Underdogs dominated Week 1 in the NFL, which put even more spotlight on the growing sentiment that this season’s poised to be the proverbial Year of the Underdog. Not that I believe in any of that but it does add some fire and enthusiasm to those who do.
Now we move on to Week 2 or as some in the sports like to call it, the “Week-Where-We-Really-See-What-Teams-Are-Really-Made-Of.”
Do we honestly expect to see the Buffalo Bills play as they did last week for the entire season? On the other side, are we expected to just cut our losses with the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and Green Bay Packers just because they all lost in Week 1?
The short answer to both questions is “no”. Many teams who lost in Week 1 will turn things around the same way, as some of the teams who won are likely to fall back down to Earth.
Dramatic line movement in the Meadowlands
The opening line in the Arizona Cardinals—New York Giants game had the G-Men favored by a point against the Cards. Don’t look now but the public has somehow put its collective faith on Carson Palmer’s shoulders. That’s not a position I want to be caught dead in but the overwhelming amount of bets on the Cardinals pushed the line to -2.5 points…the other way. Yep! The Cardinals are favored on the road against the New York Giants. Wow.
I know the G-Men put up a stink bomb against Detroit last week but wow. Does anybody remember New York finishing 7-3 last season after losing their first six games? And Carson Palmer as a road favorite? Many people are playing the In-Carson-We-Trust card right now but I won’t be one of them.
Prediction: Giants 27, Cardinals 20
Can the Saints Bounce Back?
Brian Hoyer is a pretty good quarterback, folks. Sure, he is rattled pretty quickly but if you give him your vote of confidence, he can make a lot of things happen for you. This week, Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns host a steaming New Orleans Saints team that gave away a road win against the Atlanta Falcons. I’m not worried about the Saints offense but I am a little concerned about that defense that gave up 448 yards to Matt Ryan. That wasn’t the 2013 defense that ranked fourth in the league that reminded me of the 2012 defense that was historically bad.
Public sentiment has been on the Saints throughout the week, enough for the original -6 line to jump to -6.5. Those half-points become even trickier when they’re tacked on to a favored road team that just came from an emotionally draining loss.
I still think that Drew Brees can overpower the Browns defense in this one, but I also think the Saints defense will give up a play or two at the end to make the score closer than what the game showed.
Prediction: Saints 31, Browns 27
How about the Packers and the Patriots?
Green Bay’s home contest against the New York Jets opened with the Packers listed as -8 favorites. There hasn’t been a lot of line movement throughout the week, but a handful of bettors are looking at that rely Packers line believing that there’s going to be a some movement leading up to the game. Don’t be surprised if you see the Packers giving double digits to the Jets by the time kick-off starts this Sunday
I’m not as confident about the Patriots, though. The Minnesota Vikings looked really good last week. Matt Cassel looked competent; the defense looked great; and yes, Cordarrelle Patterson is the real deal. The Vikings even won without a typical Adrian Peterson game. I don’t know if that’s going to happen again this week. Yes, I’m calling it, folks. New England goes 0-2 to start the season.
Predictions: Packers 34, Jets 14; Vikings 24, Patriots 21
Fins or Bills?
I picked Miami to win against New England last week so does that make me genius? Not really, because I also had the Saints beating the Falcons. However, I am bullish on the Dolphins, injuries to its defense notwithstanding. I do have some concerns about Buffalo because I think Chicago’s sloppiness on offense lost that game more than the Bills won it. The line hasn’t moved on either side since it opened with the Dolphins at -1 favorites. The public might look at a Bills team that won on the road last week getting a point at home against a division rival and say ‘why not?’
But I’m not sold on Buffalo. I think Miami takes this one running away like Knowshon Moreno.
Prediction: Dolphins 20, Bills 13
Other Games to Look Forward To
Seahawks at Chargers
The Seahawks are unbeatable at home. Last season, they proved that they could be a tough out on the road, too. However, I’m not going to put it past the Chargers to lay the down the same way they did this week against the Arizona Cardinals. I still believe Seattle will win, but this game will be close. Close enough, at least, for a Chargers cover.
Prediction: Seahawks 21, Chargers 17
Steelers at Ravens
If you’re looking at a trend for this rivalry, consider that three points decides almost every game between these two teams. Not one. Not two. Not any other number bigger than three. Three points. That’s why the line opened at -3 on Baltimore and has stayed there since except for some short drops to -2.5. Something tells me that half-point has something to do with the Ray Rice fiasco. I do think the line settles at -3 by kick-off but that’s not going to matter for me because I have Pittsburgh taking this one by, you guessed it, three points.
Prediction: Steelers 17, Ravens 14
Chiefs at Broncos
Remember when Kansas City opened last season 9-0? Seems like a distant memory now. This season, the Chiefs’ defense is already depleted. Even the offense is already having problems of its own. That’s not what you want when you travel to Mile High to face a Denver Broncos team that looked vulnerable in the second half of its game against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Denver’s an overwhelming -13 favorite, which may not be high enough if Kansas City’s defensive starters continue to drop like flies. This has blowout written all over it.
Prediction: Broncos 38, Chiefs 17
YTD Record: 4-4