Well...that was...unpleasant. Week 2 caught many people by surprise (including, if you look at my picks, myself). Nine (!) underdogs won outright. The first four weeks of the NFL season are a dangerous time, because it takes that long for even Vegas to get a handle on each team. So it was a definite body blow, but this is a new week. A week in which I finally got the Thursday game right, so let's get to the picks.
As always, home team in CAPS. Spreads provided by vegasinsider.
Pittsburgh (PICK 'EM) over ST. LOUIS
This feels like a bad matchup for the Rams. The Rams have a video game front four, and tons of speed at linebacker, but their secondary isn't very good. A great quarterback who can diagnose the play at the line and get the ball out quickly to his playmaking WRs should feast. Can Nick Foles and the Rams offense keep up? No.
MINNESOTA (-2.5) over San Diego
As long as they don't make Adrian Peterson an afterthought in the game plan again.
Tampa Bay (+6.5) over HOUSTON
I just don't trust Houston's quarterback situation. I could very well end up looking foolish as JJ Watt leads Houston's defense in a dismantling of rookie Jameis Winston, but unless Houston's defense feasts on turnovers, their offense isn't going to put up many points.
NEW YORK JETS (-2) over Philadelphia
I do believe that the Eagles can get their ship righted and still have a successful season. I odn't believe that process will start against a defense as good as New York's.
CAROLINA (-8) over New Orleans
There is only one unit I trust in this game: Carolina's defense. Carolina's offense doesn't have any wide receivers for Cam to throw to. New Orleans' defense hasn't been good in 18 games. And New Orleans' offense will be led by Luke McCown. Who's Luck McCown? The guy with the best agent in the business. Here are Luke McCown's career stats:
And here are his national TV commercial spots.
That's right, you've seen him on TV if you've watched any football so far. He's a career backup, and he has a commercial deal. A national, commercial deal. Well done Luke and Luke's agent!
Unfortunately, none of that prepares him to face a top-10 defense.
Jacksonville (+13.5) over NEW ENGLAND
New England has gotten out to comfortable leads twice, and then their defense has given up a bunch of points to make the final score look closer than the game really was. Can Jacksonville make it 3-for-3? I'm going to say yes. I don't trust Blake Bortles enough to win this matchup, but I do trust this offense to put up points against this softer Patriots defense. Besides, I couldn't pick both of these ridiculous favorites to cover, and Jimmy Clausen's playing in the other game.
Cincinnati (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
In their last 4 matchups, Baltimore has a whopping 1 win over the Bengals. And they needed overtime to get that W. Those Baltimore teams were more talented (especially in the passing game), than this one. The only reason to pick Baltimore is because they are 0-2 and desperate. Baltimore needs this game, otherwise they fall 3.5 games behind the Bengals. But they still don't have a way to put up points on a good defense (which the Bengals have) or pressure the Bengals' offense into mistakes (just look at the Raiders game).
CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Oakland
Oakland just had a big win over an expected AFC contender at home. For a team as success-starved as the Raiders, this week feels like a letdown game.
Indianapolis (-3) over TENNESSEE
The better team is also the more desperate one.
Atlanta (-1) over DALLAS
A smart, limited team should play well enough to force Brandon Weeden to have to win the game for Dallas. Cleveland fans can tell you how that story ends.
ARIZONA (-6.5) over San Francisco
Bruce Arians is a hell of a coach. I can't explain what he's doing with Carson Palmer. I still don't believe Arizona is a Super Bowl contender, but they look like their floor is a solid playoff team. Arizona should throw him a parade.
SEATTLE (-14.5) over Chicago
Seattle is a desperate team, but their offense is still a mess. Yes Chicago's defense is as well, but I'm not convinced Seattle will erupt for 30+ points in this one. But then again, Jimmy Clausen's starting. And Jimmy Clausen isn't good. And he's without his two best receivers. And the game is in Seattle. And this Seattle team is angry. And they have the deathbacker back.
MIAMI (-3) over Buffalo
I know they just lost to Jacksonville, but I was much more concerned by a different observation last week. Watching the Pats-Bills game, I was very interested to see Tyrod Taylor play. And what I saw did not impress me. Taylor is essentially another Tarvaris Jackson: raw, not very accurate (by NFL QB standards), and does not see the field that well. Against a bad defense like Indy? He can win you the game. Against a limited but smart defense like New England? He can put up some points, but you're not winning. Against a good defense like Miami's? Yeesh.
Denver (-3) over DETROIT
I know Denver looks beyond shaky right now. And I know Peyton Manning looks like he's being held together with scotch tape and chewing gum. But Matthew Stafford is coming into this game banged up as well, with injured ribs. And Denver's defense has a pretty decent chance of knocking Stafford out of the game. I don't trust this year's (read: Suh-less) Lions defense to put up much resistance to Denver's offense.
GREEN BAY (-6.5) over Kansas City
Kansas City's only chance is to force Aaron Rodgers into multiple turnovers. Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home since 2012.
This week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last week: 5-11 (.313)
Season: 13-18-1 (.422)