. Atl 35 Det 31
Browns (-1) at Colts- Andrew Luck still is not walking through the door anytime soon to save the Colts. The good news is they occasionally looked like a real NFL team at times with Jacoby Brissett at the helm last week. Even so, the Browns are favorite to win a game for the first time since 2015.
With the youngest roster in the league, Cleveland is still overmatched most weeks. However, their talent on both sides of the ball is intriguing and they play hard. The Browns have been in both of their games so far before miscues turned the tide. Deshone Kizer should be able to limit those against a dreadful Colts defense. Cle 20 Ind 17
Broncos (-3) at Bills- This line is brilliant. The Broncos are the talk of the league after their performance last week and most folks have declared Buffalo terrible after struggling with the Jets for three quarters and putting up just three points in defeat last week.
I would have expected Denver to at least be a touchdown favorite, in which case Buffalo would have been my favorite pick of the week. This just screams trap game. The Broncos are making a rare trip to the East Coast. Any team is susceptible to reading their own press clippings a little too much after a big win.
Lastly, Buffalo offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was in Denver last year. He knows Trevor Siemian’s strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone. You can bet he has been dropping in on defensive meetings this week.
Despite all that, the talent gap between the two rosters is too great on paper not to swallow a measly field goal. I am taking the sucker bet. Den 27 Buf 21
Texans at Patriots (-13) – A win is a win in the NFL. Despite playing pretty poorly in Cincinnati last week, the way Deshaun Watson competed and made a few big plays to help his team get the job done was impressive. However, the Texans are nowhere near ready to really compete with a Patriots team that seemed to get back on track last week. NE 31 Hou 13
Dolphins (-6) at Jets- As a general rule, always take home underdogs in a rivalry game. The Jets are not as bad as most thought they were going to be. Gang Green hung right with the Raiders until a muffed punt opened the floodgates late in the first half. Miami needed a lot of help to get by the Chargers last week. An outright upset would no doubt create some fantastic new Jay Cutler memes, but I will stop just short of calling it. Mia 24 Nyj 20
Saints at Panthers (-6) – Something has to give here. Carolina is really struggling on offense, but very good on defense. New Orleans is the polar opposite. Carolina’s offense should finally be able get their multilayered ground game going. The defense should be able to slow down Drew Brees just enough, but a touchdown is too much too give up. Car 34 NO 30
*Giants at Eagles (-6) – I am a fool for giving the Giants another week before I bury them. However, it is inconceivable to me how a team with so much talent on both sides of the ball can be as bad as they have been. The Giants are another team on the wrong side of the league wide shortage of decent offensive line play.
New York has been a strange team over the years. They play better when they are on the road and nothing is expected of them, both apply here. Odell Beckham Jr. will be a week healthier and we do not really know what the Eagles are yet. Betting on the Giants this week will be slightly more entertaining than setting your money on fire folks. NYG 24 Phi 20
Steelers (-7) at Bears- The Steelers have already shown us that they will ride that high-powered offense to the playoffs yet again this year. With Mike Glennon at quarterback, the Bears are much closer to the team that got picked apart in Tampa last week than the one that played the Falcons to the wire opening weekend. Pit 28 Chi 17
Bucs (-2.5) at Vikings- This line has been taken off most sites. It will continue to move dramatically until Sam Bradford’s playing status gets clearer. This was the only one I could find. If Bradford gets healthy, this line could very well flip. For now though, if Bradford does not answer the bell, the Bucs are a solid bet. Case Keenum certainly did not do much to inspire confidence last week. TB 20 Min 13
*Seahawks at Titans (-3) – It amazes me how people sometimes panic about a team, even after a win. Yes, Seattle struggled with San Francisco and their offensive line is atrocious. However, ever since Russell Wilson came to town, this franchise has had a knack for finding ways to win. They rarely look impressive, but usually get the job done.
Even though it was against an inferior opponent, sometimes pulling out a gutty win like that is all a team needs to get on track. The Seahawks defense always travels well and Tennessee may struggle with playing another team that plays the physical brand of football. It will be interesting to see how they react, but Seattle has earned the benefit of the doubt. Sea 17 Ten 14
Bengals at Packers (-8.5) – The whole world has been beating up on the Bengals this week, and rightly so. Scoring a grand total of nine points in two games will get you exactly where they are.
The good news is the defense is playing well and the Packers are banged up on both sides of the ball. Additionally, this is easily the worst defense Cincinnati has faced during the young season. The touchdown drought finally ends, but Aaron Rodgers pulls away late. GB 31 Cin 20
Chiefs (-3) at Chargers- New year, new city, same story for the Chargers. Again, they find themselves 0-2 by literally a few inches. The Chiefs offense is not going to look like the 99 Rams all year long and the Chargers are too good to get blown out by anyone. At the end of the day though, these teams will do what they have done for the better part of the last two years. The Chiefs will find a way to win, and the Chargers will find a way to lose. KC 21 Lac 17
Raiders (-3) at Redskins – The Redskins can move the ball on just about anyone, but Derek Carr makes the Raiders offense just a little better in this matchup. Washington has also struggled with turnovers early in the year. That is never a good thing when facing an offense that can make you pay for a short field. Oak 30 Was 20
Cowboys (-3) at Cardinals- Dallas was humbled last week in Denver. Arizona continued to struggle in scrapping by Indianapolis. Arizona’s main cogs are aging very quickly, particularly quarterback Carson Palmer. Despite that, this team may still be capable of a great performance on occasion. That is what they will need Monday night, we have not seen it yet though. Dallas is not nearly as off track as many experts have suggested. Regardless, this is a good matchup for them to get their mojo back. Dal 27 Ari 17