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Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my second season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
Favorites went 4-11 against the spread in Week 1, an unusual way to start the season, with savvy bettors taking advantage of market sentiment that may have been too aggressive one way or another. Pittsburgh (+6.5) won outright in Buffalo; New Orleans (+3.5) shocked the Packers and Arizona (+3) easily took care of business in Nashville. Week 1 can be humbling, but it is wise not to overreact to it too much.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday Night) NY GIANTS at WASHINGTON (-4) (Over/Under 41.5)
A Twitter comment caught my eye on Sunday as the Giants offense was spiraling into yet another level of ineptitude. To paraphrase, the poster said: ‘Daniel Jones is good. Until he isn’t.’ It was a case of more of the same for the Giants faithful on Sunday, as a stifling Broncos defense rubbed salt in the wounds of an already listless offense. Jones seems unable to learn the lessons of the past when it comes to turnovers, his calm demeanor at times acting as his greatest enemy. While we shouldn’t completely rule out Big Blue as a contender this season on one performance, the signs are not promising.
Nor are they promising for the Washington Football Team, who look like they will be without starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for an extended period. Step up, Taylor Heinicke. Ron Rivera trusts the former Panther to cover for the ailing Fitzmagic, but to what extent can he consistently deliver sevens and not threes? Washington’s defense did not perform poorly against the Chargers; it was more a case of Justin Herbert willing his team to victory. One of these teams will finish Thursday night at 0-2, but I expect a bounce back from Big Blue. They have won five straight in this series and three straight in D.C. dating back to 2017.
Pick: New York
NEW ENGLAND (-5) at NY JETS (Over/Under 43.5)
It all looked to be set up perfectly for rookie quarterback Mac Jones on his first NFL start. The home crowd was rocking, and the Patriots were driving to take the lead over their division rivals with the clock ticking away. Then, out of nowhere, Xavien Howard knocked the ball from Damien Harris’ grasp and the rookie was left distraught. While the victory may sting in Foxborough this week, the bigger picture looks good for the Patriots. A strong defensive effort was buttressed by an excellent performance by Jones, who did not look a bit out of place on an NFL field.
The Patriots, therefore, deserve every bit of their five-point edge this week over yet another division opponent in the Jets. New York’s front seven provided stiff resistance at times to Carolina this past week, but even the mediocre Panthers offensive line was able to blow open holes. Imagine what New England can do. In this rookie vs. rookie quarterback battle, Zach Wilson will be one under siege – and that does not bode well with Mekhi Becton out. This is an excellent spot for the visitors.
Pick: New England
DENVER (-6) at JACKSONVILLE (Over/Under 45.5)
The Broncos have the formula to cause problems in the AFC playoff picture, with last week’s comfortable jaunt in New Jersey a prime example of how they can suffocate teams. Defensively, even without Bradley Chubb, they put the clamps on the admittedly feeble Giants offense. Expect that trend to continue over the coming weeks. Laying six points on the road at Jacksonville sounds about right considering the gulf in class between these two rosters.
As Teddy Bridgewater the veteran spreads the wealth to his pass-catchers, Trevor Lawrence will continue to find his feet in his second NFL start. There are already rumblings that all is not well in Jacksonville, with Urban Meyer’s coaching style rubbing some the wrong way. It remains to be seen how that will affect on-field play. The Jaguars were without an answer as Houston aggressively went for broke last week. Teams tend to respond in Week 2 and produce performances that are 180 degrees away from Week 1, but Jacksonville can’t be relied upon to do that. Not yet, anyway.
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