NFL Week 2 Predictions: Expert Bets for Commanders vs Broncos, Cowboys vs Jets
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Payton.
Each week during the 2023-2024 NFL season, I'll be sharing my favorite spread picks for Sunday's slate.
After going 4-1 in Week 1, which could have easily been 5-0 if the Colts could gain a yard, it's time to move on to a trio of NFL Week 2 games I like.
I'm banking on the Bills to bounce back at home in a big way.
Yes, Josh Allen struggled immensely against the Jets, but he isn't the first, nor will he be the last, to look poor against that defense. In fact, Allen hasn't found a way to crack the New York defense in the last three meetings against them.
Just take a look at these splits:
Let's not act like the sky is falling in northern New York. The Bills have only dropped four of their last 17 games, with those defeats coming by a combined 14 points (including two in overtime).
When the good Josh Allen shows up, the Bills usually win — and they usually win big.
Look no further than the fact that 37 of Allen's 53 career regular-season victories have come by more than seven points. There's no reason to believe the Bills won't feast against a poor Raiders secondary that didn't get challenged against Russell Wilson and a shorthanded Broncos receiving corps last week. I have slight concerns about Maxx Crosby going up against Spencer Brown, but Buffalo should give him help, if necessary. And whenever Allen has or buys time, Buffalo should have an edge across the board downfield.
The natural follow-up question then becomes: Can the Raiders keep up? I don't believe so. The Bills sport one of the best defenses in the league. And while Jimmy Garoppolo played well last week and has familiarity with the offensive system, he's still not the type of quarterback who can keep up with elite AFC offenses. He should face much more of a rush than he did last week when the Broncos only generated pressure on four dropbacks and finished with the lowest pressure rate in the league.
Since joining the league, Garoppolo has been one of the least effective quarterbacks when under pressure — he has more interceptions (25) than touchdowns (22), including postseason play. In comparison, he's thrown 71 touchdowns to 24 interceptions when kept clean. For reference, the Bills had the third-highest pressure rate in Week 1 despite the third-lowest blitz rate. That's a good sign after falling from fifth to 22nd in that category after losing Von Miller in 2022.
Lastly, it's worth noting that wide receivers Davante Adams (foot), Jakobi Meyers (concussion) and DeAndre Carter (knee) missed practice on Wednesday, as did starting safety Tre'von Moehrig (thumb). Garoppolo (ankle) was listed as limited. Defensive end Chandler Jones also remains out. Meanwhile, the Bills had full participation.
Ultimately, I like the matchup on both sides of the ball for Buffalo so I'll happily lay 8.5 in a game I project over 10.
Trending: Since taking over as head coach, Sean McDermott has gone 10-5-3 ATS (66.7%) as a favorite following a loss, covering by over five points per game. That includes a 5-1-2 mark when favored by at least a touchdown.
Apologies in advance to anyone who decides to tail this bet.
I'm backing Zach Wilson, who I've continuously slandered since coming into the league.
My thoughts on the former BYU product have not changed. He's still a career backup — at best — in my eyes. However, I'm backing him here indirectly since I show value in the number, which I think is a bit inflated after the performance we saw from Dallas last week, in addition to Aaron Rodgers' unfortunate season-ending injury.
First off, what did we really learn about Dallas in that blowout win over the Giants on Sunday night that included a pair of non-offensive touchdowns? We already knew the Cowboys have an elite defense that's dominated in each of the past two seasons. The offense didn't have to do much of anything, so we didn't learn anything new there, either.
I also had questions about how Rodgers would play this season, especially behind a shaky offensive line. I certainly didn't have him rated as the same caliber of player we saw during his MVP campaigns, which means the drop-off from Rodgers to a backup isn't as massive as it used to be.
Plus, I'm really banking on the elite Jets defense to keep them in the game. The secondary can hold its own and the dominant defensive line could cause major problems for a Dallas offensive line that might not be at full strength.
Getting over a touchdown in a game with a total under 40 will always pique my interest, especially when I fancy the under. I believe both coaches will call this game conservatively to avoid costly mistakes, which I also believe Dak Prescott may do early in the season with the interception narrative swirling. The Cowboys know they are going up against Wilson, while the Jets know they have to win a low-scoring slugfest with their defense.
For all of his shortcomings, Wilson has found a way to cover four of seven as a touchdown-plus underdog in his short career. Maybe he can make a few plays with his legs against Micah Parsons and company that Rodgers couldn't.
But can he avoid the critical mistakes that Rodgers wouldn't make? That will likely decide whether Dallas wins by double digits. I'll take my chances this week with a Jets team that should come in with a chip on their shoulder after being written off all week. Everybody else should step up, similar to what we see in basketball in the first game after losing a star player to injury.
Trending: The Cowboys crushed the Giants 40-0. Following a win of 35 or more points, teams have gone just 34-53-4 (39.1%) ATS since 2003.
If backing Zach Wilson on the road against Dallas sounds scary, how about needing Russell Wilson to win by more than a field goal?
For the three of you still reading, that's exactly what I'm doing.
Despite losing by a point in their home opener, I saw some positive things from the Broncos offense under the tutelage of Sean Payton. There was significantly higher use of play-action and extra blockers in protection. It led to a very efficient day for Wilson, albeit void of explosiveness with an average depth of target of four yards, which was only higher than Desmond Ridder and Justin Fields. To his credit, Payton acknowledged that deficiency.
I anticipate we'll see a few more deep shots off of that play-action this week, especially if Jerry Jeudy makes his season debut. Payton said Jeudy was close to playing last week, so I'm optimistic he can provide that much-needed spark to the passing attack.
On the other side of the ball, Denver's defense underwhelmed in Week 1. It had the lowest pressure rate in conjunction with Damarri Mathis arguably having the worst corner performance in the league.
The good news is the run defense shined against Josh Jacobs, who only recorded 48 yards on 19 carries. Additionally, they will face a quarterback in Sam Howell, who held the ball way too long last week, which led to six sacks against a horrific Arizona defense that didn't generate an abundance of pressure. I don't think Howell is mentally ready to excel at this level right now, especially in a hostile environment against a more talented defense.
I'm happy to buy low on the Broncos against a young quarterback who isn't quite ready to excel at the professional level. A major coaching edge doesn't hurt, either.
Trending: Of 143 coaches in our Action Labs database, Sean Payton is the second-most profitable after a loss with a gaudy ATS record of 52-29 (64.2%) since 2003, covering by 3.7 points per game.