Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 2 NFL picks

Kickoff Weekend always feels a little like stepping blindfolded into a dark room, ready to trip, so I’m OK with 11-5 straight-up out of the gate last week and 8-8 against the betting line. We bull’s-eyed three outright upset picks with wins by Dolphins (“Aawwk!”), Bengals and Panthers. Also had Vikings-with-points and missed two other ATS picks by a single point. Week 2 means a better gauge on every team. Means fewer excuses, too. [Note: Thursday-game pick was Ravens (-21/2) over Steelers, 23-20].

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

11-5

.688

8-8

.500

Season

11-5

.688

8-8

.500

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

DOLPHINS (1-0) at BILLS (1-0)

Line: MIA by 1.

Cote’s pick: MIA 27-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Game is pick-’em, dead even, by some sports books as everybody tries to figure out which of these teams (if either) is most for real coming off uplifting Week 1 results — Buffs winning in Chicago and Dolphs even more impressively rallying to manhandle New England. Bills swept MIA last season but Fins have improved more, and the embarrassment of that 19-0 loss last December will be added fuel here. Key will be Miami’s D vs. the BUF ground game, especially C.J. Spiller, who has 579 scrimmage yards in past four meetings. Linebacker injuries make that tougher. I self-diagnose a possible wee bit of homer in this pick, but still see Dolphins as slightly better all-round. Home opener will find fans extra giddy with the news NHL Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula will buy the Bills and keep them in Buffalo, but the Dolphins will see that those fans leave the stadium less happy than when they arrived. As for the team’s rumored name change to “the Buffalo Pegulas,” it’ll grow on you.

GAME OF THE WEEK

EAGLES (1-0) at COLTS (0-1)

Line: IND by 3.

Cote’s pick: IND 31-27.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Week 2 offers a meager three matchups of 1-0 teams and slim pickins for the GOTW committee. This game isn’t one of them but gets the nod almost by default as Philly’s big offense-at-Andrew Luck portends a Monday-stage shootout. This also is one of eight Week 2 games in which the opponents haven’t met since 2010, adding an element of freshness and unpredictability. Nick Foles was 21-1 on TDs/picks on the road last season, but he’s battling O-line injuries. Like Birds’ overall roster talent a bit more, but give me Luck at home (and luck that I’m right).

UPSET OF THE WEEK

COWBOYS (0-1) at TITANS (1-0)

Line: TEN by 31/2.

Cote’s pick: DAL 28-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

“AAAWWWK!” shouts the Upset Bird, emerging in a cloud of smoke from Jerry Jones’ party bus. “Pass me that Johnnie Walker Blue. Johnnie Waaawwwk!” So the Cowboys lost big last week, and Tony Romo looked bad and now the team owner Jones is being sued by a former exotic dancer. A typical week, in other words, for the defrocked America’s Team. Dallas’ D is a fright, yes, but it says here Romo will put up the points to outscore Tennessee, which isn’t as good as KC made it look. “Cowboys all the way,” concurs a perhaps tipsy U-Bird. “Cowbaaawwwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

RAMS (0-1) at BUCCANEERS (0-1)

Line: TB by 51/2.

Cote’s pick: TB 17-13.

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox.

Our Dog of the Week doesn’t refer to a betting underdog; it’s the worst game of the week. Here’s one only a mother could love. “And even I won’t be watching,” Mom said. St. Lou is still trying to figure out if Shaun Hill is a quarterback as it mourns the injury loss of top pass-rusher Chris Long. Make it a venue pick, although Bucs have no business being favored by this many points over anybody in a game that figures to be so low-scoring they should make it first touchdown wins.

JAGUARS (0-1) at REDSKINS (0-1)

Line: WAS by 6.

Cote’s pick: WAS 23-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Jags receiver Allen Hurns, the ex-Cane, last week became first player ever to catch two TD passes in first quarter of his NFL debut. That’s nice. But this game will turn more on whether Washington lets Robert Griffin III roll out and use his legs. Free RG3! The end of the Unmentionable Nicknames’ nine-game losing streak dating to last year might depend on it. Watch it happen here.

CARDINALS (1-0) at GIANTS (0-1)

Line: ARI by 2.

Cote’s pick: NYG 20-19.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Coach Tom Coughlin called last week a “nightmare performance” for his Giants. It was that for mistake-prone Eli Manning, too. It won’t take much for the booing to start in NYG’s home opener if things go south early. ’Zona is clearly the better squad right now, so this upset call for the beleaguered home ’dogs admittedly is based little on logic and just about all on gut feeling.

PATRIOTS (0-1) at VIKINGS (1-0)

Line: NE by 3.

Cote’s pick: NE 27-23

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Minnesota was very impressive last week, and one can only imagine what Adrian Peterson might do against the Patriots run defense after watching Miami gouge it in Week 1. (Here comes the “but.”) But New England hasn’t started 0-2 since 2001. The Pats, under Tom Brady, are 33-8 following a loss, and that includes 28-13 against the spread. Bounce back is what this team does, and I’ll be surprised if they don’t here in making Bill Belichick the sixth coach to 200 wins.

SAINTS (0-1) at BROWNS (0-1)

Line: NO by 61/2.

Cote’s pick: NO 30-20.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Both teams lost heartbreakers last week, an aberration for N’Awlins but de rigeur for Cleveland. Saints are not a great road team, but it’s hard to think Drew Brees won’t be a touchdown better than an Earthtones offense mediocre to start with and now missing RB Ben Tate and maybe TE Jordan Cameron. Browns haven’t won a home opener since 2004 and won’t start here, despite (I predict) a Johnny Manziel sighting.

FALCONS (1-0) at BENGALS (1-0)

Line: CIN by 5.

Cote’s pick: CIN 27-24.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Here’s our first-runnerup for Game of the Week. Cincy has won nine consecutive regular-season home games dating to last year, and should keep that going against a shaky Atlanta run defense. But the Falcons, after 568 yards of offense last week led by Matt Ryan, should at least be able to keep the score inside a betting number that feels a tad plump.

LIONS (1-0) at PANTHERS (1-0)

Line: CAR by 21/2.

Cote’s pick: CAR 21-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

QB Cam Newton returns from a rib injury for Carolina in its home debut, but the key to an eighth consecutive Cats home win will be on defense. Detroit’s big hope is another fantasy-rattling day by Calvin Johnson. Limit Megatron and the homies roll. Carolina has the defense to limit the Lions in a way the Giants last week simply could not.

SEAHAWKS (1-0) at CHARGERS (0-1)

Line: SEA by 6.

Cote’s pick: SEA 24-20.

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Seattle has won its past five games by a combined 152-65 margin and has had three extra days to prepare for this one after playing last Thursday, while Diego didn’t play until Monday night. ’Hawks also dominated the Chargers this preseason. So why is the Upset Bird high overhead, circling this game the way a vulture does carrion? Not calling it outright, I’m just sayin’.

TEXANS (1-0) at RAIDERS (0-1)

Line: HOU by 3.

Cote’s pick: HOU 21-13.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.

Oakland has lost seven in a row overall and Houston seven in a row on the road. Hey, somebody gotta win! Jadeveon Clowney is out injured, but Texans have plenty of defensive firepower left to rattle rookie QB Derek Carr. On the other side, Arian Foster should have a big game against a bad Oaks run-D. Raiders are 27-52-1 against the spread at home the past 10 seasons.

JETS (1-0) at PACKERS (0-1)

Line: GB by 81/2.

Cote’s pick: GB 37-16.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Four reasons I really like Pack to bounce back: 1. Aaron Rodgers is 28-2 with 112.4 rating in his past 30 home starts. 2. RB Eddie Lacy (concussion) is expected to play. 3. Gee Bees, after playing a week ago Thursday, have had extra time to prepare for their Lambeau debut. And 4. Though Rex Ryan continues among league leaders in bluster, the Jets ain’t Seattle.

CHIEFS (0-1) at BRONCOS (1-0)

Line: DEN by 13.

Cote’s pick: DEN 34-23.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.

No team laid a bigger opening egg than KC last week, partly because Andy Reid forgot Jamaal Charles was the golden goose and got him a mere 11 touches. Now the Chiefs must attempt to get well in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL: In Denver, against Peyton Manning, while missing two defensive starters. I can see a rout, but I’d sooner invoke the division-rivalry rule and see a competitive game.

BEARS (0-1) at 49ERS (1-0)

Line: SF by 7.

Cote’s pick: SF 30-17.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Sunday nighter will be San Fran’s regular-season debut in their new Levi’s Stadium, which, purely to annoy the corporate sponsor, will here bear the Friday Page name, “Dungarees Park.” Can’t imagine the christening not going well, especially with Bears fighting some injuries. New NFL axiom: Team that can’t win home game against Bills sure as heck can’t win on road against Niners.

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