New York Jets at Cleveland Browns: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

New York Jets (0-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-0)

The Browns won their first game of the season, but they barely won in Carolina against a mediocre Panthers team and there is still a lot of concern around their offense with backup Jacoby Brissett under center. Their defense is still one of the better in the league, but, overall, they’re not much more than an average team, so I think they’re a little overvalued as 6.5-point home favorites over a Jets team which is better around the quarterback than most give them credit for and, as a result, a team which is not one of the worst in the league, as some consider them.

The Jets lost at home by multiple scores to the Ravens last week, but they won the first down rate battle by 5.19% and barely lost the yards per play battle by 0.39, with the game largely being decided by turnovers, special teams, big plays, and the Jets going 2-14 on third down, all of which are not nearly predictive week-to-week as yard and first downs per play. We’re not getting great line value with the Jets, with my calculated line favoring the Browns by 6, but it’s at least some line value and the Jets are also in a better spot, with the Browns possibly looking ahead to the Steelers next week on Thursday Night Football. All-time, favorites cover at just a 42.8% rate before a Thursday Night game. There’s not quite enough here for the Jets to be worth betting, but they’re the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Cleveland Browns 21 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +6.5

Confidence: Low

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

This line, favoring the Eagles at home by two points, suggests the odds makers view these two teams as about even, but I have the Eagles about three points better in my roster rankings, so we’re getting good line value with the Eagles in a game in which they basically just need to win to cover. Overall, the Eagles could be one of the better teams in the league this season, getting better on both sides of the ball this off-season, after finishing 9th in overall efficiency and making the post-season in 2021, and, while the Vikings are a solid team who beat the Packers last week and who could easily make the post-season, I don’t think they’re on the same level as the Eagles. This isn’t a big bet, but I’m pretty confident in the Eagles at anything less than three.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 Minnesota Vikings 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -2

Confidence: Medium

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-1)

The Packers lost by double digits in Minnesota last week, but I’m not worried, for a few reasons. For one, the Vikings are an underrated team who could easily make the post-season this year, with a talented roster, a healthier defense, and a better coached offense, so that wasn’t the upset that it seemed, especially given that it was in Minnesota. The Packers typically don’t play as well outside of Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers having a 10 point QB rating drop on the road that is significantly higher than average, but they’re also a dominant home team, going 50-24 ATS in games started and finished by Rodgers, including 46-19 ATS in regular season games.

The Packers also were missing their two talented starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins and should be healthier on the offensive line going forward. It’s possible Bakhtiari and Jenkins both miss this game and left guard Jon Runyan is questionable as well, yet to clear the concussion protocol, so the Packers could possibly have a worse offensive line situation than a week ago, but Jenkins and Bakhtiari both seem more likely to play than a week ago, so it’s more likely they’re healthier upfront this week compared to a week ago.

The final score didn’t look good in last week’s loss in Minnesota, but, especially given that the Packers’ offensive line wasn’t healthy and that the Vikings were an above average opponent playing at home, the loss was not that bad, as the game was closer than the final score suggested. The Packers actually won the first down rate, with the game swinging on turnovers and big plays, which are not as predictive week-to-week. The Packers also typically have done very well off of a loss with Aaron Rodgers, going 42-21 ATS in his career.

Despite all this, the Packers are only favored by 10 points at home this week against a Bears team that is still arguably the worst in the league, after an off-season demolition of this roster that left them with the least expensive roster in the league and the most cap space in the league in 2023, in the middle of a multi-year rebuild. The Bears may have thrown some people off the scent of how bad they are last week, beating a banged up 49ers team at home in the rain, but that game largely swung on turnovers and big plays as well, with the Bears losing the first down rate and yards per play battle by 0.46% and 1.30 respectively. 

That big upset win also puts the Bears in a bad spot this week, as teams cover at just a 41.6% rate historically after a win as home underdogs of 5 points or more, as teams tend to be overvalued and overconfident in that spot. The Bears still figure to get blown out plenty this season and this game in Green Bay seems likely to be one of those times. I can’t bet the Packers with too much confidence right now given the uncertainty of their offensive line injuries, but this line is also likely to increase if good news comes out about their offensive line and I think that’s more likely than not, so I’m going to lock in at least some bet for now. I may increase this to a high confidence pick depending on which offensive linemen are active for the Packers and where this line ultimately settles. 

Update: Runyan and Jenkins are active and this line is still 10, so I am going to increase this bet.

Green Bay Packers 33 Chicago Bears 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -10

Confidence: High

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (0-0-1) at Denver Broncos (0-1)

Coming into the season, I had the Texans as one of the worst teams in the league. They looked improved from a year ago, but not significantly improved and the Texans were even worse than their 4-13 record suggested a year ago. They lost the first down rate and yards per play battle in 3 of their 4 wins and had an average margin of defeat of 17.2 points per game in their 13 losses, leading to them ranking dead last in efficiency rating by over 5 points over the next worst team the Jacksonville Jaguars, who happened to be the only team against whom they won the first down rate and yards per play battle all season.

The Texans tied their first game of the 2022 season against the Colts, but they lost the first down rate battle by +8.09% and the yards per play battle by +1.35, only playing to a tie because they won the turnover and special teams battles, which are much less predictable than yards and first downs. That game was also at home against a Colts team that is below average without their top defensive player Shaq Leonard. I would still count the Texans among the worst few teams in the league.

Making matters worse, teams typically don’t fare well off of a tie, covering the spread at just a 43.3% the following week, including 31.2% when on the road like the Texans are this week in Denver. The Broncos, meanwhile, are coming off of a close road loss in Seattle, which actually should put them in a good spot, given how their quarterback Russell Wilson has fared off of a loss in his career, going 33-16 ATS the following week. 

However, I don’t think that loss in Seattle was a total fluke. The Seahawks did have the emotional edge playing against their former quarterback at home on Monday Night Football, but the Broncos’ defense was always unlikely to be as good as it was a year ago without former head coach Vic Fangio, which was something that was left out of the analysis of this team by many this off-season, preferring to focus on their offensive improvement with Wilson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos’ defensive woes will get even worse without safety Justin Simmons, who will miss the next few weeks with injury, leaving them without probably their best defensive player. They could also be without their top linebacker Josey Jewell for the second straight week. 

Despite those injuries and last week’s results, this line has barely moved since a week ago, moving from Denver -10.5 only down to -10. I’m still taking the Broncos for pick ‘em purposes because they’re in a better spot, but if Jewell is out, we’re not getting any line value at all with the Broncos, so I can’t take them with any confidence. If Jewell plays, I may bump this up to a low confidence pick, but I can’t see myself betting the Broncos as 10-point favorites in any circumstance this week.

Denver Broncos 31 Houston Texans 20

Pick against the spread: Denver -10

Confidence: None

Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Washington Commanders (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-1)

In my season preview, I thought the Lions could take a step forward this season and would be competitive in most of their games, but I based that on the assumption that they would have better health on the offensive line, which had the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the league if healthy. However, the Lions are going to be without at least a pair of offensive line starters in this game, right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai and center Frank Ragnow, the latter of whom is their best offensive lineman and arguably the best player in the league at his position. 

They’re also without Vaitai’s likely replacement Tommy Kraemer, who is also injured, while left guard Jonah Jackson seems to be on the wrong side of questionable after not practicing at all on Thursday and Friday with a hand injury. The Lions still have arguably the worst defense in the league, so they will need their offense to be at least above average to be a competitive team and, even though they had some offensive success in week one, it’s hard to see that continuing with their offensive line in its current state. Despite that, the Lions are still slight favorites at home over the Commanders, with this line at Detroit -1.5. 

Washington’s defense is without probably its best player Chase Young due to injury, but they will likely get safety Kamren Curl back this week after he missed week one and they’re still a solid unit even without Young, while their offense should be significantly improved this season, with upgrades at quarterback and wide receiver and an offensive line that should be healthier. The Commanders should be favored here on the road against this banged up Lions squad and my numbers suggest they should be favored by close to a full field goal, so we’re getting good enough line value with them at +1.5 for the Commanders to be worth betting. The money line is also a great value at +105.

Washington Commanders 23 Detroit Lions 20 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Washington +1.5

Confidence: Medium

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

The Colts opened the season with a tie in Houston. They fared well in more predictive stats like yards per play differential (+1.35) and first down rate differential (+8.09%), playing to a tie primarily because of special teams and turnovers, which are significantly less predictive, but it was still an underwhelming performance against a Texans team that still figures to be one of the worst in the league and it’s likely a sign of things to come for a team which lost a pair of starting offensive linemen this off-season and which is playing without top defensive player Shaq Leonard, who remains out after off-season back surgery.

This week, the Colts head to Jacksonville to face a Jaguars team which is underwhelming, but which is also a step up in competition from the Texans. The Jaguars lost their first game of the season in Washington, but won the first down rate (+0.20%) and yards per play (+0.61) battle in a 6-point loss in which they lost the turnover battle by two. I think the Jaguars are a little too competitive of a team for the Colts to be getting more than a field goal on the road against them and the Colts are in a tough spot having played to a tie last week, with teams covering at just a 43.3% rate after a tie all-time, which drops at 31.2% on the road. There isn’t quite enough here for the Jaguars to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes and, if this line stays put and injured Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman ends up not playing, I may consider a bet on Jacksonville.

Indianapolis Colts 23 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 2 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

This line favors the Chiefs at home by 4.5 points, suggesting they’re the noticeably better of these two teams. In my season previews, I had the Chargers slightly ahead of the Chiefs and winning the AFC West, but I don’t disagree that the Chiefs are the better team at the moment. They had the better week 1 performance of these two teams, posting the best efficiency rating of the week, on the road in Arizona, impressive even against a banged up Cardinals team, while the Chargers lost the first down rate and yards per play battle at home to the Raiders, winning by 5 points only because they won the turnover battle by 3, which is not predictive week-to-week. 

The Chiefs are also the healthier team right now, with the Chargers missing talented wide receiver Keenan Allen with a hamstring injury he suffered week 1, already without top cornerback JC Jackson, whose free agent addition was a big part of the reason why I expected a significant improvement from the Chargers this season. The Chargers still have fellow off-season addition Khalil Mack and are still overall improved on defense, while their offense is still at least above average even without Allen, but my roster rankings have the Chiefs about three points better than the Chargers right now, so this line is about right. I’m still taking the Chargers because I think a 3-4 point game is more likely than a 6-7 point game, but this is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Los Angeles Chargers 27

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers +4.5

Confidence: None