Before diving headfirst into this weekâs picks, itâs important to take a look back at the NFLâs opening week to try to make some sense out of what happened.
First, the surprises.
INDY (-7) over Jacksonville
Final score: Colts 14, Jaguars 12
Itâs sort of understood among NFL followers that the Colts arenât the gargantuan juggernaut they once were, but to only beat a disheveled Jaguars team 14-12 in Week 1 will hopefully not be the start of an unpredictable and sporadic team.
CAROLINA (+1) over Philadelphia
Final score: Eagles 38, Panthers 10
Jake Delhomme began the âAlways Bet Against Jake Delhommeâ campaign early this year. Yuck.
Kansas City (+13) over BALTIMORE
Final score: Ravens 38, Chiefs 24
Even without Matt Cassel under center, the Chiefs were able to cover the spread. Until the Ravens had to go and score a touchdown with 31 seconds left, covering the spread and crushing my soul.
ARIZONA (-6.5) over San Francisco
Final score:, 49ers 20, Cardinals 16
Apparently, the Cardinals arenât interested in disrupting history and will be content to join the long list of Super Bowl losers to fail to make the playoffs the next season. Put this one under the âWoofâ category.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over Buffalo
Final score: Patriots 25, Bills 24
San Diego (-9.5) over OAKLAND
Final score: Chargers 24, Raiders 20
The two surest bets turned out to be flops, a reminder of just how fickle this football game can be. Though Monday may have been somewhat of a disaster, thereâs one guarantee: I wonât miss two games on a Monday night for the rest of the year. Whether that is due to the fact that there wonât be two games on a Monday night again is irrelevant. Completely irrelevant.
Now, onto Week 2 (home team in caps).
ATLANTA (-6.5) vs. Carolina
Matt Ryan looked comfortable last week in a convincing win over the defending AFC East champion Dolphins. Meanwhile, Delhomme was spewing interceptions at an impossible rate. Until he has a good game, itâs just too hard to count on the Panthers.
Minnesota (-10) over DETROIT
Adrian Peterson looked like Adrian Peterson in Week 1. The Lions looked like the Lions.
Cincinnati (+9) over GREEN BAY
The Bengals showed they can hang with the Broncos, a team assumed to be a contender in the AFC West. Cincinnati had it won, save for a toe-on-the-line interception by the Bengals and an are-you-kidding-me miracle reception by the Broncos. Carson Palmer (21-of-33, 247 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT) and Cedric Benson (21 carries, 76 yards, TD) put up solid numbers while the defense held the Broncos to just 215 yards before that final 87-yard play.
The Packers, on the other hand, showed they had a few holes, trailing the Bears in just about every statistical category except points. Though Week 1 performances arenât enough to make too many judgments, the Bengals are a pretty safe pick to keep it relatively close.
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Houston
The Houston Texans were anointed as the shocking sleeper to come out of the AFC this season. After putting up a stinker against the Jets, that movement is dying. Even the Houston crowd seemed to have completely shifted its collective mindset by the third quarter.
That said, the Titansâ loss to the Steelers proved that not all losses are equal, as they went toe-to-toe with the defending champs and barely lost in a 15-round heavyweight bout. Steve Slaton ran for just 17 yards in the opener, so you have to think the Texans will get more out of him. Still, Tennessee has the arsenal to take care of this one.
KANSAS CITY (-3) over Oakland
After Oaklandâs performance against the San Diego Super Chargers in front of a national audience, picking the Silver and Black will be a popular choice this week. In case you donât yet know, Iâm not popular.
The Chiefs may get Matt Cassel back, but even if they donât, itâs nearly impossible to pick the Raiders in a three-point spread on the road as long as they have JaMarcus Russell (12-for-30, TD, 2 INTs in Week 1âs loss) under center.
NEW YORK JETS (+4) over New England
The Patriots may get their offense on track and just may end up obliterating the Jets, but a tight game — and maybe even a Jets win — seems much more likely.
For starters, the Patriotsâ defense looked lost on Monday night, and with a short week to prepare for the Jets, it may not get any better. Second, without Jerod Mayo in the middle of the defense, the Patriots will have a hard time stopping Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, who combined for 167 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Houston.
For the Jets, Mark Sanchez showed grace under pressure in his debut, making a number of big plays while minimizing mistakes. Granted, that was against Houston, and Iâd bet a nice pair of shoes that the Patriots come equipped with a little something more to confuse the 22-year-old signal-caller.
Still, as it stands now, Sanchez looks capable, and against a suspect New England defense, thatâs all the Jets may need from him.
New Orleans over PHILADELPHIA (pick âem)
Wait. Drew Brees throws for six touchdowns, Donovan McNabb breaks a rib, and the Saints arenât favored to win? I know the Eagles won in a blowout, but that was courtesy of Mr. Delhommeâs generosity. You have to like the Saintsâ chances to win this one. You just do.
WASHINGTON (-10) over St. Louis
âTen-point lineâ and âWashington Redskinsâ are two words that donât necessarily go hand in hand. They also donât inspire an overwhelming amount of confidence. But after Washingtonâs valiant performance in Week 1 and St. Louisâ abysmal showing against the Seahawks, itâs hard not to take the Skins.
Arizona (+3) over JACKSONVILLE
Similar to the Raiders, the Jaguars are sure to be a popular pick this week after they competed with the Colts. But itâs too soon to give up on the Cardinals and itâs way too soon to trust the Jags.
BUFFALO (-5) over Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers gave up touchdown passes of 42 yards, 66 yards and 80 yards to the Cowboys. The Bills have Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. If someone — maybe a coach, maybe a fan â alerts Trent Edwards of this fact, the Bills are in position to pick up a big win after a devastating loss.
Seattle (+1.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
The Niners win one game, and weâre ready to call them favorites? I need to see more before Iâd even think about picking them.
Pittsburgh (-3) over CHICAGO
No Troy Polamalu? No running game? No problem. Jay Cutler clearly has a lot to learn about his new offense after throwing four picks Sunday night. The Steelers will win this one, and count on Hines Ward making it all the way into the end zone so it can be by more than a field goal.
DENVER (-3) over Cleveland
OK, so the Broncos didnât exactly look like Super Bowl champs in Week 1, but the Browns hardly looked like they could be Big East champs. The Brownsâ defense got scorched for 180 yards rushing â by Adrian Peterson alone. In all, Minnesota stomped for 225 yards on the ground as the Browns were worn out and outscored 24-7 in the second half.
Denver wonât need much from Kyle Orton, aside from handing the ball off to Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno.
Baltimore (+3) over SAN DIEGO
It was apparently headline-worthy when LaDainian Tomlinson opted to actually participate in this yearâs preseason. Now, after just one week of real football, L.T. is already banged up. Thatâs bad news for the Chargers, who needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Raiders. The Raiders. The â¦ Raiders!
Baltimore didnât light the world on fire in its opener, allowing Brodie Croyle to throw for a pair of scores. Still, the defense is stout, and the offense is capable of traveling across the country and picking up a win.
New York Giants (+3) over DALLAS
Whenever the oddsmakers are giving the New York Giants points, you might want to take them. Even if some stadium with a giant HDTV is opening for the first time. Just take the points.
Indianapolis (-3) over MIAMI
Another Monday night and another mystery pick. Both teams stunk (relative to last year) in their openers, but you have to like Peyton Manningâs chances as he returns to the field where he won the Super Bowl.
Last week: 8-8