Week 2 in the NFL season is never a must-win game. There are 14 games left after this one (15 if Hurricane Irma postponed your opener).
But this sure feels pretty close to a must-win game for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals had every chance to beat the Detroit Lions last week and were incapable of taking advantage. This week the Cardinals go to play an Indianapolis Colts team that looked like it might be the worst team in football while losing 46-9 to the Los Angeles Rams last week.
If Arizona loses, they’ll be 0-2 with a loss to a horrible Colts team, and they’re going to be without superstar running back David Johnson for weeks. If they’re 0-2 after Sunday, it will be a massive hole to dig out of.
“There is definitely such a thing as a must-win in Week 2. This is one of them,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said to Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ website.
The best thing to do heading into Week 2 is to not overreact to Week 1. Weird things happen in Week 1 every year. One game is obviously not enough to draw any conclusions. Yet, a few surprising things we saw in Week 1 will carry over all season. Arizona looked pretty poor, like its issues from last season haven’t been solved. As Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, the Cardinals have the NFL’s oldest roster. Carson Palmer, in particular, didn’t look very good in Week 1. Is this just the beginning of the end for the Cardinals?
I know how bad the Colts looked last week. But the Cardinals looked bad too, and now Johnson is out. They shouldn’t be favored by 8.5 points over anyone on the road, so I’ll reluctantly take the Colts. And if the Cardinals lose straight up, it might get really ugly in Arizona.
Here are the picks against the spread for Week 2, with my picks for the SuperContest as part of Team OddsShark listed first, then the rest of the games using the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em lines:
Steelers (-5.5) over Vikings: The Vikings looked great in Week 1. The Steelers kind of stumbled along a bit in a close win against the Browns. But remember: Don’t overreact to what you saw in Week 1. It’s just one game. That’s a major theme for the picks this week. (The line is -7 on Yahoo’s Pro Football Pick’em.)
Titans (-2.5) over Jaguars: I can’t give up on the Titans yet. Losing to the Raiders is nothing to be ashamed of.
Dolphins (+4) over Chargers: You don’t know how being displaced by Hurricane Irma will affect the Dolphins. It’s possible being displaced to the West Coast all week helps bring them closer though. Either way, this seems like a close game. (The line is +4.5 on Yahoo’s Pro Football Pick’em.)
Broncos (+2.5) over Cowboys: It got lost a bit in the final few minutes with a near collapse that was saved by a great field-goal block, but for three-and-a-half quarters the Broncos looked very good. The offense was sharp and the defense was good as always. They will be tough to beat at home all season. (The line is a pick ’em on Yahoo’s Pro Football Pick’em.)
Falcons (-3) over Packers: We all watched the Falcons take a 31-0 lead on Green Bay in last season’s NFC championship game. Unquestionably the gap isn’t that wide between the teams anymore, especially with the Packers being more healthy this time around, but I still think there is enough of a gap that the Falcons win in their new stadium. (The line is -2.5 on Yahoo’s Pro Football Pick’em.)
And the rest of the picks …
Texans (+6.5) over Bengals (picked Thursday): It’s hard to see how the Bengals fix their offensive issues, which start with a terrible offensive line. And if there’s no major turnaround, you have to assume Marvin Lewis won’t be back in 2018.
Eagles (+4.5) over Chiefs: The Chiefs looked great last week, but the Eagles looked pretty good too. This will be a heck of a game.
Saints (+7) over Patriots: I know, we all expect the Patriots to come back with a vengeance. What if those defensive issues we all saw last week can’t be fixed? It’s not like the Saints have ever been an easy out at home. They’re 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 games as a home underdog, according to OddsShark.
Buccaneers (-7.5) over Bears: The Bucs are well rested, at least. I think their offense makes a nice statement in their season opener.
Bills (+8.5) over Panthers: There’s just enough worry about Cam Newton not looking too sharp last week, after barely playing in the preseason, that the line seems a bit high.
Browns (+9) over Ravens: Baltimore played very well last week, but its offense still looked shaky. It’s a lot of points to lay for a team that won’t score too much.
Raiders (-15) over Jets: I hate taking favorites this large in the NFL, but it’s just as hard to pick the Jets.
Redskins (+2.5) over Rams: In each of Jay Gruden’s four seasons as coach, Washington has looked terrible in the season opener. The last couple years they’ve ended up bouncing back pretty well.
Seahawks (-14) over 49ers: For all the offseason optimism about the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch regime, everyone kind of brushed aside how little talent this roster has. They looked awful last week, just like they did all last season.
Giants (-3.5) over Lions: I know, the Giants looked horrible. To repeat: try to not overreact to Week 1.
Last week: 9-5-1
Season to date: 10-5-1
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