NFL Gridiron Guide: Giants are best bet to cover this week; Bills cover against Jets

Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Aug. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

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John Boell Newsday sports writer John Boell

Boell has worked in the Newsday sports department in various capacities since 1999. In 2010, he became Newsday's

BILLS (1-1) at JETS (1-1), 4:25 p.m.

Jets by 2; O/U: 39

TV: Ch. 2 Radio: ESPN (98.7, 96.9, 107.1)

The only good thing about playing a Thursday night game is the long layoff that follows. Hopefully, Geno Smith and the offense used that time wisely. Smith gets another shot in the division in a clash of AFC East first-year QBs vs. the Bills and EJ Manuel. I know Rex Ryan's 'D', which has been impressive in the early going, will have a multitude of looks for Manuel. But Buffalo is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven trips to East Rutherford.

The pick: Bills

GIANTS (0-2) at PANTHERS (0-2), 1 p.m.

Panthers by 1; O/U: 45 1/2

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TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WCBS (101.1)

We're all aware of the horrors of beginning an NFL season 0-2: Since the 12-team playoff began in 1990, only 22 of 276 (8 percent) clubs that went winless after Week 2 made the playoffs. Interestingly, the Giants are 0-2 for the first time since 2007 -- the season they beat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Big Blue -- with an NFL-worst -8 turnover margin -- has not covered in five straight regular-season games. The trend ends in Carolina as Eli Manning gets on track against Carolina, 4-11 against the spread in its last 15 September games.

The pick: Giants

1 P.M. GAMES

BUCS (0-2) at PATRIOTS (2-0)

Patriots by 7; O/U: 44

If a team was ever going to have a mutiny, it would have to be the Bucs, wouldn't it, me matey? Reports are circulating about coach Greg Schiano having rifts with QB Josh Freeman and CB Darrelle Revis. (Bet you wish you were back with laid-back Rexy, don't you?) I'll take a chance with the better team -- and coach.

The pick: Patriots

TEXANS (2-0) at RAVENS (1-1)

Texans by 2 1/2; O/U: 45

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TV: Ch. 2

The Texans are the first team since the 1970 merger to win their first two games on the game's last play. But all I care about is that they still haven't covered. I'll take the defending champs getting points at home.

The pick: Ravens

CARDINALS (1-1) at SAINTS (2-0)

Saints by 7 1/2; O/U: 48 1/2

The Cards have lost seven straight road games and 17 of their last 20 roadies overall, while the Saints have won -- and covered -- 15 of their last 20 home games. Still, I'll take the Cards, who are 6-1-1 against the spread the last two seasons as underdogs of eight or fewer points.

The pick: Cardinals

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LIONS (1-1) at REDSKINS (0-2)

Redskins by 1 1/2; O/U: 49

Washington has been outscored by 43 and hasn't converted a third down (0-for-9) before halftime. Take the more desperate team.

The pick: Redskins

BROWNS (0-2) at VIKINGS (0-2)

Vikings by 6; O/U: 40 1/2

Cleveland fans just can't catch a break. "The Drive," "The Fumble," "The Shot," "The Decision," and now "The Trade." Ouch! The Browns traded former No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first-round pick . Oh, and third-string QB Brian Hoyer gets the start. 2014 can't get here soon enough for these fans.

The pick: Vikings

CHARGERS (1-1) at TITANS (1-1)

Titans by 3; O/U: 44

Tennessee is 2-0 in road covers, while San Diego travels a long distance a second straight week. I'll ride the rocket arm of Philip Rivers.

The pick: Chargers

RAMS (1-1) at COWBOYS (1-1)

Cowboys by 4; O/U: 47

My crack research staff (see: me) discovered that St. Louis is 7-2 ATS on the road the last two seasons. Dallas is 2-10 ATS at home dating to Nov. 24, 2011. The pick: Rams

PACKERS (1-1) at BENGALS (1-1)

Packers by 2 1/2; O/U: 48 1/2

Green Bay became first team with a 450-yard-plus QB (Aaron Rodgers) and 125-yard-plus rusher (James Starks) in the same game last week. Not too shabby.

The pick: Packers

4 PM AND LATER

JAGUARS (0-2) at SEAHAWKS (2-0), 4:25 p.m.

Seahawks by 19; O/U: 40 1/2

So, according to Editor Joe's football handicapping calculator, if the Seahawks beat the 49ers by 26 points, and the 49ers are 100 times better than the Jaguars, does that mean the Seahawks will beat the Jaguars by 2,600 points? I'm not so sure about that, but I'm certain Seattle is 15-5 overall in its last 20 home games, including 16-4 against the spread.

The pick: Seahawks

FALCONS (1-1) at DOLPHINS (2-0), 4:05 p.m.

Dolphins by 2; O/U: 44 1/2

This is another tight line. In fact, 10 of this week's 16 games have spreads of four points or fewer. Atlanta has a tough challenge against the upstart Fins, who have covered two straight road games. I'll lean toward "Matty Ice" Ryan.

The pick: Falcons

COLTS (1-1) at 49ERS (1-1), 4:25 p.m.

49ers by 10 1/2; O/U: 46

Give Colts GM Ryan Grigson a lot of credit for making the Trent Richardson deal happen. On the other side, do you think it was a fun week of practice for the 49ers after a 26-point pasting at Seattle? San Fran is 16-6-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 23 home games, and 19-6-3 ATS their last 28 times off an ATS loss.

The pick: 49ers

BEARS (2-0) at STEELERS (0-2), 8:30 p.m.

Bears by 2 1/2; O/U: 40 1/2

TV: Ch. 4, Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

Big Ben and the Steelers offense looks abysmal under coordinator Todd Haley, while I've never seen Jay Cutler look better with the Bears. I want to use the "more desperate team" axiom here and pick the Steelers, but I just can't after watching their almost unrecognizable play the last two weeks.

The pick: Bears

MONDAY NIGHT

RAIDERS (1-1) at BRONCOS (2-0), 8:40 p.m.

Broncos by 15; O/U: 49 1/2

TV: ESPN, Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

Denver took a big hit as LT Ryan Clady was put on IR with season-ending foot surgery. I love the way the Denver offense is clicking, but I think Oakland and its NFL-best nine sacks will find a way to cover. Oakland is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven trips to Denver.

The pick: Raiders

STAFF PICKS (best bets in bold)

JOHN BOELL 18-12-2, 0-2 best bets, Last week: 10-5-1

Giants Bills Patriots Ravens Cardinals Redskins Vikings Chargers Rams Packers Seahawks Bears Falcons 49ers Raiders

BOB GLAUBER 15-15-2, 1-0-1, Last week: 8-7-1

Giants Jets Patriots Ravens Saints Redskins Vikings Titans Cowboys Packers Seahawks Bears Falcons Colts Broncos

KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN 18-12-2, 0-2, Last week: 10-5-1

Giants Jets Patriots Ravens Saints Redskins Vikings Chargers Cowboys Packers Seahawks Steelers Falcons 49ers Broncos

TOM ROCK 13-17-2, 0-2, Last week: 7-8-1

Giants Jets Bucs Texans Saints Redskins Vikings Chargers Cowboys Packers Jaguars Bears Dolphins Colts Broncos

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