Pete Prisco's NFL Week 2 picks: Panthers roll over Buccaneers, Packers edge Vikings behind improved defense
The first week of the NFL season was kind of a dud.
The play was spotty, the tackling was bad and the games, aside from a handful, weren’t as good as expected.
Let’s get on with Week 2.
There are a lot of good matchups this week, games with big intrigue like the Minnesota Vikings playing at the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints playing at Los Angeles against the Rams in a rematch of the NFC title game from last January.
I went 9-6-1 straight up with my picks last week, which isn’t close to being good enough. I picked a few upsets, but they didn’t come through.
This week, I mostly like the home teams to win outright. Let’s hope that win total gets to double-digits this week.
Buccaneers at Panthers (-6.5)
The Bucs had turnover issues again last week against the 49ers. That has to change. But it won’t be easy to do here on a short week on the road. Carolina played a solid game against the Rams and being home on a short week here helps. Panthers take it.
Pick: Panthers 27, Bucs 17
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This a long trip for the Cardinals, but they showed some life coming from behind to get a tie last week against the Lions. Kyler Murray impressed in the second half. Lamar Jackson was sensational against Miami. Can that continue here? You bet. Ravens win it.
Pick: Ravens 30, Cardinals 20
49ers at Bengals (-1)
The 49ers are playing consecutive road games outside the division, which is always tough. They showed up last week at Tampa behind the defense. The Bengals impressed in losing a close one at Seattle. I think their defense will come up big here again. Bengals take it.
Pick: Bengals 23, 49ers 20
Chargers (-2.5) at Lions
The Lions will be playing their home opener, which will make for a tough challenge for the Chargers. They had some defensive issues last week against the Colts. The Chargers are the better team and I think Philip Rivers will light up the Lions.
Pick: Chargers 24, Lions 20
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Vikings at Packers (-2.5)
This is one of the best games of the weekend. The Packers will be more rested after playing on Thursday. Their offense was awful against the Bears, but I think it’s better here. Both defenses are top notch. This could be a low-scoring game, but I think the home team will take it behind their defense.
Pick: Packers 19, Vikings 16
Rookie Gardner Minshew will be making his first NFL start on the road against a team playing a home opener. That will be tough. But he played well last week in relief of Nick Foles. The Texans looked to have defensive issues against the Saints. But the offense was explosive. Even so, I think the Jaguars slow Deshaun Watson and keep it close.
Pick: Texans 23, Jaguars 20
This has all the makings of a blowout. But the Patriots have traditionally had issues in Miami. Will that factor here? No chance. The Dolphins are a mess and Tom Brady will carve them to shreds. This will be tough to watch. Kids should cover their eyes.
Pick: Patriots 40, Dolphins 10
The Bills are playing consecutive road games in the same stadium after beating the Jets last week. They came from behind in the fourth quarter to do so. The defense was outstanding. I think that continues here. The Giants are a mess. The Bills go to 2-0.
Pick: Bills 21, Giants 16
The Steelers looked awful in losing to the Patriots, but this is their home opener and you can bet they will be focused after losing the way they did. Seattle showed some problems in beating the Bengals, which will be in play here – mainly their poor offensive line play and bad secondary play. The Steelers will get their first victory of the season.
Pick: Steelers 30, Seahawks 20
Colts at Titans (-3)
The Titans pulled off an upset last week beating the Browns on the road. The defense was impressive. The Colts are playing consecutive road games, which is tough. The defense had issues against the Chargers and I think that will carry over here. The Titans will go to 2-0.
Pick: Titans 21, Colts 17
The Cowboys were dominant on offense last week, with Dak Prescott coming up big with four touchdown passes. It will be tougher on the road against a better defense, but I still think the offense will roll. The Redskins will hang around at home, but in the end the Cowboys will get a tough road victory.
Pick: Cowboys 26, Redskins 23
The Raiders impressed against the Broncos – especially on defense. That unit was suffocating at times. Now they face a real challenge in that Kansas City offense. Can they slow down Patrick Mahomes? I don’t think so. Chiefs will roll again to another road victory, even without Tyreek Hill.
Pick: Chiefs 32, Raiders 20
Bears (-1) at Broncos
The Broncos were dreadful in their opening loss to the Raiders, but Chicago wasn’t much better. Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky has to bounce back here, but the Denver defense does as well. I am leaning toward the Denver defense getting back on track. Upset.
Pick: Broncos 21, Bears 14
Saints at Rams (-3)
This rematch of the NFC Championship Game will be fun. Both teams can score. I would expect to see a passing duel between Drew Brees and Jared Goff. Brees isn’t as good on the road as he is at home, which is why I think the Rams will win a close one.
Pick: Rams 35, Saints 28
This should be a fun shootout. The Falcons looked lifeless last week in the first half in their loss to the Vikings. The Eagles did as well, but rallied in the second half to beat the Redskins. The Falcons can’t handle going 0-2 to start the season, so they will find a way to win a shootout. Matt Ryan gets the best of Carson Wentz.
Pick: Falcons 33, Eagles 30
Browns (-2.5) at Jets
Both these teams – and especially their second-year quarterbacks – struggled last week. Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold need to pick up their play. Which one does it here? I think it’s Darnold. Jets drop the Browns to 0-2.
Pick: Jets 23, Browns 20