Expert NFL Picks: Saints at Panthers, 49ers at Eagles, More Week 2 Spreads & Over/Unders To Bet
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Eagles QB Jalen Hurts
Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, reveals the four biggest edges based on his Week 2 NFL Power Ratings. He has a 376-279-4 (57%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action App, where you can follow all of his picks.
Expert NFL Picks For Week 2
|Panthers +3.5 vs. Saints||1 p.m. ET on Sun|
|49ers-Eagles Under 49.5||1 p.m. ET on Sun|
|Chargers -3 vs. Cowboys||4:25 p.m. ET on Sun|
|Lions-Packers Over 48||8:15 p.m. ET on Mon|
I’m looking to fade the Saints after their lopsided 38-3 win at “home” against the Packers — heading into that neutral-site game in Jacksonville, I had warned that the Florida heat could be an issue for a cold-weather team like Green Bay. Well, it did turn out to be an issue, and a Week 1 blowout like the one we witnessed typically leads to overreaction in the Week 2 market, as we see here with the Saints favored by more than they should be.
The Panthers are still in rebuilding mode. Sam Darnold will prevent them from ever becoming a serious Super Bowl contender, but they’re just good enough to be a sneaky play against the spread (ATS) some weeks.
Offensive coordinator Joe Brady did a great job of scheming up high-percentage throws for Darnold in Week 1, as seen by his 68.9% expected completion percentage (xCOMP%) — the sixth-highest of the week, according to Next Gen Stats. The Panther’s offensive philosophy appears to be: Get the ball into the hands of playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall. So far, it’s working, considering they ranked sixth in expected points added (EPA) per pass attempt in Week 1.
The Saints’ defense will present a much tougher test than the Jets did last week. However, Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore and Kwon Alexander are shaping up to be game-time decisions. I would expect this line to drop down to +3 or even +2.5 if Davenport and Lattimore are ruled out, so it’s critical to lock in +3.5 while you can.
Center Erik McCoy has already been ruled out, which is a big loss on the offensive side of the ball. The coaching staff is also dealing with a COVID outbreak.
I’m projecting the Saints as 2-point favorites here and would bet the Panthers down to +3. If Davenport/Lattimore are both ruled out, I would bet the Panthers down to +2.5 (compare real-time NFL odds here).
The Eagles put up 32 points on the Falcons in Week 1 while the 49ers dropped 41 on the Lions. Both teams will face a much more formidable defense this week.
Opponent Rank In Defensive DOVA: Week 1 vs. 2
- Eagles: ATL (27th) vs. SF (13th)
- 49ers: DET (30th) vs. PHI (4th)
Obviously, we should be treating one week of data with a grain of salt. This is just for illustrative purposes, but the point of each Week 2 defense being better is indisputable.
It’s also a matchup in which both teams will be looking to establish the run and opt for a more conservative approach when they drop back to pass. Jalen Hurts’ aDot (3.7) was the lowest of Week 1 while Jimmy Garoppolo’s (7.2) ranked 10th-lowest.
This total is your classic Week 1 overreaction — I’m expecting a much lower scoring environment than the market, projecting this total closer to 46.
I would bet this under down to 47.5 points.
I was bullish on the Chargers heading into 2021 and Week 1 made it clear that they are Super Bowl contenders. A more analytical approach to in-game decision-making and play-calling will take this team to the next level. Year 2 quarterback Justin Herbert will also benefit from playing behind a much better offensive line this season.
The Cowboys will be without RT La’el Collins while the Chargers will be without RT Bryan Bulaga, so let’s call those losses wash. However, the Cowboys will be without DE Demarcus Lawrence, which is a big enough loss to be worth 0.5-1 points to the spread. His absence should allow Herbert more time to throw against the Cowboys’ shaky secondary and clear a path for the Chargers to cover this spread.
This line is sitting between Chargers -3 and -3.5 as of writing, but if you only have access to -3.5, I would recommend (as always) to buy the -3 — the Chargers winning by three points is the most likely outcome. That said, considering this game should be a shootout (the 55-point total is the highest of Week 2), the odds of the hook coming into play here are going to be lower than your typical matchup.
I’m projecting the Chargers as 4.5-point favorites here and I’m only awarding them 0-0.5 points for home-field advantage. There should be plenty of Cowboys fans attending at SoFi, making it more of a neutral-site matchup.
Aaron Rodgers had his worst game as a pro against the Saints in a 38-3 beat down in Week 1. Look for him to take out his frustration on the Lions in front of the whole country on Monday Night Football.
2020 first-round CB Jeff Okudah suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, making the Lions’ inferior secondary that much worse.
The Packers defense was also to blame for last week’s embarrassing loss, and the issues on that side of the ball may carry over into Week 2. To make matters worse, Za’Darius Smith was placed on IR due to a back injury. It’s a massive loss for a defense that was already ailing at full strength.
The Lions’ offense thrived in garbage time last week against the 49ers. I can see them doing so again here.
I’m projecting this closer to 50 and would bet the over up to 49.