BOSTON (CBS) — There’s really no formula for doing this. Not in the NFL.
In past years, when trying to make assessments in Week 2 of the season, I always felt it was important to not put too much stock in what had happened in Week 1. It was only one week, and whatever happened in that 60 minutes of football shouldn’t completely warp your perspective on that team.
But was that the right approach? Results have always been mixed (I’ve gone 33-28-3 in the past four Week 2’s), so this year I decided to lend a little more faith in my own takeaways from Week 1. Forget my offseason thoughts and impressions of a team. As Bill Parcells would probably say if he wrote a picks column, you are what you are. So I went with that.
And the results? You betcha, they were mixed.
The Patriots stunk to high heaven in Week 1, and they were even worse in Week 2. Easy pick. Same goes for the Redskins, who have themselves an immobile quarterback in an offense built on a mobile quarterback. The Jaguars made a strong case for being the worst team in the NFL in Week 1, and they followed it up with a worthy follow-up in Week 2.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were crowned Super Bowl champs after Week 1, and then they lost to the Chargers, who looked like losers in Week 1. The Seahawks, who struggled to get past the lowly Panthers in the opening week, truly looked like a championship team this time around.
So I lied a little when I said results were “mixed,” as they were actually a little more slanted against me. It wasn’t the type of showing I wanted after vowing to be better than mediocre (I have low standards), but I’m re-committed this week. I really can’t bear the pain of going through so many Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks anymore. It hurts.
(Home team in caps; Wednesday’s lines)
PHILADELPHIA (-3) over Kansas City
Man, Philly burned me big time last week, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s hard to get a full grasp of what the Eagles are and what they’re going to be. But even when they’re falling flat on their faces against the Chargers, they’re still putting up points. And as long as the spread stays low like this one, they’re a team worth taking. The pain of picking against them when their offense is rolling has thus far been more painful than picking them and waiting for the offense to wake up. The fact that I know both pains through just two weeks is rather unpleasant.
Plus, if an Andy Reid return to Philadelphia isn’t good for some botched clock management when the game hangs in the balance, I don’t know what does.
Arizona (+8) over NEW ORLEANS
I definitely put too much stock into the emotional boost the Saints would get from Sean Payton. I’m sure it helps to have the coach back, but that alone can’t restore a 7-9 team to its former greatness.
As for the Cardinals, I don’t know. I refuse to believe Carson Palmer can make a team that much better. I just don’t. But the Cardinals have undeniably played a couple of decent games, decent enough to make me believe they can at least keep things competitive in the dome.
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “Is this line real? Is there a missing digit in there? Three points? Against the team that lost to the New York Jets? Going to very … quietly … make this pick … and move on.”
Note: You know what, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints? I’m not mad; I’m disappointed.
Green Bay (-3) over CINCINNATI
Thirty-three points per game, 482.5 yards per game, one of the best QBs in the sport locked in, a star linebacker playing out of his mind, all getting the Bengals on a short week. What’s not to like?
MINNESOTA (-6) over Cleveland
Bless you, Cleveland. Bless you. On the day you learned you’d be seeing your 517th starting quarterback of the past 10 years (only a slight exaggeration), you also learned that your third overall pick from last year’s draft was traded away for a draft pick that will not be third overall.
It’s going to be an ugly scene in Cleveland on Sunday. Cleveland deserves better.
DALLAS (-3.5) over St. Louis
The Cowboys are 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 home games. The games they’ve covered were as 3.5-point favorites over the Giants in Week 1 and as one-point favorites against the Steelers last year. The Rams, meanwhile, are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games. Simple pick, right? Wrong.
Trends are trends, and they’re worth checking out, but they don’t always necessarily mean something. Will the fact that the Cowboys failed to cover a nine-point spread against the Buccaneers last year in Week 3 really impact what takes place in Dallas this weekend? Of course not, and that’s why I’m confidently picking Dallas to win by a touchdown. (Quietly waiting for Tony Romo to throw a pick-six late in the fourth quarter to blow the game and the pick.)
Detroit (+2.5) over WASHINGTON
Not a fan of either of these teams right now. The points will have to do.
TENNESSEE (-3) over San Diego
The Chargers played one heck of a road game last Sunday in Philadelphia, almost enough to throw everyone off the scent that they’re still the Chargers. But not me. I smell you, Chargers, and you still smell like Norv. That kind of smell doesn’t just disappear. It takes time.
Tampa Bay (+8) over NEW ENGLAND
All you seem to be hearing this week is how much disarray the Bucs find themselves in. All of that may be true, and the fate of their season may be hanging by a thread, but they still have only lost by one point and two points in their two games thus far. And after seeing the Patriots struggle so mightily against the Jets, and with Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski both likely to miss this one, the Patriots just aren’t the type of team that’s going to blow anyone out. Not right now at least.
New York Giants (+1) over CAROLINA
Eli Manning cannot stop throwing interceptions. Fortunately for him, the Panthers have just one of them in two games (it should be two, but penalties do count). The Giants still have that explosive offense, and the Panthers are coming off a loss to the Bills. It takes weeks, maybe months, to get over a blown game against the Bills.
RQFLWP: “I think Denver is going to have its hands full with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.”
Note: That duo combined for 201 receiving yards, but the Broncos spent more time having their hands full with Eli Manning’s passes than anything else.
Houston (-2.5) over BALTIMORE
Kind of a laugher of a line here. The Ravens are not good. A blowout loss on opening night followed up with a tooth-and-nail dogfight with the Cleveland Browns shouldn’t have anyone feeling great about the 2013 Ravens, and with Ray Rice hampered with a hip injury, there’s really no thought required for this one.
Atlanta (+3) over MIAMI
I’m a big fan of the Dolphins this year. They’ve played two impressive games, Ryan Tannehill looks to have taken a step forward, and I know it’s early, but it looks safe enough to say they’ll at least make some noise in the AFC East this season. All that being said, this is a bit much. Even with Steven Jackson on the shelf, I’m not sure the Dolphins are quite ready to play at the Falcons’ level, and definitely not when they’re giving points.
Buffalo (+1.5) over NEW YORK JETS
If you try to say you know what’s going to happen in this game, you’re a liar, plain and simple. Same goes if you try to say you’re excited to watch this game.
RQFLWP: “I’ll go with the team less likely to commit 12 penalties and implode in crunch time.”
Note: As soon as I wrote that line about the Bills, I had a feeling it would come back to bite me. And sure enough, it was the Bills driving late, and it was the Panthers’ Luke Kuechly committing a completely unnecessary pass interference penalty that took away the game-winning interception, and it was the Panthers’ defensive backs completely blowing their assignment on a simple pass to Stevie Johnson, and it was E.J. Manuel crying on the field in victory, and it was me looking like an idiot.
SAN FRANCISCO (-10.5) over Indianapolis
How things have changed with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Last year’s darlings are 1-1 and are getting no respect as 10.5-point underdogs to a team that just got blown out on national TV. Ouch.
This is by no means an easy pick, but the 49ers are clearly a different team at home, and they respond well to losses. Last year, after their four losses, they won the games that followed by 34 points, twice by 14 points and once by seven points, and they even followed up their tie with a 25-point win. The 49ers don’t like losing, and the poor Colts, even if Trent Richardson is somehow brought up to speed on the playbook in time for this game, are the ones who have to learn that this weekend.
Jacksonville (+19) over SEATTLE
This is truly a brilliant line. Hanging out near 20 points is just about the only way you can consider taking the Jaguars, and that’s exactly what we’ve got.
Even with the 19 points, I want to take the Seahawks, but I just can’t. That’s a silly spread. You’re nuts to take any team by 19 points. The Big Lead pointed out that no team has covered a spread of 19 or more points in the past decade, and unless you think the 2013 Seahawks are better than the 2007 Patriots, you have to take the points.
RQFLWP: “Now, the 49ers are underdogs, and I have a feeling those things didn’t go unnoticed in the San Francisco locker room, and we’re going to see it pour out onto the field Sunday night.”
Note: It poured out onto the field in the form of the longest and ugliest performance I’ve seen from the 49ers since … well … last year at Seattle.
Chicago (-2.5) over PITTSBURGH
Picking the Bears mostly because the idea of an 0-3 Steelers team is funny to me, but also because the idea of an 0-3 Steelers team is not all that difficult to imagine. See? I just did it.
But hey, at least we get to see the Steelers in prime time for the second time in six days! It was so much fun on Monday night, I can’t wait to see ineptitude shining under the lights yet again.
DENVER (-15) over Oakland
OK, fine, the Broncos are for real, and they’re not messing around. Any game won by fewer than 15 points is going to be considered a disappointment for Peyton Manning, and well would you look at that, the Raiders and a 15-point spread await on Monday night. The Raiders lost by 31 points last year in Denver, and that pretty much sets the ceiling for how well they should do this time around.
Last Week: 5-10-1