NFL Week 2 Picks for Early Slate: 5 Expert Predictions for Buccaneers vs Saints, Jets vs Browns, More
Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.
- Chris Raybon has five picks he's highlighted as his go-to bets for the 1 p.m. ET slate of Week 2.
- From props to sides and totals, check out Raybon's bets and breakdowns below.
NFL Odds & Picks
By now you’ve probably heard about the Colts’ perpetual struggles in Jacksonville. Just in case you haven’t, let me remind you:
- The Colts haven’t won in Jacksonville since the 2014 season.
- The Jaguars are 6-0 straight-up (SU) at home against the Colts since 2015, winning by an average of 16.8 points per game.
- The Jaguars are 6-0 against the spread (ATS) at home against the Colts since 2015, winning by an average of 20.1 points per game.
- The Jaguars won SU as the underdog in each of the past four matchups, with an average margin of victory of 11.5 and an average cover margin of 19.3.
It’s not surprising that the Colts have struggled in a matchup like this. The familiarity of divisional matchups tends to be an equalizer. And as a dome team, the Colts are not used to playing in the hot and humid Jacksonville climate.
But there’s much more than just a streak that favors Jacksonville in this game. The Colts’ best player on defense (LB Shaquille Leonard) has been ruled out for the second straight week. Their best pass catcher (WR Michael Pittman) was downgraded from a limited practice participant on Wednesday to a DNP on Thursday and Friday with a quad issue. Another one of their starting WRs (Alec Pierce) was ruled out with a concussion.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, didn’t even list a player on the final injury report.
Couple a newly acquired, aging quarterback with not much in the way of pass catchers outside of Pittman on offense and a defense leader missing (Leonard), and you get an underwhelming, mediocre team that can’t put away a team like the Texans on the road.
The Jags present a much more difficult matchup for the Colts. Their new-look offense under Doug Pederson and Press Taylor averaged 6.1 yards per play against Washington in Week 1. And Jacksonville’s defensive strength is stopping the run (3.0 yards per carry allowed on 28 carries), which perfectly aligns with what the Colts want to do offensively.
According to our Action Labs data, Week 2 underdogs by 6 points or fewer coming off an outright loss in Week 1 are 62-34-2 (65%) since 2005, beating the spread by an average of 1.9 points per game.
Home ‘dogs in this spot have been even better, going 26-12 (68%) ATS and beating the closing number by an average of 2.6 points.
This is a great spot to sell high on the Giants.
While Daniel Jones is 13-6 (68%) ATS on the road, he’s just 7-12 (37%) ATS at home. This is still an offense that was held scoreless for the first 34 minutes of the game in Week 1, one that featured Richie James Jr. as its top target and David Sills as a WR who ran a route 57% of the time. And one whose most explosive pass catchers — Wan’Dale Robinson (out-knee) and Kadarius Toney (questionable-hamstring) — are both hurt.
The Panthers will be able to use Christian McCaffrey to exploit a Giants linebacking corps that is absolutely horrendous in pass coverage. The Giants’ starting linebackers are Tae Crowder and Austin Calitro. Crowder has earned a bottom-15 percentile coverage grade from PFF every year of his career. Calitro is an undrafted free agent from 2017 who made his first start in nearly three years last week, grading out as the worst linebacker in the league in coverage.
Combined, those LBs allowed seven completions on eight targets for 102 yards and two TDs, with both scores going to RB Dontrell Hilliard. Good luck with CMC.
The Giants will also be without lost No. 2 cornerback Aaron Robinson. Adoree Jackson is great, but he can’t cover D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson at the same time.
As I’ve pointed out many times, the key to beating Baker Mayfield is getting pressure. The Browns were able to do that, pressuring him on 42.4% of his dropbacks last week, fifth-highest of Week 1. The Giants, meanwhile, registered a pressure on only 25.4% of Ryan Tannehill’s dropbacks, fifth-lowest — and that was with them blitzing on 45.7% of his dropbacks.
Per Action Labs, Week 2 ‘dogs coming off a close loss close by four or fewer points are 26-14 (65%) ATS in Week 2 since 2005. And during that same span, ‘dogs by 6 points or fewer coming off an ATS loss in Week 1 have gone 56-32-2 (64%) in Week 2.
If it wasn’t obvious in Dallas last Sunday night, this is not the same Bucs offense.
The Bucs scored only 19 points in Week 1 while running 33 times and passing only 29 times. Although the Saints had a rough go at stopping the run against the Falcons unconventional rushing attack featuring Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Mariota, they are perennially among the NFL’s best run defenses and present a more difficult matchup on the ground than the Cowboys.
But the Bucs could struggle even more if they attempt to air it out. In five meetings against the Saints as a member of the Bucs, Tom Brady failed to throw for 240 yards in four of them. The one time he did (last season in New Orleans), he committed three turnovers, including a game-sealing pick-six.
The Saints have a formula for success against Brady because they can get interior pressure, and Marcus Lattimore always holds Mike Evans below his normal averages.
Also, the Bucs’ offensive line is an issue this season. Their three new starters on the interior line combined to allow five pressures and four hurries last week against Dallas. Left tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) is doubtful, and his replacement, Josh Wells, allowed two pressures and a sack in just 19 snaps last week, according to Pro Football Focus. The last time these two teams met, the Saints shut out the Bucs, 9-0.
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs have three quality cornerbacks in Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting that can go toe-to-toe with Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave. And with Vita Vea anchoring their interior line, the Bucs are also perennially one of the NFL’s best run defenses, which doesn’t bode well for a Saints running game that is dealing with injuries to both Alvin Kamara (questionable-ribs) and Mark Ingram (questionable-ankle).
I’m splitting my unit on this between the full game and first half just in case we see one of these teams fall way behind. Brady in comeback mode is still Brady, and Jameis Winston in comeback mode is liable to give up six points to the defense at any time.
According to our Action Labs data, Week 2 Divisional unders are 40-22-2 (65%) since 2005 when the total opens at 43 or higher.
Wilson finished with four catches on eight targets in his debut despite sitting out much of the first quarter. Wilson should be more involved this week. According to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, “[Jets head coach Robert] Saleh said Wilson didn’t play as much at the start because the Jets were focused on using their 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) and 13 personnel (one RB, three TE) packages against the Ravens.”
This week, No. 2 tight end C.J. Uzomah is doubtful, leaving a converted wide receiver (Lawrence Cager), a practice-squad call-up (Kenny Yeboah), and a rookie who was a healthy scratch in Week 1 (Jeremy Ruckert) at tight end behind starter Tyler Conklin.
In addition to more packages featuring wide receivers this week, Wilson should also get a boost in playing time because No. 4 receiver Braxton Berrios, who ran only six fewer routes than Wilson (35) last week, is listed as questionable with a heel injury. Wilson was moved around between the slot and outside in Week 1, so he should be able to avoid Cleveland’s best cornerback, Denzel Ward, enough to post at least three catches for the second straight week.
I’m selling high on Washington here. Both of these teams have bad defenses, but the difference is the Lions have a quarterback in Jared Goff who is less likely to turn the ball over. This is also a good situational spot for the Lions, as they are in their second straight home game still hungry for win No. 1 while Washington could have a letdown in its first road game after winning at home last week.
According to our Action Labs data, Week 2 home teams going up against visitors that covered at home in Week 1 are 60-50-2 (55%) ATS since 2005, including 8-4 (67%) when favored by under a field goal.