NFL Game Picks: Week 2
The start of the 100th NFL season didn’t disappoint. If the startling upsets, incredible athletic performances and thrilling finishes are any indication of things to come, we should be in for a fantastic year of football. With the overreactions from Week 1 already pouring in, it’s time to preview the 16 games in line for Week 2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Thursday night kicks off with a battle between two teams trending in opposite directions. Although there’s only been one week of play so far, it’s clear to see that Carolina is on the upswing and Tampa Bay is on the decline. The Panthers kept it close for the majority of their home bout with the mighty Rams, while the Buccaneers struggled against a rebuilding 49ers team, as quarterback Jameis Winston tossed a pair of pick-sixes. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see that the Panthers are favored by a touchdown at home. Carolina gets its first win of the year without much difficulty.
Prediction: Carolina 28, Tampa Bay 14
Buffalo Bills (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
The Bills will play in MetLife Stadium for the second straight week, and they’re arguably playing the worse of the stadium’s two hosts in Week 2. Buffalo came on strong in the second half against the Jets last week, overcoming a 16-point deficit en route to a 17-16 victory. Meanwhile, the Giants got stomped in Dallas, thanks to a pitiful defensive performance that allowed Dak Prescott to exit the game with a perfect passer rating. In all likelihood, the Giants will rebound at home to keep this one close, but the slight edge goes to the team that enters the game with a winning record.
Prediction: Buffalo 19, NY Giants 17
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Perhaps these two teams haven’t been given enough credit. San Francisco’s defense looked much improved last week, picking off Tampa Bay three times in a victory (already surpassing last year’s interception total of two), while Cincinnati balled out in Seattle, losing by the slimmest of margins. If the defense can hold up the way it did in Week 1 and the offense can continue to utilize weapons like Joe Mixon and John Ross, then maybe the Bengals can compete in a crowded AFC North after all. Still, they need to actually win games to be in the conversation, but they may just get their first win in Week 2. Don’t count out the 49ers, though.
Prediction: Cincinnati 25, San Francisco 23
Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
What a disappointing way to begin for Washington. After jumping out to an astonishing 17-0 lead against Philadelphia early, the Redskins watched as their lead quickly faded away in the second half. Dallas was just the opposite, as the Cowboys never let their foot off the gas pedal in their Week 1 contest with New York. Obviously Prescott’s perfect four-touchdown performance last week isn’t sustainable, but if he plays just half as well in Week 2, Dallas should still come out of this one with an easy victory. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Ezekiel Elliott either. In case you didn’t know, he’s pretty good.
Prediction: Dallas 31, Washington 16
Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0-1)
Melvin Gordon who? Without their star running back on the field in the first week of the season, the Chargers proved they didn’t need him, as backup Austin Ekeler broke out with a mammoth three-touchdown performance in a win over the Colts. Meanwhile, Detroit squandered a massive 24-6 fourth-quarter lead against Arizona, ultimately settling for a tie. If the Lions struggled to put away a team led by a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach, imagine the difficulty they’ll have competing with a dominant Chargers squad. In unsurprising fashion, Los Angeles wins this contest handily.
Prediction: LA Chargers 37, Detroit 22
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Both of these NFC North squads looked surprisingly dominant to begin the season. Although Green Bay’s offense expectedly struggled against a fierce Chicago defensive attack, the Packers’ defense played exceptional, holding the home team to just three points. Minnesota perhaps looked even better, as a 28-12 win over Atlanta featured a solid outing from Kirk Cousins and a massive rushing day from Dalvin Cook, as well as a commanding defensive performance highlighted by three Atlanta turnovers. The battle for supremacy in a contested NFC North is likely going to be a theme all year long, so expect another close one in Week 2.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Green Bay 23
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
Maybe the Colts will be okay. Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton combined for a fantastic comeback effort against Los Angeles last week, coming up just short thanks to an Austin Ekeler touchdown in overtime. Perhaps Tennessee was even more impressive, as the Titans gave the much-hyped Browns a rude awakening with a 43-13 stomping in Cleveland. Tennessee’s defense showed it has the potential to become one of the best in the NFL. Let’s see how the Titans handle the new-look Colts: a team they’ve only beaten three times in the past decade.
Prediction: Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 21
New England Patriots (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
The Dolphins are usually guaranteed one win per season with this yearly contest, having won five of the last six against the Patriots in Miami. But it’s really hard to see that happening again this season. Miami was obliterated at home by the Ravens in Week 1, and the Patriots look as unstoppable as ever after their convincing home victory over Pittsburgh. Throw in the fact that newly acquired target Antonio Brown may be eligible to play, and you’ve got a recipe for another big Patriots win. It looks like Miami’s luck against New England is about to run out.
Prediction: New England 41, Miami 17
Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Impressive Week 1 performances from young quarterbacks headline this game. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson seems to have evolved his passing game, as the second-year signal caller torched Miami for 324 yards and five touchdowns through the air: good enough for a perfect passer rating. It took Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray a bit longer to get going, but Murray balled out in the fourth quarter against Detroit, almost capping off an impressive comeback. But it only gets more difficult from here. Murray might struggle against a fearsome Ravens defense. The Cardinals keep it competitive, but the home team ultimately prevails.
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Arizona 22
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
Pittsburgh needs to change its gameplan, and fast. Nothing about the Steelers’ performance on Sunday night was inspiring. The defense blew simple coverage repeatedly, the ground game was ineffective, and an underperforming Ben Roethlisberger combined with an inexperienced receiving corps to make for a dismal passing attack. The Seahawks come into this game looking like the much better team, as standouts like Chris Carson and rookie receiver DK Metcalf helped the Seattle offense roar against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh will need to fix absolutely everything that went wrong in Week 1 in order to win this game. And that’s a lot to fix.
Prediction: Seattle 29, Pittsburgh 17
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Houston Texans (0-1)
Both of these teams just got unlucky. Houston left too much time on the clock after a two-play touchdown drive to take lead allowed Drew Brees and company to rally, and Jacksonville is going to be without starting quarterback Nick Foles for a while due to a shoulder injury. There are bright spots, though. Houston’s passing attack looks vicious (even though Deshaun Watson was sacked six times on Monday night), and Gardner Minshew appears to be a serviceable replacement for Foles as Jacksonville’s quarterback. But will he be able to stand up against the likes of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus? It’s going to be a difficult challenge.
Prediction: Houston 29, Jacksonville 20
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)
Seems like nothing has changed about that Kansas City offense, which dropped 40 on an elite Jaguars defense last week. The defense still leaves a lot to be desired though, as a low-tier Jacksonville offense was able to put a respectable 26 on the board. The Chiefs will visit the Black Hole for the final time, facing an Oakland team that looked surprisingly potent in Week 1 against Denver. But how long will that last? With the high-octane Chiefs up next, it may not last more than one week. In all likelihood, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will put up gaudy numbers again, like they so often do.
Prediction: Kansas City 44, Oakland 26
Chicago Bears (0-1) at Denver Broncos (0-1)
Week 1 was a fluke, right? The Bears certainly hope that’s the case. The Chicago defense looked as good as it ever has, but the offense was atrocious. The pressure is on for third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who may be on his way out of the starting role if he can’t succeed with a dangerous core of Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson and David Montgomery. Denver, meanwhile, has a lot to fix on both sides of the ball. This is the perfect opportunity for Chicago to strike and leave the Week 1 woes in the past with a victory in Mile High.
Prediction: Chicago 20, Denver 13
New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
No doubt about it: All eyes will be on this one. You can throw out the fact that the Rams and Saints are two of the best teams in the NFC. It’s all about the drama. Recall that these two teams met in the NFC Championship game in January, in which a controversial no-call on blatant pass interference sent Los Angeles to the Super Bowl, leaving New Orleans with a sour taste in its mouth. Do the Saints want revenge? You bet. Will they get it? That depends. If Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and company can outsmart the Rams’ defense, then New Orleans will get its vengeance. But that’s easier said than done, especially in LA. Expect a fight to the finish.
Prediction: New Orleans 30, LA Rams 29
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
Yikes, Falcons. Atlanta started 2019 in just about the worst way possible by getting trounced in Minnesota. The Falcons spent two 2019 first-round picks on offensive linemen, but that didn’t seem to matter, as the Vikings recorded four sacks and seven tackles for loss. The Eagles may have missed the starting gun against Washington, but at least they rebounded in the second half and pulled out the victory. Matt Ryan and the Falcons need to iron out some serious issues, or else it will be another long offseason. Will that start with a win in Week 2? Against a powerful Eagles pass rush, that’s going to be a daunting task. Philly takes it on Sunday night.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 19
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
Has the Browns’ hype train already derailed? Maybe not. Yes, Cleveland’s performance in Week 1 was disappointing, but a lot of it came down to discipline. The Browns recorded a massive 18 penalties, handing Tennessee opportunity after opportunity to capitalize. Simply amending those easily fixable blunders should have the Browns in better shape. New York couldn’t capitalize on four Buffalo turnovers last week, so the Jets have room for improvement too, especially on offense. There’s just one problem: quarterback Sam Darnold has been ruled out for weeks with mononucleosis. Can backup Trevor Siemian guide the Jets to victory? Maybe in the future, but it seems doubtful here. The Browns’ hype train gets back on track with a Monday night win in the Meadowlands.
Prediction: Cleveland 21, NY Jets 17
DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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