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Week 2 NFL picks against the spread

Matt Ryan

It was a solid 8-7-1 start picking NFL games against the spread last week. The trick to Week 2 is not overreacting to Week 1 too much. Picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk. All spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of writing. Here’s to staying hot.

Thursday Night:

Ravens (-1) at *Bengals– These division rivals both got off to winning starts last week. Andy Dalton and this offense are a significant step up in opposition for the Ravens’ defense. Things went so easily for Baltimore last week that it is tough to predict how they will react when they are in what is sure to be a tight game. Also, for whatever reason Cincinnati has had Baltimore’s number as of late. The Bengals have won seven of the last nine in this series. Cin 28 Bal 24

Sunday:

*Panthers at Falcons (-6) – Relative to both single-game and season expectations, no team had a worse opening week than Atlanta. The Falcons lost the game in Philadelphia due to horrendous performance in the red zone again. More importantly, though, they lost two defensive starters to injured reserve.

That should allow Carolina to turn this one into a physical and at times ugly game, which is their specialty. Look no further than last week’s win against Dallas. As the Eagles have shown in the last two games dating back to last year, Atlanta does not like this. Knowing that the shorthanded Falcons are going to have a hard time here. Car 21 Atl 20

Chargers (-7) at Bills- The Chargers were flatter than flat in the opener, but that roster still has a fair bit of proven talent on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, it is difficult not to buy into the Week 1 overreaction that Buffalo has a legit shot at going 0-16 this year. The quarterback change is irrelevant. Neither one on the roster truly belongs on an NFL field right now. Lac 28 Buf 13

*Vikings at Packers (-1) – Aaron Rodgers missed practice Wednesday with a sprained knee. This line will fluctuate massively until things become clearer on that front. While what Rodgers orchestrated while clearly hobbled last week was incredible, his heroics are the only way for Green Bay to win football games this year.

With his health status remaining unclear and the level of competition going up significantly this week, the green and gold are in for a rough Sunday afternoon. It is very early, but it is very difficult to come up with a legitimate weakness when evaluating the Vikings. You might get burned, but it is always smart to take a great team over a great quarterback. Min 28 GB 20

Texans (-1.5) at Titans- The more we see Marcus Mariota, the harder it becomes to imagine him being anything other than an average to below average NFL quarterback. Several of Houston’s key pieces were clearly rusty coming off of an injury last year in the opener. That might continue for a few more weeks, but the Texans just have a little more firepower all the way around here. Hou 26 Ten 19

Browns at Saints (-9) – Relax, the Saints are fine. Tampa Bay always gives them fits for some reason. Also, the Bucs have some really talented skill position players. If they get quarterback play, they can be a problem for anyone.

Even though it wasn’t in the traditional sense, the Browns are finally out of the loss column after last week, but this desperate Saints team is a tall order. This will not be a blowout, but New Orleans should pull away with a late score. NO 31 Cle 21

Sam Darnold
Photo: northjersey.com

Dolphins at Jets (-3) – The experts were wise with this line. Sure Sam Darnold was impressive in his debut last week. Still, we were also reminded that the Jets running game and defense have never been all that bad under Todd Bowles. The Dolphins were also winners last week and are also somewhere between good and not terrible. Expect Darnold and the Jets to take a step back after the high of last week, but not far enough to not cover this small a number at home against relatively even competition. Nyj 16 Mia 10

Chiefs at Steelers (-4) – Vegas is begging the public to overreact to Pittsburgh’s lackluster tie and Kansas City’s road win last week with this line. The vast majority of the cash will be on the Chiefs. Be smarter than that. Pittsburgh moved the ball just fine without Le’Veon Bell last week. They are not going to turn the ball over six times with any sort of regularity this season. Patrick Mahomes appears as though he will give Kansas City more than enough production at quarterback for the team to remain a playoff contender, but asking him to keep up with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in what is sure to be a shootout is probably too much too soon. Pit 38 KC 31

Eagles (-3) at * Bucs– The league has started to adjust to Nick Foles after his lightning in a bottle super bowl MVP run of last year. He only threw for 117 yards in the win last week. On the other side, Fitzmagic is alive and well. Just ask Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. TB 27 Phi 21

*Colts at Redskins (-6) – This is another Week 1 overreaction. Thanks to a late turnover, the final score look worse than it actually was for Indianapolis last week.  If Andrew Luck can throw for 319 yards and two touchdowns and one interception each week while staying healthy, the Colts will be just fine this year. While Washington’s season-opening performance was encouraging for that fan base, the organization as a whole has not had much success over the last two decades. When it does happen, they don’t seem to handle it all that well. Ind 24 Was 20

Cardinals at Rams (-12.5) – The Rams were the preseason Super Bowl favorite of many while Arizona was not expected to do much. The first week did nothing to change either of those things. Still, this is too many points to feel good about swallowing this early in the season. Lar 27 Ari 17

Lions at 49ers (-6) – Two of the most disappointing opening week teams will battle here. Detroit had an absolutely dreadful third-quarter in their opener which made the team look a lot worse than any team with that much offensive talent should ever look. The Jimmy Garoppolo led 49ers were finally humbled last week against a great opponent after finishing last year with a flourish. Both of these squads will get it turned around. This game could go either way. When in doubt go with the home team by a field goal. SF 24 Det 21

Raiders at Broncos (-5.5) – Jon Gruden makes his return to this sneaky good division rivalry. The emotion of his return allow his players to hang with the Rams for a while, but he just does not have much elite talent to work with. On the other side, Case Keenum threw three picks in his Denver debut, but the team as a whole did a great job of dealing with adversity after folding like a cheap tent in a similar situations last year. It is still very hard to tell how good Denver can be, but improved quarterback play along with a pass rush that always seems to be relentless should be enough to get the Broncos through this one. Den 23 Oak 17

Patriots (-1.5) at Jaguars- Not much has changed since the AFC Championship Game. Just like then, Jacksonville’s defense will keep them in it. However, the weakest spot on either of these teams is still Blake Bortles. That will reveal itself eventually. NE 21 Jac 17

*Giants at Cowboys (-3) – Saquon Barkley may have only had one really good run in his NFL debut. However, between he and Odell Beckham, the Giants have two guys that can change the game with big plays in a hurry. That is two more than the Cowboys have. The offensive line covered up a lot of weaknesses on that side of the ball for a long time. With that stability gone and teams now selling out to stop the run, it was hard to watch last week and come to any other conclusion than is going to be a long year in Dallas. Nyg 20 Dal 14

MNF:

Seahawks at Bears (-3.5) – This is the flimsiest pick of the week. The issue of Seattle having nothing other than Russell Wilson reared its ugly head yet again for the Seahawks last week. The perpetually awful Seattle offensive will likely struggle against another tough pass rush this week, but Wilson is enough for Seattle to remain reasonably competitive throughout the year.

From Matt Nagy to Jordan Howard, to everyone in between, the new look Bears put the entire league on notice for three quarters in Green Bay last week, but it is almost as if everyone forgot that they lost the game. As talented as the team appears to be, a loss like could completely demoralize such a young team and head coach. Still, their performance last week earns them the benefit of the doubt this week, but a Seattle win should surprise no one if it happens. Chi 24 Sea 20

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