Week 1 is in the books, and what a week it was. Both David and I finished way in the positive in terms of units, and I finished over .500 ATS overall. This week, however, may be a change in fortune for both of us as almost every match up seems very competitive. On to the picks.
Tucci’s Week 2 Picks (11-6-0; Lock of the Week 1-0-0; +275 units)
Broncos +3 at Chiefs 100 units
I actually bet this game as a pick’em BEFORE the Week 1 games commenced, so I stuck with it. My rationalization was that Peyton always beats the Chiefs (his winning percentage is higher against Kansas City than any other team at 13-1) and the Broncos defense is one of the three best in the league (which they seem to be proving that thus far). This game could have gone either way if Jamaal Charles doesn’t fumble away the game in the final seconds. Unfortunate.
Bills +1 vs Patriots 5 units
And it begins. I wouldn’t wager any real money on this game. Like I said, the Bills will be a very tough team to get a read on in the first month or two of the season. Their defense came together in Week 1, fending off the constant aerial attack commandeered by Andrew Luck. The real question is the offense, which I believe will have an easier day against a New England defense that looked like swiss cheese against a weakened but still solid Pittsburgh offense in Week 1. I foresee Brady having the same struggles Luck did, and the Bills pull out a close one at home, 20-17.
Panthers -3 vs Texans 5 units
I feel like the Texans don’t suck as much as we think, they just allowed the Chiefs offense to get a fast start that couldn’t be overcome. However, the Texans aren’t going to be in Texas for this one, which is why I like the Panthers here. These two teams are built similarly, as both have legitimate defenses paired with questionable offenses where key players are injured on both sides (Benjamin for Carolina and Foster for Houston). Home team wins.
Cardinals -2 at Bears 20 units
Sharp money will likely be on the Bears in this one, but just like last weekend, the sharps are going to have to hold that L. The Bears are probably not as bad as cynical Chicagoans think, but I just can’t see them moving the ball against a very stout Cardinals defense that can plug up the run as well as defend passes. Alshon Jeffery’s health seems to be very questionable for this week, and if he can’t go, the Bears offense definitely can’t go either. Bears coach John Fox clearly wants to establish a run game, but that won’t happen against Arizona, even at home.
Bengals -3.5 vs Chargers 10 units
Ugh, another tough one. Is San Diego QB Felipe Rios the comeback king? Or was Detroit’s secondary just unable to stop Keenan Allen’s constant cross routes? Regardless, the Bengals defense is stronger than the Lions’ and will be at home. Jeremy Hill should be able to run rampant on this Chargers defense, effectively keeping the ball out of Rivers’ hands and keeping the defense rested.
Titans -1.5 at Browns 35 units
As soon as it was announced that Johnny Manziel was starting, I was all in on the Tennessee Mariotas. People forget the legendary and longtime Steelers defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau is now in charge of the Titans defensive corps, which scored a touchdown last weekend on the first passing play of Jameis Winston’s NFL career. Mariota will certainly regress against a generally stout Browns defense, but I can’t foresee Manziel not making at least 1-2 costly mistakes in this one. The kid just doesn’t have good instincts in the pocket. Lebeau will expose him.
Vikings -2 vs Lions 15 units
The Lions came out firing on the road last week in San Diego, only to end up giving up a big lead and lose the game. Divisional match ups in the NFC North always seem to be close, and I expect this one to be close as well. The Vikings were a huge disappointment as Week 1 road favorites, unable to score a touchdown on a weakened San Francisco defense. I expect this team to bounce back at home. Don’t be shocked if Mike Wallace burns the Detroit secondary for a score or two.
Buccaneers +10 at Saints 20 units
You’d have to think the public is going to be all in on New Orleans despite giving up 10, but No. 1 overall selection Jameis Winston was just flat out awful in Week 1 against a mediocre defense in Tennessee. Fortunately for him, the Saints defense is probably one of the bottom five in the league and there should be openings in both the run and pass game for Winston to establish a rhythm. Moral of the story: 10 points is just too much to pass on in the NFL.
Falcons +2.5 at Giants 10 units
There are few things to like about the Giants this year outside of Odell Beckham. I’m heavily invested in Julio Jones being THE best wideout in the game this year. I think this is a barn burner that Atlanta ultimately takes straight up.
Niners +6.5 at Steelers 15 units
This line seems quite high. Stud RB Le’Veon Bell isn’t back yet, and neither is the promising 2nd-year WR Martavis Bryant. I don’t doubt Big Ben’s ability to get the ball out of the pocket, but he’ll have a helluva harder time against a well-coached Niner defense. Colin Kaepernick will do what he does best and hand off the ball to Carlos Hyde, who should be able to torch the Steelers like he did the Vikings. I sense a big ball control game by the Niners, who will likely still lose, but not by much. At least not by a touchdown.
Redskins +3 vs Rams 20 units
I really loved this line when it opened at 4, but at 3 it complicates things a bit. Home dogs are always attractive, and I feel the Rams aren’t as good as their Week 1 performance. Nicky Foles clearly don’t give a fuck out there, and I think this time it’ll come back to bite him.
The Skins will once again likely be run heavy against a monster St. Louis defensive line, which worries me a bit, but I think the home field advantage should be enough to get the cover and the W.
Jaguars +5.5 vs Dolphins 5 units
I don’t like this game one bit. The spread seems almost perfect. The Dolphins are a strong team that wasn’t very convincing Week 1 and once again they’re on the road. I can’t figure out if Ndamukong Suh will crush Blake Bortles like a grape or if Bortles makes plays with his legs all day while getting Week 1 bust Allen Robinson more involved. I’m taking the home dogs most of the time, even if they have the word “Jag” in their namesake.
Ravens -6.5 at Raiders 20 units
The Ravens defense was what I expected it to be Week 1: stout against the run and very unpredictable and creative in coverage against the best brain in the history of the NFL. Next up: a very inexperienced Raiders squad with a young offense that likely won’t be able to move the ball whatsoever. I feel as if you could have replaced this game’s spread with the Buccaneers/Saints spread and it would have made more sense.
Seahawks +3.5 at Packers 10 units
Man, it’s hard to envision Pete Carroll and co. dropping two in a row to begin the season. Crazier things have happened, and jet fuel can’t melt steel beams, but I think the Hawks go in and shock the Pack at Lambeau in this one. I expect Richard Sherman to completely lock down Randall Cobb in the slot, leaving Rodgers to throw to the unheralded Davante Adams and James Jones the rest of the day. I don’t see how Seattle doesn’t just rush the ball down Green Bay’s throats in this one.
Colts -7 vs Jets 15 units
One of the best offenses against one of the best defenses. This will be a good one. Will the Jets be able to turn defense into offense again this week? I think not. The match up to watch here is Colts CB Vontae Davis going up against a rejuvenated Brandon Marshall coming off a classic Brandon Marshall performance (6 receptions, 62 yards and a score). Davis was able to shut out speedster Sammy Watkins last week, but can he be physical enough to deter Marshall? That will be the question that determines if the Colts cover.
Lock of the Week
Eagles -5 vs Cowboys 50 units
If the Boys don’t lose Dez Bryant last week, this game is definitely a lot more interesting to me. I firmly believe the Eagles will come out swinging like Mike Tyson in this one, and the Cowboys just don’t have enough firepower on offense to combat that. If the team retains Demarco Murray, I give them a good shot, but Dallas’ RB carousel just isn’t intimidating enough for me to believe. I expect the Eagles to bum rush Romo all day and force him to throw to his unproven wideouts to beat Crazy Chip and the birds.
Sam Bradford was two completely different players last week. I have an inkling that nerves got the best of him in the first half (as did the Atlanta pass rush), but I’m fairly confident he will come out and swiftly put points up on the board against a mediocre Cowboys defense. Philly should win by at least a touchdown here, throw all your marbles on it.
David’s Week 2 Picks (8-8-1; Lock of the Week 1-0; +25 units)
Not a great week for me last week, but the confidence I had in some of my picks salvaged it from being terrible. Of course, that’s gonna mess up my successful weeks in the future when I miss those picks.
Broncos +3 at Chiefs 5 units
I thought the Broncos would lose and still cover. A win’s a win.
Cardinals -2 at Bears 5 units
I’m not a fan of betting road favorites that are this close, especially considering the Bears looked good at home. However, Alshon Jeffery’s status for the game is questionable right now, and I think the Cardinals are generally underrated because they don’t have a lot of “star” names on the team. Seems like a fair line.
Patriots -1 at Bills 5 units
Rex Ryan lives for these kinds of games. He loves to upset superior teams with better quarterbacks, beating Tom Brady with Mark Sanchez, Andrew Luck with Tyrod Taylor… he gets off on this stuff. But Belichick and the Pats have dominated the Bills throughout the Brady Era. Since 2001 (Brady’s first year as starter) the Pats have lost to the Bills three times. Once last year when they rested their starters for the playoffs, once in 2011 34-31, and in September of 2003 31-0. Basically, Tom Brady and the Pats are to the Bills what Aaron Rodgers and the Pack are to the Bears. I’m pretty sure when Tom receives his team’s schedule in the offseason he crosses out the two Bills games and writes BYE next to them. This iteration of the Bills is probably the best one yet against a weaker version of the Pats but I’m a “believe it when you see it” mode with this game.
Panthers -3 vs. Texans 5 units
I still really don’t believe in Carolina, but I guess I really don’t believe in Houston even more. Houston’s plan to win games seems to be 1. Let J.J Watt do everything on defense 2. Throw DeAndre Hopkins everything 3. ??? 4. Profit. I can’t believe I’m taking 3 favorites in a row, but I just feel safer with the home favorites and don’t trust “Brian Mallett” on the road in a hostile environment.Cincinnati (-3.5) vs San Diego 5 unitsReally? Four favorites in a row? I must be losing it. There’s always fear in betting on Andy Dalton to not throw away games that his team is trying to give him for free, buutthe Bengals are particularly good in games that are at home and aren’t on prime-time TV. Rivers is definitely an X-factor but my gut tells me that he will struggle in Cincy.
Bengals -3.5 vs. Chargers 5 units
Really? Four favorites in a row? I must be losing it. There’s always fear in betting on Andy Dalton to not throw away games that his team is trying to give him for free, but the Bengals are particularly good in games that are at home and aren’t on prime-time TV. Rivers is definitely an X-factor but my gut tells me that he will struggle in Cincy.
Vikings -2 vs. Lions 5 units
I think the Vikings are getting a discount because they played so poorly against SF. The Vikings really didn’t have an answer to the Niners run game, who dominated time of possession. I don’t think it should be as tough against the Lions to stop the run game. AP also looked like he was struggling in finding holes as the Vikings run out of shotgun a lot more than he is used to. I think he should be able to adapt. Finally, the Lions pass defense looked really bad against San Diego, which I think Bridgewater should exploit this week.
Bucanneers +10 at Saints 20 units
Double digit spreads are generally unwarranted in the NFL because most teams are actually pretty evenly matched and adapt quickly when they are losing to fix the problem. The problem here is Jameis Winston has little time to survey the field, and when he’s rushed, he makes bad decisions. In addition the defense is very undisciplined. I would say they gave the Titans 14 free points to start the game. However, the run game actually looked really good when they used it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just dumbed down the playbook and just put Winston in full game-manager mode. I think the defense should return to bend but don’t break mode. The Saints are definitely going to score a lot, but usually when Lovie Smith’s defense is working you don’t score with one big play, you have to go up the field and earn it. But the Saints aren’t exactly an intimidating defense either. If Tampa Bay can control the time of possession by running more and not turning the ball over as much, I think they can cover the spread.
Falcons +2.5 at Giants 5 units
The Giants were pretty lucky to be close in score to Dallas on Sunday night. I don’t really believe in their defense. Their offense was also equally unimpressive. On the other hand Atlanta looked really improved on both sides of the ball. I’m hoping that the “Matt Ryan is terrible on the road” factor doesn’t play in too much here, but I think Atlanta matches up pretty well against New York.
Niners +6.5 at Steelers 2.5 units
Any time a team wins by 17 points and another team loses by 7 and the loser is favored by almost 7 points the next week it has to set alarms off in your head. There’s obviously something I’m missing here in thinking San Francisco will cover. It almost makes me want to take Pittsburgh by a bunch. Instead I’ll just play it safe and bet a little on San Fran covering.
Rams -3 at Redskins 5 units
This seems like a replay of last week’s Miami (-3.5) vs Washington bet. I think the Rams are even better than Miami, but they’ve been known to let people down year after year. Jeff Fisher is infamous as the “8-8” coach, however unfair it may be. I was just impressed by the defense of St. Louis and pretty unimpressed by the Washington offense, which is the basis of this call.
Jaguars +5.5 vs. Dolphins 10 units
This is a bet on Miami being the let-down champions that they are and Jacksonville not being entirely terrible, which they were on offense last week. I was disappointed by the performance of hyped WR Allen Robinson, who had a couple easy drops. I’m giving Blake Bortles one more chance before I put him and the Jags back on my blacklist.
Raiders +6.5 vs. Ravens 5 units
Baltimore really stifled the Denver offense last week, but after watching the Broncos struggle again against the Chiefs on Thursday night I’m beginning to think that’s more of a mark against Denver than a positive for Baltimore. Oakland got absolutely eviscerated against Cincinnati at home last week, but on a positive note, Amari Cooper showed he is a really strong route runner and he should get open pretty easily against the Ravens. Can we really trust Baltimore to put up more than 21 points given how bad they looked against Denver? Denver may be really good, but I like the chances of Oakland scoring a fluke touchdown or two and covering this spread.
Eagles -5 vs. Cowboys 5 units
Historically Dallas has made this game a pretty close one, but that was with Dez Bryant and more certainty in the running game. Philly should bounce back after a disappointing performance in the dome. At least Bradford looked like he was improving as the game went on against Atlanta.
Seahawks +3.5 at Packers 5 units
Seattle is going to be extra motivated to win this game to avoid going 0-2 early in the season, but so will Green Bay after Seattle stole a Super Bowl berth from them last winter. Seattle isn’t nearly as strong on the road and is missing Kam Chancellor, but it always seems like they get the better of Green Bay. Richard Sherman played in the slot last week and may take away Randall Cobb, which would leave unproven Davante Adams and James Jones to lead the passing offense. Rodgers is basically unbeatable at home, but it seems like Green Bay struggles against the NFC West like Seattle and San Francisco.
Colts -7 vs. Jets 10 units
I’m usually skeptical about having to cover an entire touchdown, and this might contradict my logic about a big winner playing against a loser and being an underdog (see SF vs Pittsburgh writeup) but I think the Colts are going to beat up the Jets after their disappointment in Buffalo. I think the Jets were lucky to win by as much as they did (Josh McCown windmill touchback, Fitzpatrick INT recovered by Brandon Marshall forced fumble, getting to play against an unprepared Johnny Manziel), and they managed to exploit Joe Haden all game, which won’t be nearly as easy against Vontae Davis. Luck did not have much time to throw and he still managed to move the ball pretty well. The Colts are a very smart team and make the right decision most of the time when it comes to challenges and going for it on fourth down, which I don’t think is fully appreciated by people yet. They won’t be afraid to pile on the points once they’re ahead to ensure a win.
Lock of the Week
Browns +1.5 vs Titans 20 units
I am praying I don’t look foolish for this one next week, but I’m not buying into the Tennessee hype just yet. The Browns may not be that good but on defense you have to legitimately beat them, as they don’t give up too many big passing plays. Tennessee will have to earn their points this week. I doubt the Browns generally turn over the football as much as the Bucs either, as they were top ten in rushing attempts last year, even though they didn’t have a winning record. I know Johnny Manziel is starting the game, which is definitely a scary proposition. I think if he doesn’t turn it over more than once the Browns should win this game pretty easily.