Week 2...when everyone is either pricing flights to Indy for the Super Bowl or hanging their head coach in effigy. The season's second week is arguably harder to bet than the first week, because most notions we had believed to be true just 8 days ago are basically out the window, and hardly anyone really knows where to go with the point spreads. Making matters worse, the schedule of games this week is pretty lame. Home teams in CAPS.
NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Chicago
It's a bit surprising that the line is as big as it is here (doesn't 4-5.5 points seem more like it?), but you can't go against the Saints in the Superdome after their offensive showing at Lambeau on opening night. The Bears knocked the Falcons around at home last week, but they are not quite a team built for the fast track and still have trouble protecting Jay Cutler. The loss of Marques Colston is a bit discouraging, but it's still hard to envision Chicago winning this game away from home. The Saints will have had 10 days of rest going into this week, so giving up less than a touchdown to back them in the dome is OK with me.
INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5) over Cleveland
You're telling me you want me to give points on the road with a Browns team that just lost to the Bengals at home? No, thanks. The Colts were in an impossible spot last week in Houston against a team who had given them a run for their money before, even when Peyton Manning was healthy. While this pick isn't exactly an endorsement for the Colts, I'm willing to give Kerry Collins another week to mesh with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, et al, before envisioning Andrew Luck with a horseshoe on his helmet next year. We all know how pitiful the Colts looked last week, but I still don't see why this game isn't a pick-em.
PITTSBURGH (-14) over Seattle
I don't buy the "oh, the Steelers are really mad after the Ravens destroying them last week, blah blah blah" argument because if all a team has to do is get angry to play good football, then why couldn't they have done it against their bitter rivals? What I do buy is this: a West Coast team quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson flying east for a 1:00 game in one of the toughest places to play. Isn't that the ideal formula to bet against? I don't see the Seahawks' defense forcing 7 turnovers out of Pittsburgh the way that Baltimore did. And on the other side of the ball, it's very likely that the Steelers keep the Seahawks under 10 points.
BUFFALO (-3) over Oakland
The Raiders thoroughly outplayed Denver last week but still had to hold on at the end for a 23-20 win, while Buffalo sent Kansas City back to 2009 with a 41-7 shellacking at Arrowhead. Am I drinking the Bills kool-aid? Maybe a little bit, but this game is also an instance of a West Coast team, on a short week, flying east for a 1:00 game (sorry if I harp on this topic too much, but it's tough to deny). Darren McFadden may very well run wild against the Bills defense, but the Raiders' overall lack of discipline may cost them against the Bills sneaky-decent offense, especially as they move further into the post-Nnamdi era. If none of the above happens, then I promise to not even think about taking the Bills for at least a month.
San Diego (+7) over NEW ENGLAND
Lost in the shuffle of Tom Brady throwing for 517 yards against Miami is that the Patriots' defense allowed the Dolphins to move the ball up and down the field most of the night. The Chargers, who only gave up 39 passing yards to Donovan McNabb last week, aren't about to give up another 500 to Brady. The game still figures to be a shootout, but I think the 7 points are more of an overreaction to Week 1 than anything else, even if the Foxborough crowd is nice and "lubed up" at their quarterback's request.
Last Week: 2-2-1