There isn’t an overreaction in the world greater than that after Week 1 in the NFL. After Week 1 we are led to believe that Peyton Manning is finished, Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback ever, the Seahawks’ NFC reign is over, Pete Carroll is an idiot … actually, that’s true … the Vikings are the worst team in football, Joe Flacco is the worst quarterback in the league, the Jets are back and it’s incredible that Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls … that might be true too.
Week 1 takes everything you think you know about football and takes all the opinions you made in the offseason and momentarily justifies or destroys them. It can completely change how you go about viewing and picking Week 2 and leave you in a deep state of devastation or financially ruined after the early games if you’re not careful. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not when you only have one week of results to go by and that’s what makes Week 2 the hardest week to pick in the season.
(Home team in caps)
KANSAS CITY -3 over Denver
Peyton Manning is lucky his defense bailed him out on Sunday against the Ravens, or the Broncos would be headed to Arrowhead at 0-1 and looking at a possible 0-2 start to the season.
The last two games Peyton has played have to be two of his, if not the worst, of his career. The home playoff debacle after a bye week last season was shocking and whatever he was doing in Week 1 against Baltimore was frightening. I don’t know if this is the Peyton we will see from now until he retires, but if it is, it’s going to be hard to back the Broncos this season.
Houston +3 over CAROLINA
Here’s what I said last week about the Texans:
I’m not sure how Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith came to the conclusion that Brian Hoyer should be the Texans’ starting quarterback over Ryan Mallett. To be fair, it’s not like he named Hoyer the starter over a clearly more talented player and the two likely have the same amount of ability. But did they watch Hoyer play for the Browns? If you’re looking for one touchdown, two interceptions and 227 yards then Hoyer is your guy because that’s what he is and because we know what he is, why not start Mallett? At least there is a chance he might be somewhat good or at least better than Hoyer.
Guess who’s the starting quarterback for the Texans this week? Ryan Mallett.
I was a little off on Hoyer’s game since he threw for 236 yards, one touchdown and only one interception, but if I knew that it was inevitable that he would lose his starting job, how could Bill O’Brien not know this? The Texans wasted one of 16 games last week in what was a very winnable home game and a game they lost by 7 despite Hoyer doing his absolute best to lose it. With the Texans’ defense, Mallett doesn’t even have to be great, he just has to be better than Hoyer, and that’s not hard to do.
NEW ORLEANS -10 over Tampa Bay
Ah, the Saints in the Superdome. There are a few things that you can can count on when picking NFL games like always taking the points in NFC East matchups, always taking the points in Steelers-Ravens games and always taking the Saints at home in the Superdome to cover any spread. There might not be any guarantees in gambling, but those are the three things you can actually feel confident about.
Jameis Winston gave Marcus Mariota a headstart on everyone thinking the Buccaneers drafted the wrong guy No. 1 and in the 30 for 30 about the two in 20 years, there is a lot of video from Week 1 of 2015 to sort through. After this week’s loss in New Orleans, the Bucs go to Houston and by then will be 0-3 and the countdown clock until Lovie Smith’s firing will be closing in on zero.
PITTSBURGH -6 over San Francisco
The 49ers will only go as far as Carlos Hyde takes them. I don’t think Colin Kaepernick is very good since he hasn’t been able to adjust to the league after it adjusted to him, making Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and Vernon Davis non-factors, which had made the offense revolve around Hyde’s legs. The Steelers had 10 days off and coming off a loss and having their home opener and having the opportunity to prepare to shut down Hyde is a recipe for disaster for the 49ers, whose over/under win total was 6.5. This is going to be one of those 9.5 losses.
MINNESOTA -2.5 over Detroit
When it comes to Week 1 overreactions, the idea that the Vikings might be the worst team in football is at the top of the list. A bad game on the road in San Francisco against a team everyone had left for dead despite being two-plus years removed from the Super Bowl and one-plus year removed from the NFC Championship Game isn’t going to end the Vikings’ season. There’s no way an offense with Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson can be as bad as they were in San Francisco, and there’s no way the Vikings defense is going to let someone embarrass them again the way that Carlos Hyde did in his debut as a starting running back.
BUFFALO +1.5 over New England
After the Giants-Falcons game, this is the game I care the most about this week. Rex Ryan and his 1-0 Bills that have everyone talking because they routed the fraud Colts against Bill Belichick and his 1-0 Patriots that have everyone talking because whenever they win a game for the rest of eternity, there’s going to be some report that cheating might have been involved.
The Rex Ryan Bills looked exactly like the Rex Ryan Jets last week, and that’s not such a bad thing for going up against the Patriots because the Rex Ryan Jets had as much success as anyone not named the New York Football Giants against the Patriots in recent years. A Bills win will have Rex running his mouth as well as he ever did in New York and a Patriots loss might finally get some of the talk about the air pressure in footballs, the frequencies on headsets, the taping of other team’s sidelines and all the other rumored cheating ways of the Patriots to potentially fade. I can dream.
Arizona -2.5 over CHICAGO
Here’s what I said last week about the Bears:
This season I have made a pledge to myself to go hard after the Bears. I’m not getting suckered into thinking they can or will be good and I’m not changing my mind on them.
And I know exactly what the Bears are trying to do me right now. They lost a close game 31-23 to the Packers at home (even though they scored a very late touchdown to make it an eight-point game) and they want me to think, “Hey, the Bears nearly covered against the NFC favorites and now they’re home again against a much lesser offense giving points? Why not take the Bears?” In the past I would have fallen for this trap game, picked the Bears and then watched Jay Cutler throw the game away despite having two stud wide receivers (one of them is now with the Jets), a top running back and a great receiving tight end. Not this year. I’m not falling for the Bears this year.
CLEVELAND +2 over Tennessee
When Johnny Manziel entered Sunday’s game against the Jets and immediately threw a touchdown pass to take the lead, the thought of the Johnny Football era taking off at the hands of the Jets made me smile and feel warm inside. But after that play, Manziel looked exactly like the guy we saw last season, who couldn’t win the starting quarterback job over Brian Hoyer, and the Jets went on to blow out the Browns.
No matter what happens in this game, we all lose. If the Titans win, Marcus Mariota is 2-0 and the best quarterback in history. If the Browns win, it’s going to be Johnny Football all day and all night for the next week. I think I would rather hear about Manziel than Mariota, but since I have been a full-time passenger on the Johnny Football bandwagon, a home loss to the Titans, will have me jumping ship for the foreseeable future.
San Diego +3.5 over CINCINNATI
It’s the Battle of Which Team Has Screwed Me Over More Over the Years. I don’t really know who is worse in this situation when it comes to having to back either Philip Rivers or Andy Dalton, but like the Bears, I made a promise to myself to stay away from the Bs this season: the Bears, Bengals and Browns. I have given myself one mulligan for this season, and unfortunately, my wanting Johnny Football to work out led me to use that mulligan this week to pick the Browns. If the Browns win, I retain my Bs mulligan and can use it on a future game, so maybe at some point I will pick the Bengals, but it won’t be today.
St. Louis -4 over WASHINGTON
I was more than scared when the Dolphins were effing around in Washington last week and failing to cover for most of the game against the Redskins. But maybe the Dolphins looking like the Dolphins I feared they might be in 2015 was a blessing in disguise. Sure, everyone who picked them to cover and who picked them in their survivor pools had to sweat out the win, but their seven-point win helped make this week’s line lower against the impressive Rams defense. So thank you, Dolphins for doing just enough to win to make Week 2 easier. I know that why’s you underperformed so greatly and not because you’re once again going to define “average NFL team” this season.
NEW YORK GIANTS -1.5 over Atlanta
Can you have a must-win game in Week 2? That’s a question I have written about the Giants for the now the fifth straight season. After Sunday night’s disaster that left me speechless and wondering if I even wanted to be a part of the 2015 NFL season or if I ever wanted to watch football again, I actually got over Tom Coughlin’s clock management and Eli Manning’s score management fairly fast. Sure, I spun the situation into the fact that the Giants were supposed to lose in Dallas anyway and that they just need to split the season series with the Cowboys, so they can beat them at MetLife in October, but that’s what fans of losing teams do: they make excuses. I don’t want to have to make any excuses this week. The Falcons outside of the Georgia Dome are very much like the Saints outside of the Superdome, and with the Redskins on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, I should be writing in Week 4 about the 2-1 Giants.
Baltimore -6.5 over OAKLAND
The Ravens went to Denver as 5-point underdogs and lost 19-13 despite Joe Flacco throwing for 117 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Raiders, meanwhile, lost Derek Carr for most of their game against the Bengals and lost 33-13. There’s just no way I can pick the Raiders here after picking them last week and feel even the slightest bit confident that they will cover against the Ravens. There’s no way at all.
Miami -6.5 over JACKSONVILLE
I made the mistake of backing the Jaguars in Week 1 and thinking they might actually turn it around this season. They still might since there are 15 games left, but they also put up nine points at home against the Panthers, and I’m just not ready to continue to have confidence in the Jaguars. I’d much rather back the overhyped and definitely-going-to-underachieve Dolphins.
Dallas +5.5 over PHILADELPHIA
The best-case scenario for this game is that both teams beat the crap out of each and tie. If the Cowboys win, they will be 2-0 and 2-0 in the division. If the Eagles win, they will be 1-1 and so will the Cowboys, and if the Giants win, the whole division (not including the Redskins since they don’t count) will be 1-1. Having everyone be 1-1 is better for the Giants’ playoff chances to have the entire NFC East be clustered. I will be rooting for the Eagles, but knowing these teams and NFC East games as a whole, it will be decided by three or less.
GREEN BAY -3.5 over Seattle
I was in Seattle when these two teams played in the NFC Championship Game and I wanted the Seahawks to win because I thought they posed a bigger threat to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I was right until Pete Carroll went and ruined the Super Bowl and the entire offseason. Eff, Seattle and eff the 12s. Sunday, I’m a Cheesehead.
New York Jets +7 over INDIANAPOLIS
It’s nice that once again the Jets got a cupcake game in Week 1 and their fans think the Jets are back and the King of New York and all that. It’s even nicer that they have to go on the road to Indianapolis and face the Colts, who were embarrassed last week and will be looking to go out of their way to erase their awful offensive performance in Buffalo. I think the Jets will cover, but it’s more important to me that the Colts win.
Last week: 9-6-1