September 14, 2023
For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 2 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.
Vikings at Eagles (-6): The depth of the Eagles' back seven will be tested, as CB James Bradberry, S Reed Blankenship, and LB Nakobe Dean are all out. That's not ideal against a talented trio of Vikings pass catchers in Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson. The question is whether or not Kirk Cousins will be given enough time to throw to those targets in front of a banged-up offensive line, as C Garrett Bradbury won't play, and star LT Christian Darrisaw is questionable. The Eagles' pass rush owned the Patriots' up front Week 1, but Mac Jones was usually able to get the ball out quickly and find his targets in the middle of the field. Can the Eagles take away Cousins' first read and make him hold onto the ball a half second longer? That will go a long way in determining whether the pass rush can get home.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles' offense sputtered Week 1 against a very good Patriots defense, which sought to change up coverage looks and confuse Jalen Hurts. The Vikings' defensive personnel isn't close to the Patriots', but they're dangerous because new defensive coordinator Brian Flores loves dialing up the extremes, alternating aggressive blitzing with heavy coverage (often 8 guys in coverage).
The Vikings should be able to move the football against this injury-compromised Eagles defense, but the Eagles' pass rush is also so good that it can hide a lot on the back end. Offensively, I expect the Eagles to break out of their funk and connect on some of the explosive plays they missed on in Week 1.
Packers (-1) at Falcons: I'm buying in on Jordan Love, but the Packers have a boatload of injured players, including Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Elgton Jenkins, Rashan Gary, and Quay Walker, some of whom may play, and some of whom may not.
Also, run-heavy teams like the Falcons have tended to give the Packers issues in the past.
Raiders at Bills (-9.5): The Bills sorely need a win coming off a bad loss to the Jets Monday night, while the Raiders are coming off an ugly win in Denver. The Bills feel like a pretty logical survivor pick here.
Ravens at Bengals (-3): One of the surprise outcomes of Week 1 was the Browns' stomping of the Bengals, 24-3. Before the season began, I identified the Ravens as an overrated team with a suspect defense, and I figured the Bengals would keep on marching along as one of the AFC's elite. I stubbornly stand by that for at least another week.
Seahawks at Lions (-5.5): Dan Campbell has the Lions believing in themselves, and confidence can be a great thing for a young team. I'll be riding them for a while until someone punches them in the mouth.
Chargers (-3) at Titans: With 2:17 left in the game and a four-point deficit Week 1 against the Saints, Mike Vrabel faced a 4th and 6 from the Saints 11 yard line. In one of the early asinine coaching decisions of the 2023 season, he kicked a field goal, which, you know, still left him behind on the scoreboard by a point. The Saints' offense subsequently got a couple of first downs and the game was over, with Tennessee never getting the ball again. Of course, the line for that game was Saints -3 (which I had last week), so that idiotic decision cost me a 4-2 start to the season against the spread. Screw you, Vrabel.
Also, I don't much like the Titans' chances of covering the Chargers' receivers, or blocking their pass rushers.
Bears at Buccaneers (-2.5): The Bears entered 2023 with some optimism that Justin Fields could make a Jalen Hurts-like leap in his third NFL season. If Week 1 was any indication, nope, ain't happening. Their offense was a disjointed mess, with odd passing concepts, questionable effort by some players, and Fields turning down throws that were there to be made. If you've ever watch J.T. O'Sullivan break down quarterback performances on his "QB School" YouTube page, you know that his videos are typically like 20-25 minutes long. He spent an hour killing the Bears' Week 1 offense, lol:
Obviously, I didn't watch that full thing, but I did watch bits and pieces and it's ugly. Chicago's season has some potential for disaster, and it's hard to trust that they'll suddenly figure things out in a week.
Chiefs (-3.5) at Jaguars: Conventional wisdom perhaps says, "The Chiefs can't possibly start 0-2," but they have sputtered out of the gate in the past in the Andy Reid - Patrick Mahomes era. For example, in 2021, they had a close win over the Browns Week 1 (the Browns kinda blew it), and then losses each of the next two weeks in Baltimore and then at home against the Chargers.
Chris Jones ended his holdout, and Travis Kelce might return to the lineup. They'll help, of course, but they also won't be at peak playing condition. The Chiefs looked mortal Week 1 and feel ripe for another upset on the road against a good Jaguars team.
Colts (-1.5) at Texans: I guess this matchup is interesting in that it's one highly drafted rookie quarterback (C.J. Stroud) vs. another (Anthony Richardson). Otherwise, I'll just be honest. These teams are way off my radar, and I have almost no insights into either of them, so please don't base any picks of your own on what I predict in this game.
49ers (-8) at Rams: The 49ers and Rams had two of the more impressive wins of the NFL's opening slate of games. The 49ers have swept the Rams during the regular season in each of the last four seasons, and everything went right for the Niners Week 1, most importantly Brock Purdy looking very good.
Giants (-5.5) at Cardinals: The Cardinals are the worst team in the league, just generally speaking. The Giants were the worst team in the league Week 1, as they got embarrassed on national television in a 40-0 game that wasn't even that close. If the Giants lose this game, they're done. Here's their next four games:
• At 49ers
• At Dolphins
• At Bills
It's never ideal to have a must-win game the second week of the season, but that's precisely what this is for the Giants. Luckily for them they get Jonathan Gannon and the Cardinals in this spot.
Jets at Cowboys (-9.5): Obviously, the Jets are heavy underdogs Week 2 because they're going to have to start Zach Wilson against a Cowboys defense that absolutely wrecked the Giants Week 1. However, the Jets defense looked equally elite Week 1 in their win over the Bills, and I like their chances of at least keeping this game close. Give me the Cowboys to win, but I like the Jets to cover.
Commanders at Broncos (-3.5): Week 1, the Broncos lost at home to the crappy Raiders, and the Commanders were in danger of losing at home to the extremely crappy Cardinals. I don't like either of these rosters, but when in doubt I'll trust the team with the really good defensive line, which is Washington.
Dolphins (-3) at Patriots: The Patriots have somehow been praised for playing well Week 1. Uh, OK. They got a D+ effort from the Eagles and still couldn't pull off the upset win despite ample opportunities. Meanwhile, their offensive line remains very banged up and they'll be facing an offense that gained 536 yards in their opener. How is this line only 3?
Saints (-3) at Panthers: It's going to be a long season for Bryce Young playing behind a bad OL and distributing to mediocre skill position players.
Browns (-2.5) at Steelers: I love the Steelers' matchup of T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith vs. Browns LT Jedrick Wills and RT Dawand Jones, who will be filling in for Jack Conklin. However, I love the matchup of Myles Garrett and Za'Darius Smith vs. Steelers LT Dan Moore and RT Chukwuma Okorafor even more.
• Last 9 years, ATS: 348-294-13 (0.541)
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