Opening week of the NFL season often includes upsets (Steelers, Dolphins), over-the-top achievements (Raiders, Eagles) and underwhelming performances (Packers, Titans). Finding the correct ones is a major challenge for prognosticators.
Thus, a rugged start for Pro Picks.
Time to rally beginning with Thursday night's not particularly stellar matchup between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team.
Both of these NFC East occupants were beaten at home by AFC West opponents, the Giants falling without much of a fight to Denver, and Washington offering a bit more in losing to the Chargers. Of course, in their division, where something around .500 might mean a title, how much can be expected from either club?
There are some intriguing angles, though. Washington lost veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick last Sunday to a hip injury, so Taylor Heinicke goes at quarterback. He brings high energy, which he first displayed last January.
“I think our guys will rally around him,” coach Ron Rivera said. “Some guys have an innate ability to create some enthusiasm, some excitement. And that’s kind of a little bit about Taylor because of the way he plays. He plays a little bit like a hair’s on fire, plays a little bit like a gunslinger.”
For New York, a major question is how top running back Saquon Barkley will perform in a short week. Barkley missed most of 2020 with a torn-up knee and found little room to run in gaining 26 yards on 10 carries vs. Denver.
“We’ve got to get the run game going against a very talented defense — probably one of the best defenses in the league,” Barkley said. “That’s going to be important to get your run game going. Watch film, learn from what I did, get the rust off and try to do a better job this week.”
The Giants, ranked 28th in the AP Pro32, are 3 1-2-point underdogs at No. 25 Washington, according to FanDuel SportsBook. Should be close ...
KNOCKOUT POOL: The Rams were an easy choice last week and we think CLEVELAND is just as likely to win in a romp this week against Houston.
No. 29 Detroit (plus 7) at No. 18 Green Bay, Monday night
No way the Packers are that inept. A prime-time rebound.
BEST BET: PACKERS, 37-16
No. 15 (tie) Dallas (plus 3) at No. 11 Los Angeles Chargers
Could be a shootout at SoFi. Dallas is rested and angry.
UPSET SPECIAL: COWBOYS, 30-28
No. 13 Las Vegas (plus 6) at No. 5 (tie) Pittsburgh
Both teams showed lots of gumption in their openers.
No. 14 Denver (minus 2 1-2) at No. 32 Jacksonville
The Broncos couldn't have asked for an easier road trip. Don't slip up here.
No. 2 Kansas City (minus 2 1-2) at No. 15 (tie) Baltimore
The way Baltimore's staunch defense wore down on Monday night is a bad harbinger.
No. 9 Buffalo (minus 3 1-2) at No. 12 Miami
Miami could take early control of the AFC East with another win. Won't happen.
No. 5 (tie) Los Angeles Rams (minus 1) at No. 22 Indianapolis
Did anyone look better than the Rams in Week 1? More of a test here.
No. 4 New Orleans (minus 3) at No. 21 Carolina
Well, yes, the Saints looked just as good. So did Panthers returning star RB Christian McCaffrey.
No. 10 San Francisco (minus 5 1-2) at No. 17 Philadelphia
And so did the Eagles, whose work in the trenches was exemplary.
No. 26 Houston (plus 11 1-2) at No. 8 Cleveland
For those who picked Houston to go winless, sorry about that. No win here.
No. 19 Cincinnati (plus 3) at No. 27 Chicago
Don't think Bengals will go 2-0, but they don't look like Bungles this season.
No. 20 New England (minus 3 1-2) at No. 31 New York Jets
The Jets do look like bunglers, but their enthusiasm is admirable.
No. 30 Atlanta (plus 7) at No. 1 Tampa Bay
If the Eagles can rip apart Atlanta, wonder what Brady and Co. will do.
No. 24 Minnesota (plus 4 1-2) at No. 7 Arizona
A disjointed visitor against a together host. Still might be close.
No. 23 Tennessee (plus 5 1-2) at No. 3 Seattle
Seattle plays close games even when it should not.
Last Week: Straight up: 7-9. Against spread: 6-9-1.
Season: Straight up: 7-9. Against spread: 6-9-1.
Best Bet: Straight up: 1-0. Against spread: 1-0
Upset Special: Straight up: 1-0. Against spread: 1-0.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL