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Week 2 NFL game picks: Eagles knock off 49ers; Chargers drop Cowboys to 0-2

Gregg Rosenthal went 9-7 straight up and against the spread on his Week 1 NFL picks. How will he fare in Week 2? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of Noon ET on Thursday, Sept. 16 unless otherwise noted below.


New England Patriots
ML: -250 · 0-1
New York Jets
ML: +205 · 0-1
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Patriots -6  | O/U: 42

I'd give the Jets a better chance if I trusted their running game. The Patriots' run defense (and defense overall) didn't look any better in Week 1 than a year ago, despite New England giving up just 17 points to the Dolphins. Even so, this should be a game where Bill Belichick can confuse Zach Wilson into making an over-eager mistake or two. Mac Jones may have less arm strength and speed than Wilson, but he's in a better position to succeed. The Jets' offensive line and secondary are weaknesses the Patriots should be able to attack.

Denver Broncos
ML: -270 · 1-0
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +220 · 0-1
  • WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Jaguars +6  | O/U: 45.5

Trevor Lawrence has never had to bounce back from a regular-season loss before. I'm less worried about his long-term development and more worried about how he'll handle all the varied coverage looks Broncos coach Vic Fangio will throw his way. Denver has already lost key players to injured reserve in wideout Jerry Jeudy and cornerback Ronald Darby, but both injuries come at positions of depth. If the No. 1 overall pick getting outplayed by Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater in consecutive weeks doesn't outline how difficult and situation-dependent playing NFL quarterback is, nothing will.

Buffalo Bills
ML: -180 · 0-1
Miami Dolphins
ML: +155 · 1-0
  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Dolphins +3.5  | O/U: 47.5

This weirdly feels like the biggest game of the week, because the Bills could end up in an early two-game AFC East hole. The Steelers were able to mix coverages and pressure Josh Allen without sending extra rushers, something that the blitz-happy Dolphins probably can't afford to try. The Bills' offensive line could be vulnerable, with stalwart Dion Dawkins struggling in his first game after a serious COVID-19 battle. The Dolphins are also messy up front, and Tua Tagovailoa must show he can win when the play call or his teammate don't win for him. Still, the 3.5-point spread is a bit too rich for such a difficult road test against a well-coached Dolphins squad. 

Philadelphia Eagles
ML: +140 · 1-0
San Francisco 49ers
ML: -160 · 1-0
  • WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Eagles +3 | O/U: 50

Week 1 almost looked too easy for the hard-luck 49ers, so the Football Gods smote them again with brutal season-ending injuries to CB Jason Verrett and RB Raheem Mostert. I still see them as Super Bowl contenders, but this is a tricky matchup. The Eagles showed new schematic wrinkles and variation on both sides of the ball in their Week 1 blowout of Atlanta, making them hard to prepare for. San Francisco looked vulnerable in run defense against Detroit, and this Philly attack is primed to turn into Baltimore North, with Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell running wild on the way to a surprising 2-0 start that gets the Sunday night podcasts buzzing.

Los Angeles Rams
ML: -200 · 1-0
Indianapolis Colts
ML: +170 · 0-1
  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Rams -3.5  | O/U: 48

The easy pick here is to take the Rams to win in Indianapolis after the Seahawks did just that in Week 1. The other easy job here is to play quarterback for the Rams, with receivers streaking open against a Colts team short on quality cornerbacks. Carson Wentz, on the other hand, had to work hard for his yards last Sunday. An Indianapolis squad without a difference-making offensive line (yet?) or an explosive element on offense is not an Indianapolis squad I'm going to pick against quality competition.

Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: -270 · 1-0
Las Vegas Raiders
ML: +220 · 1-0
  • WHERE: Heinz Field (Pittsburgh)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Raiders +6 | O/U: 47

It is absolutely recency bias, but I'm convinced every Raiders game is going to be a three-act drama that keeps fans watching until the end. If nothing else, they look different. The pass rush should be better. The linebackers are definitely ... older. Jon Gruden appears more willing to throw like mad rather than play bully ball. Pittsburgh's pass rush could be the best in football if Melvin Ingram stays healthy, but I'm not feeling this Steelers team as a heavy favorite until seeing some easier throws develop for Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh's receivers are too good to be covered so often in a constricted offense.

Chicago Bears
ML: -140 · 0-1
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: +120 · 1-0
  • WHERE: Soldier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bears -2.5 | O/U: 45

The Bengals' defense has more professionals and more cohesion than it's had in previous years. It's also the latest D to harp on preventing big plays, an approach that mostly worked against Kirk Cousins last week and should work even better against Andy Dalton, who didn't attempt a single throw over 15 yards in his openerJoe Burrow similarly got rid of the ball quickly against Minnesota, except for those five sacks where he was hesitant to leave the pocket. These teams are mirror images, down to their underrated running backs -- Chicago's David Montgomery is showing better burst with every passing season. This result feels cruel to Bengals fans, but there's no revenge game like a Red Rifle revenge game.

Cleveland Browns
ML: -700 · 0-1
Houston Texans
ML: +475 · 1-0
  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Texans +12.5 | O/U: 48

The Browns could not have looked any better in a loss. The Texans could not have looked any better in a win. While Tyrod Taylor and Brandin Cooks can't play as well as they did against the Jags every week, Houston has the recipe to limit opponents' possessions by forcing long drives and embarking on similarly slow ventures down the field. This is the way for talent-poor teams to compete, but ultimately Cleveland has too many weapons emerging (Njoku! Schwartz!) to be held down by Lovie Smith's old-school zone-defense approach.

New Orleans Saints
ML: -180 · 1-0
Carolina Panthers
ML: +155 · 1-0
  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Saints -3 | O/U: 44.5

No team had a better Week 1 performance or a worse postgame injury report than the Saints. No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore, potent pass rusher Marcus Davenport and starting center Erik McCoy are expected to be out this week and possibly beyond. Those injuries, a COVID-19 outbreak among assistant coaches and a swarming young Panthers defense are the latest obstacles for an organization that has been on the road for three weeks. This game features the league's best two running backs and two quarterbacks I'm fascinated to see moving forward. Both defenses figure to generate pressure, but ultimately, I have more trust in the ability of Jameis Winston and the Saints' offensive line to handle it.

Arizona Cardinals
ML: -200 · 1-0
Minnesota Vikings
ML: +170 · 0-1
  • WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cardinals -3.5 | O/U: 50.5

Week 2 may be the most difficult week to pick games all season. With so little evidence available, how can I not close my eyes and see Chandler Jones terrorizing Vikings left tackle Rashod Hill? Arizona's defense was a revelation in Nashville, with a secondary led by Budda Baker and Byron Murphy playing like attack dogs. Minnesota's offense has been scuffling since training camp and this doesn't look like the spot to break out of it. The creative Vikings defense should be fine in the long run, but this is a matchup where sage Cards center Rodney Hudson helps fix pass-protection problems before the snap even happens.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -800 · 1-0
Atlanta Falcons
ML: +550 · 0-1
  • WHERE: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -12.5 | O/U: 52

Rob Gronkowski is suddenly beating safeties on the outside again. Antonio Brown is clearly more comfortable in the Buccaneers' offense and has Tom Brady's trust. Gio Bernard ran a better route to pick up a first down on Tampa's game-winning drive last Thursday than any route by a Bucs running back a year ago. It's unfair for this extraordinarily thin Falcons defensive front coached by Brady's old defensive coordinator (Dean Pees) to face a Tampa team this loaded, healthy and rested.

Seattle Seahawks
ML: -270 · 1-0
Tennessee Titans
ML: +220 · 0-1

Tennessee's pass-protection woes won't necessarily end in Seattle. The Seahawks' pass rush runs deep this year, with 10(!) different players recording a QB hit in Indianapolis. The Titans figure to clean up some of their offensive issues, but the performance of a revamped pass rush led by Bud Dupree and Denico Autry is another early concern. With that said, the Seahawks' road win at Lucas Oil Stadium felt too straightforward for a team led by Pete Carroll. Five-and-a-half points is too much for an organization that specializes in weird wins.

Los Angeles Chargers
ML: -190 · 1-0
Dallas Cowboys
ML: +160 · 0-1
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chargers -3.5 | O/U: 55.5

You would have never known last week was Justin Herbert's first game in his new offense. You would have never known that it was Derwin James' first game back from injury in a new defense. This L.A. squad was ready, and the Chargers were one of my favorite picks this week even before the news came out that DeMarcus Lawrence is out with a broken foot and Randy Gregory is on the COVID list. The Bolts' secondary has enough coverage players to get a few stops, and that should be all Los Angeles needs.

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -200 · 1-0
Baltimore Ravens
ML: +170 · 0-1
  • WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Chiefs -3.5 | O/U: 54.5

The Ravens have started 0-2 only once in the John Harbaugh era, but playing the Chiefs on a short week will test their organizational resolve. Their running game doesn't have its usual flow with a new offensive line and even newer running backs. Their pass rush is even more reliant than usual on aging veterans. Meanwhile, Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu are expected to return for a Chiefs defense that has held Lamar Jackson in check in three wins over the Baltimore QB. With everything pointing toward a Chiefs blowout, the most popular bet of the week will be K.C. covering. I had a whole screed pushing back against that and then the news broke that Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley is likely to be out and I lost my nerve. Prove me wrong, Lamar; I’m sad and not thinking straight!


Green Bay Packers
ML: -550 · 0-1
Detroit Lions
ML: +400 · 0-1

Picking the margin of this game is an exercise in whether you believe what you thought you knew about these teams all offseason, which probably wasn't right, or you believe what you saw last week, which also probably wasn't right. I keep coming back to Detroit's secondary. Lions defensive backs weren't anywhere near 49ers receivers as Detroit fell behind 41-17 last week. The Lions just don't have enough NFL-caliber cornerbacks, and it's unlikely their scheme or pass rush can make up for it.


Washington Football Team
ML: -175 · 0-1
New York Giants
ML: +150 · 0-1

I came away from Week 1 more concerned about both of these teams. And on the Washington side, the worries go beyond Ryan Fitzpatrick's injury. The score might have looked close in the loss to the Chargers, but WFT's bedrock defense was dominated by Los Angeles, even up front. As for the Football Team's offensive line, Charles Leno Jr. and Sam Cosmi were a problem, but can this Giants team take advantage? Edge players aren't a strength for New York. I wouldn't trust either of these conservative teams, shot out of the 1980s, to be a three-point favorite, but I do trust this will be a low-scoring contest. The slight edge goes to the home team with the better vibes. 

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