Predictions for all 16 NFL games in Week 2 against the spread and straight up
There are a few things we can almost always say about Week 1 in the NFL: It’s weird, it’s usually pretty damn exciting (and not just because football is back), and it is the most unpredictable week of any sport on God’s green earth.
Raise your hand if you had multiple picks in your knockout pool and they all survived. Put your hand down, liar. Just stop it.
As it usually does, the results from my first picks column of the new season reflected the weirdness, as I was even against the spread but much worse straight up, which happens maybe once or twice per season.
So what about Week 2? I always say the second week (especially with best bets) is easier and more fun. And that comes due to the ridiculous overreactions we get from books and bettors alike.
Example 1: The Bills opened a 7-point favorite in the offseason over the Titans. Remember, almost everyone except Titans fans hate the Titans. It’s a rare case in which Drunk Joe and the sharps seem to always be on the same side. Interestingly, they seem to be conversely together (is that an oxymoron?) when it comes to Buffalo. They all seem to think these Bills are going 17-0, going to win the Super Bowl against (pick any team) 45-0, and we can move a long and call it a season.
Example 2: Don’t get me wrong, no team in the NFL looked more off early projections than the Dallas Cowboys, and now they have lost their franchise quarterback for more than a month. But does Dak Prescott mean 10 points? I am not sure I have ever seen a line swing that much – from Bengals +2½ to -7½.
And there are plenty more, such as overreaction against the Colts, Rams and Niners and love for the Lions, Falcons and Seahawks.
You see where I am going with this. So, let’s go grab those value bets this week and turn last week’s mediocrity into profit.
NOTES: All spreads, money lines and over/under totals (as of Wednesday night) are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. We started the season with a mythical bankroll with $1,000. Our totals for the past week and the season are at the bottom of this column.
THE WEEK 2 BEST BETS
HOME TEAM in CAPS
1 / LA Chargers at KANSAS CITY under 54
WHEN: Thursday at 8:15 p.m. THE BET: $44.
Since we’re going with the overreaction theme this week, let’s start with my favorite. No question the Chargers and Chiefs have high-flying offenses, but each spent two weeks preparing for their Week 1 opponents. Obviously, each got it right (although the Bolts got a little lucky, too).
On a short week, with little time to prepare, what do we expect to see? Aunt Mabel already thinks she has enough to buy all the ingredients for this year’s holiday fruitcakes, as she and Drunk Joe are all over the over, which is a ridiculous 54 – one of the highest overs we’ll see in the NFL all season.
This went down Wednesday afternoon from 54.5 when the sharps obviously began pounding the under, but the number of tickets remained close to 90 percent on the over, according to Pregame.com.
My favorite fade of the public comes early, and while this could be the most exciting game of the week, it’s not going to be for the reason people think.
SCORE PREDICTION: Chiefs 24, Chargers 22 (+4).
2 / Tennessee +10 over BUFFALO
WHEN: Monday at 7:15 p.m. THE BET: $33.
I don’t know how many times I have to repeat the sharps HATE the Titans, which has helped inflate this line to an insane double digits. I get this isn’t the same Tennessee team that not only earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season and the one that beat Buffalo on a Monday night, but it certainly isn’t one that’s now 10 points worse than the Bills, either.
I get that it is tough to bet against Josh Allen, especially after the whooping they put on the Rams in the opener (and now they will have had 11 days to rest and prepare for Week 2), but this line makes zero sense to me.
There also is massive value on the money line if you want to get super frisky at Titans +360, but with more than 85 percent of the money and tickets going for Buffalo, we’ll just take the value we’re getting at +10.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel seems to get the most out of his team in games like this, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again.
SCORE PREDICTION: Bills 23, Titans 19. (Under 48.5.)
3 / DALLAS +7.5 over Cincinnati
WHEN: Sunday at 4:25 p.m. THE BET: $22.
We already told you in our open about the insane change of spreads from just a month ago to now, and I get how important Dak Prescott is to these Cowboys, but no one is THAT important.
I don’t think I have found a single expert – whether it be a real “expert” or the multiple thousands of social media experts – who don’t think this is now a lost season for Dallas. And while I certainly have tempered my initial expectations for the Star Heads, I am not ready to say 2022 is over. (Even if Mike McCarthy is a walking corpse in the coaching world.)
Where’s the overreaction to this Bengals team that lost to a potential cellar-dwellar in the AFC North? Lest we forget the Cincy O-Line was singing “Who Dey ripping past me and sacking Joe Burrow?” just like they did for most of last year.
This one is tight throughout, and I apologize for not having the backbone to make the money line (+278) a best bet, but I don’t want to scare too many people off this early in the season.
SCORE PREDICTION: Cowboys 26, Bengals 23. (Over 41.5.)
4 / New England ML over PITTSBURGH
WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. THE BET: $25 to win $20 (ML odds, -125).
Let’s try this again. (And yes, I am stubborn.)
So many pundits seem to be ready to write Bill Belichick’s coaching obit, and like the Cowboys, write off these Patriots for the season. Ummm, what the heck is wrong with people?
Quarterback Mac Jones looks like he is a go for Sunday, as he already was a participant in Wednesday’s practice, while TJ Watt is going to miss a minimum of six weeks for the Steelers. Question: Why is Dallas 10 points worse without Dak, but Pittsburgh’s power rating doesn’t change without Watt?
I am not a fan of -2, so I will pay a little extra to take the money line. Either way, I expect the Pats to rebound in a big way.
SCORE PREDICTION: Patriots (-2) 20, Steelers 13. (Under 40.)
5 / SAN FRANCISCO -8.5 over Seattle
WHEN: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. THE BET: $11.
I had a back-and-forth with Uncle Big Nick last week immediately after the 49ers’ loss to the Bears and told him as a SF fan, he would be begging for the hated Jimmy G to return within 3 to 4 weeks. Then I realized I was doing my best Joe Q. Public fan imitation in joining the idiocy in the aftermath of Week 1.
Meanwhile, the next night in Seattle with an emotional return of Russell Wilson, the 12th man rose up and helped Nathaniel Hackett make the dumbest coaching decision in football since Pete Carroll didn’t give the ball to Beast Mode with Super Bowl XLIX.
Point is, I still believe San Francisco is one of the top two or three teams in the NFC, while I am certain Seattle is one of the three to five worst. And without Jamal Adams on defense for the Seabags, Lance and the Niners defense should have quite the rebound game against Geno Smith (who should turn back into a pumpkin).
SCORE PREDICTION: San Francisco 30, Seattle 7. (Over 41.5.)
TOP KNOCKOUT PICKS
1 / LA Rams; 2 / San Francisco; 3 / Green Bay; 4 / Denver; 5 / One of the first four picks twice (wink, wink).
OTHER PICKS (No bets for the following)
Sunday at noon
NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) 23, Tampa Bay 20: When it comes to this one, I am going against what my eyes told me last week, and, quite frankly, common sense.
That being said, there are times to be stubborn and dig in the old heels, and there are times to learn from mistakes. For two years, I have been picking the Saints to lose to Tom Brady. And for two years, I have been proven wrong. If I am wrong, at least it won’t be due to banging my head against the same concrete wall and expecting a different result. (Under 44.)
BALTIMORE (-3.5) 21, Miami 16: This same game burned me big time last year, finishing off my knockout pool when the Dolphins broke a long losing streak on a Thursday night in Miami. Fact still remains I think the Ravens are significantly better than the Dolphins, and they won the previous three meetings by a combined score of 137-16. (Under 44.5.)
CLEVELAND 19, NY Jets (+6.5) 15: This has the making of one dull, ugly game. It will be tough for the Jets’ running game to penetrate that Browns’ defensive line, but I don’t see Cleveland doing all that much against the Jets’ defense, either. I won’t play this anywhere, and that includes a knockout pool. (Under 40.)
Washington (+1.5) 30, DETROIT 26: I have been back and forth on this one for a couple of days. I clearly have been high on Detroit all offseason, but it does bother me a little that so many Drunk Joes have been, as well. And the fact the Lions are favored for the first time in TWENTY-FOUR games has me backing off just enough to go with the sharps and take the Football Team, er, Commanders. (Over 49.)
Indianapolis (-4) 25, JACKSONVILLE 19: Here’s my one “everytime you go against your own rules you get burned” pick of the week. And I am going against multiple rules (i.e. Golden Rule, betting with Mabel, etc). That being said, I simply cannot pick the Jaguars. I’d rather take an L than advise anyone, anywhere to bet on this atrocity of a franchise against a potential playoff team. Whew, I feel better now. (Under 46.)
NY GIANTS (-2) 21, Carolina 17: Gotta love Brian Daboll’s intentions of going for two last week, but that was a little insane with well over 1 minute remaining. He forced Tennessee to run pass plays they likely wouldn’t have normally run, and it should have backfired before Randy Bullock’s miss from 47 yards as time expired. But maybe this is the year of the Giants. Maybe they will be as good as I think they will be. Or maybe I have lost my marbles. (Under 43.5.)
Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
LA RAMS (-10.5) 37, Atlanta 17: More talking heads writing off last year’s Super Bowl champion. The ridiculousness has been so bad this week, I have heard multiple “experts” saying Marcus Mariota “isn’t that bad.” Please, for the love of God, stop. The Falcons are terrible, and last week was a fluke. Had I needed to make a sixth best bet, this would have been it. (Over 47.)
Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
DENVER (-10) 31, Houston 10: Two teams getting a lot of overreaction love and hate here, but are we really buying the Texans are THAT much improved because of their opener? Meanwhile, we already told you what we think of Nathaniel Hackett’s call to try a 64-yard field goal. The earth will get back on its axis this week, and the Broncos should be just fine in their home opener. (Under 45.)
LAS VEGAS (-5.5) 38, Arizona 30: In what could be the most high-scoring game of the week, I didn’t need a Week 1 to know the Cardinals are who I thought they were, and they sure as heck miss DeAndre Hopkins. (Or at least Kyler Murray does.) I still expect the Raiders to figure things out and be in the mix down the stretch. If they are going to do that, they must win games like this. (Over 51.5.)
Sunday at 7:20 p.m.
GREEN BAY (-10) 33, Chicago 13: We’re seeing a recurring theme here, and honestly, I don’t think I have ever picked so many double-digit favorites in one week. That being said, what other pick could you make here? The Packers are getting just what they need to get well – a solid dose of the Chicago Bears. Side note: Green Bay has defeated Chicago by 10 or more points in four straight games. (Over 42.)
Monday at 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota (+2) 26, Philadelphia 21: If you’re an Eagles fan, you have to be disturbed about how the Lions almost found a way to ruin the opener. If you’re a Vikings fan, you’re probably wondering how this team will let you down. Ha. Although we have heard over and over again about how bad Kirk Cousins is in prime time, I am still buying this team in tight point-spread games. This one sure fits. (Oh, and as I said in August, I am not buying the hype on Philadelphia.) (Under 50.5.)
HOW WE DOIN’?
Note: TIES ARE NOT COUNTED IN MY RECORD, which could result in a different total of games in the “straight up” and “against the spread” categories, as well as with totals.
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Week 1 top picks: 3-2 (-$15). Season top picks: 3-2 (.600; $985 balance from original $1,000). Week 1 all picks: 8-8. Season all picks: 8-8 (.500).
STRAIGHT UP (no spread)
Week 1: 6-10. Season: 6-10 (.375). (I guess you can gather how my knockout pools looked last week. Can we get a do-over?)
Week 1: 10-6. Season: 10-6 (.625).
Week 1 pick: Saints 22, Falcons 19. (Actual: Saints 27, Falcons 26.) Straight up: W, 1-0. Against spread (-5.5): W, 1-0. Total (under 42.5): L, 0-1.
Week 1: 3-2 best bets (-$15); 8-8 ATS; 6-10 straight up; 10-6 over/unders
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