NFL Week 2 Predictions: Pick, Line and Spread Analysis for Each Game
You can't make any assumptions based on the first week of the NFL season. Weird things happen. That's why you shouldn't worry about how your picks against the spread did in Week 1.
But Week 2 is what separates the men from the boys.
Or the mortgage payers from the evictees.
But in all honesty, don't worry about that poor start. There are still 16 weeks of the NFL season to get after.
And 16 weeks' worth of chances to pay that electric bill, complain about one-point losses or get your girlfriend back.
Or just have some fun and click through for this week's picks.
This Week: 0-1
Season Record: 6-10-1
All odds courtesy of footballlocks.com.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-12.5) 13, New York Jets 10
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That didn't go as planned.
But if you would have told me that New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith would throw three picks, I would have assumed I had an easy win.
But, then again, if you had told me that the other quarterback would finish with less than five yards an attempt, I wouldn't have believed you. Or I would have assumed the New England Patriots re-signed Tim Tebow.
Either way, I didn't see that coming from Tom Brady. And the four drops didn't help.
I joked a week ago about betting against the Jets every week until Vegas made the line untenable.
Now, I've already suffered two losses at the hands of still-head coach Rex Ryan's crew.
The rest of the week has to be easier, right?
TENNESSEE TITANS (+9) vs. Houston Texans
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This isn't an overreaction to the game last week. Something has to be said about the Houston Texans' resolve as they battled their way out of 21-point hole.
But they still gave up 28 points to a horrendous team that doesn't have nearly as good of an offensive line as the Tennessee Titans.
And they're giving nine points.
Meanwhile, head coach Mike Munchak has opted to swim against the current of the league, playing a more conservative style that the early-century Buccaneers and Ravens would love.
And they're getting nine points.
Yes, Houston is a better team overall. They have more playmakers on both sides of the ball.
But quarterback Jake Locker only needs to stay within himself and not turn the ball over, because the Texans might be having a bit of an identity crisis. Well, at least in running back Arian Foster's eyes.
I am a bit nervous though. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not taking Jake Locker on the road, I'm taking the Titans offensive line with nine points.
I'm taking the Titans offensive line with nine points.
I'm taking Jake Locker on the road.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (+6.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens
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The difference between Peyton Manning and Brandon Weeden is, well, vast. So betting on Weeden to light up the reeling Baltimore Ravens secondary doesn't appear smart.
But I'm not putting my money in Weeden's hands. I'm grabbing the points.
The Ravens offense had trouble moving the ball on a defense devoid of its two best pass-rushers and cornerback Champ Bailey. And the loss of wide receiver and punt returner Jacoby Jones for at least a few weeks only complicates matters.
Furthermore, while the Cleveland Browns didn't look like the breakout team fans were hoping for, the run defense was superb, holding the Miami Dolphins to less than a yard a carry.
See? That's at least three reasons to place some faith in the Browns.
Oh, and the 6.5-point spread. Did I mention that?
MIAMI DOLPHINS (+2.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts
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Week-to-week results in a parity-driven league don't follow a linear path. Thus, comparative analysis is a dangerous game when placing NFL wagers, and partaking in the exercise is often futile.
But this is gambling, and I'm a rebel.
Or an idiot.
Anyway, the Oakland Raiders took the Indianapolis Colts to the brink at Lucas Oil Stadium. That's the same Raiders team that won four games in 2012 and didn't improve in any significant manner, save for replacing the Carson Palmer with the ultra-athletic Terrelle Pryor.
The Miami Dolphins won seven games in 2012, have a much better defense than the Raiders and an improving second-year quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and they have defensive end Cameron Wake, who torched the Browns for three sacks, two quarterback hits and five hurries, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
So wouldn't it make sense for the Dolphins to at least hang with the Colts? And in games where you're trending toward one team and that team is getting points, what do we do?
Don't get cute, grab those points.
ST. LOUIS RAMS (+6) vs. Atlanta Falcons
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When trying to find reasons to take the St. Louis Rams, I tried talking myself into people's potential.
For instance, it's okay that slot receiver Tavon Austin only averaged 6.8 yards per catch. That just means the explosive first-rounder is due.
I'm also not worrying about running back Daryl Richardson's 3.2 yards-per-carry average. He's a solid back who will grow into the starting role.
Then I realized I was worrying about the wrong team. With six points, you don't need the Rams to be amazing. You just can't have the Atlanta Falcons go nuts.
And that's when I started thinking about wide receiver Roddy White's bum ankle and the report that he'll need a couple more weeks to get back to normal. Thus, the Rams can focus their coverage on Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, knowing that White isn't his dynamic self.
That sounds like reason enough to like the six poi—err, the Rams.
Washington Redskins vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS (-7)
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I don't like investing in covering large spreads, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make you do weird things.
Think about it. The Green Bay Packers did score 28 points against the 49ers. Here's betting they can score quite a bit more on the soft Washington Redskins defense.
And plainly, how can you trust Robert Griffin III right now? He was obviously scared to take that plant step against the Eagles. Do you want to put money on him getting his mojo back within a week?
I can't. And I won't. I can't get the image of that floating duck that passed as his last touchdown out of my mind.
Give me the Packers and their definite pyrotechnics against Griffin and the maybes.
San Diego Chargers vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-7)
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This one makes me sick. We know the Philadelphia Eagles can put up points in a hurry, but that defense is so atrocious it would give any bettor pause.
And save the they-held-the-Redskins-down-for-most-of-the-game argument. RGIII wasn't RGIII, and as soon as he elevated himself to mediocre, the defense yielded points in bunches.
However, the Eagles will be welcoming the freshly shamed San Diego Chargers to town. The Chargers are built around a quarterback and running back whose primes happened at least three years ago.
And again, you know quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy can go off at any time. Frankly, with the number of plays that head coach Chip Kelly likes to run, it's only a matter of time.
The points almost scared me off, but the Chargers are almost members of an exclusive club to be named later. Yup, it's still that dire in San Diego.
Minnesota Vikings vs. CHICAGO BEARS (-5.5)
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I have spent a lot of time extolling the virtue of taking the points this week. But remember, when the other team is bad, you at least have to entertain the thought of laying the spread.
The Jets are one such team. The Chargers are almost another.
Unfortunately for Minnesotans, so are the Vikings.
The Detroit Lions tried to give the Vikings a win through a multitude of bonehead mistakes. But quarterback Christian Ponder would have none of it, chucking up three interceptions and missing receivers at will.
What do you think a Chicago Bears defense that forced three against a risk-averse Bengals team will do to him? Exactly.
The Lions could have easily put up over 40 points on the Vikings defense, and the Bears offense is just as explosive. So long as quarterback Jay Cutler doesn't get lost on the way to Soldier Field, the Bears will win in a romp.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Everyone welcome the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the I'm-not-betting-on-you-unless-you're-getting-double-digit-points club!
Things are that bad for the Bucs. Quarterback Josh Freeman has the look of a guy who will be out of football shortly, and the defense gave up 256 passing yards to a rookie quarterback.
The return of guard Carl Nicks may help, but no one is certain when that will occur. That's not good considering the Bucs are facing off against an improved New Orleans Saints defense that befuddled quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
Lastly, how is that newly outfitted secondary, which allowed Geno Smith to complete 63.2 percent of his passes, going to fare against Drew Brees?
This one almost feels too easy.
DALLAS COWBOYS (+3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
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The Dallas Cowboys tried to give away last week's game, but it turns out that they're just a bit too talented.
Or too lucky.
But for my sake, we're going with the talent argument.
There's a lot to like with the Kansas City Chiefs, but it's odd that they only scored 28 points against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Basically, I'm going to bet that the Chiefs offense is still coming together, which should bode well for a solid Dallas defense.
The Cowboys didn't play particularly well on offense last week, but running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant are healthy. With three points and those two explosive weapons, even quarterback Tony Romo shouldn't be able to screw this up.
DENVER BRONCOS (-4.5) vs. New York Giants
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Am I doing what I warned against in the Pats slide? Am I reading too much into one week of dominance?
Nope, it just seems that way.
The New York Giants have a running back issue that will only partially be solved by Brandon Jacobs' arrival. Both will be better in pass protection, but neither is likely to make the game-changing plays that David Wilson is capable of.
Conversely, the Broncos have no such issues, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Peyton Manning's never-ending arsenal of weapons resemble an old-world hydra; cut one of the heads off, and two more will grow in its place.
What I'm really trying to say is these two teams occupy very different tiers in terms of talent, and 4.5 points isn't enough to close that gap.
DETROIT LIONS (-1.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
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The Arizona Cardinals are a good team. I called it last week, and I'm standing by that.
However, the Detroit Lions might be a whole lot better than they're getting credit for.
Detroit has too much healthy talent to ignore. Running back Reggie Bush is impossible to cover in the flat, and rolling coverage off of Calvin Johnson is a bad call, leaving teams to pick their poison.
On the other side, the Cards have Larry Fitzgerald, but running back Rashard Mendenhall doesn't evoke the same fear. Plus, the reworked Cardinals offensive line won't be able to handle the Detroit defensive front.
Of course, defensive tackle Nick Fairley has been listed as questionable, possibly leaving a rather large hold in said defensive front. But the Lions have plenty of depth there. They should be fine regardless.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+5.5) vs. Oakland Raiders
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I get it.
New Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor is an exciting athlete. But let's not act like he tore up a great defense or even a good one. And he did most of his damage with his feet, which is an unreliable avenue of production for professional signal-callers.
I also get that the Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback situation is akin to picking up after your dog with a plastic bag. There's some protection, but it's gross and doesn't feel right.
However, I still can't put money on an Oakland team giving six points. The Raiders aren't nearly as well-equipped as the Chiefs, and they only scored 28 points.
Do I feel good about this? No.
But would you feel good about laying that many points with the Raiders?
Carolina Panthers vs. BUFFALO BILLS (+3)
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The Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills have quite a few similarities.
They both have some talent along the front seven of their defenses, with Carolina getting the edge due to tackling machine Luke Kuechly.
They also boast young, mobile passers, but the edge between E.J. Manuel and Cam Newton is impossible to distinguish right now. Newton is too much like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.
The big divider between these two teams is the backfield. The Bills have a top-five talent in theirs while the Panthers have DeAngelo Williams. So basically you get C.J. Spiller, three points and the home-field advantage.
Sounds nice, doesn't it?
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+3) vs. Seattle Seahawks
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No, you don't.
You think you know exactly how this game will play out. You're positive that (insert your team) will win because of x, y or z.
But you're wrong. There are just too many variables for this game to be certain of anything.
For one, the Seattle Seahawks are quite reliant on their running game. Sure, quarterback Russell Wilson put up 320 passing yards last week, but the Hawks finished with just 12 points.
If there is one thing we do know, it's that the San Francisco 49ers are pretty stout against the run.
Next, we could look at quarterback Colin Kaepernick's shiny new passing offense that went for 412 yards against the Packers, but Seattle boasts the best secondary in the league.
And I rarely bet on home-field advantage in professional sports (ignore the last slide). Take the points and then an antacid because this line has "stay away" written all over it.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS (-7)
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The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't in the double-digit spread club with the Jets and the Bucs, but they're a lot closer to membership than Steeler nation would admit.
Now, the Maurkice Pouncey-less offensive line must face off against the fearsome front of the Cincinnati Bengals. That's not a good sign for a unit that failed to handle the ho-hum Titans.
And no, the signing of former starting running back Jonathan Dwyer doesn't do anything for me.
Throw in all-everything wide receiver A.J. Green, and this spread is entirely too low. I'd jump on this one before it creeps any higher.