Week 2 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson
Here are my Week 2 NFL picks against the spread (ATS):
Baltimore Ravens -7 (over Cleveland Browns)
Due to a scheduling conflict with the Orioles, the Ravens had to begin their title defense on the road. To make matters worse, they suffered a beatdown at the hands of the Broncos and Peyton Manning, who tied the NFL single-game record with seven touchdown passes.
Fast forward a week (or technically 10 days) and the Ravens will finally play in front of their fans at M&T Bank Stadium, where they enjoy one of the better home-field advantages. And we can only imagine that the Ravens are ready to take out their frustrations on the team up next: Cleveland.
In addition, it's safe to say that Brandon Weeden is no Peyton. Plus Josh Gordon, the team's most talented receiver, will miss one more game as he serves his two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. The Browns have a better run game than the Broncos although they inexplicably gave Trent Richardson only 13 carries last week.
On the flip side, it was surprising that Ray Rice had only 12 carries, but he finished with eight receptions in Week 1. With Joe Haden likely shadowing Torrey Smith all over the field, I expect to see more of a running game this week from the Ravens.
Over the past five seasons, the Ravens are 33-7 at home and 10-0 head-to-head against the Browns. With a mini-bye, the Ravens improve upon those numbers.
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Jacksonville Jaguars +6 (over Oakland Raiders)
Led by Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars' offense was atrocious in Week 1 as the squad had a total of 178 yards of offensive output. That will change this week — both the starting quarterback, as Chad Henne is in for Gabbert, and they will move the ball better against this AFC West opponent. Both Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts will have nice games after slow starts last week.
Meanwhile, Terrelle Pryor made it exciting for the Raiders last week as he nearly led them to an upset over the Colts, who were double-digit favorites. Oakland's offensive line is one of the worst in the league, if not the worst without Jared Veldheer, and they have now lost rookie Menelik Watson (knee) for a month.
With both teams in the mix to finish with the top pick in the draft, the loser gets a better chance of securing a shot at Teddy Bridgewater (or Jadeveon Clowney).
These two teams are bad and there is going to be little interest in this game on a national basis, but I think this game is at least closer than the six-point spread suggests.
Buffalo Bills +3 (over Carolina Panthers)
There are number of home underdogs this weekend as the Bills, Bucs, Cardinals and Giants are all getting points at home. In all four of these cases, I would go with the home 'dog so why the Bills over the others for my final pick?
The Panthers have some strengths, but they have their share of weaknesses as well. The team's biggest strength is the front-seven of its defense. That may allow them to get pressure on rookie E.J. Manuel and may slow down the 1-2 punch of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Their secondary is arguably the league's worst, though.
After a competitive game against the Patriots (Stephen Gostkowski kicked game-winning FG with five seconds to go), I expect that we see more of Spiller (barring no fumbles) and the Bills get their first win of the Manuel era.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.
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