NFL Week 2 Early Slate Picks, Predictions: 7 Best Bets for Patriots vs Steelers, Commanders vs Lions, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Jared Goff.
- Our team of betting analysts have Week 2 of the NFL covered.
- We have seven picks for the 1 p.m. ET slate right when games kick off on Sunday.
- Check out their best bets and breakdowns below.
NFL Odds & Picks
Derek Farnsworth: The second I saw the Jets announce Joe Flacco as their starter for Week 2, I rushed to the metaphorical betting window (my phone) to bet on the Browns. The Jets had one of the highest situation-neutral passing rates in Week 1, which led to Flacco airing it out 59 times. To nobody’s surprise, it didn’t work against the Ravens.
New York’s offensive line is dealing with injuries and now has to deal with Myles Garrett and company in Cleveland. To make matters worse, PFF ranks the Browns’ secondary as a top-five unit. We don’t need Jacoby Brissett to do much in this game to cover the six-point spread. Lean on the strength of the running game and the defense and this should lead to an easy win for the Browns.
- 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.
Mike Tomlin continues to reign supreme in an underdog role. He’s now 46-23-2 ATS as a dog, covering two of every three, and that includes a pristine 14-3-2 ATS at home, covering 82% of the time by 6.5 points per game with an impressive 13-6 record straight-up.
There are trends that favor Bill Belichick off a loss and in toss-up games, but in this case, I wonder if those trends are actually just buying us value on Pittsburgh when the Steelers should be favored. And don’t forget, Mac Jones is dealing with a back injury that can flare up anytime. Our Sean Koerner has the swing from Jones to Brian Hoyer as worth 3.5 points, and even if Mac plays, a lack of mobility behind a bad line against this pass rush could be lethal.
Underdogs in games with a total below 42 are 88-54-3 ATS since 2018, covering 62% of the time and even better at 40-22 ATS at home. There’s a Week 2 trend that favors Pittsburgh too. Week 1 underdogs that are road favorites the following week like New England are an awful 4-14-1 ATS since 2005, covering only 22% of the time and losing nine of the last 10 outright.
Belichick has defied all the trends before, but Tomlin as a home underdog is not just any opponent and this Pats team might just not have it.
Simon Hunter: Every time these two teams have played since Tom Brady got to Tampa Bay, it has been an ugly, drag-‘em-out battle.
The Saints have had Brady’s number, beating him all four times they’ve played against him on the Buccaneers in the regular season. There’s a reason for that. New Orleans has been able to take away the run and make Brady and the Bucs offense one-dimensional.
On the flip side, the Saints offense did nothing of note against the Falcons in Week 1 until the fourth quarter. Once Atlanta switched to a prevent defense, Jameis Winston was able to nickel-and-dime his way down the field for a comeback win.
I don’t see the Bucs giving up points that easily. Last week, we saw this will be a “bend but don’t break” Tampa Bay defense that will give up a ton of yards between the 20s before really getting going in the red zone.
Love this to be a low-scoring divisional matchup.
John LanFranca: There were nine defensive units that clearly graded out better than the rest according to DVOA in Week 1, and these are two of them.
The Dolphins have the most underrated front seven in football, but I doubt Lamar Jackson would call them that. The last time he faced this defense, he was pressured 19 times as the Dolphins forced him into one of the worst games of his career. Miami won the game outright as an 8-point underdog.
The Ravens’ offensive line is still not 100% healthy and ranked 30th against the Jets a week ago in average yards per rush before contact. If Baltimore can’t run the ball effectively, points will be hard to come by.
The Dolphins are also dealing with injuries up front, with left tackle Terron Armstead (toe) questionable and right tackle Austin Jackson (ankle) on the short-term injured reserve.
Neither play caller is going to subject their QB to constant pressure, so expect a very conservative game plan early in the contest.
Last season when these teams met, nine points were scored in the first half. Expect a similar result this week.
I’d play this down to 21.
Yes, you read that right. A betting favorite. The first time being able to say that since the Stafford-Patricia era.
Washington’s defense struggled mightily in a narrow victory over the Jags last week. The Commanders delivered a defensive display that was eye-popping for all the wrong reasons, actually getting dominated according to most advanced metrics.
Unable to get the Jag’s offense off the field in standard downs, the Commanders now face a far superior offensive unit that has weapons at every position and has been bolstered by one of the best offensive lines in football.
While the Lions defense is still nothing to write home about, it faces a Washington offense that relied on extended drives on third down to advance the ball, hitting at an unreal clip that is due to regress to the mean.
Carson Wentz could potentially be under pressure with a motivated Aidan Hutchinson, who disappeared in the pass rush last game out. This would only cushion our Lions bet with Wentz being forced into mistakes, killing their drives.
Take this no higher than -2.5.
Stuckey: I liked the Lions initially here and bet them -1 early in the week. I will likely keep the position but have soured a bit on it after some of the injury concerns on the Detroit offense.
A healthy Detroit offensive line could neutralize the Washington defensive front (still without Chase Young) and allow Jared Goff time to take advantage of Washington’s weaknesses on the back-end of its defense at linebacker and secondary. DeAndre Swift sounds like he’s planning on playing, but his status is unknown after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
I will say that I might be slightly biased toward Detroit after watching Dan Campbell and this team on “Hard Knocks,” but that’s not the only reason to bet the Lions this week.
Detroit’s biggest strength is its offensive line and is paired with an elite running back duo in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. The Lions should have plenty of success on the ground in this one, as Washington was dead last in adjusted line yards in Week 1. Without Chase Young on the field, this isn’t a defense that is scaring anyone.
Jared Goff has plenty of weapons to work with and the defense will be able to plan a little better for Wentz than Jalen Hurts.
Sean Koerner: The total for this game opened at 46.5, but the market has bet it up to 48.5 thanks to 80% of the tickets and 86% of the money coming in on the over.
It’s not too surprising, considering both of these teams’ games sailed over the total last week. The Lions scored a TD on all four of their red zone trips, while the Commanders scored a TD on both of theirs.
I think the market is a bit too excited over two teams that scored a TD on 100% of their red zone drives last week. I would expect both to score around a 55% clip going forward.
The Lions ran the ball at the second-highest rate on early downs in a neutral game script. While they had to abandon that game plan after the Eagles built a double-digit lead, I expect the Lions to stick with a run-heavy game plan against Washington, which allowed the Jaguars to average 6.8 yards a carry last week.
However, the Lions might not be very efficient this week, considering both LG Jonah Jackson and C Frank Ragnow are expected to miss the game. It’s a brutal blow to an offensive line that also lost RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai in early September.
Meanwhile, the Commanders could opt for a more conservative game plan this week after Wentz threw two ill-advised interceptions last week that almost allowed the Jaguars to come back and win. Outside of those mistakes, Wentz looked great. It’s still a reminder that eventually he will make a fatal mistake to put his team into a bind.
I’m expecting a lower-scoring, more run-heavy game than the market does. Plus, I would figure both of these offenses cool off a bit in the red zone.
I’m projecting this closer to the opener of 46.5 and would bet it down to 47.5.