NFL Week 2 Pick ‘Em
Welcome to my first weekly (LOL hopefully) NFL Pick ’Em column! I’ll be giving you guys my picks in the NFL to win, and hopefully for you betting folk that might give you some of my thoughts. If you win then it’s partly because of my input — but if you lose it’s all your fault. But seriously, if someone wins any kind of bet because of this column right here, that’s probably the best compliment I can ever get.
I’m going to be trying out this type of NFL content, since I feel like I consume too much fantasy football content myself, I would inherently be parroting what the likes of Matthew Berry and Co. write. Without further ado, let’s go:
Houston Texans (+225) at Cincinnati Bengals (-270)
Starting with this week’s Thursday night game, both teams looked absolutely terrible in their Week 1 openers, with the Texans losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars (more importantly, losing to Blake Bortles) and the Bengals putting up a goose egg against the Baltimore Ravens. The Tom Savage Experiment was a bust (who knew that Tom Savage is not a good quarterback?) and now it looks like Houston will roll with first round pick Deshaun Watson under center. The Bungles offense looked atrocious, despite boasting offensive skill players such as A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and first-round speedster John Ross. Dalton threw four interceptions, while the Ravens’ defense feasted on what is a significantly worse Bengals offensive line. Andrew Whitworth is with the Rams, Kevin Zeitler with the Browns, so expect Dalton to get pressured all season long. The Texans defense is still quite good, despite an uncharacteristic performance against the Jaguars, and I think a full week of practice with the first-stringers will be good for Watson. I don’t have much confidence in the Texans, but I have even less confidence for the Bengals.
Pick: Texans 17, Bengals 14
Tennessee Titans (-140) at Jacksonville Jaguars (+120)
Vegas seems to love the Titans this year, predicting their over/under win total at 8.5. Despite the Jaguars pulling out a surprise win in an emotional NRG Stadium in Houston last week and the Titans losing to the superior Raiders, I like the Titans in this matchup. Marcus Mariota is entering his third season, and will continue to rapidly develop as a quarterback. The Jaguars lost top receiving threat Allen Robinson for the season, and they won’t be able to get 10 sacks like they did against the Texans. While I think the Jaguars defense will be in the top-10 by the end of the season, they still have Blake Bortles under center, which is a negative win condition in my books.
Pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 17
Cleveland Browns (+280) at Baltimore Ravens (-360)
Ah yes, the Art Modell Bowl. AFC North divisional matchups are always pretty tough to gauge, given the ferocity that goes on within the division, however this is the Browns we’re talking about here. DeShone Kizer is easily the best quarterback Cleveland has had in years (not exactly a high bar, but still) and Corey Coleman is an exciting, young receiver that can stretch the field. Cleveland’s run game still leaves a lot to be desired, as Isaiah Crowell struggled mightily against the Steelers and Duke Johnson, Jr. got a whopping zero carries. Unfortunately for any Browns fans out there, Baltimore has a very stout run defense, and an underrated secondary. They can’t catch any breaks in regards to injuries, as Danny Woodhead predictably got hurt in the first game of the season, but the Ravens somehow find ways to win regardless.
Pick: Ravens 17, Browns 10
Buffalo Bills (+260) at Carolina Panthers (-320)
The Panthers did not look very good against a very bad 49ers team, but held them to only three points. The Bills definitely boast a better offense with Tyrod Taylor under center, but they merely beat the New York Jets, a team that might be the worst team in the league. While Cam Newton looked extremely rusty, rookie running back Christian McCaffrey showed a lot of promise and Jonathan Stewart reminded everyone else that he still exists. The Panthers might also boast the best trio of linebackers in the league with Luke Kuechley, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson, so I think they take care of business against LeSean McCoy in the run game.
Pick: Panthers 24, Bills 14
New England Patriots (-330) at New Orleans Saints (+265)
The Patriots shocked the league by getting eviscerated by the explosive Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener, with their defense getting exposed and Tom Brady looking his age. The Saints defense also got burned, but that’s been the case for at least the past decade. Bill Belichick has 10 days to prepare for this Week 2 clash, so I fully expect him to prepare his team. Tom Brady plays extremely well in domes (106.4 rating in his career), and the Patriots defense will hold up enough and give up less points than the swiss cheese that is the Saints defense.
Pick: Patriots 35, Saints 24
Arizona Cardinals (-360) at Indianapolis Colts (+280)
Earlier I said that the New York Jets might be the worst team in the league — there’s another team that might give the Jets a run for their money. The Indianapolis Colts without Andrew Luck might also be the worst team in the league. Despite Carson Palmer and the Cardinals putting up a woeful performance against Detroit and losing star running back David Johnson for what seems to be 2–3 months, there’s no way they can lose to a Luck-less Colts team devoid of much talent outside of TY Hilton. But if the Cards can’t win in easy fashion here, they’re in big trouble.
Pick: Cardinals 35, Colts 10
Philadelphia Eagles (+185) at Kansas City Chiefs (-220)
This is the homecoming for Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, as he served under Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator for two seasons before getting the Philly gig. Carson Wentz looked good in Week 1, but last season he started really strong and fell off as opposing defenses figured out his tendencies. Say what you will about Andy Reid’s in-game clock management, but like Belichick, he has 10 days to prepare for the matchup with his former team, so I fully expect the Chiefs to get out the gate running. Kareem Hunt became an overnight fantasy sensation, and Alex Smith uncharacteristically threw a few sweet deep balls, shedding his “Captain Checkdown” moniker. This will be a fun one, if nothing else.
Pick: Chiefs 27, Eagles 24
Minnesota Vikings (+220) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-250)
This matchup really intrigues me, as the Vikings surprised everyone with an explosive offense, and the Steelers did the exact opposite. Pittsburgh uncharacteristically struggled in the run game, as Le’Veon Bell just couldn’t get anything going against Cleveland. Antonio Brown is Antonio Brown, so despite a matchup with elite cornerback Xavier Rhodes, I fully expect Brown to get his. The question is whether or not the Steelers can rebound and produce on the ground against an elite Vikings front seven. Sam Bradford looked the best he ever has, and clearly has built up chemistry with wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. I like the matchup of these two against a questionable Steelers secondary, despite the Steelers being the odds-on favorite to win at home.
Pick: Vikings 17, Steelers 14
Chicago Bears (+260) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-320)
This will be our first look at the new-look Bucs with Desean Jackson and first-round pick O.J. Howard, and I fully expect Jameis Winston to pick apart this awful Bears defense. Tarik Cohen has become the Week 1 fantasy darling, and will continue to get touches with the Bears devoid of playmakers. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers boast one of the better linebacking corps in the league, lead by All-Pro Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. Tampa Bay’s offensive firepower will prove to be too much for DAAAAA Bears, an easy pick in the end.
Pick: Buccaneers 28, Bears 14
Miami Dolphins (+185) at Los Angeles Chargers (-220)
The home opener for the Los Angeles Chargers (still feels weird to say that) at the Stub Hub Center, as well as the season opener for the Miami Dolphins, as their Week 1 bout against Tampa Bay was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. I honestly have zero idea how the Dolphins will fare with Smokin’ Jay Cutler under center, but he had the best season of his career when Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator for Chicago, so I’m sure there isn’t too much catching up Cutler has to do. The Chargers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to my Broncos, but have what I feel is a top-10 defense this year. The state of the Dolphins’ offensive line is suspect, so I expect Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage. Melvin Gordon will also get his against an iffy ‘Phins’ defense.
Pick: Chargers 24, Dolphins 14
New York Jets (+800) at Oakland Raiders (-1300)
Yikes. Look at those odds. Vegas reaaaally doesn’t think the Raiders can lose this one, and with good reason. As I mentioned before, the Jets are terrible, and will continue to be terrible throughout the season. Expect Derek Carr and Amari Cooper to light up the helpless Jets secondary, and for Khalil Mack to get multiple sacks. This is by far the easiest pick of the week.
Pick: Raiders 35, Jets 3
Washington Redskins (+120) at Los Angeles Rams (-140)
In yet another meeting that pits former coaches/teams, the Redskins will face off against their former baby-faced offensive coordinator Sean McVay. This might prove to be disastrous for the Redskins, as I’m sure McVay has exclusive insight into Kirk Cousins, and will prepare his defense accordingly. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald still hasn’t gotten a new contract, but showed up to practice earlier this week which points towards a new deal that will finally get the All-Pro on the field this upcoming Sunday. Cousins and Co. looked rattled and lost against Philadelphia, and will face a tough test against a resilient Rams defense that had two pick-sixes last week.
Pick: Rams 17, Redskins 14
Dallas Cowboys (-140) at Denver Broncos (+120)
I’m offended that my Broncos are the odds-on underdogs at home, but the Cowboys have the best running game in the league, and Denver finished 28th in the league against the run last season. The Cowboys will of course lean very heavily on Ezekiel Elliot, as the presence of the “No Fly Zone”, Denver’s secondary, proves to be a tough matchup in the air. The Broncos escaped Monday night’s contest by the skin of their teeth, and face a stout run defense in Dallas.
Pick: Cowboys 20, Broncos 17*
*Note: I obviously think my team has a chance at winning this, but out of the sake of objectivity, I’ll go with the odds on this one*
San Francisco 49ers (+650) at Seattle Seahawks (-1000)
Another pretty easy pick, as the Niners are a bottom-dwelling team this year, along with the Jets and the Colts, while the Seahawks are a favorite to go to the Super Bowl. The Seattle OL looked terrible against the Green Bay front seven, but the 49ers do not boast as much talent on the defensive side. This is a “get right” game for the Seahawks and I fully expect them to win handily at home — one of the hardest stadiums to win in as the away team.
Pick: Seahawks 35, 49ers 10
Green Bay Packers (+120) at Atlanta Falcons (-140)
A rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game and the home opener at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this matchup looks to be extremely entertaining — hence why it was designated as this week’s Sunday Night game. The Falcons defense is incredibly underrated, especially with the addition of former All-Pro nose tackle Dontari Poe and the return of top cornerback Desmond Trufant. I full expect this to be an entertaining blowout, with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan to go back and forth. The Dirty Birds, however, came within five yards of losing to the Chicago Bears. While Green Bay didn’t look particularly sharp against Seattle, Rodgers plays well in domes, and I can see the Packers playing spoiler to the Falcons’ first regular season game in the new stadium.
Pick: Packers 34, Falcons 31
Detroit Lions (+140) at New York Giants (-160)
And finally, the Monday night clash between the Lions and the Giants. This game will really depend on the status of Odell Beckham, Jr. The G-Men looked absolutely anemic without him against the Cowboys last week, and if he continues to be sidelined, expect more of the same. The Lions played extremely well against Arizona last week, with the emergence of fantasy darling Kenny Galloday. Despite Detroit’s pass-happy offense, I expect this to be a pretty low-scoring affair, as New York’s secondary is one of the best in the league, and the Lions don’t have a good running game to compensate. Their defense surprised everyone and ended up picking off Carson Palmer three times, and with how terrible Eli Manning was last week, a similar result is very much within the realm of possibility.
Pick: Lions 10, Giants 7
And that concludes my first Pick ’Em column of the NFL season! Next week I will go through my picks and have a running tally of my record so we can see how wrong (or hopefully right) I turned out to be!