Column: Aiming to stay green after hot start

Sep. 16—Week 1 came and left me with a 4-1 NFL betting record. I was three points from a perfect record to open the season, but I am more than O.K. with my start.

To summarize, the 49ers (-2.5) smacked the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-7 in what was my easiest winning bet from Week 1. Also in the AFC North, the Browns (+2) continued to be the bane of Joe Burrow's existence in a 24-3 shellacking. Sticking with the division, Baltimore (-9.5) overcame a shaky start to trounce Houston 25-9. In the AFC South the Jaguars (-4.5) beat the Colts 31-21.

My only loss was the Washington Commanders (-6) in a 20-16 win against the Cardinals. The Commanders overcame a 13-10 deficit with 10 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to cover.

Here is Week 2, highlighted with a Monday Night Football matchup between Cleveland and Pittsburgh:

Cleveland Browns -2: Cleveland impressed in its opening win while Pittsburgh looked distraught in its opening loss. The Steelers went against an elite defense, but the Browns defense looks to also be elite after shutting down Burrow.

I think Kenny Pickett will struggle against Myles Garrett and the aggressive Browns defense. Pittsburgh's defense should have a better showing this week, but I think Nick Chubb will power the Browns to Cleveland's first 2-0 start since 1993.

Los Angeles Chargers -3: Los Angeles is a road favorite this week in Tennessee in a pairing of winless teams. I think the Chargers come out on top because they're simply too talented to start 0-2.

The Titans managed 15 points in their road loss to New Orleans last week and the team's reliance on running back Derrick Henry may run into a roadblock this week. LA allowed 70 rushing yards vs. the Dolphins.

Kansas City Chiefs -3.5: This is another pick because the Chiefs are too good to be winless. Also because Kansas City hasn't lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2009.

Add the fact that star tight end Travis Kelce is expected back and all-pro defensive tackle Chris Jones added incentives to his contract after missing Week 1 due to a holdout. I think the combination of a dud in the opener and two of the best players at their position returning to the lineup spells bad news for the Jags.

New York Giants -4: The Giants were manhandled 40-0 in their opener against Dallas, but they will benefit from playing the Cardinals this week. My strategy to bet against Arizona did not pay off last week, by three points, but I am leaning into it again.

New York will be fired up after its embarrassment on Sunday Night Football and ready to make a statement at Arizona. It may be worth it to sprinkle a side bet on Saquon Barkley as an anytime touchdown scorer as well.

Miami Dolphins -3: The Dolphins racked up 536 total yards in last week's win against the Chargers. The 'Phins looked nearly unstoppable, but I expect New England to slow them down a bit. The Pats lost to Philadelphia 25-20 last week and I think this battle between two AFC East teams to be a battle, but one Miami takes by about a touchdown.

No one on New England's defense can match Tyreek Hill's speed on the outside and as long as Tua Tagovailoa stays upright and healthy, the Dolphins should open the season 2-0.

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at