NFL
September 17, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

NFL Best Bets: Week 2

The first week of the NFL season is in the books, and it was as crazy as we expected.

Who could have imagined that the mighty 49ers would drop their season opener after going to the Super Bowl last season or that Mitchell Trubisky would lead an amazing fourth-quarter comeback? On top of that, the Washington No Names pulled off a stunning upset while the Jaguars, who many expected to be the worst team in the league, started the season with a win.

It turned out to be a rough week for making picks, but now that we have more information on each team, here are the best betting options for Week 2 of the NFL campaign.

Pittsburgh Steelers -7.5 vs Denver Broncos

In fairness, the Broncos played well Monday night. Drew Lock missed a few throws but he also made some nice plays. The Denver defense, even without Von Miller, did a nice job of playing bend-but-don’t-break defense, forcing the Titans to settle for a lot of field goals. However, traveling to the East Coast on a short week is not going to be good for the Broncos, especially on a short week. This feels like the kind of game that isn’t going to go well for Broncos coach Vic Fangio and his young quarterback.

Pittsburgh was far from perfect against the Giants, but they eventually pulled away. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t seem to have that much rust as he tossed three touchdown passes. Perhaps more importantly, Diontae Johnson looked like a viable No. 2 receiver while rookie Chase Claypool flashed some potential.

If the Broncos have to worry about more than JuJu Smith-Schuster, they could have a tough time keeping the Pittsburgh offense under wraps. This is a game the Steelers are poised to win by double digits. But act quickly because the line is growing by the day.

New York Giants +5.5 at Chicago Bears

Trubisky shocked the world by unfurling three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to lead his Bears to an improbable comeback win over the Lions in Week 1. But is that the real Trubisky? Where was that during the first three quarters of the game when the Bears managed just two measly field goals? After a somewhat miraculous four-point win over the Lions, it’s a little hard to buy the Bears as 5.5-point favorites, even at home.

Meanwhile, the Giants deserve the benefit of the doubt. They had a difficult task in facing the Pittsburgh defense without any preseason games to help in their preparation. If not for an unfortunate interception at the goal line, Monday’s game would have been much closer.

The Chicago defense might not be as good as advertised, either. The Bears allowed old, but still dynamic Adrian Peterson to rush for 93 yards, which bodes well for the Giants getting Saquon Barkley going. If Barkley can find some running room, the pressure will be off Daniel Dimes and he’ll have a chance to keep the Giants in the game and at least beat the spread.

Green Bay Packers -6 vs Detroit Lions

On paper, there was a little bit of optimism for the Detroit defense this season. But if they got picked apart by Trubisky in the fourth quarter last week, how are they going to stop a resurgent Aaron Rodgers for four quarters? Based on Week 1, Rodgers might have one more MVP season left in the tank. Granted, he was overly reliant on Davante Adams at times, but if the defense can’t stop it, why go away from it? Plus, Rodgers connected with both Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdez-Scantling for a touchdown, and if he trusts his secondary receivers, he’ll be throwing three or four touchdown passes on the regular. 

On the other hand, the Green Bay defense gave up plenty of points as well. That could leave the door open for Matthew Stafford to keep up in a shootout with Rodgers. After all, Stafford is better suited for that kind of game than Kirk Cousins. However, with Kenny Golladay and some key members of the Detroit secondary banged up, everything is leaning the Packers' way as they should cover the spread.

Philadelphia Eagles +1 vs Los Angeles Rams

Surely, the Eagles can’t be as bad as they looked in the second half when they allowed Washington to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit. Games in which Carson Wentz turns the ball over three times are going to be rare. There’s also a chance that Miles Sanders returns from injury this week, and even if he’s on a pitch count, things will be looking up for the Philadelphia offense. 

Meanwhile, the Rams weren’t overly impressive in Week 1, as they needed a little good fortune from the refs to secure a win over the Cowboys. Jared Goff was fine in Week 1, but he didn’t have a touchdown pass and didn’t have much going in the passing game outside of Robert Woods. Of course, we can’t forget that the Rams are a West Coast team playing an early game on the East Coast. Despite being 3-1 in those situations last season, those wins came against the Panthers, Browns, and Falcons.

In a virtual PK, look for the Eagles to avoid starting 0-2, even if it’s an ugly win for the birds.

Buffalo Bills -5.5 at Miami Dolphins

It was hard not to be impressed by the Bills in Week 1. The final score doesn’t do justice to how much Buffalo dominated that game. Predictably, Stefon Diggs is just what the Buffalo offense needed, as he helped Josh Allen throw for over 300 yards. Meanwhile, the Buffalo defense wreaked havoc as usual. If the Bills could do that at home without fans in attendance, they should have no problem taking their act on the road to Miami, where a lack of fans has been more common over the last couple of years.

Granted, it's a Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game and he tends to play well against his old team. But after throwing three picks last week, it’s not as if he can play any worse. Even more concerning than Fitzpatrick’s picks is that Miami’s rushing attack failed to produce much. Despite his touchdown, Jordan Howard had more carries than yards. It won’t be any easier for the Dolphins on the ground against the Buffalo defense than it was running against the Patriots.

With the Bills having a more lethal passing attack than the Patriots (not a typo), the Dolphins will be hard-pressed to keep this game close in the fourth quarter, so look for the Bills to cover on the road.

Photo: Getty Images