Just as we all expected, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated Week 1, while Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers looked clueless in Cleveland.
We now have one week of football behind us, and we’re obviously trying to figure out what in Week 1 was real and what won’t last. All the while, we’re trying not to overreact.
NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian had varying levels of success in the opening week, and now they’re back to make their Week 2 picks against the spread.
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 7-8-1
Ricky Doyle: 11-4-1
Andre Khatchaturian: 9-6-1
Here are their ATS picks (with lines courtesy of OddsShark.com).
THURSDAY, SEPT. 13
Baltimore Ravens at (PK) Cincinnati Bengals, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Bengals. I’m not ready to cede anything to the Ravens because they beat the Bills at home. Going on the road, in the division on a short week? That’s a little different. I think the Bengals eke one out in an ugly, low-scoring game.
Andre: Ravens. I told you to keep an eye out on John Brown last week, and he ended up scoring a touchdown. Expect the same from the speedy, deep-threat receiver, who is exactly the type of guy Joe Flacco needs to be “elite” again. Also, I love the Ravens turnover-hungry defense that had the best turnover differential in the NFL last year and six sacks last week.
Ricky: Ravens. The good news? The Ravens and Bengals both are coming off wins. The bad news? Those victories came against the Bills and Colts, respectively, who might wind up being the two worst teams in the NFL when all is said and done. Give me the Ravens in a low-scoring affair, as I trust Baltimore’s defense more than any other unit in this game.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 16
Carolina Panthers at (-6) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. Atlanta, despite all of its issues last season and again into Week 1 this year, was better offensively at home in 2017. They might struggle with that Carolina defense at times, but the Panthers are banged up on offense, losing tackle Daryl Williams and tight end Greg Olsen to injuries in the opener.
Andre: Falcons. The Falcons held the Eagles to just 3.6 yards per play and Cam Newton is a mistake-prone quarterback who has 30 interceptions in his last 31 starts. It’s a big spread, but Atlanta has an average point differential of 9.6 in its last five meetings against Carolina.
Ricky: Panthers. The Falcons’ offense was supposed to be better in Steve Sarkisian’s second year as coordinator, but that hardly was the case in Week 1. Maybe he’s just not very good? In any event, it’ll be difficult for the Falcons to overcome the losses of linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, especially with an excellent pass-catching running back like Christian McCaffrey coming to town.
Cleveland Browns at (-8.5) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Last week was not good at all for the Saints, but let’s not overreact. New Orleans still hung 40 on the Bucs, and if they get their defensive act together in the slightest, they should be able to cruise against the Browns.
Andre: Saints. As Mike stated above, don’t overreact. Last season, New Orleans started off the season allowing more than 1,000 yards in their first two games and finished off with the best yards per play differential in football and seventh-most sacks.
Ricky: Saints. Banking on a bounce-back effort from New Orleans’ defense. The Browns also won’t have the benefit of their opponent turning the ball over six times — like the Steelers did in Week 1 — with Drew Brees taking care of the football better than he has at any point in his career.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. (no line as of Thursday morning)
Indianapolis Colts at (-5.5) Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. Washington might actually be good, especially if Adrian Peterson is going to run for 100 yards per game. What Joe Mixon did last week (17 carries, 95 yards), AP should be able to do the same this week.
Andre: Redskins. Even if the Colts take a lead this season, they’re not going to be able to run the clock out because, well, they can’t run the ball. After taking a 23-10 lead against the Bengals, they couldn’t rush for a single first down and blew the game. Alex Smith is excellent at protecting the ball and shouldn’t have a problem against a Colts defense that allowed 6.6 yards per play against Andy Dalton’s Bengals.
Ricky: Redskins. Indianapolis’ Week 1 collapse actually was a continuation of a trend that began in 2017, as the Colts went 2-7 in games they led at halftime last season. Will the Colts cough up another lead in this one? Probably, although Indianapolis might struggle from the jump if its offensive line can’t fend off edge rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs at (-4) Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. The Chiefs looked impressive last week, sure, but they still gave up more than 500 yards to the Chargers. The Steelers, even without Le’Veon Bell, are equipped to expose those same issues, especially at home. Ben Roethlisberger just needs to protect the football.
Andre: Steelers. Roethlisberger is 7-0 since 2006 in games after throwing three or more interceptions. He also has thrown one or fewer picks in each of those games. Patrick Mahomes only completed 55 percent of his passes in Week 1 and the Steelers pass rush is still strong, as evidenced by its seven sacks last week.
Ricky: Steelers. Pittsburgh has done a good job of containing Tyreek Hill in the past, which could make life difficult for Mahomes, who leaned heavily on the star receiver in Week 1. Hill had seven catches against the Chargers, while Sammy Watkins (three) was the only other Chiefs receiver with more than one. The Steelers’ Week 1 tie with the Browns should be a wake-up call for Pittsburgh’s locker room.
(-7) Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. There’s a lot to like about Buffalo here: hosting a West Coast team at 1 p.m. ET, getting fewer than 20 percent of the bets, and a 7-3 ATS record in their last 10 games as a home underdog of 3.5-10 points. But still. It’s the Bills!
Andre: Chargers. This is my lock. The Bills allowed six sacks last week and allowed the third-highest sack rate last season. Joey Bosa is questionable to play, but the Chargers should still get pressure. As bad as L.A. looked in Week 1, Phil Rivers still threw for 424 yards — the sixth-highest total of his career and that game could’ve been closer if Travis Benjamin didn’t keep dropping balls.
Ricky: Chargers. Thank God the Bills aren’t starting Nathan Peterman, whose 0.0 passer rating last week was even worse than the 17.9 rating he posted last season while throwing five interceptions against these same Chargers. Not that it matters. Los Angeles will just tee off on rookie Josh Allen instead.
Miami Dolphins at (-3) New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. I’m doing my best to avoid overreacting to anything I saw in Week 1. Were the Jets impressive? Sure. But did Matthew Stafford hand them the game? Yes. New York might be on the way up, but with a rookie quarterback, you’re never entirely sure what you’ll get week to week, so let’s grab the points here.
Andre: Dolphins. The Ryan Tannehill storyline might be the most underappreciated in the NFL right now. Dude came back from a serious injury and completed over 70 percent of his passes against a decent Titans defense. He looks healthy and I’m not ready to call Sam Darnold the next Aaron Rodgers just yet.
Ricky: Jets. This might seem like an overreaction to the Jets’ convincing win over the Lions in Week 1, but New York’s defense has the potential to be legit all season, in which case Darnold just needs to be average. Seems like a reasonable expectation at home against the Dolphins.
Minnesota Vikings at (-1.5) Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. The SuperContest lines came out Wednesday, and the Vikings were 7-point favorites. Seven! Someone in Vegas thinks Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing, so get the Vikings at this number while you can.
Andre: Vikings. Rodgers can erase 20-point deficits against the Bears, but the Vikings are the best team on paper. Let’s not forget just how heavily outplayed the Packers were in the first half against the Bears.
Ricky: Vikings. Minnesota’s defense should hold up against a hobbled Aaron Rodgers, while its offense should excel by getting the ball to Dalvin Cook in space. Green Bay’s defense wasn’t great at defending running backs in the passing game last season, and Cook did an excellent job of making defenders miss last week in his return to regular season action.
(-3) Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. This is a tough one to get a read on. Can the Bucs sustain success? I don’t think so. Are the Eagles better than what they showed last week? Yeah… I think. So I believe there’s some regression here on both sides, and Philly gets it done.
Andre: Bucs. “It’s Week 2! Don’t overreact!” That was the theme on “The Spread” this week. But you know what? I’m all in on the Bucs. Look at their depth chart. What’s not to like? Sure, they gave up 40 last week, but that was against Drew Brees. Nick Foles averaged just 3.6 yards per pass attempt in his “masterful” come-from-behind victory last week. The only quarterback who was worse was Nathan Peterman. That’s your Super Bowl MVP in the same company as Mr. Five-Pick Debut.
Ricky: Eagles. The Bucs could be a pain in the rear this season, especially if their revamped defensive line reaches its potential. But I’m not going to overthink this one. The Eagles still are among the NFL’s elite and should have no problem winning this game against an inferior opponent, especially since Tampa Bay’s suspect secondary provides a decent opportunity for Nick Foles to rebound.
Arizona Cardinals at (-12.5) Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Rams. You hate laying that number, but the Cardinals are going to push the Bills for the worst team in football, and there’s nothing about the Rams’ Monday night performance (on the road) that says they can’t hang a big number on Arizona.
Andre: Rams. Huge spread, yes. But the Rams outscored the Cardinals, 65-16, last season. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals had the worst pass-blocking grade in Week 1. Ndamukong Suh apparently still hasn’t forgotten about being taken second overall after Sam Bradford in the 2010 NFL Draft. He told the Around the NFL podcast, “I always mark the calendar when I have Sam Bradford on there, no matter what.”
Ricky: Rams. The Rams beat up on bad teams last season, and last week suggests nothing has changed in that regard. Spoiler alert: The Cardinals are a bad team.
Detroit Lions at (-5.5) San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Lions. I’m making a big assumption here that Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense will figure things out on a short week on the road. But they should get a short field or two against Jimmy Garoppolo, who has received a ton of praise despite now having more interceptions than TD passes as the Niners starter.
Andre: Lions. Matt Patricia is very familiar with Garoppolo after all those years with the Patriots. Garoppolo also has more interceptions than touchdowns in his six starts with the 49ers and the Lions are excellent at forcing turnovers. They had a pick-six last week and finished fourth last year in interceptions.
Ricky: 49ers. The Matt Patricia era already looks like a dumpster fire.
(-2) New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Plenty of adversity for New England, going on the road in sweltering temperatures for Jacksonville’s home opener in a “revenge” game. But isn’t that when they thrive? Plus, there are injury concerns with Leonard Fournette, and Tom Brady vs. Blake Bortles is still a thing.
Andre: Patriots. Why is there so much being made about the Patriots not having wide receivers? I don’t care if the ball is going to a tight end (in this case, Gronk — the best in the league), running back (James White is more than capable), or even a fullback (James Develin had four catches in Week 1), as long as Brady can move the chains, why should it matter?
Ricky: Jaguars. AFC Championship revenge game? Well, the Patriots won’t have their leading rusher (Dion Lewis), leading receiver (Danny Amendola) or second-leading receiver (Brandin Cooks) from that game, as all departed over the offseason. Instead, Brady will operate with a less impressive collection of weapons, which shouldn’t be a huge problem in the long run but somewhat of an issue against Jacksonville’s elite defense.
Oakland Raiders at (-6) Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. The final score Monday night looked worse than it actually was for the Raiders. Meanwhile, Denver struggled to put away Seattle and also had issues covering Seahawks tight end Will Dissly. The tight end matchup doesn’t get easier this week with Jared Cook (nine receptions, 180 yards vs. L.A.).
Andre: Broncos. Denver recorded six sacks in Week 1 and will be going up against an offensive line that had the fourth-worst grade in the NFL, according to PFF. The second half of the Raiders’ Monday night game also might show just how poor of a coach John Gruden will be this year as he failed to make adjustments and the Raiders were outscored, 23-0.
Ricky: Broncos. Von Miller was a maniac in Week 1. Granted, that was against the Seahawks’ terrible offensive line. But the combination of Miller and No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb off the edges will be a handful for teams all season. And that includes this Sunday, when the Raiders will be looking to pick up the pieces from a blowout loss on a short week.
New York Giants at (-3) Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Dallas couldn’t get anything in the way of big plays last week vs. Carolina, and now they face another strong run defense. Three of the last four games between these two teams have had 40 points or fewer scored, and if it’s a low-scoring game, I’ll grab the points.
Andre: Cowboys. You have to think Ezekiel Elliott puts on a better showing at home against a weaker defense. If Zeke can get it going and Dallas can eat clock, they should be able to edge out their divisional rival.
Ricky: Giants. The Cowboys are 8-17 ATS in their last 25 games as home favorites, and I’m not confident they’ll cover in this one. The Giants have more offensive upside with Odell Beckham Jr. (one of the best receivers in the NFL) and Saquon Barkley (could be one of the best running backs in the NFL before long), and their defense, which is adjusting to a new scheme, looked pretty good in the second half last week.
MONDAY, SEPT. 17
Seattle Seahawks at (-3) Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Two straight road games for the Seahawks against two great pass rushes. Continue to pray for Russell Wilson.
Andre: Bears. The Bears’ pass rush looked vintage in the first half on Sunday night and it might look like the ’85 Bears against the Seahawks’ atrocious offensive line.
Ricky: Bears. Khalil Mack might break the single-game sack record. I’m only half-kidding.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images
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