One-stop shop for every Week 2 NFL game: Picks, storylines, key stats, bold predictions

One-stop shop for every Week 2 NFL game: Picks, storylines, key stats, bold predictions
  • PublishedSeptember 16, 2023


The Week 2 NFL schedule for the 2023 season is stacked with great matchups, and we have you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game and a bold prediction for each matchup.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with game projections. Analytics writer Seth Walder picks out each matchup’s biggest X factor, and fantasy analyst Eric Moody hands out helpful fantasy football intel. Finally, Walder and Moody give us final score picks for every game. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Week 2 slate, including an AFC North battle between Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson, an all-rookie QB battle in Houston and Zach Wilson and the Jets having to withstand the Cowboys’ fearsome pass rush. It all culminates with a “Monday Night Football” double feature, including a matchup between the Browns and the Steelers on ABC/ESPN+. (Game times are Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Jump to a matchup:

Thursday: PHI 34, MIN 28

1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: CIN -3 (46.5)

Storyline to watch: This one will have early AFC North implications. The Bengals are looking to avoid an 0-2 start to the season and have health and home-field advantages. A Baltimore win gives the Ravens a strong start in their pursuit to end Cincinnati’s two-year run as division champs. — Ben Baby

Bold prediction: Jackson will run for more than 100 yards for the 13th time of his career. The Ravens will be without two of their best offensive linemen in left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), which means Jackson will have to scramble to get away from pressure. Last Sunday, the Bengals allowed Browns QB Deshaun Watson to rush for 45 yards on five carries. Jackson has a history of success running the ball against Cincinnati, averaging 83.1 yards rushing in seven career games. — Jamison Hensley

Stat to know: Including the playoffs, three of Burrow’s four lowest Total QBR games in 2022 came against the Ravens.



How long will it take for Lamar and the Ravens to click on offense?

Dan Orlovsky and Damien Woody break down what Lamar Jackson and the Ravens need to do in Week 2 to shine on offense.

Matchup X factor: Ravens backup offensive linemen Patrick Mekari and Sam Mustipher. These two might have to fill in for Stanley and/or Linderbaum, who both suffered injuries in Week 1. If they can fill in well — Mekari was pretty good last year — the Ravens should have the much better offensive line in this game. — Walder

Injuries: Ravens | Bengals

What to know for fantasy: The chemistry Jackson and Zay Flowers had during training camp and the preseason carried over into the regular season. Flowers gained 54 yards after the catch, the second most in a rookie receiver’s first career game since 2020. Flowers had nine receptions for 78 yards. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Jackson is 10-1-1 against the spread (ATS) as a regular-season underdog (8-4 outright). Out of 330 quarterbacks to be underdogs at least 10 times in the Super Bowl era, Jackson has the second-best outright record in that role behind Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is also an underdog this week. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Bengals 28, Ravens 24
Walder’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 16
FPI prediction: CIN, 51.5% (by an average of 0.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Ravens’ new-look offense looking to rebound from underwhelming debutOT Collins a free agent after Bengals release him off PUPRavens staying in-house to replace DobbinsBurrow throws for career low in Browns loss

1 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: ATL -1 (40.5)

Storyline to watch: While these teams haven’t played since 2020 — and haven’t played in Atlanta since 2017 — there are familiarities here. Falcons coach Arthur Smith and Packers coach Matt LaFleur worked together in 2018 in Tennessee, and Atlanta assistant coach Jerry Gray coached the Green Bay secondary the past three seasons. Might that help Atlanta against Green Bay’s wide receivers? “If I was out there playing, it would,” Gray said. He won’t be, although the ties between parts of both staffs should be interesting for both sides. — Michael Rothstein

Bold prediction: The Packers will hold the Falcons under 100 total rushing yards. Yes, Atlanta leads the NFL in designed rushing yards (144.3 per game) since the start of last season. But the Packers’ run defense might not be as bad as it looked in Week 1. The unit that ranked 26th in the NFL last season gave up 122 yards rushing in Week 1 to the Bears, but 59 of those yards were to quarterback Justin Fields. Green Bay actually limited the Bears to 2.8 yards per designed rush, according to ESPN Stats & Information. — Rob Demovsky

Stat to know: Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder has thrown zero interceptions in his first five career starts (3-2 record). He could become the first quarterback to throw zero picks in the first six starts since starts were first tracked in 1950.

Matchup X factor: Packers linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker. The Packers will need to stop the Atlanta run game and make Ridder throw the ball. Campbell and Walker will be key to that process. — Walder

Injuries: Packers | Falcons

What to know for fantasy: Don’t underestimate the Packers’ defense. Even though Green Bay wasn’t perfect there, it was much better stopping the run. Fields, D’Onta Foreman, Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson accumulated only 3.3 yards per carry. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Packers are 41-26 ATS under LaFleur (.612), the best mark in the NFL since 2019 (minimum 40 games coached). Read more.

Moody’s pick: Packers 24, Falcons 20
Walder’s pick: Packers 30, Falcons 17
FPI prediction: ATL, 51.5% (by an average of 0.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: ‘Everybody respects him’: Jones the perfect match for LoveFalcons shrug off being over .500 for first time since 2017

1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: KC -3.5 (51)

Storyline to watch: How will the Jaguars handle Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, assuming he plays? He had 20 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the two meetings last season, both Chiefs victories. Various players will draw Kelce at times — including linebacker Devin Lloyd and safety Andre Cisco — but the key to keeping him from doing too much damage is limiting his yards after the catch. He had the third-most yards after catch in the NFL last season (643). — Mike DiRocco

Bold prediction: Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones will collect a couple of sacks against Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That seems a lot to ask in his first game since the Super Bowl, but Jones has played well against the Jaguars. He had 1.5 sacks of Lawrence during a regular-season game last year and even had the only interception and touchdown of his career against a pre-Lawrence Jacksonville team in 2018. — Adam Teicher

Stat to know: The Chiefs are looking to avoid becoming only the fifth defending Super Bowl champion to start a season 0-2. Of the previous four, only one made the playoffs, but that just happened to be the 1993 Cowboys, who went on to win their second straight Super Bowl.

Matchup X factor: Jaguars offensive tackle Anton Harrison. The rookie posted a 71% pass block win rate in Week 1, fourth worst among tackles. If the Jaguars are going to keep up with the Chiefs’ offense, Lawrence is going to need better protection. — Walder

Injuries: Chiefs | Jaguars

What to know for fantasy: The Chiefs are normally disciplined, but they were sloppy against the Lions. There were multiple instances when players blocked the same player or ran into each other while running routes. The Chiefs finished with four drops against the Lions, the most in any game since Patrick Mahomes has been the starting quarterback. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Jaguars are 5-0 outright as home underdogs under Doug Pederson, including playoffs. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Chiefs 38, Jaguars 34
Walder’s pick: Chiefs 38, Jaguars 24
FPI prediction: KC, 61.3% (by an average of 4.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jones ‘super pleased’ with new Chiefs deal after holdoutWhat Ridley’s strong Jaguars debut means for the offenseSunday’s game can’t arrive fast enough for Chiefs receivers

1 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: DET -4.5 (47)

Storyline to watch: If history is any indication, fans at Ford Field should be excited about what’s in store for the Lions’ home opener. In NFL history, no two teams have combined for at least 80 points in three consecutive meetings. However, the Lions and Seahawks have a chance to do that Sunday. Last year, Seattle beat Detroit 48-45, and in 2021, it beat the Lions 51-29. But Detroit is coming off a huge win versus the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and is looking to start 2-0 for the first time since 2017. — Eric Woodyard

Bold prediction: Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson will have at least two sacks, and Seahawks receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will have at least six catches. Hutchinson tied for the NFL lead in Week 1 with six pressures and now gets to face an offensive line that will likely have backups at both tackle spots. That will necessitate a quick passing game, which could mean a busy day for Smith-Njigba in the slot after the rookie first-round pick managed only 13 yards in his debut. — Brady Henderson

Stat to know: Detroit quarterback Jared Goff‘s 359 consecutive passes without an interception is the third-longest streak in NFL history (40 attempts shy of matching Tom Brady for second).

Matchup X factor: Seahawks wide receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Smith-Njigba. This is one of the best wide receiver groups in the league. But that didn’t show in Week 1. The Seahawks need the trio to step up against the Lions. — Walder

Injuries: Seahawks | Lions

What to know for fantasy: Goff has performed very well at Ford Field. He has averaged 275 passing yards and 21.6 fantasy points per game at home. Since 2017, the Seahawks’ defense has ranked near the bottom of the league in yards allowed and points against. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Five straight Seahawks games have gone under the total. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Lions 21, Seahawks 20
Walder’s pick: Seahawks 29, Lions 27
FPI prediction: DET, 64.7% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Seahawks without both starting tackles SundayRB Gibbs fits what Lions need perfectly

1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: BUF -8 (47)

Storyline to watch: After a four-turnover day for quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills’ home opener against the Raiders is an opportunity to bounce back. Buffalo has scored 20-plus points in 11 straight home games, while the Raiders are looking to start 2-0 via two road wins for the first time since 1982. — Alaina Getzenberg

Bold prediction: Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow, who was shut out on the stat sheet for the first time in his career last week, will have at least five catches in Buffalo. The 2021 Pro Bowl slot receiver was a forgotten man in Denver, as he was not targeted once. But with All-Pro Davante Adams dealing with a foot injury and No. 2 receiver Jakobi Meyers suffering a concussion vs. the Broncos, Renfrow will be a valuable asset for the Raiders. In his only other action against Buffalo, Renfrow had five catches for 57 yards in 2020. — Paul Gutierrez

Stat to know: The Raiders have had 14 games decided by one score (eight points or less) since the start of last season, tied with the Broncos for the most over that span. Their 5-9 record in one-score games is the sixth worst in the NFL since the start of last season.



Orlovsky: Bills need to tell Josh Allen ‘to grow up’

Dan Orlovsky is tired of seeing Josh Allen play so recklessly in Buffalo.

Matchup X factor: Allen. All he has to do is not make wild mistakes and Buffalo should coast. Then again, that’s all he needed to do last week, and look what happened. — Walder

Injuries: Raiders | Bills

What to know for fantasy: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs led the league in rushing yards (1,653) and averaged 19.3 fantasy points per game in 2022. Now he faces a Bills defense that allowed 172 rushing yards to the Jets on Monday night, which was surprising because Buffalo had one of the best run defenses in the league last season. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Bills are 0-4 ATS in their past four games on short rest. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Bills 28, Raiders 17
Walder’s pick: Bills 35, Raiders 27
FPI prediction: BUF, 71.4% (by an average of 8.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jacobs still looking to ‘knock the rust off’ after holdout‘It’s the double-edged sword’: Allen still learning to manage riskGaroppolo wins over new Raiders teammates with late-game gritHow can the Bills shore up their offense after a disappointing Week 1?

1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: LAC -3 (45)

Storyline to watch: In their first game under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, the Chargers showed a dedication to running the football last week with 40 carries for 234 yards — their highest total since Week 6 in 2018. They’ll be tested against the Titans, who allowed only 69 rushing yards last week against the Saints. Tennessee prides itself on stopping the run. The Titans don’t anticipate Los Angeles running the ball 40 times this week. But if it does, Tennessee will be ready. “Our mindset is nobody will run the ball on us,” defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said. — Turron Davenport

Bold prediction: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will each have 100 yards receiving. The Titans are banged up in the secondary — safety Amani Hooker is recovering from a concussion and cornerback Kristian Fulton is limited because of a hamstring injury — and that’s a bad development for a defense that will have to respect all aspects of a balanced Chargers offense. Play-action will help Allen and Williams become the first Los Angeles duo to top 100 yards receiving in the same game since Allen and running back Melvin Gordon III against Kansas City in the 2018 season opener. — Daniel Greenspan

Stat to know: Tennessee running back Derrick Henry has recorded five straight games with 100-plus scrimmage yards. He is one game shy of tying the longest streak of his career (done twice).

Matchup X factor: Titans outside linebacker Harold Landry III. He had just a 5% pass rush win rate at edge in Week 1, but he was also going against an excellent tackle in Ryan Ramczyk. There’s a big difference in the Titans’ pass rush if Landry is back to his old self. This will be a good test. — Walder

Injuries: Chargers | Titans

What to know for fantasy: Last season, the Titans’ secondary allowed 274.8 passing yards per game, the most in the league. Against the Saints on Sunday, Tennessee’s defense looked like it did in 2022. Just imagine what Justin Herbert will do against them. Allen and Williams should also be in your fantasy lineups. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Chargers are 8-1-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings with the Titans. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Chargers 27, Titans 20
Walder’s pick: Chargers 24, Titans 20
FPI prediction: LAC, 62.8% (by an average of 4.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: What’s fixable and what might not be from the Chargers’ Week 1 lossTannehill frustrated: ‘Just want to move on’Vrabel says Henry still ‘huge part’ of offense

1 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: TB -2.5 (41)

Storyline to watch: While the Bears are struggling to figure out what happened in their dismal season-opening loss to the Packers, with Fields admitting he was “a little bit too conservative,” the Bucs are hoping to replicate last week’s stunning road win over the Vikings while adding a little more offensive firepower. Yes, the Bucs scored two touchdowns and had two field goals, but the defense contributed three takeaways, and the Vikings had a litany of penalties. — Jenna Laine

Bold prediction: One week after being targeted on 5.3% of his team-high 38 routes ran against the Packers, Bears wide receiver DJ Moore will connect with Fields on a deep-ball touchdown and lead his team in receiving with 80 or more yards. Moore has never caught a touchdown when facing Tampa Bay cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean in coverage. He will end that streak and show up as a featured part of Chicago’s offensive attack. — Courtney Cronin

Stat to know: Quarterback Baker Mayfield won his debut with the Buccaneers last week. He is seeking to join Ryan Fitzpatrick (2017), Rob Johnson (2002) and Shaun King (1999) as the only Buccaneers quarterbacks to win their first two starts with the team.

Matchup X factor: Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He’s off to a nice start to his 2023 campaign, allowing just 13 yards over 27 coverage snaps in Week 1 against the Packers, per NFL Next Gen Stats. — Walder

Injuries: Bears | Buccaneers

What to know for fantasy: With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top two receivers, Mayfield is a solid streamer in deeper formats. Evans and Godwin have both played in 85 of 99 possible games, and the Buccaneers’ quarterback group has averaged 18.1 fantasy points in those games. Evans and Godwin are also obviously solid starts and should exploit the Bears’ secondary. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Fields is 8-17-1 ATS in his career, the second-worst record among quarterbacks to start at least 25 games in the Super Bowl era (Colt McCoy). And Fields is 1-6-1 ATS when the line falls between +3 and -3. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Bears 21
Walder’s pick: Bears 24, Buccaneers 13
FPI prediction: TB, 52.1% (by an average of 0.8 points)

Matchup must-reads: Claypool’s status shaky after lackluster opener for BearsMayfield, Godwin make sure Buccaneers ‘seal the game’ in styleSame old Bears? Red flags in loss to Packers deflated offseason optimism

1 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: HOU -1 (40)

Storyline to watch: This game will feature two rookie quarterbacks drafted in the top five in the Texans’ C.J. Stroud and the Colts’ Anthony Richardson. The last time two rookie quarterbacks drafted in the top five faced each other was the Jets’ Zach Wilson versus the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Wilson led the Jets to a 26-21 victory. — DJ Bien-Aime

Bold prediction: Colts receiver Alec Pierce, after being limited to one catch for 5 yards in Indy’s opener, will have a big-play touchdown as the Colts look to open things up and take more downfield shots. The Colts struggled to inject life into their passing game in Week 1, but Pierce and Richardson developed a clear bond during training camp. So far, that hasn’t translated during preseason or regular-season games. But Pierce’s best asset is his ability to beat defenders deep. — Stephen Holder

Stat to know: The Stroud-Richardson duel will mark the second matchup between two starting QBs under the age of 22 in NFL history, joining Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in Week 1 of 2015.



Eli Manning’s advice to young QBs in the NFL

Eli Manning explains the differences Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson are encountering between the NFL and college football.

Matchup X factor: Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. With a 31% pass rush win rate at edge in Week 1, Anderson ranked in the top 10 in the category. He can be a major disruptive force to the Colts’ offense — even this early in his career. — Walder

Injuries: Colts | Texans

What to know for fantasy: Nico Collins (165) finished Week 1 with the third-most air yards on targets. A.J. Brown (167) and Tyreek Hill (236) were the only players with more. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Colts are 1-6 ATS against division opponents since the start of last season. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Colts 24, Texans 23
Walder’s pick: Texans 19, Colts 16
FPI prediction: HOU, 51.4% (by an average of 0.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Taylor’s absence looms large as Colts’ run game strugglesHow Stroud used the Texans’ defense to prepareStroud impresses Texans teammates despite loss in NFL debut

4:05 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: SF -7.5 (44.5)

Storyline to watch: The 49ers have won eight consecutive regular-season games against the Rams, part of coach Kyle Shanahan’s 9-4 record (including playoffs) against Sean McVay. The last matchup, in Week 8 last season at SoFi Stadium, was Christian McCaffrey‘s second game with San Francisco after he was traded. He passed for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass, and he could be a big factor in this game. — Sarah Barshop

Bold prediction: 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk will go over 100 receiving yards and score two touchdowns for the second consecutive week. Aiyuk has never had two straight games with 100-plus receiving yards, but the Rams don’t have cornerback Jalen Ramsey at the moment and will have to figure out how to match up against Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and the rest of the Niners’ playmakers. That means Aiyuk should have plenty of one-on-one opportunities. — Nick Wagoner

Stat to know: Matthew Stafford had zero passing touchdowns in Week 1 against the Seahawks, his third such game since joining the Rams. He has gone consecutive games with zero passing touchdowns only four times in his career (the last time was Weeks 3-4 last season).



Why Brandon Aiyuk can be a fantasy star with the 49ers

Field Yates explains why Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey can both be fantasy stars in the 49ers’ offense.

Matchup X factor: Rams wide receivers Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell. They were amazing in Week 1, with 119 yards apiece. The Rams are absolutely going to give up points to the 49ers, so their only hope is to keep up and have their two young receivers come close to a repeat performance. — Walder

Injuries: 49ers | Rams

What to know for fantasy: Niners quarterback Brock Purdy has the second-highest passer rating in his first six starts in the Super Bowl era (117.5), behind only Kurt Warner (131.5). He has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all six games. Look no further if you need a quarterback streamer, as Purdy has upcoming games against the Rams, Giants and Cardinals. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Purdy is 8-1 outright and 7-2 ATS as the 49ers’ starter (including playoffs). Read more.

Moody’s pick: 49ers 34, Rams 20
Walder’s pick: 49ers 42, Rams 17
FPI prediction: SF, 65.5% (by an average of 5.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Holdout over, Bosa focused on taking next stepWhy the Rams’ offense could still thrive without Kupp

4:05 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: NYG -4 (39.5)

Storyline to watch: Both teams are looking for their first win and are desperate to score points after neither offense scored a touchdown in Week 1. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs said this week the Cardinals’ offense is “night and day” compared to where it was a week ago. Meanwhile, a key for the Giants’ offense might be the run game. In 2022, 53% of their touchdowns came on rushes, the third-highest rate in the NFL, while the Cardinals have allowed 22 rushing TDs since start of 2022, tied for the fourth most. — Josh Weinfuss

Bold prediction: The Giants’ defense will force three turnovers. Dobbs fumbled three times and lost two in the Week 1 loss to Washington. He didn’t throw an interception but had the NFL’s highest percentage of tight window passes (26.7%), per NFL Next Gen Stats. There should be plenty of opportunity for Wink Martindale’s pressure-heavy defense to make some plays in this one. — Jordan Raanan

Stat to know: The Cardinals have won four straight games against the Giants, their second-longest win streak all time vs. New York. They won seven straight from 1974 to ’77 when the Cardinals were in St. Louis.

Matchup X factor: Giants wide receivers Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins. These two combined for 39 receiving yards in the Giants’ Week 1 fiasco against the Cowboys. The Giants’ passing attack is going to need more than just tight end Darren Waller. — Walder

Injuries: Giants | Cardinals

What to know for fantasy: New York quarterback Daniel Jones was under pressure on nearly 70% of his dropbacks against the Cowboys in Week 1. It is imperative that the Giants fix their offensive line. New York currently ranks 26th in pass block win rate. The Giants had only four plays gain 10-plus yards, the fewest in the league. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Giants are 6-0 ATS after a loss under coach Brian Daboll. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Giants 20, Cardinals 17
Walder’s pick: Giants 30, Cardinals 10
FPI prediction: NYG, 64.7% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Giants continue to search for answers at offensive lineDobbs sees ‘night and day’ progress from Cardinals in one weekParsons rips Giants for not pulling Jones in blowout loss

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: DAL -9 (38.5)

Storyline to watch: It’s not coach versus quarterback anymore, with Aaron Rodgers‘ season-ending injury taking some of the shine off this contest, but it does feature two of the best defenses in the NFL. Rodgers’ old coach, Mike McCarthy, will have to be on top of his game as the playcaller against a Jets defense that limited Buffalo’s Allen in Week 1. But Week 2 has been kind to the Cowboys of late. They have won five straight games in the second week of the season and eight of their past 10. The last time the Jets started 2-0 was 2015. — Todd Archer

Bold prediction: The Cowboys, coming off a seven-sack opener, will sack Zach Wilson at least six times. Wilson tends to hold the ball too long; his 3.29-second release time in Week 1 was the slowest among qualified passers. The Jets’ offensive line isn’t good enough to hold their blocks that long, especially against Micah Parsons & Co. — Rich Cimini

Stat to know: The Cowboys led all teams with a 52.3% pressure percentage in Week 1, while the Jets allowed 34.6% in Week 1 (the NFL average was 30.5%).



Stephen A.: This is Zach Wilson’s last chance

Stephen A. Smith believes Zach Wilson will shoulder more of the pressure than Robert Saleh should the Jets’ season go south.

Matchup X factor: Wilson. Who else could it be? This game will swing on his performance. If he plays at an average NFL starter level, the Jets will have a fighting chance. But average NFL starter is a lot better than what Wilson has been in his career. — Walder

Injuries: Jets | Cowboys

What to know for fantasy: The Jets’ offensive line ranked last in pass block win rate but ranked 15th in run block win rate. Running backs Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall could receive a lot of touches in this one. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Wilson’s past seven starts have gone under the total. Overall, the Jets were 5-4 ATS — with unders going 7-2 — in Wilson’s starts last season. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Cowboys 23, Jets 14
Walder’s pick: Cowboys 26, Jets 13
FPI prediction: DAL, 68% (by an average of 6.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Life after Rodgers: How Jets could tailor offense to WilsonCowboys’ pass rush channels Oprah: ‘You get a sack! You get a sack!’Rodgers ‘heartbroken’ in wake of Achilles tearCowboys make franchise history, leave ‘no doubt’ with 40-0 win

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: DEN -3.5 (39)

Storyline to watch: A Broncos offense that has scored 16 or fewer points in 12 of its past 18 games, including a Week 1 loss to the Raiders, is going to have to figure out a way to carve out some yards against Washington’s physical defensive front. Commanders defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen combined for four tackles for loss against the Cardinals last week, and defensive end Montez Sweat used that room to work for 1.5 sacks. If the Broncos can’t control the point of attack enough to finish drives with touchdowns, the Commanders could start off 2-0. — Jeff Legwold

Bold prediction: Neither offense will surpass 300 yards for a second consecutive week. For Denver’s offense, it’s about quarterback Russell Wilson lacking playmakers at the skill positions, with receiver Jerry Jeudy still ailing and others out, while facing one of the league’s top defenses. The Broncos operate a ball-control attack. For Washington, it’s about quarterback Sam Howell making his third start and first on the road behind a line still trying to mesh in a new offense. — John Keim

Stat to know: Howell is looking to become the first player in NFL history to record a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in his first three career games.

Matchup X factor: Broncos defensive tackle Zach Allen. Denver didn’t get much of a pass rush going in Week 1 (25% pass rush win rate, ranked 31st), but Allen has a chance to be a disruptive force against what looks like a weak interior Commanders offensive line, at least on paper. — Walder

Injuries: Commanders | Broncos

What to know for fantasy: Jeudy appears on track to make his season debut against the Commanders on Sunday. In Week 1, Wilson showed improvement against the Raiders, which could bold well for Jeudy, who averaged 7.5 targets and 18.5 fantasy points per game from Weeks 13 to 18 last season. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Broncos are 1-7 ATS as favorites since the start of last season, and they are 12-25-2 ATS in that role since 2017. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Broncos 24, Commanders 17
Walder’s pick: Broncos 23, Commanders 9
FPI prediction: DEN, 66.4% (by an average of 6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Commanders’ faith in Howell unshaken after Week 1Broncos need rookie WR Mims to step up amid injuriesCommanders ring in Josh Harris era with win

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: MIA -3 (46.5)

Storyline to watch: The Dolphins gave up 234 rushing yards in their season-opening win over the Chargers, but the Patriots’ running game wasn’t effective in their season-opening loss to the Eagles (22 carries, 76 yards, 3.5 yards per carry). Which unit rectifies those issues will be telling, with Patriots center David Andrews saying, “That’s something we can improve on, but Miami has a really good front, so it’s going to be a big challenge. Christian Wilkins leads the league in tackles every year from the D-tackle position.” — Mike Reiss

Bold prediction: Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has never lost to the Patriots, so predicting a win isn’t that bold of a statement. However, he has yet to throw for more than 300 yards against Bill Bellichick’s defense — so let’s get bold and say Tagovailoa hits that mark and then some. The AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week will build on his Week 1 performance and throw for 350 yards and three scores, as the Dolphins start the season 2-0. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Stat to know: The Patriots played zone defense 77.5% of the time against the Dolphins last season. Tagovailoa ranks first in yards per attempt (9.0) and is tied for third in passing TDs (11) against zone coverage since last season.

Matchup X factor: Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones. If the Patriots successfully slow down Miami’s incredible passing attack, it probably means Jones had a good game. — Walder

Injuries: Dolphins | Patriots

What to know for fantasy: Tyreek Hill led all players last week with 44.5 points against the Chargers. Since 2018, he has led all players in fantasy points five times, tied with Alvin Kamara for the most. Hill has averaged 8.8 targets and 91.7 receiving yards in six career regular-season games against the Patriots. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Patriots are 0-6 ATS in their past six games as an underdog. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Dolphins 30, Patriots 27
Walder’s pick: Dolphins 26, Patriots 16
FPI prediction: MIA, 61.5% (by an average of 4.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Hill, Tagovailoa lead dynamic offense in Dolphins’ winCan Patriots’ D slow Dolphins’ Tua, Tyreek?

Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET | ESPN | Spread: NO -3 (39.5)

Storyline to watch: This game could come down to explosive passing plays. The Saints had seven in their opening-day win against the Titans that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to throw for 305 yards. He’ll face a Carolina defense without starting cornerback Jaycee Horn (hamstring), who’s out indefinitely. In Week 1, the Panthers were one of two teams (Cincinnati) that had no passes of at least 15 yards, and both lost. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young took part of the blame. He was only 2-of-10 on passes of 10 yards or more. — David Newton

Bold prediction: The Saints’ defense will hold the Panthers to 20 points or fewer, extending the franchise streak to a record 10 games in a row. The Panthers scored only 10 points in a loss to the Falcons last week, while the Saints’ defense put on one of its best performances against the Titans, finishing with three sacks and three interceptions. There’s potential for a repeat performance against Young, who’s making his second career start. — Katherine Terrell

Stat to know: With a loss or tie, Young would be the fifth quarterback out of the past six taken No. 1 overall to go winless in each of his first two career starts.

Matchup X factor: Saints offensive tackle Trevor Penning. He was by far the worst pass-protecting tackle in the league in Week 1 in pass block win rate (66%). Now he’ll face Panthers edge rusher Justin Houston. The Saints need more from Penning. — Walder

Injuries: Saints | Panthers

What to know for fantasy: Carr completed nearly 70% of his passes for 305 yards, a touchdown pass and an interception for the Saints. It’s notable because New Orleans had only two games with 300-plus passing yards last season. Carr should be in a prime position to exploit a Panthers secondary that will be without Horn, their No. 1 cornerback. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Saints’ past nine games with extra rest have gone under the total. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Saints 21, Falcons 20
Walder’s pick: Saints 24, Panthers 21
FPI prediction: NO, 61.4% (by an average of 4.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Why Carr almost gave up football in offseasonBurns playing to ‘dominate,’ earn extension on the fieldWhy Hill could be a loophole in the NFL’s new emergency QB rule

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ABC/ESPN+ | Spread: CLE -2.5 (38.5)

Storyline to watch: Since he was drafted by the Browns in 2018, running back Nick Chubb‘s performance has been a bellwether for this game. The Steelers are 5-0-1 when they hold Chubb to fewer than 80 rushing yards and 0-3 when he gains more than 80. In the Steelers’ Week 1 loss to the 49ers, running back Christian McCaffrey went for 152 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry. While Chubb and McCaffrey are different types of backs, the task of slowing Chubb becomes even more difficult with All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward placed on injured reserve because of a groin injury that required surgery. — Brooke Pryor

Bold prediction: The Browns’ dynamic pass-rushing duo of Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith will sack Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett five times. With defense leading the way again, Cleveland will win its first regular-season game in Pittsburgh in 20 years and start 2-0. — Jake Trotter

Stat to know: Since 2007, Mike Tomlin’s first season as the Steelers’ coach, Browns QBs rank last in completion percentage, last in yards per dropback and fourth lowest in QBR against Pittsburgh of any division matchup (96 total).

Matchup X factor: Browns right tackle Dawand Jones. The rookie came in for the injured Jack Conklin in Week 1 and performed well, with a 100% pass block win rate and 71% run block win rate (slightly below average) as a fill-in. But now he has to face T.J. Watt, who had three sacks in Week 1. — Walder

Injuries: Browns | Steelers

What to know for fantasy: Chubb ran for 100-plus yards for the 30th time in his career against the Bengals last week. Only Derrick Henry (34) and Ezekiel Elliott (30) have had 30 or more 100-yard rushing games in the past 10 seasons. Chubb has averaged 72.6 rushing yards per game in nine career games against the Steelers. See Week 2 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Mike Tomlin is 5-1 ATS against Kevin Stefanski. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Steelers 20, Browns 13
Walder’s pick: Browns 23, Steelers 13
FPI prediction: CLE, 59.6% (by an average of 3.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Browns’ defense dominant in Jim Schwartz’s debutSteelers have cause for concern — and optimism — after Week 1Browns lose RT Conklin for rest of season after torn ACL, MCLAwaiting timeline, Johnson admits injury ‘frustrating’


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