Don’t believe everything you saw in Week 1 NFL

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Only three of the eight NFL teams favored by five points or more covered in Week 1 despite all but one of them managing to win outright with the exception of the disappointing Browns.

Taking points is typically the default in a league where coaches prioritize killing the clock with late leads and every team that’s behind feels it is proficient enough to make a comeback. But there was only one backdoor cover in the group that chalk-eaters can truly feel badly about.

If you were beaten by the Redskins getting into the end zone with six seconds remaining in Philadelphia, you caught the most awful of early gut-punches. The Eagles had battled back from 17-0 down to establish a 12-point lead with a few minutes left only to give up a pair of fourth-down conversions on Washington’s final drive in surrendering the cover.

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Combined with the Jets blowing a 16-0 lead at home to Buffalo, a winning day turned into a losing one around these parts despite the Ravens and Vikings posting blowout wins.

The art of handicapping dictates that we focus on overreactions in order to look for value in underdogs since seven won outright last season. The heaviest favorite has covered in three straight years in Week 2, which is a good sign if you’re convinced the Patriots will take no prisoners as Antonio Brown debuts in Miami.

This six-pack doesn’t include a call on that massive spread but does deal with a few of the more robust numbers, beginning with Thursday’s appetizer between NFC South rivals.

Thursday

Buccaneers at Panthers -6.5: Jameis Winston was terrible in Tampa’s home loss to the 49ers, so Bruce Arians hasn’t been able to play quarterback whisperer overnight. Trusting him on the road in an offense that is likely to be simplified given the short week and Winston’s obvious struggles picking it up isn’t advisable.

The Bucs have lost 14 straight road games that the former No. 1 overall pick has appeared in and he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes in going 0-6 last season. PANTHERS

Sunday

Cardinals at Ravens -13.5: Lamar Jackson dominated Week 1 in a homecoming game against overmatched Miami, teaming with fellow South Florida native Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to hang 59 points on the Dolphins.

He won’t have to deal with suspended star corner Patrick Peterson, so Baltimore is a good bet to extend its winning streak in home openers to four.

Rookie QB Kyler Murray led an impressive fourth-quarter comeback in his debut but will be facing a much better defense while in an NFL road environment for the first time. RAVENS

Cowboys -5 at Redskins: Dak Prescott excelled in new coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense, carving up the Giants with downfield passing that produced a pair of 100-yard receivers and allowed Ezekiel Elliott to thrive as a decoy via play-action, easing him back in.

Washington lost top defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and is still missing the anchor of its offensive line, Trent Williams, who is holding out in a contract dispute. Adrian Peterson will return to the lineup with Derrius Guice out, so the ‘Skins are going to be taking their shot here with a lot of players who would ordinarily be backups.  COWBOYS

Bills -2.5 at Giants: Buffalo looks to become kings of New York by sweeping both MetLife Stadium residents after posting its second-largest comeback win this decade against the Jets.

Eli Manning threw for over 300 yards and Saquon Barkley had a productive game and the Giants were still blown out in Dallas so it’s not entirely surprising to see them in a home underdog role. Considering Bills QB Josh Allen is still a shaky passer and the talent at the skill positions is so young, I see value in taking the points. GIANTS

Chargers -2.5 at Lions: Even without RB Melvin Gordon and safety Derwin James, L.A. handled the Colts in overtime to prevent a Week 1 meltdown and my numbers call for them to be heavier favorite. While that potentially makes this a trap line, Detroit did beat the Patriots and Packers at home in Matt Patricia’s first season and has surrounded Matthew Stafford with enough weapons to be successful.

Still, blowing a substantial lead to the Cardinals and ending up with a tie is only the latest example of inconsistency under Patricia. CHARGERS

Jaguars at Texans -9: Rookie Gardner Minshew looked sharp against the Chiefs after taking over for an injured Nick Foles but now has to deal with a team that will game plan for him and has plenty of his nuances on tape since was out there getting reps for nearly all of the preseason.

Coming off a devastating last-second loss on Monday night, the Texans will be looking to turn the page in this home opener and has plenty to be proud of after coming a 58-yard field goal away knocking off one of the league’s top teams. Look for new tackle Laremy Tunsil to settle in and an offensive line that got Deshaun Watson sacked five times to improve against the Jags. TEXANS

Last week: 2-4

Season: 2-4

 

About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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