Week 2 NFL best bets and predictions
After going 45-23-2 with my NFL best bets during the regular season last year, I opened by going 4-1 with my Week 1 plays. It’s going to be hard to continue living up to these numbers, but I’m damn sure going to try my best. And that continues with the three picks I have for the Week 2 slate, which includes a play on what should be an enticing battle between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Keep reading to find out what I have and make sure you also check out what my talented VSiN colleagues are playing. Those plays are available here, but you can also check out the Pro Picks page.
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I was on the Browns to beat the Bengals in Week 1, but I’m going with Cincinnati in Week 2. I was a little nervous about how Joe Burrow would play after a full preseason on the shelf, but I’m confident he’ll bounce back after having gotten his feet a little wet. It also doesn’t hurt that this game will be played at home, where the Bengals should have a significant advantage. Under head coach Zac Taylor, the team is 11-4 straight-up and 8-7 against the spread when playing as a home favorite.
The main reason I like the Bengals here is because I think it might take some time for Lamar Jackson and this passing game to find a rhythm under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Baltimore was without star tight end Mark Andrews in last week’s 25-9 win over the Houston Texans, so that might have been why the Ravens didn’t play very well offensively. They had a total of just 279 yards in the game, and it was a close contest for quite some time. Having Andrews back should make Jackson’s life easier, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect an offensive explosion just two weeks into this experiment. And that’s especially true against a Bengals defense that was eighth against the pass in Defensive DVOA in 2022. It’ll also be even harder for the Ravens to score if they can’t establish the running game, which could be a problem now that J.K. Dobbins is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Baltimore also suffered some injuries along the O-line.
It also seems possible that cornerback Marlon Humphrey will miss this game for Baltimore. With safety Marcus Williams already out, that’s a lot of uncertainty in the secondary. That’s not what you want against an offense with Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. With that in mind, look for the Ravens passing attack to get back on track with better weather conditions and a somewhat manageable matchup. Cincinnati isn’t trying to open the year 0-2 with losses against two division rivals.
Bet: Bengals -3 (-118 - Play to -4)
Last week, the Jaguars earned a 31-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts. That was a game that I had going Over the total of 46.5 and I think Jacksonville is looking at another high-scoring game in Week 2. I’m just not a huge believer in the Jaguars defense right now. There are some good pieces in place on that side of the ball, but Jacksonville doesn’t consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And the team is beatable in the secondary. That’s not what you want in a meeting with Patrick Mahomes.
As long as the Chiefs offensive line is up to the task of blocking Travon Walker and Josh Allen in this game, I think Mahomes will sit in the pocket and pick apart this defense. That’s easier said than done for the group up front, but I do like Kansas City’s offensive line. And Walker isn’t a player that consistently shows up anyway. That said, this might come down to just keeping an eye on Allen, and the Chiefs should be able to do so if that’s the main objective. Of course, it is somewhat concerning that Kansas City’s pass catchers were awful in Week 1. But it can’t get any worse than that performance for the wideouts, and it does seem like there’s a chance Travis Kelce will play this week. That would change everything.
On the other side of the ball, I think the Chiefs will have a hard time stopping the Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence threw for 241 yards with two touchdowns and one pick last week, and he should only get better and better with more time to get comfortable with Calvin Ridley as his top wideout. But the pair had no issues clicking in Week 1, as Ridley had eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence will just need to find the balance between forcing things Ridley’s way and knowing when to spread it out. But that shouldn’t take him very long. And I’m expecting him to play very well in his first game at home this season, especially considering the Chiefs defense didn’t look great against the Detroit Lions last week. Getting defensive tackle Chris Jones back in Week 2 would help, but I don’t think it’ll completely prevent the Jaguars from putting up big numbers.
This game just feels like it has the potential to turn into a shootout. So, I’m going to sit back and hope both offenses show out. That’s the best way to watch a game anyway. And it helps knowing that the Over is 12-5 in Kansas City’s road games since the start of the 2021 season.
Bet: Over 51 (-110 - Play to 52)
The Chargers are coming off a brutal 36-34 loss to the Miami Dolphins, with the defense just not being able to come up with any timely stops in the home opener. Now, Los Angeles must go on the road and face Tennessee. And this feels like a matchup that Mike Vrabel and the Titans will like quite a bit.
The Titans aren’t going to allow themselves to get into a shootout with this Chargers team, which desperately wants to open this game up and make it a high-scoring affair. Tennessee is going to pound away with Derrick Henry and try to make this a battle for who wins time of possession. And by moving the chains and keeping the clock running, the Titans defense should have enough energy to defend the explosive Chargers offense.
These are just the types of games that it feels like the Titans can be counted on to win. I thought about taking the moneyline here, but the price isn’t good enough. So, you might as well protect yourself a little by taking the points. But under Vrabel, Tennessee is 9-6 both SU and ATS when playing as a home underdog of 7 or fewer points. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is just 4-5 ATS as a road favorite under Brandon Staley. I put a lot of weight into who is coaching each team, and this feels like a massive mismatch between the guys wearing the headsets.
Bet: Titans +3 (-115)
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