The version you see of an NFL team during the first week—or first month, really—isn’t the finished product. Remember when the Rams started 3-1 last season and Jeff Fisher earned an extension? Well, then they proceeded to lose four straight, and Fisher was fired in December.
Some teams that look great in September will fizzle out and regress by November or December. And some teams will fix glaring weaknesses and gradually improve throughout the year. New England’s defense was carved up by Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs in a 42-27 loss in the opener, but given Bill Belichick’s track record, it’s not time to panic yet in New England.
Just as most NFL teams aren’t a finished product, neither are handicappers. We aren’t making excuses for last week’s 1-4 start to the season, but we started slow last year and still finished the year over 60 percent. Our losses last week weren’t close. Houston, Washington, Tennessee and Cincinnati all lost by double digits. San Diego was our lone winner, and they had to storm back for the cover.
Pick City looks to get back on track this Sunday, and we have seven plays this week.
3* Rams -2.5
Speaking of the Rams and hot starts, the Sean McVay era began with a dominating 46-9 win for Los Angeles over the hapless Indianapolis Colts. The Rams aren’t nearly as good as they looked on Sunday, but second-year quarterback Jared Goff showed some promising signs and there’s at least some reason for optimism in LA. The Rams welcome in the Washington Redskins this week, and McVay is very familiar with the Redskins. He was the offensive coordinator for Washington from 2014-2016, and he helped Kirk Cousins thrive. The Redskins had trouble protecting Cousins in their loss to the Eagles last week, and this week they’ll face Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald, though Donald will likely play limited snaps. The Rams aren’t a playoff team, but they should be able to dominate this game up front to start 2-0. The Pick City Pick: Rams 26, Redskins 16.
3* Titans -1.5
Pick City played the Titans last week, and they didn’t look particularly sharp in the loss against the Raiders. This is a team I wasn’t very high on entering the year, but I still believe they’re good enough to win 8-9 games. Jacksonville dominated Houston and looked great on defense, and Blake Bortles wasn’t forced to do much on offense. I’m not expecting this to be a pretty win for Tennessee, but I like them to go on the road and pick up a much-needed division victory. The Pick City Pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 15.
3* Patriots/Saints over 55.5
Alex Smith and Sam Bradford had two of the best games of their respective careers in Week 1 against the two defenses in this matchup. The Patriots looked lost on defense when Dont’a Hightower went out with an injury, and he hasn’t practiced this week. Whether he plays or not, he won’t be 100 percent, and he is the heart and soul of that defense. New Orleans has been terrible defensively for several years, and they didn’t look improved against the Vikings. I believe both offenses will light up the scoreboard on Sunday, and this feels like one of those games between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks that comes down to the last possession. The Pick City Pick: Patriots 38, Saints 34.
2* Chargers -4
After trailing the Broncos 24-7 on the road in the second half, the Chargers stormed back to get within a field goal before eventually losing 24-21. The loss was still good enough for the cover, and I liked what I saw in the the fourth quarter from Phil Rivers and Co. The Dolphins’ first game of the year was rescheduled, so they are at a disadvantage considering every other team has had live game reps. If the Chargers are going to take that next step and contend for a playoff berth, they can’t afford to slip to 0-2. The Pick City Pick: Chargers 27, Dolphins 20.
2* Cowboys -2
The Cowboys dominated the Giants 19-3 in the opener, though the offense struggled to score in the red zone at times. Dallas will have Ezekiel Elliott again this week, and the offense will need to be sharper against a strong Denver defense. The Broncos are a bit limited offensively with Trevor Siemian, and this will likely be another ugly, low-scoring game the Cowboys find a way to win in the fourth quarter. The Pick City Pick: Cowboys 20, Broncos 16.
2* Ravens -8
Baltimore’s defense looked as good as advertised in the Ravens’ 20-0 win over Cincinnati last Sunday. Joe Flacco wasn’t asked to do much offensively since the defense was so stout, and this week’s game against the Browns will likely look similar. Baltimore has one of the best home field advantages in the NFL, and Browns rookie DeShone Kizer will be making his first road start. It’s hard to imagine him going into Baltimore against perhaps the best defense in the league and scoring very much. The Pick City Pick: Ravens 23, Browns 6.
2* Eagles +6
The Chiefs were incredibly impressive in their opening win at New England, and Andy Reid has 10 days to prepare for his old team. Eagles coach Doug Pederson was an assistant under Reid from 2009-2015, so the two coaches are certainly familiar with each other. Philadelphia looked good against Washington in Week 1, and QB Carson Wentz looks ready to make the leap as a second-year starter. The Chiefs lost their best player, Eric Berry, for the season with an Achilles injury, and his presence on defense will be nearly impossible to replace—especially on short notice. The Pick City Pick: Chiefs 24, Eagles 23.
We aren’t putting plays on these games, but here’s who we would take if we had to pick a side.
NFL Teaser of the Week
A three-team, 10-point teaser pays out -110. So, you’d risk $110 to win $100, and you have to win all three games to win. Pick City is 0-1 on the year on the three-team teasers.
Raiders -4 (from -14 vs. Jets)
Seahawks -4 (from -14 vs. 49ers)
Ravens +2 (from -8 vs. Browns)
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