Week two is the hardest week to pick, because of the massive overreaction to week one, by both bettors and Las Vegas. Some teams underperformed in week one, some teams over performed in week one, and some teams were an accurate representation of what they actually are. SportSmasher started out the season horribly, going (6-9-1) against the spread and (6-10) overall, however we learned a lot and expect to be much better during week two. I’m ready to hear all of the “stay away from this guy’s picks” backlash, but I am very confident going into week two. When it came to our “Best Bets” of the week, SportSmasher went (1-2) while RexRated went (2-1), and the full season results can be found at the bottom of the page. Let’s get to the NFL Week 2 Picks:
New York Jets @ New England Patriots (-13)bThe Jets surprised everyone during week one by looking competent, and led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith and a solid effort by their defense, they are (1-0) after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jets head north to New England to take on their hated divisional rival New England Patriots in their home opener, in a game where the Patriots are heavily favored. New England is (1-0) after beating the Buffalo Bills with a game winning field goal as time expired, and they will be without several key players in this Thursday night game. The Patriots will likely be without their top receiver from week one Danny Amendola (groin), they will likely wait another week until tight end Rob Gronkowski returns (forearm surgery) so he can get the extra ten days recovery time, and they will be without running back Shane Vereen (wrist) until midseason. The Patriots will need some players to step up on the offensive side of the ball, but I think they have people in place who will be up for the challenge, still on a short week with a lot of injuries I’m taking the points.
THE PICK: Jets (+13) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 24 Jets 16
***REXRATED BEST BET: JETS (+13)***
San Diego Chargers @ Philadelphia Eagles (-9) As advertised, the Philadelphia Eagles have the most exciting offense in the league, as they ran 53 plays in the first half and jumped ahead of the Washington Redskins, only to slow down in the second half and play keep away for the win. The Eagles will be fun to watch offensively, but one has to wonder how much punishment Michael Vick can take, he has been injury prone in the past and took several big hits during his increased snap count. The Chargers made their fans feel like ex-head coach Norv Turner never left town, because typical of the Turner era they jumped out to an early lead on the Houston Texans, only to blow the lead due to miscues and ultimately lose the game. The Chargers looked good at times, and I think they will be able to move the ball on the Philadelphia defense, and I expect a lot of points to be scored in this game. To me the line is simply too big, although the Eagles looked great offensively in the first half of their opener, and they eventually slowed down. Vegas loves the Eagles this week, the public will love the Eagles after their performance last weekend, so I say take the points.
THE PICK: Chargers (+9) FINAL SCORE: Eagles 34 Chargers 27
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (-7) The defending Super Bowl champions had an absolutely brutal season opener, as their new look defense was absolutely shredded by Peyton Manning and a revenge minded Broncos team for an NFL record tying seven touchdown passes. They have had two weeks to review the tape, and fix their defensive issues, as they look to get a many new players up to speed on that side of the ball. The bigger news for the Ravens to me is the loss of receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) for several weeks, which leaves Joe Flacco with a receiving corps highlighted by Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark. The Cleveland Browns were a hot sleeper pick entering the season, but they were absolutely manhandled by the Miami Dolphins at home during week one, and quarterback Brandon Weeden had an awful game. The Dolphins defense stuffed the run, star running back Trent Richardson struggled, and with that the Browns could not move the ball. I think this game will be another low scoring slugfest, and expect whoever runs the ball better to have the upper hand, In Baltimore I like the Ravens but am taking the points.
THE PICK: Browns (+7) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 23 Browns 17
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans (-10) The Houston Texans looked sloppy in the first half of their opener, but they were able to overcome their early mistakes, and get a win on the road to start the season. They are one of the best teams in the league as expected, they have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and should win this division. The Tennessee Titans were able to grind out a win in Pittsburgh to open the season, although quarterback Jake Locker did not have a great game, they will try to pound teams with the running game and win with defense. I do not expect that to work against the Texans in Houston, I think the Texans will stuff the Titans rushing attack and force Locker to throw the ball, which will take the Titans out of their game plan. I do think the Titans are better than advertised this season, and should be able to stay in games against many opponents with their style of play, however the Texans are too good and home and will win this game easily.
THE PICK: Texans (-10) FINAL SCORE: Texans 24 Titans 6
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: TEXANS (-10)***
Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) One of the most interesting games of the weekend, as both of these teams enter week two (1-0), but had very different performances in their openers. The Miami Dolphins went to Cleveland, where they dominated the Browns at home, led by an excellent defensive effort. The Colts opened the season by playing poorly against the lowly Oakland Raiders, they won the game, but did not look pretty doing it. I think that this will be one of the toughest games of the weekend to predict, and one of the closest games of the weekend when all is said and done. If the Dolphins defense plays as well as it did during the opener, and the Colts look as rusty offensively as they did in the opener, the Colts will have a lot of trouble moving the ball. However, I expect the Colts to shake off some of that rust, and play better than they did at the Raiders. I think the Miami Dolphins will be a wild card playoff team this year, if they can win this game, they will be (2-0) with eight home games left. Also remaining on the schedule will be both the Jets and the Bills twice, games where the Dolphins will be favorites. I think this will be an excellent, back and forth game, but I think the Dolphins defense gives them the edge.
THE PICK: Dolphins (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Dolphins 24 Colts 20
Carolina Panthers @ Buffalo Bills (+3) After watching the Carolina Panthers plays last week, I am not sure that they should be favored against anybody on the road, so this line is surprising to me. The Panthers have an excellent defensive front seven, which will take away the Bills running game, and put a lot of pressure on rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. The Panthers should have some success moving the ball on the Bills defense, which is nowhere near the caliber of the Seattle defense that they faced last week, but I still think Carolina needs to get Cam Newton more playmakers in the passing game before he will reach his potential. The Buffalo Bills are coming off of an excellent defensive effort against the New England Patriots last week, and EJ Manuel flashed some potential, which makes me think the Bills have their first interesting quarterback prospect since…Jim Kelly? Both teams lost to the NFL’s elite last weekend, the Bills looked better doing it, take the points at home.
THE PICK: Bills (+3) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 21 Bills 20
St. Louis Rams @ Atlanta Falcons (-7) I see some issues with the Atlanta Falcons that I think may be serious, and they showed up in their season opening loss to the New Orleans Saints last weekend. Over the past few seasons the Falcons have had two number one wide receivers, Roddy White and Julio Jones, who both demanded attention on every snap which really opened up the offense. Roddy White has a high ankle sprain, which is more serious than was originally thought, and he was nothing more than a decoy in week one. When the Saints realized how badly White was injured, it allowed the Saints to double-team Julio Jones on every play, which really limited the Falcons offensively. The Falcons offensive line also struggled to protect quarterback Matt Ryan, allowing 3.0 sacks and six other quarterback hits, which will be a problem against the St. Louis Rams this weekend. The St. Louis Rams have one of the best pass rushes in the league with defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who had 3.0 sacks in week one and has developed into one of the league’s best pass rushers. Quarterback Sam Bradford showed improvement, as he used his new weapons like tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tavon Austin to generate offense. I do not think that the Falcons will fall to (0-2), they are simply too good of a team, and I think they will grind out a win. They will struggle offensively until Roddy White is healthy again, so in this game, I’m taking the points.
THE PICK: Rams (+7) FINAL SCORE: Falcons 27 Rams 23
***REXRATED BEST BET: FALCONS (-7)***
Washington Redskins @ Green Bay Packers (-8) Robert Griffin III really struggled in his first game back from a serious knee injury, he seemed very tentative stepping into throws, which caused him to be very inaccurate in the season opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It gets worse for the Redskins, as they travel to Green Bay to take on a pissed off Packers team in week three, who feel that they lost due to an admitted bad call by the referees. The Packers are a much stronger defensive team than the Eagles, I expect Green Bay to take away the run first, then bring the pass rush when Griffin is forced to throw. Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers offense should be able to put up points on the Redskins defense, which was lit up by the Eagles during the first half of the game week one. Unless RGIII gained a lot of confidence in his knee during the Redskins short week, and he did improve as the game went along, I like the Packers in a big win at home.
THE PICK: Packers (-8) FINAL SCORE: Packers 37 Redskins 21
Dallas Cowboys @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3) After one week, we do not know a lot about the new era of the Kansas City Chiefs, as they dominated the awful Jaguars as expected to start the season with a win. They get a big test this weekend, as they return to Arrowhead, to take on the Dallas Cowboys in what should be an excellent game. The Dallas Cowboys did not look good in a week one win over the New York Giants, it took them six Giants turnovers to edge their division rivals, and both teams looked incredibly sloppy. The most impressive thing about the Kansas City Chiefs week one was their defensive front, which manhandled the Jacksonville offensive line, en route to six sacks. The Cowboys are very weak along the interior offensive line, and it showed against the Giants, so this will be a factor against Kansas City. It has been a long time since Chiefs fans were legitimately excited about their team, so Arrowhead will transform into a difficult place to play this season once again, and it will be rocking for a game which I think comes down to the wire. In what I think will be the best early game on Sunday, I like the Chiefs to defend home field in a close one.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-3) FINAL SCORE: Chiefs 31 Cowboys 26
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (-6) If it was not for a 71-yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run, the Vikings would have got blown out by the Detroit Lions in week one, they were pushed around and Peterson was their lone right spot. The problem lies with their quarterback, Christian Ponder may have the weakest arm in the NFL, and teams are not afraid to stack the line to take away Peterson. The Chicago Bears looked strong in a week one win over a tough Cincinnati Bengals team, and while Adrian Peterson will have a couple of big plays, he does not have enough talent surrounding him to move the ball against the Bears defense consistently. I think the Bears will force Ponder to throw the ball, which will lead to a lot of three and outs, and expect Vikings fans to be calling for Matt Cassel to replace him. I think that Jay Cutler’s improved offensive line was one of the most underrated moves this offseason, a huge weakness has become a strength, and a well protected Cutler will have a lot of success. I think the Bears win this game easily.
THE PICK: Bears (-6) FINAL SCORE: Bears 27 Vikings 16
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) I expected the New Orleans Saints to struggle defensively all season long, and they started out very poorly in week one, falling behind by ten points to the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter. Once the Saints realized that Roddy White was injured and was not a threat, they immediately became more focused defensively, and were able to rally to beat the Falcons. I am getting a really bad vibe off of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early this season, quarterback Josh Freeman was a team captain last season, but he is not in 2013. Tough head coach Greg Schiano has stated that he did not strip Freeman of his title, and that he did not rig a team vote on the captains, which has been met with skepticism from his own players. There seems to be tension between Schiano and his quarterback, and the rest of the team is trapped in limbo, which is not a good sign for this season. I think Schiano is a good coach, but he might be too hard on players to succeed in the NFL, I would not be shocked to see him back in college at the end of this season. With all of that said I think it is going to be a long season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and ownership may be forced decide between benching Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, or moving on from Greg Schiano. I think that poor defense will eventually hurt the New Orleans Saints this season, but I do not think it will happen week two in Tampa. Drew Brees will pick apart the Bucs and the Saints will be (2-0).
THE PICK: Saints (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Saints 34 Buccaneers 23
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: SAINTS (-3.5)***
***REXRATED BEST BET: SAINTS (-3.5)***
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals (+1.5) The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to an early lead over the St. Louis Rams last weekend, only to blow the lead in the fourth quarter, after surrendering 14 unanswered points. They are definitely a better team with Carson Palmer at quarterback, because although he is no longer an elite quarterback, he is better than anything that they have had since Kurt Warner retired in 2009. The Detroit Lions would have blown out the Minnesota Vikings in week one, had it not been for a 71-yard run by Adrian Peterson, which made the score look closer than the game actually was. The addition of Reggie Bush this offseason a perfect fit for the Lions offense, and they are a much improved team this season on both sides of the ball, who are capable of making a playoff run. I think that this will be a tight game between two similarly talented teams, the Arizona Cardinals have a knack for scoring defensive and special teams touchdowns, and I think that could be the difference. I’m taking the Cardinals getting points at home in what should be an excellent game.
THE PICK: Cardinals (+1.5) FINAL SCORE: Cardinals 27 Lions 24
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Oakland Raiders (-6) One of the reasons that week two will be so tough for fans who participate in knockout pools is the fact that two of the worst teams in the NFL square off when the Jaguars travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders. There is reason for optimism in Oakland, the Raiders looked decent in their week one loss to the Colts, led by quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The former Ohio State standout is an incredible athlete, who will make the Raiders exciting to watch, which is more than you can say about the Raiders for the last decade. Pryor has a chance to become a star in the NFL, but he will need some help on both sides of the ball, as the Raiders roster lacks talent and depth. There is not as much optimism in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars could just muster a safety in their home loss to the Chiefs, a game in which they also lost starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert to a thumb injury which required stitches. Veteran Chad Henne will start in Gabbert’s place, but this may not be a bad thing, and could easily make the Jags more competent offensively. Bottom line, this game is going to be ugly, but Oakland should not be favored by six points against anyone. People are overreacting to the fact that the Raiders hung with the Colts week one, take the points.
THE PICK: Jaguars (+6) FINAL SCORE: Raiders 17 Jaguars 14
Denver Broncos @ New York Giants (+5.5) I was surprised by this line, and I think it is an overreaction to what happened to these teams during week one, I think Denver should be favored but the spread is huge. The New York Giants turned the ball over six times during their opener, and still had multiple chances to win the game, against the Dallas Cowboys. Eli Manning had a monster game, and three of his receivers went over 100 yards, as Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Reuben Randle all showed big play ability. The Denver Broncos had revenge on their minds, and they were a force to be reckoned with during week one, led by Peyton Manning’s record tying seven touchdown passes. Peyton’s arm seems stronger than it when he returned from multiple neck surgeries a year ago, and Denver did not seem to miss their best defensive player, the suspended Von Miller. Denver is the class of their division and are clearly a playoff team, however, they are not going to perform like they did during the opener every week and are not as good on the road as they are at home. Neither team is great defensively, and I expect a shootout, as the Manning brothers try to one up each other with a ton of yards through the air. In the Manning Bowl, I think we get a close game decided by a field goal, so take the points.
THE PICK: Giants (+5.5) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 34 Giants 31
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks (-3) In the best game of the weekend, the two best teams in football will slug it out, when the 49ers travel to Seattle to take on their division rival Seahawks. This game will be hard hitting, there will be plenty of trash talking from both teams, and features two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick vs. Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Last year I had a rule to never pick against the Seahawks at home, where they finished (8-0), but this is a different season and I think the 49ers are the better overall team. These are two of the best defensive teams in the NFL, so that will be a wash, but the Seahawks lack playmakers on offense for Wilson until Percy Harvin returns from a hip injury. The 49ers have the best offensive line in the NFL, which they will use to move the ball in Seattle, which will generate offense. I am unsure how the Seahawks will generate offense against the 49ers. I think that Kaepernick will use his scrambling abilities to make plays down the stretch, while the Seahawks offense will sputter, and I think the 49ers will edge the Seahawks in Seattle.
THE PICK: 49ers (+3) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 24 Seahawks 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: 49ers (+3)***
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (-7) The Pittsburgh Steelers were beaten at home by the Tennessee Titans during week one of the season, but far more devastating was the loss of center Maurkice Pouncey, who was the glue that held a leaky Steelers offensive line together. Pouncey will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL and MCL, and while breaking in a new center, expect the Steelers to have issues with the exchange. The Bengals return home after a tough loss to the Bears in Chicago, they want to prove that they are one of the better teams in the NFL, and can do so on Monday Night on national television. I expect the Bengals defense to pressure Ben Roethlisberger all night long, I am not sure how the Steelers will be able to move the ball against the Bengals, as their already problematic offensive line got far worse with the loss of Pouncey. The Bengals have weapons on offense, and although the Steelers are still excellent defensively, the Bengals will eventually tire them out and score points. I think the Bengals win this game by a wide margin.
THE PICK: Bengals (-7) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 24 Steelers 10
Against The Spread (6-9-1) Outright (6-10)
SportSmasher Best Bets (1-2) RexRated Best Bets (2-1)