NFL Picks Week #2 (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #2)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Tuesday September 17th, 2020 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
The 5-star pick was a winner last week! And so was the 4-star play!
In both cases, we had taken a fairly big underdog that eventually won the game outright: the Arizona Cardinals (as 7-point underdogs in San Francisco) and the Washington Redskins (as 6.5-point underdogs vs Philadelphia).
If not for Detroit’s epic fourth-quarter collapse, the picks rated 3 stars or higher would have gone a perfect 4-0.
Let’s keep rolling!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM +6.5 AT ARIZONA CARDINALS
What?!?!? Last week my top play went to Arizona, and now in Week #2 my favorite bet goes against them?
There is something about this Washington team. They went through many negative news over the past few months. First, it was reported there was a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination within the organization, which started with the owner Daniel Snyder.
Also, the team has a lackluster roster with few big names. Heck, the team doesn’t even have a name right now! Even their head coach is facing an uphill battle as he was diagnosed with cancer.
Washington trailed 17-0 against the Eagles, which didn’t surprise many people. Then, somehow, Washington stormed back with 27 unanswered points. Rivera was hooked to an IV during halftime, and quarterback Dwayne Haskins took the opportunity to deliver an inspiring speech that motivated the whole team.
I don’t believe this win was a fluke. Washington’s motivation and focus will go a long way towards surprising many people this year. Make no mistake about it; this game won’t be a cakewalk for the Cardinals.
Four defensive linemen from Washington picked up 5 QB pressures or more last week. That’s impressive! Given how weak Arizona’s offensive line is, there will often be Washington defenders in the backfield disrupting plays. To top it all off, center Mason Cole is questionable to play, while left tackle D.J. Humphries is nursing a lower-body injury.
Also, Arizona’s defense is not scaring anyone. They did a fine job last week in San Francisco, but keep in mind the Niners were lacking playmakers, especially at the wide receiver position. Granted, Washington is not loaded on offense either, but they do have a couple of game breakers with Terry McLaurin and rookie Antonio Gibson. Dwayne Haskins is also progressing nicely after a rough start to his NFL career a year ago.
I expect a very tight game. Arizona might come away with the win, but it won’t be easy at all. I like this play quite a bit.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): TENNESSEE TITANS -8.5 VS JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
I smell a blowout here.
Most bookies have a spread of 8.5 or 9, but bwin has 8 right now, which is nice value in my opinion.
The Jags shocked the Colts 27-to-20 last week. But did you look at the numbers? Indy picked up 27 first downs versus just 17 for Jacksonville. The Colts outgained their opponent 445 to 241 in terms of total offensive yards. Clearly, the Jags were helped by Philip Rivers’ two interceptions.
That’s unlikely to happen against a smart Tennessee team. Coming into the season, remember that Jacksonville was projected to be the league’s worst team. They have a pretty bad roster.
Also, Jacksonville’s two starting safeties may miss the game. Jarrod Wilson has already been declared out, while Josh Jones is questionable. The #9 overall pick from this year’s draft, cornerback C.J. Henderson, may not be available either due to a concussion. Ryan Tannehill must be licking his chops.
Granted, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson is out for Tennessee. But that’s about it in terms of significant injuries for the Titans.
It wasn’t easy for Tennessee in Week #1, as they came away with a 16-14 win in Denver. If not for Stephen Gostkowski missing three field goals and one extra point, the Titans would have won 26-14. Now playing a much weaker Jacksonville team, I’ll predict a 20-point win favoring the Titans.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): NEW YORK GIANTS +5.5 AT CHICAGO BEARS
Last summer, the Bears were established as 5-point favorites for this matchup in very early NFL lines.
Considering the lack of fans, home teams should now be less favored. This has been reflected in most Week #2 meetings, but not here. The Giants should be 3 or 3.5-point underdogs.
An inflated line would be reasonable if the Giants had done significantly worse than expected in Week #1, or if the Bears had done an exceptional job in their first match. But that has not been the case.
Daniel Jones did a good job against the stout Steelers defense last Monday night. That’s very encouraging for the kid. The good news is he will also get one of his top targets back on the field, Golden Tate. He missed the season opener due to a hamstring injury, but he has a good chance to suit up this Sunday.
Saquon Barkley could not get going at all against Pittsburgh. He has a chance to explode this week after seeing the Bears allowing 4.8 yards per carry to the Lions last week.
I also like how the Giants defense matches up against the Bears. New York’s defensive line is very effective against the run. That should force Chicago to throw the ball more, and I don’t trust Mitchell Trubisky to light up the scoreboard.
For these reasons, I am taking the Giants to cover the 5.5-point spread.
PICK #4 (2 STARS): KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -8.5 AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Do you really want to bet against the Chiefs with three extra days of rest, following their Thursday night matchup with the Texans? I don’t.
In injury news, K.C.’s best cornerback, Charvarius Ward, is likely out with a fractured hand. That’s the main reason why this pick is not rated higher. Center Austin Reiter was recently upgraded from questionable to probable with a knee injury, so that’s reassuring.
On the Chargers side, they have a couple of offensive linemen whose status is uncertain: center Mike Pouncey and right guard Trai Turner. To make matters worse, their star defensive end Joey Bosa has an injured triceps, but he should be in the lineup. However, linebacker Drue Tranquill is out for several weeks.
In Week #1, the Chargers barely beat the Bengals, a game they could have easily lost if not for a questionable offensive pass interference penalty awarded to A.J. Green in the final seconds of the game. Los Angeles did not impress me one bit, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The difference between Patrick Mahomes and Tyrod Taylor is huge, and the surrounding cast in Kansas City is also much better.
The only advantage the Chargers hold is with their defense, whom I believe is slightly better. However, they’ll have trouble keeping up with the Chiefs offense who should have no problem scoring many points. Meanwhile, the Chargers offense won’t be able to keep up the pace.
PICK #5 (1 STAR): LOS ANGELES RAMS PICK’EM AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Man, the injuries are just piling up for the Eagles!
First, they had lost for the entire season two important pieces on the offensive line: Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard.
Now, safety Will Parks, defensive end Vinny Curry and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are out several weeks.
The following players are tagged as questionable for Week #2: DE Brandon Graham, LT Jason Peters (that would be a massive blow!), DT Javon Hargrave and RB Boston Scott.
Finally, we’ve got a few more guys listed as probable: DE Derek Barnett, RT Lane Johnson (what??? Another offensive lineman on the injury list?) and RB Miles Sanders. These players are likely to play this weekend, but they won’t be 100%.
Meanwhile, the only player worth of note appearing on the Rams’ injury list is tight end Gerald Everett, but he has a strong shot to be available.
In other words, there is a GIGANTIC gap between the two teams’ health. I don’t believe the injuries are being properly accounted for in the current line. The Eagles were 4-point favorites during the summer. Given the lack of fans, the point spread should be down to about 2 or 2.5.
So, basically, the line was adjusted an additional 2-2.5 points due to a combination of injuries and the performance of both teams last week. That’s not enough, in my humble opinion.
The Rams played a very solid game against the Cowboys. Keep in mind that Dallas is among one of the Super Bowl favorites. Jared Goff was very accurate, and he has good weapons around him with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett.
Their running game surprised me too, especially Malcolm Brown. I thought he might end up being the #3 running back behind rookie Cam Akers and 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson, but the undrafted runner out of Texas got the most touches and ran very well. Indeed, he rushed 18 times for 79 yards and scored a couple of touchdowns.
With all the injuries on Philly’s offensive line, Carson Wentz is guaranteed to have nightmares every single night this week when thinking about what Aaron Donald might do to him this Sunday.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN WEEK #3 EARLY NFL PICKS?
I recently posted a very important article about the importance of placing NFL bets early in the week, as opposed to waiting until Friday-Saturday-Sunday.
I strongly encourage you to read it here.
In short, I’m arguing that you should try to beat closing lines instead of trying to pick winners.
Well, that’s exactly what I’m striving to do. As soon as Week #3 lines will be available (most likely Sunday night), would you like me to send you my early NFL picks directly in your mailbox?
If so, subscribe to my mailing list below. I’ve already got more than 100 people signing up last week.
For your information, I sent the following two early plays for Week #2:
- Bills -4 @ -117 odds at Dolphins. Right now, Pinnacle has Buffalo -4 @ -131 so we are indeed beating the line so far.
- Browns -6 @ -103 odds vs Bengals. Right now, Pinnacle has Cleveland -6 @ -104 so we have not beaten the line, but we’re not getting beat either. Stay tuned.
Have a nice weekend, and don’t forget to subscribe to my exclusive mailing list (I might even send you picks on player proposition bets!).
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)