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Week Two Picks

September 13th, 2018

I’m off to a perfectly mediocre start, which is nearly as comforting as it is frustrating. In this crazy world, there’s something to be said for taking consistency where you can find it. Probably. I’m a consistently OK picker of football results straight up, and a consistently semi-accurate picker against the spread. With zero dollars ever on the line, I can live with that.

I finished week one 10-5-1 (.656) straight up; 8-7-1 (.531) against the spread.

Let’s see if I can draw some faulty conclusions from the tiny sample size of one result per team and really cut into my results in week two.

Which is to say, here’s what not to expect.

Baltimore (-1) at Cincinnati
I don’t feel like I know anything more about either of these teams than I did a week ago. Well, except that maybe I underestimated both heading into the season. Or, you know, maybe not. A week ago, I wasn’t sure the Ravens could put a lot of points on the board against the Bills. Works out they could. That knowledge would be more helpful if the Ravens were playing Buffalo again. Or if I had a better sense of whether last week’s result had more to do with the Ravens being better than I expected or the Bills being worse (somehow). But I don’t. Meanwhile, the Bengals at least beat a team with an offense. But I’d really like to see them do it more than once before I draw any hard conclusions. In the end, I still have little to go on here. If what I still suspect is the better of the two teams were the one hosting on short rest, I’d just go with them and have done with it. No such luck. But I’m still going to hold my breath and take the Ravens. By two.

Indianapolis (+6) at Washington
I don’t know what happens when the Racists face an actual NFL opponent yet. I also don’t know yet whether the Colts are capable of playing defense. For now, I’m just going on the fact that Washington’s playing at home, the impression that the Colts can’t stop the run, and the belief that Alex Smith is at least as good a quarterback as Andy Dalton. Racists by a field goal.

Carolina (+6) at Atlanta
I don’t think the Falcons are six points better than the Panthers. In fact, I don’t think the Falcons are better than the Panthers at all. But I know the Falcons are playing at home on 10 days rest. And I think the injuries each team is dealing with pretty much offset. Atlanta by four.

Minnesota (-1) at Green Bay
If you’re Aaron Rodgers and you’re hopping around on your one good leg just trying to make something happen (because you aren’t just your team’s best option at quarterback; you’re their only option), you can’t feel good about the Minnesota Vikings coming to town. You can’t feel good about that at all. Vikings by six.

LA Chargers (-7.5) at Buffalo
Angry Chargers vs. awful Bills. I know Los Angeles doesn’t typically fare well on the east coast. And I know the Bills have made a change at quarterback. I’m just not sure a change at one position (though, obviously, it’s a big one) and a jet-lagged opponent are going to be enough to fix what’s wrong with Buffalo. Chargers by nine.

Houston (-2.5) at Tennessee
The team that keeps its starting quarterback upright longest wins. Since we don’t really know whether Marcus Mariota actually belongs on the field, I’m going with the Texans. Houston by a point.

Kansas City (+4) at Pittsburgh
No matter how I pick this game, it’s pretty much guaranteed to bite me in the ass. The Steelers are a different team at home than they are on the road. The Chiefs are playing their second straight road game. These aren’t minor factors. Still, I keep thinking about the extent to which the Cleveland Browns battered Ben Roethlisberger in week one. And I don’t know how to think past that. Chiefs by three.

Miami (+3) at NY Jets
Jets by a point. Why? Because I’m just guessing. That’s why.

Philadelphia (-3) at Tampa Bay
I don’t know if you’re aware of this — it’s a fairly well kept secret — but Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. Philadelphia by a touchdown.

Cleveland (+9) at New Orleans
I’m pretty sure the Browns played their Super Bowl in week one. They managed a tie. Because, yeah, the Browns probably could find a way to play to a tie in a Super Bowl. (You know, in the pretend universe where the Browns could get to a Super Bowl.) Saints by 13.

Arizona (+13) at LA Rams
Sometimes early in a season a pretty bad team catches a pretty good team off guard. I can’t see that happening here. Rams by 17.

Detroit (+6) at San Francisco
If Matt Patricia had all of the pieces in place, and if those pieces were actually interested in being coached, I might think the Lions defense could exploit their coach’s familiarity with Jimmy Garoppolo and steal a win. Oh, wait. Detroit would also need an offensive line. Those can come in handy. San Francisco by 10.

New England (-1.5) at Jacksonville
Is, um … there’s a lot that makes this an interesting game — AFC Championship rematch, home team’s excellent defense, ongoing uncertainty about the visitors’ depth at wide receiver … just a lot — but my question remains: is, um, is Blake Bortles still playing quarterback for the Jaguars? Oh, he is? OK, then. Patriots by a field goal.

Oakland (+6) at Denver
The Broncos are not great. The Raiders are not good. Denver by seven.

NY Giants (+3) at Dallas
At this point, I can’t imagine doing anything other than taking the home team to win by the default margin of three. Maybe I’ll think differently by the time this series gets to New Jersey at the end of December. But that’s where I’m at right now. Cowboys straight up; a push with the points.

Seattle (+3.5) at Chicago
Maybe the Bears defense will play a full four quarters this week. Maybe they won’t even need to. Chicago by four.

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