The NFL’s 100th season began exactly how the 2018 season finished — with an incredibly tense Thursday night game which saw the Packers defense suffocate the Bears offense to win 10-3. The tone that was set in Chicago carried over to the Lions and Cardinals on Sunday which resulted in a tie for two of the league’s perennial underachievers. Finally, Monday night saw New Orleans pip Houston in a thriller and there was a much needed moral boosting win for Jon Gruden and the Raiders against the Broncos. So what will Week 2 have in store?
Thursday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers – 8:20pm ET on NFL Network, 1:20am BST on Sky Sports/NFL GamePass
Both teams started their campaigns with a defeat, but it’s the Carolina Panthers who will be feeling a lot better about their performance than the Bucs. The Panthers went toe to toe with the defending NFC champions in a close 30-27 loss. Christian McCaffrey stole the show for Carolina on Sunday, rushing for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Although Cam Newton had a disappointing game (239 yards, no TD and 1 INT), he will look to set the record straight against a poor Tampa Bay defense.
It was a messy week 1 for Tampa Bay in a 31-17 loss to the 49ers. Quarterback Jameis Winston had by far the lowest rating of all QBs in week 1 (45.4), throwing for just 194 yards and being picked off three times by San Francisco. If the offense does not perform it is hard to see Tampa winning many games this season.
Pick: Tampa Bay 20, Carolina 34
Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
The Cardinals took until the 4th quarter to show up against the Lions, but show up they did — scoring 18 unanswered points, 15 of those with under six minutes remaining — and all of this with a rookie QB. Kyler Murray became the first Cardinal in franchise history to rack up 300 pass yards in his debut game, a promising start for the first pick in the draft and for a Cardinals offense who ranked dead last in all offensive categories last season.
The Ravens looked fantastic in all areas of their systematic beatdown of the Miami Dolphins. One of the biggest questions heading into the season was whether Lamar Jackson could step back and be a pure pocket passing QB. Against Miami he showed plenty of promise — a perfect passer rating is not bad for a QB playing in just his ninth NFL game. This will be a sneaky good game on Sunday, though expect the Ravens to come out on top.
Pick: Arizona 23, Baltimore 33
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
Dallas produced a statement performance against the Giants in Week 1. Dak Prescott passed for over 400 yards and threw for four touchdowns, posting a perfect passer rating in the process. The good news for Cowboys fans is that they were able to dominate without Ezekiel Elliott making a major contribution.
Washington raced into a 17 point in Philadelphia before collapsing in the second half, but it’s not all doom and gloom for Redskins fans. Quarterback Case Keenum showed much more of his old Vikings form than he showed last season in Denver, passing for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Whilst the result was ultimately disappointing given the position they were in, the Redskins would have taken a lot of heart from their performance in Philadelphia. Expect a close game with the Cowboys.
Pick: Dallas 23, Washington 20
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 1pm ET on CBS, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
The Jacoby Brissett era nearly got off to the perfect start as the Colts lost a heart-breaker to the Chargers. A steady start for Brissett, but his two touchdowns on the road against a playoff caliber team will do wonders for any pre-season nerves he may have had. Brissett now has the weight of Indianapolis on his shoulders following the shock retirement of Andrew Luck, but on Week 1’s evidence he looks likely to rise to the challenge.
What a win for the Tennessee Titans against an overhyped Cleveland Browns. Tennessee has long been overlooked in the AFC despite having one of the NFL’s best defenses — which often allows them to keep even the most difficult of games close. Whilst Brissett and the Colts will pose a challenge, expect the Titans to move to 2-0.
Pick: Indianapolis 14, Tennessee 19
Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
This is a battle between two teams who drastically under performed in Week 1. Whilst Seattle managed to scrape a win, they were massively underwhelming against the Bengals. Although Seattle thrived in the run game a season ago, Chris Carson will have to improve on his 15 carries for 46 yards if Seattle is to be a contender this season. On a positive note Seattle’s pass rush will please Pete Carroll — getting to Andy Dalton on five occasions and constantly pressuring and harassing him throughout their season opener.
It was an ugly Sunday night in Foxborough for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers and Patriots have had many close and exciting showdowns in previous seasons, but looked worlds apart as Pittsburgh could only muster up three points on offense. The defense didn’t look much better either. There were several instances of poor tackling and coverage, particularly the play that allowed Dorsett to be wide open for a 58 yard score. I expect the Steelers’ woes to continue on Sunday.
Pick: Seattle 34, Pittsburgh 28
Buffalo Bills @ New York Giants – 1pm ET on CBS, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
A fantastic road comeback win against the divisional rival New York Jets on Sunday will fill second year quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills with bags of confidence. In similar fashion to the Cardinals, the Bills decided to only show up late in the game, but it was effective and they looked utterly dominant in the 4th quarter. Bills fans will no doubt be excited by a second straight trip to MetLife Stadium.
Not a good day for the Giants in Dallas. Still, Saquon Barkley looked like he will carry his 2018 form into 2019, firing the Giants into a great start against the Cowboys. Sadly for the G-Men, that’s where the good news ends. Daniel Jones made his first appearance late in the game, but his ball security came into question yet again when he fumbled the ball that helped the Cowboys seal the win. Still, this game is a repeat of Super Bowl XXV and history often repeats itself. However, this time it will be the Giants who will miss a last second field goal and whilst the Buffalo Bills won’t be crowned Super Bowl champions, they will (deep breath Bills fans) move to 2-0.
Pick: Buffalo 13, New York 10
San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
It took a while for San Francisco to get going in Tampa but get going they did. Jimmy G and the Niners put up 25 points in the second half and had three touchdowns in the first half hauled back by penalties. Although this will have to change when they play better teams — the early signs are good for Garoppollo and San Francisco.
Whilst the win-loss column doesn’t show it, the Bengals would argue that they were the better team for the most part at CenturyLink Field. Bengals fans would have been pleasantly surprised with their showing in Seattle, but Cincinnati does have a history of starting strong and Seattle starting slow. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals can perform as well against San Francisco as they did against the Seahawks. Expect another high scoring game.
Pick: San Francisco 38, Cincinnati 21
Los Angeles Chargers @ Detroit Lions – 1pm ET on CBS, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
The injury stricken L.A Chargers begun with a hard fought victory over the Colts. Whilst the Melvin Gordon holdout certainly makes the Chargers weaker, they are strong at the RB position and shouldn’t be affected too much by his continued absence. Also expect Rivers and the Chargers to get better and better as the weeks go by — starting this weekend in Detroit.
I was a nightmare finish for the Lions in the desert on Sunday — they blew an 18 point lead in the final quarter to eventually tie with Arizona. The failure to win in Glendale makes this game vitally important for Detroit, who have games against the Eagles and the Chiefs coming up in the not so distant future. A loss here and the Lions could be heading for a winless opening quarter of the season.
Pick: Los Angeles 27, Detroit 17
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on Sky Sports
Minnesota had perhaps one of the most impressive Week 1 wins, dominating who many people expect to be a resurgent Falcons team. The defense looked good as always, restricting Matt Ryan and company to just 12 garbage time points, whilst Kirk Cousins and that running offence didn’t look so bad either. They will have to perform just as well on Sunday against the Packers to get the W.
The Packers defense was one of the biggest surprises of the opening weekend, stifling the Bears to just a single field goal. Although they were playing a vaunted defense in Chicago, Aaron Rodgers will be expected to perform better against an equally good defense in Minnesota. This is a big game for Green Bay — a win would put them 1.5 games ahead of Chicago and the Vikings in what is an ultra competitive division.
Pick: Minnesota 14, Green Bay 24
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans – 1pm ET on FOX, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
Whilst all preseason hope may have evaporated when Nick Foles’s shoulder was slammed into the ground in the opening game, rookie QB Gardner Minshew certainly showed that even despite losing their star QB, the Jaguars will be no pushovers. It is, though, now imperative that the defense steps up — they match up against another explosive offense in Houston in Week 2.
Despite the heartbreaking loss in New Orleans, Deshaun Watson showed once again why he is an elite QB, throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Newly acquired WR Kenny Stills began to repay some of his late season trade value by catching the go ahead score in the last minute of Monday Night Football. Nevertheless, despite losing Jadeveon Clowney, expect the Texans to swarm Minshew and the Jags.
Pick: Jacksonville 13, Houston 34
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins – 1pm ET on CBS, 6pm BST on NFL GamePass
These are two teams that had very contrasting opening weekends. It seemed like New England barely had to get out of first gear in their crushing win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady looked brilliant as always, but it was the defense that stood out as they suffocated Big Ben and co. Three points allowed against the Rams in the Super Bowl, three allowed on SNF — notice a trend?
If there is any consolation for Miami Dolphins fans, it can’t get much worse than last Sunday. Still, a game against the division rival, reigning Super Bowl champions is probably not what you want after a 59-10 home loss. Miami is going to need a lot of Fitzmagic to get anything close to a win against the Patriots, but if so, then who knows? Another ‘Miami Miracle’ might occur. I think not, though.
Pick: New England 38, Miami 9
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders – 4:05pm ET on CBS, 9:05pm BST on NFL GamePass
The Jags defense will be one of the best Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs play this season and they still put up 40 with both Mahomes playing on one foot for large parts and WR Tyreek Hill exiting with a shoulder/collarbone injury. Hill being out for 4-6 weeks does change the dynamic of the offense though — there will undoubtedly be more pressure on Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and rookie WR Mecole Hardman to make up for his lost production.
The Raiders begun their last season in Oakland with a nice divisional win over the Broncos. The win would have come as a welcome relief to Jon Gruden following all of the Antonio Brown drama and it does in some respects feel like a weight lifted from the shoulders of the Raiders’ organisation. Oakland nearly pulled off a win against KC last season, can they get the job done this time around? No. But they will come close once again.
Pick: Kansas City 34, Oakland 31
New Orleans Saints @ Los Angeles Rams – 4:25pm ET on FOX, 9:25pm BST on Sky Sports
By far and away the most anticipated game of Week 2 takes place at the Coliseum. It goes without saying that the Saints will be dying for revenge following the events of January’s NFC Championship game. Drew Brees completed 74% of his passes in a brilliant comeback win over the Texans on Monday night and Alvin Kamara looked good as well, racking up just under 100 yards.
The best way to summarise the Rams’ win over Carolina would be to call it the great escape. Jared Goff had a poor game and will have to be considerably better if they are to beat the Saints. It is vital for the Rams to win this game, especially with it being at home. Additionally, although it may be too early to talk about potential playoff seedings, this could ultimately decide who ends up hosting this season’s NFC title game and if there’s one thing that is absolutely guaranteed — the Rams won’t want to head back to NOLA in a hurry.
Pick: New Orleans 38, Los Angeles 28
Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos – 4:25pm ET on FOX, 9:25pm BST on NFL GamePass
Having been the talk of the NFL throughout the offseason, what a disappointing start for the Chicago Bears. Mitch Trubisky was nothing short of dreadful against the Packers and will have to do better playing in a difficult environment in the Mile High City.
It does not bode particularly well for the Denver Broncos that the only substantial points they could put up against a questionable defense was in garbage time. The Bears defense is not who you want to play just a few days after a lacklustre offensive performance. On the bright side, no one will know the Bears defense better than former Bears DC, and now Broncos HC, Vic Fangio. I expect Chicago will still be too much for Denver to handle though.
Pick: Chicago 23, Denver 10
Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:20pm ET on NBC, 1:20am BST on Sky Sports/NFL GamePass
These two teams have produced exciting but low scoring games in two meetings in the last couple of seasons, with Philly coming out on top in both. Philadelphia will have to ensure they play right from the start — rather than waiting for the third quarter — as they did against Washington on Sunday. The defense will need to be better as well, allowing 27 points to Case Keenum is not a good start to the season.
It was an ugly loss for the Atlanta Falcons in Minneapolis. Although the 28-12 scoreline may suggest otherwise, they were utterly dominated by the Vikings run game. A loss here and the Falcons will drop to 0-2. Too soon to panic? Perhaps, but only 11% of teams starting 0-2 make the playoffs. it goes without saying but a big home win is needed for Atlanta. However, I predict Philly will edge another narrow win over the Falcons.
Pick: Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 24
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns @ New York Jets – 8:15pm ET on ESPN, 1:15 am BST on Sky Sports/NFL GamePass
If they make the playoffs the Browns might look back and believe their Week 1 humbling to Tennessee to be the best thing to have happened to them. But make no mistake, it was a catastrophe for Cleveland, who now find themselves in what is now a must win game. The team simply has too much talent to fail, but there are clear teething problems — Baker Mayfield looked terrible and his receivers were largely ineffective all game. Still, I expect him and Browns to bounce back soon rather than later.
It was all going so well for the Jets before they completely lost their way in a calamitous 4th quarter against the Bills. To make matters worse they will be without QB Sam Darnold for at least two games — who was ruled out on Thursday with mononucleosis. Oh and Le’veon bell has been listed questionable for the game too. Both teams entered the NFL’s 100th season with plenty of promise but one will be 0-2 after two games and that team will be the Jets. B
Pick: Cleveland 30, New York 17