BOSTON (CBS) — Week 1 is certainly an extraordinarily difficult time to make NFL picks, but it becomes exponentially more difficult for Week 2.
It is this week when the events of one singular game can corrupt your mind and give birth to crazy thoughts inside your brain. Those thoughts this week may include:
- The New York Jets are going to score the most points in NFL history.
- Joe Flacco will win his first NFL MVP this year, when he’ll throw for 4,800 yards.
- Tony Romo has learned how to win and will lead the Cowboys to 12 victories this season.
Think about it: As difficult as it is to try to predict the events of Week 1, you are at least basing your picks off the previous year, the known abilities of teams’ offseason acquisitions and losses and some preseason action. That’s significantly more than the happenings of a three-hour window from last week.
So for Week 2, I preach caution. What you learned last week is essentially nothing, and it’s far more important to rely on the same knowledge you had going into last week than it is what you got from Wednesday/Sunday/Monday.
Now, onto the Week 2 picks, with plenty of guest appearances from Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks (RQFLWP).
(Home team in caps; lines as of Thursday.)
BUFFALO (-3) over Kansas City
With seemingly the entire world believing in the 2012 Buffalo Bills, last week’s face-plant should have been predictable. Alas, I fell for the trap of thinking a $100 million defensive end would come out motivated (Mario Williams’ only appearance on the stat sheet was one solo tackle).
Still, I’m not sure Buffalo could ever be quite that awful in back-to-back weeks (like, as in, it’s not possible to string together two weeks of such disgraceful performance), especially with Kansas City coming to town.
My advice though, if you’re a fan of the sport of football, is to stay away from this game. There are some things in life you can never un-see. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Matt Cassel is one of them.
CINCINNATI (-7) over Cleveland
I can’t stress this enough: Brandon Weeden got stuck under a giant American flag before last week’s game.
I’ll say it again: The starting quarterback of an NFL team got himself stuck under a giant American flag before last week’s game. What was he even doing?! It looked like he was throwing the ball around before the game and saw the flag being held and spread out by military members. Literally any other NFL quarterback would probably say, “Hey, guys, practicing here,” and the people would roll out the flag elsewhere. Instead, Weeden dropped to his knees and crawled under the flag, apparently not realizing its size. A few seconds later he came scampering out like I used to do from under the dinner table at Thanksgiving when I wanted to go play with my cousins instead of sit and watch people eat turkey and talk about grown-up things.
And sadly for Weeden, I think it was his best play all day. If you want to bet on him this week, that’s your prerogative.
Minnesota (-1) over INDIANAPOLIS
It’s not that I doubt all the experts, it’s just that I always find great humor when their “surefire, can’t-miss, best-ever, OH-MY-GOD-IT’S-ANDREW-LUCK!” prospect makes it to the NFL and then performs exactly like all other rookies when they make it to the NFL. Three picks, three sacks and a fumble, and the kid (who will be a good QB, no doubt) looked truly overmatched.
Clearly, the march back from 2-14 to respectability is a long journey. And with Adrian Peterson, a man possessed last week, having another week to get healthy, this could be one ugly afternoon for Mr. Luck.
New Orleans (-2.5) over CAROLINA
I’m not ruling out the possibility of the Saints putting together an utterly mediocre season in the absence of Sean Payton and the bounty nonsense that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. But even if the Saints were to go 8-8 this season, wouldn’t a blowout victory in Charlotte fit right in there?
I also think the Panthers get too much respect when it comes to the lines, and I blame fantasy football. I know Cam Newton puts up some silly stat lines, and that grabs the national headlines, but that doesn’t mean he’s winning many games. The guy is 6-11 as a starter with 22 TDs and 19 INTs. I’ll take Drew Brees’ team by less than a field goal, thank you.
RQFLWP: “It’s really, really easy to see 73,000 lunatics filling the Superdome, welcoming Robert Griffin III to the NFL with the most deafening environment he’s ever experienced. It’s going to get ugly, even if the Saints do have an interim head coach for their interim head coach.”
Note: Well, I was right about the 73,000 lunatics part, and the getting ugly part. I just had the teams mixed up.
NEW ENGLAND (-14) over Arizona
In the last 10 regular-season games, the Patriots are 9-1, which is best record in the NFL. The second-best record in those same 10 games belongs to … the Arizona Cardinals at 8-2. Really. That’s not a typo.
The difference, though, is that John Skelton was under center for that long stretch of success, while Kevin Kolb was the starter who got the Cardinals off to a solid 1-6 start last year. He’ll be the man under center on Sunday, and he’ll be terrible. One fourth-quarter drive against the Seattle Seahawks doesn’t change that.
I just hope Wes Welker catches 12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns so we can round up all the “Patriots are phasing out Welker” people and lock them in a room. I’m telling you, Week 1 fallout is just the worst. Between the overreaction to Welker’s three-catch Sunday and the debate about whether Tom Brady threw a bad 50-yard pass that hit his receiver’s hands, you’d think New England just witnessed the Titans win 45-0. I dread the idea of the Patriots winning by anything less than 30 points this week, just because I’m worn out from all the nonsense.
RQFLWP: “We’ll agree that we might never pick the Cardinals getting anything less than 14 points this season.”
Note: I forgot the all-important rule of never saying anything ridiculous before NFC West matchups, because you’re guaranteed to look silly afterward. I’ll try to remember this going forward.
Houston (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE
The Texans were the trendy pick this summer for experts, and while I see the appeal, I’m not totally sold on that. If they can’t beat the Jaguars by at least 30 points, I’ll be out all the way.
RQFLWP: “I’m definitely nervous that Blaine Gabbert used up all of his passes that didn’t land in opponents’ hands in the preseason.”
Note: Gabbert completed 59 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns and zero interceptions. I was wrong, but I’ll add that he’s really playing with fire now.
Oakland (-2) over MIAMI
Honestly, I might take the seventh-grade team which was officiated by the NFL replacement ref over the Dolphins this year. If Carson Palmer can’t cover this spread, it’s time to go back to his life as a USC tailgater.
Tampa Bay (+8.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
I’ve noticed a lot of lines look like overreactions to Week 1, but unfortunately, there was no such luck with this one. I would’ve loved to take the Giants -6.5, but 8.5 is too many points. You never really do know what you’re going to get with the Buccaneers on any given week, and while I won’t say I’m high on them, I’ll at least admit I don’t think they’re a doormat at all.
RQFLWP: “With the pregame ceremony and the fireworks and the jacked-up home crowd, it’s just too much for any opponent to overcome. Especially the Cowboys.”
Note: Little did I know it would be the Giants players who were dropping passes, fumbling footballs and maybe crying on the sidelines. The NFL, man.
Baltimore (+1.5) over PHILADELPHIA
What is this line all about? I know that the Ravens aren’t going to be as consistently dominant like they were on Monday night, but what makes the Eagles a better team? They are the same 8-8 Eagles team from 2011 that toiled to a one-point victory over the Cleveland Browns and their stuck-under-the-American-flag quarterback, no?
RQFLWP: “When a defensive-minded team loses its defensive anchor [Terrell Suggs], bad things happen. That begins on Monday night.”
Note: By “bad things” I obviously meant “holding the Bengals to just 13 points, forcing two turnovers and scoring a touchdown on defense.” I nailed that one.
Washington (-3) over ST. LOUIS
You have to make an exception to the “don’t overreact to Week 1” rule here, because with Robert Griffin III having exactly one week of NFL experience, it’s really all you got. And for me, if a guy can walk into one of the most raucous environments in the league full of fans and players angry about the way their offseason went, and you can silence the house by throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 42 more yards in leading your team to a gutsy win, well, I’d hope you can do OK against the St. Louis Rams.
Dallas (-3) over SEATTLE
While I was disappointed to not see an overreaction to the Giants’ line, I’m happy to see this one. Because I really don’t want to pick Seattle too often this year.
PITTSBURGH (-5.5) over New York Jets
Darrelle Revis is questionable due to what is being referred to as “a mild concussion.” How is that still a term that’s being used in 2012? He suffered some “minor brain damage,” but he may not have to miss any playing time! I also saw a Patriots reporter refer to Dan Connolly’s concussion as “mild” because he was out at a charity event. There’s really no such thing as a “mild” concussion, and until the NFL stops acting like there is, there won’t be any progress in player safety.
But where was I? Oh, right. Provided Revis doesn’t play, stopping Ben Roethlisberger is going to be a bit of a challenge. More than that, though, is that I absolutely hate the Jets the week after they win big. They are a team that can let satisfaction take over the locker room, and a big win one week can lead to a major letdown the next. For example, in the Rex Ryan era, you have this history of victories of 20 points or more:
Week 7, 2009: Beat Raiders, 38-0
Week 8, 2009: Lost to Dolphins, 30-25
Week 14, 2009: Beat Buccaneers, 26-3
Week 15, 2009: Lost to Falcons, 10-7
Week 2, 2011: Beat Jaguars, 32-3
Week 3, 2011: Lost to Raiders 34-24
Week 14, 2011: Beat Chiefs 37-10
Week 15, 2011: Lost to Eagles 45-19
I don’t think that’s mere coincidence. I think it’s more an indication of the mental fragility of the team as a whole. This is still Rex Ryan’s team, and the players follow the coach’s lead. They can rally against the world with the best of them, but it usually only lasts for one week.
RQFLWP: “Aww, look! The Jets are a favorite! That won’t last long.”
Note: Sure, the Jets ended up winning by 20 points, but they’re not a favorite this week. So I was kind of right.
SAN DIEGO (-6) over Tennessee
I pledged last week that I might just pick against San Diego 16 times this year, and here I am, a week later, a broken man, hopping right back on the bandwagon. Shame on me.
I just don’t think the Titans are exactly ready for prime time. I didn’t think much of them before last week’s 20-yard rushing “performance,” so I’m not sure how you could feel any better about them now.
Detroit (+7) over SAN FRANCISCO
If NFL games played out logically, this would be simple. San Francisco beat Green Bay last week. Detroit barely beat St. Louis last week. Green Bay is much better than St. Louis, ergo San Francisco will beat Detroit by a whole bunch of points.
But if NFL games played out logically, we’d all be rich. Well, probably not, because gambling would be illegal because it would be too easy. You get the point.
At play here is the real existence of a letdown for San Francisco, who came out in Week 1 and played almost perfectly. That’s great for them, but turning around and getting up for a lesser opponent is going to be a real challenge, especially when your quarterback is Alex Smith. (He might have to throw for 400 yards in three straight games for me to stop saying things like that. I’m not sorry.)
So I wish I had more to offer you than a simple “this is the token illogical pick of the week,” but the Lions will win this game.
ATLANTA (-3) over Denver
Maybe it’s because people haven’t seen real football in a long time, but I thought the world’s reaction to Peyton Manning’s first game as a Bronco was about 300 percent overblown. Of course, Manning has the same brain he’s always had, I’m just not entirely sold on his physical well-being yet. His first pass was a wounded duck, something I’ve never seen come out of his hand before, and a lot of his passes looked like change-ups. Obviously, he did OK for himself, and he even absorbed a couple of hits, but if you saw him last week and came away saying the Peyton of old is back, then you’re nuts.
But I’m not picking against the Broncos this week because of Manning; I’m picking against the Broncos because of their defense. I nearly began pulling out my own hair in frustration having to watch the defense fail on third down after third down, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to pick them apart and keep the ball for 20 minutes at a time. Clearly, it’s the same unit that was greatly overrated last season and ended the year in a 45-10 blowout loss in New England. I don’t anticipate things will get any easier against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez, on the road, on Monday night.
Last week: 8-8
This week: 1-0
GREEN BAY (-5) over Chicago
For whatever reason, people get all hyped up about division rivalries, and myths are born about how they’re always tight games. The fact is that’s just not true. The Bears haven’t won in Green Bay since 2007, a game that featured the quarterback matchup of Brian Griese vs. Brett Favre. That was a long time ago. Since then, the Packers have won four straight by an average score of 26-11.
So take that recent history and add in that the Green Bay Packers have a 0.0 percent chance of starting the season 0-2 and a 0.0 percent chance of losing consecutive home games, and this pick certainly seems safe enough.