Beautiful Week 2, where we're even more prone to overreaction than in Week 1! Rivers again urges you to keep it safe while we're collecting more data on these teams.
Last week started off great for me, finished pretty poorly in this column. I think I was on the right side with Philadelphia and New England, but a bad field goal decision and some poor defense left us 1-2-1 on the week.
As I told you guys last week, that's why we keep the bets small here, when we're still trying to figure out the lay of the land for the 2014 season.
Pithy introduction out of the way, here's our picks for Week 2. As a reminder, I'll give myself $1,000 in monopoly money to bet with every week. And just like last week, I'll be sitting on $500 of it during the first four weeks because data is still scarce.
San Diego (+3 1/2) over Cincinnati ($200)
The Chargers showed just how dynamic their offense can be when they're put in a situation where Mike McCoy is forced to use it on Sunday. Wideout Stevie Johnson integrated flawlessly with Philip Rivers, and KeFenan Allen looks healthy. San Diego's defense also bracketed Calvin Johnson for the entire game, daring the Lions to have their other receivers win. It was a gamble that paid off.
Cincinnati looked very impressive in their win over the Raiders. But keep in mind that they also saw 31 throws of Matt McGloin in making it happen. We've seen Andy Dalton time and time again vacillate from good to bad. While I don't think we can discount another good Dalton game here, you're getting 3 1/2 points with a better quarterback in a game that the Chargers should at least be able to keep close. I like those NFL odds for Sunday.
Tampa Bay (+10) over New Orleans ($150)
That was an ugly initial showing for the Bucs on Sunday, as they got torched by the Titans. It was also a showing that, we should note, came without star receiver Mike Evans.
My money on this game is a simpler bet: New Orleans does not currently deserve to be 10 point favorites on anybody. The once-proud offense is now spending a lot of snaps juggling non-entities in the passing game like Ben Watson and Brandon Coleman. Marques Colston looks every bit of 32 years old. If this defense hadn't spent the entire second half holding John Brown, things would've gotten ugly against an offense that's really not that explosive.
So while there's not a lot of good to take from Tampa's first week either, this is more a bet on entropy than anything. These both smell like bad teams.
Arizona (-2) over Chicago ($150)
My initial read of this game was that a John Fox defense/run game was going to try to grind out a win over the current NFL master of grinding out wins, Bruce Arians.
But remember that one week is not often a very revealing sample size, and remember that just because the Bears kept it close against the Packers doesn't mean we need to put them right back in the solid-average bucket yet. They were almost universally thought of as the team that would finish last in the NFC North going into the year.
So then I added that perspective and ... it made me feel even better about going with the Cardinals. So I did.
Stake Remaining: $196
Last Week Results: -$304
Cash pooled for later: $500