Considering what happened in the rain at Cleveland last Sunday, the rugged AFC North looks like it will be wide open.
So Thursday night’s visit to Cincinnati by Baltimore takes on an extra bit of importance, even in mid-September, after the division-favourite Steelers stumbled and bumbled to a 21-21 tie against the Browns.
The Ravens were all over Buffalo from the start as Joe Flacco recaptured some of that 2012 championship form and the defence destroyed the Bills. The Bengals fell in a big hole at Indianapolis and showed far more gumption than usual by climbing out of it to win.
Two teams many projected as also-rans for 2018 delivered some impressive opening performances.
“That game is behind us,” Ravens safety Tony Jefferson says. “Although it’s great to have momentum, it’s over with. It’s a new week. This is a division opponent; they know us very well and we know them very well.”
Perhaps. But these Bengals seem to have a resilience not seen often in recent seasons, though Cincinnati did show such moxie in the previous meeting with Baltimore.
The Ravens ended the season hosting the Bengals and fell 31-27 on Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds left. That eliminated Baltimore from the playoffs and sent Buffalo into the postseason.
The Ravens, ranked No. 9 in the AP Pro32, and No. 16 Bengals are pick-em at Paul Brown Stadium. It’s hard to fathom that Pro Picks is predicting Cincinnati will start the season 2-0. But that’s where we’ll go.
We warned everyone last week that we aren’t very saintly in these things, and New Orleans’s flop proved that. We’re obligated to keep trying and will go with the L.A. RAMS.
No. 28 Oakland (plus 6) at No. 14 Denver
Not exactly Orange Crush defence, but Broncos will put Mile High hit on Jon Gruden’s Raiders.
BEST BET: BRONCOS, 23-13
No. 3 Minnesota (plus 1) at No. 6 Green Bay
No miracle finishes for A-Rod and Pack this time, though this isn’t much of an ...
UPSET SPECIAL: VIKINGS, 27-20
No. 1 New England (minus 2) at No. 5 Jacksonville
AFC championship game rematch – and perhaps harbinger for January. No revenge for Jaguars.
No. 7 Kansas City (plus 5 1-2) at No. 11 Pittsburgh
Steelers fall behind even more in AFC race and Chiefs prosper.
No. 19 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 7) at No. 32 Buffalo
Bills can’t possibly be as bad as they looked in opener. Or maybe they are.
No. 31 Arizona (plus 13) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams
Cardinals can’t possibly be as bad as they looked in opener. Or maybe they are.
No. 30 Detroit (plus 5 1-2) at No. 23 San Francisco
Lions can’t possibly ... you get it.
No. 18 Miami (plus 3) at No. 17 New York Jets
Battle to keep pace with Patriots in AFC East – at least through two weeks.
No. 8 Carolina (plus 5 1-2) at No. 10 Atlanta
Red zone scares Falcons, strange occurrence for a team wearing that colour.
No. 2 Philadelphia (minus 3) at No. 15 Tampa Bay
If Buccaneers win this, time to re-evaluate.
No. 29 Indianapolis (plus 5 1-2) at No. 12 Washington
Washington was as pleasant a surprise as Bucs last week. Revival continues in DC.
No. 27 Cleveland (plus 8) at No. 13 New Orleans
Who thought Saints would be more embarrassed team in opener than Browns?
No. 24 New York Giants (plus 3) at No. 25 Dallas
NBC and NFL love this as prime-time matchup. Hey, they both are 0-1, guys.
No. 21 Seattle (plus 3) at No. 22 Chicago, Monday night
Bears need to put Lambeau collapse behind them.
No. 20 Houston (no line) at No. 26 Tennessee
Tough start for banged-up Titans.
Last week: Against spread (8-7-1). Straight up (10-5-1)
Season totals: Against spread (8-7-1). Straight up: (10-5-1)
Best bet: 1-0 against spread, 1-0 straight up
Upset special: 0-1 against spread, 0-1 straight up