Welcome back to another NFL season! Due to a few technical difficulties, you didn't see my column for week one of the new season, but the good news is a couple of my best bets did come through, the bad news is week two looks no easier to pick than week one, and that my friends is the story of the NFL. Call it This Side Of Parity. But I've been scanning the lines for something that might help ease the shock of week one, when I was less accurate than Josh McCown.
SURE THING: NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) at Cleveland. Odds: 1.94
The Saints ought to be a touchdown better than the Browns, even on the road. They put up 34 on the Falcons, though Atlanta's D is nowhere near as good as Cleveland's, and the BubbaDome is friendlier to the Saints' offense than outdoors off Lake Erie will be. But they lost the game because their D couldn't stop Atlanta, and they ought to be able to stop the Browns enough to get extra shots at scoring themselves. As a fallback, I'm thinking Seattle is a TD better than San Diego, even on the road, and the Chargers are getting 5.5.
OUTSIDE BET: JACKSONVILLE (+5.5) at Washington. Odds: 1.94
I'd like this one better if you were getting a TD, but the Jags showed some good things in the first half against the Eagles (though it should be said Philly missed a couple of easy opportunities) and the Skins are not the offense the Eagles are. I will be curious to see if new Washington coach Jay Gruden keeps his quarterback, Robert Griffin, trapped in the pocket: in the past moving him laterally helped open up running lanes for Alfred Morris too. I'll also be curious to see if Chad Henne can throw downfield against what is still a good Skins' defense. The Jags are 3.20 straight up, which might qualify as a bit of a value bet too.
VALUE BET: TENNESSEE (-3.5 AT 2.02) vs Dallas
I'm not convinced by the extra points, but the Cowboys didn't look like they could stop another team's offense, and with new coach Ken Whisenhunt, Titans' QB Jake Locker appears to be more comfortable with his offense this year, which wouldn't be hard as he's never looked very comfortable before in his career. In fact, last week Tony Romo, the Dallas QB looked more like vintage Locker, ie, Hurt Locker, than the Romo of old, and if you've followed the Cowboys you'll know that the Romo of old has his slack cut very thinly indeed. Detroit getting 2.5 points at 2.02 might be another value, and though there isn't much movement in the over/unders, under 46 on Green Bay vs New York Jets at 1.94 is an outside value bet. And normally I always seem to be avoiding against taking the Broncos at home giving big points; they're offering 13 to the Chiefs but Kansas City is reeling, the Broncos keep scoring in the second half when other teams are gasping for oxygen at Denver's altitude, and 13 isn't two touchdowns. At 1.94, that's a pretty good value.
ONE TO AVOID: Philadelphia (+3) at Indianapolis at 2.00
This could go any way, and the Colts showed their resiliency last week in Denver. The Eagles need to take the openings they're given, which Nick Foles wasn't able to do last week. They still are a formidable offensive challenge for any team, and the over of 54 could be challenged here. But if it is, the three points looks too tight to risk.
Bet on this weekend's NFL action.