Week Two was a kind of curate's egg for Iron Mike. If I were still using my column at Patreon to pick the games straight-up, I would have been 15-0 going into Monday Night, where I picked the Saints in Vegas and the bookies-own team wound up winning. I picked games every week for 15 years on nfluk.com and at Patreon, and never had a perfect week.
So it goes in the NFL.
Last week, I hemmed and hawed over a best-bet on the NFL Only Bettor podcast, discarding two picks that won and taking the over in the Chiefs/Chargers matchup, which lost: you will note I didn't repeat that pick here.
Last week's best, the Steelers laying seven against Denver, fell two points short thanks to an unexpected performance by Bronco back-up QB Ryan Finley. However I did recommend the over 40.5 which was OK. Seattle covered four in beating New England in my value bet, but Cam Newton was a yard away from killing that one too. My alternate value of Green Bay over Detroit paid off.
Buffalo beat Miami, but only by three, making my outside shot a loser. They also went over 41 to rub salt in the wound. It hurt, but I've washed it clean and we're ready to go again this week.
Niners can overcome injury adversity
Best Bet: San Francisco (-3.5 at 10/11) at NY Giants
This week I'm doubling down on my podcast best bet. Last week I had intended to take the Niners over the Jets, but when John Balfe chose that one, I started looking for another. As the poet Allen Ginsberg said: "First thought, best thought". Now I know there are lots of reasons to avoid this one, the main one being the horrific injury list which the Niners have accumulated, but I do not care.
The Giants have lost Saquon Barkley, which oddly enough I think may help them in terms of how they spread things out, but I think the Niners will be able to overcome them regardless of whether Nick Mullens or Jimmy G is at QB. The real key is how they manage to cope with losing most of their front four: Daniel Jones is vulnerable to pass rush, and they need to be able to stop things inside too. So if you take this, I'd recommend also taking the over 41 at 9/10.
Wilson can steer Seahawks to victory
Value Bet: Seattle (-5 at 10/11) v Dallas
This one is fascinating and another test for my advice to take Seattle as a dark horse Super Bowl contender. The real test will be the Cowboys' O line against Pete Carroll's defense, and the result will show if Dak Prescott really is Russell Wilson's Mini-Me, or something else entirely.
I think Seattle will be able to control the Cowboys' three-headed receiver corps, while DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett may prove harder for Dallas. Last week, Wilson made a couple of perfect deep throws that turned into TDs, if he does the same this week it's a Seattle win. Their games do tend to be close, but I still like it laying five. The over/under here is 56.5, and I'd be tempted to go under at 19/20.
Back unders as Vikings and Titans keep it tight
Outside Bet: Minnesota v Tennessee under (49.5 at 10/11)
The Vikes are home dogs to Tennessee, getting 2.5 at 10/11, and I think the Titans' D might hold them in place, so I like Tennessee even giving the points. But I like even better the under 49.5, because I don't see the Titans running up the score or the Vikings doing much to boost it.
The Chargers (-6.5 at 10/11) v Carolina intrigues me too. The Panthers will be without Christian McCaffrey, but the line hasn't shot upward, which may be a realisation that with a week to think about the fact that he's now an NFL starter, rookie QB Justin Hebert may not match his performance last week. Carolina's D has been surprisingly strong, and may put some pressure on, and the Chargers always seem immune to home field advantage.
If you're shaky about this one, you might try Cleveland (-7 at 10/11) v Washington. Here the worry is that the Team's defensive front can slow down the rushing of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and pressure Baker Mayfield into mistakes.
Or you could consider Indianapolis (-10.5 at 10/11) v New York Jets: this is the first double-digit spread of the season, which reflects the abject horror the Jets have been in the past two weeks, but the Colts have actually played pretty well defensively, and held the Vikings to 11 last week.
Plus Sunday is World Rivers Day and that has to be a good omen for the Colts.