Many close games and a few surprising upsets kicked off the 2016 NFL season last week, and my picks ended up with a 3-2 record (see them here). Let’s try to improve that this week with these five best picks:
– Tennessee Titans +6 over Detroit Lions (1pmET): One of my two losses last week was riding the Titans to beat the Vikings, and they likely would have if it weren’t for a couple excellent defensive plays by the Minnesota defense. The Titans have a solid defense that stopped the Vikings offensively, and they have some exciting players on the offensive side, led by Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray. The Lions looked good in their week 1 debut, but expect this game to be close. I like the Titans to lose by 3, but keep it close all game and cover.
– Pittsburgh Steelers -3 over Cincinnati Bengals (1pmET): The Steelers looked fantastic last week on Monday night, beating up the Redskins on both sides of the ball. This rematch of an ugly, injury-inducing playoff match-up between the Steelers and Bengals will likely deliver more of the same, but expect the firing-on-all-cylinders Steelers to overcome whatever the Bengals can throw their way.
– Oakland Raiders -4.5 over Atlanta Falcons (4:30pmET): This line is on the move, and it’s moving in a more favorable direction. The Raiders opened as six point favorites at home against the Falcons, and I liked it then – it’s even more enticing at 4.5. I took the Falcons last week and that was loss #2, so I won’t be making that mistake again. With Derek Carr at the helm of the Raiders offense, and a variety of weapons at RB and WR, the Raiders will put up points. And Khalil Mack has the defense playing pretty well also. This will be a high-scoring affair (at 48 points, it’s one of the highest over/unders of the week), but the Raiders are the better team and should more than cover.
– Jacksonville Jaguars +3 over San Diego Chargers (4:30pmET): The Jaguars step into San Diego as the underdog, but with San Diego’s practically absent fanbase, this isn’t your typical away game. Blake Bortles looked great last week, and with the Chargers losing their best offensive player, Keenan Allen, last week for the year, they will struggle to get on the right track. The Jags will likely be without Chris Ivory again, but T.J. Yeldon played well enough to supplement the strong passing attack of the Jags.
– Green Bay Packers -2 over Minnesota Vikings (8:30pmET): NBC would be lucky if this week’s Sunday night game was as good as last week’s, when the Pats pulled off the upset over the Cardinals (which I had right). The Packers head to Minnesota as the slight favorite for a divisional match-up between rivals. The Packers are the far superior team, and the Vikings aren’t even sure who the starting QB will be (or at least that’s what their head coach is saying). Aaron Rodgers is going to lead the Packers to victory, and even a small win will give the Packers the edge.