NFL Betting Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
Wow, was that a crazy opening Sunday or what? We had the longest game by time since the AFL-NFL merger between the Titans and Dolphins - it started at 1 p.m. ET and ended around 8 because of two lightning delays in South Florida.
We had another chapter added to the legend of Aaron Rodgers as it looked like he might have suffered a serious knee injury only to return in the second half vs. Chicago and throw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Packers back from a 20-3 deficit to a 24-23 victory.
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However, probably my favorite result was something only the Browns could do: End a long losing streak … by not actually winning. I don't know what the all-time record for teams would be when they force six turnovers, but I'm pretty sure those clubs win at least 98 percent of the time. Alas, the Browns didn't, tying the Steelers 21-all. Both teams should have won the game in overtime, but each kicker missed very makeable field goals late - Cleveland's was blocked with nine seconds left.
Hey, at least the Browns' 17-game losing streak is over (they still haven't won a season opener since 2004). It was the NFL's first Week 1 tie since 1971 and first since the league reduced overtime from 15 to 10 minutes before last season.
Cleveland could have a pretty good defense this year as former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett was a monster with two sacks and two forced fumbles, and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward - a guy the Browns were largely mocked for taking No. 4 overall instead of Bradley Chubb - had two interceptions. He was the first rookie to record multiple interceptions in a season-opening game since the Colts' Eugene Daniel on Sept. 2, 1984 against the New York Jets.
Browns being Browns, though, the special teams was awful with that blocked field goal, one shanked punt and allowing two long returns by Pittsburgh. Plus, the Browns had 11 penalties plus a few more declined. So, the lack of discipline we all saw on "Hard Knocks" showed up in Week 1.
The Browns are +8 at New Orleans this week , with the Saints suddenly looking very un-Super on defense. They were stunned at home by Tampa Bay, 48-40. It was the highest-scoring Week 1 game in league history. The previous record of 87 was set way back in 1947.
Here are some Week 2 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Ravens-Bengals), my in-depth Sunday matchup (most likely Patriots-Jaguars) or the Monday night game (Seahawks-Bears) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Panthers at Falcons (-4.5, 44): The Falcons on extra rest after losing 18-12 in Philadelphia last Thursday, a game the Dirty Birds absolutely should have won. They had major red zone problems in 2017, and that was very much on display in the opening loss. Top running back Devonta Freeman left with a knee injury, but he says he'll be fine to play here. Carolina looked terrific defensively in a 16-8 home win over Dallas on Sunday, but it was costly on offense as star tight end Greg Olsen left with a foot injury - his 2017 season was essentially wrecked with a foot injury (Jones fracture, which required surgery) - and right tackle Daryl Williams left with a potentially serious knee injury. New Panthers GM Norv Turner is going to get Cam Newton hurt sooner rather than later as Newton had 13 carries for 58 yards. That simply can't happen. The pick: Falcons.
Texans at Titans (TBA): No team had it worse Week 1 injury-wise than the Titans. Not only did they lose that delayed game in Miami, but the Titans reportedly have lost excellent tight end Delanie Walker to a season-ending injury with quarterback Marcus Mariota also leaving with an elbow injury. There won't be a line posted here until Mariota's injury status becomes clear. If he can't go, then it's Blaine Gabbert and, well, that's bad. Deshaun Watson wasn't sharp at all in his return from ACL surgery as he was 17 of 34 for 176 yards, a TD, a pick and a lost fumble in Houston's 27-20 loss in New England. Top cornerback Kevin Johnson left with a concussion, something he also was dealing with in the preseason. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson broke his ankle. The pick: Houston regardless of Mariota.
Giants at Cowboys (-3.5, 44.5): The Sunday night game, because I think it's an NFL bylaw that America's Team and the team from the USA's biggest market must play on Sunday night at least once a year. Both clubs looked awful offensively in losses Sunday. Dallas coach Jason Garrett is now the early favorite to be the first coach fired after his club lost 16-8 at Carolina. The Cowboys' receiving group was a major question entering the year, and that was evident with Dak Prescott managing only 170 yards passing. Why did Ezekiel Elliott only get 15 carries? Dez Bryant was giddily tweeting throughout this game in throwing shade at his former coaching staff. Eli Manning, meanwhile, should not be starting in the NFL any longer. He had a rating of 67.8 in a 20-15 loss to Jacksonville, with Manning's lone interception returned 32 yards for what would be the clinching score in the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley looked pretty good, though, with 106 yards on 18 carries - 68 of those on a touchdown run. Dallas easily swept the Giants last year. The pick: Cowboys (although I'll be going down to -2.5).
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