NFL Week 2 Best Bets, Predictions, & Picks

Get your Week 2 NFL Best bets and picks ahead of Sunday’s games. It is another big week for underdogs as there are several spreads nearing a touchdown or higher. Find the best NFL Week 2 best bets below.

Week 2 NFL Best Bets

So far so good on the power ratings front, and I’m excited to bring back the strategy for another week of picks. As a reminder, I won’t end up with all of my picks published in this article, but you can follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports_ where I’ll post the latest on bets I’m taking throughout the week. Let’s dive into some Week 2 lines.

NFL Best Bets YTD: 11-4 (73.3%)

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots struggled mightily in a 20-7 loss to the Dolphins that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated – it was 17-0 at halftime. Overall, the Patriots had an offensive EPA of -0.424 per play in the first half in Week 1, which was the second-worst in the league and only better than the Bengals. The Steelers ranked 12th in the same metric.

Much of the preseason beat had discussed the Patriots switching to more of a zone-blocking scheme this season following the retirement of legendary O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia, and the early results have been ugly from training camp to preseason to Week 1 – Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for just 17 carries for 73 yards last week.

Pittsburgh’s run defense struggled last season, but they held Cincinnati to a 20% rushing success rate in Week 1, the lowest in the NFL, and an even lower 17.2% success rate on early downs. I don’t expect the Patriots to be particularly successful establishing a ground game this week. With an injury-hampered Mac Jones and a one-dimensional offense, that’s a recipe for disaster.

The Steelers, meanwhile, can support Trubisky with a range of playmakers. Pat Freiermuth was the leading receiver in Week 1 with five catches for 75 yards, but Diontae Johnson is one of the best route runners in the NFL. Meanwhile, Najee Harris should have much better days ahead, assuming he’s ready to roll this week.

The loss of T.J. Watt hurts, but Pittsburgh still has Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and a host of other above-average defensive talents. Not to mention, the defensive coaching tandem of Mike Tomlin and Brian Flores is one of the best in recent memory. They will completely outmatch the bizarre dual offensive coordinator situation with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

I’m not here to tell you Mitchell Trubisky is elite, but his adjusted EPA per play on early downs was better than Mac Jones’s last week. The gap isn’t wide enough to offset the difference in supporting offensive talent and coaching. Pittsburgh should be favored in this game, and I’ll happily take them at anything resembling plus money value.

My Power Rating Spread: Steelers -3

Best Bet: Steelers +2.5 (bet to ML)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

The Buccaneers got the win in Week 1, but the start to this season has been brutal for them. All five of their top receivers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, and Breshad Perriman) are listed as questionable for Week 2. Tackles Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs are dealing with injuries to go with Ryan Jensen and Aaron Stinnie on Injured Reserve.

Tom Brady is still a magician, even at 44 years old, and he led the NFL in EPA + CPOE composite score at 0.313 last week. However, he ranked 16th in passer rating and 23rd in adjusted completion rate, and the outside circumstances deteriorating around him will hamper his ability to produce at an elite level.

The Saints have had Brady’s number in recent matchups as they have won four of their five meetings since he arrived in Tampa Bay in 2020. Dennis Allen, the new New Orleans head coach, has been the defensive coordinator for those games and knows how to implement a scheme to hamper Brady’s productivity.

Brady’s third-down success rate of 22.2% was the second-worst among starters last week, and a similar result could be in the cards for this week. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston ranked seventh among starters in passer rating last week as he clearly benefitted from a revamped receiving corps featuring Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave.

The Buccaneers’ defense might be the best in the NFL right now as they ranked first in EPA per play allowed last week. The Saints had a more uneven first week, but they buckled down when it mattered as they ranked eighth in EPA per play allowed on third down. I’m backing the historical trends and taking the Saints at home against a hobbled Bucs team, and I also love the play on the under with these two elite defenses.

My Power Rating Spread: Buccaneers -1.5

Best Bet: Saints +3 (bet to +2.5) and under 44.5 (bet to 43.5)

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

I wound up losing my bet on the Jaguars in Week 1, but they looked promising in several key areas. Jacksonville beat Washington in yards per play (6.2 to 5.6), had a better early down success rate, and had the eighth-highest first down conversion rate in the NFL. The Jaguars converted a first down on 66% of their series in the game.

Trevor Lawrence was the driving force behind that early down success as his 0.234 EPA + CPOE composite ranked sixth among all quarterbacks. It was exciting to see Doug Pederson willing to let Lawrence push the ball downfield more on those early downs as he finished with 9.2 average air yards on those plays.

Meanwhile, the Colts struggled mightily on early downs in Week 1 as they allowed the seventh-highest success rate on first and second downs to the Texans. Outside of DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis struggled to generate much of a pass-rush, and they clearly missed their defensive leader Shaquille Leonard.

Carson Wentz had an unsustainable 72.7% success rate on third downs against Jacksonville compared to Matt Ryan’s 38.5% success rate last week. While Jacksonville doesn’t have an elite run defense, they ranked seventh in EPA last week and can at least slow down Jonathan Taylor somewhat. That will help them get off the field on money downs more consistently.

Frank Reich has struggled in September, posting a 5-9-1 record as the head coach, as his teams have taken time to adjust to a new starting quarterback each year. If nothing else, getting plus money on a divisional home dog is excellent especially when the Jaguars are 7-0 in their last seven home games against Indy.

My Power Rating Spread: Colts -2.5

Best Bet: Jaguars +4.5 (bet to +3.5)

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

The Browns got the narrow win over the Panthers last week, but their offense did little to inspire confidence. Jacoby Brissett completed just 52.9% of his passes despite averaging just 2.6 completed air yards per attempt, the fourth-lowest rate in the league. D.J. Reed Jr. and Sauce Gardner were excellent in Week 1, allowing a combined one reception on 70 pass coverage snaps.

Nick Chubb ran for 6.4 yards a pop and Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns, but this is a tougher matchup – the Jets’ run defense held strong against the Ravens in limiting them to 3.0 YPC. New York also ranked sixth in the NFL in run defense EPA last week. With a deep defensive line rotation and solid set of linebackers, the Jets are in a better position to slow down the Cleveland rushing attack than the Panthers were last week.

You might be hesitant to back Joe Flacco, but he played decent football in a tough matchup in Week 1. Flacco’s 80% adjusted completion rate ranked 8th in the league per PFF, and while he didn’t have a big-time throw, he also didn’t have a turnover-worthy play. He’s capable of facilitating enough offensive production to keep the Jets in this game.

Week 2 underdogs that failed to cover in Week 1 by a touchdown or more are 53-38-2 ATS (58.2%) since 2005, and the Jets fit the bill here. The Browns shouldn’t be laying 6.5 points with Jacoby Brissett under center against anyone, and while the Jets are at the bottom of my power ratings, this number necessitates a play on them to cover with the lowest over-under total of the week.

My Power Rating Spread: Browns -5.5

Best Bet: Jets +6.5 (bet to +6)

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants

There were plenty of unsustainable aspects to the Giants’ offensive performance in Week 1. Daniel Jones had a CPOE of 23.4% on early downs which ranked first in the NFL by a massive margin – the second-best rate was Tom Brady’s 13.5%. That screams regression, and the Giants ranked 31st in offensive DVOA and 18th in EPA.

Meanwhile, the Panthers ranked 24th in offensive DVOA and 14th in EPA despite their offensive line struggling mightily against the Browns’ Myles Garrett who had a whopping six pressures and a 28.6% pass-rush win rate per PFF. The Giants don’t have a pass-rusher close to the same tier, although keep an eye on practice reports as rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux might make his debut this week.

Nevertheless, with more time in the pocket, Baker Mayfield should be able to connect with D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson, who had a 75-yard touchdown catch last week. In addition, Christian McCaffrey should be much more productive after a disappointing Week 1 performance. New York will have difficulties matching up with all of that offensive talent given its inexperienced secondary.

My biggest concern in this game is that the Panthers ranked fourth-worst in the league in Week 1 in defensive EPA against the run. The Giants’ Saquon Barkley looked like he was back to his old self in Week 1 as he had 194 yards from scrimmage. Still, the Panthers have the upper hand in terms of skill position talent, and Brian Burns could be in for a big day against right tackle Evan Neal.

My ratings make Carolina a favorite in this game, and I don’t want to overreact to a Week 1 win by the Giants that they sort of backed into due to mistakes and lackadaisical play by the Titans. Now that the monkey is off Baker Mayfield’s shoulder and he doesn’t have to stress about facing his former team, this game provides an opportunity for the Carolina offense to begin to gel.

My Power Rating Spread: Panthers -1

Best Bet: Panthers +2.5 (bet to ML)

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams

Nothing went right for the Rams last week. Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and took seven sacks while the offense didn’t score in the second half. Meanwhile, Aaron Donald was taken out of the game with minimal pass-rush production next to him, and Jalen Ramsey was torched as he allowed a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in coverage.

However, this matchup provides an excellent opportunity to bounce back. The Falcons’ defense completely fell apart in the fourth quarter last week as they allowed an EPA/play of 1.063 and success rate of 86.7%, by far the worst numbers in the NFL. A.J. Terrell surprisingly allowed two touchdowns in coverage, and Casey Hayward allowed two catches for 71 yards as he was burned twice.

That cornerback duo is the backbone of the Atlanta defense, and if they’re playing like that, they will struggle mightily against Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson. Grady Jarrett came through with five total pressures and two sacks last week, and with the Rams’ starting center Brian Allen now injured, he’ll make an impact in this game. However, Sean McVay will have a much easier time scheming against this defense.

Marcus Mariota had some nice rushing plays last week, but PFF tracked him with two turnover-worthy plays and no big-time throws on 37 dropbacks. With the Atlanta offensive line likely not holding up nearly as well against Donald and company this week – they only allowed two pressures last week – Mariota will likely struggle to move the ball through the air.

Teams that have lost by double-digit points in Week 1 since 2014 are 34-21-1 ATS in Week 2 at a 60% hit rate. The Rams have had ten days to lick their wounds and prepare for this home game against the Falcons, and they will be roaring for the opportunity to put their embarrassing opening day defeat in the rearview mirror.

My Power Rating Spread: Rams -13.5

Best Bet: Rams -10 (bet to -12.5)

Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders

It was a miserable start to the season for Arizona as they allowed the Chiefs to drop a 40-burger on their way to the worst defensive DVOA rating in the league. However, they played suicide defense as they blitzed Patrick Mahomes on 24 of his 41 dropbacks, and all five of his passing touchdowns came on those plays. Arizona completely ignored the book on how to slow down Mahomes.

However, that same strategy could pay dividends against Derek Carr. Last season, Carr’s passer rating under pressure ranked 22nd of 32 QBs with 100+ dropbacks per PFF, and the Raiders’ offensive line figures to be even worse this season. Carr had three interceptions in Week 1, and it could have been more as he led the league with five turnover-worthy plays per PFF.

The Raiders’ defense didn’t fare much better than the Cardinals’ in Week 1 as they ranked 30th in EPA per dropback allowed while Arizona ranked 32nd. Las Vegas’s secondary is susceptible to deep passes, and while the Cardinals don’t have DeAndre Hopkins to start the season, I anticipate that Marquise Brown will have a much more productive game this week. Look to target him in player props and DFS in this matchup.

The Cardinals were 6-1 ATS as an underdog last season and 18-9-2 since Kyler Murray was drafted in 2019, making them one of the most profitable dogs in the NFL. Arizona also played quite well away from home last year, going 8-2 ATS on the road. This line opened at Raiders -2.5, which is where my power ratings have the spread.

While I’d take the Raiders to win outright in office pools and what not, I believe there is value with the Cardinals on this spread. If you bet the Raiders -2.5 on the look-ahead, I’d likely just stick with that wager and not mess around with a middle unless it’s live after Vegas scores early. However, I’ll take the points now with the Cardinals and Kyler Murray in what I project to be a high-scoring affair.

My Power Rating Spread: Raiders -2.5

Best Bet: Cardinals +6 (bet to +4.5)

Underdog Teaser Special

I want to be careful not to overreact to a somewhat fluky win over the Broncos, and the Seahawks certainly could be in a letdown spot after a highly emotional win over Russell Wilson in primetime. Geno Smith wasn’t nearly as good in the second half last week – his EPA per play fell from 6th among QBs to 22nd – but the overall performance was good enough to engineer a solid offensive performance.

Trey Lance should be in for a more productive Week 2 outing than he had in Week 1, but the 49ers are expected to be without George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell. They also still have unresolved issues with the interior of their offensive line. While I believe the Niners will win, I haven’t seen enough from Lance to be confident in their ability to run away with this game. I like the Seahawks as a teaser piece in what’s expected to be a rainy day in San Francisco.

It may feel terrifying to back the Titans after they lost to the Giants, especially against the Bills who demolished the Super Bowl champions in Week 1, but Tennessee should be in a good spot here. The Titans were massively profitable against the spread as an underdog last season with a 6-2 record. Under Mike Vrabel, they are 19-9 straight up and 20-8 ATS in games where they are an underdog of a field goal or more.

Tennessee’s biggest issue in Week 1 was their run defense as they gave up 238 yards on the ground. Luckily for them, Buffalo had the worst rushing EPA in the NFL in Week 1 and won’t challenge them on the ground. With Kevin Byard leading a talented secondary and Derrick Henry helping the Titans control time of possession and keep Josh Allen off the field, I like the Titans to keep this thing close.

Best Bet: 2-Team Teaser, Titans +16 with Seahawks +14.5

Other Teaser Legs to Consider

Minnesota Vikings +8: I like the Vikings to win this game outright, and the +8 is a great teaser piece this week. Minnesota has the offensive firepower to challenge a Philadelphia defense that struggled immensely with tackling last week, and Kirk Cousins has thrown for 13 touchdowns to three interceptions in five career road games against the Eagles. Justin Jefferson should feast again.

Washington Commanders +7.5: I don’t love putting my money on Carson Wentz, but I make the spread in this game -1 in favor of the Commanders rather than the Lions. At the time of this writing, D’Andre Swift still isn’t practicing, and Washington’s cadre of offensive skill position players can challenge a Detroit secondary that looks to be in for another long season.

Cincinnati Bengals -1.5: It’s difficult to imagine the Bengals starting 0-2 against Mitchell Trubisky and Cooper Rush, and this is a must-win game given the strong competition in their division and the AFC as a whole. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins will test an overmatched Dallas secondary while the Cincy defense should excel against a very limited Dallas offense.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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