NFL Picks Week 2: Examining Recent Odds and Expert Predictions

Jared Johnson@@jaredtjohnson21Featured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2015

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls a play in the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

What did you learn from Week 1 of the NFL regular season?

If you answered "a lot," you probably need to be careful not to overreact. If you answered "nothing," maybe you shouldn't be so cynical. As it often is, the truth is somewhere in the middle—some teams and players did things we didn't expect them to do, both good and bad, but we shouldn't pigeonhole them based on just one week of meaningful play in 2015.

With that in mind, let's look at the latest betting lines for Week 2 with picks against the spread. Then, we'll peruse some straight-up picks from four of Bleacher Report's experts and analyze three under-the-radar games that the experts are split on.

NFL Week 2 Picks Against the Spread
MatchupSpreadPick Against the Spread
Denver Broncos at Kansas City ChiefsKC -3Broncos
New England Patriots at Buffalo BillsNE -2Bills
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago BearsARI -2.5Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh SteelersPIT -649ers
Atlanta Falcons at New York GiantsNYG -2Giants
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland BrownsTEN -1Titans
Houston Texans at Carolina PanthersCAR -3Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans SaintsNO -10Saints
Detroit Lions at Minnesota VikingsMIN -3Lions
St. Louis Rams at Washington RedskinsSTL -3.5Rams
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati BengalsCIN -3.5Bengals
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville JaguarsMIA -6.5Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland RaidersBAL -6Ravens
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia EaglesPHI -5.5Eagles
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay PackersGB -3.5Packers
New York Jets at Indianapolis ColtsIND -7Colts
Odds info via Oddsshark.com, picks belong to author

  

Bleacher Report NFL Week 2 Expert Picks
MatchupMike FreemanMatt MillerMike TanierTy Schalter
Broncos at ChiefsDENKCDENKC
Patriots at BillsNENENEBUF
Cardinals at BearsARIARIARIARI
49ers at SteelersPITPITPITPIT
Falcons at GiantsNYGATLNYGATL
Titans at BrownsTENCLETENCLE
Texans at PanthersCARHOUHOUCAR
Buccaneers at SaintsNONONONO
Lions at VikingsMINMINMINDET
Rams at RedskinsSTLSTLSTLSTL
Chargers at BengalsSDCINSDCIN
Dolphins at JaguarsMIAMIAMIAMIA
Ravens at RaidersBALBALBALBAL
Cowboys at EaglesDALPHIPHIPHI
Seahawks at PackersGBGBSEAGB
Jets at ColtsINDINDINDNYJ
Source: Bleacher Report

For all of Bleacher Report's expert picks, click here.

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Under-the-Radar Games to Watch

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)

Both the Falcons and Giants are coming off exciting Week 1 games. Atlanta won its contest against the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 after intercepting Sam Bradford to seal the game, while New York lost 27-26 on a Tony Romo touchdown pass to Jason Witten with seven seconds to go.

In this matchup, I don't expect anything less than another tight finish.

Many people expected Atlanta to be a defensive pushover again this season despite bringing in former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as its head coach. In Week 1, however, the Falcons defense was extremely stout against the Eagles' fast-paced offense, especially in the first half. Philadelphia accumulated just 63 yards on the ground for the game, 27 of which came on one Darren Sproles scamper.

The Giants, meanwhile, looked sharp early in their game against the Cowboys, taking a 16-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter. However, they lost their momentum late, and Eli Manning made a key throwaway on third down with less than two minutes remaining to stop the clock, affording Dallas time to make its final drive.

Week 1 was not Eli Manning's finest hour.
Week 1 was not Eli Manning's finest hour.Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Both the Falcons and Giants would like to replicate their stingy first-half defensive performances from Week 1, but I'm not sure that happens with the offensive personnel on each of these teams.

Atlanta superstar wide receiver Julio Jones' hamstring is slightly injured, but he'll play, according to Quinn, via Kelsey Conway of the team's official website. That might be a factor, so I'm going with the Giants looking for redemption at home.

Prediction: Giants win 28-24

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

OK, so maybe this one isn't that under the radar. Plenty of NFL fans will be watching to see if Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota can give an encore to his amazing regular-season debut.

But in terms of the interest of the overall game, few are concerned about Tennessee or Cleveland as real factors in their divisions or conference.

The Titans routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14 Sunday, dominating in every facet of the game. Cleveland, meanwhile, was dominated by the New York Jets in a 31-10 loss. Tennessee obviously had the better game in Week 1, but it's hard to know how good the team truly is until it gets some decent competition.

Admittedly, a matchup against the Browns isn't the best proving ground, either. But Cleveland's defense is considerably better than Tampa Bay's (despite what the Browns showed against the Jets) and should make Mariota, running back Bishop Sankey and the rest of the Tennessee offense work for their points.

The Browns defense is better than it showed against the Jets Sunday.
The Browns defense is better than it showed against the Jets Sunday.Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

That said, Cleveland's offensive talent is dreadful. Mariota won't be as successful throwing the ball Sunday, but he won't need to be.

Prediction: Titans win 20-13 

Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

We stay in the AFC South with the Texans, as they visit the Panthers Sunday at the Bank of America Stadium.

Houston struggled for most of its Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs but recovered in the second half to make the final score a respectable 27-20. Carolina had a stellar defensive performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars, winning 20-9.

Although Houston didn't necessarily show it against Kansas City, both squads are known for their defenses and have special talents leading their respective units: defensive end J.J. Watt for Houston and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly for Carolina. Their relentlessness sets the tone for their teammates.

J.J. Watt will be tough for the Panthers offensive line to contain.
J.J. Watt will be tough for the Panthers offensive line to contain.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

However, Kuechly is still recovering from a concussion he suffered against Jacksonville. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says his status for Sunday is still uncertain, per Bryan Strickland of the team's official website. If Kuechly's out, that changes the complexion of this game.

On offense, though, the Panthers' Cam Newton provides that extra playmaking element that Houston lacks with Ryan Mallett under center and Alfred Blue getting the bulk of the carries.

Kuechly possibly being out changes things a bit, but I'm still picking Carolina.

Prediction: Panthers win 21-16

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com and all betting odds are from OddsShark.com.