NFL WEEK 2
GREG COTE’S NFL PICKS OF THE WEEK
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
DOLPHINS (1-0) at JETS (1-0)
Line: NYJ by 3
Cote’s pick: MIA, 31-27
TV: 1 p.m., CBS
Can I get an “Aaawwwk!”? This isn’t our Upset of the Week of record, but the Upset Bird nevertheless will be circling the Meadowlands vulture-like on Sunday, eyeing the Jets as carrion splayed roadside. I know NYJ rang up the Lions 48-17 last week and that Sam Darnold evidently is the greatest thing since whatever is greater than sliced bread. (Knowing all of Detroit’s offensive plays, supposedly, had to have helped). But I thought Miami’s win over Tennessee was just as impressive, for the panache to overcome two long lightning delays and also for the unexpected big-play strikes. Ryan Tannehill has struggled vs. the Planes — 4-5 record, 10-9 on TDs/picks, 72.0 rating — but he’s better than he has been and has superior offensive weapons to those of Darnold, especially if DeVante Parker plays as it seems he might. Miami also presents to the rookie QB a defense much better than Detroit’s. The result? Upset! Will you join me Fireman Ed? On my count: “A-A-W-K — “Aawk!”
GAME OF THE WEEK
PATRIOTS (1-0) at JAGUARS (1-0)
Line: NE by 1
Cote’s pick: NE, 23-20
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS
Tom Brady vs. Jalen Ramsey edges Vikes-Pack for the coveted GOTW title. Brady’s veteran wile versus one of the NFL’s elite defenses should have a playoff feel to it. In fact Jacksonville led into the fourth quarter of last season’s AFC Championship Game before Brady prevailed, 24-20. So you know Jags fans will be howling for payback. Result could swing on availability of top running backs Leonard Fournette (hamstring) of Jags and Rex Burkhead (concussion) of Pats, but the home team would miss Fournette more. This one is as close to a tossup game as any Week 2 offering, but trusting Brady is seldom a reach.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
SEAHAWKS (0-1) at BEARS (0-1)
Line: CHI by 3 1/2
Cote’s pick: SEA, 22-19
TV: 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
“AAAWWWK!” huffs the Upset Bird, winded by the long flight west from the Meadowlands to The Soldier. “Seahaaawwwks!” This matchup might struggle to deliver a great game to the Monday stage. Seattle isn’t what it once was, especially on defense. Chitown, even with last week’s heartbreak loss, should be better than last year’s 5-11, yet isn’t anything special. For now, I’m still not sold on Mitch Trubisky, and I’m gut-hunching that Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson find a way to dodge an 0-2 start. “Dodgeball!” notes U-Bird. “Seahaawwk! Dodgebaaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 2
@Falcons (0-1, -6) over Panthers (1-0), 34-20: I’m concerned for Atlanta that RB Devonta Freeman (knee) is iffy. But am more concerned that Carolina’s slew of injuries will make protecting Cam Newton very difficult.
Chargers (0-1, -7 1/2) over @Bills (0-1), 27-13: Rookie Josh Allen gets the start at QB for Buffs, not because he’s ready, but because of Nathan Peterman’s epic badness in opener. No way Allen outscores a potent Bolts offense..
Vikings (1-0, +1 1/2) over @Packers (1-0), 28-21: An upset here, if you insist. I pick against the Gee Bees at Lambeau with great pause, but I just can’t rely on Aaron Rodgers (sprained knee) starting or playing well if he does against a really good Vikes D. And the drop from Rodgers to DeShone Kizer is a terrifying bungee jump.
@Titans (0-1, +2) over Texans (0-1), 24-20: Upset! Houston is a trendy Week 2 pick here, but give me the Tenners at home. Marcus Mariota was knocked from game by Dolphins last week but has practiced and is good to go.
@Saints (0-1, -10) over Browns (0-0-1), 41-16: Drew Brees said he thinks Baker Mayfield “can be better than me.” But he ain’t yet. And neither is Tyrod Taylor. Tap brakes, please, on Cleveland’s meteoric metamorphosis.
@Steelers (0-0-1, -4) over Chiefs (1-0), 34-31: A delicious matchup, one I’d watch, between two AFC powers. Ben Roethlisberger (right elbow) expects to play, and this pick is counting on that. KC is really good, but make it a venue call.
Eagles (1-0, -3) over @Buccaneers (1-0), 24-20: Nick Foles pilots Philly again. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson is iffy to face his ex-team, which would be big blow to Tampa. Eagles D will be a lot tougher for Ryan Fitzpatrick than Saints were last week.
@Redskins (1-0, -5 1/2) over Colts (0-1), 30-20: Can Adrian Peterson keep doing what we saw last week? Either way, Washington getting Alex Smith by trade trumps Indy getting Andrew Luck back healthy.
@Rams (1-0, -13 1/2) over Cardinals (0-1), 45-13: The Rams being one of the NFL’s most sound, complete teams plus Sam Bradford not being very good equals the most gaping point spread of the young season.
@49ers (0-1, -6) over Lions (0-1), 34-31: Detroit is coming off a short week after embarrassing itself Monday night. Still, I see a bounceback game by Matthew Stafford keeping this one inside the betting number in a shootout.
@Broncos (1-0, -6) over Raiders (0-1), 27-20: Not quite sold yet on Denver until Case Keenum starts taking care of the ball, but I trust Derek Carr even less at the moment, and Stallions are healthy and home. Means Jon Gruden’s woes continue. #MissYouTVBooth
@Cowboys (0-1, -3) over Giants (0-1), 27-23: NYG trends as a popular upset pick heading into this Sunday nighter. And I get that; Saquon Barkley and the return of Odell Beckham make folks swoon. But look for Dallas offense to get untracked. Also see this as a strong venue call. ‘Boys have beaten Giants four of past five in Big D.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Strong start last week to our 28th season of NFL picks in the Herald, going 10-5-1 straight-up (Steelers-Browns tied) and also 10-5-1 against the spread (Seahawks-Broncos pushed at 3). Nailed our Upset of the Week with Bengals winning at Indy (“Aaawwwk!”), called Dolphins’ mini-upset of Tennessee, had ‘dogs Bears and Jets with the points, and bagged a rare perfect-score Exacto with Patriots’ 27-20 win. Let’s keep it rolling! [Note: Thursday night’s pick was Bengals (-1) over Ravens, 27-23. Find the full predix capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 1 10-5-1 .667; 10-5-1 .667
Season 10-5-1 .667; 10-5-1 .667