What a Week 1 it was.
Four games were decided by one point, a record for an opening week. Two others had a margin of two, and two more by four points.
It was the week of the underdog, as they went a whopping 11-5 against the spread (ATS). Teams that struggled in years past showed they could be contenders this year, such as the Bucs, Raiders, Jaguars and Lions. I know, I know, it’s only 60 minutes of football.
Don’t expect as many close games in Week 2. Week 1 was about the underdogs. Chalk up Week 2 as a favorites week.
SAINTS (0-1) AT GIANTS (1-0), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Giants by 4.5; O/U: 53.5
When the Giants and Saints played in New Orleans last season, the entire game was basically broadcast on the NFL Red Zone channel. Every other minute there was a big play as the teams eclipsed the 100-point mark in a 52-49 Saints win. That’s what happens when two of the league’s worst defenses go against solid offenses. Both teams still have high-powered offenses, but it’s the Giants whose defense has improved. Upgrades on the line and secondary paid dividends in Dallas in Week 1, and I expect them to have another strong performance in the Giants’ home opener. The Saints will be without their No. 1 cornerback, Delvin Breaux, who was injured. That’s not good when the Giants line up Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard at you. Eli Manning will have so many open players he won’t know who to throw it to. Drew Brees can keep the Saints in it for a while, but I just can’t see them matching the Giants’ firepower on both sides of the ball. Giants 42, Saints 24.
The pick: Giants
1 P.M. GAMES
TITANS (0-1) AT LIONS (1-0)
Lions by 6; O/U: 47.5
Detroit’s offense looked spectacular in Week 1, and I think the Lions will build on that at home. The Titans were done in by two defensive TDs. Matthew Stafford, a much better quarterback at home than on the road, makes it a 7- to 10-point win.
The pick: Lions
CHIEFS (1-0) AT TEXANS (1-0)
Texans by 3; O/U: 43
These teams meet so often it feels as if they’re in the same division. The Texans’ 2015 season began the same way it ended, with the Chiefs pushing them around in Houston. Kansas City’s 30-0 win in the wild-card round will be fresh in the minds of the Texans. This should be a close game, but I give the edge to a motivated Texans squad. Plus, as impressive as the Chiefs’ rally and overtime win was in Week 1, let’s not forget they fell behind 24-3 at home to the Chargers.
The pick: Texans
DOLPHINS (0-1) AT PATRIOTS (1-0)
Patriots by 6.5; O/U: 42
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . . there won’t be a twice. I cannot believe I fell for that Week 1 trap, picking against the 6.5-point underdog Patriots. Yes, the game was at Arizona, and yes, the Pats didn’t have Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. But they still had Bill Belichick. Jimmy Garoppolo looked like a young Brady out there. New England is the best-coached team in the league, and for that reason alone, I may just pick the Patriots the rest of the season without even bothering to look at the spread.
The pick: Patriots
RAVENS (1-0) AT BROWNS (0-1)
Ravens by 7; O/U: 42.5
Here’s everything you need to know about this matchup: Joe Flacco owns Cleveland with a 13-2 mark. Here’s everything you need to know about the Browns: As NFL Stats tweeted, they’re the first team in NFL history to use multiple starting quarterbacks in 15 straight seasons. Wow! Josh McCown takes over for Robert Griffin III, and he’s 2-17 as a starter over the last two seasons. Easy pickin’.
The pick: Ravens
BENGALS (1-0) AT STEELERS (1-0)
Steelers by 3.5; O/U: 48.5
Bengals-Steelers has turned into the NFL’s most heated rivalry, and is by far the best matchup of the young season. I’ve gone back and forth on this one. The Steelers looked unstoppable even without their No. 1 running back and No. 2 wide receiver. My original thought was to take Cincinnati because of the revenge factor (see: last season’s chaotic wild-card finish), but my head keeps telling me not to make the same mistake of picking against the Steelers two weeks in a row. Antonio Brown stars in another episode of “Dancing with the Steelers.”
The pick: Steelers
COWBOYS (0-1) AT REDSKINS (0-1)
Redskins by 3; O/U: 45.5
Getting embarrassed at home on Monday night is never a good thing, and it’s a smart play to take that team the following week. The Redskins lost only twice at home last season. Kirk Cousins rebounds, and the defense makes life on the road difficult for Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
The pick: Redskins
49ERS (1-0) AT PANTHERS (1-0)
Panthers by 13.5; O/U: 44.5
When my 4-month-old son one day asks my wife and me why we won’t allow him to play football, we’ll show him the game tape from the Panthers-Broncos opener. I got a headache just watching those vicious helmet-to-helmet hits on Cam Newton. The Panthers let a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead get away in Denver, and with 10 days to think about that, expect them to be fired up for their home opener. This is an identical scenario to last season, when the 49ers won at home on Monday night in Week 1 and then had to travel to the East Coast the next Sunday. The result: a 25-point loss to the Steelers. It might be 30-plus against the Panthers. Don’t even think twice about laying this many points. The Panthers will cover this number . . . by the second quarter.
The pick: Panthers
4 P.M. GAMES
BUCS (1-0) AT CARDINALS (0-1)
Cardinals by 6.5; O/U: 51
When I said last season that Jameis Winston would be a bust, I was wrong. When I say that the Bucs will compete for a playoff spot this season, I think I’ll Buc the trend and be right. Tampa Bay is quickly becoming one of my favorite teams to pick, and it’s because of their offense. So many weapons. Playing at Arizona will be more difficult than at Atlanta, but I wouldn’t be shocked one bit if Tampa Bay won. I see a shootout in the desert with both teams scoring in the 30s.
The pick: Bucs
SEAHAWKS (1-0) AT RAMS (0-1)
Seahawks by 6.5; O/U: 38.5
Last week I joked about how Jeff Fisher always seems to finish 7-9 . . . and then I went out and posted a 7-9 record ATS in Week 1. Hey, at least I correctly predicted my lock of the week — the 49ers to cover and win against Fisher’s Rams. St. Louis, I mean Los Angeles, had the worst showing of any team as it lost, 28-0. Now, the Rams’ first game back in L.A. is against a much more talented team. The Seahawks won’t be as lackadasical as they were in a 12-10 comeback win over the Dolphins at home. Pete Carroll returns to the Coliseum, where he dominated with USC. If Russell Wilson’s ankle isn’t 100 percent, maybe Carroll could give Matt Leinart a call for old times’ sake?
The pick: Seahawks
COLTS (0-1) AT BRONCOS (1-0)
Broncos by 6.5; O/U: 46.5
At first glance, this line feels a little Mile High. I normally wouldn’t want to lay this many points with a rookie quarterback, but Trevor Siemian held his own in his debut. Gary Kubiak should be able to draw up some productive plays against a suspect Colts defense. Speaking of defenses, Denver has the NFL’s best.
The pick: Broncos
LOCK OF THE WEEK
JAGUARS (0-1) AT CHARGERS (0-1)
Chargers by 3; O/U: 47
For the second straight week, I’m quoting someone from the Jaguars organization for tough talk. This time it’s rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who after a 27-23 loss to Green Bay told reporters that Aaron Rodgers “didn’t throw my way. Write that.” The fifth overall pick in the draft added on Twitter: “ZERO completions on me. I back up my talk.”
These aren’t your older brother’s Jaguars. The Packers needed a late stop on fourth down to prevent the upset. In years past, that would’ve been a 14-point loss, not four. With lots of young talent on offense and defense, the Jags are going to be one of the NFL’s surprise teams. The Chargers were one of my “bet against” teams entering the season. Now, after blowing a three-touchdown lead in Week 1, they also lost their best receiver, Keenan Allen, for the season. Philip Rivers will have ZERO luck throwing it Ramsey’s way, and Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson will make big plays in the passing game as Jacksonville rolls.
The pick: Jaguars
FALCONS (0-1) AT RAIDERS (1-0)
Raiders by 5.5; O/U: 49.5
When I look at the upcoming week’s spreads on Sunday night, usually one or two games stand out to me. This is one of them. Oakland giving 5.5 at home feels like a steal. Atlanta won’t be able to keep up against Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and that high-octane offense. Make it back-to-back 30-plus point weeks as the Raiders go for 2-0.
The pick: Raiders
PACKERS (1-0) AT VIKINGS (1-0), 8:20 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4
Packers by 2; O/U: 43.5
Minnesota opens its new stadium in prime time, but that won’t be the star attraction. Enter Aaron Rodgers, who is 11-5 against the Vikings with 34 touchdowns. The Vikings’ defense is their calling card, but they’ll have trouble limiting the Packers’ big-play ability. Minnesota won’t reveal if Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford will start at quarterback. Does it really matter?
The pick: Packers
EAGLES (1-0) AT BEARS (0-1), 8:30 p.m.
Bears by 3; O/U: 42
This game is a perfect example of the classic “Don’t put too much stock into Week 1” philosophy. Carson Wentz looked like a seasoned pro in his NFL debut, but that was against the Browns. It won’t be so easy against a John Fox-coached defense. Still, Wentz made some pretty throws, and in a toss-up game, I always like to take the points.
The pick: Eagles
Staff picks (best bets in bold)
JOE MANNIELLO (7-9, 1-0 best bets): Giants, Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Texans, Patriots, Panthers , Redskins, Bucs, Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars, Packers, Eagles
BOB GLAUBER (8-8, 1-0): Giants, Steelers, Browns, Lions, Chiefs, Colphins, Panthers, Redskins, Cardinals, Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos, Chargers, Packers, Bears
TOM ROCK (9-7, 1-0): Giants, Steelers, Ravens, Titans, Chiefs, Patriots, 49ers, Cowboys, Bucs, Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars, Packers, Eagles
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN (7-9, 1-0): Giants, Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Chiefs, Dolphins, 49ers, Cowboys, Cardinals, Seahawks, Raiders, Colts, Jaguars, Packers, Bears