Last week: 10-6. Season totals: 10-6, Pct. .625. Best Bets: 1-2, Pct. .333.
Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
GREEN BAY 27, Chicago 16 (+4)—The Packers already have their backs to the wall, in that only one team that opened a season with two losses, both at home, has ever made the playoffs in a non-strike year (the 2003 Eagles). But Green Bay has won four in a row over the Bears, and four points would appear to be a bargain price.
N.Y. GIANTS 24, Tampa Bay 17 (+9)—The Giants face the same daunting historical trend as the Packers, but the last Super Bowl champion to lose its opener the following year finished 6-10 (the Broncos in 1999), and Josh Freeman is 8-2 lifetime against the spread on artificial turf so take the points.
PITTSBURGH 23, N.Y. Jets 14 (+6 1/2)—Guess how Mark Sanchez did in those exhibition games didn't turn out to mean a whole lot, now did it? But the Jets are 1-8 straight up and 2-7 against the line in franchise history at Pittsburgh, and the face the dreaded sandwich scenario—division game last week (at home vs. Buffalo), division game next week (at Miami).
Baltimore 13 (+1), PHILADELPHIA 10—As a Raven, Joe Flacco has been a maven on natural grass, going 15-8 both ways on it; and when Art Modell watched the Browns win at Philadelphia by seven as a nine-point favorite in the 1969 season opener, it probably never occurred to Modell that he would not live to see his team neglect to cover the spread there again.
NEW ENGLAND 45, Arizona 14 (+13)—The Patriots actually played some defense in the opener—and they have won and covered in their last five over the Cardinals, taking the last four by a combined 106 points, which is the most lopsided result of the last four meetings in any of the NFL's 496 head-to-head matchups.
BUFFALO 24, Kansas City 13 (+7)—A monstrous overlay—until it is pointed out that the Chiefs haven't won in Buffalo since 1986 and have been outscored 145-49 in five games there over that span. Furthermore, the Bills finally get the Chiefs at home after the four most recent meetings have all been in KC (and even that hasn't hurt them, as Buffalo won three of them and covered in all four)—a betting angle that is as venerable in the NFL as "First Time Lasix" is in horse racing.
CAROLINA 34 (+4), New Orleans 27—The Buccaneers managed to get in Cam Newton's face all day, and that was the key to Tampa Bay's victory—but doubt if the Saints can replicate that given the present state of their defense and New Orleans is 4-8 against the line outdoors in this decade. Upset special.
Houston 31, JACKSONVILLE 13 (+7 1/2)—Unless the Texans are looking ahead to what is quite possibly a preview of January's AFC title game next week in Denver, they should have little trouble beating either the spread or the Jaguars.
MIAMI 23 (+1), Oakland 20—This game was originally scheduled for the late time slot, but was moved up so that the many Dolphins fans who are Jewish can get home in time for Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown on Sunday. But the Raiders have been anything but kosher in Miami of late, winning only one of their last seven games there.
CINCINNATI 24, Cleveland 10 (+7)—Eight starting running backs averaged more yards per carry in Week 1 than 5.1, which was Brandon Weeden's passer rating against the Eagles—and that was at home; now imagine how Weeden will do here, on the road.
INDIANAPOLIS 30 (+3), Minnesota 20—The Vikings beat Jacksonville at home in overtime, and that makes them a powerhouse? And they have never beaten the Colts on the road, taking an 0-for-10 lifetime collar. I'm all over Indy in this one.
Washington 31, ST. LOUIS 24 (+3)—That was quite a show RG3 put on in his first NFL start, and he gets another porous pass defense to feast on here (the Rams gave up the most passing yards in the league in Week 1). And if the Redskins, who are 5-1 against the spread on artificial turf in 2011-12, win this one, look out: Since 1982, 19 teams have opened a season 2-0 with both wins coming on the road—and 12 of them went on to make the playoffs, including four who reached the Super Bowl, with three winning it (including the Skins themselves in '82).
SEATTLE 20 (+4), Dallas 17—The Cowboys can put themselves in the same situation as Washington with a win, but it figures to be letdown time after the shockingly dominant road win over the Giants, and the home team in this series has won five in a row. And I wouldn't care if Russell Wilson was 4-foot-11—this line is a total joke.
SAN DIEGO 41, Tennessee 14 (+6)—Hopefully the Chargers got the red zone woes out of their system Monday night—and San Diego has beaten the Titans eight consecutive times, with a seven-game covering streak. Even Bain Capital couldn't offer you a safer investment than the Chargers this week.
SAN FRANCISCO 34, Detroit 17 (+7)—Another lousy defense the 49ers can score on—plus they've won eight in a row over the Lions, who have also lost a whopping 11 straight in San Fran, not having won there since 1975. Jim Schwartz might not even feel like wanting to shake Jim Harbaugh's hand after this one is over.
Denver 28 (+4), ATLANTA 21—Doesn't Matt Ryan always lose on the big stage? And lose is something the Broncos haven't done in Atlanta since 1975, and Peyton Manning is 11-3 straight up on Monday night, and shouldn't have any problems playing indoors.
BEST BETS: NEW ENGLAND, SEATTLE, SAN DIEGO
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