Before we get to the picks this week, I'd like to start things off here by wishing a happy 100th birthday to the NFL!
I know what you're thinking and yes, the NFL did do its best to confuse us last season with all that "100th anniversary" mumbo jumbo. Although last year was the NFL's 100th season, the league's actual 100th birthday is on Sept. 17, and I only know that because the NFL is going to be throwing itself a party.
The NFL's definition of party is clearly different than everyone else's, because they've decided to have the party at Thursday's Bengals-Browns game.
I'm not sure what the real life equivalent of this would be, but throwing your kid a birthday party inside of a condemned Chuck E. Cheese would probably come close. The NFL is celebrating its 100th birthday at a game that features two teams that have never won a Super Bowl. That'd be like celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary with two girls you dated but never married. In related news, I will not be letting the NFL plan any future birthdays for my kids or my next wedding anniversary.
Speaking of birthdays, Patrick Mahomes also has a birthday on Sept. 17, and I think we can all agree that it's probably not a coincidence that the NFL and Mahomes were born on the same day. The Chiefs quarterback isn't turning 100, but he is turning 25, which means I should probably pick his team to win by 25 points this week. To find out if I'm actually going to follow through on that, let's get to the picks.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. The reason you should click over and check out the other experts this week is because our resident fantasy gurus, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg, are apparently good at things besides fantasy sports: They're the leaders in the clubhouse after one week of picking games here at CBSSports.com. Dave and Jamey both love to dispense fantasy advice, which is why I generally call him five times a day. Sure that might seem excessive ... OK, that is excessive, which is probably why they've both blocked my number. Guys, can you please call me? My fantasy team is struggling, I need your help.
Also, just in case I didn't make it clear last week, I'll be joining Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast at least three days per week for the rest of the NFL season (Monday, Tuesday, Friday). The best part is that if you get tired of listening to me, the podcast actually releases eight episodes per week, so there's five episodes that I'm not even on! If you want to listen, be sure to click here to check it out.
Alright, that's enough self promotion for one week, let's get to the picks.
Week 2 is finally here, so who should you pick? Pete Prisco, R.J. White and SportsLine's Kenny White join Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to breakdown their best bets, gambling advice and more; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Cincinnati (0-1) at Cleveland (0-1)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Point spread: Browns -6
When it comes to demoralizing your fan base, there's no team in the NFL that does it better than the Cleveland Browns. Every year, Browns fans go into the season with high hopes, and every year, the Browns fall on their face to start the season. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have gone 1-20-1 in opening week games, and the depressing part for fans is that they seem to find a new way to lose every year.
For instance, let's take a look at this year's game. During their 38-6 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, the Browns threw an interception, missed a field goal, failed on a fake punt, missed an extra point while also finding themselves in a third-and-41 at one point, and that ALL HAPPENED BEFORE THE FIRST HALF ENDED.
I think what I'm trying to say here is that the Browns weren't good on Sunday: The offensive line was bad, receivers were dropping passes and Kevin Stefanski somehow did worse in his Browns debut than both Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens. The Browns had a lot of issues in Week 1 and I'm just not sure they're going to be able to fix that many things on a short week.
When you play as bad as the Browns did, the smart thing to do is put all the blame for the team's loss on a fall guy, and apparently, that's exactly what the Browns did this week. Their fall guy is their kicker. Instead of rolling with Austin Seibert in Week 2, the Browns decided to cut their kicker to bring in a guy whose most famous field goal was a kick he didn't even make. The Browns kicker this week is going to be none other than Mr Double-Doink himself, Cody Parkey. If that decision doesn't sum up the Browns franchise, I don't know what does.
Speaking of kickers, if there was one team in the Bengals-Browns game that I thought might cut their kicker this week, it definitely wasn't the Browns. Bengals kicker Randy Bullock seemed like a solid candidate to be out of a job after shanking a 31-yards field goal against the Chargers, but apparently, Cincinnati is going to keep him. Let's hope his legs don't cramp up on Thursday night.
Normally when the Bengals play in prime time, I automatically pick against them, because, I mean, we've all seen them play in prime time. It's painful to watch. However, the national spotlight is going to be on Joe Burrow this week and we've all seen what Burrow does when he has the national spotlight on him.
The pick: Bengals 23-20 over Browns
Which picks can you make with confidence in Week 2? And which favorite gets stunned? Visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,400 on its top-rated picks and went 4-0 last week.
Minnesota (0-1) at Indianapolis (0-1)
1 p.m. (Fox)
Point spread: Colts -3
After watching all 16 games in Week 1, I can unequivocally say that the two least surprising losses were by the Vikings and the Colts. I mean, the Colts added a quarterback this offseason who has a long history of throwing back-breaking interceptions and then they lost because he threw some back-breaking interceptions. Shocker. If Philip Rivers didn't throw back-breaking interceptions, life would be confusing. It would be like going to Taco Bell and finding out that they are going to start selling pancakes instead of tacos. IT WOULDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.
As for the Vikings, they totally revamped their secondary over the offseason while also dumping multiple defensive starters, and surprise, surprise, the rebuilt defense had zero chemistry and zero pass-rush in a loss where they got torched by Aaron Rodgers. What the Vikings did to their defense this offseason would be the equivalent of taking the normal tires off your car and replacing them with bicycle tires the night before you're going to leave on a cross-country road trip. The bicycle tires are going to last for about 90 minutes tops before disaster strikes, and that's basically what happened to the Vikings defense against Green Bay. They played one and a half good quarters of football before they completely fell apart.
Basically, I think what I'm trying to say here is that I don't trust Rivers and I don't trust the Vikings defense, but I have to pick one of them to win, so I'm going with the Colts. If you don't count the back-breaking interceptions that Rivers threw against the Jaguars, the Colts were actually pretty good in the game. They didn't punt a single time and their offense moved the ball up and down the field. Fortunately for the Colts, there's an easy way to cut down on back-breaking picks: You run the ball more and let Rivers throw less. I'm assuming that's what they're going to do on Sunday.
The pick: Colts 31-24 over Vikings
Atlanta (0-1) at Dallas (0-1)
1 p.m. (Fox)
Point spread: Cowboys -6
My general rule of thumb when trying to pick the winner in a Falcons game is to always pick against the Falcons, because in every game they play, there's a 90% chance they'll shoot themselves in the foot multiple times before finding a fantastic way to lose. Last week, I didn't follow that rule -- I picked the Falcons over the Seahawks -- and look what happened: The Falcons put up MORE THAN 500 YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE AND STILL FOUND A WAY TO LOSE.
Usually, this is the part where I tell you that I've learned my lesson and that there's no way I'll be picking the Falcons to win again this week, but then I saw that Dan Quinn would be coaching against Mike McCarthy, which doesn't seem like a good thing for the Cowboys. Since 2014, Quinn-coached teams are 5-1 against McCarthy-coached teams. That total includes two wins that Quinn picked up while he was defensive coordinator of the Seahawks and three wins that he picked up with the Falcons.
If McCarthy had impressed me against the Rams on Sunday, I would probably ignore the head-to-head coaching stats, but instead, he did the opposite of impress me. McCarthy looked like a Jason Garrett clone, except that's an insult to both Jason Garrett and clones, because at least Garrett was able to beat the Rams the last time he coached against them back in December. I thought McCarthy might add some spice to the Cowboys offense, but instead, he somehow made it more bland, which I didn't even think was possible. That's like someone making vanilla more vanilla. No one needs a more vanilla vanilla, it's already vanilla.
The Cowboys are also dealing with some serious injuries (Blake Jarwin, Leighton Vander Esch), and yup, I think I've just talked myself into picking against them. Also, the Falcons never lose in Week 2. In what might go down as the weirdest stat in NFL history, the Falcons are 5-0 in Week 2 since 2015. Basically, you should always pick against the Falcons, except in Week 2.
The Cowboys were my Super Bowl pick this year and clearly, I've already jinxed them, so it's time to pick against them. Sorry, Cowboys.
The pick: Falcons 34-31 over Cowboys.
New Orleans (1-0) at Las Vegas (1-0)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Point spread: Saints -5.5
For the first time in NFL history, there's going to be an actual game played in Las Vegas, and for the NFL's sake, I hope their first trip to Sin City goes better than my first trip. I won't go into too many details here, but I decided to go to Vegas for my 21st birthday, which ended up being a horribly amazing mistake. My memories of the trip are blurry, but I think I saw Troy Aikman at the Bellagio, I think I won $300 betting on Butler in the NCAA tournament and I may or may not still be banned from every hotel on the north end of the strip.
The best part about the first game in Vegas is that it means fans are going to get their first taste of the Raiders' new stadium.
For the past few months, people have been saying that the place looks like a Roomba, but I have to say, I think it looks more like a car speaker from a 1989 Plymouth Sundance, and please don't ask me why I know what that even looks like.
Since this is a picks column, you're probably wondering if I'm actually going to make a pick for this game and the answer is yes. First, let me just say that if there were going to be fans at Allegiant Stadium on Monday night, I would definitely pick the Raiders in this game and I wouldn't even think twice. Unfortunately for the Raiders, there won't be any fans at this game, which means no home-field advantage.
My biggest problem with the Raiders is that, although they won in Week 1, I'm still not sure how good they are. If you didn't get to watch the Raiders in Week 1 -- and there's a 90 percent chance you didn't because Raiders-Panthers is the kind of game that only gets aired in two percent of the country -- the Las Vegas defense was atrocious. They couldn't stop the Panthers from doing anything despite the fact that Carolina went into the game with a new head coach, a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. If the Raiders defense was going to look good in one game, this should have been that game. If they couldn't stop the Panthers offense, I have no idea how they're going to stop the Saints offense, even if that Saints offense has a hobbled Michael Thomas.
The pick: Saints 30-27 over Raiders
Lock of the Week
San Francisco (0-1) at N.Y. Jets (0-1)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: 49ers -7
I don't handle the NFL power rankings around here -- that job belongs to Pete Prisco -- but if I did, the Jets would be dead last in my rankings this week. As a matter of fact, they would be lower than last, because I wouldn't even put them on the list. The Jets offense was so painful to watch in Week 1 that if someone gave me the choice to saw off my leg or watch their offense for another four quarters, I'm not actually sure what I would pick. On a somewhat related note, I think I just came up with the plot for the next "Saw" movie.
This game feels like it should be a blowout for San Francisco, but the thing about the Jets is that they always seem to pull out a few inexplicable wins at home each year. Last season, the Jets went 4-1 as a home underdog with wins over the Cowboys (+7), Raiders (+3.5), Steelers (+3) and Giants (+3). Despite those upsets, I don't see one happening here. I have no idea how the Jets are going to stop the 49ers offense. I mean, this is the same Jets team that just gave up 300 yards passing to a quarterback who had never thrown for 300 yards (Josh Allen). Jimmy Garoppolo might throw for 500 yards.
The pick: 49ers 30-17 over Jets
Lock of the week record: 2-0 straight-up, 2-0 against the spread
NFL Week 2 Picks: All the rest
Bears 20-17 over Giants
Packers 30-23 over Lions
Titans 24-16 over Jaguars
Bills 27-17 over Dolphins
Rams 31-24 over Eagles
Steelers 23-16 over Broncos
Buccaneers 34-24 over Panthers
Cardinals 19-16 over Washington
Chiefs 31-20 over Chargers
Ravens 38-24 over Texans
Seahawks 27-24 over Patriots
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Texans would score 20 points in a blowout loss to the Chiefs, and guess what happened? The Texans scored 20 points in a blowout loss to the Chiefs. The most embarrassing part of this loss for Houston is definitely the fact that they lost to a coach who I'm pretty sure couldn't even see the field during the game.
I mean, if you're Bill O'Brien, you basically got out-coached by a guy who was wearing a fogged up mask that looks like it was stolen from a high school welding department. I'm not sure what rock bottom is in the NFL, but that has to be close.
Worst pick: If there was one pick I regretted almost as soon as I made it last week, it was picking the Panthers to beat the Raiders. On my all-time regret list, this pick ranks below the time I spent an entire summer watching Nicolas Cage movies, but above the time in college when I spent an entire paycheck on goat cheese at Whole Foods. I had no idea goat cheese was that expensive.
Straight up in Week 1: 9-7
SU overall: 9-7
Against the spread in Week 1: 5-10-1 (Yikes)
ATS overall: 5-10-1