We’re onto Week 2 in the NFL.
The opening week mostly lived up to expectations, but now with a week’s worth of evidence, the process of deciphering the hard evidence from actual games begins in earnest. Of course, it’s important not to overreact to what we saw from the first 16 games of the season, but it would be foolish not to at least keep some of that in mind as we make our NFL Week 2 picks.
After a handful of outright upsets in Week 1, here are three underdogs to watch in NFL Week 2 that could pull a similar trick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (+3) New Orleans Saints
Week 1 wasn’t especially impressive for the Saints, who trailed for almost the entire game before Will Lutz won it with a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play. But New Orleans turned it on when it mattered, outscoring the Falcons 17-3 in the fourth quarter. Jameis Winston played responsibly, and Taysom Hill looked like an actual weapon. Even more encouraging was the apparent Michael Thomas resurgence. This could be a good offense. The Bucs represent a much greater test, but Tampa Bay is coming off what might as well have been a fourth preseason game against a listless Cowboys team that lost its quarterback. New Orleans can take this thing down to the wire and might be live as a +140ish underdog on the moneyline.
(+3.5) Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens
Similar to the Saints, Miami didn’t play a pristine Week 1, but there’s a lot to like about Mike McDaniel’s team. Tua Tagovailoa is going to have a handful of throws each game that will make you want to cover your eyes, but McDaniel should continue to put him in a position to succeed with the ample weapons. Speaking of those weapons, it just got even more difficult for Baltimore to defend them after cornerback Kyle Fuller tore his ACL in Week 1. The Ravens also lost their left tackle, Ja’Wuan James and now have to deal with a Miami defense that did a nice job of dialing up some things in Week 1 against a leaky Patriots offensive line. We’ll grab the half-point on the field goal while we still can here.
(+2.5) Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
This is more of a fade of the Giants than anything else, to be honest, so maybe it would have fit better in our “favorites to avoid” story this week. But it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Panthers go to the Meadowlands and win outright. The Giants proved for a week at least that Brian Daboll is someone they can play for, as the Joe Judge-led G-Men would have lost that game by two touchdowns. But Daniel Jones still leaves plenty to be desired. The Giants QB threw a horrendous interception (much to the chagrin of Daboll) that should have cost New York its comeback bid in the fourth quarter. Those sorts of decisions are still liable to come on any drive, which should keep opponents in a game. On the other side, Baker Mayfield rallied late and showed signs of being able to distribute the ball among some impressive weapons. If Carolina keeps it close, it has the ability for a game-changing play at any moment.