Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0-1)

The Chargers are one of the most shorthanded teams in the league right now. Melvin Gordon’s holdout might not affect them if Austin Ekeler keeps playing like he did week 1, but they were already without their top offensive lineman Russell Okung and their top defensive back Derwin James indefinitely due to injury and now they’ll be without talented tight end Hunter Henry, who is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Despite that, the public still seems to see them as a top team, after a 12-win 2018 season (partially due to a 6-1 record in games decided by 8 points or fewer). 

They’re favored here on the road in Detroit and, even though this line is only two points, we’re getting great value with the Lions, who are arguably the better team right now, given the Chargers’ injury situation. The Lions are an underrated team whose defense played well down the stretch last season after the addition of Damon Harrison, who they have complemented on the defensive line with off-season acquisitions Mike Daniels and Trey Flowers. Their offense struggled down the stretch last season, but they’re healthier now with Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson back and they added Danny Amendola and TJ Hockenson this off-season to replace Golden Tate as middle of the field targets for Matt Stafford.

The Lions blew a 24-6 4th quarter lead in Arizona last week and ended up tying the Cardinals, but they won the first down rate battle by 4.45%, which was the 9th best margin of the week. The Chargers, meanwhile, pulled out at overtime victory at home over the Colts, but easily could have lost if the Colts hadn’t missed multiple kicks in regulation. At the very worst, these teams are about even, but this line suggests the Chargers are about 5 points better. I like the Lions chances of winning and covering at home a lot.

Detroit Lions 26 Los Angeles Chargers 20 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Detroit +2

Confidence: High

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

I had relatively high expectations for the Falcons going into the season, as their defense looked likely to be improved with Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen back from injury. Their defense struggled in a week 1 loss in Minnesota, allowing a 44.90% first down rate in a 28-12 defeat. The Falcons didn’t play nearly as badly as the final score suggested, however, as the game swung on a few turnovers. The Falcons only lost the final down rate battle by 1.61%, but they threw two interceptions, lost a fumble, failed to recover two Minnesota fumbles, and had a punt blocked. Turnover margin and fumble recovery rate tend to be highly inconsistent week-to-week, so I think the Falcons are pretty underrated going into this week.

The Eagles are obviously a tough opponent, but I still have this line calculated at Atlanta -1. We’re not getting great value with the Falcons at +2, but I think they have a good shot to win this game outright. We could very easily see a much more focused Falcons team at home in a big measuring stick game against one of the top teams in the conference. This is only a low confidence pick against the spread, but the money line at +115 is worth a small bet.

Atlanta Falcons 30 Philadelphia Eagles 27 Upset Pick +115

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +2

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

The Redskins made some big plays early last week against the Eagles and shockingly jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but they couldn’t do much from there, as the Eagles went up 32-20 before the Redskins led a garbage time touchdown drive at the end of the game. Even with the garbage time touchdown included, the Redskins finished the week with the 7th worst first down rate differential at 6.11% and still look likely to finish as one of the worst teams in the league. Not helping matters is the Redskins’ injury situation, with cornerback Quinton Dunbar and defensive end Jonathan Allen likely joining cornerback Fabian Moreau, who missed week 1, on the sidelines. 

The Cowboys faced another one of the likely worst teams in the league last season, blowing out the Giants 35-17. They also have another really easy game on deck, as they host the Dolphins next week, so they should be fully focused. Favorites of 6 or more are 99-63 ATS since 2014 before being favored by 6 or more again. We’re not getting great line value with the Cowboys at -6.5, but I have this line calculated at -9.5, so the Cowboys should be able to take care of business here, without any upcoming distractions on deck. This game is unlikely to be close barring another garbage time touchdown. 

Dallas Cowboys 30 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Dallas -6.5

Confidence: Medium

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Both of these teams missed the playoffs last season despite high expectations and both of these teams looked improved in week 1 over last season. The odds makers seem to think these two teams are about even, favoring the Packers at home by a field goal. I think this spread is off though, as I have higher expectations for the Packers. Both teams won week 1, but the Packers’ win came on the road in Chicago, while the Vikings’ win came at home against the Falcons. The Vikings had a higher margin of victory, but that game swung on a few plays, with the Vikings winning the turnover margin by 4. Turnover margin tends to be highly inconsistent week-to-week, so they won’t necessarily be able to rely on that again this week. 

Week 1 aside, I also had higher expectations for the Packers coming into the season, with an improved defense and a healthier Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings should be better on offense this season with a better offensive line and a more balanced game plan, but their defense has several key players over 30 and likely won’t be as good as they’ve been in recent years. Aside from their takeaways, their defense struggled to stop the Falcons from moving up and down the field week 1, allowing a 43.28% first down rate and only winning the first down rate battle by 1.61%. The Packers’ offense didn’t look great week 1, but that was on the road in Chicago, who still has arguably the best defense in the NFL. They’re the more talented team in this matchup and should be favored by more than a field goal. I’m going to keep this at a medium confidence bet until we get clarification on David Bahktiari’s status, but even if he does end up sitting the Packers still have a good shot in this game. 

Update: Bahktiari is expected to play and yet this line has dropped to 2.5, so I’m moving this up to high confidence. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -7, so we’re getting significant line value with the Packers. If I was confident Bahktiari was 100%, this would be my Pick of the Week.

Green Bay Packers 24 Minnesota Vikings 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5

Confidence: High

Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

The most eye-popping result of week 1 was the Ravens’ 59-10 win in Miami and Lamar Jackson’s near perfect day as a passer. It came against a Dolphins team with little talent and seemingly little motivation, but Jackson faced a weak schedule of defenses in his starts last season (5 of 8 starts came against teams that finished 24th or worse in first down rate allowed) and never came close to putting up the passing production he put up last week, so he definitely seems improved as a passer from year one to year two. The question of how much he’s improved may not be answered until he faces tougher competition, but week 1 was definitely encouraging for his long-term prospects.

Jackson isn’t really getting that tougher competition this week, with the Cardinals coming to Baltimore. Unlike the Dolphins, the Cardinals should be a somewhat competitive team this season, but they’re still one of the worst teams in the league and they’re missing their two starting cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford with suspension and injury respectively, so their defense isn’t close to full strength.

That being said, I still think this line is way too high at Baltimore -13. Even if Jackson is an improved passer, this team still has significant concerns, especially on defense. Having already lost five defensive starters in free agency, the Ravens are now without cornerbacks Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith as well. Adding Earl Thomas in free agency obviously helps, but he can’t mask their other losses by himself. What was a dominant defense last season could easily be middle of the pack this season, at least against teams other than the Dolphins. If Jackson can perform like he did last week every week, that will mask their losses on defense, but he has yet to show consistency. The Ravens could also overlook the Cardinals a little bit, with a trip to Kansas City on deck. Favorites of 10+ are 63-83 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs. I have this line calculated at Baltimore -7, so we’re getting significant line value with the visitors at +13. This is my Pick of the Week.

Baltimore Ravens 27 Arizona Cardinals 20

Pick against the spread: Arizona +13

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Houston Texans (0-1)

The season is only a week old, but the Jaguars are already pretty beat up. Their biggest injury is the loss of quarterback Nick Foles for a couple months with a broken collarbone. Sixth round rookie Gardner Minshew didn’t look bad last week in relief of Foles, but that was at home, against a Chiefs defense that was one of the worst in the league last season, and it largely came against a prevent defense in a game that wasn’t close most of the way. He’ll face a much tougher test on the road in Houston this week and the Texans will also be better prepared to face him than the Chiefs were, with close to a full game of tape to study and a week to prepare. 

Foles’ injury might be the Jaguars’ biggest, but it’s far from their only serious injury situation. The Jaguars will also again be without blindside protector Cam Robinson after he suffered a setback in his recovery from a torn ACL last week and they’ll be without cornerback AJ Bouye and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, two of their best defensive players. This defense was already a far cry from their 2017 defense before those two injuries. Without those two, the Jaguars will have just four of their top-13 defensive players in terms of played in 2017 active in this game. In their current injury situation, this is one of the worst few teams in the league.

The Texans aren’t a great team, but I think we’re getting line value with them as 8.5 point favorites. We’re not getting a ton of line value, but I have this calculated at Houston -11 and the public seems to be underestimating the Jaguars’ injury situation. Minshew should struggle in his first career road start against a solid defense, while the Jaguars’ defense won’t be much resistance for Deshaun Watson and company. The Texans should win this with relative ease, by double digits. They’re worth a small bet.

Houston Texans 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 12

Pick against the spread: Houston -8.5

Confidence: Medium

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)

Both of these teams lost week 1, but it’s clear there’s a wide talent gap between these two teams. The Panthers loss came against a likely playoff team in the Rams and it was a game that easily could have in a number of different ways. The final margin of victory was just three points and the Rams got the recovery on all four fumbles that occured in the game. The Panthers were the better team in first down rate (37.50% vs. 34.72%) and easily could have been the better team on the scoreboard if the ball had bounced differently. 

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, lost by two touchdowns at home against a so-so 49ers team in a game in which starting quarterback Jameis Winston looked awful. Winston threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, against a team that intercepted just two passes all last season. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent tough to predict, but Winston has been the most turnover prone quarterback in the league over the past 5 seasons. 

The Buccaneers’ defense is unlikely to be good this season, so any projections for an improved Buccaneers team this season have to include an improved Jameis Winston under center. If Winston continues to struggle, this is likely a bottom-5 team. The Panthers, who look like a playoff contender on paper, shouldn’t have much trouble with them at home in Carolina. I have this line calculated at Carolina -10, so we’re getting enough value with the Panthers for a small bet on them. 

Carolina Panthers 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina -7

Confidence: Medium

2019 Week 1 NFL Pick Results

2019

Total Against the Spread: 6-9-1

Pick of the Week: 0-1

High Confidence Picks: 3-1-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 1-2

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 4-4-1

Low Confidence Picks: 0-1

No Confidence Picks: 2-4

Upset Picks: 1-2

2018

Total Against the Spread: 154-102-11 (59.74%)

Pick of the Week: 10-6-1 (61.76%)

High Confidence Picks: 21-13-2 (61.11%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 41-27-1 (60.14%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 72-46-4 (60.66%)

Low Confidence Picks: 35-28-1 (55.47%)

No Confidence Picks: 47-28-6 (61.72%)

Upset Picks: 25-17-1 (59.30%)

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 851-719-48 (54.08%)

Pick of the Week: 61-41-3 (59.52%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 406-296-19 (57.63%)

Upset Picks: 133-155-1 (46.19%)