NASHVILLE,: It is time for the NFL Week 2. The Jets and Browns finally have a quarterback. Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield can play football. The Rams and Vikings may be complete teams, loaded at every position. The Cowboys and Raiders sputtered on offense despite having plenty of play-makers. Yet the main trend from Week 1 is that all seven first-year coaches lost. Jon Gruden lost his first game coaching the Raiders in 1998.
He lost his first game coaching the Buccaneers in 2002. In both cases he went on to win more than he lost. As for the other coaches, none of them got a win. Matt Nagy managed to help his Bears give away their game when it was in the palm of their hands. Matt Patricia’s debut was so bad the Lions owner Martha Ford may be trying to rehire Jim Caldwell (no, not really). By next week, goats will be heroes and vice versa.
With that, here is the NFL 2018 Week 2 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by OddsShark and all times Eastern.
NFL Week 2 – Thursday, September 13, 2018, 8:20 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens (pick) at Cincinnati Bengals —
A pair of improved teams dispatched with weaker teams. Baltimore carpet-bombed Buffalo 47-3. That margin of victory earns Baltimore the benefit of the doubt on the road. It’s too early to say Cincinnati is for real. Ravens win.
Sunday, September 16, 1:00 p.m.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-5) —
Atlanta again took Philadelphia to the limit until the final play. Carolina showed a tenacious defense that throttled Dallas. Give Atlanta the nod at home, but neither team scored enough points last week to justify the spread. Falcons win but fail to cover.
Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints (-8) —
The Saints scored 40 points at home last week and lost. Cleveland followed up 1-15 and 0-16 seasons by earning a tie last week. The Browns are improved, but this week reality kicks in. The Saints will be at home again, and they will be angry. This could get ugly early. Saints cover.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (pick) —
DeShaun Watson is a safer bet than Marcus Mariota. In a close game, even on the road, go with Watson. Mariota has just not taken things to the next level. Texans win.
Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins (-5.5) —
The Redskins are a solid team with Alex Smith, who almost never inspires but almost never makes mistakes. The Colts have given Andrew Luck no help. After losing at home, it’s hard to trust the Colts on the road. Don’t. Redskins cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) —
The Chiefs went on the road and beat the Chargers, but so does everybody else in September. The Steelers blew a 14 point lead and settled for a tie with Cleveland. The Steelers play badly against bad teams and good against good teams. Look for them to rebound. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Los Angeles Chargers (-7) at Buffalo Bills —
Both teams looked sad in Week 1, but losing 47-3 gives the Bills the right to be ridiculed until proven otherwise. The Chargers have weapons on offense. The Bills do not. Nathan Peterman has never finished a game, including when he threw 5 interceptions in one half when these teams played last year. Chargers win but failed to cover.
Miami Dolphins (-1.5) at New York Jets —
This one is a head-scratcher. The Dolphins barely survived at home in a game that took nearly seven hours due to lightning delays. The Jets broke open a 17-17 third-quarter tie at Detroit and scored 31 straight points before the fourth quarter began. The Jets automatically get serious consideration at home. Upset special, Jets win outright.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-1.5) —
Aaron Rodgers had a comeback for the ages in overcoming a 20-0 third-quarter deficit against Chicago to win 24-23. It is hard not to trust Rodgers at home again, but Minnesota may have the best defense in the league. Rodgers is wounded. The Vikings will knock him around. Upset special, Vikings win outright.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers —
Philadelphia barely survived their home opener against Atlanta, while Tampa Bay went on the road and shocked New Orleans by putting up 48 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick was lights out, but playing the defending champions is a far sterner test. Eagles cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-10) —
The Rams won by 20 on the road. The Cardinals lost by 18. The Rams really are that good. The Cardinals really are that bad. Do not expect an upset. This game could be over by halftime. Rams cover.
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-3) —
San Francisco ran into a buzzsaw defense at Minnesota. This week they play a Detroit team that gave up 31 points in one quarter at home to the Jets. These franchises are going in opposite directions. Jimmy Garoppollo has help. Matthew Stafford does not. 49ers cover.
New England Patriots (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
This AFC Title Game rematch has the Jaguars burning for revenge after blowing a 20-10 fourth quarter lead to lose 24-20. The problem is the Patriots just find ways to win. Blake Bortles is not going to outplay Tom Brady. The Jaguars gave it their best last time and still lost. They will again. Patriots cover.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-4.5) —
The Broncos offense is not that special, but the Raiders defense is that horrendous. The high octane Oakland offense had one great drive to start last week followed by 55 minutes of futility. On the road against a hated rival with a pathetic defense is a recipe for defeat. These teams usually play close games. Broncos win but fail to cover.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3) —
Both of these teams looked awful in their respective season openers. Neither team had much of an offense. Go with the home field. Cowboys cover.
Monday, September 17, 8:20 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3) —
Despite both teams losing heart-breaking season openers, these teams are headed in different directions. The Seahawks are on the decline. The Bears are brimming with optimism despite giving away last week’s game. Trust the Bears at home with a raucous crowd and a much-improved defense led by Khalil Mack. Bears cover.