I envy those who have the courage to bet on NFL games on a weekly basis.
I'm all for tossing down a bet here or there, but as Week 1 so distinctly reminded us, the NFL can be an unpredictable beast capable of scarfing down your money like the cookie monster with, well, cookies.
The Baltimore Ravens lost some key pieces, but they weren't supposed to give up a near 50 spot, even to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The New York Jets were essentially the laughing stock of the league during the preseason. Naturally, they won. The Indianapolis Colts, a playoff squad from a year ago, struggled at home against the Oakland Raiders, a playoff squad from 11 years ago.
Especially early in the season before we have a good grasp of how teams are gelling with new coaches and teammates, it's simple: Expect the unexpected.
With that warning, here's a look at my Week 2 picks along with some heavy favorites to be wary of.
Note: Spreads via Covers.com
Favorites To Avoid Against the Spread
New England Patriots (-12.5) vs. New York Jets
As a general rule of thumb, staying away from the Thursday night games is usually a smart move. The short week tends to make for sloppy play and erratic results.
Moreover, this week's contest will feature a Patriots squad likely without Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen, who combined for 17 catches and 263 total yards in Week 1. NFL insider Jay Glazer and NFL.com's Ian Rapoport have the news on their injuries:
That leaves Tom Brady with Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Michael Hoomanawanui as the only players who caught a pass in Week 1 against a very good Jets defense and underrated front seven.
On the other side of the ball, Geno Smith showed glimpses of being a truly dangerous weapon, completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 256 yards while rushing for another 47.
I'm still taking the Patriots straight up. They are at home and have a front seven that will make New York one-dimensional on offense.
But these teams, at least on a short week with New England's offensive injuries piling up, are closer than most realize.
Atlanta Falcons (-7) vs. St. Louis Rams
It's hard not to be intrigued by this St. Louis Rams defense.
Yes, they gave up 390 total yards to the Arizona Cardinals, but they also allowed just 17 total points, forced two turnovers and racked up four sacks.
The latter might just be the most impressive part, as Robert Quinn, who took down Carson Palmer three times, and Chris Long, who has 24.5 sacks in the last two seasons, make up one of the most dangerous pass-rushing duos in the league. Having Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers on the inside helps, too.
Atlanta, meanwhile, struggled in pass protection in Week 1, allowing three sacks and six QB hits to the New Orleans Saints. There were questions surrounding the offensive line during the preseason, and now it's quite clear the blocking issues are very real.
It's going to be slightly different with the Falcons at home and the Georgia Dome noise on their side, but the Rams defense is capable of keeping this game close, especially with Roddy White limited.