Entering the 2022 season, it seemed certain that the AFC was far superior to the NFC. Indeed, the AFC West appeared to have four potential Super Bowl contenders, while the Bengals were the defending conference champions and the Bills have been the betting favorite to win it all since the summer.
Miami and Baltimore also have been pegged as dangerous, and while the Patriots have been short of special since Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay, they can’t be disregarded.
Meanwhile, the NFC was a jumble in which it was difficult to find a clear favorite, and the possibility of a team with a very mediocre record getting into the postseason was high.
So what happens? In head-to-head matchups between conference teams, the NFC is 5-4. That includes victories by supposed also-rans Chicago, Seattle and the New York Giants.
Maybe we should be leaning more toward the NFC in our selections. We certainly need to find some sort of answer soon.
Meanwhile, only six home teams are favored this weekend.
Chiefs at Colts (+5 1/2)
Not the best situation for Indianapolis to get out of its funk. The way Matt Ryan and the O-line have looked, this spread should be higher.
BEST BET: CHIEFS, 31-16
Ravens at Patriots (+3)
We don’t think the Patriots are a better team than the Ravens. On this day, in New England’s home opener as a ‘dog, got to go there.
UPSET SPECIAL: PATRIOTS, 20-16
Lions at Vikings (-6)
Detroit is showing all kinds of spunk. And plenty of offense. Still, we hesitate …
Bills at Dolphins (+6)
For AFC East supremacy – and perhaps AFC supremacy. A Dolphins win would be a major leap. Sorry, Miami.
Packers at Buccaneers (-1)
So many questions infiltrate this Rodgers-Brady matchup it’s impossible to handicap. Because we must make a choice …
Cowboys at Giants (-1)
A highly fluctuating line in which bettors seem to have little confidence in Cooper Rush. But that Dallas defense can be rugged.
49ers at Broncos (+1 ½)
Best summer move in the entire league? San Francisco keeping Jimmy G.
Jaguars at Chargers (-7)
Another good offseason move: Doug Pederson now coaching the Jaguars. With Justin Herbert perhaps limited, an upset here would not be shocking.
Falcons at Seahawks (-1)
Atlanta has had two good shots at winning despite a mediocre roster. Facing a team on their level, the Falcons get it done.
Bengals at Jets (+5)
The way the Jets got it done last Sunday was miraculous to Gang Green fans and abysmal to Dawg Pounders. No divine intervention this time, though it could be close.
Raiders at Titans (+2 ½)
Another team that, in 2022, doesn’t have a clue how to finish. That is a sin in Sin City, of course. Now the Raiders heads to Music City to find their rhythm. Or not.
Eagles at Commanders (+6 1/2)
We have been on the Philly bandwagon since the draft. The Eagles need to plug some holes on defense, but the Commanders are leaky in far more places.
Saints at Panthers (+3)
Maybe New Orleans puts together two good halves this week. Or maybe Carolina does. Or neither.
Rams at Cardinals (+3 ½)
Two up-and-down teams through two weeks. We expect the Rams to be, uh, more up?
Texans at Bears (-2 ½)
We’re trying to find a reason to care. Sorry, got nothing.
Wilner’s 2022 RECORD
Last Week – Straight up: 10-5. Against the spread: 8-7.
Season – Straight up: 16-13-1. Against the spread: 12-17-1.
Best Bet – Straight up: 1-1. Against the spread: 0-2. Upset Special – Straight up: 0-2. Against the spread: 0-2.
By Barry Wilner
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Barry Wilner was a sports writer for the Associated Press for 46 years, covering the NFL since 1985 and serving as the news organization’s Senior NFL Writer since 2001. Wilner now joins the BetOnline editorial staff to deliver expert analyses and picks every week of the NFL season. Last year, Wilner’s Pro Picks weekly column yielded records of 185-100-1 SU (64.9%) and 159-123-2 ATS (56.4%), including his “Best Bets” going 13-7 SU/ATS and “Upset Specials” a sparkling 15-3 SU/ATS.)