Oddsmakers went back to the drawing board this week after a record 12 underdogs covered the point spread during the opening week of the 2021 NFL season, with nine of those team winning the game outright, also a record. For week two, some NFL teams are already feeling the pressure to bounce back from a bad start to the season while others look to build on their week one success. Here now are my previews and predictions for week two of the NFL season.
NY Giants (0-1) at Washington (0-1): Both of these NFC East teams were home to start the season, with each of them losing. Only one team, Washington, kept their game against the Chargers competitive throughout, while New York was outmatched most of the afternoon against the Broncos. This will be Washington’s only divisional game in September, October or November as they end their season with five NFC East games over the last six weeks. The Giants enter this game as a field goal underdog against a backup Washington QB in Taylor Heinicke, who is stepping in for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. While this betting line did drop after the injury to Fitzpatrick was announced, Big Blue is still likely in more disarray than Washington is. Give up the 3 and take the home team to win their first game of the year and cover the spread.
Cincinnati (1-0) at Chicago (0-1): The Bengals fought hard against the Vikings in Week One, pulling out an overtime win on the game’s final play. The Bears, on the other hand, were overmatched by the Rams Sunday night, with Justin Fields not asked to do much, but doing enough to ask why Andy Dalton is still Chicago’s starting QB. Perhaps after this game is in the books and Dalton has his homecoming in Cincy, the Bears will put their quarterback of the future in the starting rotation. Chicago is getting the three-point favorite status from being at home; perhaps another bad reading of the spreadsheets by the bookmakers, because right now the Bengals are a better team and will prove it in Solder Field. Take Cincy with the points for the outright win.
Buffalo (0-1) at Miami (1-0): The sole leaders of the AFC East host the favorite to win the division this week. Meanwhile the Bills come to visit Miami knowing they have already lost an AFC game to Pittsburgh, and don’t want to start the season 0-2 and fall two games behind the Dolphins. Buffalo played OK for most of their game against the Steelers, but a tired defense gave up 17 late points to turn a win into a loss while Miami did just enough on both sides of the ball to pull out a win against New England. Buffalo is still a three-point road favorite thanks to having Josh Allen, the best QB on the field in this game, and after Sunday’s win, both of these teams will be 1-1. Take the Bills to win and cover in a low scoring affair.
Houston (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1): Looking at the 13-point spread in this game it is hard to know which team won and which one lost last week. While true the Texans did defeat a rookie quarterback in his first start for Jacksonville and the Browns did give up a late lead and lose Kansas City, Houston is getting zero respect as they travel to Cleveland as a nearly two-touchdown dog. The boys who play in front of the Pound need to learn from their mistakes last week and learn quickly if they want to beat any above average teams this season and compete in the postseason. They also need to keep in mind that they way NFL teams pad their records is by beating up on those teams that are inferior to them, just as Houston is to the Browns. Yes, we are laying a lot of wood here, by Cleveland has high hope this season, and they get back on track this week at home. Give up the 13 and take the Browns to win by 17.
New England (0-1) at NY Jets (0-1): These two teams were involved in Week One games where no one scored more than 20 points; yet it was the Patriots who could have won their game against Miami while New York only in their game at Carolina until the Panthers started scoring. That leaves these AFC East rivals facing an 0-2 start with a loss, something New England fans would be confused by, but Jets fans were probably expecting from the 2021 season. Bill Belichick returns to haunt New York with Mac Jones as his quarterback and does so as a 4.5-point favorite. The Jets will try and defend their home turf with little around their young quarterback Zach Wilson and may leave this game having fans asking while it wasn’t New York that drafted Jones instead of New England. Give up the 4.5 points because the New England Patriots will win by ten.
Denver (1-0) at Jacksonville (0-1): The Broncos already have a road win in their pocket after defeating the Giants last week; and detractors of Urban Meyer already have proof that the former college head coach is in over his head in the NFL. Denver baffled Daniel Jones last week, leaving New York to wonder how much longer their quarterback should be considered the long-term answer while the Jaguars hope the education of Trevor Lawrence won’t break their rookie QB and destroy their future plans. Denver is only a 2.5-point road favorite since oddsmakers still have faith in Urban Meyer and his QB; but there is never an easy way to predict when things will become easier for a rookie behind center, so until I see it happen, I am not betting on it to happen. Giving up the 2.5 points and taking Denver to go 2-0 and stay atop the competitive AFC West.
San Francisco (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0): Both of these teams had impressive road wins last week with the 49ers dominated the Lions when it mattered most and the Eagles controlling the Falcons in the ATL. San Francisco comes back east again this week to play a Philly team that leads the NFC East and has people wondering if they are now the team to beat in their division. All that while the 49ers already know they are in a four-team deep NFC West and every win is going to matter this season. I agree with the oddsmakers who have made the 49ers a 5.5-point favorite this week since they are the better team on paper. I am not a long-term believer in the Eagles, who likely surprised a first-year Atlanta head coach last week; but don’t have the talent to sustain what they did last week for the whole season. I am giving up the 5.5 points and taking another road favorite to win and cover in this game. Give me the 49ers by 13 points to go home 2-0.
LA Rams (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1): Colts were always more than a play away in their home loss to the Seahawks last week while another NFC West team, the Rams always seemed more than a step ahead of the Bears on Sunday night. Yet, for a while the hosting Colts were barely an underdog (+1), since then the line as moved up and the Rams reach midweek a 4-point favorite. Don’t know how much better Carson Wentz is going to get in Indy and facing the Rams defense that confused Andy Dalton Sunday night is not the way to get your team on the right track fast. Matthew Stafford, at least in Week One, looks like he was happy in his new NFL home, and I expect Rams fans will continue the lovefest this week as LA comes into this game much better than the Colts will be for most of the 2021 season. Giving up the 4-points and taking the Rams to dominate and move to 2-0 with a 14+point win.
Las Vegas (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0): People were heaping praise on Derek Carr after setting some meaningless franchise record for the Raiders on Monday Night Football. What I saw was a QB calling out his wide receivers for not using two hands after making a bad throw and not picking up but blaming his teammates for mistakes everyone should take some blame for. Nevertheless, the Raiders travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers who had their own impressive comeback win at Buffalo last week, posting 17 late points to steal the victory. The Raiders, despite their win, are a 6-point underdog on the road this week, and with good reason. Carr doesn’t have the mobility that Josh Allen does for Buffalo, and the Steelers defense was able to control him last week, so they shouldn’t have too many issues keeping the Raiders signal caller in check. Las Vegas rolled the dice and beat one AFC North team Monday night, but they won’t do it again this week, give up the six points and take Pittsburgh to go 2-0 and stay atop the division early on.
New Orleans (1-0) at Carolina (1-0): Jameis Winston had one of the more effective and efficient wins in NFL history last week by throwing only 20 passes, completing just 14 of them, but with five of them going for touchdowns. It’s for that reason that the Saints travel to their NFC South foes in Carolina as a 3-point favorite against the Panthers, who only defeated the Jets by five points last week in the Sam Darnold Bowl. If the New Orleans defense can make Aaron Rodgers look as bad as he did last week to more quarterbacks this year, then perhaps Tampa Bay’s road to the division title is not as smooth as many thought it was. At least for this week, the Saints should find ways to make Darnold look as bad as Rodgers did and give the Saints a 2-0 start. Give up the field goal on the road and watch New Orleans win another game by double digits.
Minnesota (0-1) at Arizona (1-0): I am surprised the oddsmakers are only favoriting the Cardinals by 4.5 points in this game. I saw that because the bookies always need to account for overacting on the part of the public, and they saw Chandler Jones post five sacks and Kyler Murray account for five TDs last week. This week Arizona takes on a quarterback similar to the one they beat last week in Ryan Tannehill when they face Kirk Cousins. That should make Vikings fans very nervous since the Cardinals’ defense was dominate on the road last week, and with this game in the desert, it will once again be up to RB Dalvin Cook to keep the heat off Cousins. Sadly for the Vikings, that won’t happen. Lay the 4.5 points and take Arizona in a ten-point win to go 2-0.
Atlanta (0-1) at Tampa Bay (1-0): The other half of the NFC South also faceoff this weekend; but considering how much the betting line has moved in this game, calling it a faceoff may not be the right term. I saw this game started with the Buccaneers as a 7-point favorite; after what the Eagles did to the Falcons, it moved up to 12.5 points by Tuesday night, a sign that Atlanta may want to start working on their 2022 NFL Draft Board. I agree that Tampa Bay did escape with a win over the Cowboys on opening night; however, even if they had lost, most people watching knew they were the better team on the field. This week will be an easier trip to the winner’s circle for the Buccaneers as the Falcons have little to offer in the way of resistance despite Matt Ryan still being their QB. Give up the 12.5 points and take Tampa Bay to win by at least 17 points to go 2-0.
Tennessee (0-1) at Seattle (1-0): Life for the Titans doesn’t get much easier this week. After facing Arizona’s newfound defense, they travel to Seattle to face a Seahawks defeat that shutdown the Colts last week. Tennessee will need to keep this game close and preferable play from ahead to keep the run/pass option on the table, because no one is better at playing with a lead than Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll in Seattle. This line is moving up by the day, and I saw it at Seattle -5.5 on Tuesday night, but don’t be surprised if it goes over seven points by kickoff. Even if it was two points higher, the Seahawks are a better team with a better QB and have a head coach who is not mad at a star wide receiver. Take Seattle -5.5 to win and over with a ten-point win.
Dallas (0-1) at LA Chargers (1-0): The Cowboys didn’t get too many favorites from the schedule makers this year as they started the season in Tampa Bay, and now head west to face the upstart LA Chargers. The Cowboys took another victory lap after their moral victory on opening night, failing to realize they could have and should have defeated the Bucs by ten points if they had any clue how to score touchdowns in the red zone. The Chargers went to Washington and defeated a feisty team that was trying to rally behind a backup quarterback, but just didn’t have enough in the toolbox to do so. That’s why LA is getting 3-point favorite status in this game. This game will also be a reminder that Justin Herbert and not Dax Prescott is the better young quarterback since unlike the Dallas signal caller and their head coach, Herbert is in control of himself and the moment whenever he is on the field. The Cowboys are a fraud team that can’t get out of their own way week in and week out; give me the LA Chargers to win by ten and go 2-0 against the NFC East.
Kansas City (1-0) at Baltimore (0-1): Yes, the same Ravens team that settled for a field goal against the Raiders Monday Night is back on in primetime to face a Kansas City team that, like last year, can’t wait for the postseason to begin. Baltimore threw away a road win in Las Vegas by not going for more yards and even a touchdown and should be ashamed about how easily the Raiders set up the game-tying FG as time expired before stealing the win in overtime. KC started this season as it ended last regular season, disinterested in blowout wins and only seemingly able to play when then are down since their focus wains if they get too far ahead. This Sunday night KC goes to Baltimore as a 3.5-point favorite and has a chance to put the Ravens in a tough 0-2 hole to start the season. Like his counterpart Derek Carr, Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson made some good plays, but always left a lot of yards on the field with bad throws and decision as his development as pocket passer just isn’t there yet. That’s why this is an easy pick for me as I am taking the road favorites from KC to win by ten to start the year 2-0 and put a big dent in the early season momentum the Ravens thought they had just a week ago.
Detroit (0-1) at Green Bay (0-1): Primetime in Lambeau Field is not normally a bad thing, but when the Packers; opponent are the Lions, the only question is WHY this game? Both of these teams had their lunch stolen by their opponents last week, Detroit by the 49ers and the Packers by New Orleans; but since the rest of the NFC North also lost, there was little harm done to anyone. Aaron Rodgers probably never played a worse game in the NFL last week, and everyone admitted that despite it being opening day, the entire Green Bay squad was flat last week playing in Jacksonville against the Saints. This week they are back home with the Packers a 10.5-point favorite to bounce back and win; and does anything think that won’t happen, really? There is nothing I can see to convince me to take the Lions in this game, and we know how much Rodgers feasts on the NFC North’s worse franchise. Give up the 10.5 and go to sleep early after Green Bay builds a double digit lead at the half and never looks back to earn their first win of the 2021 season.
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