NFLX picks and predictions for Week 2
Week 2 of the NFL Preseason is here and teams continue to work hard to iron out the kinks before things really get started next month. Joint practices have been all the rage this week and those are really interesting because everybody pays a little more attention. It’s much easier to want to hit somebody that isn’t on your team and the beat writers are a little more active and engaged in what is happening because it isn’t just about boring drills and getting back in shape.
As usual, the same NFL Preseason betting tips apply, as coaches continue to let you know what their plans are. That includes the rotation for the quarterbacks, which means you should refer to the QB Depth Charts from Matt Youmans. Steve Makinen has a VSiN Analytics report out for Week 2 of the preseason and that should help you formulate your own thoughts for this round of games. I’ll also share some of mine as well.
Here are a few best bets to consider for NFL Preseason Week 2:
Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5, 38.5)
Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Bengals and Falcons each had lackluster offensive showings in Week 1 of the preseason and I wouldn’t expect much more here. While the Falcons are going to play guys like Desmond Ridder and Bijan Robinson, Cincinnati won’t be interested in putting anybody at risk, hence the big spread on this one. The Bengals do have to make sure that Trevor Siemian and Jake Browning are each ready in case Joe Burrow is not able to come back at the start of the season, but Siemian and Browning combined to go 25-of-45 for 208 yards with two interceptions and a sack against the Packers.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith noted that Robinson would play, but with some caveats. “We're not going to go crazy. We just need the reps. We need to get our bread-and-butter concepts in there and he'll see his tracks. We're not going to sit there and show everything but we need to execute well.” Ridder will also play, but when asked about Ridder, Smith’s comments sounded as if the Falcons were going to be extremely vanilla, adding, “Between me and Zac Taylor, I don’t think we’re going to try and trick each other”.
The Falcons were extremely aggressive on defense in the first preseason game. Better QBs might pick that apart, but Atlanta had three picks, five sacks, and nine QB hits in the first preseason game. That should lead to some negative plays to put Cincy behind the chains.
This doesn’t seem like a high-flying, offensive exhibition. This feels like getting the basic work in, staying as healthy as possible, and getting out. Atlanta’s two touchdowns in the first preseason game came via punt return and interception. Cincinnati had a pick-six and three field goals. Siemian gets the start here after Browning started the first one, but I still think this is a low-scoring affair.
Pick: Under 38.5
New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-3, 37)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
The Patriots and Packers have been holding joint practices in the lead-up to Saturday’s preseason tilt at Lambeau Field. A lot of the observations about Jordan Love have been pretty positive in training camp, including some positives from Wednesday’s first joint practice. Surely the Patriots aren’t showing everything, but Bill Belichick is an evil genius on defense and there have to be some coverages and wrinkles that would throw off an inexperienced fourth-year pro.
But, I also think getting some looks at the New England defense should help heading into Saturday’s game. The Patriots have so many things to figure out internally on offense that I wouldn’t expect much against Green Bay, and the Packers defense did well last week against the Bengals. Cincinnati scored 19 points, but their lone touchdown was on defense.
Obviously the Patriots brought a lot of last year’s defense back and added Keion White and Christian Gonzalez in the 2023 NFL Draft, but the offense bumbled its way to nine points in the preseason opener against the Texans. Malik Cunningham provided a late spark and could do the same here, but New England had 3.7 yards per play and 180 total yards in the first game.
The Packers have a lot of incentive to get Love some additional reps this week and Sean Clifford passed for more yards (208) than the Patriots had total offensive yards last week. The Patriots still have evaluation to do between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, but I think Green Bay is the play here.
Pick: Packers -3
New Orleans Saints (-3, 37.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, 7:05 p.m. ET
The Chargers had a thoroughly impressive preseason debut against the Rams last week, but now they welcome the Saints to SoFi Stadium in a game that should be a tougher test. Saints starting QB Derek Carr played last week and I’d expect him to play a little longer than the one drive he saw last week. There are a lot of moving parts for Carr within the new offense and it makes sense to let him get acclimated in game conditions.
Even if Carr isn’t out there long, Jameis Winston and Jake Haener, who was a stud at Fresno State, are the QBs in reserve. Collectively, Winston and Haener were 21-of-30 for 197 yards with two touchdowns last week against the Chiefs. Winston did take three sacks, but Haener didn’t take any.
The Kellen Moore offense was a smashing success with nothing but backups for the Chargers, as they rushed for 6.9 yards per play and Easton Stick was an efficient 14-of-21 for 109 yards while playing the entire first half. Head coach Brandon Staley talked about how Moore’s offense allows the QB to play fast and get the ball out into space. In the preseason, defenses are more worried about making sure they’re lined up right and getting to the ball than they are about studying the other team’s film.
I think that could lead to points in this game. Stick has played extensively over the last two preseasons going 63-of-98 for 551 yards and a couple touchdowns against two picks, but he looked pretty crisp in the new Chargers offense. Quentin Johnson is out there and got six targets last week, so he’s an explosive player likely to get touches, along with the running backs that all did well last week. Shane Buechele found success against the Saints D last week and I think Stick and Max Duggan will as well.
Pick: Over 37.5