The NFL football season hits the second week of the season when we all ask ourselves if Week 1 meant a lot in terms of indicating how well teams will play for the rest of the year. Was Week 1 a mirage, or did it identify the true nature of teams across the NFL? Week 2 is the week when we begin to get answers to these necessary questions, Will the surprise losers bounce back or fall to 0-2? Will the strong Week 1 winners move to 2-0 and consolidate the gains they made? Let’s look at five games that will say a lot about the emerging balance of power in pro football this season.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
Odds: Patriots -6
The Patriots are smarting after a brutal one-point home loss to the Miami Dolphins in which they committed a red-zone fumble. Those who betonline know that Mac Jones was not terrible in his NFL regular-season debut, but he also failed to get the Patriots’ offense humming with efficiency. Scoring just 16 points at home will not cut it, and there is clearly a lot for Jones to learn as he settles into the Patriots’ starting job.
In Week 2, the Patriots face a must-win game. If they lose to the lowly Jets, they will fall to 0-2 without having played a game against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots would be in a position where the division championship immediately becomes a long shot, which is not where any NFL team wants to be after only two weeks. The Patriots would immediately become an enormously disappointing underachiever if they fail in this game.
The New York Jets continue to be hit by injuries this season. They suffered a few important injuries in summer practice, and now they have offensive lineman Mekhi Becton on the shelf for at least four weeks with an injury suffered in Week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers. The Jets’ offense was predictably bad against Carolina, with the offensive line failing to protect No. 2 NFL draft pick Zach Wilson.
It will be hard enough for Wilson to learn how to play in the NFL even when he is getting decent pass protection. It is not easy to pick up the NFL game after playing in college. However, if Wilson cannot receive decent pass protection, it will be nearly impossible for him to evolve. This reality was reaffirmed against the Panthers, and the Patriots certainly have the defense which can make Wilson’s life miserable in Week 2. New England might not score a ton, but it can certainly win this game on defense.
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Odds: 49ers -3
The Philadelphia Eagles were playing a bad Atlanta Falcons squad, but they still went on the road and scored a blowout victory. That was more than what people were expecting. Quarterback Jalen Hurts had a solid season opener. Nearly everyone on the Eagles played well, setting the right tone under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni. The Eagles, however, now face a proven NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers. It’s true that the 49ers gave up 16 points in the span of roughly 90 seconds to the Detroit Lions in their season opener. Leading 41-17 late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers collapsed and watched the Lions nearly tie the game in the final seconds.
That won’t sit well with San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan. However, that late collapse by the Niners might get their attention for this week in Philadelphia. The 49ers have Nick Bosa back from last year. They have a number of impact players back in the fold after getting crushed by injuries in 2020. Their secondary is shorthanded, but the quality of their front seven should enable them to contain Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense. On offense, scoring 41 points in Week 1 in Detroit should give Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance ample confidence that they can score big again in Week 2 and move to 2-0 for the season. They look like the better choice for your NFL predictions.
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Odds: Steelers -5.5
This is a fascinating game, given that the Raiders came from behind to beat Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. Will the Raiders possibly move to 2-0? Pittsburgh shut down the Buffalo Bills in what probably rates as the best defensive performance of Week 1.
What has to make Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin especially happy is that the Steelers plummeted on defense in 2020 after pass rusher Bud Dupree was hurt. With Dupree now playing for the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers needed to show they could play well on defense without him. They certainly answered questions about how good they can be in 2021 by handling Josh Allen and the rest of the Bills’ high-octane offense. The Raiders have a reputation for being a very up-and-down team, a team that is the opposite of consistent and predictable. Las Vegas has a lot of talent and upside, but the Raiders do not generally play well when a lot is expected of them.
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Odds: Cardinals -3.5
This seems like a game the Cardinals should dominate, but it is worth pointing out that from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen to Dalvin Cook, the Vikings do have talent. They simply have a tough time putting that talent together. It’s hard to know when the Vikings will turn on the jets and perform at a high level. On balance, the Cardinals’ 38-13 win over the Titans in Tennessee makes them a team to watch in the NFL this year. Arizona has a higher ceiling than the Vikings and should be able to win this game handily.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Odds: Saints -3
The Saints played one of the best games of Week 1. The Cardinals probably were the only team that played as well as New Orleans. The Saints crushed the Green Bay Packers and looked dominant on defense, smothering Aaron Rodgers in a complete 60-minute masterpiece. Now the Saints will find out if they can maintain that same high level of defense against Sam Darnold and the Panthers. They don’t have to be explosive on offense. As long as their defense is playing to its potential, the Saints can achieve a lot in the NFC South. Their the better option for NFL game betting purposes in this spot.