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NFL Week 2 Preview: Best Games, Best Bets, Predictions

by Kyle Wood/ September 14, 2023 at 8:31 a.m.

The NFL Week 2 schedule is upon us, with a pair of Monday nighters on the docket. However, neither of those tilts make our list for the top five games of the week.

Overall, its tough not to highlight a pair of AFC matchups between four teams that made the playoffs last season in the Chiefs and Jaguars, and the Ravens and Bengals. In each case, the AFC championship game participants are attempting to avoid 0–2.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are coming off a 40–0 crushing of the Giants, and now get the Zach Wilson-led Jets on a short week. Its a brutal spot for Gang Green.

Heres the breakdown of our five favorite games with picks afterward, along with our final thoughts.

1. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars played Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in last years postseason. Sundays game could be another playoff preview.

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

  • Game info: Sunday, Sept. 17 | 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • Location: Everbank Stadium | Jacksonville, FL
  • Spread: Chiefs -3.5 (+100) | Jaguars +3.5 (-125)
  • Moneyline: KC (-161) | JAX (+135)
  • Total: 51.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Kansas City and Jacksonville will play for the third time in the past 11 months. Patrick Mahomess Chiefs got the better of Trevor Lawrences Jaguars in the regular season, 27–17, and again in the divisional round, 27–20. Both of those games were played at Arrowhead Stadium but this Week 2 matchup will take place at EverBank Stadium, where the defending Super Bowl champs are road favorites coming off a Week 1 Thursday night loss to the Lions.

Mahomes exited early with an ankle injury when these teams met in January, only to return for the second half and gut out a victory. The Chiefs were favored by 9.5 points in both games last season over the upstart Jaguars, one year removed from picking No. 1 in consecutive drafts.

The Jaguars beat the Colts, 31–21, on the road in Week 1 but it took two unanswered fourth-quarter touchdowns to avoid an upset. Calvin Ridley caught eight passes for 101 yards and a score in his first game since October 2021, exhibiting an instant connection with Lawrence. Conversely, Kansas City suffered a season-opening defeat to Detroit without two of its top players, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs expect the disruptive Jones (contract holdout) and sure-handed Kelce (knee) to be on the field Sunday.

Jacksonville has lost seven in a row to Kansas City, which hasnt dropped back-to-back games since September 2021.

Matt Verderames pick: Chiefs -3.5, Over 51.5 (Kansas City 34, Jacksonville 27)

Gilberto Manzanos pick: Jaguars +3.5, Over 51.5 (Kansas City 33, Jacksonville 30)

Kyle Woods pick: Chiefs -3.5, Over 51.5 (Kansas City 30, Jacksonville 24)

2. Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

A win in Cincinnati Sunday would give the Ravens a 2-0 record and drop the rival Bengals to 0-2.

Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports

  • Game info: Sunday, Sept. 17 | 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • Location: Paycor Stadium | Cincinnati, OH
  • Spread: Ravens +3.5 (-118) | Bengals -3.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: BAL (+145) | CIN (-188)
  • Total: 45.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

Cincinnati fell flat on its face in a Week 1 loss, its third season-opening defeat in four years with Joe Burrow under center. Still, the back-to-back AFC North champs are favored at home against Baltimore, their toughest competition in the division as of late.

The Bengals played uninspired football throughout their 24–3 loss to the Browns. Burrow threw for 84 yards, and Tee Higgins didnt have a catch. Meanwhile, the Ravens rolled the Texans, 25–9, but they looked largely unimpressive in the process. Lamar Jackson coughed up two turnovers and Houston outgained the home team.

Baltimore rolls into Ohio shorthanded with J.K. Dobbins (Achilles) out for the year and Marcus Williams (pec) out as well. Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) and Ronnie Stanley (knee) are reportedly expected to be unavailable and the status of Mark Andrews (quad) and Marlon Humphrey (foot) is unknown—they both missed the Cleveland game. Those injuries will put the Ravens up against it on the road against a Bengals team thats won four of the past five meetings, including a wild-card playoff game in January.

Verderames pick: Ravens +3.5, Under 45.5 (Cincinnati 22, Baltimore 20)

Manzanos pick: Ravens +3.5, Under 45.5 (Baltimore 23, Cincinnati 20)

Woods pick: Bengals -3.5, Under 45.5 (Cincinnati 24, Baltimore 20) 

3. Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

Aidan Hutchinson and the Lions defense kept the Chiefs in check last week and hope to fare better against the Seahawks than they did last season.

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

  • Game info: Sunday, Sept. 17 | 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • Location: Ford Field | Detroit, MI
  • Spread: Seahawks +5.5 (-118) | Lions -5.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: SEA (+200) | DET (-250)
  • Total: 47.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Seattle put up 99 points on Detroits defense over the past two years. The Seahawks left Ford Field with a 48–45 win last October and scored a 51–29 victory at Lumen Field at the tail end of the 2021 season. For their part, 79 points is nothing to laugh at for the Lions offense, but their defense was comical in those two games.

These NFC foes are coming off wildly different Week 1 performances. Detroit announced its arrival with a 21–20 upset road win over Kansas City to kick off the 2023 season. Its defense limited the reigning league MVP, who was without his top target and dealt with a litany of drops, and scored on a pick-six. Days later, Seattle allowed 23 unanswered points in a 30–13 blowout loss at home to the Rams. Seahawks tackles Abraham Lucas (knee) and Charles Cross (toe) both left the game early, as did receiver Tyler Lockett (concussion). Both tackles are questionable.

The Lions have an opportunity to show their defensive is for real against an offense that has run up the score on them in recent years. Meanwhile, the Seahawks look to avoid their first 0–2 start under Pete Carroll since 2018.

Verderames pick: Seahawks +5.5, Over 47.5 (Detroit 29, Seattle 24)

Manzanos pick: Seahawks +5.5, Over 47.5 (Seattle 27, Detroit 24)

Woods pick: Seahawks +5.5, Over 47.5 (Detroit 31, Seattle 27)

4. New York Jets vs. Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense pitched a shutout in Week 1.

Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

  • Game info: Sunday, Sept. 17 | 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • Location: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
  • Spread: Jets +9.5 (-118) | Cowboys -9.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: NYJ (+340) | DAL (-450)
  • Total: 39.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

This game took on a different tenor when Aaron Rodgers went down Monday night with a season-ending Achilles injury. The spread ballooned from Dallas by a field goal to being tied for the largest of the week. Of course, the Jets still went on to beat the Bills in overtime, 22–16, in dramatic fashion on a walk-off punt-return touchdown, but even that huge win paled in comparison to the Cowboys 40–0 drubbing of the Giants 24 hours earlier.

Dak Prescott vs. Zach Wilson is definitively not Prescott vs. Rodgers. The focus of the matchup now switches to these two elite defenses, one of which pitched a shutout, forced three turnovers and piled up seven sacks while the other allowed 16 points, came away with four turnovers and logged five sacks. Running backs Tony Pollard and Breece Hall figure to play big roles in this matchup as both offenses look to limit turnovers against these opportunistic secondaries.

For what its worth, the Jets were installed as an underdog of seven-plus points three times last season. They went 3–0 against the spread in those games and came away with two outright wins.

Verderames pick: Cowboys -9.5, Under 39.5 (Dallas 23, New York 13)

Manzanos pick: Cowboys -9.5, Under 39.5 (Dallas 24, New York 13)

Woods pick: Jets +9.5, Under 39.5 (Dallas 20, New York 13)

5. Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Rookie running back Bijan Robinson hopes to help the Falcons get off to their first 2-0 start since 2017,

John David Mercer/USA Today Sports

  • Game info: Sunday, Sept. 17 | 1 p.m. ET | Fox
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, GA
  • Spread: Packers -1.5 (-110) | Falcons +1.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: GB (-125) | ATL (+100)
  • Total: 40.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Green Bay and Atlanta both thumped divisional opponents in Week 1 and now enter Week 2 with heightened expectations. Jordan Love was excellent in a 38–20 win over the Bears, proof that the Packers still own their NFC North foes, while rookie Bijan Robinson and an improved Falcons defense led the way to a 24–10 triumph against the Panthers.

Atlanta left its win largely unscathed but Green Bay could be without Aaron Jones (hamstring) and Quay Walker (concussion). The star running back and linebacker accounted for three of the teams five touchdowns. Second-year receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) also missed the season opener and is questionable for Sunday.

This is one of the tightest lines of Week 2 and it has flip-flopped back and forth—at one point, it was a pick em. It seems that movement has settled, for now at least, and Matt LaFleurs young team will be a road favorite yet again. Keep an eye on the injury report as kickoff approaches.

Verderames pick: Packers -1.5, Under 40.5 (Green Bay 23, Atlanta 17)

Manzanos pick: Packers -1.5, Over 40.5 (Green Bay 27, Atlanta 24)

Woods pick: Falcons +1.5, Over 40.5 (Atlanta 24, Green Bay 23)

Final thoughts

Verderame: Look for some of the leagues best to bounce back in a major way in what should be tight games. The Chiefs and Bengals are both trying to avoid 0–2 starts while facing quality teams, and both the Jaguars and Ravens are without key starters up front.

Manzano: This is the week to take the points. Seattle might have overlooked the Rams without wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Expect Geno Smith to get the Seahawks offense back on track for a potential shootout against the Lions—the two teams combined for 93 points last season. The Chiefs will be angry after they let one get away against the Lions, but the Jaguars are at home and they have Trevor Lawrence on their side.

Wood: The pair of AFC playoff rematches are definitely the two best games this weekend, but I have my eye on the Seahawks-Lions and Packers-Falcons matchups in the NFC. Detroits defense has an opportunity to further prove its mettle against Seattles offense and a 2–0 start for Atlanta or Green Bay would go a long way toward a playoff push.

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