2016 NFL Week 2 Bettor’s Guide
Let’s hope we do a better job this season with picks, which would be a reversal of a negative regression over the past three years. The NFL has become increasingly difficult to handicap from week to week, which is a good thing for viewers, but bad for bettors; particularly those who focus heavily on point spreads. Bad beats are more commonplace than ever, as a result. So far, we are off to a good start.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Ralph Wilson Stadium
Orchard Park, New York
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: BUF -1
Over/Under: Under 40.5
I am not one to suggest “Buffalo has won five straight against the Jets” because that’s for the media to use as a storyline. In reality, a lot of the players who figured into those results are no longer with either team, so how is it relevant? However, the constants that are still in place for this week’s game include Ryan Fitzpatrick constantly struggling with Rex Ryan’s defenses over the years — including a must-win Week 17 game in 2015 for the Fitzpatrick-led Jets.
The Jets get Sheldon Richardson back for this game, and this was after the Jets dismantled a superior-to-the-Bills’ Bengals offensive line with seven sacks, numerous hurries and hits on Andy Dalton.
Tyrod Taylor was forced to stay in the pocket and make plays by Baltimore, and the Jets both have the personnel (and more) and likely the desire to do the same. Taylor failed his test against Baltimore, but Lesean McCoy is still a dangerous weapon. Sammy Watkins is going to give it a go on a sore foot (when he would probably otherwise sit out), so it is desperation time for both teams. The Jets have a gauntlet first six games of the season, and falling to 0-2 would put them squarely behind the proverbial 8-ball, as the division would almost already be out of the question, and two conference losses (and a division loss) would harm tiebreakers for wild card positioning late in the season. The same scenario exists for the Bills; with the added layer that Rex Ryan’s job is on the line this season. If he misses the playoffs, he’s gone, and he knows it.
Not that desperation and knowing that you are in a virtual must-win means you will pull it off, but expect late season intensity in this game. Rare for a Week 2 Thursday night game. Makes it an extremely tough call. Bank on the under, but avoid the spread unless you really feel one team will win. It’s not worth the risk.
NY Jets 16
Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions
My Call: DET -6
Over/Under: Under 47.5
The retirement of Calvin Johnson has forced Matthew Stafford to utilize all of his weapons (and he has many) all over the field. The Lions are better off for it. They have played well since they shook up their assistant coaching staff midseason in 2015, going 6-2 since that time. The Titans can’t ever seem to get out of their way for four-quarters.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans
My Call: HOU -2.5
Over/Under: Over 43
This is one of those games where the Chiefs might wish they had Jamaal Charles. As it is, Spencer Ware was beaten up last week, after a highly productive day, but should play. The Chiefs missing Justin Houston is going to have an effect. The Texans have a plethora of options.
Kansas City 20
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
My Call: MIA +6.5
Over/Under: Over 42
Much has been made about Jimmy Garappolo leading the Patriots to a win in Glendale last week. The Dolphins, for their part — unlike Arizona — was ready to play in Week 1, and figure to be again in Week 2 in their personal house of horrors: Gillette Stadium, where they have not won in ages.
Ryan Tannehill’s performance is the chief determinant here, though. He’s beaten New England (albeit with starters resting with a playoff spot clinched and cemented) in Miami Gardens before, but your pick here is all about Tannehill. How much do you trust him?
New England 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
My Call: BAL -6.5
Over/Under: Under 42
No one cares.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
My Call: PIT -3.5
Over/Under: Over 48.5
This could be a shootout. Never mind the storylines with players hating each other. This is about handicapping. Pittsburgh usually has to work harder to score against the Bengals more than anyone, but the Steelers played decently well against the passing game on Monday night. That should be encouraging to bettors, as AJ Green comes to town fresh off destroying Darrelle Revis on Sunday.
For now, we feel as though the Steelers have a bit of an edge in the overall passing game. But not much. Tread lightly.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
My Call: WSH -2.5
Over/Under: Under 45.5
Whether Washington plays majority zone or man to one side and zone to the other, they pretty much know that all they need to do is force Dak Prescott to his right and his completion percentage and accuracy drops significantly. Never mind the Josh Norman/Dez Bryant storyline, it will likely be a lot more of what we saw on Monday night. Dallas moves Bryant around. Norman moves; but not frequently. Bashaud Breeland has defended Bryant well enough man to man, even with Tony Romo at quarterback.
New Orleans Saints vs. New York Football Giants
East Rutherford, New Jersey
My Call: NYG -5
Over/Under: Over 53
The Saints are a different team on the road. At home, they can score unlike almost anyone. On the road, things are a bit different. The holdovers from the team that last played the Giants in East Rutherford surely remember the dismantling that occurred at the hands of a fading Giants team that season. The Giants defense is better than it has been the past five or six meetings among these teams, so don’t expect a shootout per sé. The Saints may score, and particularly if the Giants are up multiple scores, as Drew Brees is the king of late game stat-padding (and backdoor covers, for handicapping purposes).
New Orleans 23
NY Giants 34
San Francisco 49ers vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
My Call: CAR -13.5
Over/Under: Under 45
The Niners will realize that the Panthers are not the Rams very quickly. For their part, SF played well defensively, despite the ineptitude of the Rams in Week 1. The Panthers led the league in offense last year, and figure to be better with Kelvin Benjamin back. Unlike Case Keenum, Cam Newton can actually get the ball to his receivers without ducking ghosts in the pocket.
San Francisco 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium
My Call: TB +6.5
Over/Under: Over 50
The NFL is a week-to-week league. Do not expect Arizona to play as poorly as they did in Week 1, with the unforced errors that they committed against New England. However, the Cards are actually facing a top notch QB with as many as, if not more, targets than they possess themselves. Should be a shootout, but Tampa should not be road dogs here.
Tampa Bay 34
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, California
My Call: SEA -6.5
Over/Under: Under 38.5
Russell Wilson will likely play. No other analysis really needed here.
Los Angeles 3
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK
My Call: IND +6
Over/Under: Under 46.5
For some reason, the Colts play well against the B-men. Maybe it is the shifty, quick twitch WRs the Colts employ. Maybe it is the gambling of Aqib Talib. Maybe it is the capability and willingness of Andrew Luck to stand in and hold the ball (sometimes too long) that enables him to make plays against this defense, whereas some teams struggle. However, the Colts beat Denver on the Colts’ home field last year, and aided by bonehead penalties by multiple Broncos late in the game, so let’s not read too much into last year’s game.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Oakland Raiders
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
My Call: OAK -4.5
Over/Under: Over 49
The Falcons? With “Matty Ice” (the acme of nicknames among misnomers)? Traveling west?
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers
San Diego, California
My Call: JAX +3
Over/Under: Over 47
The Jags SHOULD win this game with relative ease. But that is why they play the games.
San Diego 20
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
U.S. Bank Stadium
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: MIN +2
Over/Under: Under 43
The Vikes have had the Packers’ number of late. But I would avoid this game at all costs. Not worth the risk in any aspect. The Vikes D will be all over the Packers offensive line and receivers. The Packers aren’t shabby on defense, either.
Green Bay 19
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: CHI -3
Over/Under: Over 42.5
Other than these teams’ fans, who cares?