The beauty of Week 1 of NFL football is that even when it isn’t entertaining, it’s educational. While there were no shortage of thrilling finishes across the league, there were also some drubbings and some unexpectedly, uninspired performances — the latter of which have left us wondering where teams that we thought we had a beat on going into the year really stand.
But before we get into what was learned and discuss the adjustments we’ll be making for Week 2, let’s conduct a quick postmortem of Week 1.
ATS (Against The Spread) Record – 9-7
Straight Up Record – 7-9
No Way We Can Lose – Locks Of The Week – 4-1
Overall, not very impressive picking straight up winners, but my locks were… well, locks. So what if I whiffed on the team I picked in the title? I’ll take 4-1 any week of the year.
That and we came out with a winning record against the spread after a difficult Week 1.
All things considered, I’d say we’re off to a solid start.
Now, on to Week 2.
As I was saying, there’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck between overreacting and not reacting at all with such a small sample size.
As abysmal as some teams looked (looking at you, Rams, Browns, Redskins) and as unstoppable as others appeared (Patriots, Steelers… shocking), none of these teams have really established enough of a body of work this year to guarantee that they’re as good or as bad as they seemed in Week 1. And that goes double for the teams I didn’t mention as being spectacular in either a good way or a bad way.
So let’s take the Week 2 slate on and see if we can’t figure out who’s for real and who’s not with the first week of the season in our rear view mirror.
Same as last week, these picks will be divided up into the following categories:
No way we can lose – locks of the week: As you can guess, these will be the stone-cold locks of the week. The games that I’m so confident about that I’d put my life’s savings on them if I had a life’s savings to wager.
Feeling pretty… pretty good: Not quite willing to bet the farm on this batch, but as Mr. Larry David would say, I’m feeling pretty… pretty good about these games.
Heads or tails: These are your true toss ups: they can go one way or another and you should pick with caution even after heeding my expert advice.
Let’s get started, with our Thursday Night Football game as usual.
(All odds as of 9/14, courtesy of CBS Sports)
(0-1) New York Jets @ (0-1) Buffalo Bills (-1.5) – Thursday, Sept. 15 – 8:25 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Jets
Level of confidence – Feeling pretty… pretty good
This battle of the inept offenses won’t exact make for a stellar NFL debut on Twitter on Thursday night, but should make for an extremely close and gritty game.
At the end of the day, what the Jets’ front seven did against a very good Bengals team – registering seven sacks and limiting the Bengals to just 57 yards rushing – doesn’t bode well for a Bills team with a hobbled Sammy Watkins that gained just 111 yards through the air last week.
If the Bills can exploit the Jets’ secondary, they’ll likely win, but nothing in their recent history suggests they’ll be able to do so.
I like the Jets to make a few more plays on offense and grind out a close one here.
No Way We Can Lose – Locks Of The Week
(0-1) San Francisco 49ers @ (0-1) Carolina Panthers (-13.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Panthers
I know, I know, that’s A LOT of points to give up to anyone. But to tell you the truth, the Panthers could be 20-point favorites in this one and they’d still be in my ‘locks of the week’ section.
The Panthers are going to throttle the 49ers, who played a Rams team that we (ok, I) expected much more out of last week.
The disparity between the 49ers and the Panthers rosters is as vast as the distance between the two cities they play in and it’ll show on Sunday.
Carolina wins big, Cam Newton fantasy owners party in the streets and the Panthers get to 1-1 on the year with ease.
(0-1) Miami Dolphins @ (1-0) New England Patriots (-6.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Dolphins (LOCK)
Straight Up – Patriots
I think two things are going to happen in this game. I think people will realize that the Dolphins are actually a good football team and didn’t just catch Seattle on an off day and I think Jimmy Garoppolo will struggle.
The biggest reason I like the Dolphins as a lock against the spread here is because without Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots don’t have the same ‘killer instinct’ and ability to blow teams out.
They’ll play it safe with Garoppolo, which will keep things close, to the point where I think Miami can actually win this one.
I don’t think they will, but I know they’ll at least cover the spread in a tightly-contested divisional matchup in Foxboro.
(1-0) Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ (0-1) Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) – Sunday, Sept 18 – 4:05 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Cardinals
I’m a big Jameis Winston fan and boy did he look impressive after making an early error against the Falcons, but the Cardinals will cause problems for the second-year quarterback here.
There’s that and of course there’s the anger factor and need for the Cards to get that first win after a disappointing loss to the Garoppolo-led Patriots.
Cardinals win and cover in this one.
(1-0) Seattle Seahawks @ (0-1) Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 4:05 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Rams
That’s right, the Los Angeles Rams – who haven’t scored a point as a franchise since 1994 and were made to look like fools against the rebuilding San Francisco 49ers, will BEAT the Seattle Seahawks.
This is your classic overreaction game for most. The Rams looked god awful on Sunday and they’re only getting 3.5 from the Seahawks? SOLD!
Not so fast. Here’s why the Rams are the play, in bullet form so it’s easy to digest:
- The Seahawks are a notoriously different team on the road than at home.
- The Rams beat the Seahawks both times they met last year.
- Russell Wilson will not be anywhere near 100 percent if he plays. Against the Rams’ dominant defensive line, that’s trouble. Note: The Rams sacked Wilson 10 times in two games last year when he wasn’t running around with a sprained ankle.
- The Rams will be playing their first home game in Los Angeles since 1979. Can you say home-field advantage?
The defense rests.
Feeling Pretty… Pretty Good
(0-1) New Orleans Saints @ (1-0) New York Giants (-4.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Saints
Straight Up – Giants
This, is going to be fun, my friends.
Actually, this is going to feel like deja vu for many fans who watched the Saints and the Giants play last year at the Superdome.
You remember… the 52-49 slugfest that the Saints pulled out at home in the final seconds with a Kai Forbath field goal?
Seven touchdowns and 511 yards for Drew Brees, 350 yards and six touchdowns for Eli Manning; a lot of happy fantasy owners and some defense coordinators who really, really needed to lie down after this one.
It’ll be much of the same here, only this time the Giants’ high-priced additions on defense are here to help prevent the same bloodletting that Brees inflicted upon Big Blue last year.
At least, that was Jerry Reese’s thought process this offseason.
That’s why the Giants win this one, but not by much.
(0-1) Dallas Cowboys @ (0-1) Washington Redskins (-3.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Redskins
Both teams are looking to rebound from brutal losses – the Redskins from a home blowout on national television and the Cowboys from a Terrance Williams brain cramp at home against an arch rival.
So who gets it done?
I think it’s the Redskins. Home-field advantage, plus they’ll stack the box and make Dak Prescott beat them, which I don’t think he’s capable of in his first road game of his career.
Redskins by a touchdown.
(0-1) Atlanta Falcons @ (1-0) Oakland Raiders (-4.5) – Sunday, Sept 18 – 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS – Falcons
Straight Up – Raiders
Without breaking my own rule and overreacting to Week 1 happenings, I think 30-plus points from the Raiders offense might be what it takes for them to win most weeks.
Drew Brees and the Saints’ receivers gashed Oakland’s secondary to the tune of 423 yards and 4 TDs, which makes me weary of how they’ll perform against pass-happy Atlanta with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu (assuming both play).
This has the makings of yet another high-scoring affair for both teams. I like Oakland to get the last laugh thanks to their pass rush and home field advantage, but it won’t be easy.
(0-1) Jacksonville Jaguars @ (0-1) San Diego Chargers (-2.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Jaguars
The Jaguars fought valiantly against a Green Bay Packers team that many expect to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, proving that they’re a team on the rise in my eyes.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that it was pretty much a clean football game on both sides.
The Jaguars didn’t keep it close through a ton of Green Bay penalties, or anomalous turnovers (Green Bay had none), or anything like that — they simple played with the Packers and nearly won.
That, combined with no Keenan Allen and a Chargers team coming off of a crushing Week 1 defeat bodes well for Jacksonville, who will put one in the win column on Sunday.
(0-1) Indianapolis Colts @ (1-0) Denver Broncos (-5.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Broncos
After watching what the Broncos did to Cam Newton last Thursday night, Andrew Luck can’t be too excited about this matchup.
And he probably shouldn’t count on getting much help from his defense that gave up 39 points to the Lions when he faces he Broncos, even with Trevor Siemian starting just his second game ever.
Bottom line here is the Colts’ defense is abysmal and the Broncos’ is outstanding.
The Broncos defense will make life miserable for Luck, control the clock with C.J. Anderson and will cruise to a victory at home over the Colts.
(1-0) Philadelphia Eagles @ (0-1) Chicago Bears (-2.5) – Monday, Sept. 19 – 8:30 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Bears
I like Carson Wentz and think he has a long future in this league. We learned last week that he can make all the throws, is poised in the pocket, athletic, and may well be the long-term solution at quarterback in Philly.
Still, there’s big difference between doing what he did against the Cleveland Browns at home and against the Chicago Bears on the road.
This Bears defense isn’t the Bears defense of old, but it’s on the rise. I think Jeremy Langford has himself a day and the Bears defense stifles Wentz, leading to a Bears victory.
Heads Or Tails
(1-0) Baltimore Ravens @ (0-1) Cleveland Browns (+6.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Browns
Straight Up – Ravens
Call me crazy, but I see Cleveland keeping this one close. I don’t think the Ravens are that good and while I do think the Browns are that bad, they’ll play a division rival tight and come out with a lot of energy in Hue Jackson’s home debut.
Look for this one to be decided by a touchdown or less, so if the line goes up to +7/7.5, jump on it.
(1-0) Kansas City Chiefs @ (1-0) Houston Texans (-2.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Texans
The runner up for game of the week right here, folks: the comeback kids from Kansas City against the new-look Houston Texans.
While last week’s 21-point Chiefs comeback was thoroughly impressive, it’s also worrisome.
Keenan Allen was on his way to a big day and the Chiefs couldn’t stop Phillip Rivers and the Chargers until he went down.
With DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Lamar Miller at his disposal, can Brock Osweiler exploit the Chiefs’ secondary, too?
I say yes. Texans limit Spencer Ware and Alex Smith on defense and do enough on offense to win and cover.
(1-0) Cincinnati Bengals @ (1-0) Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Bengals
This one gets the ‘game of the week’ honors by just a tad over the Chiefs-Texans matchup strictly due to historical ties.
The Steelers-Bengals rivalry is a great one that’ll only be better coming off of last year’s playoff game between these two AFC North squads.
The Bengals – thanks to that fateful game in January – will still be without Vontaze Burfict and Tyler Eifert. The Steelers, of course, will be short Le’Veon Bell.
I like the Steelers here, especially if 33-year-0ld DeAngelo Williams can replicate last week’s success on the ground for Pittsburgh.
Still, I like the Bengals to keep it close. As far as running backs go, you know the one wearing No. 32 (Jeremy Hill) for Cincinnati will be looking to exact some revenge for the way his team’s season ended last year.
(0-1) Tennessee Titans @ (1-0) Detroit Lions (-5.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Titans
Straight Up – Lions
This is a tough one. The Lions and the Titans faced off against teams that have the exact opposite strength of the team they’re about to face.
The Lions beat the Colts, who have a vaunted passing attack and no running game. The Titans are the exact opposite.
The Titans lost to the Vikings, who ground and pound and play defense. The Lions are not that team.
So discerning exactly how these two fair against each other is a tough task.
I think the Lions are the better team overall and Matthew Stafford looked sensational in Week 1, so the Lions get the nod.
However, the Lions handle prosperity about as well as Donald Trump handles being insulted. So with that in mind, I’m also taking the Titans to cover, just because they’ll keep it close to torture those poor Lions fans a little bit en route to a win.
(1-0) Green Bay Packers @ (1-0) Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) – Sunday, Sept. 18 – 8:30 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Packers
I really, really am trying to find a reason to pick the Vikings to win this game. I almost want them to win, what with the Teddy Bridgewater injury, their brand new stadium being opened up on Sunday night and all that.
Unfortunately, I just don’t see it.
Aaron Rodgers is too good. Sure the Vikings showed what their defense can do against the Titans on Sunday, but that’s the Titans.
Rodgers will do enough to get his team the victory and send Vikings fans home from U.S. Bank Stadium with a home-opening loss.
May the odds be ever in your favor, football fans. See you in a week.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for a championship for any of his other three teams.