Week 1 brought plenty of excitement with the return of football. But from Thursday's fourth quarter domination by the Chiefs in Foxboro to Monday Night's mayhem at Mile High between the Chargers and Broncos, a barrage of unexpected twists and turns reminded us that randomness is a fundamental part of the game. Sometimes that randomness works out favorably; other times it doesn't. When picking against the point spread, the key is to accept the built-in plot twists for what they are, approach the journey as a marathon rather than a sprint, and trust that, with a proper process, edges will win out over time.
Time to put the process in play for Week 2.
Washington +3 at Rams
Week 2 lines annually expose some of the season's biggest overreactions, and this may be 2017's prime example.
While the Rams do deserve credit for taking care of business against the Colts, Indy's ineptitude at every turn doesn't make the Rams any better than they truly are.
On the flip side, Washington suffered a scoreboard result in its opener that makes the team look worse than it actually was. Not many teams lose by 13 after finding themselves in range for a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. Then again, not many teams overcome four turnovers, including three lost fumbles. And turnovers tend to even out over time, especially when it comes to fumbles.
Washington comes in as at least the Rams' equal, if not the superior team, and the Rams have a subpar home-field advantage at the Coliseum. In a coin-flip game, getting the full field goal makes it worth the plunge. As long as Jared Goff is under center, beating half-decent teams by a margin won't come easily for the Rams.
Miami +4.5 at Chargers
The first NFL game at the StubHub Center will pit rust vs. rest, or lack thereof.
The Dolphins will undoubtedly have some rust to shake off, both physically with this being their first game of the season after their opener with the Buccaneers was postponed due to Hurricane Irma, and mentally as the human element of a natural disaster rightfully renders football an afterthought.
But Miami has been preparing in L.A. since days before the Chargers kicked off in Denver, and the Chargers will come in off an exceptionally short week after drawing the nightcap of the Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader. For good measure, the Chargers' starters having gotten their first extended action of the season at altitude only magnifies their lack of recovery time.
There's also a key tactical issue in play after the Chargers' issues at linebacker jumped off the screen against the Broncos. Denzel Perryman's absence due to an ankle injury leaves a gaping void in the middle of the Chargers' defense, which the Dolphins' stout offensive line can be expected to exploit to open up gaping holes for Jay Ajayi.
Lastly, football of the American variety will be a novelty at the StubHub Center, but not necessarily an advantage for the home team. L.A. didn't ask for the Chargers, and like San Diego is a destination town for fans of other teams. Even with the relocation, Philip Rivers & Co. still appear to be stuck with one of the NFL's weaker home-field advantages.
Pick of the Week: Teaser - Baltimore -2 vs. Cleveland, Denver +8 vs. Dallas
The first leg of this teaser isn't banking on anything special - simply for the Ravens to do little more than win outright at home against the Browns. Facing a rookie QB making his first road start, this shouldn't be an issue.
In the second leg, taking the Broncos up through 3 and 7 plugs into perhaps the strongest edge available in the teaser model. With a low total of 42, scoring will be at a premium in Denver, increasing the relative value of each point. And the Broncos may be on a short week, but the Cowboys aren't far ahead in that department after playing Sunday night; drawing their first road game of the season at altitude could also make fatigue a magnified factor as the starters continue to work into football shape. As impressive as Dallas looked in its opener, Denver's elite defense highlighted by a fierce pass rush and the No Fly Zone in the secondary should be trusted at home to keep it competitive.
Last Week: 1-2
Picks of the Week: 1-0