The first week of the NFL season had its share of surprises. The Washington Football Team and Jacksonville Jaguars both won their season openers despite forecasts that they would be in the running for league’s worst record. The Seattle Seahawks finally let quarterback Russell Wilson “cook” and he responded by completing 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. And the New York Jets lost in disastrous fashion to the Buffalo Bills, falling behind by 21 points in the first half. Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t much of a surprise, but Gang Green was worse than expected.

Another surprise? My best bets went 2-1 last week, giving everyone a reason for optimism.

Our league-projection formula helps determine how often one team should beat another based on actual and projected win rates. That gives us win probabilities for every game, as well as an implied margin of victory — helpful for picking games against the spread.

Here are this week’s prime picks against the consensus point spreads as of Wednesday morning.

San Francisco 49ers (-7) at New York Jets

Pick: San Francisco 49ers -7

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 19 of his 33 pass attempts for 259 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in the defending NFC champion’s surprise loss to Arizona last week, but the Jets are dreadful and should give San Francisco a chance to rebound.

New York’s secondary ranked last in Pro Football Focus’s preseason ratings San San Fand should have trouble keeping up with two-time Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle. San Francisco wideout Deebo Samuel was put on injured reserve on Saturday but rookie Brandon Aiyuk should be back and ready to go in Week 2.

Los Angeles Rams (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles

Pick: Philadelphia Eagles +1

Philadelphia coughed up a 17-0 lead and gave up 27 unanswered points in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Football Team. Quarterback Carson Wentz struggled and was sacked eight times and threw two interceptions, but injuries played a role in the loss. Philadelphia was without running back Miles Sanders, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, defensive end Derek Barnett, wideout Alshon Jeffery and right tackle Lane Johnson.

Johnson will reportedly return for Week 2, giving the Eagles’ offensive line some help when they face Aaron Donald, arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. Johnson was the fourth-highest rated tackle of 2019, per Pro Football Focus, and one of the best run-blocking tackles in the NFL, too.

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7½)

Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -7½

The Steelers’ offense, with Ben Roethlisberger back under center, is already humming along. He completed 21 of 32 passes for three touchdowns and will face a Denver defense that allowed 10 points more than expected based on the down, distance and field position of each play against them in Week 1, per data from TruMedia. Only seven teams were worse in Week 1.

Season best bets record: 2-1.


The three games above represent our best plays of the week because our analysis shows the point spreads are the most divergent from what we expect to happen once the teams take the field. Below, you will find picks for the other games on this week’s schedule. However, trying to pick every single NFL game is something of a fool’s errand. The house wins so often partly because bettors try to make too many plays when the odds aren’t in their favor. Keep that in mind when evaluating the remaining games from the Week 2 slate.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-6)

Pick: Cleveland Browns -6

New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-5½)

Pick: Chicago Bears -5½

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

Pick: Minnesota Vikings +3

Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (-4½)

Pick: Dallas Cowboys -4½

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-6)

Pick: Green Bay Packers -6

Buffalo Bills (-5½) at Miami Dolphins

Pick: Buffalo Bills -5½

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-8½)

Pick: Tennessee Titans -8½

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9)

Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -9

Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals (-6½)

Pick: Arizona Cardinals -6½

Baltimore Ravens (-7) at Houston Texans

Pick: Baltimore Ravens -7

Kansas City Chiefs (-8½) at Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -8½

New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (-4)

Pick: Seattle Seahawks -4

New Orleans Saints (-6) at Las Vegas Raiders

Pick: Las Vegas Raiders +6