There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the NFL. About the only thing you can predict is that on almost every other play a receiver will call for a pass-interference flag. As for predicting games, who would’ve thought that the Rams, who were embarrassed six days earlier by the 49ers, could beat the Seahawks?
Underdogs went 8-8 against the spread (ATS) in Week 2, making them 19-13. There are eight 2-0 teams, eight 0-2 teams and the remaining 16 are 1-1. While those winless teams’ motivation factor could make them wise bets this week, it’s all about looking at each matchup and not trying to overreact to the week before.
REDSKINS (0-2) AT GIANTS (2-0), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WCBS (880)
Giants by 5; O/U: 45.5
Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman should be on their best behavior in a rematch of last year’s ugly matchup. It’s Kirk Cousins, though, that finds himself in a timeout with his teammates. After back-to-back losses at home, there were reports that offensive players were complaining about Cousins’ performance. It’s too early to panic, and that same philosophy applies to why you should consider taking the Redskins. Yes, the Giants are 2-0 and their new-look defense has been solid, but let’s not get carried away and think this will be a rout.
The Giants won by one and three points, and last week their lone touchdown came on a blocked field goal. Division games tend to be closer, and the Redskins are the far more desperate team. On paper, this looks like an easy call, but when picking NFL games against the spread, it’s wise to take that piece of paper, crumple it up and toss it. This setup reminds me of last season, when the 0-2 Eagles traveled to MetLife Stadium to play the 2-0 Jets. Hardly anyone picked the Eagles to even cover. What happened? They won. Take the points, and don’t be surprised if the Redskins pull off the upset.
The pick: Redskins
JETS (1-1) AT CHIEFS (1-1), 4:25 p.m.
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Chiefs by 3; O/U: 42.5
When the season started, this looked like a no-win situation for the Jets. Now, not so much. Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play, but the Jets’ offense and defensive front will make the most noise. Ryan Fitzpatrick had such zip on his passes in the Jets’ win at Buffalo that he probably wishes he didn’t have to wait 10 days to get back out there. He was 24-for-34 for 374 yards and a touchdown. Quincy Enunwa was 8 yards shy of joining Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with 100-yard receiving games. Matt Forte ran for 100 yards and three scores on 30 carries.
Yes, the Chiefs’ defense is superior to the Bills’, but still, the Jets look like they could have a special season on offense with all these weapons. Kansas City, which was held to four field goals last week at Houston, fell behind by three touchdowns in its home opener before rallying. Fitzpatrick & Co. could come out firing the same way Philip Rivers and the Chargers did. The biggest difference is that any lead the Jets get, their defense is strong enough to make it hold up. The Jets’ dominant line will be able to stack the box and make Alex Smith beat them. Fitzpatrick builds on his big game as the Jets win outright.
The pick: Jets
1 P.M. GAMES
LIONS (1-1) AT PACKERS (1-1)
Packers by 7; O/U: 47
Before last season, Detroit hadn’t won at Lambeau Field since 1991. Three weeks after that upset, the Lions had the Packers beaten again until Aaron Rodgers’ last-second Hail Mary. Moral of the story: Maybe the Packers don’t have Detroit’s number anymore. Even if they do, laying a touchdown is too many points for a Green Bay team that beat the Jaguars by four and lost to the Vikings by three.
The pick: Lions
VIKINGS (2-0) AT PANTHERS (1-1)
Panthers by 7; O/U: 43
Sam Bradford had quite the Vikings debut, going 22-for-31 with 286 yards, two TDs and no picks. He shouldn’t have as much success against the Panthers, but the 49ers did score 27 points last week, so it’s not unfathomable to think the Vikings can move the ball. This game is all about the defenses, and Minnesota’s should keep it low-scoring. Take the points.
The pick: Vikings
CARDINALS (1-1) AT BILLS (0-2)
Cardinals by 4; O/U: 47
Buffalo allowed 37 points to the Jets last week and then fired its . . . offensive coordinator. Huh? What will Rex Ryan do after the Cardinals drop 40-plus on his defense? Three of Carson Palmer’s five touchdown passes have been to Larry Fitzgerald, and the duo should fill up the stat sheet again.
The pick: Cardinals
BRONCOS (2-0) AT BENGALS (1-1)
Bengals by 3; O/U: 41
Andy Dalton is an early riser, going 40-15-1 in games that start at 1 p.m. But his timing should be thrown off against Von Miller and the Broncos’ dominant defense. They could have the same kind of success the Jets had in Week 1, when they sacked Dalton seven times. This is a tough first road test for Trevor Siemian, but the running game should be able to keep it a field-goal game.
The pick: Broncos
RAIDERS (1-1) AT TITANS (1-1)
Titans by 2; O/U: 47
Derek Carr’s late TD pass helped Oakland escape Tennessee with a win last season. This one should be close, too, but the edge goes to Marcus Mariota and the Titans, who should move the ball against an Oakland defense that has allowed 500-plus yards in back-to-back weeks.
The pick: Titans
RAVENS (2-0) AT JAGUARS (0-2)
Ravens by 1; O/U: 47
The Jaguars are more desperate, and teams that get embarrassed the week before tend to bounce back. Also, it’s not as if Baltimore has looked that good, barely beating the Bills and falling behind 20-0 at Cleveland.
The pick: Jaguars
BROWNS (0-2) AT DOLPHINS (0-2)
Dolphins by 10; O/U: 42
After opening at Seattle and New England, Miami gets a cupcake against the Brownies. Cleveland will start its third different quarterback in three games. The Dolphins will be pumped to win coach Adam Gase’s home debut, and that’s why laying such a high number for an 0-2 team makes sense here.
The pick: Dolphins
4 P.M. GAMES
STEELERS (2-0) AT EAGLES (2-0)
Steelers by 3.5; O/U: 46.5
This spread feels too low, and when that’s the case, it usually means Vegas is on to something. Carson Wentz, the rookie out of North Dakota State who hasn’t committed a turnover, must be thinking, “Wow, the NFL isn’t that difficult.” Reality check: The Browns and Bears are bad. Now comes a true test against one of the best. Wentz will struggle against an opportunistic Steelers defense, and the Eagles’ ‘D’ will have its hands full against Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
The pick: Steelers
RAMS (1-1) AT BUCS (1-1)
Bucs by 6; O/U: 42
Chalk up the Rams’ upset in their return to Los Angeles as L.A.-drenaline. It’s just one win, and after two weeks, the Rams have yet to score a touchdown. Tampa Bay will be fired up for its home opener after a humbling loss in Arizona. Look for Jameis Winston to prove he more resembles the guy who threw four TD passes in Week 1, and that last week’s four-INT performance in the desert was a mirage.
The pick: Bucs
CHARGERS (1-1) AT COLTS (0-2)
Colts by 2.5; O/U: 51
If betting on first-quarter and first-half spreads is your thing, then pay attention to the Chargers. They’ve led 21-3 and 21-0 at halftime in their first two games. Indy can’t stop anyone. Philip Rivers always seems to give his team a chance, and he will have more success in what should be the highest-scoring game of the week.
The pick: Chargers
49ERS (1-1) AT SEAHAWKS (1-1)
Seahawks by 9; O/U: 40
If not for a late touchdown drive in Week 1, the Seahawks would be 0-2 with losses to the Dolphins and Rams. The obvious bet is to lay the points at home against the 49ers, whom the Seahawks have beaten four times in a row by 16, 10, 17 and 16 points, respectively. Not so fast. San Francisco hung around at Carolina last week, scoring 27 points, and Chip Kelly’s offensive mind should be able to produce enough points to land within the number.
The pick: 49ers
LOCK OF THE WEEK
BEARS (0-2) AT COWBOYS (1-1), 8:20 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4
Cowboys by 7; O/U: 44.5
In the words of the late, great Dennis Green, “The Bears are who we thought they were!” Chicago showed it wasn’t ready for prime time Monday night, losing to a rookie quarterback at home. Now they travel to Dallas for another prime-time matchup against a rookie. Dak Prescott has yet to throw an interception, and should build on his first win. Another rookie, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alfred Morris could total 200-plus yards rushing behind the NFL’s best offensive line. They’ll have even more success against a Bears team that lost two linebackers and a nose tackle to injuries last week. Oh, and Jay Cutler, too. This has the makings of the most lopsided game of the week.
The pick: Cowboys
FALCONS (1-1) AT SAINTS (0-2), 8:30 p.m.
Saints by 3; O/U: 53.5
It’s a Monday night matchup we’ve all been anticipating. Grab the popcorn for this one, which should be hard-hitting and full of back-and-forth fireworks. But enough about the first presidential debate. The Saints’ losses are by a combined four points, and they’ll be the more desperate team at home. Atlanta has just one sack through two games, and last year had a league-low 19. If Drew Brees (15-6 vs. Atlanta) has all that time, expect him to have a big night.
The pick: Saints
Staff picks (best bets in bold)
JOE MANNIELLO (14-18 overall, 1-1 best bets; Last week: 7-9): Redskins, Jets, Vikings, Lions, Broncos, Cardinals, Titans, Jaguars, Dolphins, Steelers, Chargers, 49ers, Bucs, Cowboys, Saints
BOB GLAUBER (15-17 overall, 2-0 best bets; Last week: 7-9): Giants, Chiefs, Panthers, Packers, Bengals, Bills, Raiders, Jaguars, Dolphins, Steelers, Colts, Seahawks, Bucs, Cowboys, Saints
TOM ROCK (15-17, 2-0 best bets; Last week: 6-10): Giants, Chiefs, Panthers, Lions, Bengals, Cardinals, Raiders, Ravens, Browns, Steelers, Colts, 49ers, Bucs, Cowboys, Falcons
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN (11-21 overall, 1-1 best bets; Last week: 4-12): Giants, Chiefs, Panthers, Packers, Bengals, Cardinals, Titans, Ravens, Browns, Steelers, Chargers, 49ers, Bucs, Cowboys, Saints