NFL

Scott’s Seven NFL Picks: Week 2

By Scott Kacsmar

When so many NFL offenses and top quarterbacks struggled in Week 1, then we will take a mulligan too for going 0-7 on our top picks last week.

It was an unusual week with so many low scores and poor passing production, which we explained the reasons for this week, including a historic turnover of youth and inexperience at the quarterback position. The other thing with making these picks is sometimes you end up a week too early, so you should not fade them after getting burned one week.

  • Jalen Hurts did not score a rushing touchdown in Week 1, but he scored twice on Thursday night to begin Week 2.
  • Sam Howell unfortunately rushed for his second touchdown of the game against Arizona instead of throwing a second one.
  • The Saints scored the go-ahead touchdown with 83 seconds left in the third quarter, just missing out on winning that fourth-quarter moneyline pick with a 7-6 score.
  • We caught some bad luck with the Aaron Rodgers injury on Monday night and picking Pittsburgh to upset San Francisco was just a bad call.

There will be better weeks to come, but it is totally understandable if people wanted to take the other side of these picks as you would have cashed one heck of a 7-pick parlay last week if you did that. But the goal is to have a week where these all hit too. For now, we’ll just take any wins that come along.

Each Friday, we will share seven NFL picks that we are including in our bets for the weekend. These can be prop picks, spreads, totals, alternate lines, money lines, etc. We want to think outside the box instead of just telling you to pick a 10-point favorite to win at home with -500 odds. You can play the picks separately or parlay your favorite choices together as the top sportsbooks of your choosing.

Note: Picks are ranked in order of confidence (highest to lowest).

1. Chiefs-Jaguars: Travis Kelce to the Rescue

You could flirt with a Kadarius Toney bounce-back game as Jacksonville was one of his best games last regular season, but he is one of the most unreliable players in the league. Travis Kelce is the definition of reliable, and all signs point to the best tight end in the game returning for the Chiefs this weekend.

Kelce has scored a touchdown in his last three season openers. He scored in both games against Jacksonville last year, and he looked unstoppable on short throws in the playoff win, catching 14-of-17 targets. The Chiefs may not be prepared to give him that kind of workload again in his first game back, but he is the best red zone weapon for this team and should find the end zone for Patrick Mahomes in this one.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown Scorer (-145 at FanDuel)

2. Seahawks-Lions: Revenge for 48-45

The main reason the 9-8 Seahawks made the playoffs over the 9-8 Lions last year was Seattle’s 48-45 road win in Detroit in Week 4. Despite the absurdly high score, the Seahawks led the game wire-to-wire. But Detroit was able to score 45 points with Jared Goff having one of his best games despite No. 1 wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown missing the game with an injury.

Last week, the Seahawks were a favorite against the Rams, who did not have Cooper Kupp, yet they were shredded by Matthew Stafford in a 30-13 home loss. The pass rush barely existed as Stafford was pressured on 7.7% of dropbacks, the 2nd-lowest rate in Week 1.

Goff was already protected well in Kansas City, though the offense only scored 14 points in that game and needed a pick-six to get to 21. But Goff usually plays much better at home where he threw 23 of his 29 touchdown passes last year. The Lions scored over 26.5 points in 9 games last year and all but two of them were at home.

This game likely will not be 48-45 again, and Detroit may or may not win this time, but taking the Lions to go over 26.5 points is the best bet here.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Lions Over 26.5 Points (-110 at FanDuel)

3. Chargers-Titans: Justin Herbert Back in Control

Even despite the loss, it is hard to complain about what new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore did in his first game for the Chargers. Los Angeles scored 34 points, had no turnovers, and the running game produced 233 yards, just the third 200-yard game in the Justin Herbert era.

But all the attention on the run made this a very atypical Herbert game as he only completed 23-of-33 passes for 229 yards and 1 touchdown. It was only the 10th game in Herbert’s career where he did not pass for 230 yards, his 6.94 yards per attempt is below average, and when it came time for the game-winning field goal drive, he was unable to get the ball past his own 35.

Things should be different this week in Tennessee. The Titans love shutting down the run and forcing teams to pass. Austin Ekeler is also injured and may not play. Even if he does play, it is easy to like Herbert’s passing props. The best would be if you can find an over for his pass attempts (anything up to 39.5 should be a good bet), but those may not release until closer to game day and the certainty on Ekeler’s status becomes clear.

But we are going with this being your more traditional Herbert passing game. He faced the Titans last December and threw for 313 yards on 42 attempts. Even if Moore wants to turn this into a run-heavy offense, the Titans are not likely going to let that happen on defense this week. Trust Herbert to come out throwing more.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Justin Herbert Over 277.5 Passing Yards (-110 at bet365)

4. Packers-Falcons: Backing Bijan and Atlanta at Home

There are only three games between 1-0 teams in Week 2, and this may be the surprising one as Green Bay or Atlanta should improve to 2-0 after both won division games in Week 1. The Packers have gone from a 1.5-point road favorite to a 1.5-point underdog as there are mounting concerns about the availability of top running back Aaron Jones and No. 1 wide receiver Christian Watson. Both missed Thursday’s practice with hamstring injuries.

Watson already missed Week 1 and the team still scored 38 points, though the Falcons are not the Bears even if they have the right setup in mind with a featured running game and a defense that forced the Panthers into 3 turnovers last week.

But Jones had two huge YAC plays as a receiver to make up for the loss of Watson’s big-play ability. Jordan Love did some impressive things, but he also benefitted from those plays and was facing a defense that failed to put much pressure on him or take advantage of his off-target throws. The Falcons have a lot of new defensive starters who are veterans, and they have little on tape to show the Packers with Ryan Nielsen coming over from New Orleans as a rookie defensive coordinator.

The Falcons also got a strong debut out of Bijan Robinson, the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. His touchdown catch was the kind of play only an elite talent could make as he stopped on a dime and broke 3 tackles. The Falcons also got 75 yards and a couple of scores from Tyler Allgeier, last year’s successful rookie back. With Kyle Pitts and Drake London to utilize for an offense that will be looking for an improvement on a 2-for-10 day on third down, the Falcons are in a good position in this game.

Maybe the gut feeling would be different if it sounded optimistic that Watson and Jones would play, but not having both would be problematic for this offense. Let’s back the Falcons to move to 2-0 at home.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Falcons ML (-118 at FanDuel)

5. Raiders-Bills: Everything Is Cool with Diggs

It has been a tumultuous week for Stefon Diggs and the Bills. He caught his first touchdown of the season against the Jets. He was very animated on the sideline with quarterback Josh Allen, who had 4 turnovers before the Bills lost a stunner in overtime. Then there was the weird hot mic moment with a Buffalo reporter this week that led to Diggs speaking out on social media.

But for Week 2, things should be just fine in Buffalo where the Bills are an 8.5-point home favorite against the Raiders. Buffalo has the pass rush to really frustrate Jimmy Garoppolo and force him into mistakes. The Vegas defense allowed Russell Wilson to average over 50 yards per drive last week. Do not be fooled by the 17-16 score in that game as it only had 12 total possessions, which could be the fewest in a game in NFL history.

Allen can’t turn the ball over 4 times every week, can he? We are going to trust Allen to calm down, shred a bad defense, and find his top receiver for another touchdown to hit this touchdown scorer/moneyline parlay prop found at FanDuel. If Diggs can put up 10 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown against a defense like the Jets, he should be just fine against the Raiders at home this week.

The sky is not falling in Buffalo yet.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Stefon Diggs TD/Bills ML Parlay (+150 at FanDuel)

6. Ravens-Bengals: Baltimore Upset?

The Ravens were leading the AFC North in December in each of the last two seasons when Lamar Jackson suffered injuries that would end his season. The Bengals went on to win the AFC North both times, including a wild card win over the Ravens last January after backup Tyler Huntley fumbled on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter.

The tables may be turning now that Jackson is healthy and based on Week 1, Joe Burrow may not be. He had a calf injury in July that cut his training camp short and kept him out of preseason action. He looked awful in Week 1, becoming only the 8th quarterback on record to throw more than 30 passes and fail to gain more than 82 yards. The last quarterbacks to do that were Ryan Lindley (2012) and Chris Weinke (2001), so you know things were really bad last week for this offense.

The Ravens have a solid defense too that is very familiar with this offense just like Cleveland was. While Burrow passed for over 400 yards in both meetings in 2021, that was an injury-ravaged secondary. Last year, the Ravens faced Burrow three times and he passed for no more than 217 yards in any of the games, he never had more than one touchdown pass, and 6.53 was the highest his yards per pass reached. He also led his offense to 17, 20, and 17 points as those numbers exclude the two fumble touchdowns his defense produced against backup quarterbacks.

Baltimore may be without tight end Mark Andrews (quad) again, but they still have weapons, including newcomers Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. They also can replace lead running back J. K. Dobbins (Achilles) with Justice Hill and Gus Edwards just fine.

But this is about having Jackson for one of these big matchups while the Bengals have Burrow at less than 100%. This is a prime opportunity for the Ravens to start 2-0 and drop the Bengals to 0-2 as they look to reclaim the AFC North this year. Take the Ravens for the road upset.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Ravens ML (+142 at FanDuel)

7. Browns-Steelers: Pittsburgh Scores Early

It is awfully tempting to take the Steelers (+2.5) to win as a home underdog for the second week in a row. Despite what happened last week in a 30-7 loss to San Francisco, Mike Tomlin is still 15-5-3 ATS as a home underdog, the best record by far in the NFL since 2007. The Steelers are also 20-0 SU in home Monday night games since 1992 (9-0 under Tomlin). This is their spot against a hated rival from Cleveland.

But the way the Steelers struggled in multiple phases against the 49ers gives some pause as does the way Cleveland shut down Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense in a 24-3 win. So, we will hold off on the spread and moneyline picks here.

But this game has to be about the offense getting on track and looking like the young unit that scored a touchdown on all 5 of its preseason possessions. Week 1 may have proven that the preseason is fake and should be taken with a grain of salt, but Kenny Pickett was under siege against an elite San Francisco defense. His 46.2% pressure rate was easily the highest game yet in his career, and he did not handle the pressure well.

Burrow’s pressure rate against Cleveland was not astronomical at all (27.3%), but he was wildly off-target on 33.3% of his passes according to the charting stats at Pro Football Reference, which is the worst game of his career. Burrow also was dealing with a calf injury that cut his training camp short.

The Steelers needed 6 drives before getting a first down against the 49ers, but they did at least turn that into a touchdown. The Steelers had 14 points in the second quarter in Cleveland last year in a game with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. They scored 10 points at home in the second quarter against Cleveland in Week 18 with Pickett at quarterback.

Matt Canada’s offense has never had a 400-yard game in 36 games as offensive coordinator, but he has to know his job is already on the line again after that horrible Week 1 showing. Tomlin is usually get at getting his team to bounce back from a big loss, so our top bet for the Steelers is to go over 9.5 points in the first half. Just a touchdown and field goal would work. Maybe T.J. Watt could even force a strip-sack of Deshaun Watson, who took 7 sacks in Pittsburgh last year, to set up a short field and help this offense out.

We are not asking for much here for our NFL picks.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Steelers Over 9.5 First Half Total (-106 at FanDuel)

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