Every week at The Weekly Blitz, the other two "handicappers" and I each pick three NFL games against the spread (ATS) for entertainment purposes only. Of course, making correct picks is more "entertaining" than making incorrect picks.
In the 14 games that were not pushes in Week 1, the underdog covered in eight of those games and won six of them straight up. The biggest margin of victory (34 points) was Buffalo, a 5.5-point underdog against Kansas City. This week, they are a three-point favorite over the Raiders, another underdog that won straight up.
While one of our other "handicappers" is picking the Bills to cover against the Raiders as one of his three winners, here are my three picks for Week 2:
The Steelers, who lost by 28 points and scored as many points (seven) as they had turnovers, allowed 170 rushing yards—only the 10th time they allowed that many since 2000.
I can see the Steelers taking their frustration out on their next opponent, who also happens to be my 32nd-ranked (of 32) team(s) in my NFL power rankings. Tarvaris Jackson is arguably the league's worst starting quarterback and the team will be without their prized offseason addition, Sidney Rice, for a second straight game.
In addition, the Seahawks have struggled to cover as a road underdog recently. In their past 27 games in that role, they have covered only six of those games. On the other hand, the Steelers have covered in six of their past seven games against teams with a losing record.
It may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but this is a must-win game for the Falcons. A loss to the Eagles, the favorite of many in the NFC, would drop the Falcons to 0-2. We all know the (limited amount of) success had by teams that start of 0-2, 0-3 or 0-4.
To make matters worse (or more pressure-packed), it's a homecoming of sorts for quarterback Michael Vick, who still has plenty of fans in Atlanta.
While the Falcons looked awful against the Bears, let's not overreact to last week's embarrassing loss. After all, this is the team that finished 13-3 and with the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year. While they are loaded with weapons in the passing game, the Eagles counter that with arguably the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL.
Where the Falcons have a huge advantage is on the ground. Not only did Michael "The Burner" Turner run for 100 yards on 10 carries last week, but the Eagles showed how vulnerable they are against the run. They allowed Steven Jackson to take it the house on a 47-yard touchdown run to start the game and Cadillac Williams, filling in for the injured Jackson, nearly reached the century mark as well.
Turner, who is fifth in my fantasy running back rankings this week, will have a big week, the Falcons will control the clock and the team averts the danger of an 0-2 start as they win this game outright.
From a bettor's standpoint, the Falcons are 16-5 ATS in their past 21 games after a loss.
All else being equal, I prefer home underdogs over road favorites normally. Not in this case, however.
Of course, most teams prefer to play at home. The Dolphins are not like most teams. Since last season, they have won only one of their nine home games. Over their past 64 games, they have covered only 17 of those contests.
The Dolphins defense is not nearly as bad as we saw last week. I'm not sure any defense is that bad. Regardless, the Texans have one of the league's most explosive offenses and they will still put up their share of points.
On the defensive side of the ball, however, I think they are much improved. Granted, last week they faced a Peyton Manning-less Colts team, but Wade Phillips is a great defensive coordinator (bad head coach) and the Texans defense is better than last year from a personnel standpoint. We saw them apply pressure on Kerry Collins and force turnovers in Week 1.
The Texans offense has never been the question. With an upgraded defense, they can make some noise this year.
To see the picks by the other "handicappers" at The Weekly Blitz, click here.
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