NFL Week 2 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
In Week 1, we got off to a pretty solid start. My picks were 12-3-1 (75%) straight up and 9-7 (56.3%) against the spread. My lock of the week also came through (1-0 for the season).
Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-6.5)
After a Week 1 loss to San Francisco in which Jameis Winston threw 3 interceptions, my faith is minimal when it comes to this Tampa Bay offense. While Bruce Arians’ track record leads some to believe that the best is yet to come, I’ll need to see it to believe it myself. The Panthers fell to the defending NFC Champion LA Rams in a tight one where Cam Newton wasn’t at his best. I think Cam will return to his usual form on Thursday Night and Christian McCaffrey will continue to try and convince the public that he’s the best all-around RB in the league. I don’t expect the Bucs to slow this tandem down, and that the Panthers should win and cover at home. Panthers 28-21.
Arizona @ Baltimore (-13.5)
The Ravens scored the most points in the league last week against Miami and many are wondering if Lamar & Co. are THAT GOOD, or if the Dolphins are just THAT BAD. On the other side of the coin, the Cardinals’ “air raid” offense fluttered in the first half but eventually found solid footing as QB Kyler Murray flashed some impressive qualities and the ageless WR Larry Fitzgerald played at his absolute best. With that said, I think the Ravens defense is more formidable than Detroit’s. I think that Baltimore is the real deal this year and that Arizona will have trouble slowing down the rushing attack of Baltimore. Look for Mark Ingram to shine again, and for Lamar Jackson to have another big game. With Patrick Peterson still out, this could be another opportunity for Hollywood Brown to continue his rookie breakout. Give me the Ravens to win comfortably here and cover. Ravens 31-16.
San Francisco @ Cincinnati (-1.5)
After a run-of-the-mill performance last week, Jimmy Garoppolo still has something to prove. He has the best player on the field in George Kittle and will need to rely on him for the offense to excel. The loss of Tevin Coleman could prove costly, but the duo of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert will have the opportunity to shine in his absence. The Bengals lost a tight contest in Seattle but they also lost stud RB Joe Mixon in the process. At the time of writing, Mixon doesn’t look likely to play. Cincinnati will instead have to rely on Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, and Gio Bernard to pace the offense. I think Andy Dalton’s 418-yard performance was an anomaly and history tells me that if he throws the ball 51 times again in this game, the ball will find its way into the hands of a 49er at least once. To me, these teams are pretty evenly matched, but I think the loss of Mixon might tip the table here. If San Fran can force turnovers, I think they’ll win. I’ll take San Francisco to pull the upset on the road. 49ers 23-22.
LA Chargers (-2.5) @ Detroit
No Melvin? No problem. The Chargers took care of business in Week 1 knocking off the Colts in OT. Austin Ekeler proved that he could shoulder a load of this offense as he topped 150 all-purpose yards and scored 3 TDs. Along with Justin Jackson, the tandem produced at the level we expect from Gordon and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Although LA lost Hunter Henry for a few weeks, Rivers will have Keenan Allen to lean on and they should flourish through the air as usual. The defense will have to be a bit better this week, as Jacoby Brissett carved up the secondary a bit last week and Marlon Mack added 175 yards on the ground. Detroit is fresh off a tie against the Cardinals. Rookie tight end TJ Hockenson had a breakout performance in that game, logging 131 yards receiving and a TD. Look for Stafford to key in on Hockenson, along with WRs Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola. Detroit will need more out of Kerryon Johnson on the ground if they want to compete in this one, as he only totaled 49 yards on the ground against Arizona. Even without Henry, I love the Chargers in this one to cover as road favorites. Chargers 28-21.
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-2.5)
Both of these NFC North squads started their season on the right foot last week. Green Bay’s defense shut down the Bears on Thursday night, while the Vikings had an impressive win over the Falcons. Dalvin Cook was electric in that contest, logging 111 yards and scoring twice. I expect Kirk Cousins to throw more this week at Lambeau, as he only tossed the ball 10 times against Atlanta. When he does throw, he’ll have two of the game’s best waiting with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as his WRs. While their defense performed well, Green Bay’s offense left quite a bit to be desired, scoring only 10 points in Chicago. Even though the Bears might be the game’s best defensive unit, 10 points won’t win you many games. Aaron Rodgers was pedestrian, and Aaron Jones failed to do much with his 13 carries. With no one standing out or making a play in the receiving corps, Green Bay was lucky to pull out last week’s win. A similar performance will lead to a loss, and I’m not quite convinced Matt LaFleur will be able to put it all together yet against Minnesota. I’ll take the underdog Vikings to pull the upset in Green Bay. Vikings 27-23.
Jacksonville @ Houston (-8.5)
Nick Foles is going to be out for a while, but Gardner Minshew had his moment in the sun. Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. Incredible. However, I won’t bank on him catching lightning in a bottle twice. Prove me wrong– I’d love to see it. DJ Chark was Minshew’s top target as he reeled in 4 balls for 146 yards. Chris Conley also had a nice game, hauling in 6 balls for just under 100 yards and a TD. Leonard Fournette made the most of his 13 carries and put up 66 yards on the ground, but the team totaled only 81 rushing yards for the entire game. Houston, on the other hand, was clicking on all cylinders offensively, and almost knocked off the Saints in New Orleans. Deshaun Watson was incredible, scoring 3 touchdowns through the air and 1 on the ground. DeAndre Hopkins proved why he’s the best WR out there, bringing in 8 balls for 111 yards and 2 TDs. On the ground, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson combined for 140 yards rushing and gave the offense great balance. Undoubtedly, the offensive line will have to be better against Jacksonville’s fearsome front. If the line falters, it opens a door for a Jacksonville upset. With that said, I think Houston’s offense is one of the game’s best right now, and it’ll be one heck of a tall order for Gardner Minshew to keep up. Texans 27-17.
New England (-19.5) @ Miami
New England trounced the Steelers on Sunday night and proved that their offense is one of the game’s best. It was arguably the most impressive performance in the league for Week 1. Miami, on the other hand, was embarrassed by the Ravens. When you combine those two results, I’ve got no choice but to pick the Pats big. Patriots 35-13. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Buffalo (-1.5) @ NY Giants
In this battle of New York teams, the Bills find themselves as road favorites. The Giants fell to the Cowboys in Week 1 in a game where they were picked apart by Dak Prescott who threw for 405 yards and 4 TDs. They trailed for most of the game, Saquon Barkley inexplicably only touched the ball 15 times. He did turn those 15 touches into 139 total yards, but he just wasn’t a factor late in the game as the G-Men played catchup. On any given day, Barkley can be the best player in the game, but he can only hurt the other team when he touches the ball. The Giants will need to get Barkley more involved if they want to compete in this one. TE Evan Engram led the team in receiving with 11 catches for 116 yards and a TD. Eli Manning was serviceable and better than many expected, so that’s a bright point for Big Blue. Buffalo rallied late to upset the Jets last week, and they did so despite an underwhelming outing from QB Josh Allen. On the bright side, WR John Brown did flash, taking 7 catches for 123 yards and a TD. The defense also played well, taking the “bend, don’t break” approach against the Jets’ Le’ Veon Bell. While Bell got his yardage and scored, the Bills contained him for most of the game. That will be key here with a game-breaker like Barkley on the opposing side. In what will be a close game, I trust the Bills defense more to make stops late in the game and will take them to win & cover in this road game. Bills 23-21.
Seattle @ Pittsburgh (-3.5)
Both of these squads will go into Week 2 feeling like they have something to prove. Last week, the Seahawks knocked off the Bengals at home but weren’t at their very best. QB Russell Wilson turned in one of his typical quality performances tossing 2 TDs, and rookie DK Metcalf flashed with 89 yards on 4 receptions. RB Chris Carson also added 2 TDs– one on the ground, and one through the air. Seattle will have to lean on Carson, Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett to improve and make some big plays for this team to take a step forward. Pittsburgh had a rough evening all around as the Patriots came into Heinz Field and blew them out. It’s very unlike the Steelers teams of the past to only put up 3 points in a game, and the losses of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are hurting the Black & Yellow. I believe that the Steelers have some more juice left in the tank than they showed on Sunday. James Conner only touched the ball 14 times, and he’ll need the ball more if the Steelers want him to make an impact. While his 65 yards of total offense leaves many wanting more, it’s unlikely to come unless he gets the rock. JuJu Smith-Schuster took his 6 receptions for 78 yards and is the heart and soul of this offense. Look for JuJu and Conner to get more involved this week and for Pittsburgh to turn things around. I like the Steelers at home in a close one. Steelers 24-23.
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-2.5)
Tennessee was one of the league’s most surprising victors in Week 1, as they demolished the Browns. The Titans defensive front caused fits for Cleveland all day and had QB Baker Mayfield rattled to the point of no return. Veteran DE Cam Wake provided lots of disruption, logging multiple sacks including a safety, while the secondary played fantastically with Malcolm Butler, Kevin Byard, and Logan Ryan all notching interceptions. The Titans defense was vastly improved last year, and it seems they’re taking another step forward under coordinator Dean Pees. On the offensive side, Marcus Mariota is playing for his future this year… and boy did he get off to a good start. Mariota threw for just under 250 yards and 3 TDs. He took care of the ball, avoided (legal) clean hits, and kept Cleveland on their toes all afternoon. The biggest change to this Titans offense though was their ability to produce large plays. AJ Brown had two long catches, and Derrick Henry took a screen 75 yards to the house. These big plays were missing from the team’s arsenal last year, and it certainly hurt. If they can continue to rip off large chunk plays, they might be in for a fantastic year. Indianapolis, on the other hand, fell in a close game to the LA Chargers. Jacoby Brissett was quite efficient, completing 21 of 27 attempts and tossing 2 TDs in the process. TY Hilton showed that the QB change didn’t affect him at all, as he reeled in 8 of 9 targets for 87 yards and 2 TDs. On the ground, Marlon Mack turned in one of the league’s best offensive performances, rushing for 174 yards and a TD. Even with the loss of Andrew Luck, the Colts proved that they can still move the ball effectively. I see this as another tight AFC South matchup, but think the Titans will pull it out at home and cover the spread in the process. Titans 24-20.
Dallas (-4.5) @ Washington
Dallas’ offense was electric in Week 1. Even though they were easing Ezekiel Elliott back into the swing of things, they managed to put 35 points on the board. QB Dak Prescott threw for 405 yards and 4 TDs to pace the potent offensive attack. He spread the ball around well, as he had 2 receivers top the 100-yard mark– Michael Gallup led the way with 158 yards on 7 catches, while Amari Cooper turned in a respectable 6/106 performance and found the end zone. This week, we can expect the Cowboys to begin to feed Zeke and unleash their star running back. While I’m not sure we’ll see Dak eclipse 400 yards again, I think this offense could be one of the league’s most potent attacks week-in and week-out. Washington surprised many last weeks, jumping out to an early 20-7 lead on the Eagles. Case Keenum completed 30 of 44 passes for 380 yards and 3 TD. The rushing attack was nonexistent, unfortunately. However, RB Chris Thompson was very involved in the passing attack, reeling in 7 of 10 targets and gaining 68 yards in the process. Keenum got many receivers involved, but favored the young Terry McLaurin most, as he took 5 catches for 125 yards and a TD. Adrian Peterson will likely get the start in place of the injured Derrius Guice this week. We saw last year that AP has some juice left in his legs, but we’ll see if he can perform against a stout Dallas front. I don’t see Keenum putting up this type of performance again, and don’t feel that the Redskins have the tools on defense to slow down the Cowboys. Dallas’ duo of tremendous LBs will clog up the middle and cause fits for the Washington offense, and I feel that will make a huge difference in this one. Give me Dallas to win and cover the spread comfortably on the road. Cowboys 28-18.
Kansas City (-7.5) @ Oakland
Jon Gruden & Co. surprised many against Denver with a balanced offensive display and a strong defensive effort. Derek Carr played a mistake-free game in which he was not sacked, completed 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards, and threw a TD. Rookie RB Josh Jacobs shouldered the load for the offense and added 113 total offensive yards and a score. Tyrell Williams turned in a fantastic performance at receiver, bringing in 6 balls for 105 yards and a TD. The Oakland offense had a little bit of everything on Monday night, and the defense played well also, forcing a fumble and sacking Joe Flacco thrice. However, beating Denver is one thing… beating Kansas City is something else. The Chiefs pose all kinds of different issues with one of the league’s most potent offenses and the reigning MVP at QB. Despite an ankle injury, Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday, effectively picking apart a supposedly formidable Jacksonville defense. LeSean McCoy showed he still has some pep in his step, taking 10 carries for 81 yards. In the receiving corps, KC lost Tyreek Hill to injury, but Sammy Watkins stepped in with a beautiful performance, taking 9 receptions for 198 yards and 3 TDs. TE Travis Kelce posted his usual 88 yards, and Damien Williams chipped in 65 yards of total offense, adding 6 catches. Kansas City’s offense is one of the league’s best, and I just don’t see Oakland being able to keep up. I like KC to cover the spread on the road in this one. Chiefs 33-23.
Chicago (-2.5) @ Denver
Both of these teams weren’t great in Week 1. The Bears had arguably the worst offensive performance in Week 1, posting only 3 points on Thursday Night Football. Denver was properly dismantled by a Raiders team that spent the week handling the circus-like Antonio Brown saga. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards and an INT, was sacked 5 times and lost 20 yards in the process. The usually shifty Tarik Cohen only posted 49 yards on 8 touches. Rookie RB David Montgomery only touched the ball 7 times, and the only bright spot on this offense was Allen Robinson’s 102 scoreless yards. The defense performed well and will remain one of the league’s best, but the offense couldn’t put up any points to make that performance worthwhile. Joe Flacco threw for 268 yards against Oakland in a generally solid performance. Denver’s WR corps was strong with Courtland Sutton logging 120 yards, and Emmanuel Sanders putting up 86 himself. Phillip Lindsay rushed for 43 yards, while Royce Freeman outplayed him and plodded away for 56 yards. Unfortunately, all of these performances resulted in only 1 TD. Last week’s performances tell me nothing about how this week’s matchup will go. So, what do we do when it comes to picking this game? I’ll side with the team that has more talent and the best defense in the league– the Bears. Bears 24-21.
New Orleans @ LA Rams (-2.5)
To me, this looks like the most exciting game on the Week 2 slate. In a rematch of the NFC Championship game, you can bet that the Saints will be out to prove something and get revenge for how their season ended. Both squads started the 2019 season on the right foot with Week 1 victories. The Rams knocked off the Panthers in a closely contested game dominated by the running backs. Todd Gurley carried the ball only 14 times– a signal that the Rams are easing him into action and monitoring his workload. Gurley made the carries count though, as he took them for 97 yards. Malcolm Brown did the scoring on Sunday with 2 TD plunges to go along with 53 yards rushing on 11 carries. Los Angeles also has a potent air attack with Jared Goff and the three-headed monster of Cooks, Woods, and Kupp in the receiving corps. New Orleans also won their game by a field goal, besting the Texans on Monday Night Football in an electric contest. Drew Brees and the Saints offense was as potent as ever, as the Hall of Famer threw for 370 yards and 2 TDs. Michael Thomas paced the receivers with 10 catches for 123 yards, while Ted Ginn caught all 7 of his targets for 101 yards. Alvin Kamara, one of the league’s best running backs, caught 7 balls for 72 yards and added 97 yards on 13 rushing attempts for good measure. When the Saints are clicking on all cylinders as they were, they’re tough to beat. However, I do think that the LA defense will be much more formidable than the leaky Texans secondary that Brees & Co. faced last week. In any event, both teams are rich with weapons and can score often. However, I do think that the Rams defense is more well-rounded, and features the best player in the NFL, Aaron Donald. In coin flip games like this, I tend to side with the home team or the team with the better defense. In this case, LA has both. The difference in this one will be the same as it was last January– a Greg Zuerlein field goal. Give me the Rams at home by 3 & a cover. Rams 28-25.
Philadelphia (-1.5) @ Atlanta
Both of these squads had disappointing debuts in Week 1. Philadelphia emerged victoriously but started flat against a shaky Redskins team. Atlanta, on the other hand, never hit their stride and fell to the Vikings 28-12. Eagles QB Carson Wentz started slow but finished with a respectable line as he threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Two of these touchdowns came on long bombs to his new toy, DeSean Jackson. Wentz targeted Jackson 10 times on Sunday, resulting in 8 catches for 154 yards and the two scores. TE Zach Ertz and WR Alshon Jeffery each caught 5 balls as well, combining for 103 yards and Jeffery’s TD. On the ground, Darren Sproles, Jordan Howard, and the rookie, Miles Sanders were all held under 50 yards. Needless to say, no one stood out. One of these three backs will have to emerge if the Eagles want to have a successful year. Atlanta was held scoreless until the 4th quarter, as the Vikings defense proved to be too much for them. Matt Ryan did complete 33 of 46 passes for 304 yards and 2 TD. However, the Boston College product did throw 2 INTs and take 4 sacks in the contest. Unfortunately, Atlanta’s ground game was anemic, as Ito Smith and Devonta Freeman took a combined 14 carries for 55 yards. Ouch. Ryan spread the ball out a lot, resulting in star WR Julio Jones only netting 6 catches for 31 yards and a TD. Austin Hooper led the team in receptions with 9 catches for 77 yards, and Calvin Ridley chipped in 4 grabs for 64 yards. The entire offense underperformed and will need to be better if the Falcons want to contend. At this point, I don’t think we’ve seen enough to know how this one will shake out for sure. I do think the Eagles defense has more studs and will come up with some big stops late to win and cover the spread in Atlanta. Eagles 26-23.
Cleveland (-2.5) @ NY Jets
The public was very high on Cleveland this offseason, and rightfully so with their acquisition of Odell Beckham, Jr and the breakout season of QB Baker Mayfield. However, after the Titans beat them down in Week 1, many are calling them the “same old Browns.” The Jets, on the other hand, didn’t fare much better, as the Bills rallied late and overcame a 16 point deficit to get the win. Sam Darnold posted pedestrian numbers on Sunday, throwing for only 175 yards and one touchdown. He targeted Jamison Crowder 17 (yes, 17) times. Crowder hauled in 14 of those passes, but only netted 99 yards (7.1 yards per reception.) The only true spark for this offense was RB Le’Veon Bell who made his Jets debut. Bell rushed 17 times for 60 yards and added 32 yards receiving and a TD for good measure. Bell will give this Jets offense a shot in the arm and is a player to watch, as he could change the game on any play. Now, there are injury woes that will affect the Jets on Monday Night. Darnold will miss the contest with mono, leaving Trevor Siemian to run the offense. Additionally, Bell has a sore shoulder and is getting an MRI to see if there’s any major damage. Needless to say, these injuries will affect the Jets greatly. For Cleveland, the offensive line will have to be much better if they want to slow down the Jets’ formidable front. In Week 1, Baker Mayfield took 5 sacks and threw 3 INT as the pressure was over him almost every single play. When Mayfield is well protected, this offense can be very dangerous. The aforementioned Beckham still logged 7 catches for 77 yards in his Browns debut. His LSU compadre, Jarvis Landry, hauled in 4 balls for 67 yards, averaging 16.8 yards per catch. On the ground, Nick Chubb is one of the game’s best, but he was held in check by the Titans front on Sunday. He took 17 rushes for 75 yards but was unable to make a difference due to the porous line. I think that with the return of Greg Robinson, the Browns will figure out their blocking woes and return to form in this primetime game. Especially given the Jets’ loss of Darnold, I like Cleveland to get it done on the road and cover the spread. Browns 25-20.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…