Week 2 NFL Picks: Hopefully you bet on the 11 games I nailed last week and made some money; if you happened to bet on the 5 I missed, mea culpa, I’ll do my best to make it up to you.
Week 2 is usually “overreaction week,” where everyone freaks out about what they just saw in Week 1. Jets/Bucs Super Bowl! Adrian Peterson is going to rush for 2,000 yards! Matt Ryan is a system quarterback! Okay, that last one might actually be true. The point here is to not supplant all the learnings from last year, the preseason, training camp, etc., just because you watched the Saints get blown out by the Bucs. It’s a long season, and smart bettors will take what they’ve seen as an additional data point and with nuance.
Please keep in mind that means by the time you’re reading this, the line may have shifted depending on breaking news during the week, or money flowing through the market.
Week 2 NFL Picks
Monday 8:15 PM EST
Seattle at Chicago, -3.5
We heard a lot about the Seahawks’ offensive line problems during the offseason, and they unfortunately turned out to be true. Russell Wilson was sacked seven times in their season opening 24-27 loss to the Broncos. Additionally, Doug Baldwin is out with a grade 2 MCL tear and Chicago’s pass rush, with the addition of Khalil Mack, looked nasty. I think this ends up being a messy game with ultimately the Bears on top. I would like this game better at under a field goal, but I am still going with the Bears laying the 3.5 at home on Monday night.
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Houston at Tennessee, +4.5
Deshaun Watson looked subpar against the Patriots in an outing he characterized as “low energy.” On the other side of the ball, Tennessee had a nightmarish first game, losing tight end Delanie Walker for the season in what was ultimately a 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and left tackle Taylor Lewan also suffered injuries and had to leave this game and it remains unclear if they will return in time for Week 2. If Mariota is out, it’s the Blaine Gabbert show. With so many variables, a handful of books have yet to even handicap this game. My thoughts are this: Watson bounces back from a slow start and Houston’s pass rush gets after Mariota, especially if Lewan stays in the concussion protocol. I like the Texans laying the 4.5 points on the road.
Kansas City at Pittsburgh, -5.5
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill had electric season debuts against the Chargers in their 38-28 road win in Week 1. Meanwhile, the Steelers tied the Cleveland Browns, who had exactly one win in their last 32 games played. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent much of the game passing the ball off to Cleveland’s defense for a total of five turnovers. With Le’veon Bell’s contract holdout still lingering, however, running back James Conner was a stud, scoring two of the Steelers’ three touchdowns of the day. I think bad weather and “road Ben” played a role in this loss, but I think the Chiefs are the more complete team and I like them getting 5.5 points on the road.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, +3.5
The Eagles looked anemic in the 18-12 NFL season opener against the Falcons. With Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery out for the time being, Nick Foles relied heavily on the run game and Jay Ajayi, who will need to prove he can be an every down back. On the flipside, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers handled their NFC South counterparts, the New Orleans Saints, in a 48-40 shootout, which set a record for the highest scoring Week 1 game. While I can’t see Fitzpatrick replicating a 400 yards and 5 touchdowns stat line again, I think he finds a little more “Fitzmagic” and the Buccaneers cover the spread as 3.5 point home underdogs.
LA Chargers at Buffalo, +7.5
I am not sure how long the Bills plan to let the Nathan Peterman project go on, but I think I speak for all of #BillsMafia when I say I’m hoping we get to see first-rounder Josh Allen ASAP. 7.5 is a big number, especially at home against a west coast team, but this feels like a lay it or don’t play it spot and I have to go with the Chargers.
Carolina at Atlanta, -5.5
The Falcons suffered a brutal loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL season opener on Thursday. With the loss of defensive stars Keanu Neal and Deion Jones for the season, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will have to learn from their Week 1 redzone snafus quickly before this season gets away from them. Panthers Greg Olsen also suffered a serious foot injury in their modest 16-8 win against the Cowboys and was seen on crutches shortly after. While they are optimistic that this is not season-ending, they will be without their star tight end against the Falcons. All this being said, I will go with the Panthers to cover the spread on the road.
Cleveland at New Orleans, -8.5
The Cleveland Browns are officially off to their best start to a season since 2004, and have managed to do so without winning a game. Levity aside, there were many positive things about their game, including performances from Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, Tyrod Taylor, and a pass rush that forced multiple interceptions from Ben Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, New Orleans lost its season opener to Tampa Bay, 40-48, and while I don’t think that proves the Saints are a bad team, maybe we were all a little too high on them coming into the season. This may be an overreaction to Week 1, but 8.5 feels like too many points for me to lay with this team. The Saints probably don’t drop two in a row to subpar teams, but I think the Browns keep it within a touchdown and cover the the spread on the road.
Indianapolis at Washington, -5.5
The Colts struggled in their season opener against the Bengals, forcing a returning Andrew Luck to throw more than 50 times in the game. The Redskins, on the other hand, looked strong against a bad Cardinals squad, which may mean nothing, other than an average team beating up on one fighting for the number one draft spot. I need to see more from the Skins before calling them a legit team under Alex Smith, but I think the Colts continue to struggle on both sides of the ball on the road. Keep an eye on weather here, as it may be a wet one which bodes poorly for Luck, who may need to lean more on their weak run game without Marlon Mack. I’m taking the Redskins to cover the 5.5 points.
Minnesota at Green Bay, -0.5
This might be one of the best games of the season to watch with two dueling, high-paid quarterbacks and a lot of offensive and defensive talent. Aaron Rodgers was injured in the first half of the game on Sunday night against the Bears, but returned in the second half and had the performance of a lifetime. This game is a pick ‘em in Lambeau, so barring any injury news on that front, I give the slight edge to Green Bay at -0.5.
Miami at NY Jets, -2.5
The Jets surprised everyone on Monday night, coming in as 6.5 dogs and destroying Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions. Their defense looked much improved and Sam Darnold demonstrated an impressive air of maturity and composure in his rookie debut. Miami, on the other hand, did beat up on Tennessee, who were without quarterback Marcus Mariota, left tackle Taylor Lewan, and tight end Delanie Walker for much of the game. Ryan Tannehill outperformed my expectations, but I think the Jets win this game at home and cover the 2.5 spread.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Detroit at San Francisco, -5.5
Matt Patricia’s Lions looked awful in their embarrassing 17-48 loss on Monday night against the Jets. The 49ers took an expected loss to a strong Vikings team in Minnesota and I think they bounce back at home against a Lions team that, if Monday was any indication, probably won’t put up too much of a fight on defense. I am picking the 49ers to cover the 5.5 spread at home.
Arizona at LA Rams, -13.5
Our first double-digit spread of the season and it isn’t even a Patriots game! In all seriousness, this feels like a slight overreaction to the Rams winning handily against the Jon Gruden’s Raiders on Monday night. While I think the Rams are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL going up against a very weak Cardinals team, this line is too high this early in the season. Rams quarterback Jared Goff has the weapons, but looked shaky in the opener. I think the Rams win this game easily, but I will take the points with the Cardinals at -13.5 in this NFC west showdown.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
Oakland at Denver, -5.5
Derek Carr has never been great under pressure, and Monday night’s game against a strong Rams pass rush was consistent with that. He will face a similar, if not tougher, challenge in Week 2 against a strong Denver defense, which has been edified by the addition of first-round pick Bradley Chubb. For the Raiders to be successful in this game, Carr will have to spread the ball around to receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson more, who received 3 and 4 targets, respectively, in Week 1. All this said, I am picking the Broncos laying the 5.5 points in Mile High against the Raiders, who I think will have a difficult time winning four games this year.
New England at Jacksonville, +2.5
The Patriots won their Week 1 matchup against the Texans by a touchdown in a game that did not feel close at any point. This said, the Patriots still have serious depth issues at the wide receiver position, and I don’t think former Broncos wideout Bennie Fowler is the answer to their prayers. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles struggled in an unsurprising fashion in the Jags’ Week 1 outing with star running back Leonard Fournette exiting the game with a hamstring injury. He’s listed as day-to-day and if he misses any extended time, the Jaguars will have to lean on the passing game more. I don’t like this game because I find it hard to bet against the Patriots but I like the Jaguars defense against a weaker Patriots passing game. I’ll take the Jaguars as home underdogs getting 2.5 points.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
NY Giants at Dallas, -2.5
The Giants offensive line woes from last season continued to plague them in Week 1. Ereck Flowers, who was coined the “human turnstile” last season, was moved from left to right tackle, which seems to have done little to improve protecting Eli Manning. However, the Cowboys have their share of line issues as well, and their offensive unit isn’t exactly fearsome with Allen Hurns as Dak Prescott’s top target. At -2.5, this game would be a pick ‘em on a neutral field. I think this divisional matchup ends up being close, but with the home field advantage, I lean towards the Cowboys to win and cover the 2.5 points on Sunday night.
Thursday 8:20 PM EST
Baltimore at Cincinnati, +0.5
The Ravens are coming off of a lopsided 47-3 Week 1 matchup against a Bills team that could struggle to win three games this year. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked good on Sunday, spreading the ball around the field to his receivers and running back Alex Collins. Cincinnati also won its Week 1 matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. With both the Ravens and Bengals having played bad teams last week, it’s hard to tell if either one will be legitimate contenders based on that alone. That being said, give me the Bengals to eke out a win in this divisional game at home.