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NFL picks straight up for Week 2: Vikings upset Packers; Steelers edge Seahawks

Sporting News — (Tadd Haislop)

We'll spare you the boring statistics associated with 0-2 records in the NFL. Long story short: When a team falls to such a record to open a given season, its chances of making the playoffs take a significant hit. So our Week 2 NFL picks have to take into account the fact that teams are well aware of this trend, and the losers of opening weekend will be playing with those odds in mind.

So we're looking at you, Browns, Falcons, Panthers, Steelers and Texans. These are teams that entered the 2019 season with postseason aspirations but dropped their openers. The problem for some of them is that their Week 2 matchups appear no easier than the games they just lost.

MORE: Get the latest NFL odds at Sportsbook Review

On the other hand, teams like the Cowboys, Patriots, Saints, Packers, Rams and Chiefs, to name a few, are coming off games in which they delivered on their playoff-level expectations. Early-season momentum is important, especially for the teams that expect to contend for the top seeds in their respective conferences. 

With that as the background, here are our picks and predictions for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season, all the way through a Monday night game that is strangely important this early in the year.

NFL picks, predictions for Week 2

  • Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4, -102)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

This one is a toss-up. As evidenced by the results, the Seahawks' struggles against the Bengals last week were not as pronounced as the Steelers' thud against the Patriots. Seattle, though, does not have the pass defense New England has, which is why Cincinnati was able to record 18 first downs through the air. The Seahawks were able to escape one game against an AFC North opponent at home thanks to some turnovers. On a long road trip with an early kickoff against a hungry Steelers team, they'll fall just short.

Prediction: Steelers 28, Seahawks 27

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Even though the Redskins draw the Cowboys at home, this is a tough spot for Washington coming off such a frustrating loss in Philadelphia. Unless the Redskins can figure out a way to attack the Cowboys with a respectable rushing attack, they will have a hard time winning the time-of-possession battle against a Dallas team equipped to excel in that area. And now the Cowboys seemingly have a passing game capable of erasing the doubt that's typically associated with these early-season divisional games.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Redskins 13

  • Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3, -102)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The performance of the Packers' new-look defense was the takeaway of their season-opening win in Chicago, but because Mitchell Trubisky played so poorly in that game, this matchup with Minnesota will be a tougher test. The Vikings pounded the Falcons so badly in all three phases of the game last week that Kirk Cousins only had to throw 10 passes. He'll have to do more with Aaron Rodgers on the other side this week, of course, but Minnesota as a whole seems set on making a statement in a division few predicted it to win. This is the first chance.

Prediction: Vikings 27, Packers 20

  • Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-13, -103)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Because Arizona was so bad early and so good late last week, we don't know who the real Cardinals are yet. And because Baltimore was playing Miami, we don't know who the real Ravens are yet, either. What we do know is Baltimore has a more trustworthy coaching staff and defense. We believe Lamar Jackson's performance against the Dolphins was not a fluke, and we're not yet sold on the Cardinals on either side of the ball. That's enough to go with the heavy favorites.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Cardinals 14

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

As much as we like to consider early-season divisional games as possibilities for upsets, there's no reason to get cute here. This game should be the bloodbath the oddsmakers think it will be. Things appear to be going south in South Beach quickly this year, and the opposite can be said for the defending champs.

Prediction: Patriots 35, Dolphins 10

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Bills Mafia invasion of MetLife Stadium continues into Week 2. Buffalo did a solid job holding Le'Veon Bell to 3.5 yards per carry last week, but that effort was just a warm-up for its matchup against Saquon Barkley. The better news for the Bills is that Josh Allen came through late in the Jets game against a defense that's more talented and aggressive than the one he'll see from the Giants.

Prediction: Bills 24, Giants 20

  • Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-9, -105)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Forget the disaster that was the allowance of a last-second field goal in New Orleans. The Texans proved against the Saints they should be considered a contender this season, and if Deshaun Watson's protection can continue to improve in the wake of the Laremy Tunsil addition, Houston should be considered the favorite in the AFC South. Jacksonville, of course, was hoping to be in that conversation, but the Nick Foles injury complicates matters. Gardner Minshew was impressive against the Chiefs, but his first start comes on the road. Label us skeptical.

Prediction: Texans 28, Jaguars 17

  • Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3, -115)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Combine the two major recent developments for these teams — the Colts watching their star QB retire prematurely and the Titans blowing out the favored Browns in Cleveland to start the season — and you get a recipe for a fired-up, suddenly optimistic Tennessee team and fan base. The Titans made a statement last week both literally and figuratively, but the Colts didn't exactly roll over for the Chargers in their strong overtime effort. This should be another close game with similarly disappointing results for the road team.

Prediction: Titans 27, Colts 24

  • San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (-2, -102)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Seemingly strong but still unproven defense, meet seemingly strong but still unproven offense. The 49ers beat the Bucs on the strength of their defense while Jimmy Garoppolo struggled, while the Bengals used a high-volume passing offense to nearly upset the Seahawks. Cincinnati, now with the benefit of being the home team, can spread the ball around enough to keep San Francisco guessing on when and how to pressure Andy Dalton. Also, Jimmy Garoppolo is not Russell Wilson.

Prediction: Bengals 24, 49ers 20

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chargers knew they'd get a fight from a talented Colts team last week, and sure enough, Los Angeles needed overtime to reach 1-0. The Lions had no idea what to expect from the Cardinals, and even after dominating Arizona early, Detroit also was taken to overtime for an eventual tie. Both teams should expect another close game this week, because even though the Chargers are more talented overall, they're on the road for an early kickoff.

Prediction: Chargers 30, Lions 28

  • Kansas City Chiefs (-7, +102) at Oakland Raiders

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

Yes, Patrick Mahomes remains borderline unstoppable, but at some point the Tyreek Hill injury will make things tricky for the Chiefs' offense. That won't be this week, though. The Raiders may have moved on from the Antonio Brown drama with a refreshing win to open the season, but their defense is not suited to contain Kansas City.

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Raiders 20

  • New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2, -105)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

This should be considered the game of the week for many reasons, most notably the fact that both the Saints and the Rams are among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the NFC. New Orleans eventually figured things out against Houston, but its various struggles offensively against the Texans are concerning ahead of a game against the superior Rams defense. The Saints also have a couple weak spots in their secondary, and the Rams at this point in the season are at full strength with a myriad of options for Jared Goff.

Prediction: Rams 27, Saints 24

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

A few years ago, a trip to Denver would have been considered bad news for an offense looking for a get-well game. That's no longer the case. Even on the road, this is a good chance for Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears to get back on track with a diverse attack against a leaky defense. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos' offense doing anything of significance against the Bears' defense would be shocking.

Prediction: Bears 30, Broncos 14

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

A lot can be said about a team based on how it responds to adversity. The Eagles fell into a 17-0 hole in the first half against the division-rival Redskins last week, and they stormed back to a two-score lead by the time the fourth quarter arrived. The Falcons fell into a similar hole against the Vikings — granted, a tougher opponent than Washington — and continued to struggle until garbage time. This is a tricky spot for Atlanta, a team with promise hoping to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. The Falcons will need a Herculean effort from several of their offensive stars against the Eagles' defense.

Prediction: Eagles 24, Falcons 20

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

We refuse to drop the term "must-win game" on a Week 2 contest, but this feels about as close as it gets for an early-season tilt. The stats associated with an 0-2 start aside, these are two teams that entered the season with expectations of reversing their struggles of late, and both were embarrassed in different ways last week. Rarely can a wide receiver impact a game to the point where he pushes his team to a win, but Cleveland needs a jolt, and Odell Beckham Jr. is playing in prime time ... in New York.

Prediction: Browns 21, Jets 17

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

These teams are disappointed in their own Week 1 performances for similar, offense-related reasons, most notably quarterback play. Cam Newton struggled against the Rams, and Jameis Winston's debut in Bruce Arians' offense against the 49ers was a dud. Yet the Panthers, the home team on a short week and the better squad overall, are much more capable of avoiding an 0-2 hole. The second Bucs game of last season more or less sealed the Panthers' fate last season, and they won't let it happen again so early in 2019.

Prediction: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 21