NFL Football Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/9/2014
Pretty solid opening week of the NFL season from a betting perspective. I looked at six games in the Week 1 Opening Line Report, and I only face flopped on two of them: Chicago losing straight up at home to Buffalo -- which I know ruined some Survivor and Confidence Pools -- and Tampa Bay somehow losing at home to a Carolina team that started Derek Anderson at quarterback. Here's a look at a few games and opening lines that caught my eye for Week 2.
Steelers at Ravens (-2.5, 44), Thursday: The Miami Dolphins for the most part didn't let the whole Richie Incognito mess torpedo their season last year. I will be fascinated to see how Baltimore responds to the media firestorm surrounding the team now in the wake of that Ray Rice video released by TMZ on Monday and then Rice's subsequent release and indefinite suspension by the NFL. Wow, do the Ravens and league look bad here. The team totally backed Rice publically and now has egg on its face. And you mean to tell me the NFL couldn't get its hands on this tape? The multi-billion dollar NFL with a team of security experts that would rival the secret service? Yeah, whatever. This game will be close if history is any indication. Nine of the past 10 regular-season games have been decided by three points or fewer. It's a must-win for the Ravens after losing their opener at home to Cincinnati. You don't make the playoffs starting 0-2 at home. The pick: Baltimore and "under". Heavy early lean is on Pittsburgh, but to me that's a public overreaction. The players can block all this out.
Rams at Buccaneers (-5.5, 37): This has the lowest total on the board, and if you watched both the St. Louis and Tampa Bay offenses last week, you understand why. Rams quarterback Shaun Hill was terrible in the first half of St. Louis' 34-7 home wipeout against Minnesota. Then he conveniently got "injured." The Rams say Hill is their starter when healthy, but it appears he's a long shot to play here. That means either undrafted free agent Austin Davis, who relieved Hill on Sunday, or Case Keenum, who was recently plucked off waivers from Houston and was 0-8 as a starter last year. Meanwhile, Josh McCown didn't look very good, either, in Tampa's 20-14 loss to Carolina, throwing two picks and managing only 183 yards. There's a reason this guy had been a journeyman his entire career. Oh, and Bucs running back Doug Martin is already hurting again. This game will not be pretty. The pick: Tampa and under.
Chiefs at Broncos (-13, 51): This is the only double-digit line on the board. Denver had little trouble against Indianapolis on Sunday night, although the Colts did cover with two fourth-quarter garbage touchdowns. Peyton Manning beat his former team for the first time to join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to have beaten all 32 current NFL franchises. Kansas City looked truly wretched in Sunday's 26-10 home loss to Tennessee. QB Alex Smith was picked off three times -- he's not good enough otherwise to be turning the ball over. To make matters worse, the Chiefs lost two defensive players to serious injury, Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive tackle Mike DeVito, both done for the year. If Jake Locker can put up 26 points on the Chiefs in K.C. what will Manning do on his home field? Kansas City will get back receiver Dwayne Bowe for this one after he was suspended Week 1. It won't matter. The pick: Broncos (not at anything higher than 13.5) and over.
Patriots at Vikings (+3, 49): I absolutely love this line as I believe oddsmakers are slightly overreacting to New England's loss in Miami on Sunday. The Patriots are the only AFC East team without a win. It's only Week 1, obviously, but still. It also was New England's first Week 1 loss since 2003. I see zero chance that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady fall to 0-2. I will say this about the Vikings, however: Pick up receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in your fantasy dynasty leagues. That guy is going to be a monster if he's not already. The pick: Patriots, but grab it before it rises to 3.5 even though I expect a victory by a least a touchdown.
Texans at Raiders (+3, 39): If you put down any money on Houston's Jadeveon Clowney to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he was the betting favorite, that was a waste. Clowney underwent knee surgery on Monday to repair a meniscus tear, and he's likely out six weeks. That's a darn shame because that Texans defense really could have been spectacular. It looked mostly the part in Sunday's 17-6 home win over the Redskins as Houston ended its 14-game losing streak. There simply isn't any argument that the Texans' J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the game. He had two tackles for losses, including a sack, blocked an extra point, recovered a fumble and knocked down a pass vs. Washington. The Skins couldn't block him. The Raiders are clearly the NFL's worst team and managed 158 total yards in Sunday's loss at the Jets. The pick: Texans -- but get it before 3.5 -- and under.
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