Week 2 is the annual overreaction forecast. Which unexpected outcomes from Week 1 were aberrant clouds passing in the sky and which ones were storm fronts that need to continue to be reckoned with?
Last week’s forecast: 9-7, I count ties as losses because I didn’t predict the tie
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4): We get treated to arguably the most appealing game on the slate on Thursday night for the second week in a row. So much for the grumbling about the need for Thursday Night Football to go away, eh?
The Chargers are always dangerous, and one reason why they match up well against the Chiefs is their ability to pressure Patrick Mahomes without blitzing. The defensive front allows coach Brandon Staley to mix in some extra players and more intricate coverages on the back end. But the game is in Kansas City and Mahomes looked outstanding in Week 1. I think the Chiefs own defense finds a little success of its own and holds off Justin Herbert and the visiting Chargers. This is one of those partly cloudy vs. mostly sunny forecasts.
Chiefs 27, Chargers 24
Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-3): You don’t get a more divergent look over a two-game span than what Miami’s defense is facing. They go from static Mac Jones and the predictable, punchless Patriots to lithe Lamar Jackson, read-options and unpredictable throwing angles. Miami’s defense isn’t bad at all, but this is a little schedule quirk that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Ravens 30, Dolphins 19
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-6): Don’t sleep on the Jets defense and their ability to make life difficult for Jacoby Brissett and the Browns passing game. The problem for the Jets is the Cleveland ground game. Coach Kevin Stefanski finally figured out that playing both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt together is a good idea for the Browns offense. An immobile Joe Flacco is a suboptimal option for the Jets at QB against Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, each of whom was excellent in Cleveland’s Week 1 win.
Browns 24, Jets 14
Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions (-1.5): This is the first time the Lions have been favored in a game since Week 11 of the 2020 season. It’s the first time Detroit is favored against a team with a winning record since Week 7 of the 2018 season. Lions fans are hoping the game comes closer to that one, a road win over the Dolphins, than the more recent one. The Lions got blanked 20-0 by Carolina behind backup QB P.J. Walker in the last game they were favored.
As long as QB Jared Goff doesn’t give the game away, the Lions offense should be able to outscore Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin and the visiting Commanders.
Lions 31, Commanders 28
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4): Someone in the AFC South will get a win here. Maybe. The Colts need the offense and defense to play well at the same time and they’ll be fine. That didn’t happen enough in the opening tie with the Texans and it won’t be easy against a Jaguars team that should keep Jonathan Taylor from running too wild.
Colts 29, Jaguars 27
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (+2.5): I’m happy I used the Saints as my survivor fantasy pick in Week 1, a last-second switch from the 49ers (who lost in Chicago). I would strongly advise against using the Saints in any survivor fantasy pool this week…but I wouldn’t dare use Tampa Bay either.
Buccaneers 21, Saints 17
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-2): Comparing the two oft-injured star RBs between the two teams here in Week 1, Saquon Barkley completely boat-raced Christian McCaffrey. I expect Panthers coach Matt Rhule to remember McCaffrey more in Week 2 after getting him just 10 carries and five passing targets against New York. That can only help Baker Mayfield, who started horribly against his old team but got the jitters out late. Very difficult to trust Carolina as a road underdog but their defense (theoretically) should match up well with New York.
Panthers 26, Giants 24
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2): Pittsburgh as a home underdog to the lifeless, winless Patriots? Look, I know it was only one week, and I know T.J. Watt--one of the three best defensive players in the league right now--is out with a pec injury. But I can see Steelers coach Mike Tomlin showing his team this line and letting the disrespected feelings flow. The Patriots don’t have the ability to overcome that with their small margin for error in what they do.
Steelers 18, Patriots 15
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5): Atlanta couldn’t beat New Orleans last week despite playing about as well as the Falcons can expect for most of the game. That game was in Atlanta. Now they go on the road to face a rested Rams team that got spanked on national television. Expect to see the heart of a champion rise up and for Los Angeles to take out some frustration. Alarm bells go off if the defending champs don’t cover the spread here.
Rams 36, Falcons 20
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5): Maybe it’s an overreaction to what I saw in Lake Michigan, err, Soldier Field last Sunday, but a team led by the Trey Lance we all saw in Week 1 is not 9.5 points better than anyone. I think the 49ers win comfortably, but that’s too much credit given to San Francisco.
49ers 22, Seahawks 15
Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys (+7.5): Joe Burrow had a miserable outing against Pittsburgh. Don’t expect a repeat performance. The Cowboys defense can fabricate a couple of takeaways, but it will take the Bengals being highly complicit in their own demise to lose to this Dallas team. Cooper Rush with a bad offensive line and poor receiving corps is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
Bengals 27, Cowboys 9
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-10): Denver gets to regroup at home and the emotions of Russ vs. Seattle out of the picture. The Texans aren’t as bad as a lot of pundits posit them, but they’re not apt to find a lot of success against a motivated Broncos team.
Broncos 30, Texans 16
Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5): In a radio appearance I did this week, the host asked me--and I quote,
“Are the Cardinals trying to get Kliff Kingsbury fired? Sure looked that way.”
I had no retort, no defense of one of the NFL’s most weirdly enigmatic teams. I guess we’ll learn more about them when they play a team that should emerge as a fun geographic rival.
Raiders 33, Cardinals 21
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-10.5): No disrespect to the Bears whatsoever, but this game is all about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. Coming off a wretched opener where nobody--Rodgers included--played well, I expect redemption for Green Bay. If they can’t get it right against the Bears and the limited talent Chicago offers, it’s going to get very bad in Wisconsin.
Packers 38, Bears 12
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (-10): Buffalo off the Thursday night mini-bye gets an extra day of rest. That’s shameful on the schedule-makers. Not that they’ll need it, but the principle, man. The principle!
Bills 31, Titans 17
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-2): This should be a great matchup between explosive offenses that both cruised in Week 1, albeit in very different manners. The Eagles depended heavily on Jalen Hurts running free, while the Vikings aired it out and dared anyone to stop the Kirk Cousins-to-Justin Jefferson connection. The latter is a more sustainable path to success, but the Eagles secondary is a good one and the Philly front can get pressure without blitzing. Slight edge to the home team.
Eagles 27, Vikings 24
Florida State 33, Louisville 17
Georgia 43, South Carolina 12
Oklahoma 52, Nebraska 10
Auburn 27, Penn State 24
Michigan State 28, Washington 27
Texas Tech 37, North Carolina State 31
All lines are from BetMGM as of 7 a.m. on Sept. 15th