NFL Pick'em Week 2: Man vs. Machine

NFL
Written by John Ferguson
September 13, 2019
676 views

NFL Picks Week Two

NFL Pick'em Week 2Week 1 is in the books and man does it feel good to have our first look at the teams for this season! We had some absolute blowouts, our first tie, and a nail-biter on Monday night, all culminating in a great week of football. If you didn't catch this article last week, here is a quick recap: This season, FantasyData is going to be offering a unique twist to your traditional NFL pick'em content. It's the inevitable battle of man vs. machine. Not just a plotline for all the great (and not so great) Terminator films anymore! We have partnered up with the folks over at Betting Antelope who will be providing "the machine" aspect of our weekly pick'em.

If you're unfamiliar with the product, Betting Antelope is an impressive machine learning model powered by SportsData.io and designed to predict moneyline, against the spread, over/under, and total team wins for NFL games. The model ingests data and trains itself each week as the season goes on, optimizing profitability by using a combination of regression and decision tree models to make picks. So this season, it's my research, opinions, and instincts vs. the machine.

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.

Quick Week 1 Recap

We had a close fight in Week 1, but I am happy to announce that I got the best of the machine in Week 1! I went 9-6 against the spread, beating out the machine who registered a still-respectable 6-5 record. I also went 11-3 in straight-up picks last week, ranking in a tie for fourth-best amongst experts who predicted at least 10 games over at BettingPros. Scores ran up a little higher than I had anticipated and neither myself or the machine did well in our over/under picks, but now that we got a better look at teams for this season those numbers should level out as the season goes on. Now, let's get to Week 2!


Week 2 Picks


San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Bengals WRs had 16 receiving touchdowns inside the 10-yard line since the 2017 season -- tied for sixth-most in NFL. The 49ers have allowed 22 receiving touchdowns inside the 10-yard line to WRs since the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • George Kittle was targeted 18 times in the red zone last season -- tied for third-most of qualified tight ends. The Bengals allowed nine receiving touchdowns when defending in the red zone last season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • Matt Breida rushed for 10+ yards on 21 of his 99 carries (21.2%) on first down last season-best of 35 qualified RBs in NFL; League Avg: 11.4%.
  • Andy Dalton threw for 418 yards in Week 1 -- most in NFL.
  • Historically, the 49ers lead the series 9-4 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • These teams haven't faced each other since December 2015 where the Bengals won 24-14. Andy Dalton was not active in that game.

The 49ers are coming off a strong road win last week where they took it to the Bucs, winning 31-17. The Bengals also came away with something to be proud of, despite losing 20-21 to the Seahawks, going into Seattle and hanging with a team that was expected to boast one of the stronger defenses in the league is no small feat. Especially when you consider they did it without A.J. Green and Joe Mixon left the game early with an ankle injury.

The 49ers defense looked much improved compared to last season where they had a historically-low turnover percentage. They got Jameis Winston for three INTs, two of which were returned for a TD. They held Winston to only 194 passing yards with one TD and a 55.6% completion percentage. They recorded three sacks and caused two fumbles. Getting after the quarterback again this week against the Bengals will be a key to winning as Andy Dalton took five sacks in Week 1. The secondary will possibly have a tougher test with Dalton coming off a league-high 418 yards in Week 1 with two TDs and no INTs.

The 49ers defense also saved the offense in Week 1 who probably wouldn't have been able to win the game on their own. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for only 166 yards with one TD and one INT. George Kittle led the team with only 54 receiving yards, though he did have two TDs wiped away by penalties. Tevin Coleman went down with an injury and Matt Breida was battling hydration issues which caused special teamer Raheem Mostert to lead the team with 40 rush yards. The 49ers passing game will need to step it up against the Bengals as they smothered Seattle's run-heavy offense, holding Chris Carson to only 46 yards on 15 carries (3.1 YPA).

The Bengals offense was picked up thanks their new offensive scheme, Andy Dalton re-finding his form, and a monster game by third-year wideout John Ross. Ross surprisingly saw one more target (12) than expected WR1 Tyler Boyd. Ross turned those targets into seven catches for 158 yards and two TDs. The 49ers will have their hands full trying to contain this speedster, though they did a nice job shutting down what has traditionally been a high-volume Bucs passing offense. Mike Evans didn't look 100 percent in that game so perhaps that played a part in the defeat.

This week kicks off with a tough one to predict. I think what it comes down to for me is matching power-to-power. The Bengals passing offense seems to be a step above the 49ers right now while the running games look like a push. On defense, both teams faired well last week and the Bengals get an easier matchup in Jimmy G. this week compared to battling Russell Wilson in Seattle last week. I'm giving the edge on the matchup to the Bengals for now even if they are without Joe Mixon for a week. 

My Final Prediction: Bengals win 23-21

My Pick: Bengals -1.5, Under 45.5

Machine Pick: Bengals -1.5, Under 45.5


Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Detroit Lions

Matchup Notes:

  • The Los Angeles Chargers defense has seven interceptions in the red zone since the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • Philip Rivers is 52-53 in his career on the road but only 1-4 in a dome with a 5/6 TD: INT ratio and 56.4% completion percentage.
  • Matthew Stafford has been sacked 90 times since the 2017 season -- second-most amongst NFL QBs.
  • Darius Slay has intercepted 11 passes since the 2017 season -- tied for second-most amongst NFL defensive backs.
  • Historically, the Chargers lead the series 7-4 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • These teams haven't faced each other since September 2015 where the Chargers won 33-28. In that contest, Philip Rivers threw for 403 yards with two TDs and two INTs.
  • The Lions have only beaten the Chargers once in their last eight contests dating back to 1981.

The Chargers were playing sound football for the better part of three-quarters last week. Unfortunately for them, standard regulation is four quarters in the NFL and they let the Colts come back from a 9-24 deficit at one point in the third quarter to tie it up 24-24 in the fourth. The Chargers got away with the win, but it was a lot more difficult than it should have been facing the Colts without Andrew Luck. This week, they will take on a Lions team that is coming away from a similarly disappointing overtime performance. The Lions were also up 24-9 in their game but let Kyler Murray and the Cards come back to tie it up, and neither team could seal the deal in OT, ending in a tie. 

The Chargers lit it up in the passing game last week with Philip Rivers throwing for 333 passing yards, three TDs, and only one INT. Keenan Allen had a big game hanging an 8/123/1 line on the Colts. This could be a problem for the Lions who allowed Kyler Murray to go for 308/2/1 in his rookie debut. Larry Fitzgerald also managed an 8/113/1 line. David Johnson also racked up 137 yards from scrimmage with one TD which is where the Chargers can strike with Austin Ekeler proving a very capable dual-threat back in Melvin Gordon's absence in Week 1. 

Matthew Stafford looked more like his old self in Week 1 throwing for 385 yards with three TDs and no INTs. His 11.5 average depth of target ranked second best in the league in Week 1 and his 228 air yards ranked second. The Lions had two players go over 100 yards receiving, but it wasn't the two you would have expected coming into the season. Rookie tight end T.J Hockenson went for 6/131/1 while Danny Amendola did his best Golden Tate impression pacing the team with 13 targets and going 7/104/1 in his first game as a Lion. 

This game looks an awful lot closer now than it did before seeing how each team played in Week 1. These teams haven't met since back in 2015 when the Chargers won 33-28. The Lions have only beaten the Chargers once in their last eight matchups dating all the way back to 1981. I'm going to give the Chargers the edge here. Just because they had a rocky ending last week doesn't negate their overall talent and potential on both sides of the ball. The Lions also played worse at home last season scoring an average of only 18.6 PPG compared to 21.9 away. I'm a little worried about the Lions' ability to assist in covering the over, but the Chargers could put up close to 30 points in this game which helps.

My Final Prediction: Chargers win 30-26

My Pick: Chargers -2.5, Over 48

Machine Pick: Chargers -2.5, Push O/U


Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Minnesota Vikings defense has allowed 30 TD passes since the 2017 season -- fewest in NFL.
  • Aaron Rodgers has thrown 13 TDs per INT since last season-best of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 2.0
  • Vikings WRs have 26 receiving touchdowns in the red zone since the 2017 season -- tied for third-most in NFL. The Packers have allowed 27 receiving touchdowns when defending in the red zone to WRs since the 2017 season -- tied for second-most in NFL.
  • Kirk Cousins has 58 touchdown passes since the 2017 season -- sixth-most amongst qualified quarterbacks. The Packers have allowed 60 passing TDs since the 2017 season -- tied for third-most in NFL.
  • Historically, the Packers lead the series 59-53-3 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Vikings have either won or tied in six of the last seven contests.
  • In two contests against the Packers last season, Kirk Cousins totaled 767 passing yards with seven TDs and only one INT.
  • In the same two contests last season, Aaron Rodgers only totaled 479 passing yards with two TDs and no INTs while taking eight sacks.
  • The Vikings defense allowed an average of 23 PPG away last season compared to only 19.6 at home.

The Packers get another division rival this week after sneaking in a sleepy win in the Week 1 opener against the Bears by a final of 10-3. That would've made for an exciting score in baseball, but football? Not so much. The Vikings are coming off a game where they also got a win against a Falcons team that struggled out of the gate. The Vikes somehow put up 28 points on the board with Kirk Cousins completing only eight of 10 pass attempts for 98 yards and one TD. In the whole game, that was it. 10 passes. Kind of hard to believe in this day and age.

Cousins should be required to throw the ball about three-times that amount this week against a Packers team that he lit up just last season. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will also look to break in their new offense a little better at home where the Vikings defense was much more vulnerable last season. This game has the feel of a classic back and forth nail biter that should easily coast over 44 total points. Though the Vikings have gotten the best of the Pack over their last few contests, we still saw Rodgers move the ball downfield with ease on occasion last week and I think they step it up a notch in front of the home crowd. 

My Final Prediction: Packers win 23-22

My Pick: Vikings +3, Over 44

Machine Pick: Vikings +3, Over 44


Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Colts were 4-15 (.211) when converting less than 55% of its red-zone chances into touchdowns since the start of the 2016 season -- second-worst in NFL; League Avg: .448.
  • Colts TEs were targeted 32 times in the red zone last season -- second-most in NFL. The Titans allowed just two receiving touchdowns when defending in the red zone to TEs last season -- tied for second-fewest in NFL.
  • Colts had 5+ tackles for a loss in 11 games last season -- tied for second-most in NFL.
  • The Titans were undefeated (6-0) when scoring 22 or more points last season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .726.
  • Historically, the Colts lead the series 33-15 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Titans lost both matchups against the Colts last season and were outscored 27-71.
  • The Colts are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 head-to-head matchups against the Titans.
  • The Colts averaged 22.8 PPG on the road last season compared to 29.9 at home.
  • The Titans allowed only 18.9 PPG last season -- third-fewest in the NFL.

The Titans are coming off a stunning upset of the offseason hype MVPs the Cleveland Browns. I liked the Titans to upset but I never imagined them nearly single-handedly covering the total point spread. Meanwhile, the Colts showed they don't need Andrew Luck to keep up with some legitimate contenders last week as they forced overtime in a thrilling comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers. Jacoby Brissett was about as expected looking average at best on the field. The offense ran through Marlon Mack who managed 174 rushing yards and one TD in the contest. He registered the highest yards created total (63 yards) amongst RBs last week according to our advanced efficiency metrics.

The Titans got a surprisingly good showing from QB Marcus Mariota in their rout of the Browns. Mariota threw for 248 yards and three TDs. The good version of Derrick Henry also showed up ready to party, totaling 159 yards from scrimmage with two total TDs while Dion Lewis was an afterthought. The Titans defense was the hero though, as they got Baker Mayfield for three INTs (one returned for a TD) in the game and put him on the ground with five sacks.

It won't be quite as easy for the Titans to get after the QB this week as Brissett was the only QB in the league last week who registered a 100% protection rating according to our advanced QB metrics. This defense has been crazy good the last few seasons, however, and with Mariota playing with purpose again, I like the Titans to start the season off with a winning streak.

My Final Prediction: Titans win 27-20

My Pick: Titans -3.5, Over 44.5

Machine Pick: Colts +3.5, Under 44.5


New England Patriots (-18.5) at Miami Dolphins

Matchup Notes:

  • Patriots RBs have 159 rushing attempts in the red zone since the 2017 season -- most in NFL. The Dolphins have allowed 24 rushing touchdowns in the red zone since the 2017 season -- tied for fourth-most in NFL.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400+ yards in four games since the 2017 season -- most amongst qualified QBs in NFL.
  • The Dolphins had just four rushing touchdowns in the red zone last season -- fewest in NFL. The Patriots have allowed just six rushing touchdowns in the red zone last season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • Patriots forced 2+ turnovers in 11 games last season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • Tom Brady has thrown for 250+ yards in 24 games since the 2017 season -- tied for most amongst qualified QBs in NFL.
  • Historically, the Dolphins lead the series 54-50 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • In the last two seasons, the Patriots have lost both of their games at Miami.
  • The Patriots have only won once in their last six contests at Miami dating back to 2013.
  • The Dolphins have covered the spread in each of their last five home games against the Pats.

The Dolphins are coming off one of the biggest head-hangers I have seen in recent memory. They got all kinds of embarrassed giving up a franchise-record of 59 points to the Ravens last week and made Lamar Jackson look like elite Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco (the elite part is a joke, but seriously that guy was a Super Bowl MVP. Weird, right?). The Dolphins were so bad that players immediately requested trades away from this rebuilding franchise and apparently you can even swim with some of them at the Paradise Cove Resort in Miami according to the super-reliable news outlet, The Onion.

Tom Brady Patriots.pngThe Patriots, in all seriousness, beat the snot out of the Steelers on Sunday Night Football with a final score of 33-3. Tom Brady and friends looked more intimidating than ever in the contest and may or may not get a semi-coherent version of Antonio Brown joining the team this week, as long as he isn't randomly drug tested (seriously, how has this not happened yet). The Pats are obviously favorites by an overwhelming amount this week, but there are some pretty crazy matchup trends here when looking at these team's historical head-to-head matchups.

Brady and the Pats have a hard time traveling to Miami where they have only won once in their last six contests. In 2017, Tom Brady (233/1/2) was out-dueled by Jay Cutler (263/3/0) in Miami. Last season, the Pats let Ryan Tannehill throw for 265/3/0. He finished the game a higher QB rate (155.2) than Tom Brady (112.4). Not only have the Dolphins put up a fight at home, but they have covered the spread in 100% of their last five home games against the Pats. Pretty good odds considering the crazy +18.5 points they're given this week. 

I'm not expecting the Dolphins to win. I'm not expecting it to be a close game either. But, I would expect a more respectable performance this week with new head coach Brian Flores facing a Pats team where he held a defensive coach/assistant title at for the last ~10 years.

My Final Prediction: Patriots win 38-20

My Pick: Dolphins +18.5, Over 48.5

Machine Pick: Patriots -18.5, Under 48.5


Buffalo Bills (-1.5) at New York Giants

Matchup Notes:

  • Bills committed 3+ turnovers in seven games last season -- most in NFL
  • Jerry Hughes (BUF) has missed 23 tackles on 70 opportunities (32.9%) since the 2017 season -- highest of 51 qualified defensive linemen; League Avg: 15.3%.
  • Saquon Barkley rushed for 100+ yards in a game seven times last season -- tied for most of RBs in NFL.
  • The Giants are 3-16 (.158) when within seven points entering the 4th quarter since the start of the 2017 season-worst in NFL; League Avg: .500.
  • Historically, this series is tied 6-6 in head-to-head regular-season matchups.
  • The Bills have lost four of the last five matchups against the Giants dating back to 1999.
  • The Giants allowed the fourth-most PPG (27.8) to opponents at home last season.

One of the least exciting games of the week, in my opinion, two teams miles away from playoff contention will go head-to-head. The Bills are coming off an upset against the Jets last week in the very same venue, while the Giants are still limping away from the beating they got from the Cowboys. Eli Manning did manage just over 300 yards in the game last week, while Saquon Barkley reminded us he is a god amongst men at the running back position turning 11 carries into 120 yards in the contest.

The Bills did just enough to sneak by the Jets last week winning the game by one point. Josh Allen still looks dicey as a legitimate QB throwing two INTs in the contest, but he did tally two total TDs by himself as well as support a 123-yard game from newly acquired wideout John Brown. The defense looked solid again for the Bills as they registered four sacks against Sam Darnold, potential inducing his current case of mono (you can't prove they didn't).

I don't have a particularly strong feeling either way in this game and wouldn't bet real money on it. But for the sake of picks, I'll take the stronger defense in the Bills, while the under feels pretty safe with neither team really capable of setting off any fireworks. 

My Final Prediction: Bills win 18-14

My Pick: Bills -1.5, Under 43.5

Machine Pick: Giants +1.5, Push O/U


Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

Matchup Notes:

  • Russell Wilson has been sacked 98 times since the 2017 season -- most amongst QBs. The Steelers have sacked the quarterback 109 times since the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • Russell Wilson threw 3+ TDs in 12 games since the 2017 season -- most amongst qualified QBs in NFL.
  • Ben Roethlisberger threw for 250+ yards in 15 games last season -- most amongst qualified QBs in NFL.
  • The Seahawks were undefeated (6-0) when allowing less than 22 points last season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .775.
  • Historically, the Seahawks lead the series 9-8 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Seahawks won 39-30 the last time these teams met back in November 2015. Russell Wilson finished with 345 yards, five TDs, and no INTs. Roethlisberger totaled 456 yards with one TD and two INTs.
  • The Steelers averaged 30 PPG at home last season compared to only 23.5 away.

The Steelers are looking for redemption after their embarrassing road-loss to the Patriots on primetime last week. It looks like the Steelers are still trying to figure out life after Antonio Brown as Big Ben spread the ball around to eight different targets with his favorite, for some reason, being Donte Moncrief who drew a team-high 10 targets. It's become a cliche, but it's hard to say they didn't miss Le'Veon Bell in this game either while James Conner and Jaylen Samuels combined for only 25 rushing yards. Luckily, Ben is home now where he has historically performed better and gets a Seahawks defense that allowed a league-high 418 passing yards to the "Red Rifle" last week.

The Seahawks are also coming off one of the more disappointing feeling wins possible last week, barely beating the Bengals in Seattle 21-20. Seattle were 8.5 point favorites in that matchup. As mentioned, Andy Dalton shredded the Seahawks secondary with a league-high 418 passing yards. On the offensive side for the Seahawks, "Danger Russ" continues to see dangerously-high sack totals getting taken down four times in the contest and getting hit nine times total. Wilson threw for less than 200 yards for the fourth time in his last six contests. The 'Hawks running game wasn't as potent as usual with both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both barely registering 3 YPA. Carson had more of a role in the passing game going 6/35/1 as a receiver while also losing a critical fumble.

It's hard to say what the Steelers defense will really look like this season with just the one game against the Pats to work off of, but the fact that Wilson has taken more sacks than any other QB since 2017 and the Steelers have recorded the most sacks in the league during that span, it could be a long day for Seahawks fans. I still think Russ manages to keep it close though and the running game should get a chance to get back on track. I think the Steelers take the win but Seattle keeps it close and there could be some underrated shoot out potential here as evidenced by these team's last matchup.

My Final Prediction: Steelers win 27-24

My Pick: Seahawks +4, Over 47.5

Machine Pick: Steelers +4, Under 47.5


Dallas Cowboys (-6) at Washington Redskins

Matchup Notes:

  • Ezekiel Elliott has touched the ball 20+ times in a game 16 times since the 2017 season -- most amongst RBs in NFL.
  • Ryan Kerrigan has 2+ sacks in six games since the 2017 season -- most amongst qualified LBs in NFL.
  • The Cowboys are undefeated (9-0) when leading at the of the third quarter since the start of last season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .815
  • Dak Prescott has been sacked 88 times since the 2017 season -- third-most amongst qualified QBs. The Redskins have sacked the quarterback 90 times since the 2017 season -- seventh-most in NFL.
  • When Adrian Peterson is below his rushing average (60 yards), his team is 3-12 (.200) since the start of the 2017 season -- third-worst of 28 qualified RBs in NFL; League Avg: .438
  • Case Keenum has thrown the ball 10 yards or less on 72.0% of his pass attempts since the 2017 season -- tied for eighth highest of qualified QBs. The Cowboys have allowed an average of 3.2 yards per completion on targets of 10 yards or less since the 2017 season -- tied for best in NFL.
  • Historically, the Cowboys lead the series 71-43-2 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Redskins have only won one of their last six games against the Cowboys.
  • The Cowboys are only 6-4 ATS in their last 10 matchups against the Redskins but are 4-1 ATS at Washington over that span.
  • The Cowboys only averaged 17.9 PPG on the road last season compared to 24.9 at home.
  • The Redskins only averaged 16.8 PPG at home last season -- third-fewest in NFL.

The Cowboys looked terrific in their first game under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore last week. Even with Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup for just over 50% of the snaps, the team had no problem putting up 35 points against a helpless Giants team. Dak Prescott threw for 405 yards with four TDs last week as both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup cruised over 100 receiving yards.

On the other side of this, Case Keenum surprised a lot of people in his debut as a Redskin last week as the team went into halftime with a 20-7 lead. Keenum finished the game with 380 yards, three TDs, and no INTs while taking only one sack. He spread the ball around to eight different players with rookie Terry McLaurin showing out the best with a 5/125/1 line which included a big 69 yard gain in his debut.

This is another matchup that looks a lot closer than anticipated before we saw how each team performed in Week 1. The Redskins performance may have been a fluke, but Keenum has shown before he could be successful in the NFL. The combination of the 'Skins performing better than anticipated and the Cowboys struggling on the road typically last season has me down a little on the final score, but I think "America's Team" comes away with the win, just not as easily as we think.

My Final Prediction: Cowboys win 24-20

My Pick: Redskins +6, Under 46.5

Machine Pick: Cowboys -6, Under 46.5


Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-13)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Ravens had 19 rushing touchdowns last season -- third-most in NFL. The Cardinals allowed 25 rushing TDs last season -- most in NFL.
  • Cardinals have at least one sack in each of their last 39 games -- this is the longest active streak.
  • The Ravens rushed for 2,462 last season -- second-most in NFL. The Cardinals allowed 2,487 yards rushing last season -- most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense has sacked opponents 42 times on 3rd down since the start of the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • Historically, the Ravens lead the series 4-2 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Ravens defense only allowed 17.9 PPG at home last season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense allowed an average of 29.2 PPG on the road last season -- sixth-most in NFL.

The Ravens are riding high after putting up nearly 60 points against the Dolphins last week. Now they're set up to continue their dominance getting a home matchup against a rookie QB making only his second start in the NFL. It's hard exactly to pinpoint where the beatdown started last week, but pretty much every Raven who touched the ball did something magical. 

The Cardinals, on the other hand, came back after looking lost in the first half last week to tie it up and force overtime with the Lions. Larry Fitzgerald looked reborn with Kyler Murray under center and David Johnson looked like the running back that led fantasy owners to the 'ship a few years back. They've really got their work cut out for them this week against a Ravens defense that has been nothing but dominant. The combination of a young, new offensive leadership and still shakey defense makes me believe the Cards have no chance in keeping this one very close.

My Final Prediction: Ravens win 33-17

My Pick: Ravens -13, Over 46.5

Machine Pick: Cardinals +13, Under 46.5


Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-8.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • J.J. Watt has 16 sacks since last season -- 2nd most among NFL defensive linemen in NFL.
  • The Jaguars have been flagged 71 times for 10+ yards since last season -- most in NFL. The Texans have been flagged 38 times for 10+ yards since last season -- fewest in NFL
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed only 17 TD passes in the red zone since the 2017 season -- tied for fewest in NFL.
  • DeAndre Hopkins has 49 receptions for 20+ yards since the 2017 season -- most among NFL WRs.
  • Jalen Ramsey has been thrown at 231 times since the 2017 season -- third-most among NFL defensive backs.
  • Duke Johnson has been targeted 160 times since the 2017 season -- sixth-most of qualified RBs. The Jaguars have allowed just 1,158 receiving yards to RBs since the 2017 season -- fifth fewest in NFL.
  • Historically, the Texans lead the series 21-13 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Texans outscored the Jags 40-10 in two matchups last season.
  • The Texans have won eight of their last 10 matchups against the Jags.
  • The Texans have won by more than 10 points in five of their last 10 matchups against the Jags.
  • The Texans only allowed an average of 17.4 PPG to opponents at home last season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Jaguars defense allowed an average of 24.3 PPG on the road last season compared to only 13.9 at home.

The Jaguars lost their new QB Nick Foles already, but out of the shadows came a man they call Gardner Minshew. With a stache that would curl even Ron Jeremy's toes, Minshew, a sixth-round rookie, came in and completed 22-of-25 passes for 275 yards and two TDs against the Chiefs. His 88% completion percentage was the highest for any player with at least 15 pass attempts making their NFL debut according to Adam Schefter.

The Texans are coming off a devastating loss in Week 1 where they did everything they could to record a win. They simply ran out of time. Deshaun Watson recorded four total TDs in the game and the running back position was given new life with Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde splitting the load in place of the injured Lamar Miller. "Not good" RB Carlos Hyde finished fourth amongst all RBs last week with a 54.5% juke rate as he dodged six tackles according to our advanced RB efficiency metrics. The Texans defense is a lot better than the Chiefs that the Jags just went up against and I think Gardner Minshew will make enough rookie mistakes to keep this game far enough out of hand for the Jags. While the Jags at +8.5 seems to be the consensus favorite, I'll go against the grain on this one.

My Final Prediction: 24-14 

My Pick: Texans -8.5, Under 43.5

Machine Pick: Texans -8.5, Under 43.5


Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Oakland Raiders

Matchup Notes:

  • Patrick Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes last season -- most in NFL. Raiders allowed 36 passing TDs last season -- most in NFL.
  • The Chiefs have averaged 38.5 points per game on the road since last season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 22.3
  • The Raiders defense has sacked opposing QBs on just 3.0% of pass attempts since last season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 6.8%.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 8,669 passing yards since the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 32 rushing touchdowns in the red zone since the 2017 season -- second-most in NFL.
  • Raiders RBs have no touchdowns on 103 receptions since last season -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 23.4
  • The Chiefs have been flagged 139 times since last season -- most in NFL.
  • The Raiders averaged 25.1 PPG at home last season compared to only 12.7 away.
  • Historically, the Chiefs lead the series 63-52-2 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Chiefs have won 10 of their last 12 matchups against the Raiders dating back to 2013.
  • In two matchups last season the Chiefs outscored the Raiders 75-36.

The 2019 Chiefs looked just as they did a year ago in Week 1. Unstoppable. Well... nearly unstoppable... there's always the Patriots in their way. Pat Mahomes looked every bit as elite as he did last season despite getting knocked around by the Jags aggressive defensive line. Next up, a very tasty matchup against division "rivals" the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs had no problem dismantling the Raiders last season as evidenced by them outscoring the Raiders 75-36. The Chiefs backfield still has some shaking out to do, but the combination of Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy worked just fine.

Derek Carr threw for 285 yards with three TDs and no INTs in their home matchup against the Chiefs last season, keeping pace with Mahomes who went 295/4/0. Carr probably looked better last week than he ever did last season and given the Raiders ability to score more at home compared to away last season and the Chiefs offering a porous secondary, The Raiders should make sure this game covers the over. There is still quite the gap in overall talent and scoring potential between these two teams though and the game opening with Chiefs at -9 before pulling back to -7 makes me comfortable in thinking the Chiefs will cover.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 38-28

My Pick: Chiefs -7, Over 53.5

Machine Pick: Chiefs -7, Under 53.5


Chicago Bears (-2.5) at Denver Broncos

Matchup Notes:

  • Mitchell Trubisky has completed just 49.8% of passes against the blitz since the 2017 season -- lowest of 28 qualified QBs; League Avg: 59.7%
  • Von Miller has 24 sacks since the 2017 season -- second-most among NFL linebackers.
  • The Chicago Bears defense has allowed only five rushing TDs since last season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Chicago Bears defense has 27 interceptions since last season -- most in NFL.
  • Denver Broncos offense has committed five turnovers in the red zone since last season -- tied for second-most in NFL.
  • Joe Flacco has averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt since the 2017 season -- lowest of 27 qualified QBs; League Avg: 7.2
  • Historically, the Broncos lead the series 8-7 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The matchups between these teams have traditionally been low-scoring affairs with five of the last seven games ending with a combined total under 30.

This could easily be the lowest-scoring game of the week, which is great if you love defensive battles. But this is the age of passing and fantasy points are sexier. Mitch Trubisky didn't look like a quarterback who was capable of taking a step forward this season last week. It's still hard to tell if the Packers defense is really that much better or if Trubisky is that bad. Luckily for him, the Bears still have a crazy-good defense that will always keep them in games. 

The Broncos looked even more ugly than the Bears on offense last season as Joe Flacco and his team just could not get on the same page. The running game showed some promise, as did second-year wideout Courtland Sutton, but there is some serious figuring out to do here. Now isn't the time to be trying to tweak a new offense though as you get ready to take on one of the toughest defenses in the league.

This matchup opened with the Broncos -1 as a slight favorite before switching to the Bears at -2.5. I would have taken the Bears all day either way and I don't see how either of these teams are capable of combining for 40 points after their sluggish offensive displays last week.

My Final Prediction: Bears win 20-10

My Pick: Bears -2.5, Under 40

Machine Pick: Bears -2.5, Over 40


New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2)

Matchup Notes:

  • Drew Brees has completed 73.2% of passes since the 2017 season-best of 27 qualified QBs; League Avg: 63.6%
  • Jared Goff has one interception on 198 attempts when under pressure since the 2017 season -- best among NFL QBs.
  • Aaron Donald has 20.5 sacks since last season -- most among NFL defensive linemen.
  • Rams RBs have been targeted 33 times in the red zone since the 2017 season -- tied for sixth-most in NFL. The Saints have allowed nine receiving touchdowns when defending in the red zone to RBs since the 2017 season -- most in NFL.
  • The Saints are 12-1 (.923) when forcing one or more turnovers since the start of last season-best in NFL; League Avg: .591.
  • Rams WRs had 214.1 receiving yards per game last season -- third-best in NFL. The Saints averaged 209 receiving yards per game allowed to WRs last season -- highest in NFL.
  • Historically, the Rams lead the series 41-33 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Rams averaged 36.3 PPG at home last season compared to 25.9 away.
  • The Rams defense allowed 27.4 PPG at home last season compared to only 19.5 when away.
  • The Saints defense allowed only 18.5 PPG on the road last season compared to 24.5 at home.

This will be the one to watch in Week 2. A playoff rematch from when the Rams stole a Super Bowl berth away from the Saints. Unfortunately for Saints fans, this game is hosted in Los Angeles. But, that actually may wind up being a good thing. The Rams home/away points allowed splits were quite surprising last season as they gave up 27.4 PPG at home vs only 19.5 when away. This is the opposite of how the Saints operate on defense where they gave up only 18.5 PPG on the road compared to 24.5 at home. Alvin Kamara still looked like one of the leagues best big-play threats at RB. Mike Thomas is still Mike Thomas at WR, earning that fat pay raise he got and Brees is still as clutch as they come.

The Rams continued to put up 30 points last week like they're completing a basic errand and while Todd Gurley wasn't the workhorse of old, he still managed over 100 yards from scrimmage last week. The Rams will also continue to benefit from having all three of their core WRs healthy and active on the field, something they didn't have in the playoffs last season.

I'm taking the side of revenge in this one.

My Final Prediction: Saints win 33-30

My Pick: Saints +2, Over 52.5

Machine Pick: Saints +2, Under 52.5


Philadelphia Eagles (-2) at Atlanta Falcons

Matchup Notes:

  • The Eagles are undefeated (13-0) when having the lead at the end of the first quarter since the start of the 2017 season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .744
  • Offenses facing the Eagles have thrown the ball 62.5% of the time since the 2017 season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 54.5%
  • Julio Jones has dropped 16 balls since the 2017 season -- most among NFL WRs. Calvin Ridley has also dropped nine balls since last season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles secondary has missed 75 tackles since last season -- most in NFL.
  • Matt Ryan has thrown for 9,322 passing yards since the 2017 season -- second-most of qualified quarterbacks. The Eagles have allowed 8,315 passing yards since the 2017 season -- fifth-most in NFL.
  • Matt Ryan is 2-0 at home against the Eagles in his career.
  • Carson Wentz has only faced the Falcons once in his career, he threw no TDs in that game.
  • Historically, the Eagles lead the series 17-13-1 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Eagles have won each of their last three games against the Falcons including the playoffs.
  • The combined total score in the last two matchups featuring these teams has been 30 points or less.

Carson Wentz 2019.jpgThis was probably the toughest game for me to project this week. The Eagles had a rough first half last week but quickly got back into shape after half time. They were efficient in both the passing and running game and even had an erroneous rush TD called back that could've helped place their game a little more out of hand from the Redskins. The Falcons gave up chunk gains left and right to Dalvin Cook last week which should work in the Eagles favor. 

The Falcons had a really disappointing start to the season as Matt Ryan just seemed to never have time to get rid of the ball. The running game also never got going the way you'd expect with Devonta Freeman declared healthier than ever. Matt Ryan is much better at home compared to away and hasn't lost to the Eagles there yet, but I think that could change this week.

The overall total scores of the last few matchups against these teams have been surprisingly low, and though the Falcons really struggling last week worries me a bit. The Eagles simply look a little more put together right now, but I think this winds up being a really close one and I won't be surprised at all if I'm completely wrong on it.

My Final Prediction: Eagles win 26-23

My Pick: Eagles -2, Under 52.5

Machine Pick: Eagles -2, Under 52.5


Cleveland Browns (-6.5) at New York Jets

Matchup Notes:

  • Baker Mayfield made his debut with the Browns against the Jets in Week 3 last season.
  • Baker Mayfield has thrown 21 TDs and no interceptions in the red zone since last season -- tied for best of 30 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 11.0.
  • The Jets have been flagged 12 times on defense in the red zone since last season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Jets committed 2+ turnovers in 10 games last season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Jets allowed 31 PPG at home to opponents last season -- most in the NFL. The Browns averaged more PPG away (23.8) last season than at home (21.1).
  • Cleveland Browns linebackers have missed 68 tackles since last season -- most in NFL.
  • Nick Chubb has averaged 8.3 yards per carry in close and late situations since last season-best of 42 qualified RBs; League Avg: 4.0.
  • Historically, the Browns lead the series 13-12 in head-to-head regular-season contests.
  • The Browns haven't beat the Jets on the road since December 2007.

Back to where it all started. Baker Mayfield made his debut with the Browns against the Jets in Week 3 last season. He threw for 201 yards with no TDs in relief of Tyrod Taylor who was only managing to complete four of his 14 pass attempts for 19 yards so far in the game. With news breaking that Sam Darnold came down with mono and will miss this game, that pretty much makes the Browns a lock for me this week.

Baker and company should look to shake off their Week 1 woes and rebuild that hype that surrounded them all offseason. The Jets hemorrhaged points to opponents at home last season and with Darnold out and Le'Veon Bell already sounding less than 100%, I'm just not sure how they can keep this game competitive. 

My Final Prediction: Browns win 30-14

My Pick: Browns -6.5, Under 44.5

Machine Pick: Browns -6.5, Push O/U


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John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.