We sure have been waiting for this Thursday night showcase. Top overall draft pick Baker Mayfield vs. No. 3 selection Sam Darnold, a mano a mano between the rookie quarterbacks.
Oh, wait. Mayfield is a bench jockey in Cleveland right now, while Darnold is winging touchdowns and interceptions for the Jets.
Enthusiasm peaked after Darnold destroyed Detroit in New York’s opener, then came to a near halt when he struggled against Miami. The Browns have a developing defense led by the NFL’s No. 1 draft choice in 2017, Myles Garrett. If Darnold can stay upright and cool, New York could win.
But that’s hardly the history for the Jets. You know, just when things are looking up …
The Jets, ranked 21st in the AP Pro32, are 3-point underdogs to No. 26 Cleveland. That’s the value of a field goal, or three extra points. Maybe in the Browns’ case, we shouldn’t go there considering what happened in New Orleans with all the flubbed kicks.
Of course, they have a new kicker — and will get their first win of the century. Well, not quite that long.
Yes, we survived with the Rams after the Saints let us down in Week 1. Can’t ignore that huge spread in Minnesota, so the VIKINGS are the choice.
No. 20 San Francisco (plus 6 1-2) at No. 4 Kansas City
This line appears a bit low given the Niners’ struggles at times with the lowly Lions. Like the Ma-HOME-s team here.
BEST BET: CHIEFS, 31-20
No. 18 Pittsburgh (minus 2) at No. 8 Tampa Bay, Monday night
Obviously, the oddsmakers don’t believe in FitzMagic. Against this leaky secondary and turnover-prone opponent, we do.
UPSET SPECIAL: BUCS, 30-26
No. 32 Buffalo (plus 17) at No. 3 Minnesota
Buffalo once was an even bigger underdog at 17½ points vs. Miami in 1985. Dolphins won 28-0.
FYI, 80 teams have been 16-point or more underdogs and, forgetting the spread, went 5-75 on the scoreboard.
No. 14 Los Angeles Chargers (plus 7) at No. 1 Los Angeles Rams
Remember when La La Land had no NFL teams?
No. 17 Chicago (minus 6) at No. 31 Arizona
Some will tell you the desert has no team this year.
No. 24 Indianapolis (plus 6) at No. 7 Philadelphia
Looks like Carson Wentz will be back for Eagles, but don’t expect too much so soon.
No. 15 New Orleans (plus 3) at No. 9 Atlanta
Saints are struggling, Falcons are banged up. Key early NFC South matchup.
No. 29 New York Giants (plus 6) at No. 28 Houston
Now Eli has to avoid J.J. and Jadeveon? SACK ALERT!!!
No. 27 Oakland (plus 3) at No. 13 Miami
Dolphins are one of league’s most pleasant surprises and remain unbeaten.
No. 10 Cincinnati (plus 3) at No. 12 Carolina
Bengals are one of league’s most pleasant surprises and don’t remain unbeaten.
No. 6 Green Bay (minus 3) at No. 22 Washington
We now are sure even a hobbled A-Rod is an elite quarterback. But that secondary is woeful.
No. 11 Denver (plus 5) at No. 16 Baltimore
Return of the Orange Crush. This could be defensive gem.
No. 19 Dallas (minus 1) at No. 25 Seattle
Cowboys can rush QB, Seahawks can’t protect QB. Seems simple.
No. 5 New England (minus 6 1-2) at No. 30 Detroit
Will Belichick go easy on former assistant Patricia in prime time? Doubtful.
No. 23 Tennessee (no line) at No. 2 Jacksonville
Just when we were ready to make Jags the BEST BET, there’s no line.
Last Week: Against spread (9-6). Straight up (9-6-1)
Season Totals: Against spread (17-13-1). Straight up: (19-11-2)
Best Bet: 1-1 against spread, 2-0 straight up
Upset special: 1-1 against spread, 0-1-1 straight up
Source: The Associated Press