Twenty-four of the NFL’s 32 teams are in good shape through two weeks ? well, at the very least, they?re in a lot better shape than the eight teams that are winless entering Week 3.
As our pals at OddsShark.com pointed out earlier this week, 75 teams since 2007 have started the season 0-2. Just seven of those teams (9.3 percent) eventually reached the playoffs. That?s not great.
But it’s a long season, and as we technically just pointed out, an 0-2 start doesn?t guarantee you?ll miss the playoffs. Luckily for our NESN.com football prognosticators and their weekly picks against the spread, a slow start doesn?t necessarily mean doom, either.
Here are our standings through two weeks.
Mike Cole: 6-10 (13-19 overall). Needs a bounce-back week in the worst way. Like, seriously.
Ricky Doyle: 7-9 (15-17 overall). The leader in the clubhouse — and still is two games under .500 through two weeks.
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-9 (13-19 overall). The good news: He improved on his Week 1 showing. The bad news: He’s still 13-19.
On to the Week 3 picks, with lines, as always, courtesy of the good folks at OddsShark. Oh, and be sure to check out our weekly picks podcast, “The Spread.”
THURSDAY, SEPT. 22
(-2) Houston Texans (2-0) at New England Patriots (2-0), 8:25 p.m. ET
Mike: Patriots. I just can’t do it. I can’t pick against Bill Belichick at home getting points. His teams seem to live for these “backs against the wall, no one believes in us” scenarios, so screw it. Let’s go with New England.
Ricky: Patriots. The Patriots likely will start a rookie quarterback (Jacoby Brissett) against a very imposing Texans defense. Everything points to Houston winning this game … which obviously means Belichick and Co. will find a way, right? This could be the week we learn the real value of Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Andre: Texans. The Pats have been home underdogs just three times in the last 11 seasons. They?ve won all three games by an average of 17 points. But that was with Tom Brady under center. They?ve also allowed 6.7 yards per play defensively this season. That — along with a third-string QB and a short week for Belichick to prepare — isn?t gonna fly against Houston.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at (PK) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2), 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. A lot of 0-2 teams are staring some bad history in the face this week, the Jaguars being one of them. The Ravens proved last week in Cleveland that they’re still not a great football team, and a desperate Jags team should be able to get it done.
Ricky: Jaguars. I’m not saying this is a must-win game for the Jaguars, but Gus Bradley’s seat is about to heat up if Jacksonville doesn’t get it together. The Ravens are 2-0, but keep in mind their early success is directly related to the level of competition — Bills and Browns — they’ve played thus far.
Andre: Jaguars. Only one man has scored a touchdown this season for the Ravens — Mike Wallace. Yet they?re 2-0, thanks to playing Buffalo and Cleveland. I refuse to believe Jacksonville?s defense is as bad as it was last week against San Diego. They have too many big names.
Washington Redskins (0-2) at (-4.5) New York Giants (2-0), 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Washington has allowed the fifth-most first downs, despite being in the lower half of opposing third downs (with the worst defensive third-down rate, too). That tells me they can’t get a stop on first, second or third down. Not ideal.
Ricky: Giants. Some Redskins players reportedly are turning on quarterback Kirk Cousins, which shows where Washington is at through just two weeks. New York’s defense should tee off at home.
Andre: Giants. Holding Drew Brees and the Saints to 13 points is not a joke. The Giants have allowed just 5.3 yards per pass attempt this season ? the best mark in the NFC.
(-4) Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-2), 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. We’re really just fading the public here (more than 80 percent of bets currently are on the Cardinals), but this also feels like it could be Rex Ryan’s last stand. The Bills should lose, but they can keep it close.
Ricky: Cardinals. Rex Ryan said back-to-back games against the Cardinals and Patriots could be exactly what the 0-2 Bills need. Well, hopefully his résumé is ready, because he could hit the unemployment line once Buffalo falls to 0-4, starting this week when Arizona rolls.
Andre: Cardinals. Arizona continues to be a top-10 points-per-play team on offense (eighth) and on defense (seventh). The Bills only scored against the Jets last week because of some big plays by Tyrod Taylor against a leaky secondary. I don?t see Patrick Peterson, Tyronn Mathieu and Co. making those same mistakes.
Denver Broncos (2-0) at (-3) Cincinnati Bengals (2-0), 1 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. This one’s all about the points. If it were flipped, I’d probably be all over the Bengals, but I’m riding with the Denver defense, especially against a Cincinnati offense that’s still trying to find its way.
Ricky: Broncos. Denver’s talented secondary, led by Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, should hold A.J. Green in check, limiting Cincinnati’s passing output. With the Bengals losing the battle in the trenches through two weeks — 31st in the NFL in rushing yards and last in rushing yards allowed — it’s hard for me to pick against the Broncos here. So I won’t.
Andre: Broncos. Denver has allowed 4.4 yards per play this season, and that came against Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Whether or not Andy Dalton plays doesn?t matter. Cincinnati is doing a horrible job in protecting its quarterback (eight sacks allowed, most in the NFL). Good luck against Denver?s pass rush.
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at (-10) Miami Dolphins (0-2), 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Miami needs a win in the worst possible way, and it has some nice things to build on, despite losing to the Patriots last week. Not only are the Browns down two quarterbacks, the secondary is a mess, which is good news for Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Devante Parker.
Ricky: Browns. I don’t like the Browns. But I also don’t like the Dolphins enough to say they’ll beat a team by a double-digit point total despite them showing some positive signs against the Seahawks in Week 1 and in the second half against the Patriots in Week 2.
Andre: Browns. Bold statement: Cody Kessler will not give up the starting job as the Browns? starting quarterback. Not-as-bold statement: The Dolphins never should be favored by double-digits against any team. Ever.
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at (-1.5) Tennessee Titans (1-1), 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. The Raiders haven’t woeful against the pass, but they’ve also struggled against the run, allowing 4.5 yards per carry. Tennessee’s two-headed attack of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry should make life miserable for Oakland in Music City.
Ricky: Raiders. Oakland’s defense has been horrendous, but it has a very favorable matchup this week against a Tennessee offense that can’t get out of its own way. It’s time for Khalil Mack to break out and for the Raiders’ offseason additions to start living up to the preseason hype.
Andre: Raiders. We know Oakland can put up points (7.0 yards per play, second-best in the NFL) We also know they?ve allowed plenty of points (8.0 yards per play, last in the league). But that was against Drew Brees in Week 1 and Julio Jones in Week 2. At last, the Raiders’ revamped defense has an opportunity to shine against a mediocre opponent.
Minnesota Vikings (2-0) at (-7.5) Carolina Panthers (1-1), 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. This kind of feels like a spot for a letdown on Minnesota’s part. The Vikings probably won’t have Adrian Peterson, and it would be legitimately shocking if Sam Bradford has another gem … especially on the road.
Ricky: Panthers. Kelvin Benjamin will be the X-factor, as his combination of size and strength could cause problems for the Vikings’ secondary, especially if Xavier Rhodes doesn’t play. Also, it’s hard — downright impossible, really — to envision Sam Bradford putting a team on his back two weeks in a row.
Andre: Panthers. Even with Adrian Peterson, the Vikings weren?t running the ball well (1.9 yards per play), so if the ball is constantly in Sam Bradford?s hands against the Panthers? defense, I sense ugly things happening for Minnesota.
Detroit Lions (1-1) at (-7.5) Green Bay Packers (1-1), 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Not sure what to expect here. That line feels high, given the Packers’ offensive struggles so far, and given the fact they went just 1-3 at home down the stretch last season. That said, getting home to Lambeau against a bad Lions team is enough to believe for at least one more week.
Ricky: Packers. This feels like a statement game for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who many are starting to doubt after a poor showing in Week 2 against the Vikings.
Andre: Packers. I?m giving Aaron Rodgers one more chance before I stop making excuses for his downfall. What better opponent to get back on track than against the Lions at home? Lifetime, Rodgers has 26 touchdowns and six picks against his division rival.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at (-9.5) Seattle Seahawks (1-1), 4:05 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. The 2016 Seahawks have offered no proof through two games that they’re capable of covering this spread, especially if Russell Wilson’s ankle isn’t much better and if Doug Baldwin doesn’t play.
Ricky: 49ers. Seattle’s offensive line is an issue, which is a terrifying reality for a team with a banged-up quarterback. Nothing is going to come easy for the Seahawks this week — and perhaps the next few weeks — so expecting them to cover such a large spread would be foolish.
Andre: 49ers. Nearly a 10-point cover spread for the Seahawks, who have scored just 15 points all season. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin are banged up. Also, does anyone else find it weird that the Seahawks haven?t forced a turnover yet this year? I think that will change this week, and the Seahawks will win, but they?ll do it in an ugly fashion.
Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at (-4.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1), 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Tampa Bay has kept Jameis Winston upright (three sacks) this season, which is the biggest area of concern against the Rams. Oh, and don’t forget: The Rams haven’t scored a freaking touchdown yet.
Ricky: Bucs. The way to beat Tampa Bay? Air it out. Fortunately for the Bucs, the Rams can’t do that … or anything else on offense, for that matter.
Andre: Bucs. I picked the Bucs to win the NFC South, and they failed in their first big test of the season last week against Arizona. But the Rams aren?t Arizona, the Bucs are at home, and I still love their offensive potential with Jameis Winston and Co.
(-5) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0), 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. I actually wasn’t too impressed with Pittsburgh last week, as Ben Roethlisberger got lucky with a few errant passes. But I still like the Steelers in this spot against a Philly defense that hasn’t really been tested yet.
Ricky: Steelers. Carson Wentz is off to a nifty little start to his NFL career. But sorry, Eagles fans. It ends this week against what could be the best team in the NFL right now.
Andre: Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger showed just how dangerous the Steelers’ offense can be last week. Antonio Brown barely did anything, but Roethlisberger still managed to throw three touchdown passes. Everyone is a threat on this team, and Carson Wentz will not be able to keep up in his first big test as an NFL QB.
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at (-2.5) Indianapolis Colts (0-2), 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Both teams have been decimated by injuries, but the Colts’ inability to stop the run (4.5 yards per rush) is especially worrisome in this situation. The Chargers also are 5-0 against the spread in their last five; Indy is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven.
Ricky: Chargers. Andrew Luck sucked last week against the Broncos, but let’s face it. His supporting cast is brutal. And that includes the Colts’ dinged-up secondary, which Philip Rivers will have a field day with Sunday despite the Chargers dealing with injuries of their own.
Andre: Chargers. It?s amazing what a stout running game has done for Philip Rivers. Last season, he threw the ball 661 times (most in the NFL). This year, he has thrown it just 60 times (third fewest). Rivers is better, thanks to Melvin Gordon taking loads of pressure off him, and nothing the Colts have says they will slow down either of them.
New York Jets (1-1) at (-3) Kansas City Chiefs (1-1), 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Jets. If the Jets can avoid the big play — a concern after Thursday night in Buffalo — they should bounce back here. It’s a good matchup against a Chiefs offensive line that has allowed Alex Smith to be sacked seven times and hit 15 times.
Ricky: Jets. This matchup feels very similar to the one the Chiefs faced (and lost) in Week 2 against the Texans. The Jets have a stout defense, can get after the quarterback and possess several skill players on offense who can make big plays. Expect another heavy dose of Matt Forte, as Kansas City has been bad against the run thus far.
Andre: Chiefs. Throw away the stats. I believe the Chiefs just ran into an angry team seeking revenge last week. They?re better than that. The Jets have the propensity to give up big plays, and Jeremy Maclin should take advantage of that. Being at raucous Arrowhead also should be advantageous to Alex Smith, who still is a master at not turning over the ball.
Chicago Bears (0-2) at (-4.5) Dallas Cowboys (1-1), 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The Bears are trash, and now Jay Cutler has a thumb injury. This line should be closer to a touchdown by Sunday night.
Ricky: Cowboys. Losing Jay Cutler could be a blessing in disguise for Chicago, but that doesn’t mean the improvement will be immediate. The ‘Boys should roll here against a subpar opponent.
Andre: Cowboys. For the second straight week, the Cowboys catch a team coming off short rest. Dak Prescott took more chances down the field in Week 2 and looked good doing so (9.7 yards per attempt). I don?t see the Bears’ defense applying any pressure on Prescott, especially with Danny Trevathan out.
MONDAY, SEPT. 26
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at (-3) New Orleans Saints (0-2), 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Saints. The Saints, overall, are overvalued at home, going 4-9-1 against the spread in their last 15 home games. Against Atlanta, though, it’s a different story, with New Orleans 4-1 ATS.
Ricky: Falcons. This should be a fun game featuring two very good offenses. We’ll roll with Atlanta for the sake of playing devil’s advocate.
Andre: Saints. In what might be the most surprising stat of the season so far, the Saints have allowed only one passing touchdown all season. The Falcons have allowed a league-leading seven passing touchdowns. This should be a shootout and I?ll side with the home team.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images