The 2019 NFL season started in full swing last Sunday, but whether your favorite team is 1-0 or 0-1, they’ve already set their eyes on Week 2. Week 1 featured electric quarterback performances, a few upsets, and a show-stopping duel between Deshaun Watson and Drew Brees on Monday Night Football.
Last week I went 9-6-1. My losses came from incorrectly predicting:
- Bears over Packers
- Panthers over Rams
- Jets over Bills
- Browns over Titans
- Broncos over Raiders
- Buccaneers over 49ers
While I only broke slightly positive in Week 1, I’m braced for a brutal Week 2, the toughest week to pick for the whole season.
Don’t get me wrong, Week 1 is hard, with new-look teams that haven’t seen the field yet duking it out. But Week 2 is even harder because we’re naturally inclined to use last week’s results as a barometer. The truth is, we won’t know who’s really good or bad for a couple weeks.
Overall, last week also had more “easy” picks in my opinion. Week 2 features quite a few toss-ups, like Giants-Bills, Eagles-Falcons, Jets-Browns, Steelers-Seahawks, and Vikings-Packers, just to name a few. The betting spreads are indicative of this, with many tight point spreads across the NFL.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the picks.
Thursday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Line: Carolina Panthers (-7.0)
Both NFC South opponents had winnable opportunities in Week 1, against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, respectively. The Panthers hung with the defending NFC Champions and really beat themselves at the end of the day. Key mistakes included an opening drive fumble, a rush for a loss on 3rd and 12 that forced a 53 yard field goal that was missed, a Cam Newton pass that traveled backwards and was recovered by the Rams at the five yard line, and an ugly Newton interception with five minutes left to play.
While the mistakes are enough to fill a laundry list, they’re correctable. Hanging with the Rams on a talent level isn’t easy, and the Panthers did so most of the game. Tampa Bay doesn’t have the same amount of talent on the field, not to mention an inferior quarterback. Panthers hold home turf for their first win of the season.
Panthers win 27-20, PUSH ATS
Sunday Day Games
Buffalo Bills (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-2.0)
Speaking of teams with many mistakes, you’d think it’s a miracle the Bills emerged victorious over the New York Jets. Despite takeaway after takeaway, the Jets couldn’t capitalize on the Bills turnovers.
Was the Bills defense strong for holding position, or does the Jets offense leave a lot to be desired? A bit of both.
The New York Giants struck first against the Dallas Cowboys but then appeared to be deer caught in headlights as the Cowboys blew the game open behind Dak Prescott.
Playing in MetLife Stadium for the second straight week, the Bills may find themselves in another low-scoring affair. The Giants offense needs to get going early at home, or else it could be a long season. I’ll give the Giants the win here: though my faith is shaky at best.
Giants win 17-13, Giants win ATS
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-2.0)
Both teams exceeded my expectations in Week 1, with the 49ers emerging victorious and the Bengals putting up a great fight against the Seattle Seahawks.
On paper, this leads to pretty much a toss-up. I’m still not sold on just how solid each team is, so the head-to-head matchup may reveal some answers. I think the Bengals build off last week’s tight loss, correct some mistakes, and take care of business at home.
Bengals win 23-20, Bengals win ATS
Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0-1)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5)
Despite blowing the lead and allowing the Arizona Cardinals to come back and yield a tie, Detroit is still a dangerous team when their offense is clicking. The Chargers offense is talented too, which could lead to an indoor shoot-out. The winner will be the defense who steps up, and in this case I see that being Los Angeles.
Chargers win 38-30, Chargers win ATS
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-3.0)
Despite emerging victorious, the Green Bay Packers offense had one of the worst weeks in the NFL in Week 1. This is much to the credit of the Bears defense, but Green Bay will be looking for increased production against a Minnesota unit that held Matt Ryan in check last week. The Packers do have the advantage of playing at home, and while my brain says they should be able to ride Rodgers and their defense to victory, I’m going with my gut on this one.
The Packers struggle again offensively, and Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are able to capitalize.
Vikings win 17-13, Vikings win ATS
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-3.0)
Jacoby Brissett and the Colts played a one-score game against one of the AFC’s best teams from 2018, losing 30-24 to the Chargers. I’ve been saying it since Andrew Luck retired: the Colts are not going to be horrible. Brissett was 21-27 for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss. While he could push the ball downfield a little more, his accuracy and rhythm could be something to build off.
Not to overlook the Titans, who embarassed the new-look Cleveland Browns in Week 1. Mariota was less accurate, completing 14 of 24 passes, but more explosive, totaling 248 yards and 3 touchdowns.
It should be a tight matchup, but I have the Colts upsetting the Titans on the road to even both teams records to 1-1.
Colts win 27-24, PUSH ATS
New England Patriots (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Line: New England Patriots (-19.0)
While this is the biggest line in NFL history, it’s still something to gawk at. Truly, the defending Super Bowl Champions, coming off a blowout win of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be facing one of the least talented teams the NFL has seen in recent memory.
Historically, the Dolphins have been known for upsetting Brady and the Patriots, esepcially in Miami. They did so as recently as last year. If Miami didn’t enter full tank mode by trading Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, and Kiko Alonso, maybe they’d have a shot. But with the current state of the team, there’s not a chance.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll get to see the Patriots with their foot on the gas pedal the whole game. They could probably hang 60 points on Miami’s defense if they really wanted to. Instead, New England will lead 31-3 at halftime before easing off and maybe even taking out some starters, or just sticking to running the ball.
Patriots win 45-13, Patriots win ATS
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
Another matchup where I’m not completely sure on the identity of each team. The Seahawks barely beat the Bengals in Week 1, and on paper, I had rated Cincinnati very lowly. For the Steelers, was their blowout loss to the Patriots more a testament to New England’s prowess, or is Pittsburgh a below-average team?
This should be a close matchup all-around. The Steelers are favored at home, but I think Russell Wilson edges out Big Ben in a head-to-head veteran quarterback duel.
Seahawks win 24-21, Steelers win ATS
Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-5.5)
The Redskins were sitting pretty behind Case Keenum and a 17-0 lead: before everything fell apart. Washington’s offense isn’t horrible, but their defense and game management skills left much to be desired. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are coming off an explosive week, against a poor Giants defense. If the Redskins can’t improve on defense, Prescott could tear them apart just the same.
Side note, Amari Cooper was a great fantasy pick for me. He had 6 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, giving him 7 touchdowns in 10 games with Dallas. Hoping he goes off again against Washington.
Cowboys win 30-20, Cowboys win ATS
Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-13)
It’s not very often you can call a tie impressive, but Kyler Murray coming back in the fourth quarter of his first NFL game, and getting the Cardinals to their first field goal of the overtime period, had heads turning around the NFL. But now Murray hits the road against a stout Ravens pass defense.
13 points is one of the biggest spreads this week, translating to confidence in Lamar Jackson’s offense and uncertainty on Murray’s side. While Jackson won’t put up video game numbers like he did against the Dolphins, he’ll still play very well, helping put the narrative to rest that he “can’t throw.” Maybe the Cardinals back-door cover the spread with a late score.
Ravens win 28-17, Cardinals win ATS
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Houston Texans (0-1)
Line: Houston Texans (-8.5)
Jaguars rookie QB Gardner Minshew might have had THE most impressive quarterback performance of Week 1. It’s not that he was the best (Jackson, Prescott, Watson, Brady, etc all had better games) and he didn’t even win. But to come off the bench cold in Week 1 of your first ever NFL game, and to hit the field full-stride, takes guts. Minshew broke a pair of passing records:
- Most straight completions to begin a career in last 40 years: 13
- Jaguars single game completion % (Min. 15 Att): 88%
I’m not saying he’s the next Brady or Mahommes, but coming in off the bench and playing as well as he did will always turn heads.
Back to the game: the Houston Texans are the clear favorites here. They had the Saints on the ropes in the final minute of the fourth quarter before Brees and Lutz completed a miracle comeback. The Saints are an elite football team, so Houston hanging with them until the end bodes well for their chances this year. Houston’s defense will need to improve its discipline and late-game tactics if the Texans want to join the elite conversation themselves, but for now they are above average.
Texans win 27-20, Jaguars win ATS
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-7.0)
One of the most surprising results of Week 1 for me was the Raiders manhandling the Broncos. I thought even with Antonio Brown, they would’ve been a mediocre team. I didn’t think Jon Gruden could still be a serviceable NFL coach.
Of course, it’s only one week, but it seems the oddmakers were also inspired by Oakland’s performance: only being 7 point underdogs to the high-scoring Kansas City Chiefs is actually a compliment.
Still, I think Mahommes, Reid, McCoy, and the Chiefs offense puts up another field day. Carr will put up some scores too to make it interesting, but I think the Chiefs win on the road for the second straight week.
Chiefs win 37-27, Chiefs win ATS
Chicago Bears (0-1) at Denver Broncos (0-1)
Line: Chicago Bears (-2.5)
Both teams are desperate for Week 2 wins after squandering games against division rivals in Week 1. The Bears were my preseason pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, but their loss to the Packers was hardly inspiring. Though it does look like Chicago’s defense will remain elite, as they limited Aaron Rodgers offense to 10 points.
Watching Monday Night Football, the Broncos were a very mixed bag. One drive could have some nice runs from Philip Lindsay and savvy, veteran throws by Joe Flacco. Then on the next drive, Flacco might brace himself for a sack from 10 yards away instead of evading it/throwing the ball away.
This will likely be a low-scoring game: a mix of a defensive battle and offensive struggle. I have the Bears winning because they’re more desperate, and have more experience winning games with their current roster.
Bears win 17-13, Bears win ATS
New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-2.0)
One of the most anticipated games of the entire season comes in Week 2: a rematch of the infamous NFC Championship that resulted in a rule change for the league. After a controversial non-pass interference call, such plays are now review-able by a coach’s challenge.
In 2019, both teams look to play championship-level football once again (I have the Rams finishing with the #1 seed and the Saints #2).
Both teams looked human in Week 1, with the Rams narrowly edging out the Panthers and the Saints requiring a heroic last-minute drive and 58-yard field goal to emerge victorious. If anything, we might expect a similar outcome here: whoever has the ball last could be the winner. These types of matchups also have a bit of bust potential, but let’s hope we’re treated to a thrilling Week 2 game between two NFC powerhouses.
The Rams are 2-point favorites, but if you ask me, this is a toss-up. Also one of the hardest picks for me this week. The Saints took a little while to get their offense going in Week 1, but if they can keep it going into Week 2, they should be able to win on the road.
Saints win 27-24, Saints win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-2)
It’s only Week 2 but I can never stop myself from looking at the big picture: both of these teams have playoff aspirations, but are probably the 2nd-best team in their divisions. So while the playoffs are months away, I think the outcome of this game could be pivotal if the teams are locked in an NFC Wildcard race.
In Week 1, the Eagles woke up when they found themselves down 17-0 to the Redskins, eventually winning. The Falcons only managed two touchdowns (12 points) against the Vikings defense last week.
At first glance I was going to pick the Falcons in their home dome, but their offensive struggles are concerning. Matt Ryan also threw two interceptions in their Week 1 loss. I think this game will be close, but the Eagles offense is better over four quarters, while the Falcons only manage a couple good drives.
Eagles win 27-20, Eagles win ATS
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-6)
I was excited for this Monday Night matchup, and not just because I’ll be in attendance. It’s a rematch of a Thursday Night game from September 20, 2018, almost exactly a year ago. In that game, the Browns ended their winless streak, and the Baker Mayfield era began. The Jets became an apparent bottom-dweller for the year after the loss.
So I was ready for Darnold-Mayfield Round 2 in what could be a intra-conference rivalry moving forward. And while he’s not playing against his former team, it will still be interesting to see the reception Odell Beckham Jr. gets in his first game back at MetLife Stadium.
But as Jets injuries continue to pile up, this game becomes less interesting and more lopsided. Key defensive addition C.J. Mosley left the Jets loss to the Bills early, and Buffalo scored all 17 of their points in his absence. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa is out for the rest of the season with a neck injury.
Most importantly, quarterback Sam Darnold is out after contracting mono, forcing Trevor Siemian into the starting role.
Although the Browns were flat-out embarrassed by the Titans in Week 1, the cards are unfolding for Cleveland to get a confidence-boosting win in Week 2 over the Jets.
Browns win 23-10, Browns win ATS
Overall Record and More
Last week I only predicted one upset (Panthers over Rams, an incorrect pick.) This week I have four. As I said, Week 2 picks are the hardest of the year for me. If I do worse than my 9-6-1 mark in Week 1, don’t worry, I’ll get better as the season progresses.
Last Week: 9-6-1
This Season: 9-6-1
Header Photo: AP Photo/Michael Perez
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