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.)

We wrote last week that anything can happen in Week 1 of the NFL season. And anything did – mostly bad for our picks.

A monsoon at Soldier Field didn’t help. Nor did some weird coaching decisions by Nathaniel Hackett and Lovie Smith. But the main reason there were so many surprises – exciting all around, but still surprises – was the lack of play for so many starters during the preseason.

Let’s face it, those summer exhibition games are designed to fill out the roster, not to put anyone of real value on the field for any length of time. The players who appear in those games try hard, but the overall quality of those preseason matches isn’t worth watching.

So when the starters (and stars) get going in the opening weekend, the sloppiness is apparent. And, at times, also unwatchable.

Here’s hoping Week 2 brings us better football – and much more success with our picks.

Texans at Broncos (-10)

If Hackett takes the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands once more, we might never pick Denver again.


Vikings at Eagles (-2)

While we believe Philly has the better team, it needs to fix that defense ASAP. Minnesota can score.


 Bears at Packers (-10)

Chicago is a bad team that won its opener in great part due to the elements. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will wake up at home.

PACKERS, 26-12

Seahawks at 49ers (-9 ½)

Seattle is a mediocre team that won its opener in great part due to bad coaching by its opponent. That won’t happen this week, though San Francisco looked lost in the rain in Week 1.

49ERS, 22-17

Dolphins at Ravens (-3 1/2)

Maybe the best matchup of the weekend, and Miami knows how to defend Lamar Jackson.


Titans at Bills (-10)

The entire AFC South looks like a mess. Buffalo looks like a powerhouse.

BILLS, 33-16

Colts at Jaguars (-4)

The rest of the AFC South, which made us nauseous last weekend.

COLTS, 23-21

Bengals at Cowboys (+7 ½)

Hard to tell who played worse in their openers. Without Dak, have to go with Joe Burrow making a quick turnaround.

BENGALS, 23-13

Buccaneers at Saints (+2 ½)

Wonder if we will be writing about a 55-year-old Tom Brady winning games. Though he struggles against New Orleans in the regular season.


Cardinals at Raiders (-5)

Can Derek Carr target Devante Adams on EVERY play?

RAIDERS, 24-13

Patriots at Steelers (+2)

Never a good matchup for Pittsburgh, even less so with T.J. Watt out. Can’t see New England starting 0-2.


Falcons at Rams (-10 ½)

The defending champions have had a long time to evaluate – and be ticked off by – their opening performance.

RAMS, 30-13

Panthers at Giants (-2)

When healthy, is there a more exciting and versatile running back than Saquon Barkley? Another big day is coming.

GIANTS, 23-17

Jets at Browns (-6 ½)

Cleveland won’t need another long-range field goal here.

BROWNS, 20-10

Commanders at Lions (-1)

Two teams that displayed lots of spunk last weekend.

LIONS, 29-26


Wilner’s 2022 RECORD

Season – Straight up: 6-8-1. Against the spread: 4-10-1.

Best Bet – Straight up: 0-1. Against the spread: 0-1.

Upset Special – Straight up: 0-1. Against the spread: 0-1.


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