Look between the lines: Handicapping NFL’s Week 2 slate

James Hernandez has more than 15 years in the sports handicapping industry and will contribute weekly for FOXSports.com as our betting expert. Have comments or questions? Make sure to email him at jameshernandez1981@gmail.com.

James Hernandez, Contributor to FOXSports.com

During the NFL season, I will attempt to guide you to the winner’s circle more often than not. I consider a combination of statistical trends, my own personal player ranking system, and meticulous attention to various wagering techniques that allow me to analyze and formulate a plan of attack each week.

Each week I will post my five favorite plays in order of preference, best on top and so on. All right, let’s get into it:

Redskins/Packers over 49

What can you say, it seems as if the Packers can’t catch a break when traveling to the West Coast.

After last season’s “Fail Mary” in Seattle, the Packers once again found themselves on the short end of a call in San Francisco last Sunday. Despite coach Mike McCarthy taking the high road and refusing to comment on the situation, the three consecutive losses to the 49ers must be eating away at them.

Fortunately for them they will play this week’s game at historic Lambeau Field and with the support of their rabid fans, should have no problem getting their offense flowing like a Lil Wayne freestyle. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy must be counting the minutes to kickoff after seeing LeSean “Shady” McCoy look like a man amongst boys, gashing the ‘Skins run defense for 184 yards and a touchdown. Although the Packers D showed glimpses of improvement, the unit struggled when it mattered most and ended up allowing 34 points in the Week 1 loss.

This should play right into the hands of Robert Griffin III and his trusty sidekick Alfred Morris. Mike Shanahan will attempt to right the ship and build off a very productive second half against the Eagles.  With Rodgers and Griffin mesmerizing the masses, expect this game to turn into an old-fashioned shootout that should hit the over with relative ease.

Broncos/Giants over 55

In the third installment of the Manning Bowl, look for the fireworks to begin immediately. With the two siblings putting up a combined 912 passing yards and 11 touchdowns in Week 1, it seems as if these guys were playing Madden on rookie level instead of carving up real-life NFL secondaries like a Thanksgiving bird. Although Champ Bailey is expected to play this week after missing the season opener, he most likely will not be 100 percent and that should have Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks chomping at the bit to test their skills against this Denver secondary.

Not to be outdone, the Broncos boast the deepest set of skill players on any team in the league. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas team with Wes Welker, Eric Decker and the three-headed running attack of Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball to give Peyton Manning more options than the high school prom king on a Saturday night.

This game has the chance to hit the over by halftime and it wouldn’t surprise me if one or both of these teams put up a 40 spot all by themselves.

Jets (+13) over the Patriots

Generally, the Thursday Night Football game favors the home team on a short week. But in a case such as this, the home team is usually not as banged up as the Patriots.

Without the help of Shane Vereen, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld and Danny Amendola, The Hoodie and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels may struggle a bit to put points on the board against a suddenly rejuvenated Jets defensive front.  Not only did the Jets’ pass rush come alive with five sacks in the opener, they were also able to hold down one of the best rushers in the league by limiting Doug Martin to 65 yards on 24 carries (2.7 yards per carry).

The game plan for Rex, Geno and the boys is simple: Find some consistency running the rock so that Tom Brady is off the field, which is easier said than done. When Brady is on the field hit him as often as possible and finally force the Pats offense to be one-dimensional by selling out to stop the run.

Without his full complement of weapons, look for Brady to struggle just enough to allow the Jets to stay within 13 points in this early season AFC East battle.

Colts (-3) over the Dolphins

As football fans continue to be treated to the late-game heroics of Andrew Luck, it becomes tougher and tougher to not already place this phenom amongst the best signal callers in the game.

Think about it, in his young career (17 regular season starts) Luck has five fourth quarter comebacks and eight game-winning drives. Look for the legend of Luck to continue growing this week against a Dolphins team that looked hopelessly one-dimensional against Cleveland as they managed a pathetic 20 rushing yards on 23 carries. Compound this with the Mike Wallace dilemma, who was clearly upset after his one-catch-for-15-yard performance. Can you imagine if the Dolphins had actually lost the game?!

The good news for Miami is they are 1-0, however the bad news is they aren’t playing the Browns. Look for the Colts’ two-headed running tandem of Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw to get the ground game going as Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and the guys continue to make Luck’s early NFL career a charmed one.

Saints (-3) over Buccaneers

What a difference a year makes.

With the Bountygate scandal behind them, the Saints seem to be picking up right where they left off before Sean Payton was taken away from their sideline last season. After giving up an NFL record amount of points in 2012, the team turned to outspoken Rob Ryan to bring his relentless intensity to a unit that was operating without a defensive identity.

If last week was any indication, it seems to be working as they held the Falcons to 17 points including a great defensive stand to win the game. On the flip side, the Bucs have a young coach (Greg Schiano) and quarterback (Josh Freeman) who need to prove themselves worthy after the front office went on a spending spree this offseason adding big names like Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson to the worst pass defense in the league.

If the Bucs were unable to beat a punchless Jets team, just imagine what could happen as the level of competition significantly elevates against a division opponent who is looking to send a message that they are once again a team to be reckoned with. Unless the Doug Martin breaks out in a big way, the Saints should be able to limit the Bucs’ attack. Watch for Drew Brees to expose a vulnerable Tampa Bay secondary and start the 2013 season with consecutive division wins.

Questions? Comments? Send them to lacesoutmail@gmail.com and we might respond in our weekly mailbag!