Week 1 was not very kind to me, but we’re back to the drawing board and I’m hopeful I can learn from my mistakes moving forward. It’s always tough to know what teams will look like following an offseason full of changes and I do think we learned plenty from the first real slate of games of the season. Week 2 features some very high-profile matchups including the Chiefs and Ravens, two AFC contenders, playing on Sunday Night Football. We’ll also see the Titans look to bounce back from a Week 1 loss against the Seahawks while the Bills-Dolphins and Saints-Panthers are two intriguing divisional matchups. Let’s take a look at the betting lines for Week 2.
My record so far: 6-10 SU, 7-9 ATS, 8-8 O/U
Thursday, September 16
New York Giants @ Washington Football Team
New York hosted the Broncos in Week 1 and looked pretty terrible overall. Offensively, Daniel Jones and company struggled to maintain possession of the ball with a run game that averaged just 3.0 YPC. Sterling Shepard showed out with 7 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, but Jones completed under 60% of his passes against a tough Denver defense. It won’t get any easier for Jones in Week 2 on the road against a Washington defense he averaged just 162 passing yards per game against last year. Washington’s new cornerback William Jackson picked off Justin Herbert last week and the defense hit the LA quarterback five times. New York’s offensive line is very suspect and Chase Young and Montez Sweat should be able to take advantage.
Unfortunately for Washington, Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury on Sunday after just six passing attempts with his new team, and he will likely be out for at least a few weeks. Taylor Heinecke was solid in relief of Fitzpatrick as he completed 73.3% of his passes and threw a touchdown to tight end Logan Thomas. New York’s defense offered little resistance against Denver in Week 1 as Teddy Bridgewater completed 77.7% of his passes and threw for a couple of touchdowns. Melvin Gordon also flashed his speed on a 70-yard touchdown run. If the Giants struggled to defend against Denver, I have little confidence that they will fare much better against Washington. This should be a nice bounce-back opportunity for Antonio Gibson who struggled in Week 1.
The Giants’ defense should be better than it was in Week 1 as the secondary has some strong talent in James Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson. With Curtis Samuel out, Washington’s limited pass-catching could make things difficult for Heinecke as an inexperienced passer. However, I have little faith in Daniel Jones to produce against this defense. The Giants are 7-3 straight up and 6-4 ATS in their last ten matchups against Washington, but I’ll buck that trend and take Washington to cover at home. This is also such a low points total that I’ll roll with the over in this game, although Vegas is pretty spot on with this total.
Matchup To Watch: Andrew Thomas (NYG OT) vs. Chase Young (WAS DE)
My Pick: Washington wins 23-20, Giants cover, over 42.5 points
Sunday, September 19
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
Mac Jones got his professional debut out of the way last week, and while it didn’t come in a Patriots’ win, he played very well against what was one of the better pass defenses in the NFL a season ago. Jones looked cool, calm, and collected as he completed 74.3% of his passes for 281 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. If not for a late fumble by Damien Harris, the Patriots likely would have won the game. Aside from that fumble, Harris looked great with 117 yards from scrimmage on 25 touches. The Jets’ run defense is middle of the pack and New England should be able to move the ball on the ground behind its elite offensive line. Offseason addition Nelson Agholor starred for the Patriots in Week 1 with 5 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown while James White, Jakobi Meyers, and Jonnu Smith had 5+ catches. New England has an underrated skill-position group that should excel against the Jets.
The Jets also had a rookie quarterback debut on Sunday, but Zach Wilson didn’t fare quite as well as Jones. Wilson completed just 54% of his passes and threw an interception despite facing a beatable Carolina defense. Now, he’ll have to face one of the better defenses in the NFL in the Patriots. While Corey Davis caught 5 balls for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, the rest of the receiving corps underwhelmed. Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole may be back this week, but even still, I have a hard time projecting a great passing performance for Wilson against New England. That’s especially true when the Jets’ running backs averaged just 2.6 YPC as a group in Week 1. New England got D’Onta Hightower back in action and saw Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon benefit the front seven immensely. With Mekhi Becton likely out for this game for the Jets, pass protection could be an issue.
The Patriots have won 10 straight games against the Jets and 18 of their last 20 matchups. While there will be plenty of new faces in this game, I’m expecting the same result we’ve grown accustomed to from these teams. Bill Belichick will have his team fired up to get a win on the books after a close Week 1 loss, and the Jets aren’t quite ready to compete.
Matchup To Watch: Quinnen Williams (NYJ DL) vs. David Andrews (NE C)
My Pick: Patriots win 23-16, Patriots cover, under 42.5 points
Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence made his long-awaited debut on Sunday and it didn’t quite go according to plan. The Jaguars’ rookie completed just 54% of his passes and threw three interceptions despite facing one of the worst defenses in the NFL in the Texans. He made up for it late with a few touchdown strikes and surpassed 300 yards passing, but it was overall a very inefficient performance. Against the Broncos, Lawrence will have to face one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL and a rejuvenated Von Miller who had 2 sacks in Week 1. D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault Jr. all made some plays in Week 1, but Denver’s cornerbacks are going to severely limit their effectiveness. It also doesn’t seem that Jacksonville has any interest in running the ball as James Robinson had just 5 carries despite facing one of the weakest run defenses in the NFL. Needless to say, I don’t have much faith in Urban Meyer’s offense.
On the other side of the ball, Teddy Bridgewater had a sparkling Denver debut on the road as he completed 28 of 36 passes for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jerry Jeudy was lost to what was evidently a high ankle sprain and he’ll almost surely miss several weeks. However, Noah Fant, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, Melvin Gordon, and Albert Okwuegbunam all made some big plays. Courtland Sutton should have much better days ahead of him, as well. Jacksonville’s defense made Tyrod Taylor look like Deshaun Watson in Week 1 as Taylor threw for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns with some incredible deep balls along the way. Bridgewater should be able to produce with no problems against the Jaguars.
Denver gets another easy matchup to start off their 2020 season and after a 14-point road win over the Giants, another decisive win on the road should be coming their way. This Broncos team is loaded with talent, especially on defense, and it’s going to make life difficult on Trevor Lawrence in his second career start.
Matchup To Watch: Von Miller (DEN OLB) vs. Jawaan Taylor (JAX OT)
My Pick: Broncos win 27-20, Broncos cover, over 44.5 points
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins feel that they have a strong chance to win the AFC East, and they got off to a great start with a win over the Patriots in Week 1. Tua Tagovailoa had an uneven game that included an interception on a pretty poor decision, but he played well enough to get Miami the win. DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle each had four receptions and Waddle scored a touchdown in his rookie debut. Next week, Will Fuller will re-enter the fold as another strong pass-catching piece for Tua. Buffalo’s pass defense looked very good in Week 1, though, in holding Ben Roethlisberger to 56.2% passing for 188 yards and a QBR of just 28.7. Buffalo also limited Najee Harris to just 45 yards on 16 carries in his rookie debut.
Buffalo is coming off a very disappointing loss that included a surprising blocked punt return for a touchdown by Pittsburgh that wound up being the difference in the two teams’ scores. Josh Allen had an uneven day passing the ball, but he’ll be excited to see the Miami defense across the field as he threw for 7 touchdowns to 1 interception across two matchups against the Dolphins in 2020. Mac Jones had a solid performance against Miami in Week 1, and while the Dolphins had the sixth-ranked scoring defense last year, they are beatable especially against an opponent of the Bills’ caliber.
While Miami gets the home-field advantage here, the Bills are going to be fired up to get a win after a disappointing Week 1 result. Josh Allen has excelled against this defense in the past and Buffalo has supported him with elite pass-catching in Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis. I’ll take Buffalo to get a bounce-back win on the road.
Matchup To Watch: Stefon Diggs (BUF WR) vs. Xavien Howard (MIA CB)
My Pick: Bills win 24-20, Bills cover, under 48.5 points
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Of all of the teams and players that impressed me in Week 1, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles were the biggest standouts. Hurts completed 77% of his passes and threw for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers. DeVonta Smith shined in his NFL debut with 6 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown while Jalen Reagor looked great with 6 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Dallas Goedert found the end zone, as well, while Miles Sanders racked up over 100 yards from scrimmage. Philadelphia will find it more difficult to move the ball against San Francisco than they did against Atlanta, but I’m starting to buy in on the Eagles as a potential playoff team. I also think the loss of Jason Verrett, the backbone of San Francisco’s secondary is a huge deal for them moving forward.
The final score of the 49ers-Lions game from last week doesn’t do justice to the drubbing San Francisco laid down for most of the game as they had a 28-point league at one point before Detroit made SF bettors break a sweat with a crazy run of scores and successful onside kicks at the end of the game. Trey Sermon was a surprise inactive and Raheem Mostert got injured early on, so Elijah Mitchell was the top back and he finished with 19 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. Deebo Samuel was the superstar on offense with 9 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown while Brandon Aiyuk was surprisingly held without a catch. Trey Lance made his way onto the field and threw a touchdown in his pro debut, but this is still Jimmy Garoppolo’s team for now.
Jalen Hurts is an explosive quarterback who is capable of leading a dynamic Eagles offense this season particularly with Nick Sirriani steering the ship in the right direction. However, the 49ers are a well-oiled machine and shouldn’t be discredited for letting the feisty Lions back into the game on Sunday. Philadelphia’s future looks very bright, but for the present, the 49ers are a juggernaut who I trust to win on the road. I’ll take them to cover the 3 points here.
Matchup To Watch: Jordan Mailata (PHI OT) vs. Nick Bosa (SF DE)
My Pick: 49ers win 28-24, 49ers cover, over 48 points
Los Angeles Rams @ Indianapolis Colts
These two teams had about as opposite Week 1 experiences as you’ll see. The Rams played their first game with fans in the new SoFi Stadium with a new face at quarterback in Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ new QB completed 77% of his passes and picked apart a weak Chicago defense to the tune of 321 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Colts defense couldn’t keep Russell Wilson in check in Week 1 as he completed 78% of his passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns, and I doubt they have an easier time against Stafford even though Xavier Rhodes should be back in the lineup for this game. The Rams figure to have one of the best passing offenses in the NFL this season and it’s going to put the Colts on their heels again this week.
Carson Wentz’s new team debut didn’t go as well as Stafford’s, but he did finish with a decent line of 251 passing yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions but one lost fumble, although his QBR was just 26.3. Indianapolis’s supposedly elite run game averaged just 3.7 YPC collectively and Michael Pittman Jr., who I expected to have a breakout campaign as the team’s top receiver, finished with just 3 catches for 29 yards. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines each had 6 catches and both should be heavily involved in the passing game again this week as the Rams’ pass rush led by Aaron Donald is going to get after Wentz after the Seahawks sacked him 3 times. Eric Fisher’s return from the Achilles injury can’t come soon enough.
I don’t want to overreact to what we saw in Week 1, but in discussing contenders and pretenders these two teams clearly fit into different categories. The upgrade of Stafford over Goff can’t be overstated and while the Rams are top-heavy, they are incredibly talented and well-coached. I don’t trust Wentz against this defense, although the Rams proved they can push the total over on the points as they won’t hesitate to keep passing even with a late lead.
Matchup To Watch: Quenton Nelson (IND OG) vs. Aaron Donald (LAR DT)
My Pick: Rams win 30-24, Rams cover, over 47.5 points
Las Vegas Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders earned one of the most surprising wins of Week 1 with their defeat over the Ravens, and it came in style with a 23-10 fourth quarter and overtime run to come back from a 17-10 deficit. Derek Carr saved his best play for last as he wound up with 435 passing yards and engineered a number of big drives against a tough defense. Darren Waller caught just 10 of his 19 targets but he had 105 yards and a touchdown while Bryan Edwards made a couple of big plays late and ended with 4 catches for 81 yards. Carr and company won’t find things much easier against the Steelers in Week 2 as Alex Leatherwood will have his work cut out for him against T.J. Watt wreaking havoc. Still, Carr’s impressive play is enough for me to place some confidence in the Raiders to cover the spread in this game. Josh Jacobs will be a crucial piece of the offense after a two-touchdown effort, as well.
The Steelers also registered an upset win in Week 1 as they knocked off the Bills on the road. The offense was stagnant throughout and I can’t say I was terribly impressed with Najee Harris in his rookie debut as Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled to open up running room for him. However, Harris will have an easier go of it against the Raiders who allowed the Ravens to run for 5.6 YPC as a team in Week 1. Las Vegas’s secondary was poor, as well, as Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown combined for 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown – the Steelers’ Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster will present a formidable test for Las Vegas in this matchup. Ben Roethlisberger should be in for a better game than he played in Week 1 against a tough Bills’ secondary. The Steelers offensive line is going to be a major issue for them all season, but this isn’t a matchup where I expect that to hold them back.
Pittsburgh won in Week 1 in spite of its offense, and I’m expecting them to win in Week 2 in large part because of how their offense should produce against Las Vegas. The likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, and Cameron Heyward will cause issues for Carr’s offense and the Steelers should control time of possession better in this game. However, the Raiders showed they have some fight with their win over the Ravens and it’s hard to see them not keeping this game close.
Matchup To Watch: Darren Waller (LV TE) vs. Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT S)
My Pick: Steelers win 24-21, Raiders cover, under 48.5 points
Cincinnati Bengals @ Chicago Bears
Revenge game! Andy Dalton struggled in his first start of the season with the Bears against the Rams, but he should have a much easier time against the Bengals who allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1. Dalton threw for just 206 yards and one interception with no touchdowns in Week 1 and he’ll be looking to bounce back and keep Justin Fields out of the starting lineup for one more week. David Montgomery was the lone bright spot for the Bears in Week 1 as he had 118 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. The Bears finished with just 4.7 yards per play which just isn’t going to cut it against most teams, but that number should improve against the Bengals’ defense.
Joe Burow looked much better in Week 1 than I expected as he completed 20 of 27 passes for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns with no turnovers. He was sacked five times, though, as the Bengals’ offensive line doesn’t look much better than last year. Cincinnati is going to have a hard time keeping Khalil Mack away from Burrow. Joe Mixon was heavily involved with 150 yards from scrimmage on 33 touches, and his involvement is going to be necessary to keep the Chicago defense honest. Ja’Marr Chase showed out in his pro debut with 5 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, and preseason concerns over drops quickly seem like a distant memory. Tee Higgins also scored a touchdown while Tyler Boyd was clearly third in the pecking order with just 3 catches for 32 yards.
The Bears’ defense isn’t the same juggernaut as it used to be, but Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, and Akiem Hicks are going to create a lot of pressure on Burrow behind a poor offensive line. Andy Dalton should bounce back enough to lead an efficient Bears offense. While the Bengals’ offense impressed, the real reason they beat the Vikings is 116 penalty yards for Minnesota. I don’t expect that to continue in Week 2, and the Bears should be able to get the Week 2 win.
Matchup To Watch: Riley Reiff (CIN OT) vs. Khalil Mack (CHI OLB)
My Pick: Bears win 27-23, Bears cover, over 45 points
Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns
Among the upsets from Week 1, the Texans beating the Jaguars may have been the most surprising. Tyrod Taylor did his best Deshaun Watson impression as he threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns while the defense picked off Trevor Lawrence three times. Brandin Cooks led the way with 5 catches for 132 yards while Mark Ingram had 26 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. I truly think Houston’s performance says a lot more about how bad the Jaguars are than anything about the Texans’ chances to be competitive this season, and the AFC South looks like it could be the worst division in the NFL. The Browns are going to challenge the Texans much more with a defense stacked with talent at all three levels – they even gave Patrick Mahome a tough time for stretches on Sunday.
Baker Mayfield may have thrown for a game-sealing interception on his team’s final drive, but he had a solid game overall with a 75% completion rate and 321 yards on 28 attempts. Nick Chubb ran for two touchdowns and Kareem Hunt had 61 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown of his own – that duo will make life very difficult on the Houston defense that allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL last season. Cleveland’s elite offensive line will neutralize any hopes Houston has of putting pressure on Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. should be back in this game to give the Browns even more of a downfield passing presence.
Houston impressed in Week 1, but the roster is still quite bad overall. There isn’t one discernable area where the Browns don’t have the positional advantage. Cleveland’s ability to cover the spread in this game ultimately comes down to how they approach the contest overall as they may just coast in the second half behind their run game and allow Houston the opportunity for a backdoor cover. With a massive 12-point spread, I’ll pick the Texans to keep it somewhat close as Tyrod Taylor can play efficient football.
Matchup to watch: Myles Garrett (CLE DE) vs. Laremy Tunsil (HOU OT)
My Pick: Browns win 33-24, Texans cover, over 48 points
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
Well, that escalated quickly. Jameis Winston was wonderful in his first start for the Saints as he completed 70% of his passes and threw for 5 touchdowns on just 20 attempts. It was a near-perfect performance and he finished with a sparkling 130.8 passer rating, behind only Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes in Week 1. Alvin Kamara had a solid game with 91 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 23 touches, but Winston spread the ball around and no player had more than 3 catches. Deonte Harris flashed on a 55-yard touchdown catch and Juwan Johnson had a pair of scores. This offense was on fire in Week 1, and they should keep it rolling against a mediocre Carolina defense.
The Saints’ defense deserves a lot of credit for forcing Aaron Rodgers into perhaps the worst performance of his career, but I expect the Panthers to be able to move the ball this week. Sam Darnold didn’t have a perfect Carolina debut, but he didn’t turn the ball over and he got the ball to his playmakers with regularity. Christian McCaffrey had almost 200 yards from scrimmage, D.J. Moore caught 6 passes, and Darnold connected with Robby Anderson on a long touchdown. However, the matchup against the Saints is certainly tougher than against the Jets and it will be interesting to see how Darnold does under more pressure.
New Orleans has won eight of their last ten games against Carolina and I don’t foresee that changing this week. Jameis Winston looked stupendous in Week 1 and I have a lot of confidence in the Sean Payton offense to continue making plays and outproducing expectations. I’ll take the Saints to cover the spread on the road for a second straight week.
Matchup To Watch: Ryan Ramczyk (NO OT) vs. Brian Burns (CAR DE)
My Pick: Saints win 26-20, Saints cover, under 47 points
Minnesota Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals
Both of these teams had a pretty shocking Week 1 outcome, but for different reasons. The Cardinals’ defense smothered Ryan Tannehill as they got to the Titans’ passer six different times. Chandler Jones was responsible for five of those six sacks as he had a tremendous performance across from new teammate J.J. Watt who looked great as well. Kirk Cousins had a good performance in Week 1, but he was sacked three times and the Cardinals have a much better pass rush than the Bengals. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson both had good Week 1 game, and both should challenge some bad Cardinals cornerbacks. However, I expected that to happen in Week 1 with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones and they combined for just 7 catches. Arizona limited Derrick Henry this past week, but some of that was due to game script and I still expect Dalvin Cook to have a good game.
Kyler Murray was excellent in Week 1 – not shocking against a bad Titans defense – as he threw for four touchdowns and added another on the ground. He’s quickly becoming one of the most dynamic and difficult-to-defend against QBs in the NFL and completely mitigating Kliff Kingsbury’s vanilla offense. DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk each scored two touchdowns in Week 1 and they should make life difficult for the Minnesota secondary that, while improved, allowed Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins to break off some big plays in Week 1. The Vikings didn’t challenge Joe Burrow defensively as I expected them to on Sunday, and Kyler Murray should have another huge game this week. Very few quarterbacks have his arm talent and fewer still combine it with his mobility.
The Vikings’ loss to the Bengals was pretty fluky as they had 12 penalties for 116 yards – they had more penalty yards than real yards for a good chunk of the game. Still, their lack of preparation and cohesion was shocking and that doesn’t get fixed in one week. The Cardinals are riding high after an impressive 38-13 win over Tennessee in Week 1 and I’m expecting them to keep it rolling this week. Both of these offenses should produce, so I’m taking the over here as well.
Matchup To Watch: Christian Darrisaw (MIN OT) vs. Chandler Jones (ARI DE)
My Pick: Cardinals win 30-23, Cardinals cover, over 51 points
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons had a putrid Week 1 and new head coach Arthur Smith just did not have his guys ready to play. It’s hard to find any positive takeaways from a 32-6 drubbing. Matt Ryan looked like a shell of himself as the offensive line struggled to buy him any sort of time against a ferocious Eagles pass rush. Tampa should be able to get after Ryan just as well with one of the best front sevens in football. Calvin Ridley was limited to 5 catches for 51 yards against Philadelphia, and while he will hope to improve his production, he won’t find it easy against a stout cornerback in Carlton Davis. Mike Davis and Kyle Pitts were both underwhelming in their respective Atlanta debuts on Sunday.
Tampa, meanwhile, won in an exhilarating shootout on Thursday night despite having a surprising four turnovers. Tom Brady threw for 379 yards and 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions while Antonio Brown turned back the clock with 5 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Hurts torched the Atlanta defense last week and Brady should be able to do the same with Brown, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans supplying far more offensive firepower than Atlanta can handle. The Buccaneers also have an elite offensive line that won’t find it difficult to protect Brady against a weak Falcons pass rush.
Atlanta played Tampa somewhat close last season with an average margin of victory for the Bucs of 10.5 points per game across two games (one 4-point loss and one 17-point loss). However, I have little faith in Arthur Smith’s team with a weak defense, weak offensive line, and overwhelmed Matt Ryan. Tom Brady gets the win here in decisive fashion to bring Tampa to 2-0.
Matchup To Watch: Calvin Ridley (ATL WR) vs. Carlton Davis (TB CB)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 28-3, Buccaneers cover, under 52 points
Tennessee Titans @ Seattle Seahawks
The Titans were shockingly bad in Week 1, and it mostly stemmed from an offensive line that didn’t have a hope or a prayer in keeping Ryan Tannehill upright. Taylor Lewan started his first game at left tackle since his season-ending injury last year and allowed 2 sacks against Chandler Jones as Jones racked up five of the Cardinals’ six sacks on Sunday. I don’t believe the Titans’ offensive line is actually that bad – I ranked them 15th in the NFL – and I would expect a nice bounce-back performance this week. Seattle’s pass rush did a decent job against Indianapolis in Week 1, but they don’t have the type of talent that Arizona has in Jones and J.J. Watt, among others. With a better offensive line performance, Tennesse’s offense will bounce back with Tannehill, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones seeing better days ahead.
However, the Seahawks will be winning this game. Russell Wilson was excellent in Week 1 as he completed 78% of his passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns. Murray tore apart the Titans defense despite their offseason additions and it’s not hard to envision Wilson doing the same with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf one of the few receiver duos capable of rivaling or being better than the Brown-Jones tandem. Lockett is coming off a brilliant performance with 4 catches for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Carson had 16 carries for 91 yards last week and should be heavily involved again as well, especially with Rashaad Penny expected to miss a few weeks with a calf injury.
I don’t think the Titans are as bad as they looked in Week 1, and they should be able to bounce back this week, at least offensively. Seattle’s defense looked improved in Week 1 but Wentz was still able to move the ball and Tannehill certainly should be able to as well. However, Wilson is going to rip through the Tennessee defense and Seattle will get the win here.
Matchup To Watch: A.J. Brown and Julio Jones (TEN WRs) vs. D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers (SEA CBs)
My Pick: Seahawks win 28-24, Titans cover, under 53.5 points
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert had as tough a matchup as you can have in Week 1 on the road against Washington, and he fared admirably well against a ferocious pass rush. Herbert was poised and cool under pressure, but we’ve grown accustomed to that from the young passer. Los Angeles’s new offensive line was very impressive, as well, in protecting Herbert. He’ll have a much easier go of it against a Dallas defense that, while improved, still is weak against the pass. The Cowboys struggle to generate consistent pass rush, and while Trevon Diggs looked great in the first game of his sophomore season, Herbert should be able to create offense through the air. Keenan Allen had 9 catches for 100 yards against Washington and Mike Williams had 8 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in an impressive game for him. Those two should be in line for big production against Dallas, as should Austin Ekeler who had a rushing touchdown but no receptions last week.
Dak Prescott had an excellent Week 1 with 403 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in his first game back from a season-ending ankle injury last season. He looked sharp and confident despite facing a lethal pass rush without All-Pro guard Zack Martin. While Martin will be back for this game, La’El Collins is going to be serving a five-game suspension. Terrence Steele will take his place at right tackle. Amari Cooper had 13 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1 while CeeDee Lamb had 7 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown of his own. Los Angeles’s pass coverage was awesome in Week 1 with rookie Asante Samuel Jr. joining Chris Harris Jr. and Michael Davis, and Joey Bosa wreaked havoc. Bosa will be a problem for Dallas without Collins at tackle, although Tyron Smith is a good match for him.
I believe this is the toughest game to predict on the slate this week, and I could see either team winning the game. You have two great quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott, two great running backs in Austin Ekeler and Ezekiel Elliott, and a bunch of great receivers. The biggest difference between these two teams is the Chargers look to have a significantly better defense, and they own the biggest mismatch in this game with Bosa against Steele. I’ll take Herbert to push the Chargers to 2-0 at home, but I’d be far from shocked if Dallas wins here.
Matchup To Watch: Tyron Smith (DAL OT) vs. Joey Bosa (LAC DE)
Chargers win 30-27, Cowboys cover, over 52.5 points
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens
I must admit, I didn’t think the Ravens would lose at any point during the game on Monday night right up until they actually did. They were the better team throughout most of the game, but a 3-12 3rd-down conversion rate and a couple of lost fumbles was enough to give the Raiders life. Ty’Son Williams looked good in his start with 9 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown while Latavius Murray got comfortable with his new offense. Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown also had nice receiving games, respectively. All that said, the offense didn’t do enough on third down and that is the money down in the NFL – they converted on just 25% of third downs, the fourth-worst rate in the NFL this week. Will that improve against Kansas City? It’s tough to say, but I do have confidence in the Baltimore run game’s ability to keep the chains moving after the Browns averaged 5.9 YPC against them in Week 1.
The Chiefs’ new-look offensive line played decently well in Week 1 as Creed Humphery, Trey Smith, and Lucas Niang all debuted as starters. The lack of experience and cohesiveness in the offensive line is concerning against a Baltimore front seven that has no problem bringing extra pressure to make the opposing quarterback’s life uncomfortable. However, covering Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce is a tall order for any defense and Patrick Mahomes looked excellent in Week 1 against what I consider to be a top-tier defense in Cleveland. When you have that type of top-end talent, you’re just afforded much more of a margin of error than a typical team would be.
Kansas City has won four straight games against Baltimore by an average margin of 10.5 points per game. The Ravens have the talent to be one of the top contenders in the AFC, but I was not convinced after their Week 1 performance and they could be on their way to an 0-2 start. The loss of Marcus Peters will hamper their ability to slow down Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs just have too much offensive firepower to lose here, even on the road against a tough defense.
Matchup To Watch: Orlando Brown Jr. (KC OT) vs. Jayson Oweh (BAL OLB)
My Pick: Chiefs win 31-27, Chiefs cover, over 55 points
Monday, September 20
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more shockingly bad quarterbacking performance than what Aaron Rodgers put together on Sunday. It’s one thing to not show up for your team – he certainly didn’t as he completed just over half his passes and threw two interceptions with a putrid QBR of 13.5. It’s another thing entirely to look apathetic about it; Rodgers had the demeanor of someone who just missed the yellow light while driving, not someone who actively lost his team a game. It was utterly bizarre, and it’s a bad sign for Green Bay’s chances to be a contender this season. Of course, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and all of the other skill players really struggled in light of Rodgers’s terrible performance. If the Packers are firing on all cylinders, they will be able to rip through a Lions defense that got embarassed by the 49ers in Week 1. However, it’s hard to know what we will get from Rodgers after an incredibly uneven Week 1.
The Lions showed a low of fight in Week 1, and while much of it was in garbage time, Jared Goff did surprisingly well against a great 49ers defense. He finished with 338 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. D’Andre Swift had 104 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown while Jamaal Williams had 110 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown. T.J. Hockenson had 8 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Those three are going to be the playmakers for Detroit this season and, combined with a sneaky-good offensive line (particularly when Taylor Decker returns), the Lions will put up a fight against plenty of good teams.
I have confidence in the Packers to win this game after a shocking Week 1 blowout loss on the road, and Aaron Rodgers should come back with a vengeance. Jared Goff will look to continue getting the ball to Swift, Williams, and Hockenson as their defense likely can’t hang with Rodgers if he’s firing on all cylinders. 10.5 points is a lot, though, after we saw the feisty Lions put up a fight against San Francisco in Week 1.
Matchup To Watch: Davante Adams (GB WR) vs. Amani Oruwariye (DET CB)
My Pick: Packers win 26-20, Lions cover, under 48.5 points