NFL Week 2 Picks Against the Spread for Every Game
The season openers provided a little clarity on the landscape of the league, but there is still plenty of wiggle room against Vegas in Week 2. So long as you're hammering the more solid NFL picks, you can continue to build the cushion that last week should have provided.
Therein lies the key to making a little coin. Not every game has enough value to validate placing a bet so be selective.
However, that eliminates half of the challenge! It's fun to place a dollar or two on every game just to see how well you can compete against the house.
The quest for .500 started off well with last week's picks. As always, the picks are denoted by all capital letters.
All lines via espn.go.com.
Current record: 7-9
CHICAGO BEARS +6 vs. Green Bay Packers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Six points is just too much.
Greg Jennings, the Green Bay Packers' most reliable receiver, is battling a groin injury that will surely limit his effectiveness, if he plays at all. That's troubling for a team that has had difficulty stretching the field over their last four games.
According to the above-linked report from ESPN's Kevin Seifert, the Chicago Bears are "optimistic" that Charles Tillman will play, which only compounds the possible passing problems for Aaron Rodgers. The non-threat of Cedric Benson running the ball won't be enough to open things up against the stout Bears defense.
Conversely, the Chicago Bears are a much more talented offensive team than the San Francisco 49ers, who the Packers allowed to put up 30 last week.
The Cheeseheads might not start off 0-2, they just aren't going to avoid such a disastrous start by more than six points.
By the way, taking over 51 points might not be a bad idea.
Detroit Lions vs. SAN FRANCISCO -7
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The Detroit Lions shut down Steven Jackson last week. Do you know why?
Because the St. Louis Rams don't have any wide receivers.
The Lions are facing the distinct possibility of playing without Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and Bill Bentley. The pressure will now be on the defensive line to be absolutely unstoppable against one of the league's better offensive lines, which will be able to counter the defense's aggressiveness with Frank Gore up the middle.
Calvin Johnson is capable to producing a big day against any defense. However, the San Francisco 49ers won't have to worry about Detroit's rushing attack since Mikel Leshoure is out another week due to his suspension.
The 49ers won by eight on the road against the Green Bay Packers. I'd be hesitant to pick the Lions taking seven at Candlestick.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS +3 vs. Buffalo Bills
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Maybe I'm still bitter about putting my faith in the Buffalo Bills last week. No, that's not it.
It is most certainly that the New York Jets hung 48 points on the supposedly new-and-improved Bills defense. What is an explosive offense like that of the Kansas City Chiefs going to do against them?
The Chiefs have better players at every skill position, with the possible exceptions of Santonio Holmes (arguable against Dwayne Bowe) and Mark Sanchez (I can't believe I just wrote that). Even if the Bills find a way to get to Matt Cassel and everyone downfield is covered, Kansas City still has Dexter McCluster waiting to turn a dump-off into a touchdown.
Since the Bills won't stop the Chiefs, they'll have to keep pace. I don't see that happening either.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has continued the momentum he built over the second half of last season, and Fred Jackson is out three weeks. Now, Fitzpatrick will have to deal with a revitalized Chiefs defense welcoming back starters Tamba Hali and possibly Brandon Flowers.
Cleveland Browns vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS -7
Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE
I'm leaning towards a lock on this pick.
The Cleveland Browns kept the game close with the Philadelphia Eagles because of Michael Vick's four interceptions. Andy Dalton isn't as explosive as Vick, but he isn't nearly as likely to turn the ball over.
Additionally, Cleveland will be without the services of Joe Haden. No one else on the roster has a chance at matching up with A.J. Green.
The Cincinnati Bengals will go from seeing possible breakout star Joe Flacco and his no-huddle offense to Brandon Weeden and his no-touchdown offense.
Seven points seems like a gift. Take it.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS +1 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
I called the crap game (Jax vs. Min) last week, but I didn't put any money on it. It would probably be a wise move to avoid it this week as well.
The Chicago Bears have a way of demoralizing quarterbacks, so it's way too early to doubt Andrew Luck's capabilities of performing this year. However, the Minnesota Vikings have Jared Allen, who will certainly dominate Anthony Costanzo.
The Vikings also have the best and most motivated player on the field in Adrian Peterson. He scored two touchdowns against a much stouter defense. I don't see a good reason for betting against him now, especially if Dwight Freeney misses any time.
The more I think about it, the better the Vikings look.
OAKLAND RAIDERS -3 vs. Miami Dolphins
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
Assuming the Oakland Raiders find a new long snapper, the Miami Dolphins won't cover this spread.
Head coach Dennis Allen will keep hammering away on the Raiders defense that they can't extend drives the way they did against the San Diego Chargers. Even with those penalties, they contained the Chargers offense enough to give the team the win.
There's also another problem for the Dolphins.
The Chargers have Philip Rivers. Miami has Ryan Tannehill, and I will be betting against him until further notice.
Carson Palmer (aka Ryan Fitzpatrick Sr.) didn't do much to disprove that he is anything more than an average quarterback (if that). However, he can ride Darren McFadden to a couple touchdowns, which is all they'll need.
Arizona Cardinals vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -14
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
This game comes down to one question: Do you believe in Kevin Kolb?
The New England Patriots defense has improved significantly. Kolb's one drive last week holds zero significance, and the Arizona Cardinals offensive line will struggle to hold back Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower.
Well, they may hold them, but it's unlikely to help the offense much.
Darnell Dockett, Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson are good. Unfortunately, the entire New England Patriots offense is nightmare-inspiring and at least 14 points better.
You might be thinking that Peterson could cover the spread with his punt returns. There's just one problem.
The Cards would have to force a punt first.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +9 vs. New York Giants
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
I was too scared to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week because of a couple offensive and defensive line injuries. Not anymore.
Greg Schiano is taking his freshly-trained platoon back to a state that he used to own. His confidence and discipline has to be worth a couple points.
Besides, the Bucs completely shut down the Carolina Panthers rushing attack, which is better than the New York Giants version. They did give up a truckload of yards through the air, but the Giants offense is dealing with a Super Bowl hangover as well as their normal September struggles.
Last week, Doug Martin established himself as a tough back capable of shouldering the load (24 carries, 95 yards). Which dovetails into the next point perfectly, because what is the best way to counter and tire out a relentless passing attack? Running the ball.
The ball control plus smart, efficient play by Josh Freeman against a shaky secondary makes nine points too far of a stretch.
HOUSTON TEXANS -8 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
If you take away the Minnesota Vikings' late defensive lapse, Blaine Gabbert passed for 221 yards and one touchdown.
The Houston Texans have a better defense than the Vikings. The Jacksonville Jaguars will have to focus on much more than the defensive line, as the Texans have playmakers at each level.
The Texans have an exponentially better offense than the Vikings as well. Matt Schaub is probably the ceiling of expectations for Christian Ponder, and he's nowhere close yet.
This game is like chicken. It's great by itself or as part of a parlay.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS -3 vs. St. Louis Rams
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Robert Griffin III has already burned me once, so he'll probably do it again.
Jeff Fisher is a masterful defensive game-planner, but it won't be enough because no matter how much the Washington Redskins score, it won't be enough.
The St. Louis Rams were aided by three Matthew Stafford interceptions that led to 13 points. Mike Shanahan will likely stick to last week's game plan of short passes to minimize mistakes and rely on his running game when needed.
The Redskins have a solid defensive unit that will take care of the rest.
They are stout enough to keep Steven Jackson under wraps, and Sam Bradford has never shown himself to be an explosive quarterback. Especially with the receiving options he has to choose from and an unsettled offensive line.
DALLAS COWBOYS -3 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Al Bello/Getty Images
Maybe we bought into the Russell Wilson hype a little too early. He will still be good someday, but it might take longer than originally thought.
Although, to be fair, picking him against the Arizona Cardinals wasn't rocket science. Just unlucky.
The Dallas Cowboys will certainly put up more than the 20 points the Cards did.
The emergence of Kevin Ogletree doesn't even have to be real. His presence alone will create space for Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. And that's before we discuss DeMarco Murray, who was last seen piling up 131 yards against the defending champs.
The points produced by Dallas will keep the Seattle Seahawks passing and allow the best pure pass-rusher in the league to introduce himself to the rookie quarterback.
Russell Wilson, meet DeMarcus Ware. He'll be your roommate for the next few hours.
Lastly, to take the three points is to have a distinct belief that the Seahawks will win the game. I don't see that happening as the teams stand today.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -3 vs. Carolina Panthers
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Two teams coming off disappointing performances in their openers is a great way to create a headache. The basis of the column is to pick a winner, so I'll turn to one of my most basic tenets.
Never write off an elite quarterback based on one poor performance.
No, not Cam Newton.
Drew Brees has earned our trust. He struggled against the Washington Redskins, but the Carolina Panthers won't bother the offense nearly as much. Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram should perform well enough to allow Brees to find the impossible-to-cover Jimmy Graham.
The Panthers situation is a little more troubling. They failed to run the ball at all, which is the team's key to winning. At least the Saints were able to throw for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
Trust Drew Brees. It can't happen twice in a row, right?
BALTIMORE RAVENS +3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Four interceptions against the Cleveland Browns roughly translates to 16 against the Baltimore Ravens. The equation accounts for every variable, including Ed Reed getting bored and playing the third quarter blindfolded.
I doubt Michael Vick will replicate his dreadful performance, but he isn't worth the three points right now. Not against a Ravens squad that has a shiny new offense.
The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of pass-rushers to try and disrupt the rhythm that Joe Flacco found with the no-huddle. However, the hesitation caused by the threat of draws and screens to Ray Rice will give Flacco the split second he needs.
Last week, we referenced the evergreen defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Monday night's dominating performance, the Ravens have to be included in that category as well.
New York Jets vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS -6
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
If Darrelle Revis can go, this decision might get reversed. However, concussions are a touchy subject in the NFL, so we'll assume that the New York Jets will sit him.
His absence will open up the entire field for Ben Roethlisberger. Antonio Cromartie's style of play only works with a shutdown corner opposite him, so Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace will have plenty of room to roam.
Besides, can we really trust the Jets offense to go as crazy on the Pittsburgh Steelers as they did on the Buffalo Bills? There are years of evidence to suggest that the Steelers defense is legit. The Bills were paper champs.
Even if the Jets offense is better than assumed, Mark Sanchez still isn't Peyton Manning, who the Steelers contained until the second half.
TENNESSEE TITANS +6 vs. San Diego Chargers
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
Total points grab.
As expected, the New England Patriots defense proved tough to run against for Chris Johnson. The Tennessee Titans will try to reestablish Chris Johnson as a rushing force regardless of who starts at quarterback. It's also worth nothing that Jake Locker wasn't terrible in the season opener.
As for the Chargers offense, they don't look right. The rushing attack will continue to be nonexistent, leaving Philip Rivers to his own devices.
Which all leads to taking the points or staying away.
Denver Broncos vs. ATLANTA FALCONS -3
John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
As alluded to earlier, in games with a three-point spread, just worry about picking who will win.
Here, that would be the Atlanta Falcons.
Neither defense is particularly scary.
Champ Bailey and Von Miller are fine defenders, but they won't slow down Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ditto for the Falcons defense against Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
So this game will come down to who can put up the most points. When comparing these two sets of playmakers, I'll take the Falcons trio.