NFL Week 2 Picks & Predictions: Our Experts’ 9 Favorite Bets
- Our staff reveals their nine favorite NFL bets for Sunday's main slate of Week 2 games.
- See how they're betting Vikings-Packers, Bears-Broncos and six other matchups.
Can the Redskins cover another big spread against a divisional foe? Can we really trust the Titans off their Week 1 in Cleveland? Should there be concern in Pittsburgh?
Our staff reveals their nine favorite bets for Sunday’s main slate of Week 2 games.
Here are the eight games they’ll hit on:
- Cowboys at Redskins: 1 p.m. ET
- Vikings at Packers: 1 p.m. ET
- Chargers at Lions: 1 p.m. ET
- Colts at Titans: 1 p.m. ET
- Seahawks at Steelers: 1 p.m. ET
- Chiefs at Raiders: 4:05 p.m. ET
- Saints at Rams: 4:25 p.m. ET
- Bears at Broncos: 4:25 p.m. ET
Now let’s dive in.
Sean Koerner: Redskins +6
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
Books appear to be getting flooded with Cowboys action, as they’re accounting for at least 80% of tickets and money as of writing (see live publish betting data here). It still took awhile for this line to hit 6, but I’m grabbing the Redskins now.
They are, of course, going to regress offensively from Week 1, but I don’t think we can write them off completely. Give me Washington +6.
Stuckey: Packers -2.5 vs. Vikings
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
I still don’t think the market is properly valuing the Packers’ dramatic improvement on defense.
Not only did their young corners gain valuable experience last season, the Packers upgraded at safety by signing one of the best (Adrian Amos) and drafting Darnell Savage, who fits perfectly at Mike Pettine’s robber position. They also improved their pass rush with Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, who combined for 16 pressures and 2.5 sacks in their team debut.
They looked extremely meek on the other side of the ball, but what did we really expect from a new offense on the road against one of the best defenses? It should look much crisper this week, especially with the extra time to prepare off the Thursday night game.
The Vikings will likely rely heavily on the run again, which will keep the clock moving, and I expect the Packers to be on the slower side early in the season as they learn their new offense.
Unlike the Falcons, the Packers actually have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. They are actually capable of matching up with the Vikings’ excellent defensive front and reading their exotic blitzes — a luxury Matt Ryan did not enjoy last week.
That should give Aaron Rodgers enough time to exploit a banged up Minnesota secondary. I expect Davante Adams to have a big game against the declining Xavier Rhodes. In two meetings last year, Adams tallied a total of 13 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
And can we please stop saying it’s been almost 1,000 days since the Packers beat the Vikings? Not only is that meaningless (the Packers now have a defense), but Rodgers didn’t play in one of those games, he got hurt in the first quarter of another, and a ridiculous roughing call on Clay Matthews cost them the win in another.
Now that the Packers have a defense on par with the Vikings, Green Bay should win this game at home with its advantage in the trenches. The Vikings still have one of the worst in the NFC, especially up the middle. The Packers’ defensive line should have success blowing up the A and B gaps, while the Smiths should continue to generate pressure off the edge.
Coming into the season, I had the Packers rated as the best team in the NFC North, although not by an enormous margin. That didn’t change after Week 1, which means I make them greater than a 3-point favorite at Lambeau. Therefore, I see value in Green Bay at a field goal or less. I took the Packers at -3.
I also like the under in this divisional matchup featuring two of the NFC’s better defenses. I grabbed it at 45.
Collin Wilson: Steelers -3.5 vs. Seahawks
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
While the Patriots were rolling over the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, bells went off in my gambling brain to alarm me that Pittsburgh was an automatic play for Week 2.
Not only does Seattle has to travel from the West Coast to play a 1 p.m. ET kickoff, but the Steelers are always an attractive team to back when they are coming off a loss.
Per Bet Labs, Pittsburgh is 37-21 since 2010 against the spread when coming off a loss. When the Steelers are at least a 3-point favorite, they are 18-5 against the number.
The Steelers took it on the chin in Week 1, but there were still positives from the game. The offensive line graded as the eighth-best in pass blocking, a stark contrast to the Seahawks, who ranked 30th per Pro Football Focus. The entire offensive line for Seattle can be exposed not just in passing downs, but standard rushing downs where it ranked 28th.
This spread has been bouncing between -3.5 and -4, so be sure to shop around for the best number.
Chris Raybon: Chargers-Lions Under 47.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
Both teams played overtime games last week, which seems to be warping public perception and keeping this line higher than it should be.
The Lions played the Cardinals, who rank first after one week in elapsed seconds per play (21.36 per Football Outsiders), but the Lions’ own situation-neutral pace ranks 24th in the league, and they’ve made it known they want to play slow and methodical football under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel.
After finishing last season dead last in elapsed seconds per play (30.26), the Chargers’ situation-neutral pace in Week 1 ranked 30th in the league. With Hunter Henry out and Mike Williams banged up, the Chargers will likely play this one closer to the vest as to not fall behind big on the road.
I scooped the under up at 48, but like it down to 47.
Mike Randle: Lions +2 vs. Chargers
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
There are multiple factors that support taking Detroit as a 2.5-point home underdog.
First, the Chargers will likely be without Henry and Williams, two key offensive playmakers. That leaves Los Angeles with wide receivers Travis Benjamin (12 receptions in 2018) and Dontrelle Inman (28 receptions) and tight end Sean Culkin (one reception) supporting Allen. The Chargers will try and move Allen around to avoid a matchup with Darius Slay, but without a healthy supporting cast, the Lions should be able to limit Allen’s production.
The Los Angeles offensive line struggled against the Colts in Week 1, allowing four sacks. The job won’t get easier this week as the Lions sacked Kyler Murray five times in Week 1 and ranked seventh with 43 sacks in 2018. They added free agent Trey Flowers, who grabbed 21 sacks over the past three seasons, to an already potent pass rush.
On the other side of the ball, Detroit’s run-first offense should have enough success against the Bolts to keep this within the number.
And finally, there is some contrarian value with the home team. Per Bet Labs, teams that receive less than 30% of the bets in Week 2 are 47-28-2 (63%) against the spread since 2003. Currently, the Lions are only receiving 22%, making the +2.5 line very enticing.
Danny Donahue: Colts +3 at Titans
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
‘Tis the season for divisional underdogs.
In September — basically, before we know who’s actually good) — divisional dogs getting less than 50% of bets have gone 141-84-9 (62.7%) against the spread since 2003.
This specific spot especially intrigues me because of the potential overreaction to Tennessee’s big Week 1 win. While it’s a small sample, teams coming off a Week 1 victory of at least four touchdowns have gone 2-11 ATS in Week 2 since ’05.
Matthew Freedman: Chiefs -7 at Raiders
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
Last week, the sharps were on the Jaguars at +3 or +3.5 — and maybe they were right — but I was on the Chiefs then, and I’m happy with the process. Even though the sharps are probably going to be on the Raiders at +7, I’m backing the Chiefs once again.
Am I a square? Probably. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Since head coach Andy Reid joined the franchise in 2013, no team has had larger offensive reverse home/away splits than the Chiefs. Most teams score more points at home than on the road. But not the Chiefs. Under Reid, they have averaged 2.95 more points on the road than at Arrowhead Stadium.
In other words, the home-field advantage that most teams have when they play pretty much any other team: That’s drastically diminished when they host the Chiefs. It might even be nonexistent.
As a result, we might expect the Chiefs to be a great team against the spread on the road — and that’s exactly what we see in the historical data. Reid’s Chiefs are 32-16-1 ATS away from home, good for a 30.7% ROI (per Bet Labs). Since joining the Chiefs, Reid has been the most profitable coach to back on the road.
And from a football perspective, I like this line regardless of Reid’s ATS history. This is a game with two bad defenses. In 2018, the Raiders were last in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA, and the Chiefs were last in rush-defense DVOA. But in today’s NFL, the passing game matters much more than the running game. Even with a poor stop unit, the Chiefs have the defensive edge. Their weakness is not nearly as large of a liability.
And although the Raiders offense is probably better than it was last year, the Chiefs still have the best offense in the league.
Let’s say that the Chiefs’ ability to travel well and the modest defensive edge they have counterbalances the Raiders’ home-field advantage. In that case, is the Chiefs offense at least seven points better than the Raiders offense? I think so.
Chad Millman: Rams -2 vs. Saints
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
Let’s get smart, people.
Don’t be fooled by the Saints’ dramatic comeback win over the Texans. They were dominated in the first half of that game, made a furious comeback in the second half and then needed some really bad defensive strategy decisions on the part of the Texans to get into field goal range for the game-winning kick. Also, don’t forget, their defense got shredded by Deshaun Watson in the first half and, ummm, on two plays in 30 seconds in the final minute of the game.
Meanwhile, the Rams did this: Used the first half of the Panthers game to knock off all the rust accumulated by not playing in the preseason, looked better than a team most professional bettors loved, shut down a comeback from King-of-the-comeback Cam Newton and left with a cross-country road win. And yet — YET! — the line has moved off of Rams -3, thanks to the public being fooled by the way the Saints won, not the way they actually played.
Not me, though. Gimme the Rams as a short home fave.
John Ewing: Bears-Broncos Over 40.5
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
The Bears failed to score a touchdown and kicked one field goal in their opener — tied for the fewest points scored in Week 1. Denver wasn’t much better putting up 16 points against an Oakland unit that finished 30th in defensive DVOA in 2018.
The offensive struggles by the Bears and Broncos hurt over bettors to start the season. Each team went under their Week 1 total. The public hasn’t forgotten the poor performances as more than 60% of tickets are on the under as of writing.
Recreational gamblers are overreacting to one bad offensive game, which could be costly. Historically, it’s been profitable to bet the over when both teams went under the previous week.
The most profitable time to bet the over after teams went under is early in the season when we can take advantage of bettors putting too much emphasis on a small sample of player and team performances.
Since 2003, bettors following this strategy in Weeks 2-4 have gone 100-62-1 (61.7%). A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,354 following this system.