Week 1 was a lot of fun, minus a few key injuries. Get well soon, Robert Griffin. The NFL's opening weekend was also kind of predictable, as we went 11-4-1 against the spread.
Week 2 brings chaos. The lines are tight this week -- outside of Carolina, anyway -- and most of the favorites are at home. Sometimes, when the football seems predictable, you just have to lay the points and roll with the better teams. There's a lot of that ahead, but going full chalk is for cowards. Rest assured, there are a few surprising upset picks ahead. (Lines courtesy of Bovada.com, as of 9/15, except for games where lines were delayed by injury, where we've used lines from the Las Vegas Westgate Superbook as of 9/17. Pick listed first, with home team in all caps.)
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY SportsErich Schlegel
Jets (-1.5) vs. BILLS (Over/under: 40.5)
Listen, professional football is a precious commodity. I'm not going to complain about NFL games. ... but the games don't look that great on paper in Week 2, starting with Thursday night's matchup between the Jets and Bills. The one saving grace could be New York's defense, which is well on its way to being the NFL's best in 2016.
GIANTS (-4.5) vs. Saints (Over/under: 53.5)
Fun fact: the look on Drew Brees' face is the same way Giants fans look at Eli Manning.
Anyway, when Brees had time in the pocket against the Raiders last week, he was solid. He fell off drastically when Oakland generated pressure, though, and we're counting on the Giants to be in Brees' face over and over again on Sunday. On the other side of the ball, Eli Manning should find a rhythm against an already weak Saints defense that lost CB Delvin Breaux in Week 1.
Cowboys (+3) vs. REDSKINS (Over/under: 45)
Dak Prescott dinked and dunked his way to a decent completion percentage in the Cowboys' season opener, but he rarely took a shot down the field.
Enter Washington's secondary, which gifted Antonio Brown all the real estate he wanted and more in a blowout loss to the Steelers. With a few more deals on prime property, Brown would make for a fine presidential candidate.
Sorry, sorry -- I'm sticking to sports, I promise. Earlier this week, Prescott said he won't force the ball to Dez Bryant, and that's true -- because he won't have to force it.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
49ers (+14) vs. PANTHERS (Over/under: 45.5)
The pick isn't for the Niners to beat the Panthers. That would be madness, and this is not Sparta.
(Do people still make that reference? If so, they should stop.)
I'm willing to wager that San Francisco's impressive young defense and Carlos Hyde are for real, though, and that Blaine Gabbert can exploit Carolina's rough secondary on enough plays to keep the Niners within two TDs on Sunday.
PATRIOTS (-6.5) over Dolphins (Over/under: 47.5)
The guess here is that Rob Gronkowski will play, that New England's potential problems against the run won't be too big of an issue vs. Arian Foster, and that the Dolphins can't quite get the pass rush they need to knock Jimmy Garoppolo off of his game.
STEELERS (-3) vs. Bengals (Over/under: 48.5)
In a battle of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown against Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, I'm rolling with the Steelers -- especially at home. Either way, this early season AFC North matchup should be one of the better games of the weekend. Sit back, relax, and hope for some offensive fireworks.
Ravens (-7) vs. BROWNS (Over/under: 42.5)
There's this weird swell of people saying Josh McCown is better than Robert Griffin III. Maybe that ends up being true, but I have to see any signs of life from Cleveland before I believe that.
In fact, this one could be a game within a game. How many points would Baltimore have to be favored by for you to take Cleveland? 10? 14? 20?
Titans (+6) vs. LIONS (Over/under: 47.5)
Put your hand down, Matthew Stafford. While you had a big game in a season-opening win over the Colts, Tennessee's front seven is much better. Meanwhile, Detroit's secondary is on shaky ground. Marcus Mariota undoubtedly took a step back in Week 1, but the Lions could be the perfect remedy for what ails the second-year QB.
TEXANS (-2) vs. Chiefs (Over/under: 43.5)
We talk a lot about front-seven play (and offensive line play, too), because that's the crux of professional football. He who controls the five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage controls the game. On that note, Kansas City disappointed in Week 1, but Houston showed flashes of what could be a dominant unit.
More importantly, in what oddsmakers expect to be a close game, I'm betting on Andy Reid finding a way to mess up his clock management and cost KC a win.
Getty ImagesScott Halleran
Buccaneers (+7) vs. CARDINALS (Over/under: 50)
It's super-early, of course, but the Bucs kind of look like they could be the second-best team in the NFC South (behind the Panthers) -- with Jameis Winston playing better every week.
The Cardinals, conversely, were exposed by a Patriots team without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, among others. Winston has enough offensive options to avoid Arizona CB Patrick Patterson, and the Bucs' rejuvenated defense might give Carson Palmer nightmares.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
RAIDERS (-5) vs. Falcons (Over/under: 50.5)
Whether Oakland or Atlanta has the better offense might be a question of taste. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are pretty good, at least theoretically. To be honest, they seem pretty depressed every time they have to line up for another futile snap in the face of perpetual mediocrity.
Sorry. Thinking about the Falcons takes me to a dark place. Anyway, what's not up for debate is how much better the Raiders' defense is. Until the Falcons fix their linebacking corps, Atlanta will keep losing by a touchdown or more.
CHARGERS (-3) vs. Jaguars (Over/under: 47)
Jacksonville's lack of a pass rush was a problem in Week 1 and it will continue to be a problem in Week 2, especially after the Chargers' offensive line helped pave the way for San Diego's near-upset of the Chiefs in the season opener. Philip Rivers will have all day in the pocket, while Blake Bortles might not have that same luxury for the Jaguars.
When Bortles commits a backbreaking turnover (that might or might not be his fault), remember who warned you first.
RAMS (+6.5) over Seahawks (Over/under: 37.5)
I said on Thursday that as long as the line was reasonable, I was taking the Rams, and 6.5 points is enough for me to bet that Seattle's offensive line continues to be a big problem.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
BRONCOS (-5.5) vs. Colts (Over/under: 46.5)
As good as Andrew Luck looked in Week 1, the Colts' defensive injury woes will be too much for the Indianapolis offense to overcome.
Getty ImagesAndy Lyons
Packers (-3) vs. VIKINGS (Over/under: 44)
Minnesota's defense carried the Vikings to a Week 1 victory, and Aaron Rodgers could be in for a long night in prime time on Sunday. Unless the Vikings find some way to generate offense (instead of artificial mystery) from the QB position, the defense won't be enough against Green Bay.
Do the right thing, Minnesota. Give the ball to Sam Bradford.
Eagles (+3) vs. BEARS (Over/under: 43)
As a wise man once told me in a dimly lit sportsbook deep inside a rundown casino two hours south of Las Vegas at 10:00 AM on a random Wednesday in November, "No one ever went broke taking the points against Jay Cutler."
I don't really want to hitch my wagon to Carson Wentz, impressive as he was in Week 1, but who am I to argue with such an obvious soothsayer? Betting against the Bears, it is.