2016 Week 2 NFL ATS Picks
Week 1 Results
Week 0-4-1, Season 0-4-1, All Time 193-166-4
Week 1 was not a great week for my picks, as I went 0-4-1 overall. Of course, not all winless weeks are equal.
Chicago led for 40 minutes as 6 point underdogs, and covered until the final 6 minutes. Green Bay covered until a FG in the final 5 minutes. Dallas had a fourth quarter lead and covered until the final 6 minutes. New Orleans had a 13 point fourth quarter lead and covered until the final 47 seconds.
Should all these games have turned out differently? Definitely, not. The NFL is a competitive league and Week 1 of 2016 was the closest ever. We should expect many games in the NFL to be decided in the final quarter. That said, we should also expect those games to break in your favor half of the time--not none of the time as they did for my Week 1 picks.
Nothing about the approach will change, but there are some early season take always worth noting. Dallas' defense is worse than expected. Eli Manning had a very inaccurate day throwing the ball, and this score could have been much worse. The Giants will be able to move the ball so long as Eli can be accurate, which is why we are staying away from picking against New York this week. By contrast, Jacksonville's defense is better than expected. Aaron Rodgers made two throws for TDs in Week 1 that only he can make. Sub Rodgers for even another elite QB like Brady or Brees, and Jacksonville might win by over a score. Finally, New Orleans' offense is back! Brees is looking sharp, and has plenty of weapons work with. As bad as the defense is, this team will win more often than we collectively thought heading in to the season.
Of course, these views are based on performances from Week 1, which often misrepresent a teams actual ability. Over the next few weeks, I will try to pick against these misconceptions until actual team identities solidify.
Week 2 Picks
Miami +6 @ New England
When Brady's suspension was made final, every New England fan began thinking about what record they would be happy with when Brady returned in Week 5. 2-2? Maybe 1-3? I don't think anyone hoped for more than .500 with Jimmy Garoppolo. It's difficult to image that this mentality didn't also seep into the Patriots locker room. The Patriots won a game they probably expected to lose (just look at their celebration), which makes this game against the Miami much less important than it was just seven days ago. On top of this, the Patriots are somehow already diminished by cluster injuries at offensive line and cornerback. On top of all this, faith in Belichick and the Garoppolo are at peak levels. The Patriots are ripe for a let down and given the dialed back temp they plan to play until Brady gets back, six points seems like an awful lot to concede to a live dog.
Tennessee +6 @ Detroit
Tennessee had, by far, the ‘unluckiest’ Week 1. Not only did the Tennessee throw a pick six while on the boundary of Minnesota’s red-zone, they also lost two fumbles (largely a random event) and gave up a 61 yard kickoff return. Most of Minnesota’s points were generated off of these plays, making the final score not a good representation of how good (or bad) either team actually is. Of course, few people see it that way. This week's game is viewed as another toothless Tennessee team against a ‘great’ QB, Matthew Stafford. Neither Tennessee’s misfortunes nor Detroit’s easy schedule are really being represented here, which makes the points quite attractive.
Baltimore -6 (105) @ Cleveland
A line move up to -6 following a week one blowout loss is generally considered an overreaction, but here, it is likely not enough. Cleveland is hitting the reset button in a way never seen before in the NFL. They gutted their entire roster and are devoid of talent at every position. The talent mismatch between these two teams will be wildly apparent on Sunday, and I think this line will seem painfully low when looked back on four weeks from now.
Green Bay -2.5 @ Minnesota
In Week 1, Minnesota was two defensive touchdowns from being in a dogfight against a mediocre Titans team. While Green Bay wasn’t dominant against Jacksonville, their defense was surprisingly good at times. I have a hard time seeing Green Bay score fewer than 20 points, and an even harder time seeing Minnesota get over 13.
Jacksonville +3 (100) @ San Diego
San Diego exceeded expectations in Week 1, but not as much as Jacksonville did. Though Jacksonville lost, they answered a lot of questions about what kind of team they will be this season. The offense was always going to be explosive, but now the defense is looking surprisingly good. It's hard to believe that Aaron Rodgers threw for less than 199 yards in such close game, but he did as a result of Jacksonville's defensive pressure. I like the Jags as a live underdog.