Fat Chance: Week 2 NFL Picks

I went 8-8 picking games last week, which I don’t feel too bad about for the first week, when it’s difficult to predict how teams have changed in the off-season. If I give myself a bonus point for picking the Bengals game correctly (against the spread; I did wrongly prognosticate that they would lose), then it was a winning week. By the end of the year, I’d like to have picked about 60 percent of the games correctly. There is probably zero chance of that happening.

It’s always fascinating when the odds makers set a line perfectly (meaning the result is within .5 of the spread). There were two such cases in Week 1, and I split them. I picked the Titans at +2.5 and they lost by 2, but I had the Cardinals at -7.5 and they won by 7.

This week, the challenge is to sort out which results from Week 1 will carry over for the rest of the season and which were simply flukes. My guess is that Houston is the real deal, but Buffalo might not be. I think the Steelers will recover from their embarrassing opener, but the Colts might be in deeper trouble.

As before, leave your picks in the comments, and you might win something awesome.

Jaguars (+9.5) over Jets — The Jets strike me as the sort of team that could go like 12-4 in real life without covering the spread particularly often. I don’t think the Fighting McCowns will win, just stick around.

Saints (-6.5) over Bears — Drew Brees isn’t going to want any part of starting 0-2. Look for New Orleans to send a message.

Raiders (+3.5) over Bills — I’m going to let Buffalo embarrass me at least once more before I buy in. However, I do think Ryan Fitzpatrick could be a sneaky good quarterback for your fantasy team.

Redskins (-4.5) over Cardinals — Last week Rex Grossman looked like vintage Brett Favre. There’s no way sexy Rexy is going to keep that up all year, but Tim Hightower looks like an upgrade over Clinton Portis in Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme, and the Redskins defense is better than advertised.

Ravens (-5.5) over Titans — Did the odds makers see what Baltimore did to Pittsburgh last week? This feels like the easiest line on the board. Therefore, I surely picked it wrong.

Steelers (-14.5) over Seahawks — If Seattle can’t stay within 15 of the 49ers, I doubt they can play with the Steelers. From what I’ve heard, Pete Carroll has a long leash with the Seahawks. Before the season is through, he’s going to need every inch of it.

Packers (-9.5) over Panthers — Take what I wrote about the Bills, replace Buffalo with Carolina and Ryan Fitzpatrick with Cam Newton.

Buccaneers (+3.5) over Vikings — After such a disappointing 2010 and with the steady decline of Donovan McNabb, I just don’t trust the Vikings. Plus, Josh Freeman is my fantasy quarterback, and I’d really like him to take the next step, starting this week.

Colts (+2.5) over Browns — I don’t like either of these teams. It could be a long, long year for the Colts, and the effort we saw from the Browns last Sunday was laughable. I’ll take the points and be sure to watch something else.

Chiefs (+8.5) over Lions — One game and Detroit is already more than a touchdown favorite? With star safety Eric Berry out for the season, the Chiefs are in trouble, but I’m hoping they can stay close early in this one to control the clock (and therefore the score) with their running attack.

Cowboys (-2.5) over 49ers — Tony Romo is not exactly captain clutch, so hopefully Dallas won’t need any final-minute heroics to cover.

Texans (-2.5) over Dolphins — I know home field advantage is a big deal in the NFL, but Houston looked a whole lot better than Miami in Week 1. Then again, Houston didn’t have to play against Tom Brady.

Patriots (-7.5) over Chargers — With Bill Belichick’s love of running up the score, it’s going to take a wide line to scare me off the Patriots no matter who they’re playing.

Eagles (+2.5) over Falcons — I’ll keep this one simple. The Eagles are awfully good.

Giants (-4.5) over Rams — Both of these teams are dealing with a whole list of injuries. Will the Giants second-string defense be able to stop the Rams second-string offense? I’ll say yes.

Bengals (+4.5) over Broncos — Picking the Bengals worked for me last week, so I’ll keep the positive vibes flowing. This feels sort of wrong—I think Ben might be clouding my judgment. Anyway, I’ll pick Cincinnati to win for real, too, 24-17.

Overall record: 8-8
Record picking the Bengals against the spread: 1-0
Record picking the Bengals straight up: 0-1

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