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Week 2 NFL score predictions: A guide to best games, more

Week 2 NFL score predictions: A guide to best games, more

We’re previewing the Week 2 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, ESPN Football Power Index projections from Seth Walder and Hank Gargiulo, and much more.

Jump to a matchup: MIN-GB | CAR-ATL | KC-PIT | PHI-TB | CLE-NO
IND-WSH | HOU-TEN | MIA-NYJ | LAC-BUF | NE-JAX
ARI-LAR | DET-SF | OAK-DEN | NYG-DAL | SEA-CHI


Sunday’s games

Point spread: GB -1 | Matchup quality: 73.8 (of 100)

Courtney Cronin’s pick: Minnesota notched 26 quarterback pressures against the 49ers while its defensive line pushed the pocket to make Jimmy Garoppolo uncomfortable. Even if the Vikings face a less-mobile version of Aaron Rodgers, they know that the QB isn’t going to be a statue in the pocket. Lost in the will-he-or-won’t-he play narrative is how underwhelming the Packers were elsewhere on offense against the Bears, receiving few contributions from their running backs and tight ends. Vikings 26, Packers 22

Rob Demovsky’s pick: The Packers are 95-48 when Rodgers starts and 6-11-1 when he doesn’t. But he has never started a game with a sprained left knee, so if he plays Sunday against the Vikings, who knows how much he’ll be able to do. It could be close if he plays or a blowout if he doesn’t given backup DeShone Kizer‘s propensity for turnovers. Vikings 24, Packers 20

FPI win projection: GB, 60 percent. This prediction assumes Rodgers — the hero of Week 1 — is healthy. Should Kizer be forced to start, FPI would give the Packers just a 43 percent chance to win.

What to watch for in fantasy: Jamaal Williams averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in Week 1, and now he gets a stiff Vikings front that led the league in adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2017. Read more.

In case you missed it: Rodgers can’t walk on water but can play well after injuryVikings prepare for whichever Rodgers they’ll getScouts: Vikings better everywhere but QB


Point spread: ATL -6 | Matchup quality: 59.5 (of 100)

David Newton’s pick: Cam Newton might think he’s Superman, but playing without Greg Olsen (foot) and a new right side of the offensive line with Trai Turner (concussion) likely out and Daryl Williams (knee) definitely out might be too much even for him to overcome. The defense will keep this one close, and cornerback James Bradberry will contain Julio Jones. But in the end … Falcons 20, Panthers 17

Vaughn McClure’s pick: Although the Falcons are without Deion Jones (foot surgery) and Keanu Neal (ACL) and could be without Devonta Freeman (knee), they have enough to compensate, particularly on offense. Jones had a career-best 300-yard game vs. the Panthers in 2016, and Matt Ryan is destined to rebound at home after a shaky opener at Philadelphia. Falcons 24, Panthers 20

FPI win projection: ATL, 65 percent. It might be early, but no game has a higher potential playoff impact than this one. Carolina would jump to 57 percent with a win and drop to 33 percent with a loss. The Falcons would climb to 50 percent with a win and drop to 25 percent with a loss. The combined leverage for this matchup is 48 percent.

What to watch for in fantasy: Olsen’s absence boosts Devin Funchess‘ fantasy outlook. In nine games Funchess has played with Olsen sidelined, he has averaged 14.19 fantasy points on 7.78 targets per game. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: For true respect, Newton, Ryan need to put a ring on itRookie Thomas on fast track to replace Olsen


Point spread: PIT -4 | Matchup quality: 57.9 (of 100)

Adam Teicher’s pick: The Chiefs haven’t matched up well against the Steelers in recent years. Pittsburgh has dominated up front — the Steelers have 514 rushing yards in the past three matchups to 176 for the Chiefs — and controlled Kansas City’s high-scoring offense (the Chiefs have 43 points in the three games). That won’t change this season. Steelers 27, Chiefs 23

Jeremy Fowler’s pick: The Steelers have won six of their past seven against the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill has averaged 4.84 yards per touch in the past three matchups with Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger will be eager to find his rhythm at home, and the Chiefs’ inexperienced secondary should help. Steelers 30, Chiefs 27

FPI win projection: PIT, 65 percent. The Chiefs had the best special-teams week of any team last week — Hill had a punt return for a touchdown — which is great in the moment, but less predictable than offense or defense. Going forward, FPI still isn’t quite sold on K.C.

What to watch for in fantasy: Sure, Patrick Mahomes picked up two TD throws on short shovel/flip passes in Week 1. But here’s why he should be started on the road in Pittsburgh. Read more.

In case you missed it: Le’Veon saga 2.0: Torn locker room, wasted $853K, free agency outlookA better test for Chiefs comes against Steelers


Point spread: PHI -3.5 | Matchup quality: 53.5 (of 100)

Tim McManus’ pick: Still no Carson Wentz, but the Eagles’ offense should get going in Tampa. Mike Wallace noted this week that the Bucs play a lot of “quarters” defense, which he views as the ideal coverage to get deep balls. Nick Foles might air a few out against a banged-up Tampa secondary after playing conservatively Week 1. The Eagles’ defensive front, meanwhile, will make it tough for Ryan Fitzpatrick to get his “magic” going. Eagles 27, Bucs 13

Jenna Laine’s pick: Can the Bucs replicate last week’s offensive firepower and Fitzpatrick’s “Fitz-Magic” against the Eagles’ vaunted defense? More importantly, can the defense that gave up 40 points and struggled against the Saints anticipate Doug Pederson’s gadget plays? They did enough last week to earn a vote of confidence here. Bucs 28, Eagles 26

FPI win projection: PHI, 60 percent. It looks like there is still some magic left in Fitzpatrick’s arm, as he posted his highest single-game Total QBR since 2015. The Eagles’ defense will provide a tougher challenge as it has allowed the second-lowest Total QBR against since the start of last season.

What to watch for in fantasy: Tampa Bay allowed the most fantasy points to slot receivers in Week 1. This bodes well for Nelson Agholor, who aligned inside on 54 percent of his Week 1 routes. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: Ajayi to be ‘workhorse’ for EaglesMonken’s watchful eye benefiting Bucs offenseHow Foles nearly joined Bucs


Point spread: NO -8.5 | Matchup quality: 48.3 (of 100)

Pat McManamon’s pick: The Browns’ defense gave up touchdown drives of 88, 74 and 39 yards to Pittsburgh and now on the road has to face a Saints team angered by an embarrassing home loss in its opener. That’s not a good formula for a team whose quarterback went 15-of-40 passing in the opener. Saints 31, Browns 16

Mike Triplett’s pick: I’m surprised the Saints are nearly double-digit favorites for the second straight week. Their defense had trouble containing Ryan Fitzpatrick in the pocket in Week 1, and now it has to deal with Tyrod Taylor — not to mention dangerous receiving threats such as Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon and Duke Johnson Jr. Fortunately, the Saints can trump that with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, who just set a franchise record with 16 catches in Week 1. Saints 30, Browns 25

FPI win projection: NO, 74 percent. Though the Saints lost in Week 1, the Brees-Thomas connection was nearly perfect. The duo completed 16 passes on 17 attempts, and Brees’ raw QBR when targeting Thomas was 99.4.

What to watch for in fantasy: Gordon managed just one catch on three targets while playing on 78 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps in Week 1. Should he be started in Week 2?

In case you missed it: How the highly touted Saints secondary came back to earthBrees heaps praise on MayfieldBrowns seek to maintain post-1999 perfection in New Orleans


Point spread: WSH -6 | Matchup quality: 47.2 (of 100)

Mike Wells’ pick: The Colts have started the season 0-2 for four consecutive years. They’re about to extend that streak to five. Field conditions could play a factor in the game because of possible heavy rain due to Hurricane Florence. Colts coach Frank Reich believes poor field conditions favor the offense, and that’s where the Redskins will have the edge because of their running game. Washington rushed for 182 yards in Week 1 against Arizona. Redskins 21, Colts 17

John Keim’s pick: The Redskins have a chance to be 2-0 for the first time since 2011, with upcoming games vs. Green Bay and New Orleans. They need the momentum. Washington’s running game looked as creative and diverse as it ever has been under coach Jay Gruden, and that will give the Colts trouble. Redskins 24, Colts 17

FPI win projection: WSH, 70 percent. Washington was one of FPI’s biggest movers of the week, jumping 11 spots to 11th overall in large part because of the second-highest offensive efficiency of Week 1. In his first start back from injury, Andrew Luck posted a 75.9 Total QBR, which was higher than all but one of Jacoby Brissett‘s starts in 2017.

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Darren Woodson and Tedy Bruschi discuss why Redskins have too many weapons for Andrew Luck and the Colts.

What to watch for in fantasy: Despite the addition of Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle is still the Colts tight end you want to play every week in daily fantasy. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: Tough early schedule means Colts must find footing fastSmith carries out transformation of Redskins’ run game


Point spread: HOU -1.5 | Matchup quality: 43.4 (of 100)

Sarah Barshop’s pick: Deshaun Watson lit up the Titans for five touchdowns in their last matchup. The secondary will be tested by Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, especially when Watson is able to break the pocket and buy extra time. The pass rush had trouble getting to the quarterback last week, getting only one sack in the season opener. They’ll need a better effort this week, but the Texans will end up with the close win. Texans 24, Titans 17

Turron Davenport’s pick: The Texans’ pass rush had a hard time getting to Tom Brady early in the season opener, but it improved in the second half. The Texans will look more like that team against Marcus Mariota, who could be playing behind an offensive line that is not at full strength. This won’t be a blowout like the last time Watson faced the Titans, but he will lead the Texans to a victory to avoid starting the season 0-2. Texans 21, Titans 17

FPI win projection: TEN, 57 percent. Deshaun Watson was pressured at a league-high 54 percent rate in Week 1, and a lot of that might have been on him. Watson had the second-longest time before a pass (3.4 seconds) among QBs last weekend.

What to watch for in fantasy: Can you trust Lamar Miller after a strong Week 1? He was on the field for 54 of Houston’s 71 offensive snaps and handled 26 of the 33 pass routes run by the running backs. Read more.

In case you missed it: Watson, Texans hope to recapture magicVrabel’s specialty will be key against former team


Point spread: NYJ -3 | Matchup quality: 34.8 (of 100)

Cameron Wolfe’s pick: The Jets are riding the high of a prime-time blowout road win over Detroit, but this is still the same team we had a lot of question marks about to start the season. Miami’s pass-rush duo of Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn should have more success against the Jets offensive line, and the Dolphins secondary might be able to fool Sam Darnold into a few turnovers on Sunday. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore should lead the Dolphins to a road upset. Dolphins 20, Jets 19

Rich Cimini’s pick: Darnold, blitzed only four times and contacted just twice by the Lions in the opener, will have a tougher time against a Miami defense that will take some chances. Wake is an absolute Jets killer — 10.5 career sacks and four forced fumbles. The Jets have lost seven of their past 10 at home to Miami. The Jets are on a short week and haven’t proved they can handle prosperity. Dolphins 23, Jets 20

FPI win projection: NYJ, 62 percent. No team received a stronger FPI rating upgrade after Week 1 than the Jets, who blew out the Lions. Darnold posted a Total QBR of 84.2 in his debut, which ranked third among all quarterbacks.

What to watch for in fantasy: Is Quincy Enunwa back on the fantasy radar? He was targeted 10 times in Week 1, which was seven more than any other Jets player. Robby Anderson got only one target. Read more.

In case you missed it: Bowles tries to contain Darnold hype (too late)Landry’s departure puts Stills in Miami’s No. 1 slotTrust, not rust: Tannehill fills Dolphins with confidence


Point spread: LAC -7.5 | Matchup quality: 25.9 (of 100)

Eric D. Williams’ pick: The Chargers face the Bills for the second consecutive year, with Buffalo’s quarterback — rookie first-round pick Josh Allen — making his first NFL start. The Bills hope Allen’s debut does not go as badly as last season, when Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of his debut. The Chargers are the better team and hungry for their first win after a humbling defeat to the Chiefs at home in their season opener last week. The Chargers have defeated the Bills in their past three meetings. Chargers 27, Bills 20

Mike Rodak’s pick: Joey Bosa, who pressured or hit Peterman on all five of his interceptions last season, will not play Sunday. Neither will Eric Wood and Richie Incognito, the Bills’ two best offensive linemen from last season’s game, who both retired. With Allen making his first career start, the Chargers still have the advantage. Chargers 27, Bills 17

FPI win projection: LAC, 70 percent. It didn’t take long for the Bills to hand the reins to Allen. FPI sees Allen as a substantial improvement over Peterman. Had Buffalo stuck with Peterman, FPI would have given the Bills a less than 20 percent chance to win.

What to watch for in fantasy: Top Bills corner Tre’Davious White won’t be shadowing Keenan Allen much this weekend. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: The Bosa effect: Chargers need more pass rushHanding job to Allen not likely to solve Bills’ problems


Point spread: NE -1 | Matchup quality: 72.8 (of 100)

Mike Reiss’ pick: Leonard Fournette’s tweaked hamstring is a huge development in favor of the Patriots. Couple that with encouraging signs from the Pats’ pass protection against a tough Texans defense in the opener — which they’ll need against an equally impressive Jaguars defense in an electric environment — and it’s enough for me to take the plunge. Patriots 23, Jaguars 17

Michael DiRocco’s pick: Even if Fournette is able to play, he’s unlikely to be at full strength, which has a huge impact on the Jaguars’ offense. Coach Doug Marrone said this is the best T.J. Yeldon has looked in his four seasons with the team, but he’s not Fournette. The defense’s No. 1 priority is limiting Rob Gronkowski, and they are the one team in the league that has the personnel to do that. Jaguars 17, Patriots 14

FPI win projection: JAX, 50.2 percent. Jacksonville’s high-profile defense got off to a solid start, ranking fifth in efficiency in Week 1 against the Giants. Obviously, Week 2 is a tougher test.

What to watch for in fantasy: Phillip Dorsett ran a route on 37 of the Patriots’ 41 pass plays in Week 1. The massive playing time in an offense led by Tom Brady means Dorsett has vaulted onto the fantasy radar. Read more.

In case you missed it: Tracing Patriots’ 20 WR transactions since camp beganTeammates say Jack is a budding starFowler: Facing Patriots a great chance to prove I’m eliteGronk draws some motivation from Ramsey trash talk


Point spread: LAR -13 | Matchup quality: 50.2 (of 100)

Josh Weinfuss’ pick: The Cardinals managed just six points on 213 yards of total offense in Week 1 against Washington. This week they’ll face one of the best defenses in the league. The Rams allowed 13 points and just 95 rushing yards on Monday night. Everywhere the Cardinals’ offense looks, it will find a star facing it. It’s a mismatch everywhere on the field. Rams 42, Cardinals 17

Lindsey Thiry’s pick: The Rams’ offense scored 23 unanswered second-half points in Week 1 against Oakland. This week, Aaron Donald looks to rebound from an unsatisfactory performance, and Ndamukong Suh has it out for Sam Bradford, who was picked No. 1 in 2010 while Suh went No. 2. Rams 32, Cardinals 14

FPI win projection: LAR, 86 percent. Not only does FPI now consider the Rams the best team in football, but Los Angeles is the most likely team to win the Super Bowl (18 percent), too.

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Darren Woodson and Tedy Bruschi explain why the Rams will be too much for the Cardinals to handle.

What to watch for in fantasy: It has gotten to the point where 23.7 PPR points is average for Todd Gurley. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: Suh has put a target on Bradford15 years of amazing catches as told by Fitzgerald’s 18 QBs


Point spread: SF -6 | Matchup quality: 43.6 (of 100)

Michael Rothstein’s pick: Never mind the 31-point blowout the Lions suffered in Week 1, this game was going to be a tough one for Detroit regardless because of the schedule and San Francisco’s talent. The Lions will look more competitive than they did against the Jets, but the Niners will manage to find a way to win late, sealing it with a Jimmy Garoppolo touchdown pass. Niners 30, Lions 20

Nick Wagoner’s pick: San Francisco isn’t taking Detroit lightly and expects to see a much better version of the team that was blown out last week. Still, some of the things the Niners struggled with last week against the Vikings’ tough defense shouldn’t be as difficult this time out. Garoppolo’s familiarity with Lions coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme should help him bounce back from his first loss as an NFL starter. Niners 34, Lions 24

FPI win projection: SF, 74 percent. Jimmy G in Week 1 posted his lowest single-game Total QBR (13.1) in a start, but that was on the road in Minnesota. Now he gets a home game against FPI’s 27th-ranked defense.

What to watch for in fantasy: George Kittle had five catches for 90 yards — and left a massive big play on the field with a dropped touchdown — in Week 1. He should be a prominent part of this passing game going forward. Read more.

In case you missed it: 49ers sorting through RB situationWhy next game is critical for Patricia, Lions


Point spread: DEN -6 | Matchup quality: 31 (of 100)

Paul Gutierrez’s pick: The last time Derek Carr played in Denver, he suffered three broken bones in his back, and he looked unsure in the pocket on Monday night. Why should this change now? If the Raiders can get a deeper passing game going with Amari Cooper and/or Martavis Bryant, that would help. Otherwise, it will be a long afternoon for Oakland in the Mile High City. Broncos 17, Raiders 13

Jeff Legwold’s pick: The Broncos repeatedly lined up Von Miller across from Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi last Sunday, and Miller repeatedly disrupted what the Seahawks were doing. If Miller succeeds against Oakland’s Donald Penn in a similar fashion, the Broncos will control this one. Broncos 24, Raiders 16

FPI win projection: DEN, 64 percent. The (new) Gruden era didn’t start well, and an 0-2 start would drop the Raiders’ playoff chances to just 5 percent. Denver could stake a claim in the playoff race with a 2-0 start as its chances would jump to just over 25 percent.

What to watch for in fantasy: Need to stream a quarterback in Week 2? Case Keenum showed last week that he can have success outside a Pat Shurmur-led offense. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: Are hits, injuries weighing on Carr’s mind?Elway meets Gruden again, 20 years later


Point spread: DAL -3.5 | Matchup quality: 48.1 (of 100)

Jordan Raanan’s pick: Odell Beckham Jr. had more than 100 yards receiving, and Saquon Barkley had more than 100 yards rushing in Week 1. That led to only 15 points against a strong Jaguars defense. The Cowboys aren’t at Jacksonville’s level. The Giants will enjoy even more success against Dallas’ defense on Sunday night. Giants 24, Cowboys 17

Todd Archer’s pick: Since 2015, Eli Manning has thrown for more than 220 yards against the Cowboys only once. He has as many games with no touchdown passes (three) as he has touchdown passes against Dallas. He has been intercepted five times and sacked 11 times. For the seventh time in Jason Garrett’s eight years, the Cowboys will open 1-1 after two games. Cowboys 26, Giants 17

FPI win projection: DAL, 71 percent. The Giants are just 9-15 in NFC East games since the start of the 2014 season. Manning has a 39.6 Total QBR in his past four games against the Cowboys, though he didn’t have the services of Beckham in either matchup last season.

What to watch for in fantasy: Sure, Barkley’s Week 1 was mostly about the electrifying touchdown run, but there’s no reason to expect less in Week 2. Read more.Insider

In case you missed it: How Elliott’s evolution starts with patienceCowboys’ salary-cap mismanagement is wasting PrescottBarkley, Elliott continue their rivalry, friendship in the NFLFlowers not off to strong start, admits: ‘Got to get better’


Monday’s game

Point spread: CHI -3.5 | Matchup quality: 42.8 (of 100)

Brady Henderson’s pick: The Seahawks will be without No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin and linebacker K.J. Wright. The Seahawks, however, still have the clear edge at quarterback with Russell Wilson. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 22-4-1 in prime-time games and 7-1 on Monday night. Seahawks 27, Bears 23

Jeff Dickerson’s pick: Pass-rusher Khalil Mack figures to be even better in Week 2. And if Chicago’s offense can show marginal improvement, the Bears have a good opportunity to get coach Matt Nagy his first win as a head coach. Bears 20, Seahawks 17

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Darren Woodson and Tedy Bruschi discuss Monday night’s game between the Bears and Seahawks.

FPI win projection: CHI, 58 percent. A home loss would drop the Bears’ chances at the postseason to just 9 percent. An 0-2 start for Seattle, meanwhile would peg them at a 14 percent chance to make the playoffs.

What to watch for in fantasy: Is Will Dissly a must-add following his 105-yard debut? In deep leagues and dynasty, yes. In season-long 10- and 12-team leagues, no. Read more.

In case you missed it: Thomas takes on bigger role, but how long will it last?Bears defense runs out of gas, but when tank is full, look out

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