Week Two of the National Football League is underway and I feel pretty good about my picks this week. Teams that enter 0-1 face critical tests because an 0-2 start almost always means no playoffs in the end. Each of the games I’ve selected features that very possibility.
Pittsburgh (+6) at Cincinnati – This is one of those games where people look at last week and say, “How can’t the Bengals whip a pathetic Steelers team that lost at home to Tennessee?” As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” Both teams enter at 0-1 with Cincy having lost 24-21 at Chicago. Ironically, then whole division enters this week at 0-1 but that will change with game and Cleveland visiting Baltimore today.
Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger is 12-2 at Cincinnati and the team is 11-1 straight up on the road in Cincy over their last 12 visits. The Bengals are 1-10-1 against the spread when playing the Steelers in Paul Brown Stadium in their last 12 meetings there. The Steelers however are banged up with Maurkice Pouncey and Larry Foote out for the season and starting cornerback Cortez Allen out for this game. I think the Bengals will win the game, but take the Steelers with those points.
New Orleans (-3) at Tampa Bay – The Saints enter Tampa as a road favorite after their win over Atlanta and the Bucs stunning defeat to the Jets in New York. The Buccaneers seem to have as many off the field problems as on and that isn’t good with the explosive Saints’ offense coming to town. Tampa Bay is 1-5-1 in their last seven against the spread and is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five home games.
The Saints are 4-2 straight up in their last six visits to Tampa Bay. Both teams have a lot of banged up guys but I don’t think it will matter in the end. Unless the Buccaneers can get their running and passing attack working in unison they don’t have a chance. Take the Saints to cover.
Detroit (-2) at Arizona – The Lions were pretty impressive at home in beating Minnesota while the Cards blew a 4th quarter lead on the road in St. Louis. While both offenses are very explosive, the difference may well be on the defensive side. Detroit will rely on its front four while Arizona hopes its talented secondary will make life miserable for Matthew Stafford.
If you didn’t already know, the Lions have been a traditionally horrible road team. They enter this game in Glendale 0-5 ATS in their five games in the Cards’ home stadium. They are also 2-10-1 in their last 13 road games overall. The Cards are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings with Detroit in Arizona. Reggie Bush is banged up after a huge performance last week but will play but it won’t matter. I love the Cardinals in this one.
Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore – The Ravens have had to stew for almost two weeks after getting blown out by Denver in the season opener. That spells trouble for a Cleveland team that saw QB Brandon Weeden throw three interceptions in a loss to Miami. The Browns are 3-7 ATS in their last ten games at Baltimore and the Ravens are just 2-5 ATS at home against the Browns in their last seven at M&T Bank Stadium.
Both teams have a few injuries to deal with but I think the loss of Jacoby Jones for the Ravens is the most significant. For whatever reason, Cleveland always seems to play the Ravens tough and I think today is no different but I like the Ravens to pull away in the second half so feel good taking the defending champs.