Week 2 NFL picks against spread: Cowboys corral Broncos; Patriots outlast SaintsSporting News — firstname.lastname@example.org (Vinnie Iyer)
One week and 15 regular-season games down, another 241 still left to go.
Week 1 was a rough and unpredictable slate of NFL action, making Week 2 rougher to make better picks. As teams continue to find themselves early, it's all about finding the right matchups that will help determine the winners.
Overall talent, coaching and quarterbacking are the three biggest logical factors in every game. Knowing who's better physically, however, is easier than who's ready to rise mentally and emotionally. Once more with feeling, once more into the breach.
Week 2 NFL picks against the spread
Game of the Week
Cowboys (-2) at Broncos, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
Denver could have had Dak Prescott in last year's draft, but it locked into Paxton Lynch, and now it's still starting Trevor Siemian. Dallas is built for this game, as Ezekiel Elliott can wear down the Broncos' front, and Prescott can keep working inside to Cole Beasley and Jason Witten as Dez Bryant is contained by another good secondary. The Cowboys will stop the run and make Siemian uncomfortable enough in catchup mode. Cowboys win 24-20 and cover the spread.
NFC Game of the Week
Packers at Falcons (-2), Sunday 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Last time these teams played in Atlanta, the Falcons rolled to an NFC title in the Georgia Dome. Green Bay's defense had a strong follow-up game vs. Seattle last week but will be tested as a fired-up Matt Ryan fires in his new home digs. The Falcons are a little more fast and furious in their back seven in prime time, and Ryan will make one more big play than Aaron Rodgers. Falcons win 31-27 and cover the spread.
Game of Midweek
Texans at Bengals (-5), Thursday 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Both teams had terrible offensive line play in Week 1, getting sacked often enough to cough up the ball. On a short-week road trip, Houston is the one scrambling with multiple injuries and trying to get rookie QB Deshaun Watson ready for his first NFL start in a hostile environment. As bad as the Bengals were in getting blanked vs. the Ravens, they have the more settled and healthier offense. A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert will save Andy Dalton in a defensive struggle. Bengals win 19-16 but fail to cover the spread.
Rest of the Week
Patriots (-6 1/2) at Saints, Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS
New England has had a long time to stew over went wrong in the second half of the season opener and should be fully expected to rebound with the full wrath of Tom Brady. What will facilitate him being Brady again is a still-putrid New Orleans defense playing host on a short week. But as well as Brady, Gronk and former Saint Brandin Cooks will get going, the defensive issues won't totally go away in a shootout with Drew Brees. Patriots win 38-34 but fail to cover the spread.
Vikings at Steelers (-6 1/2), Sunday 1 p.m ET, FOX
Sam Bradford was in a comfort zone with a balanced, explosive, mostly untouched offense vs. New Orleans. That won't happen against the Steelers' disruptive and swarming front seven, now featuring T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh won't suddenly flip a switch to light up the scoreboard at Heinz Field, as the Vikings' defense can keep Le'Veon Bell in check. But Ben Roethlisberger will use his legs to push the ball downfield in key spots to out-duel Bradford. Steelers win 26-17 and cover the spread.
Eagles at Chiefs (-4 1/2), Sunday 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Carson Wentz and Alex Smith got off to incredible starts. Now Andy Reid and Doug Pederson meet again with their red-hot offenses. Kansas City still has plenty of D without Eric Berry and is well-rested to come out flying at loud Arrowhead. Smith will cool off thanks to Fletcher Cox and the Eagles' front, but not as much as Wentz in a much tougher road assignment than the one he had in Week 1. Chiefs win 20-17 but fail to cover the spread.
Bills at Panthers (-7), Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It's a quick homecoming for Buffalo's new coach and GM duo, Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane. They will put some of their knowledge of Cam Newton and the Panthers' personnel to work to their advantage, but they still have offensive and defensive limitations vs. a deeper, more versatile opponent. It's a real wake-up call after facing the Jets, as the Panthers ground and pound out a close victory in the fourth quarter. Panthers win 24-20 but fail to cover the spread.
Bears at Buccaneers (-7), Sunday 1 p.m. ET, FOX
The Bucs had to wait out Hurricane Irma before they could build on their momentum from "Hard Knocks," and they will be eager to knock around somebody at home and put on a show for a community that needs it. Jameis Winston is a good man for finishing the job, while his former backup, Mike Glennon, will see the best from Mike Smith's rested and ready defense. Buccaneers win 27-17 and cover the spread.
Browns at Ravens (-7 1/2), Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Baltimore is back with a dominant defense and draws another overwhelmed division opponent. Cleveland's running game woes are concerning here, as they will allow Terrell Suggs to lead the charge in teeing off on DeShone Kizer in the rookie QB's first-ever road start. Ravens win 23-10 and cover the spread.
Cardinals (-7 1/2) at Colts, Sunday 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Bruce Arians is dealing with trying to clean up a major offensive mess, minus David Johnson plus a slumping Carson Palmer. That's nothing compared to what his former team in Indianapolis is facing without his former prized pupil QB, Andrew Luck. It doesn't matter who starts at QB for the Colts — he'll get shell-shocked by a Big Red swarm. Cardinals win 26-14 and cover the spread.
Titans (-1 1/2) at Jaguars, Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Tennessee had the early buzz as the "it" breakout team in the AFC, but it opened with a home dud against established power Oakland. Meanwhile, the debut of "Sacksonville" was so mighty that it might create a sudden power shift in the South, still the NFL's weakest division. Defense and the running game may be good enough to win it, and the inspired hosts will keep building on their early edge. Jaguars win 23-20 in the upset of the week.
Dolphins at Chargers (-4 1/2), Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
As the sole Florida-based team on the road in Week 2, Miami is in a tough spot having had to spend extended time on the opposite coast. The Chargers found their groove late in Week 1 with new coach Anthony Lynn and will be ready to look good in front of their first "intimate" home crowd in L.A. Melvin Gordon out-rushes Jay Ajayi to make the difference. Chargers win 27-21 and cover the spread.
Jets at Raiders (-14), Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
This is an enormous spread, almost to the point that Gang Green already looks sucked up into the Black Hole. Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch and Khalil Mack will have their way with a physically and athletically dominant performance against ex-Raider Josh McCown and friends. Raiders win 34-17 and cover the spread.
Redskins at Rams (-2 1/2), Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
It's yet another reunion of sorts, the other L.A.'s hotshot young coach, Sean McVay, draws the team and offense he used to coordinate. He knows the ins and outs of Kirk Cousins' weaknesses, and with Aaron Donald back, Wade Phillips' defense will build on Week 1 to rattle its visiting QB. Expect to see more positive from Jared Goff and Todd Gurley at home again, too. Rams win 27-24 and cover the spread.
49ers at Seahawks (-13 1/2), Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
Seattle's offense fell apart on every level in Green Bay, so here comes an ideal get-well game in the friendly confines of their loud home crowd. San Francisco will be overwhelmed and will give up big plays early, and the 'Hawks will find some positives from their offensive backfield. New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will need to accept his offense taking a few more lumps with a tough early sschedule. Seahawks win 27-10 and cover the spread.
Lions at Giants (-2), Monday 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Matthew Stafford has been a lot better in adjusting to a more efficient, quick-passing offense than Eli Manning has in recent seasons. Manning wasn't good last year, and no Odell Beckham Jr. early this season has made him even worse. Good for Manning, though, that the defense is already in midseason form. Expect Beckham to suit up and help New York steal a close one. Giants win 23-20 and cover the spread.
Stats of the Week
Week 1 record straight up: 9-6
Week 1 record against the spread: 6-9
Season-to-date record straight up: 9-6
Season-to-date record against the spread: 6-9