Before Week 1 in the NFL, no one knows for sure what’s going to happen. Then Week 2 gets here, and it’s time to overreact to everything that happened in Week 1.
For example: Are the New England Patriots in trouble because they were blown out at home on opening night without their No. 1 receiver to a team that finished with the AFC’s second-best record? Or should the Minnesota Vikings prepare to host the Super Bowl behind sudden MVP candidate Sam Bradford?
Obviously, the truth always lies somewhere in the middle, which makes picking against the spread in Week 2 slightly easier than in Week 1 … assuming you don’t overreact.
And whatever you do, you probably shouldn’t overreact to NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian going a combined 24-21 with their Week 1 picks. Here’s how they fared last week — and be sure to watch “The Spread,” presented by MyBookie.ag, in the video above.
Mike Cole: 7-8
Ricky Doyle: 10-5
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-8
And now, the Week 2 picks, with lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag. (All times Eastern.)
Houston Texans at (-6.5) Cincinnati Bengals, 8:25 p.m.
Mike: Texans. It’s hard to put faith in a road team with quarterback issues in a Thursday night game, but that’s how bad Cincinnati looked last week. That offensive line has issues, which is bad news against the Houston pass rush.
Ricky: Texans. Houston looked awful in Week 1. But guess what: Cincinnati was just as bad and this is a terrible matchup for the Bengals, whose reshuffled offensive line already looks very shaky. Expect a big bounce-back effort from Bill O’Brien’s bunch, regardless of who’s under center.
Andre: Texans. If Andy Dalton threw four interceptions and was sacked five times against the Ravens, what exactly is he going to do against a defense led by J.J. Watt that’s hungry after going sack-less in Week 1? Sure, the Texans’ quarterback situation is dire, but Vontaze Burfict still is out due to suspension and the Texans have the clear advantage in the trenches.
(-2.5) Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. There aren’t many NFL quarterbacks — not even Blake Bortles — who could screw up what the Jags did last week. They took full advantage of Houston’s four turnovers (scoring on two of those) and put Bortles in a position where he didn’t really have to do anything. Should be a different story against the Titans, who will take care of the football.
Ricky: Titans. It’s quite possible the Jags’ defense is for real given the talent that Jacksonville has on that side of the ball. That said, the Titans are only going to get better as the season progresses and Marcus Mariota builds a stronger rapport with his new weapons. This small spread seems like an overreaction to Tennessee’s Week 1 loss, which, let’s face it, came against a very good Oakland Raiders team.
Andre: Titans. I believe in the Jaguars’ defense, but they’re not going to record 10 sacks like they did last week against the Titans’ elite offensive line. And despite the Jags’ big win last week, they still have Bortles, who was pretty terrible last week (11 of 21 with a short touchdown pass), under center. The mistakes eventually will come, and the Titans’ offensive line will help neutralize Jacksonville’s pass rush, helping both Mariota and the Titans’ running game thrive.
Cleveland Browns at (-8) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. This is a huge test for the revamped Cleveland offensive line, and maybe the Browns keep Deshone Kizer clean. But will Cleveland — which allowed more than 10 yards per completion last week against Pittsburgh — be able to avoid similar big plays to the Baltimore offense? The combination of Joe Flacco and Jeremy Maclin looked pretty, pretty good last week.
Ricky: Browns. The Browns covered a big spread last week against a division rival, and I expect them to do the same this week despite hitting the road. Sure, the Ravens’ Week 1 shutout of the Bengals was nice, and Baltimore’s defense should be formidable throughout the season under Dean Pees. But Joe Flacco and Co. still leave something to be desired on offense. Don’t sleep on the pesky Browns.
Andre: Ravens. Maybe the Ravens aren’t as generic as I thought? They showed plenty of explosiveness on defense, and now they’re going up against a rookie quarterback at home. Myles Garrett not playing doesn’t help the Browns’ defense, which gave up a ton of yards to Antonio Brown in Week 1. While they won’t face a threat like that against the Ravens, Joe Flacco has a strong arm and could make a few big plays.
Buffalo Bills at (-7) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. The Panthers went 1-7 last year when they allowed at least 90 rushing yards. LeSean McCoy is a threat to get a good chunk of that every time he touches the ball. Carolina should win, but the Bills have the ability to keep it close.
Ricky: Panthers. Sorry, Buffalo. But you can’t play the Jets every week. This is when Christian McCaffrey officially introduces himself to the NFL with a huge game.
Andre: Panthers. Carolina’s pass rush was second in sacks last year and had an impressive performance on the road in Week 1, recording four sacks. Tyrod Taylor was sacked a league-high 42 times last season and the Bills’ offensive line hasn’t changed much this year.
(-7) New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Hard to imagine laying a touchdown on the road in New Orleans after a Week 1 performance like we saw from the Patriots, but this is just too enticing of a matchup on both sides of the ball. Just what the doctor ordered.
Ricky: Patriots. The Saints generate very little pass rush and are susceptible to allowing big plays. That could mean a huge afternoon for Brandin Cooks in his return to New Orleans, where the Saints’ offense will have a hard time going score for score with the Patriots, despite how unsteady New England’s defense looked in Week 1.
Andre: Patriots. The Saints’ defense made Sam Bradford look like Tom Brady. Now they actually get to face Tom Brady. As NESN.com’s own Zack Cox tweeted earlier this week:
(-7.5) Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The loss of David Johnson will hurt the Cardinals … eventually.
Ricky: Cardinals. Without Andrew Luck, the Colts might be the worst team in football … other than the Jets, of course.
Andre: Cardinals. Colts quarterbacks were sacked 44 times last season (fifth-most) and were sacked four times in Week 1. Arizona led the league in sacks last year, and despite losing Calais Campbell, the Cards won’t have any problem putting the pressure on whoever starts at quarterback for the Colts.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-4.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Andy Reid is 8-3 against his former assistants (3-0 since getting to Kansas City), and pretty much all of those coaches are better than Doug Pederson. It’s also the second straight road game for Philly, which went 0-2 in the second of consecutive road games last season.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia is very strong in the middle defensively, with Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan clogging lanes up front and the vastly underrated Jordan Hicks roaming around behind them. The Chiefs are going to have a hard time replicating their Week 1 offensive explosion.
Andre: Eagles. Tackle Lane Johnson is the most important player on the Eagles. When he’s in the lineup, Carson Wentz has 10 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 7-1 record. When he’s out, Wentz has eight touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 3-8 record. Wentz will have time to throw and he’ll be able to utilize his weapons, keeping this one close.
Minnesota Vikings at (-6) Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Not gonna overreact to the Vikings’ performance Monday night. (They were playing the Saints, after all.) Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was a wagon at home last season with an 8-2 straight-up record and a 5-3-2 record against the spread. Penalties and turnovers made it close last week in Cleveland, but a return to Heinz Field should fix those issues.
Ricky: Vikings. Do I suddenly think Minnesota is a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Nope. But I do like getting six points here after what I saw from the Vikings’ offensive line in Week 1. The unit seems capable of mitigating the Steelers’ vaunted pass rush and paving running lanes for rookie Dalvin Cook, who could significantly improve Minnesota’s rushing attack this season.
Andre: Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger has been struggling lately (14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions in his last 10 games) but seven of those games were on the road. Roethlisberger is 16-4 with 59 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions in home games since 2014. On the road, he’s 14-9 with 25 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. He’s been getting protection lately, too (only sacked six times in the last 10 games). The Steelers also have 32 sacks in the last eight games, and they’ll pressure Bradford to a much greater extent than the Saints did.
Chicago Bears at (-6.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Taking Atlanta to the wire was nice, but that was at home against an indoor team on grass. The Bears, already banged up, don’t have the talent to consistently hang around in every game. There will be games like Week 1 along the way, but they’re just not good enough to do that every week.
Ricky: Bucs. Admit it. You have the Mike Glennon Revenge Game circled on your calendar. … No? Well, that’s good. Because this game might stink. Anyway, take the well-rested Bucs, who have enough offensive firepower to make life difficult for the Bears’ secondary, especially with Tampa Bay adding veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson and rookie tight end O.J. Howard over the offseason. I also can’t stress enough how much losing linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who was historically good in 2016, hurts the Bears’ defense moving forward.
Andre: Bears. Losing Freeman is a tough blow for Chicago, but I still like its front seven, which was seventh in sack percentage last season. Aside from Austin Hooper’s 88-yard touchdown reception, the Bears did a relatively good job shutting down 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. There’s also a lot to like about the Bears’ offensive line and running game, which logged 6.6 yards per carry last week.
New York Jets at (-13.5) Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. The Jets are not good, as you might have heard. They, too, are playing their second consecutive road game, having lost all three games in the same situation last year — two of those by at least 21 points and all three by an average of just under 17 points.
Ricky: Raiders. This would be a good time to run to the liquor store.
Andre: Raiders. The Raiders’ biggest weakness last year was pass defense, as they allowed nearly eight yards per pass play. Fortunately, they go up against Josh McCown and his weak receiving corps. Oakland’s offensive line also is good enough to hinder any threat New York’s pass rush might bring. This should be a blowout.
Miami Dolphins at (-4.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. I admittedly threw the Dolphins in one of my Bet Slip parlays on “The Spread,” but I want to wait at least a week before putting my faith in Jay Cutler, who really doesn’t seem too crazy about this “playing football” thing. Also, the Chargers looked good late in Denver, and they haven’t yet suffered a crushing season-ending injury. Things are looking up in Los Angeles!
Ricky: Dolphins. Perhaps it’s counterproductive to expect a close win from the Chargers, who are 1-9 in games decided by seven points or fewer since the beginning of last season. But this one should remain close throughout, giving Philip Rivers and Co. a chance to exorcise their late-game demons in their first regular-season contest back in Los Angeles.
Andre: Chargers. The Broncos found success against the Chargers by running the ball up their throats and keeping the rock away from Rivers. At one point, the Broncos had ran 56 plays to L.A.’s 29. The Chargers made some second-half adjustments in that game and their front seven came alive, forcing mistakes and stopping the run. The Chargers will learn from their Week 1 mistakes and build off the second-half momentum they created against the Broncos, pressuring Jay Cutler with their elite pass rush and utilizing Rivers’ deep threats.
Washington Redskins at (-2.5) Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Rams. The Rams registered four sacks last week against the Colts, and now they get Aaron Donald back? Good luck to a Washington offense that’s looked stagnant since the preseason started and had trouble keeping Kirk Cousins (four sacks) upright last week at home against Philadelphia.
Ricky: Rams. The Rams started growing on me as the regular season neared, and all they did in Week 1 was boost my confidence in them. The Redskins, meanwhile, have some things to work out on offense, where Cousins simply isn’t on the same page with his new-look supporting cast.
Andre: Rams. Sure, it was against the Colts, but Jared Goff proved he has moved on from his rookie growing pains. The Redskins had the second-most yards per play last season, but it appears Cousins will need some time acclimating to life without Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.
(-2.5) Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. Sometimes, there’s a tendency to overthink things when you’re making picks, and I tried to talk myself into taking the points at home. But arguably the three best players in this game (Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant) are all Cowboys. And I get the Denver defense is good, but if Dallas dictates the pace and gets an early lead, I’m not sure I trust Trevor Siemian and that offense to play from behind.
Ricky: Broncos. La’el Collins handled himself well in Week 1 in his first career start at right tackle despite going up against Jason Pierre-Paul. His reward? A Week 2 matchup with Von Miller, arguably the most dominant pass rusher in the NFL. The potential loss of cornerback Orlando Scandrick also hurts Dallas’ chances of pulling off a road win here.
Andre: Cowboys. Both teams won their Week 1 matchups because they were able to control the clock. The Cowboys are a little better at doing that, though. Elliott ran for more than 100 yards against the league’s best run stopper in Damon Harrison. The Cowboys have the advantage at quarterback and their pass rush came alive late in their game against the Giants. With an immobile quarterback in Siemian under center for Denver, Dallas should be able to rack up the sacks.
San Francisco 49ers at (-12.5) Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. I still think the 49ers will be improved, but I guess it’s going to take some time, which makes a Week 2 matchup in Seattle terrifying for the Niners. Sure, Seattle’s offensive line is a mess, but I could see a 20-3 or 23-10 game here.
Ricky: 49ers. The 49ers still stink. Brian Hoyer is their starting quarterback, for crying out loud. So this pick is based entirely on my suspicions about the Seahawks’ offense, which might not score enough points to cover this hefty spread. I hope you like punts.
Andre: 49ers. The over-under is 43, which means the Seahawks are projected to win by an estimated score of 28-15. If the 49ers have any strength, it’s on defense, and the Seahawks’ offensive line isn’t doing Russell Wilson many favors. The Seahawks win, but the 49ers are able to get to Wilson and keep it relatively close.
Green Bay Packers at (-3) Atlanta Falcons, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Packers. The Packers’ defense isn’t as good as it looked last week against Seattle’s horrendous offensive line, but the Bears proved you can get pressure up the middle against the Falcons, which is exactly what Mike Daniels loves to do on the Green Bay defensive line. That the Packers aren’t starting a third- or fourth-string cornerback like they did in the NFC Championship Game is an added bonus.
Ricky: Falcons. This is exactly where the Falcons’ speed on defense could become a huge factor — particularly as it relates to closing on guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery, all of whom can do damage in space after catching passes on short and intermediate routes. It’s also hard to imagine the Packers controlling the clock like they did in Week 1 against the Seahawks, as Atlanta’s rushing attack — and offensive in general — is a lot better than Seattle’s ground game.
Andre: Falcons. I’m not sure the Packers’ defense has improved that much over the last year to stop Matt Ryan for doing what he did in the NFC Championship Game again. The Falcons were up 31-0 in that game before the Packers chipped away in garbage time. Aaron Rodgers won’t let that happen again and I’m sure he’ll have a great game, but who will stop Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman?
Detroit Lions at (-3) New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Giants. I’m not ready to believe the Giants are as bad as they showed last week, nor am I willing to concede the Lions were as good as they looked. So, that’s how I land here.
Ricky: Giants. The Cardinals couldn’t generate much pass rush against the Lions in Week 1, allowing Matthew Stafford to sit back and torch them. That won’t happen this week, although the Giants might need a score or two defensively to compensate for their troublesome offense.
Andre: Giants. The Giants struggled to keep Elliott off the field in Week 1 and brutally lost the time of possession battle. Fortunately for them, they don’t face any running threat of that kind against the Lions. Their defense did a good job keeping Prescott at bay (only one touchdown allowed) and they’ll be able to do the same against Stafford.
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