NFL Picks for Week 2

BLANK’s NFL Picks for Week 2

by Nathan Sack

Welcome to the inaugural Blank News weekly NFL picks! I’ll be your host, Nathan Sack, and I hope that you keep your seat belts fastened. The throttle is to the floor, since we’ve already let one week pass. But that won’t stop us.

Each week, I’ll be here and I hope you join me. I love football and I want to share my love of this game with you. The game, and the NFL as a company, are certainly not without faults, but I love it anyway. Throughout my picks, this week and most weeks, I will touch on subjects that don’t take place solely on the field. When you’re writing about the NFL, you can’t leave the unsavory stuff out, unfortunately. Keep in mind, whether it’s something good or bad, that these are grown men who have the privilege to play a game for a living. They are not exempt, regardless of what they believe, from being criticized. And I will criticize, from time to time. But, as much as I can, I want to focus on the positive, and on the action on the field. With that, I introduce you to my picks.

There are three types of football fans: casual fan, die hard fan, and gambler. I hope to appease all three. The money line, or “straight-up” picks, are for the casual fan. The summary is for the diehard, and the ATS, against the spread, is for the gambler. The ATS pick will be indicated in bold. If you don’t know how ATS betting works and would like to, tune in next week for a crash course.

Houston Texans (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Line: CIN -5

You have to feel sorry for the Texans, who were abysmal in their season opener at home in the direct wake of hurricane Harvey. It must have been nearly impossible for the team to put the devastation aside. As much as the team, and defensive end J.J. Watt in particular, are doing for relief efforts, you would think they would have gotten a huge emotional boost playing in front of the home crowd, and they did, but the exhaustion and anxiety looked as though it was too

much to bear. All the best, Houston and Florida. I know you’re hurting and I wish there was more I could do to help.

On that somber note, I return to football. Opposing the Texans, we have the Bengals, who flat out stunk in their opener against Baltimore, getting shut out. The Texans defense is similar in quality to the Ravens, if not slightly better. The Texans most glaring weakness last week, their offensive line who gave up 10 sacks (10!), will not have nearly as much of a challenge against this Bengals team. This is an easy bet for me, even with rookie Deshaun Watson starting his first game. Texans 27 – Bengals 16

Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

Line: BAL -7.5

Cleveland was surprisingly frisky against the Steelers last week. A healthy number 1 overall pick Myles Garrett may have swung the game in their favor, but it’s hard to say. Either way, if the Browns continue to give people trouble like that in this season, their young core may finally give the woeful franchise something to be proud of. The Ravens, as mentioned above, picked apart the Bengals last sunday with surgical precision. Well, the defense did. The offense still has some serious questions, but the running game was very good, Flacco has shown flashes before, and he’s actually got some weapons this year. Is Baltimore a deep run sleeper? Looks like we got us the makings. Baltimore 24 – Cleveland 20

Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

Line: CAR -7.5

How is Cam Newton’s shoulder? The answer to that question is going to determine how the Panther’s season goes. They got a freebie last week in San Fran, but the Bills have more weapons on offense. If Cam has improved his shoulder health over the last seven days, I like the Panthers chances against a probably-not-that-good Buffalo defense. The Bills, again, can make plays on offense, but their strength is on the ground, which is also Carolina’s defensive strength. Carolina 31 – Buffalo 24

Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Line: IND +7.5

Ugh. These two were both embarrassed last week. In facet, embarrassment isn’t strong enough for what the Rams did to the Colts. That was utter, complete humiliation. The Cards started off quick with a defensive touchdown, but weren’t able to capitalize on the momentum, getting beaten down for the last 50 minutes by an efficient Lions passing attack. The Cards have too much talent to get beaten that badly. The Colts, however… Cardinals 34 – Colts 10

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)

Line: JAX +1.5

Tennessee, a preseason darling, got beaten soundly by the Raiders. The Raiders are a good team, despite what the punditry says. The Titans still look like a decent team, and I’m certainly not counting them out yet. It’s one game. No need for overreaction. Marcus Mariota played a characteristically efficient game, but the ground game never got started for the Titans last week. That’s the key to their success. Meanwhile, the Jags have been not-so-quietly amassing a laughable amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and man oh man did it show on Sunday. 10 sacks, including 4 by offseason acquisition Calais Campbell, put the game right where it needed to be. So far out of reach that even Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles couldn’t screw it up. Titans 27 – Jags 21

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Line: KC -4.5

These two came out of the gate very strong, with two of the most impressive, efficient wins of week 1. Considering who they were playing, KC was probably the most impressive team of the week, shellacking the defending champs 42-27 with a balanced, speed-based offensive attack. The Eagles played well on both sides of the ball, made a few big plays, and coasted to an easy win over division rival Washington. This matchup pits Eagles coach Doug Pedersen against his mentor and former Eagles coach Andy Reid. Has the student become the master? Not yet.

Chiefs 30 – Eagles 20

New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Line: NO +6.5

New Orleans defense looks as solid as it has the past few years. Which is about as solid as butter left out on the counter. The Patriots, the prohibitive favorites coming into the season, did not look great Week 1. For New Orleans, the three-headed monster in the backfield was uninspired to say the least. Drew Brees is an all-time great, but unless he has help, the Saints are in for a long year. The biggest question here is whether the Pats hang a massive number. Patriots 38 – Saints 24

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

Line: PIT -6.5

Yes, Minnesota played New Orleans, but wow, did they look good on the offensive side of the ball. No one questions the Minny D, but if their offense is that good consistently (which is a stretch), they are a serious player in the NFC playoff race. Pittsburgh squeaked by the Baby Browns, so you could say they have something left to prove. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have started slow the past few years though, so even a loss in this game should be taken with a grain of salt. This has the possibility of being the weekend’s best game. Steelers 26 – Vikings 23

Chicago Bears (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)

Line: TB -7

The Bucs have gotten the hype machine running on all cylinders. Can the team do the same? Their game with the Dolphins last week was postponed due to Hurricane Irma, so we have yet to see them in the regular season. The Bears, not expected to do much, looked competitive against the defending NFC champion Falcons on Sunday. The running game went nuts, QB Mike Glennon didn’t make any big mistakes, and they were in the game until the very last play. I really liked the way they fought, and I hope they continue to do so all season. The league is much more fun when the Bears are good. Bears 30 – Bucs 27

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

Line: LAC -4.5

I don’t understand the Chargers hype. They have Joey Bosa, sure. He makes the defense viable. Melvin Gordon is a good running back, but until Phillip Rivers is gone, their ceiling is a 7-win team. Talent wise, they may be an 8- or 9-win team, but Rivers will straight up throw at least two games away every season. Literally. He throws backbreaking pick sixes at minimum twice a year. The Dolphins, again, we have not seen in the regular season, but they were a playoff team last year with basically the same team. Can Adam Gase and Jay Cutler perform a little more magic together? My gut, surprisingly, says yes. Dolphins 31 – Chargers 21

New York Jets (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)

Line: OAK – 14

Either the Jets aren’t as bad as I thought, or the Bills aren’t as good. Or both. The Raiders look like a playoff team again, but giving any NFL team 14 points this early in the season is steep. And yet… Raiders 41 – Jets 20

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Denver Broncos (1-0)

Line: DEN +2.5

Trevor Siemian looked like a man possessed in the first half on Monday night. Didn’t go so well for him after the break, but they still pulled out the W. If the offense can manage the game, chew time off the clock, not turn the ball over, and score every once in awhile, they can be contenders in a ridiculously tough division, due to their still scary defense. Dallas looked lethargic at times on Sunday against the Giants, but New York couldn’t move the ball to save their lives, and Dallas didn’t really need to work hard. Maybe they were just resting up for this week. The last time these two played was October 6, 2013. That game saw the first ever 500-yard passing game by a Cowboy (Tony Romo), an insane 1,039 yards of total offense, and Denver 51 – Dallas 48 score that is tied for the second highest scoring regulation game since 1970. Don’t expect that many points this weekend. Dallas 30 – Denver 23

Washington (0-1) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

Line: LAR -2.5

I don’t care how good they looked last week, the Rams should probably not be favored in any game against a team that almost made the playoffs last year. Washington got methodically beaten last week, but their qick-strike offense isn’t going to stay down for long. Washington 28 – Rams 19

San Francisco 49ers (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

Line: SEA -13.5

Can Seattle’s O-Line give Russell Wilson enough time to make any plays? Will they be able to score at all this season? It won’t really matter in this game, because San Francisco certainly can’t. Seattle 24 – San Francisco 13

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Line: ATL -2.5

Sunday night. Rematch of the NFC Championship game from last year when the Falcons laid waste to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is good enough without extra motivation, but now he can avenge defeat and spoil the opening of the Falcons’ new stadium. I’ll bet he likes the sound of that. Packers 35 – Falcons 31

Detroit Lions (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)

Line: NYG -4

After shaking off the early pick-six, Matthew Stafford went to work on the Cardinals, using old hand Golden Tate and new toy Kenny Golladay to throw for a whole bunch of yards and 4 touchdowns. The Giants looked miserable against their archrival Cowboys, only mustering three points against a league-average defense. Eli Manning missed wide open Brandon Marshall multiple times, not even throwing him a pass until late in the third quarter. If Odell Beckham, Jr. is really out 6-8 weeks, it could get ugly real fast for the Giants. Lions 27 – Giants 14

Last Week ML: 10-5

Last Week ATS: 7-8

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