GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 2 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
PATRIOTS (1-0) at DOLPHINS (0-1)
Line: NE by 18 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NE 34-17.
Miami is one of eight home underdogs in Week 2, and oh what a dog! Combo of last week’s humiliating 59-10 opening loss to Baltimore and New England being New England has left Dolphins getting 18 1/2 points. Perspective: That’s biggest NFL spread since 2007, and one of only three times in past 30 years a road team has been favored by this much. Interesting subplots: Brian Flores coaching against his former team, and Antonio Brown’s debut (maybe) for Pats. Would it shock for Fins to lose by 30-plus? Nope. But Miami is on a 5-1 run at home vs. Tom Brady, and I’m hunching that whatever pride wasn’t beaten out of the Dolphins last week will be marshaled for a credible performance that beats not the Patriots, but at least the point spread.
GAME OF THE WEEK
SAINTS (1-0) at RAMS (1-0)
Line: LAR by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: LAR 34-30.
Saints beat Rams in regular season last year 45-35, then L.A. beat N’Awlins 26-23 in OT in an NFC title game decided by controversial officiating. So, yeah, we sort of like this as our GOTW. Drew Brees’ Saints would have edge if you believe in revenge-type stuff. Me? I believe Jared Goff and his Rams the Rams are a slightly better team, and also one that has won eight of its past nine home games.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
CHARGERS (1-0) at LIONS (0-0-1)
Line: LAC by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: DET 30-27.
“AAAWWWK!” croons the Upset Bird. “The good news? This cannot possibly be a worse pick than last week when I picked Miaaaawwwk!” The Bolts and their shoddy run defense were not that impressive in needing OT to survive Indy last week, while Motown let a win fritter away late to settle for a tie. So we’re rolling with home-dogs Lions in venue pick. “Don’t let me down, Matt Stafford,” notes U-Bird. “Detraaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 2:
@Ravens (1-0, -13) over Cardinals (0-0-1), 31-13: Cards’ Terrell Suggs faces his longtime former team. Homecoming won’t be pretty. Nothing will ever be as easy for Baltimore as last week’s walkover in Miami, but this comes close. Who drew up Ravens’ schedule? John Harbaugh?
Cowboys (1-0, -5 1/2) over @Redskins (0-1), 27-16: Boys have won five of past six over Skins and disparity now is greater than usual. Dak Prescott, trying to earn new contract, looked fabulous last week and now faces pass D that Carson Wentz just torched.
@Titans (1-0, -3) over Colts (0-1), 19-17: Titans crushed Browns last week but won’t get same help (18 Cleveland penalties) this time. Indy has won 13 of past 15 in series and Jacoby Brissett looked great last week, so I’ll hedge and take ‘dog Nags with points.
@Steelers (0-1, -4) over Seahawks (1-0), 23-20: Big Ben got hammered 33-3 by Pats last week. Good teams bounce back. So now let’s see if Pittsburgh is a good team. Pitt is on 13-3 home run vs. West Coast teams, but Russell Wilson has two-plus TD passes in 12 of past 13 roadies. Hunch this closer than the line.
@Giants (0-1, +1 1/2) over Bills (1-0), 27-24: Upset! Biggies have won only four of past 16 at home, but Eli Manning (who keeps fending off the gravediggers) and beast Saquon Barkley should be enough to outscore a tepid Buffs offense.
@Bengals (0-1, -2) over 49ers (1-0), 24-17: Franchises met in Super Bowls XVI and XXIII; now both are trying to get back to decent. Cincy and Andy Dalton may have been the most impressive of Week 1 losers, so let’s ride ‘em at home.
@Packers (1-0, -3) over Vikings (1-0), 20-17: Rarely change my mind on picks or admit when I do. Superstition. But I went from an upset by Vikes here to trusting Aaron Rodgers at home, with extra rest/prep after playing last Thursday. Rodgers has 110 rating and 41 TDs vs. six picks in 21 starts vs. Minny.
@Texans (0-1, -9 1/2) over Jaguars (0-1), 24-13: Hands, please: Who had heard of Gardner Minshew before last week? He’s Jags QB with Nick Foles out. Rookie looked fine last week. Won’t Sunday vs. Houston pass rush. Jax D could be rough on Deshaun Watson, too (step up, Laremy Tunsil), but like Watson handling it better than Minshew.
Chiefs (1-0, -7 1/2) over @Raiders (1-0), 31-24: Patrick Mahomes’ KC machine has scored 25-plus points in 22 straight games, longest such streak in NFL history, so this is a whole ‘nuther test for Jon Gruden’s D than what he faced vs. Denver last week. Still fancy Oaks with points.
Bears (0-1, -2 1/2) over @Broncos (0-1), 17-13: Chicago played last Thursday. Denver played the late Monday game. Three days of extra rest and prep time is a lot. Especially when the best thing on either team in this matchup is Bears defense — the makeup that hides Mitch Trubisky’s blemishes.
@Falcons (0-1, +2) over Eagles (1-0), 34-31: Upset! Sunday night gets a good one in what should be high-scoring Bird Bowl. Phils needed rally to survive lowly Redskins last week. ATL was worse but should rebound in home opener behind Matt Ryan. Falcs on 8-3 run in prime time.
Browns (0-1,-6) over @Jets (0-1), 23-20: Adam Gase thought he had seen everything in firing a Dolphins O-line coach for snorting white powder from an office desk. Then Thursday he announced QB Sam Darnold is sidelined indefinitely with mononucleosis. Betting line favoring Cleveland quickly shot from 2 1/2 points to 6 as Trevor Siemian takes over. Still like Gase’s forlorn Planes getting this many points.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
After a record-setting season for our picks last year, we might have seen this coming. A humbling opening week. I should have sensed something was amiss when I missed my Upset of the Week pick by 50 points. (Thanks for the no-show, Dolphins). We failed to rally from there, alas. We did nail the road-underdog Bills and Colts with the points, but thus ends our Week 1 highlight reel. No worries. Stumble out the blocks in a sprint, you’re done. Do it in a marathon, you rise and chug on. [Note: Thursday night pick was @Panthers (-7) over Buccaneers, 23-17. Find the full pick capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 1 — 8-7-1, .533; 6-10, .375
Final 2018 — 179-75-2, .705; 145-104-7, .582