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Week 2 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Look for big bounce-back games from the Bengals and Bills. And is it really possible the Chiefs could start 0-2? Here are our picks for every game on the Week 2 slate.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Week 1 in the NFL featured impressive blowout victories by the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, a league-shaking injury to Aaron Rodgers, and upset losses for the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals.

What does Week 2 have in store for us? We’ve got another full slate of games, including a pair of Monday night matchups. Let’s get to the picks.

Lines are from FanDuel as of Wednesday night. Stats are from TruMedia and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.

Week 1 record: 10-6

Season record: 10-6

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)

The Eagles went on the road in Week 1 and escaped New England with a 25-20 victory. Offensively, they produced fewer yards (251) than they did in any game last season. The offensive line had issues, quarterback Jalen Hurts left plays on the field, the offensive game plan was conservative, and the Patriots defense played really well.

The Vikings, meanwhile, have to feel like they gave one away in a 20-17 loss to the Bucs. They turned the ball over three times—including twice when they were in field goal range.

There’s a scenario here in which the Eagles are able to go up and down the field against the Vikings’ undermanned defense, and Philly’s pass rush (rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter was a monster in Week 1!) dominates. But the Eagles are down three defensive starters (cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Nakobe Dean, and safety Reed Blankenship), and they had issues in coverage against New England. I think the Vikings put up enough points to keep this one close.

The pick: Vikings (+6.5)

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)

After last week’s win over the Bears, Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur now has the fourth-best winning percentage (.716) of any coach in NFL history. Seriously! I looked it up—I swear. In Week 1, LaFleur put on a clinic for how to help an inexperienced quarterback. He schemed up explosive play after explosive play in the second half, making life easier for Jordan Love and allowing the Packers to take control of the game.

The Falcons, meanwhile, took care of business against the Panthers, but it wasn’t pretty. The game was tied at 10 going into the fourth quarter before Atlanta pulled away. The Falcons had 29 passing yards through three quarters. I think Atlanta’s passing game will struggle again, and I like the Packers in this spot.

The pick: Packers (-1.5)

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)

Just a completely dispiriting Week 1 performance for the Bears. Quarterback Justin Fields threw a pick-six, lost a fumble, and was sacked four times. He looked uncomfortable all day, turned down open receivers, and showed no signs that he’s ready to make a significant leap this season. Wide receiver DJ Moore, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, was somehow targeted only twice. Five (!) Bears players got more targets than Moore! How does that happen??

The difference in the Bucs’ Week 1 win over the Vikings was that they were plus-3 in turnover margin. I think the Bucs defense will keep them in a lot of games, but there’s no way I trust Baker Mayfield enough to lay the points here.

The pick: Bears (+2.5)

Seahawks WR DK Metcalf
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-5.5)

Generally speaking, it’s unwise to panic after one game. But if there’s one team that might be justified in doing so, it has to be the Seahawks. They got smoked by the Rams at home, 30-13. OK, no big deal you say. We see random blowouts in Week 1 every season, and it was a divisional opponent. Still, this loss seems particularly concerning. The Seahawks lost both of their starting offensive tackles to injuries during the game. In the second half, they ran just 14 offensive plays for 12 yards!

So what’s the glass-half-full take? The Seahawks still have stellar wide receivers and are typically well-coached. They now have a week to plan around the injury issues on the offensive line. Maybe they get it together.

The Lions, meanwhile, have had extra rest after their Thursday night win over the Chiefs. Most encouraging for Detroit in that game: It felt like all of the Lions’ young, talented players showed up.

I have no idea what to do here, but my usual Week 2 rule is to not overreact to Week 1. So give me the points.

The pick: Seahawks (+5.5)

Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Josh Allen’s greatest gift is his biggest curse. He treats every play like it’s the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. That leads to the “How’d he do that?” plays. It also leads to the “What’s he thinking?” plays. The latter was the story in Monday night’s horrendous loss to the Jets in which Buffalo just gave the game away.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo and the Raiders put together two impressive fourth-quarter drives in Denver for a Week 1 victory. First, they went 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Then, they milked the final 5:08 off the clock to secure the win. Was that performance enough to make me a believer? Of course not. I think the Bills will bounce back here in a big way.

The pick: Bills (-9.5)

Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans (+3)

The good news for the Chargers: Overall, their offense with Kellen Moore got off to a good start. They fell apart on the last drive with the game on the line (and that matters!), but zooming out, the Chargers produced the highest success rate of any offense in Week 1. The bad news: Their defense got absolutely dismantled in the loss to the Dolphins.

As for the Titans, I thought they had a bunch of chances to leave New Orleans with a win last week. But when you turn the ball over three times and have a punt blocked, it’s hard to win. Mike Vrabel’s decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-6 from the Saints’ 11-yard line with 2:17 left was baffling. He cut the lead to 16-15, but the Titans never got the ball back.

But that’s not important. What is important is that Vrabel’s team covered as an underdog—again. I’m not messing with a good thing.

The pick: Titans (+3)

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (+1)

Are rookie quarterbacks going to just come into the league and look way more comfortable now? Given Anthony Richardson’s youth and lack of experience, I thought he was going to face a steep learning curve this season. But in Week 1 against the Jaguars, despite the loss, he looked like he knew what he was doing. And the Colts coaching staff did a good job of helping him. Houston’s rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud had a bit of a rougher go, but he was facing a good Ravens defense and doesn’t have a strong supporting cast. But he didn’t look overmatched either in his debut.

As for this game, you can’t possibly think I have a strong take on who’s going to win, right? It’s Week 2, and we have two rookie quarterbacks and two first-year head coaches. Let me flip a coin … Texans it is!

The pick: Texans (+1)

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)

Aside from the Jets, I’m not sure any team had a more costly Week 1 victory than the Ravens. They lost running back J.K. Dobbins for the season, and safety Marcus Williams is expected to be out for a while. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum both suffered injuries and neither player participated in Wednesday’s practice. This is a banged-up group that goes to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that got embarrassed in Week 1.

Cincinnati could not handle the rain in Cleveland or the Browns defense. The Bengals’ success rate on offense was not only the worst for any team in Week 1, but it also would have qualified as the second-worst performance by any team all of last season. Only the Jets’ Week 11 showing against the Patriots was worse.

I hate going against the Ravens in spots like this because we know they’re going to have a special teams edge. But the Bengals are healthier, and I don’t think last week’s loss reflects who they’re going to be this season.

The pick: Bengals (-3)

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5)

It’s hard—not impossible, but hard—for me to picture a scenario in which the Chiefs begin their season 0-2. They still have Patrick Mahomes. They still have a good offensive line. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is back. And maybe tight end Travis Kelce will play this week. The Jaguars defense did not impress me last week. I feel strongly that the Chiefs will be able to put up points here.

But I like this Jaguars offense. They quietly produced the third-highest success rate behind only the Chargers and Dolphins in Week 1, and Trevor Lawrence performed well. In the playoffs last season, the Jaguars played the Chiefs tough, and that was on the road.

My guess is the public will be all over the Chiefs, expecting them to bounce back, but I like this Jaguars team more than most. Give me the points.

The pick: Jaguars (+3.5)

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (+7.5)

I think Matthew Stafford had the most impressive performance of any quarterback in Week 1. He was playing without his no. 1 receiver Cooper Kupp and carved the Seahawks up, consistently making high-degree-of-difficulty throws en route to 334 passing yards. Rookie receiver Puka Nacua had 10 catches for 119 yards for the Rams and instantly became the most interesting fantasy story of the year. “How much do I bid on this guy? Can I really spend that much on someone I never heard of before Sunday? On the other hand, if I get him, I get to walk around my house yelling PUKA NACUA! This is an impossible decision. Someone please just tell me what to do.”

As for the 49ers, they looked like a well-oiled machine in a 30-7 win over the Steelers. Brock Purdy looked exactly like the guy we saw last year. Christian McCaffrey was unstoppable. Brandon Aiyuk was impressive. And the defense was dominant.

Part of me is thinking: divisional game, Stafford’s healthy, home dog. Maybe take the points. But another part of me is smacking that first part upside the head and reminding me that there’s a huge talent gap between these two teams and I shouldn’t overreact to the Rams’ Week 1 performance.

See what I struggle through to deliver this column?

The pick: 49ers (-7.5)

Giants QB Daniel Jones
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals (+6)

Allow me to be the 400th person to tell you that keeping Daniel Jones in the game in the fourth quarter of that 40-0 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night was absurd. Brian Daboll wanted something positive to happen for Jones? C’mon now. Jones was getting crushed. It’s a long season. Can you imagine the discourse if one of those late-game hits resulted in an injury to the quarterback they just signed to a big deal this offseason? Be smart and take care of your players. That should’ve been an easy decision.

As for the Cardinals, they looked surprisingly competent during a road loss at Washington.

A nugget that I’m leaning on here: Since 1993, teams that suffer 40-point losses in Week 1 are 11-3-1 against the spread the following week. OK, I made that up. Still, I like the Giants to bounce back.

The pick: Giants (-6)

New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5)

Jets fans: By the time you read this, I sincerely hope that your team has made a move at quarterback. They simply cannot just roll with Zach Wilson the rest of the way. The team is too good and too fun. Breece Hall. Garrett Wilson. Quinnen Williams. Sauce Gardner. A bunch of role players who showed up on Monday night in what felt like a miraculous win. The Jets owe it to their fans to do something.

Here’s the thing about Zach Wilson: It’s not just that he was terrible last year. It’s that his style of play doesn’t fit with how this team can win. If he were a dink-and-dunk artist who never made a big play but also avoided mistakes, I’d be able to buy into the idea of giving him another chance. But that’s not who he is. He makes bad decisions that negate dominant defensive performances and lead to losses. We just saw this over and over again last year. Wilson repeating that type of season again will be a soul-crusher for the other players on the roster and the entire fan base. So whether it’s Philip Rivers or Jacoby Brissett or someone else, I need the Jets to do something.

As for this game, the Cowboys looked incredible Sunday night, but given how good the Jets defense is, and against all of my better judgment, I’m taking the points.

The pick: Jets (+9.5)

Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos (-3.5)

What a weird loss for the Broncos in Week 1. Their offense had only six drives! That’s tied for the fewest for any team in a game in TruMedia’s database, which goes back to 2000. However, I thought their performance in that limited sample was encouraging. The Broncos ranked fourth in expected points added (EPA) per drive and sixth in offensive success rate in Week 1. Their defense, though, couldn’t get off the field late in the fourth quarter.

The Commanders, meanwhile, escaped Week 1 humiliation by narrowly beating the Cardinals at home.

After thinking it over for about 30 seconds, I’ve decided I’m ready to be hurt by the Broncos again.

The pick: Broncos (-3.5)

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (+3)

One player who didn’t fill up the box score in Week 1 but looked great on film for the Patriots was rookie defensive lineman Keion White. The Eagles have a pair of quality starting offensive tackles, and White had impressive pass-rush reps against both of them. He’s a player to watch in the weeks ahead. Overall, the Patriots delivered a strong defensive performance, and their offense looked far more competent than it did a year ago.

Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Dolphins, meanwhile, were one of the big winners of Week 1. They totaled 536 yards and had 23 plays of 10-plus yards—tied for the most by any offense in a single game over the past two seasons. I loved how aggressive head coach and play caller Mike McDaniel was. At the end of the first half, the Chargers failed to convert a third down. McDaniel took a timeout with 14 seconds left. Los Angeles kicked a field goal and then kicked off to Miami. The Dolphins took over from their own 25 with nine seconds left. Most coaches take a knee there. McDaniel called a play, and Tua Tagovailoa completed a pass to Jaylen Waddle for 22 yards. There was still two seconds left. McDaniel called another play—and came away with a 30-yard pass interference penalty against the Chargers, putting the Dolphins into field goal range. They kicked a field goal just before halftime and ended up winning the game by two points. Moral of the story: Know your team’s identity, and if you believe in your offense, never, ever waste a chance to score.

It’s possible that the Patriots stymie this Dolphins attack, but Miami was too impressive last week for me to fade them here.

The pick: Dolphins (-3)

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+3)

I need to be honest with you, dear reader: My pick here is purely an emotional hedge. Before the season, I went out on a limb and picked the Panthers to win the NFC South. Carolina is now down two starting guards and its no. 1 corner, Jaycee Horn. The Panthers’ leading receivers in Week 1 were tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Miles Sanders. They turned the ball over three times. Needless to say, this is not going great for me so far.

I was uninspired by the Saints’ victory over the Titans, but I’m going to pick them here. If they cover, at least I get the pick right. If the Panthers win, maybe my preseason bold prediction still has some legs. If the Saints win but don’t cover, well, I don’t even want to think about that.

The pick: Saints (-3)

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)

A streak that I have recently become obsessed with: The Steelers have gone 36 straight games under offensive coordinator Matt Canada without gaining at least 400 yards. Canada joined the Steelers in 2021. Since then, we have seen 269 instances of a team gaining at least 400 yards in a game. But the Steelers haven’t done it once—that’s wild!

After an embarrassing loss to the 49ers in Week 1, the Steelers now face a Browns team that is coming off an impressive victory over the Bengals. Cleveland’s defense showed up in that game.

But I can’t quit the Steelers quite yet. Regular readers of this column know I pretty much always take Mike Tomlin in an underdog role. What could go wrong?

The pick: Steelers (+2.5)