If Week 1 was an accurate indication, fans of the National Football League are in for an excellent season in 2016. We saw several thrilling finishes, numerous amazing individual performances, and, of course, some surprising upsets. Speaking of surprises, we have identified five games on the Week 2 schedule where we believe the underdogs have an excellent chance at prevailing, despite what the oddsmakers in Las Vegas think. Last week, we went 4-1 in our upset picks, and while we cannot guarantee a similar result this week, we are fairly confident in our picks for Week 2. These are our NFL predictions for Week 2.
Note: All picks are against the spread (ATS).
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) over Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
- Point spread: Cardinals favored by 7 points
- Over/under: 50
- Location: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Other games may receive more hype, but this NFC matchup between a reigning powerhouse and a team on the rise is one of the best games of the weekend in our eyes. While we still firmly believe that the Cardinals have a championship-caliber roster, this is a game we see being decided by a touchdown or less.
The Arizona defense was far from dominant in their Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots, and the Tampa Bay offense is one of the most talented groups in the league. But when it comes down to it, the matchup that will likely decide the outcome of this game is the Cardinals offense versus the Buccaneers defense. If Tampa Bay can slow down running back David Johnson and keep the Cardinals’ dynamic trio of wide receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd) in check — which won’t be easy — they will undoubtedly cover the point spread if not win this game outright.
2. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) over Oakland Raiders (1-0)
- Point spread: Raiders favored by 4.5 points
- Over/under: 49
- Location: O.co Stadium in Oakland, Calif.
If nothing else, this game should be highly entertaining for fans of offensive football. Neither team is particularly strong on the defensive side of the ball, but both teams have the talent on the offensive side of the ball to consistently light up the scoreboard.
We expect the Raiders to ride the high of their Week 1 road win over the New Orleans Saints, but at the same time, this game is almost a must-win for the Falcons, who dropped their season opener at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The key to this game is the health of Atlanta’s best player and wide receiver Julio Jones. If he is healthy — which he says is the case — the Oakland secondary will be in for a long day. We believe the Falcons will come away with a much-needed road win over the Raiders in Week 2.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) over San Diego Chargers (0-1)
- Point spread: Chargers favored by 3 points
- Over/under: 47
- Location: Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego
This game will be a good indicator as to whether or not the Jaguars are legitimate playoff contenders in 2016. They played the Green Bay Packers tough in Week 1, but came up just short. The bottom line here is that they are a more talented team (on paper) than the Chargers.
San Diego took a serious hit when they lost wide receiver Keenan Allen, and we can’t help but think that they still feel a little deflated after their embarrassing collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. The only factors working against the Jaguars in this matchup are San Diego’s home-field advantage — possibly the worst in the league — and the fact that the trip from Florida to California can be draining. Nonetheless, we expect an outright win for the Jaguars this weekend.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) over Chicago Bears (0-1)
- Point spread: Bears favored by 3.5 points
- Over/under: 41.5
- Location: Soldier Field in Chicago
Simply put, the Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better schedule to start the season as they continue to break in rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Behind a strong performance out of Wentz as well as their underrated defense, Philadelphia pounded the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. Given the issues that the Bears face — especially along their offensive line and all over their defense — we believe that the Eagles will go into Chicago and beat them outright on Monday Night Football.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) over Houston Texans (1-0)
- Point spread: Texans favored by 2.5 points
- Over/under: 43
- Location: NRG Stadium in Houston
This game should be a must-watch for all NFL fans. Both teams are coming off of impressive wins in Week 1, and both are also out to prove that they are among the top contenders in the AFC. As of now, Houston is the more complete team (the Chiefs will again miss outside linebacker Justin Houston and running back Jamaal Charles), but we can’t help but flash back to the AFC Divisional game between these two teams last year and think that the Chiefs match up well with the Texans.
For Kansas City to win, they need to put consistent pressure on Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler; they need running back Spencer Ware to have another standout performance; and lastly, they need quarterback Alex Smith to continue playing at a Pro Bowl level. We believe all of these things are attainable.