Here are my Week 2 picks with confidence level selections. The picks with a confidence level of 1-6 will be available for all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The picks with a 7+ confidence level, a group of selections that have netted a 62-18 record over the past two seasons, will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers. Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheatcode to beat the sportsbooks over the last five years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Now let’s get to this week’s picks!
(Note: The references to matchup points totals refer to my matchup points grading system that measures the relative strength of a rush or pass defense matchup on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being the most favorable).
NY Giants at Washington
KC’s pick: Washington | Confidence level: 4
The injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick may end up being a blessing in disguise, as Taylor Heinicke led the Football Team to 375 total yards on offense as a fill-in quarterback in last year’s NFC Wild Card playoff game against the dominant Tampa Bay defense. The Giants have more offensive talent than Washington on paper, but Saquon Barkley will still likely be on a pitch count, their offensive line is terrible, Evan Engram will not play in this contest, and Kenny Golladay may still be shaking off some injury rust. Combine those factors with this being a short week road contest for the Giants and the Football Team is the pick in this one.
Cincinnati at Chicago
KC’s pick: Cincinnati | Confidence level: 3
The key to this contest is the Chicago defense. The Bears were a dominant platoon on that side of the ball for years, but that is not the case anymore, as their pass defense gives Cincinnati 82 matchup points. Chicago’s offense may be better than what it showed against the Rams, as Los Angeles might be the best defense in the NFL, but the Bears are still ill suited to keep up with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon and company if this turns into a high scoring game, so the Bengals are the selection here.
Buffalo at Miami
KC’s pick: Buffalo | Confidence level: 3
The Bills have won five straight in this series, with the latest victory in that stretch being a 56-26 obliteration to close out the 2020 regular season. Miami does have one of the best defensive play calling minds in Brian Flores and has plenty of talent on that side of the ball, but the Dolphins did not fare as well against the Patriots as it might seem at first glance, as Miami allowed an offense with subpar receivers and a rookie quarterback in his first NFL start to score on 50 percent of its drives. That is an ominous omen when facing Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and the rest of the powerful Bills offense, so Buffalo gets this pick by a reasonable margin.
San Francisco at Philadelphia
KC’s pick: Philadelphia | Confidence level: 4
Power rushing is what comes to mind when thinking about the 49ers offense, but San Francisco actually struggled at run blocking last week, as they posted a meager 24 percent mark in my good blocking rate (GBR) metric that measures how often an offense gives its ball carriers quality run blocking. The 49ers still managed to post 131 rushing yards due to some big gains when they did get quality run blocking, but they will need to do a lot better than that to get the ground game going this week. Combine that potential hindrance with the Eagles superb 63.3 percent GBR in Week 1, Jalen Hurts mastery of Nick Sirianni’s short-pass centric offense, and this being a cross country early kickoff game for San Francisco and Philadelphia is the preferred option.
Denver at Jacksonville
KC’s pick: Denver | Confidence level: 4
It’s got to be tough to be Urban Meyer right now. He doesn’t want to have Trevor Lawrence throw the ball 51 times as happened last week, but the Jaguars defense is so atrocious that he has no choice. Meyer is inexplicably trying to move as many carries as he can away from James Robinson, one of the best backs in the league at reading defensive fronts, and in doing so ends up giving nine carries to journeyman Carlos Hyde. Meyer even has to deny any interest in a USC job that might better suit his talents. Denver isn’t a great team, but they have a topflight running back tandem, a quarterback who knows how to efficiently pilot this offense and could be getting Bradley Chubb back in the lineup. It’s more than enough to overcome the east coast trip for the Broncos, so rate them as the pick.
Minnesota at Arizona
KC’s pick: Arizona | Confidence level: 6
Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL in the past quarter century. He also has an elite running back who should allow Zimmer to slow games down and thus augment his defensive game plans. So, it has to be incredibly frustrating for Zimmer to see his defense give up 27 points and 149 rushing yards to Cincinnati while also allowing Ja’Marr Chase to post the second highest first-game rookie receiving total in Bengals history. Arizona’s offense is at least two steps up from Cincinnati’s, as Kyler Murray started his MVP case by accounting for five touchdowns in the blowout win at Tennessee. This matchup will give Zimmer even more headaches and thus leans fairly heavily in the Cardinals direction.
Dallas at Los Angeles Chargers
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 4
The Chargers were able to put up 334 net passing yards last week despite having an early kickoff east coast road matchup against a tough Washington defense and not throwing a single pass in the direction of Austin Ekeler. This week they get to host a Dallas defense that ranked next to last in pass pressure rate in Week 1 and just lost defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a foot injury. The Cowboys offense can easily turn this game into a shootout matchup that will be a 50/50 proposition for them to win but being on the road and facing a stout Chargers defense will offset some of the upside of going that route, so Los Angeles is the favored option.
New Orleans at Carolina
KC’s pick: New Orleans | Confidence level: 6
Carolina saw what a difference a single superstar can make to an offense last week. They tallied 381 net offensive yards against the Jets, a pace that the Panthers equaled or topped only four times last year in Christian McCaffrey’s absence. New Orleans showed that they are going to be one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL, as by the two-minute warning of the first half against the Packers, the Saints had run the ball 24 times and threw only 12 times despite having a slim 10-0 lead by that point. Carolina has a huge coverage weakness in Donte Jackson, so New Orleans will also be to throw more often, which should put fear into the Panthers since Jameis Winston tallied five passing touchdowns on only 20 attempts in Week 1. It is more than enough to push this selection into the Saints column.
Kansas City at Baltimore
KC’s pick: Kansas City | Confidence level: 6
Baltimore just can’t keep the injury bug from biting them. They lost their top three running backs and best cornerback before Week 1 and then saw starting left guard Tyre Phillips get carted off the field in that contest. Marquise Brown was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday and Jason La Canfora is reporting that left tackle Ronnie Stanley may end up missing this matchup. The Ravens couldn’t even slow the mediocre Raiders passing attack, as Las Vegas racked up 409 passing yards. To make matters worse, Baltimore was powerless against Darren Waller, as they allowed him to tally 10 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown on an insanely high 19 targets. Kansas City has won four straight against the Ravens and comes into this game healthy, so look for the Chiefs to make it five straight in this battle.
KC’s 7+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 62-18 over the past two seasons, are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.