Josh Katzowitz's Week 2 NFL Picks
When it comes to betting on rookie quarterbacks leading their teams to glory and victories, I’m hardly ever going to believe it can happen.
Too many first-round picks have let me down in the past (could I have really believed Christian Ponder was going to be the man for many years in Minnesota? Did I really fall in love with JaMarcus Russell in Oakland?), and so many more will let me down in the future.
So, it was not a tough decision for me to pick the Lions to beat the Jets and 21-year-old quarterback Sam Darnold in Week 1. And on Darnold’s first career pass, I was vindicated with an ugly pick-6. But then Darnold didn’t play like a rookie quarterback at all in New York’s ridiculous 48-17 win. He looked like a young kid who was completely comfortable in his new surroundings. He was on the road in Detroit, and it didn’t matter. He was facing down Pro Bowlers like Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay, and it didn’t matter. He was a rookie playing in his first game, and it didn’t matter in the slightest.
"He didn't flinch. He didn't even blink,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said, via ESPN.com.
More than 90 percent of experts picked the Lions to win that game, and 54 percent of us thought the Lions would cover the 6.5-point spread. We were terribly wrong, and maybe I should take another look at rookie quarterbacks and how I pick them.
This week, Darnold is going against the Dolphins, and first-round pick Josh Allen is replacing Nathan Peterman as the starting quarterback in Buffalo. He’ll face the Chargers at home. And you know what? I’m picking both teams to cover the spread. But I don’t feel great about it. After all, rookie quarterbacks usually let you down.
1)Bet your life savings on this game*
Rams over Cardinals
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Sam Bradford. If it weren’t for injuries or a terrible cast around him, I think he could have been an above average quarterback since he entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. Instead, he’s basically a journeyman who has been on three teams in the past four seasons—he’s basically a younger, hairless version of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though he was rather terrible in Week 1 vs. the Redskins— Bradford amassed 11 passing yards in the first half and completed just 35 percent of his passes through the first three quarters - I still have some faith in him. I don’t know why, but I do. All that, of course, is to say that I’d bet all my money against Bradford this week. The Rams will prevent him from being effective enough to win the game. But with Bradford throwing to Larry Fitzgerald (seven catches, 76 yards in Week 1) and with David Johnson looking for a breakout game (he only had 67 total yards last week), the Cardinals will do well enough to lose the game relatively closely. That 12.5 spread is just too big.
Straight up: Rams Against the Spread: Cardinals +12.5
2017 record for the “Bet your life savings” game: 1-0 S/U and 1-0 ATS 2017-18 record: 15-5 S/U and 10-10 ATS
2) This game scares the hell out of me
Giants at Cowboys
I wasn’t surprised the Cowboys traveled to Carolina last week and got smacked around, but there is a reason why Dallas makes its second appearance in the “this game scares the hell out of me” game in the second week of the season. Simply put, I don’t know what to make of this team. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was fine but not great (15 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD) in Week 1, quarterback Dak Prescott was unimpressive (19 for 29, 170 yards), and the offensive line was ineffective (giving up six sacks). Dallas’ defense was fine, and it’ll need to be once again to stop rookie Giants running back Saquon Barkley. I’m not looking for greatness out of the Giants this year, but right now, I’m not sure Dallas will be any better. Eli Manning, for what it’s worth, has lost four of his last five starts in Dallas, and I don’t expect that trend to end on Sunday. But he’ll make it close.
Straight up: Cowboys Against the spread: Giants +3
2017 record for “This game scares the hell out of me: game: 1-0 S/U and 1-0 ATS 2017-18 record: 11-9 S/U and 11-8-1 ATS
3) Fun game of the week
Browns at Saints
I was a believer in the Browns last year. Not that they’d sport a winning record or that they’d challenge for an AFC North title. But I thought they’d win a game or two. So, I picked them way too many times to do just that in this column. And you know what happened. Cleveland screwed me each and every time. It was like I was a Browns fan or something. I was determined this year—and I talked to John Halpin in our Pickwatch podcast from last week (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ref3MxvkPzA) about this—that the Browns were being vastly overrated by many NFL prognosticators (hell, only 56 percent of people picked the Steelers last week to cover a four-point spread). But after its tie vs. Pittsburgh last week, I’m back on that Browns bandwagon. I’m not picking them to beat New Orleans, but I am thinking they’re going to give the Saints a good game. I’m going with Cleveland to cover that 8.5-point spread.
Straight up: Saints Against the spread: Browns +8.5
2017 record for the “Fun game of the week”: 0-1 S/U and 0-1 ATS 2017-2018 record: 13-7 S/U and 10-9-1 ATS 2018 record for every game picked in this column: 2-1 S/U and 2-1 ATS 2018 overall record on Pickwatch: 10-5 S/U and 11-4 ATS
- Straight Up / ATS
- CIN over BAL CIN -1
- ATL over CAR CAR +5.5
- NO over CLE CLE +8.5
- HOU over TEN OTB
- WAS over IND WAS -5.5
- PIT over KC KC +5
- LAC over BUF BUF +7
- NYJ over MIA NYJ -3
- MIN over GB OTB
- PHI over TB PHI -3
- LAR over ARI ARI +12.5
- SF over DET SF -5.5
- NE over JAC NE -2
- DEN over OAK OAK +5.5
- DAL over NYG NYG +3
- SEA over CHI SEA +3 *Don’t really bet your life savings. Please.