My, how the times have changed. One of the things I always liked to write here at were my picks against the spreads come NFL season. I did that from PressBox’s start back in 2006 and kept on doing it through 2015.

Then I stopped for a few years, and now gambling is the rage these days, so voila … Against All Odds.

It’s Week 2 and if you didn’t notice this column in Week 1, well, that was by design. I always hate making NFL picks in Week 1. I have to watch, look and listen to everything to have a sense of which way the winds are blowing.

So, from here on out I’ll be making weekly NFL picks. Let’s get our beaks wet with a few games.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)
Bears -1.5

The Bears had a rough draw in Week 1, playing the Rams in Los Angeles. The Rams have had a potentially explosive offense since Sean McVay became the head coach. What was missing was a quarterback who inspired the confidence of his head coach. Enter Matthew Stafford.

The opposing quarterback the Bears face this week is going to be a terrific NFL quarterback. In fact, Joe Burrow, playing his first game after tearing up his knee last season, bested Kirk Cousins in a mild Week 1 upset.

David Montgomery, even while his team was being pummeled 34-14, still rushed for 108 yards on just 16 carries. He has now scored a touchdown in seven consecutive games.

In Stafford, the Bears matched up against a big-time arm making his debut with LA. Stafford didn’t disappoint, as he had a passer rating of 156.1.

I’ll bet that the Bears’ defense is a better fit at home against the Bengals. Andy Dalton won’t have the glare of “Sunday Night Football,” during which he is now 0-6 lifetime.

The Pick: Bears 26, Bengals 18

Los Angeles Rams (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Rams -3.5

The Rams now take their new offensive show on the road to Indy. And it looks like McVay is getting everything he could have hoped for out of his inspired acquisition of a quarterback who still has a good bit of tread on his tires.

In fact, Stafford’s passer rating of 156.1 is the highest passer rating for a player making a debut for a new team. There is a lot to like on the offensive side of the ball with McVay having a new toy who can actually hang in there and get big stuff done.

Defensively, the defensive-back tandem of Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams really placed a clamp on the Bears’ attempts to get anything going in the air. In fact, the longest attempt all night by Andy Dalton was 16 yards. The longest completion of the night for the Bears was just 10 yards.

This matchup looks even more one-sided in favor of the road team coming into Lucas Oil Stadium. Based on the Colts’ 28-16 home loss to Seattle in Week 1, Frank Reich’s club isn’t ready for an opponent this dynamic just yet.

This smells like an easy business trip to Indy for the Rams.

The Pick: Rams 31, Colts 16

Denver Broncos (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
Broncos -6

I am not some Johnny Come Lately to the notion that Urban Meyer’s decision to coach in the NFL would be a debacle of epic proportions. Remember Nick Saban at Miami? Remember John Calipari with the then-New Jersey Nets?

This has apparently turned almost toxic in Jacksonville. How do these situations usually resolve themselves to allow both parties to move on as quietly as possible? A college job opens up — don’t they always? Maybe it’ll be the USC job. Perhaps it’ll be another job.

The only thing that appears certain regarding Meyer returning to college ball is not if it’ll happen, but when.

Not exactly the best scenario to prepare for Game No. 2 of a 17-game gauntlet that appears to be setting the Jags back several years.

Meanwhile, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is entering his third season as head man in Denver. It appears he and John Elway finally got the quarterback situation right with Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater breathed some life into the Broncos in Week 1. It’s too bad that Jerry Jeudy looks to be out for several weeks, but Bridgewater has plenty of other receivers he’ll get comfortable with in a walkover win against a hapless Jags squad. Running back Melvin Gordon is a good fit in this offense.

The Pick: Broncos 34, Jaguars 12

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
Seahawks -4.5

I know it’s only Week 2, but these two ships appear to be passing in the night. Titans fourth-year head coach Mike Vrabel has done a real nice job in Nashville. But in addition to a sizable COVID outbreak late in training camp, it appears Vrabel’s GM Jon Robinson has left the defense downright porous.

All I heard was how bad the defense was going to be for the Titans. Now that the season has started, the rumors about the Titans’ defense have proven to be spot on. Not a great a time to go into Lumen Field, one of the loudest venues in the league.

If Kyler Murray and his Cardinals could pull out the whooping stick and destroy the Titans’ defense in Nashville to a tune of 38-13, what chance do you give the Titans in Seattle? I thought you’d see it my way. Vrabel has been great at not letting negativity into his locker room. That task may get harder by the 60 minutes of hell this might be in Seattle Sept. 19.

Meanwhile, Russell Wilson took his squad into Indy for a nice and nifty business trip win against the Colts.

The Pick: Seahawks 37, Titans 21

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-1)
Chiefs -3.5

Kansas City’s impressive second-half comeback at Arrowhead against the Browns set the stage for a fourth game in as many years between the Ravens and Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have squared off three times so far, with Mahomes winning all three.

The Ravens have been decimated with injuries this year — first to running back J.K. Dobbins, then to cornerback Marcus Peters and another running back in Gus Edwards. All three suffered season-ending ACL tears.

The Ravens were a 4.5-point favorite all along against the Raiders, and the line never really changed in the days leading up to the opener in Las Vegas. We all know what happened Sept. 13, with the Ravens literally handing the game to the Raiders with two huge fumbles by Jackson.

It’s funny, despite the demoralizing loss by the Ravens in Sin City and the uplifting comeback win by the Chiefs, this spread has steadied at 3.5 in favor of Kansas City.

John Harbaugh has a great knack of not letting his team get mired in the negative. That’s perhaps his biggest strength as a head coach. It’ll take a near flawless performance by Jackson for the Ravens to win this game. Right now, I am not so sure the other area of concerns — like the offensive line and the pass rush — get fixed in time for a Jackson perfecto to even be enough. That’s especially the case now that left tackle Ronnie Stanley reportedly suffered a setback with his surgically repaired left ankle.

The Ravens will fight and that’ll count for something, but I think the Chiefs will further expose what ails the Ravens.

The Pick: Chiefs 24, Ravens 19

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Stan Charles

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