NFL Week 2 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday Slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 2 featuring Ravens vs. Bengals, 49ers vs. Rams, Jets vs. Cowboys, and Packers vs. Falcons.
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Jacob Wayne’s Record: 2-2 (-0.2u)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 0-1 (-1.1u)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 3-1 (+1.9u)
Jacob Wayne’s Best Bets
Teams are rarely as good or as bad as they show in Week 1. It’s a one-game sample size across a long season, and there’s value to be found when the public narrative shifts strongly in favor or against a team. That’s a common theme through my three picks this week.
Check out some great picks below from Kody Malstrom and Will Schwartz as well. All three of us will be contributing to this column all season. Let’s get to work.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The overriding public narrative after Week 1 is that the Bears are cooked. They blew their best chance to beat the Packers in years with Aaron Rodgers off to New York. However, I believe you want to be backing teams with their back against the wall in the NFL, and the Bears might be more desperate for a win this week than anyone else.
Luke Getsy completely over thought the offensive game plan on Sunday. He took away the two things that make Justin Fields special – his running and deep passing. Fields had just two designed runs and two deep passes (20+ yards) in the game. His deep ball rate of 5.4% (24th) was in stark contrast to last season’s 16% rate (4th).
I expect the Bears to get back to what worked well for them offensively in the second half of last season. The Buccaneers allowed Kirk Cousins to complete 3 of 3 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown on 20+ yard throws last week.
D.J. Moore, the Bears’ big offseason acquisition at wide receiver, was smothered by Jaire Alexander, one of the best corners in the NFL, for the entire afternoon. However, I expect Moore’s chemistry with Fields to develop as the season goes on, and the Buccaneers’ corners won’t give him nearly the same trouble as Alexander.
The Buccaneers were lucky to win last week. The Vikings outgained them by over 100 yards and 2.3 yards per play, but had two turnovers in the red zone that ended long drives. I like fading teams in Week 2 that earned fluky Week 1 wins, and the Bucs apply.
My power ratings make the spread for this game Tampa Bay -1.1, so I still see some value in Chicago as a road dog here. If you can find a +3 before kickoff, even if it’s slightly juiced, I’d recommend that avenue as that’s a key number. However, I believe the Bears win this game.
Best Bet: Bears +3 (play to pick ‘em)
Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills
On Monday night, we watched the Bills fall flat against a Jets team that should have been the deflated outfit after Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury just four snaps into his debut. Now, the narrative is that Josh Allen is turnover prone and the Bills aren’t a real Super Bowl contender. Allen has a perfect bounceback opportunity here.
The Raiders’ cornerback group is very uninspiring. Marcus Peters is well past his prime and Jakorian Bennet is an unproven fourth-round rookie. Both players ranked outside the top 75 qualified corners in PFF coverage grades in Week 1, but they weren’t tested often – almost 65% of Russell Wilson’s throws came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Enter Josh Allen.
Josh Allen is a gunslinger. He led the league by a massive margin with 104 pass attempts of 20+ yards last year. At times, that means he’s putting the ball in harm’s way – his seven interceptions in the NFL were tied for the most in the league. However, against haphazard secondaries, Allen’s potent deep ball creates major highlights.
The Jets specifically built their defense to stop Allen. They have what very few teams do – the ability to get pressure without blitzing. They ranked dead last in blitz rate but had the third-highest pressure rate. The Raiders, meanwhile, blitzed at a league average rate and had the ninth-lowest pressure rate. Allen will have time in the pocket to attack downfield.
The Raiders are coming off a win at Mile High, but the Broncos lacked juice in all aspects last week. That won’t be true of a Bills team hungry to put their Week 1 loss in the rearview mirror. My power ratings make this spread Bills -10.9, and I’m surprised it’s not sitting at 10. I’d play this up to -9.5.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Just like Josh Allen, the boo birds are out for Joe Burrow after an awful Week 1. He completed 45.2% of his passes and averaged 2.6 yards per attempt, both of which were the worst in the NFL. His 45.2 PFF passing grade was the third-worst in the league, and I had to go all the way back to his rookie season to find the only other game where he graded that poorly.
However, Burrow immediately steps into an opportunity for a home bounceback. The Ravens ranked just 17th in pass rush win rate last year per ESPN, so he’ll have more time in the pocket. Baltimore is also missing Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams, their two best defensive backs. It’s going to be a long day for this pass defense.
While Burrow’s performance was bad, the Bengals also dropped 17.6% of his passes, the second-highest rate in the league. Burrow has arguably the best pass-catching corps in the NFL, and that number was just 4.7% last year. Tee Higgins won’t have zero catches on eight targets again and Ja’Marr Chase should have a much bigger game than last week.
The Ravens’ offense looked unconvincing in Week 1, and it’s going to take time for Lamar Jackson to be comfortable in this new offense. The team relied heavily on screens last week as Jackson’s 5.1-yard aDOT was the fifth-lowest in the NFL. Despite that, he had three turnover-worthy plays per PFF. Burrow’s bad performance overshadowed his, but Jackson wasn’t that much better.
Baltimore is now missing its starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum, arguably their two most important linemen. With J.K. Dobbins out for the year with an Achilles injury, the run game will take a big hit, as well. The Bengals’ run defense has been excellent whenever D.J. Reader has been on the field in recent years.
Ultimately, I don’t expect the Ravens’ secondary to be able to contain Joe Burrow, and I don’t expect their offense to be able to keep pace. I power rate this game at Bengals -4.5, and I’m surprised this line crept back down to 3 given Baltimore’s bad injury news. Let’s bet on a Burrow bounceback at home.
Note: Falcons -1.5 is my favorite play of the week, but Schwartz broke it down below. You can get more on the Falcons in my matchup preview for the game as well as our YouTube channel where I broke that game down.
Kody Malstrom’s Best Bets
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams / Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills
It’s over reaction week as sportsbooks quickly shade their lines after week one’s results and give us more questions than answers. A way to counteract the sharp line movement is to take the consistency of the NFL elites and put them into a Wong teaser.
A Wong teaser is when you tease a favorite or underdog through the key numbers of seven and three in a six point teaser. For example, I can put a team that is currently +2.5 and put them in a six point teaser that makes them +8.5. The same can be done with a favorite, taking a team that is -8 and teasing them down to -2.
Two teams that immediately stuck out to me for this scenario are the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. By putting them in a six point teaser, I am now taking the 49ers down to -2 and the Bills to -2.5.
Starting with the 49ers, they fit the over reaction mold in that their opponent the LA Rams far exceeded expectations. They took advantage of a sleepy Seahawks squad, a team that many pegged as a NFC West sleeper.
As for the 49ers, I couldn’t have been any more wrong about their outlook. Their interior line still struggled against the Steelers pressure, yet their scheme more than makes up for it as their pulling gives their backs enough time to get away from the pressure. With Purdy having time in the pocket, their playmakers on the outside had no issue with finding the open space and routinely burning the Pittsburgh secondary.
As for the Bills, it was as bad a game as it got as Josh Allen committed turnover after turnover. Take away those turnovers and the Bills cruise against the Jets vaunted defense with ease.
They now get a Raiders squad who also exceeded expectations. Unlike the Jets, the Raiders defense has serious issues all over the field with one of the worst secondaries in the NFL and minimal pass rush on the defensive line. Josh Allen will find himself with a clean pocket and extra time to make the right read and avoid turnover worthy situations.
Best Bet: Teaser 49ers -2 / Bills -2.5
New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys
It was the worst case scenario for the New York Jets on Monday Night Football as they witnessed their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers go down with an injury four snaps into his Jets career. Heart breaking, deflating, and down right upsetting.
With Rodgers out, the Jets had to turn to Zach Wilson. The bubbling quarterback who lost his starting job after years of showing no signs of progression.
To make matters even worse for the already putrid backup, his offensive line is as bad as it has ever been. That was made apparent right out the gate as Wilson was constantly running for his life from the Bills pass rush.
While they still managed to pull out the win off the backs of their defense and multiple Josh Allen turnovers, the Dallas Cowboys are going to present a much tougher challenge.
If Wilson thought the Bills pass rush was tough to deal with, he now has to face the Cowboys defensive line. A line that features arguably the best pass rusher in the league with Micah Parsons transitioning to a defensive end.
Wilson will find himself in scrambling situations once again, needing his weak receiving core to find separation after the play design. A feat I’m not so certain they can pull off as their cast of receivers is middling at best.
With Garrett Wilson expected to face doubles and help side coverage from the safeties, that leaves little room for error while trying to find success somewhere else. Wilson is not capable of elevating the offense himself, leading me to believe we are to expect more stalled out drives and early outs as we saw from them against the Bills.
I debated the full game under, but a few turnovers can give the Cowboys generous field position to put up points in a hurry. I will instead take the Jets team total under at no lower than 14, expecting them to find little to no success with stringing together a few drives down the field.
Best Bet: Jets TT u14.5
Will Schwartz’s Best Bets
New York Jets vs. Dallas Cowboys
Let’s get into my favorite game to bet this week, one I think has been completely misvalued by the sportsbooks. This isn’t to say that I think that Zach Wilson’s Jets have any semblance of a chance to win outright, but the line is a complete overreaction to Dallas’s dominant week one showing against the Giants. That won’t be the norm, their defense is excellent but won’t score two touchdowns every week, and as far as the offense goes, Dak Prescott wasn’t forced to do anything. The second he is, which he will be against a Jets front seven you don’t want to run on, he’ll turn into Josh Allen and turn the ball over at an alarming rate.
That dovetails seamlessly into some praise for the Jets defense, a unit that put in a truly phenomenal performance. They only allowed one touchdown, three total points in the second half and overtime, and importantly, held the Bills to a field goal after Zach Wilson’s pick. Their offense couldn’t do them any favors in terms of holding onto the ball for sustained drives, or setting them up with field position, but they nearly neutralized one of the most prolific offenses in the league from the past few years, performing especially well after some halftime adjustments/the opportunity to recalibrate after the shock of the Rodgers injury.
The Jets won’t turn the Wilson-led offense into a juggernaut overnight, but with a bit less shock and a lot more prep time, the unit should be a lot more serviceable than it was against the Bills. They’re absolutely not going to run up the score on a stacked Dallas defense headlined by the transcendent Micah Parsons, but they should be able to possess the football a bit more than last week, and give their defense some rest.
The real determining factor here will be if Quinnen Williams and company can win at the point of attack against a Cowboys o-line that was very sharp against the Giants, but if they perform at a level similar to what we saw on opening day, they’re up to the task. Simply put, there won’t be enough total points in this game for either team to pull away by 10 points. On an extremely similar note, the under is an incredible play here. I’m seeing 38.5, but you almost can’t get too low of a number in what should be one of the best defensive showdowns of the year.
Best Bets: Jets +9.5, u38.5
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
There has been some serious line movement on this one; when I was picking plays for the week, the Falcons were an underdog of about 1.5 points and I was all over their moneyline. Now that they’re favored by about the same margin, movement that is very much in line with the notion that they never should have been home dogs in this one, I’m still loving this spot for them and will be taking them on the small spread.
I got burned last week by fading the Packers, and I’m doing it again; the deeper you dig into that game, the more apparent it is that the Packers didn’t show up and have a great performance, but rather the Bears completely failed to deliver. The Atlanta secondary should be leaps and bounds better than Chicago’s; after week one, PFF grades the Falcons third in terms of coverage, and the Bears 27th.
That abysmal performance allowed Jordan Love to put up some gaudy traditional numbers without actually playing well, which again, PFF will back up- Love’s grade of 62.5 is pretty middling, and right around the same score as Fields received for his part in that game. He won’t have as many free shots this week against a rising Falcons defense, and will actually get punished for his mistakes and missed throws, which simply did not happen in Chicago
The Falcons offense wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders in their opener against the Panthers, but even amidst a solid Carolina defensive performance, they hung 24 points. QB Desmond Ridder may not be particularly good, but it might not be an issue as some of the skill weapons get incorporated more going forward.
Rookie back Bijan Robinson looked excellent and will only garner more volume as the year goes on, and top wideout Drake London didn’t catch his lone target on the day. Those two are rebound candidates, and against a Packers defense that is begging to be truly tested, that could start immediately.
Overall, this is a classic week one overreaction spot; the Packers had a flashy week one win while the Falcons simply did their job. The market has still begun to correct itself and gravitate towards the right line, but I still don’t think it’s quite there, this is worth playing for any spread up to the key football number of -3.
Best Bets: Falcons -1.5