Derry’s Week 2 NFL Picks: Can Zach Wilson lead Jets in win over Cowboys?

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New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) passes the ball during an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Monday, Sep. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

There’s no doubt weird things will continue to happen in Week 2, but likely not as much as they happened in Week 1. And if you’re like me and love trends, we’ll start getting some that really matter very soon.

Hopefully, we’ll keep hitting those best bets like we did all of last year and in the opening week here. Just make sure to keep your calendar open.

NOTES: All spreads, money lines and over/under totals (as of Tuesday evening) are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Home team is listed in CAPS.

WEEK 2: THE TOP 5 BEST BETS

1, Chicago (+3) over TAMPA BAY / Sunday at noon

Gotta love “Overreaction Monday” after Week 1 of the NFL season. This is a perfect example. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have a whole lot of faith that the Chicago Bears will be very good this season. In fact, I predicted them to have a losing season in our team previews a couple of weeks ago, but an underdog at the Tampa Bay Bucs because of what they did in one week at overrated Minnesota?

Seems like quite possibly this is the overcorrection of the week. The Bears were a one-point favorite before the season began, and it has moved four full points? Aunt Mabel’s powers run deep. Who knew a homemade apple pie could have that much persuasion over a betting public?

Despite their win at the Vikings, the Tampa Bay passing defense was second worst in the NFL, allowing 328 yards through the air. Meanwhile, their overall offense was seventh-worst, which means their score was very misleading.

Meanwhile, one would rationally imagine Justin Fields will do a much better job of not turning the football over this week. The +140 on the Bears money line might even be the way to go, but we’ll play it safer in our best bets and take the field goal.

Score: Bears 30, Buccaneers 23 (Total: Over 41.5)

2, BALTIMORE (+3.5) over Cincinnati / Sunday at noon

Already heard one of those statements that drives me mad: “Oh, they HAVE to be better in Week 2.”

That certainly applies to the chatter by talking heads around the circuit in the early part of this week (and I am sure it will come later in the week, as well) when speaking of the Cincinnati Bengals. Why do they HAVE to be better this week?

The fact is, not only did this team start 0-2 last season, but they have never won a Week 2 game under Zac Taylor, who is in his fifth season. As in never. As in 0-4. That’s certainly enough of a trend for me to pick this one out as one of my best bets.

Even if that trend didn’t exist, the fact is Joe Burrow missed all those reps in the preseason due to his calf injury, and really in his season progression it’s still early August. Oh, and he had contract extension talks to serve as a distraction, as well.

Burrow had the worst game of his career in last week’s season-opening shellacking by the Browns, and it wasn’t close. He passed for 82 yards on 31 attempts, which is 66 yards fewer than his previous worst – at Las Vegas in November 2021.

While it’s tough to gauge just how good the Ravens’ defensive front might be this season after playing rookie CJ Stroud and the Texans in their opener, five sacks could be indicative of an excellent chance to get in there and disrupt Burrow this week.

We’ll take Cincy next week when they play the Rams at home on a Monday night.

Score: Ravens 21, Bengals 17 (Total: Under 46.5)

3, ARIZONA (+5.5) over NY Giants / Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

Every now and again I love to go with a pick that simply defies logic, and had you told me I would make this pick even 10 days ago I would have said you were out of your box. But even in trying not to overcorrect, I can’t get over what I saw last Sunday night.

Maybe the Giants are THAT bad. Maybe Daniel Jones is gonna get run out of the Big Apple with that humongous, ridiculous contract. Maybe Saquon can find a place to play in 2024 where his team actually has a chance to compete for something more than a winning record.

Whatever the case, I thought I was going to be picking the Cardinals to be the last team in the NFL to win a game this season, but maybe their defense is good enough to keep them in games to where they’ll luck into winning one or two before Kyler Murray comes back.

This is one of them. They held the Commanders to 248 yards on the road last week, and there’s no reason to think they can’t put up a similar number here. If they can do that, getting nearly a touchdown with most of the betting public on the Giants’ revival seems like a super bargain.

Oh, and Arizona has won four consecutive games in this series, including three by double digits.

Score: Cardinals 19, Giants 16 (Total: Under 39.5)

4, Seattle at DETROIT over 47 / Sunday at noon

I wanted so much to take the Seahawks here, especially after last year’s crazy victory at Ford Field that finished 48-45 and the fact Seattle has won four in a row in the series and seven of the past eight. In fact, Detroit has won just one game this century against Seattle, and that came in 2012. Before then? 1999.

However, I said before the season started that I have zero trust in Geno Smith, while I am completely expecting the hype train to continue rolling at Mach speed for Detroit before the thing crashes sometime next month.

In the past two games in the series, the teams have combined for 173 points, and there’s little reason to think this one won’t be in the same ballpark. Both teams were in the bottom 12 in overall defense last week, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are 600 combined passing yards or more.

Score: Seahawks (+6) 33, Lions 30

5, Teaser, NEW ENGLAND +8.5 over Miami and under 53.5 / Sunday at 7:20 p.m.

Teaser explanation: At most books, a bettor can parlay two teams in a “teaser” and get 6 points of cushion for each bet. However, it costs -120 to play and – like a parlay – both legs must hit to cash the ticket.

I rarely rely on Aunt Mabel multiple times in the same column, but how can I not go back to my favorite fruitcake-making, Social Security-spending little sweetheart of an old lady? She loves her some Tua, just like every other overreacting dope in America. (I wonder how much he’ll get played in DFS this week?)

The thing is, Bill Belichick thrives on playing these kinds of games. While Miami has played well in the series overall, the Patriots were able to win in Foxborough last season on New Year’s Day when the Dolphins needed it most.

Take a week off from listening to all the Dolphins hype, and if you don’t love this teaser, make a play on the under, which has hit in five of the past six meetings. And if you want to go the upset route with me, put a root beer on the New England money line at +118.

Score: Patriots 23, Dolphins 20 (Total: Under 46.5)

OTHER PICKS

Thursday at 7:20 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA 28, Minnesota (+7) 24: This is not your older brother’s Eagles. No, not the older surprise half-brother baby who grew up with Donovan McNabb at QB. Yeah, that brother – the one who is 1 year older than you. I mean that dude is a lucky clown, anyway.

Speaking of luck … Philly was lucky to win in Foxborough last week after Coach Nick Sirianni used analytics instead of common sense on a fourth-and-2 from just in front of midfield instead of punting.

The Patriots nearly finished a comeback, which would have been a devastating loss after a 16-0 early lead. Oh, and where the hell was the Philly rushing game? Is Kenneth Gainwell really gonna be your lead back going forward? Was D’Andre Swift (one carry for 3 yards) in the doghouse?

A short week leaves little time for the Vikings to think about how lousy they were. They’ll be desperate, and while I don’t have the inner fortitude to pick Minnesota outright, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they pulled off the upset, and I might put a few bucks on the +250. (Over 49)

Sunday at noon

BUFFALO 24, Las Vegas (+9.5) 20: We have already talked about “Overreaction Monday,” but some things are too tough to ignore … like how bad Josh Allen looked throwing the football. Maybe he did one too many commercials in the offseason?

Meanwhile, I predicted the Raiders to have a good week at overrated Denver, but I don’t feel comfortable enough about them – or Jimmy G – to make this a best bet. What would scare me most if I were a Bills fan is: If Breece Hall gashed the middle of the Buffalo D, what will Josh Jacobs do? That thought certainly is enough to make me look at Vegas as a potential upset and maybe keep me away in a knockout pool. (Under 47)

GREEN BAY (-2) 26, Atlanta 19: This was my sixth pick of the week if I needed one. What Jordan Love did last week was for real, and we told you in the team previews that this Packers team was going to be better off without all the Aaron Rodgers drama.

Not only did they rout the Bears, but they did so without their supposed top receiver, Christian Watson. (Although rumblings from Cheese Land say it’s Romeo Doubs who will be the top target. Sure looked like that was the case this past Sunday.)

A lot of “experts” love Atlanta as a value pick to win the NFC South, but I am still saying they are overrated. As good as Bijan Robinson is and Tyler Allgeier is a great second back, Desmond Ridder struggled this past Sunday, and he is going to struggle all season.

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if I am not picking a large enough margin here. Green Bay could win by a couple of touchdowns. (Over 40.5)

HOUSTON (+1) 16, Indianapolis 13: Sorry, even if Indianapolis wins here, in no world do they belong being a road favorite ANYWHERE.

Mark my words: Anthony Richardson (.649 completion percentage) had one of the better games he is going to have all season against overrated Jacksonville with 223 passing yards and an interception. The Texans spent Week 1 against the best mobile quarterback in football, and that should help them here.

These two teams are as even as could be with Houston winning by one point in one game and a tie in the other, and the fact the Colts are favored is enough for me to pick the home team. (Under 40)

TENNESSEE (+3) 26, LA Chargers 24: Oh, I am cruel, picking the Bolts for a second consecutive two-point loss, but this seems to be a weird line to me. I get this likely is based as much off the long losing streak the Titans had to end last season and then the opener last week in New Orleans, but this team is much better than the one that finished 2022.

Meanwhile, no team played worse defense than the Chargers in Week 1. Of course, Ryan Tannehill isn’t anywhere near the offensive weapon as a quarterback Tua is, but he still has weapons. This could be a great day for not only Derrick Henry but I really like DeAndre Hopkins and Tyjae Spears here. (Over 45)

Kansas City (+3) 31, JACKSONVILLE 21: This seems to be exactly what Kansas City needs after last week’s debacle – a game against a Jaguars team they have six straight victories against with all but one of them coming by 10 points or more.

With an extra couple of days off, you can bet the Chiefs went back to work immediately and will come into this one with a chip on their shoulders. As I type this, it probably is 50-50 whether or not Travis Kelce plays, and if you like Kansas City don’t wait to play this: Once it’s announced he is going to play, Drunk Joe will easily bet this up to 3.5. If Kelce doesn’t play, it’s highly unlikely to go any lower, anyway.

Having Chris Jones back doesn’t hurt, either. Unless your name is Trevor Lawrence. (Over 51)

Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (-8) 26, LA Rams 17: At first glance, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take the Rams, as there’s little question Joe Q. Public will be all over the home team. However, I am more fond of trends than the disdain I have for Joe Q., which forces me on San Francisco.

Going back four seasons, the 49ers have won eight consecutive regular-season games in the series, including five by the current spread of eight points or more. Last year, neither game was close – 31-14 and 24-9 – and even in the Rams’ Super Bowl season a couple years ago, San Fran won in a blowout at home. (Under 44.5)

Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

DENVER 27 (-3.5), Washington 19: See Sean, it isn’t quite as easy as you thought it would be. We love you bringing “Ambush” over to the Broncos, but that wasn’t the Super Bowl, and Russell Wilson is far from Drew Brees.

That being said, the Commanders are likely again without Chase Young, and Denver won’t be nearly as easy an opponent as Arizona. In fact, had the Broncos won last Sunday, this spread likely would be more in the 5.5 or 6 range.

Seems like a bargain, and Payton will have a good game plan here. (Over 38)

DALLAS 20, NY Jets (+8.5) 16: Four plays. That’s what the (blankety blank) Jets got out of Aaron Rodgers. That’s like $9 million per play. Not a bad deal. Look at the bright side: The Mets still pay 60-year-old Bobby Bonilla $1 million a year, and he has been retired since 2001.

That being said, the Jets are still a decent team. Despite their ugly record last season, they showed signs of being competitive even against the toughest opponents. Beating the Bills without Rodgers was no fluke, and neither was Josh Allen committing four turnovers.

This could be an ugly game, while Dak and company won’t look nearly as good as they looked last week. I’m still taking the Cowboys to win, but that’s a tough spread to cover in a game with a total of less than 40. (Under 39)

Monday at 6:15 p.m.

CAROLINA (+3) 18, New Orleans 17: There are quite a few things going against the Saints in this one, including trends and matchups. First, the latter. You can bet your sweet bippy Carolina edge rusher Brian Burns will be lined up over Saints left tackle Trevor Penning this week, and there’s zero question who will win that matchup after Burns collected 1.5 sacks last Sunday and Penning allowed three.

Will Dennis Allen decide to move James Hurst to left tackle and put Andrus Peat in at left guard? Don’t count on it. Rather, we’re more likely to see fullback Adam Prentice in there once again to help out in protecting Derek Carr. Not sure that will be enough.

And then there’s a trend that will have some Who Dats rolling their eyes, and that’s the fact the Saints have not won in Week 2 since they won at Tampa Bay, 16-14, in 2013 to open the season with five straight wins. (“That has nothing to do with now, Derry!) Anything that continues to happen over a long stretch of time – whether it has solid reasoning behind it or not – must be paid attention to.

Also, the Panthers have won three of the four meetings since Drew Brees retired.

I came in thinking I was going to pick the Saints, but after going through the recent history and the fact only four defenses played better than the Panthers last week, I changed my mind. (And early in the week as I write this, the public is overwhelmingly backing New Orleans.)

The home opener for Carolina will have the crowd jacked up and Carr getting hit early and often. Without Alvin Kamara, the run game will look a lot like it did last week, and it could be another one where a field goal is the difference. Heartbreak City for the Black and Gold? Oh, maybe I’ll be wrong, and the Who Dats can hate on me Tuesday morning. (Under 40)

Monday at 7:15 p.m.

PITTSBURGH (+2.5) 24, Cleveland 19: Another one where I was all set to pick one team and then called an audible. Those who have read this column through the years know I have my “Golden Rule” where I won’t pick a visiting favorite in a division game. I have been lax on that rule the past couple of years, as the home-team advantage isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be.

That being said, when one team has won 19 consecutive regular-season games at a specific venue, you can’t ignore it. Such is the case at Heinz Field, as the Steelers’ only loss at home to Cleveland since 2003 came in the playoffs.

No way the Browns are as good as they played last week (although we predicted them to win the division), and no way Pittsburgh is as bad as they played last week, either. Maybe Drunk Joe will be too hungover to remember to bet on Cleveland. Hopefully not, as he could drive this spread up to 3. (Over 43)

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HOW WE DOIN’?

Note: TIES ARE NOT COUNTED IN MY RECORD, which could result in a different total of games in the “straight up” and “against the spread” categories, as well as with totals.

AGAINST THE SPREAD

Week 1 best bets: 4-1. Season top picks: 4-1 (.800). Week 1 all picks: 8-8. Season all picks: 8-8 (.500).

STRAIGHT UP (no spread)

Week 1: 10-6. Season: 10-6 (.625).

OVER/UNDER TOTALS

Week 1: 11-4. Season: 11-4 (.733).

PREVIOUS COLUMNS

(click on a week to view)

Week 1: 4-1 best bets; 8-8 ATS; 10-6 straight up; 11-4 over/unders

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