A new era in Washington is bringing the same old results. It’s too soon to draw harsh conclusions, of course, but quarterback Robert Griffin III is off to a slow start to his third season.
First-year coach Jay Gruden has a plan for Griffin, and it produced only six points in the Redskins’ season-opening loss at Houston.
The Jacksonville Jaguars scored 17 points in the first 16 minutes of their opener at Philadelphia. But it was all downhill from there in a 34-17 loss.
Several handicappers, including Doug Fitz of Systemplays.com, see the Jaguars as a team making a slow rise in the NFL. The Redskins are a mystery, just like their quarterback.
Washington is a 6-point home favorite today. Fitz, who sides mostly with underdogs, recommends taking the points with Jacksonville.
“Everyone is aware of the Jaguars’ second-half collapse last week, but the good news is they scored 17 points on the road against a good Eagles team, and their defense sacked Nick Foles five times,” Fitz said.
“Gruden is obviously setting up an offensive game plan to keep Griffin more in the pocket and less on the run, but that strategy failed last week. It doesn’t appear Griffin is comfortable with this new offense.”
Griffin was efficient against the Texans, completing 29 of 37 passes for 267 yards, but he was sacked three times, lost a fumble and did not strike for big plays.
On the other hand, Chad Henne hit Allen Hurns for two touchdowns in the first quarter, and the Jaguars’ defense shut out Foles in the first half.
The Redskins are 0-8-1 against the spread as home favorites of 2 or more points in their past nine games versus AFC teams, according to Fitz.
Fitz (@fitz_doug on Twitter) scouts the rest of today’s Week 2 schedule:
■ Detroit at Carolina (-2½): The Lions thoroughly demolished the Giants on Monday, and the one thing that stood out most was quarterback Matthew Stafford’s flawless performance, which has been uncharacteristic of him for quite some time. Cam Newton will start at quarterback for the Panthers, who are 1-10 ATS as favorites against opponents off a straight-up win in September. Newton might be rusty and still banged-up, and I think the Carolina offense will struggle against what appears to be a solid Detroit defense. Pick: Lions.
■ Miami at Buffalo (-1): In the preseason, the Bills looked like the worst team in the league, but here’s a perfect example of why I’ve said for years that preseason results are meaningless. Buffalo was excellent in every aspect of the game last week at Chicago. The Dolphins could be due for a letdown on the road after upsetting division favorite New England. Miami is 1-8 ATS after beating the Patriots by double digits. Pick: Bills.
■ Dallas at Tennessee (-3½): The Cowboys are 6-1 ATS, including 4-0 ATS versus AFC opponents, in road openers in the past seven years. In the past nine games as a ’dog against AFC opponents, Dallas is 9-0 ATS. This is strictly a technical play. Pick: Cowboys.
■ Arizona (-2) at New York Giants: I’ll reluctantly give the Giants a mulligan after that disaster on Monday. Although nothing positive can be said for that shameless effort, they should play better in the home ’dog role after opening as a favorite. I believe it’s predominantly public money that has pushed the Giants from 2-point favorites to underdogs. This is a weak endorsement for Eli Manning. Pick: Giants.
■ New England (-6) at Minnesota: The legal issues surrounding running back Adrian Peterson, who is out for the Vikings, will be the main story of this game. The line moved three points toward the Patriots, but I’ll still support the home ’dog and grab the extra points. Albeit after only one game, Minnesota shows a 47.6 yards-per-point differential advantage over New England. Pick: Vikings.
■ New Orleans (-6½) at Cleveland: Conventional wisdom says the Saints won’t lose two games in a row. Maybe not, but I think this number is too high and the Browns can stay within the spread for a second consecutive week. Cleveland nearly pulled off a second-half miracle last week after seemingly being completely out of the game at Pittsburgh. The New Orleans defense allowed 568 yards to Atlanta, and if the Saints don’t clean up their tackling and pressure the quarterback, the Browns could surprise a lot of favorite bettors. Pick: Browns.
■ Atlanta at Cincinnati (-5½): The Bengals, despite allowing 420 yards on defense and rushing for only 79 yards, got the win at Baltimore. That’s not going to get it done against the improved Falcons. Matt Ryan torched the Saints, passing for 448 yards and 10.4 yards per attempt. Pick: Falcons.
■ St. Louis at Tampa Bay (-5½): Whether it’s Shaun Hill or Austin Davis starting at quarterback for the Rams, this line is a little too high for my liking. Tampa Bay looked lifeless on offense last week, and quarterback Josh McCown was careless with the ball. The Buccaneers are 0-5 straight up and 1-4 ATS against NFC West opponents in the past three seasons. Pick: Rams.
■ Seattle (-6) at San Diego: The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, period. However, this is a bad spot for them facing a Chargers team off a game they probably should have won at Arizona. Is this a look-ahead spot? Seattle faces Denver in the Super Bowl rematch next week. The Seahawks are 1-8 ATS in their past nine road openers. Pick: Chargers.
■ Houston (-3) at Oakland: The Texans might not deserve the favorite’s role. Houston proved little by beating a weak Washington team. The Raiders are still bad, but they play with heart and maximum effort. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr will be more comfortable in his second start. I’ll take the more motivated home ’dog. Pick: Raiders.
■ New York Jets at Green Bay (-8): I rarely recommend a favorite, let alone one laying more than a touchdown, but the Packers are tough to pass up. Green Bay was embarrassed at Seattle and returns home with extra rest against a mediocre opponent. What do you think will happen? This has blowout written all over it. Expect quarterback Aaron Rodgers to atone for a sloppy performance in the season opener. Lay the points with confidence. Pick: Packers.
■ Kansas City at Denver (-12½): This is a bad scheduling spot for the Broncos, who probably have one eye on next week’s showdown with Seattle. Backing double-digit favorites in the NFL has been a historical and surefire recipe for disaster. Pick: Chiefs.
■ Chicago at San Francisco (-7): Most signs point to a low-scoring game. The Bears rushed for only 86 yards last week, and Jay Cutler threw for 349 yards. But wide receiver Brandon Marshall has an ankle injury and might not play or be ineffective if he does. The 49ers rushed for 127 yards, but Colin Kaepernick was limited to 201 yards passing against a weak Dallas defense. The San Francisco defense should severely limit an already suspect Chicago offense. Pick: Under 48½.
COMPILED BY MATT YOUMANS