NFL Week 2 odds, picks: Steelers top Chiefs, Browns upset Saints, Bucs down Eagles
That's right, the Browns get off to their best start in 20 years and the Bucs move to 2-0 with Ryan Fitzpatrick
A week ago, here's all we knew about the Browns: They were 1-31 in the Hue Jackson era, and a month's worth of "Hard Knocks" had perhaps given us a false sense of how bad this team still was. And for two-and-a-half quarters on Sunday, the Browns looked like, well, the Browns. And then the defense forced fumbles on back-to-back possessions, turned those fumbles directly into 14 points, and even had a chance to win an actual football game with less than a minute to go in overtime.
It didn't happen, of course, but a tie at this point in the proceedings is progress. So much, progress, in fact, that Cleveland's 0-0-1 record is the best start to a season since 2004! Now the question becomes: Can the Browns do something they haven't done since returning to the NFL in 1999: avoid a loss in their first two games.
What NFL picks can you make with confidence in Week 2? And what Super Bowl contender is in for a massive shock? Visit SportsLine now to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has beaten 98 percent of experts over the past two years.
We'll talk about those chances, as well as the rest of our Week 2 picks below.
LAST WEEK: 10-5-1
Cleveland at New Orleans
It sounds insane to think that the Browns could go into New Orleans and beat this high-powered Saints offense but just hear us out. Yeah, on paper it seems like a fool's errand but just consider the history between these two teams: The Browns are 13-4 all-time versus the Saints, 5-1 since 1993, 3-0 in the SuperDome since 1999. In their last meeting in 2014, New Orleans was 6-point road favorites and lost 26-24. In 2010, New Orleans was 12.5-point favorites at home and lost, 30-17.
The Browns won't have the benefit of six turnovers like they did against the Steelers, but this defense is for real. If Tyrod Taylor can be just a replacement-level quarterback Cleveland could have a chance on Sunday.
Pick: Browns 28, Saints 27
Baltimore at Cincinnati
The Ravens housed the Bills last week for a multitude of reasons, many having to do with Buffalo having no real offense to speak of. And for all the criticism Andy Dalton gets, if he gets time he can be very effective. He was 21 of 28 against the Colts last week and his second-leading receiver was running back Joe Mixon, who finished with five catches and 54 yards. Mixon also added 95 yards on the ground.
Put another way: The Ravens' defense will be tested. But so too will the Bengals' defense; Joe Flacco continues his "I'M STILL ELITE" revitalization tour, throwing touchdowns to new receiving targets Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown. But the Bengals will eke out the victory and take sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
Pick: Bengals 20, Ravens 17
Carolina at Atlanta
The Panthers' beat up on the Cowboys in Week 1 but it came at a cost. Injuries to tight end Greg Olsen and right tackle Daryl Williams could be a big problem; Olsen is one of Cam Newton's favorite targets and Williams is an All-Pro. The Falcons, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance in Philly in the NFL regular-season opener. The defense lost Keanu Neal for the season but if Matt Ryan can sort out his red-zone issues, this team could return to its 2016 form.
Pick: Falcons 17, Panthers 14
Houston at Tennessee
Texans fans are hoping last Sunday's disorienting loss in New England was an anomaly. The offense looked out of sorts at times and Deshaun Watson looked rusty, but he also hadn't played since last November. We still like Houston to win the division, and fully expect Watson to return to his pre-injury form that made him one of the league's most exciting players. The Titans, however, remain an enigma also beset with injuries. Tight end Delanie Walker has been lost for the season. Marcus Mariota had to leave Sunday's game against the Dolphins after a shoulder/elbow injury and his play continues to raise more questions than it has answered since he came into the league in 2015.
Pick: Texans: 27, Titans 10
Indianapolis at Washington
Good news: Andrew Luck is back and he wasn't bad in his debut. That said, we have no earthly idea why new coach Frank Reich would have Luck, who missed some 600 days with a shoulder injury, throw the ball a whopping 53 times in last week's loss to the Bengals but that's exactly what happened. Luck's longest pass went for 26 yards, which continues to raise concerns about his arm strength but the bigger issue facing the Colts may be figuring out how to stop ageless wonders Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson. Smith, 34, was a tidy 21 of 30 for 255 yards and two touchdowns while Peterson (33) rushed for 96 yards and added another 70 yards receiving.
Pick: Redskins 38, Colts 24
Kansas City at Pittsburgh
If we're just going by last week's results, the Chiefs should be favored to win this game by roughly 200 points. Make it 400 points if Ben Roethlisberger has five more turnovers. But for as tantalizing as Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt can be, for some reason, Andy Reid struggles against Mike Tomlin-coached teams. The Steelers beat the Chiefs twice in 2016 (including the playoffs) and again last season. And are 4-1 since Reid arrived in 2013. Since 2007, when Tomlin was hired, Pittsburgh is 6-2 against Kansas City, including 3-0 at Heinz Field.
Pick: Steelers 35, Chiefs 31
L.A. Chargers at Buffalo
These two teams last met in Week 11 of the 2017 season. It was Nathan Peterman's first NFL start and it couldn't have gone worse. By halftime, he had thrown five interceptions and, mercifully, he was benched. Peterman "won" the starting job last week and the results looked familiar; he was 5 of 18 with two interceptions against the Ravens when coach Sean McDermott again pulled the plug, this time 34 minutes into the game. McDermott said he'd need to review the tape to determine if Peterman would remain in the lineup, but even if he opts for rookie Josh Allen, the Chargers will be at a distinct advantage -- on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs and Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon both had 100-plus yards receiving.
Pick: Chargers 27, Bills 6
Miami at N.Y. Jets
We think Darnold is a much better player than Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith, but we don't know that; he's only played one game. That said, he has the benefit of a reliable running game (Isaiah Crowell ran for 102 yards, Bilal Powell added 60) and a solid defense (though we shouldn't expect five interceptions every week). And if the Jets can stick to that recipe -- small doses of the franchise quarterback who can lean on his running backs and defenders -- they can be a much better team.
We're still waiting to see if Ryan Tannehill, finally healthy, can put it all together in Adam Gase's offense. And while a win over the Titans is a good start, it's the Titans.
Pick: Jets 24, Dolphins 20
Minnesota at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers isn't human. This was confirmed to us on Sunday night when he methodically dismantled the Bears after the Packers fell behind 20-0. But cyborgs aren't infallible and Rodgers' knee injury could be a lingering issue in the coming weeks. And for as good as the Bears' defense was in the first half, the Vikings' defense is even better -- and will bring it for 30 minutes. Minnesota's offense is legit, too, and they've upgraded the quarterback position with Kirk Cousins. We don't ever like to bet against Rodgers but we want to see how he plays with that bum knee after one of the most amazing performances of his Hall of Fame career.
Pick: Vikings 24, Packers 23
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay
ALL ABOARD THE FITZMAGIC FITZWAGON. In a few weeks you know coach Dirk Koetter is going to be faced with the very real decision to keep Jameis Winston on the bench for Ryan Fitzpatrick and it will probably be in the best interest of the team to do just that. Of course, nobody saw the Bucs going into New Orleans and hanging 48 on the Saints but Fitzpatrick needed just 28 pass attempts to throw for 417 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson accounted for nearly 300 of those yards.
The Eagles looked a little rusty against the Falcons, but that's to be expected in the NFL's regular-season opener that saw Nick Foles get the start over Carson Wentz. Foles will need to play better in Tampa, though we've yet to see anything resembling his Super Bowl MVP form in either the preseason or Week 1.
Pick: Buccaneers 20, Eagles 17
Arizona at L.A. Rams
The Rams needed 30 minutes to get going in Oakland but once they did the Raiders didn't have a chance. It didn't hurt that the Raiders had 155 yards in penalties but the bigger problem was that they barely touched Jared Goff. Goff threw for 233 yards and two scores, including 87 yards to new target Brandin Cooks, while Todd Gurley added 147 all-purpose yards. The Cardinals couldn't stop Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson and Jordan Reed last week at home, which makes us think they'll need a miracle against Goff, Gurley, Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
Pick: Rams 23, Cardinals 10
Detroit at San Francisco
Good lord, Matt Patricia looked overwhelmed and underprepared.. Things were so bad, in fact, that Detroit's 48-17 loss was the worst suffered by a Lions coach in his debut. Patricia's the latest member of the Belichick coaching family to sink without his Belichick floaties. Out of seven names -- Al Groh, Bill O'Brien, Nick Saban, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel and now Patricia -- only Groh has a winning record (9-7). Perhaps Detroit gets back on track in San Francisco -- Jimmy Garoppolo lost his first game as the 49ers starter last week in Minnesota -- but after watching what Sam Darnold did to this team we're doubtful.
Pick: 49ers 24, Lions 21
Oakland at Denver
Before the season, we had no expectations for the Raiders. We figured Jon Gruden would be stuck in the early aughts, Oakland would spend much of the season spinning its wheels, and the losing would continue. Yes, the Raiders lost by 20 on Monday night but they looked legit over the first 30 minutes. The running game was effective, Derek Carr was getting the ball out quickly, and Jared Cook was dominant. But the Rams made some adjustments at halftime, the Raiders made some mistakes over the final 30 minutes and the game got away from them down the stretch. Still, we liked what we saw. We also still have questions about just how good Case Keenum can be in Denver, though he's a clear and obvious upgrade over the Trevor Siemian/Brock Osweiler/Paxton Lynch three-headed, no-armed monster.
Pick: Raiders 27, Broncos 20
New England at Jacksonville
Leonard Fournette could be available, but even if he can't go the Jaguars can beat the Patriots, whom they battled in the AFC Championship Game back in January. New England prevailed eight months ago in part because they let up in the fourth quarter. The Jags ran 10 more plays, gained 30 more yards, had just as many first downs and dominated the time of possession, but they didn't play 60 minutes of football. And this wasn't about Blake Bortles, this was about an all-world defense getting conservative late in the game after playing well against Tom Brady. With less on the line and the home crowd behind them, we like the Jaguars on Sunday.
Pick: Jaguars 28, Patriots 24
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
Good lord, Eli Manning looked pretty bad last week. In his defense, the offensive line was a mess, but hoping that Saquon Barkley, a healthy Odell Beckham and a few new faces along the O-line would magically make him serviceable didn't pan out, at least against Jacksonville. Maybe that changes against a Dallas team that didn't look good in Carolina.
Pick: Giants 20, Cowboys 17
Seattle at Chicago
God help Russell Wilson. Because if the Seahawks' offensive line can't find a way to slow down Khalil Mack, he could have 20 sacks by halftime. And for as promising as Chicago's defense was in the first half of that Packers game, we were impressed with the offense too. Mitchell Trubisky has a chance to be really good, and it helps having Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Allen Robinson at the skill positions. If we could offer first-year coach Matt Nagy any advice it would be this: Be aggressive. There's a reason John Fox got fired, and if Nagy had taken some calcuated risks against the Packers, the Bears might be 1-0.
Pick: Bears 14, Seahawks 12
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