NFL Picks Week 2: Predicting Toughest Matchups Against the Spread
The NFL’s Week 2 picks are complicated by the too-close-to-call matchups you see on the docket.
Seattle looked rough on the road against Carolina in Week 1, while the San Francisco 49ers beat a good Green Bay Packers team at home to kick off their season.
But we all know the Seattle Seahawks are a different team when playing at CenturyLink Field thanks to their sound-conducive venue. Their drubbing of the 49ers there late last season is evidence enough of that.
Home-field advantage is something you have to factor into your picks each week, but it shouldn’t define your predictions. Some teams simply play well away from their comfort zones at home.
Seattle is not one of those teams.
With that said, let’s get into the predictions. Here’s a chart with all of my Week 2 picks against the spread. Highlighted are the three matchups I’ll discuss in-depth below.
|Away Team||Home Team||Line||Predicted Winner (ATS|
|New York Jets||New England Patriots||NE -13||Jets|
|San Diego Chargers||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI -7.5||Chargers|
|Cleveland Browns||Baltimore Ravens||BAL -7||Browns|
|Tennessee Titans||Houston Texans||HOU -10||Titans|
|Miami Dolphins||Indianapolis Colts||IND -3||Colts|
|Carolina Panthers||Buffalo Bills||CAR -3||Panthers|
|St. Louis Rams||Atlanta Falcons||ATL -6||Rams|
|Washington Redskins||Green Bay Packers||GB -7||Redskins|
|Dallas Cowboys||Kansas City Chiefs||KC -3||Cowboys|
|Minnesota Vikings||Chicago Bears||CHI -6||Bears|
|New Orleans Saints||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||NO -3.5||Saints|
|Detroit Lions||Arizona Cardinals||DET -2||Cardinals|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Oakland Raiders||OAK -6||Jaguars|
|Denver Broncos||New York Giants||DEN -4.5||Broncos|
|San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -3||Seahawks|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -7||Bengals|
Odds via Bovada
Miami Dolphins at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-3)
The Indianapolis Colts failed to cover the spread against the Oakland Raiders at home in Week 1. Perhaps the polished Colts overlooked the revamped Raiders led by new quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Perhaps it was the added dimension Pryor brought to the game that kept their defense out of sync.
The Miami Dolphins won’t be able to exploit their defense that way with Ryan Tannehill behind center. Running the ball may also be tough as the team looked miserable up front blocking last week against Cleveland.
Indianapolis should be able to contain them again this week and force Tannehill to win the game against Andrew Luck. Last week Tannehill was able to out-duel Brandon Weeden, who is playing without star receiver Josh Gordon. Luck has his share of weapons to utilize.
If Luck can continue to handle pressure well—and he’ll see it against a good Dolphins pass rush that recorded six sacks of Weeden in Week 1—he’ll be able to move the ball down the field in order to lead his team to victory.
After failing to cover the spread against the Raiders, the Colts are now 11-6 against it with Luck at quarterback and 5-1 when favorites.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+7) at Green Bay Packers
Don’t let Washington’s loss to Philadelphia in Week 1 fool you. The Redskins aren’t a team that is going to be walked all over in 2013. After missing much of the preseason, quarterback Robert Griffin III finally looked comfortable in the second half while nearly leading his team to a late comeback.
Meanwhile, Green Bay looked efficient in its passing game against a good San Francisco 49ers defense in Week 1. Running the ball, though, proved to continue to be a rough spot for the Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Against Washington, the Pack should be able to establish a more balanced attack.
Will the Redskins cover on the road against the Packers?
Rodgers will get his yards and put up points, but the Skins will be able to stick close and compete throughout. Griffin has a solid running back in Alfred Morris to lean on in the event Green Bay’s pass rush proves to be too much for his offensive line. Last week, the Packers couldn’t penetrate the 49ers’ front five, sacking Colin Kaepernick just one time and getting hands on him on two other occasions.
The Redskins were 6-2 against the spread as a road team in 2012. Look for them to continue that success with Griffin feeling more comfortable against a porous Packers secondary. Green Bay could very well end up on the winning side of a shootout, but it’s hard to imagine them covering by more than a touchdown, even at home.
San Francisco 49ers at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3)
Speaking of the 49ers, they head to CenturyLink Field for a divisional rivalry matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. This biannual rivalry game is turning into somewhat of a headline event. It will be the league’s Sunday Night Football matchup for the week.
With Alex Smith behind center last year, the San Francisco 49ers put up 13 points in a win over the Hawks at Candlestick Park. Kaepernick did a lot of positive things a season ago, but he couldn’t do much better than Smith, also posting 13 points in their Week 16 rematch on Seattle’s turf.
The Seahawks are different beast altogether when it comes to playing at home. They romped their rivals by a final score of 42-13 in that late-season rematch. Their success at home doesn’t stop with that big win over the Niners. In their last 11 games at CenturyLink field, the Hawks have covered the spread 10 times.
Their defense will give Kaepernick and the rolling 49ers offense a huge early test. With Michael Crabtree sidelined, the Niners are forced to rely on Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis to do the heavy lifting in their offense. While they’re more than capable, they have the toughest test of their season against the physical and gifted corners of the Seahawks.
Look for a hard-fought NFC West contest with the Seahawks again pulling away at home. Don’t expect another blowout, but the Hawks will win by at least four points thanks to their stifling defense and a couple of big plays from the unit.
Mike Hoag is 8-7-1 picking against the spread in 2013.
Follow him on Twitter: Follow @MikeHoagJr
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