Last week was a nightmare. Only six favourites won, I registered my first losing week straight up since 2013, and my 7-9 mark was the best among the 'experts' I pick against at nfluk. I should have had a little more faith in Green Bay, finally backing off a play, but otherwise if you took my more cautious picks of the Vikes and Jets last week, hopefully you made up for the Titans, Saints, and Rams.
We ought to learn about small sample size when we take games, and I've thus far this season ignored the over/under, but that may well come into play last week. I wish there were a line for coach most likely to get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (Rex Ryan, odds-on favourite, did that last week) or for a team to get a taunting penalty when the opposition scores to take the lead (Ryan's Bills did that against the Pats), but sadly I think Rex may have taken those categories off even my dream board.
This week has a few more posers, and as ever quarterbacks make decisions difficult: Brandon Weeden starts at QB for the Cowboys; Jimmy Clausen for the Bears; Josh Mc Cown for the Browns after that big win with Johnny Manziel at QB last week; and despite Sean Payton's protestations don't be surprised to see Luke McCown replacing Drew Brees and his rotator cuff troubles. The huge odds for the over/under on the universe ending if both McCowns throw TD passes at the same time is tempting, but if the universe ends, who's going to pay you?
BEST BET: Houston (-6.5 at 1.97) vs Tampa Bay. OK, I know the Bucs messed me up by winning in New Orleans last week, but a second week on the road is always a hurdle, and the Texans' D will pose a tougher problem for rookie QB Jameis Winston to solve. The Texans suffer without Arian Foster at running back, and Alfred Blue may be out as well, but Ryan 'the Hammer' Mallett shows signs of settling in as a starter; he has the arm to test the Bucs' deep.
VALUE BET: Green Bay (-7 at 2.05) vs Kansas City (Monday night): I've picked the Pack straight up, and the Chiefs are a team that could cause them problems, especially with tackle Bryan Bulaga out and KC featuring some talented pass rushers to torment Don Barclay. But this is prime time, and Aaron Rodgers has looked sharp so far this season, while Alex Smith still hasn't completed a TD pass to a wide receiver in over a season. I like the Pack at home but more than a TD. If you don't like that how about the OVER (44.5 at 1.92) for Denver at Detroit? Peyton and Stafford?
OUTSIDE BET: Buffalo (+2.5 at 2.07) at Miami: I like the Dolphins straight up, thinking they may get some rush and turn the tables on the Bills, but I expect it to be close, with the Dolphins coming on strong at the end to nip it. The two-point conversion has changed things slightly, and I'd like this better at 3.5, but as an outside bet it seems worthwhile. The Bears to cover (-14.5 at 1.87) might be worth a flutter; I like the spread better than the odds.