Year after year I wonder if I should quit doing this, if I’ve still “got it”. It’s usually during these early weeks I feel that way. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to blow a few picks. I really thought the Panthers could handle the Bucs so my week got off to a rough start except that I didn’t miss by much. I said they would win 23-17 and they lost 14-20. I “won” both bets that of course I didn’t make because gambling is for suckers. Bengals over 49ers was a massive miss, they were blown out, and on the opposite side of that I thought the Chargers would easily handle the Lions and they lost. Giants over Bills I knew was risky and sure enough they lost. Titans over Colts I think made sense and I had them 27-20. They fell 19-17 I’m not too unhappy over that.
On the plus side, I had Packers 20-19 so it sucked to lose the “bet” (+3) when they won 21-16 but that was a solid prognostication. Patriots 38-6 might have seemed like an easy pick. Trust me, it’s not easy before it happens and they won 43-0 that was solid. Cowboys 27-17 was another good prediction, but the 31-21 final still caused me to lose the over/under.
I had some dynamite picks as well. Ravens 23-14 over Cards (23-17 actual) and Bears 16-14 over Broncos (16-14 actual). I almost had a third with Eagles 27-23 over Falcons (20-24 actual) but Agholor dropped a certain touchdown pass late in the game. Quarterback injuries ruined my Steelers over Seahawks pick of 28-20 (lost 26-28) and Rams over Saints 31-28 (lost 9-27).
With all of that explanation, I was 8-8 picking winners (19-12-1 overall) 7-9 against the spread (14-18 overall) and 10-6 on the over/under (17-15 overall). It was a positive week against Vegas, but I’m still -2 on the season early on.
Tennessee (1-1) @ Jacksonville (0-2): Stability at quarterback was supposed to turn the Jaguars back into title contenders this season. They are now on the verge of an 0-3 start as they deal with starting a rookie quarterback for several more weeks. Minshew is awesome for the memes on Instagram and has performed relatively well. It’s not his fault the coach called a running play on the two-pointer at the end against Houston in a loss. The Titans were stunned by Indianapolis a week after a dominating win elevated their expectations. The Colts are talented no doubt, but that was a disappointing loss for sure. Now they go on the road on a short week and it actually might be a blessing. They catch a Jacksonville team distracted by star corner Jalen Ramsey demanding a trade. The teams are similar. Each has a bruising back, mobile quarterback and physical defense. It’s going to be hard to score and I wonder why the league wants to put this game on television honestly. The Titans only have one receiver who has caught more than 3 passes on the season. That’s embarrassing. I like the balance for the home team actually and I think they squeeze out a win here under tough circumstances: Jacksonville 20, Tennessee 16 (JAX +2/under 38.5)
Cincinnati (0-2) @ Buffalo (2-0): It’s the same old Bungles apparently. After the game they should have won in Seattle I thought they might not be as awful as preseason prognostications. Having watched San Francisco mug them, yes indeed they are. The Bills are building momentum and getting wins any way they can having taken care of both New York teams. Making two short road trips definitely helps them in the long run. The season can be a grind and they are set up for a dominant home opener here. Cincinnati has gotten a rough start out of feature back Joe Mixon, who is banged up, and the passing yardage from Dalton has mostly been pointless. Momentum is the key for me here. I see no fire from the visitors. They were overwhelmed last week against an opponent that is probably better than this one, but being on the road hurts. The Bills will jump on top and be glad to pile on: Buffalo 26, Cincinnati 17 (BUF -4/under 44)
Miami (0-2) @ Dallas (2-0): It’s already looking like the Dolphins have a chance to become the first franchise with a perfect season and winless season. They have looked totally helpless in a pair of losses and it gets no easier for them here facing a title contender. They have a ton of draft picks piled up and have an opportunity to rebuild, but I feel bad for the guys left to deal with this dumpster fire. The Cowboys are firing away with their explosive offense now that Zeke is firmly in the fold. Their defense is good enough and this matchup produces no issues for them whatsoever. It’s just a matter of how much they will win by. Unlike the Pats last week, this is a team that can lose focus so I see the visitors striking for some points and catching them early in the game. Eventually it becomes a rout: Dallas 34, Miami 15 (MIA +22.5/over 47)
Denver (0-2) @ Green Bay (2-0): Joe Flacco was supposed to stabilize the Broncos so they could ride the defense and so far it hasn’t worked out. The Packers have their star quarterback and now their defense is playing like they could be contenders. This is going to be a battle on the defensive side. Each quarterback has a ring, but Rodgers is the elite player. He will definitely carry the day. It should be close because the defenses will do their part and each team has a running game to slow things down. Probably some field goals and unless one side really has a turnover advantage I see this as a one score win by the home team: Green Bay 20, Denver 16 (DEN +7.5/under 43.5)
Atlanta (1-1) @ Indianapolis (1-1): The Colts definitely have talent and proved last week they can win post-Luck. I won’t call them a playoff contender just yet even in a soft division. The Falcons found a way to win over a good Philadelphia team. They are comfortable in the dome and I love their skill players. I think they are better than people think and it’s just a matter of being consistent. This is really a hard game to call though because home field does matter. Ultimately, I still see Atlanta as the better team overall and there isn’t enough for me to go against them here: Atlanta 23, Indianapolis 20 (ATL +2/under 48)
Baltimore (2-0) @ Kansas City (2-0): If the Patriots did not exist, this would definitely be a potential AFC Championship Game preview. The Ravens have the defense and the Chiefs have the offense is sort of how this game is perceived. Except that Baltimore’s offense has looked solid with Ingram added at running back and Jackson’s passing down the field. It’s on like Donkey Kong. Kansas City was shut out on offense in three quarters last week in Oakland, but went wild in the second quarter and that’s all they needed. Baltimore is not as good as people think having struggled past a mediocre Arizona team last week. They will get better as the season wears on and might threaten the true AFC elite, which is a party of two at this point. I want to believe this is close, but I think the home team takes care of business comfortably: Kansas City 26, Baltimore 17 (KC -5.5/under 52.5)
Oakland (1-1) @ Minnesota (1-1): Perception right now is that the Vikings are a contender and the Raiders are not. Early in the season teams tend to play as if they are in the hunt until things start going against them. This is such a spot for Oakland. Their brutal travel schedule will likely undo their season in a matter of weeks, but for now they have an improving defense and sneaky good offense. Minnesota is a lot better on offense now that Cook is at full strength. The passing game has been slow starting, but I see that developing as the season wears on. They have a defense that can handle the visitors and should win this game. I wouldn’t be shocked to see an upset here if they aren’t careful, but on this field I see it going according to form: Minnesota 23, Oakland 19 (OAK +9/under 43.5)
NY Jets (0-2) @ New England (2-0): Remember in the preseason when the Jets were supposed to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East? That was fun. They are now down to their third string quarterback and coming off a 23-3 loss to a team that lost their opener by 30 points the previous week. This is a rivalry and in this instance that works very much in New England’s favor. They do not want to be flat against a team that has given them issues over the years even when it should have been a rout. Luke Falk has no stars to lean on in the passing game unless you count his backfield outlet Bell. The Patriots will ensure Bell is a total non-factor because that’s what their defense does to every opponent’s top threat. I find it hard to imagine the visitors doing much of anything on offense. New England might struggle at first to move the ball against a defense that knows them well, but eventually they are going to take care of business: New England 28, NY Jets 3 (NE -22/under 44)
Detroit (1-0-1) @ Philadelphia (1-1): It’s hard to believe the Lions have the better record here and somehow they muscled out a win last week over the Chargers. The Eagles fell short in Atlanta in a game they probably should have won. I think they need time to gel on offense more than anything and will get a lot better as the season progresses. Detroit will find it hard to compete in the NFC North once they start facing divisional foes. Both passers are competent. The visitors never seem to be able to run while the hosts are finding a way to utilize their three-headed backfield including a former North runner (Howard). It’s probably too early to say the contenders separate from the pretenders, but this is the kind of result where I see that occurring: Philadelphia 26, Detroit 16 (PHI -5.5/under 49.5)
Carolina (0-2) @ Arizona (0-1-1): The Cardinals have played a lot better than I expected them to early on, and the opposite is true of the Panthers. Now Newton is banged up and could miss this game. I’m not sure it matters either way. His fellow member of the Heisman Trophy and first overall pick club Murray has been producing with his arm. He has 657 yards passing and only 17 rushing. At some point he figures to make some plays with his legs, but for now he’s proven his doubters wrong. I see more of the same here. McCaffrey is an elite back, but this is a tough place to play. I think Arizona gained a lot of confidence last week in Baltimore. They are on the brink. Carolina took a tough loss and while they do get extra rest I think they are on the wrong side of the momentum pendulum: Arizona 23, Carolina 20 (AZ -2/under 44.5)
NY Giants (0-2) @ Tampa Bay (1-1): The Daniel Jones era begins for the Giants and I think it could go better than some expect at least in this spot. He’s got an elite back at his disposal and ball hogging tight end. Those are two great friends for an inexperienced quarterback to have. The Bucs turned in a nice road win on TNF and return home with extra rest to prepare, but are facing a guy who hasn’t seen regular season action in the league until now. Winston is still a turnover waiting to happen and it makes me nervous. I honestly could see a straight up win for the visitors here if things go their way. The margin of error in the NFL is razor thin and teams can elevate to get an unexpected win. Tampa Bay has new life in the NFC South given the quarterback troubles for two of their division mates and can’t afford to blow a game like this: Tampa Bay 24, NY Giants 19 (NYG +6.5/under 49)
Houston (1-1) @ LA Chargers (1-1): Expectations for both teams existed before the season and last week was not a good look for either. The Chargers lost in Detroit, who is not good. The Texans escaped by stopping a two-point play against a rookie quarterback in his first start. Who is going to find their groove first? Rivers misses his lead back Gordon for sure and while Ekeler is productive in fantasy leagues, he is not elite. Hyde has boosted Houston’s ground attack along with Duke Johnson. They have a trio of speedy receiving threats as well. I am really just not a believer in Los Angeles at all thus far. As solid as they were in 2018, this is 2019. Houston has yet to show out this season either, but I like their offense more and this is a passing league: Houston 23, LA Chargers 21 (HOU +3/under 49)
Pittsburgh (0-2) @ San Francisco (2-0): It’s shocking to look at these teams now compared to preseason and consider their records, especially after this game is over. The Steelers lost Big Ben and are on the brink of 0-3. The only negative for the 49ers as they close in on 3-0 is losing left tackle Joe Staley. I think they can get past it though. Their offense is in a groove. It’s definitely a blow to the offensive line, but they can adjust. Rudolph taking over the offense in Pittsburgh is going to be interesting. I actually think he can perform fairly well once he settles in. This is not a great spot for that to happen on a road trip against a team out for blood. San Francisco was vicious on their two-game jaunt to the east coast, scoring 72 points and not flying home in between. Now they get their home opener and figure to be fired up. I think they dominate this game and it will be interesting to see if the Steelers can recover: San Francisco 30, Pittsburgh 17 (SF -6.5/over 43)
New Orleans (1-1) @ Seattle (2-0): Drew Brees getting hurt is a brutal blow to the Saints who failed to get any measure of revenge or respect in their rematch with the Rams last week, losing 27-9 and enduring another key blown call in the process. The Seahawks stole a win in Pittsburgh that there is no way they would have claimed if Roethlisberger had not been injured. Hill and Bridgewater can move the offense, no question. It’s a matter of what happens in the clutch. Wilson is a winner. If the game is close, he is going to drive his team down the field. Conversely, his defense that now features Clowney is not going to allow either of these quarterbacks to beat them when it matters. Obviously their massive home field advantage also factors in. Suddenly they are a contender again, maybe: Seattle 24, New Orleans 16 (SEA -4.5/under 50)
LA Rams (2-0) @ Cleveland (1-1): Crazy people probably saw this as a Super Bowl preview when the schedule came out and television executives put it on the SNF schedule. It should be fun. The Browns were effective on MNF last week and shook off that embarrassing blowout loss from week 1. They did not look like an elite team though. The Rams took advantage of Brees leaving early with a thumb injury and took care of business against New Orleans. They have yet to show too much this season other than Gurley (160 yards rushing) and Kupp (166 yards receiving) are healthy enough to lead the offense. I wonder if this turns into a defensive battle and if so is an upset in the cards? Cleveland is just not put together yet this season. They need more time before they can beat a team that just went to the Super Bowl. Los Angeles is good enough to win without playing as well as they can: LA Rams 22, Cleveland 16 (LAR -2.5/under 51)
Chicago (1-1) @ Washington (0-2): The Bears got a winning field goal at the gun and their fans celebrated like it was 1985. Good for them. The Redskins lost again and have no running game whatsoever. That’s a huge problem against this defense. Keenum can throw for yards, but his first interception (or two) will happen here on MNF. Chicago is not running the ball as effectively as they want to and that will take time with their backfield changes. Trubisky is off and lacks elite talent on the outside. However, they win on the defensive side of the ball. Washington is not a good team and is going to fade very soon. They might keep this close and that’s about it: Chicago 21, Washington 16 (CHI -4/under 42.5)