NFL Week 2 Top Picks: Six Teams Look to Avoid 0-2 Start Including Cardinals and Raiders

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For our NFL picks in Week 2, we have three interesting matchups with 0-1 teams squaring off:

  • Cardinals vs. Raiders
  • Bengals vs. Cowboys
  • Falcons vs. Rams

Find the best NFL odds and which team you should trust this week.

After making the playoffs last year, the Raiders and Cardinals were respectively shredded by Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes in Week 1.

The Bengals turned the ball over five times against Pittsburgh before kicking woes ultimately did them in in overtime of Week 1’s most stunning finish. Now they draw a Dallas team that has lost Dak Prescott for two months with a thumb injury.

The defending champion Rams had a rough opener against Buffalo, but the Falcons may be more competitive than we expected after nearly beating the Saints in Week 1.

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Sunday, September 18, 2022 – 04:25 PM EDT at Allegiant Stadium

When the Arizona Cardinals Have the Ball

The Cardinals only managed one touchdown on their first seven drives against the Chiefs before putting together some late scores with the game well-decided. It was another uninspiring performance by the offense with quarterback Kyler Murray leading the team in rushing thanks largely to a 21-yard run. James Conner scored another touchdown but only finished with 26 yards on 10 carries.

The receiving corps is a big issue for the Cardinals right now. DeAndre Hopkins remains out with a suspension, but second-year receiver Rondale Moore missed the game with a hamstring injury suffered in practice last Thursday. His status for Sunday is uncertain, but it could be another no-go for him.

Marquise Brown caught a touchdown in his Arizona debut, but he only finished with 43 yards. Murray kept going to Greg Dortch, who led the team with 63 yards, seven catches, and nine targets. He had three catches in his NFL career before Sunday.

This does not look like a very confident offense right now, nor is it an overly talented one without Hopkins, Moore, and the team letting Christian Kirk leave in free agency for Jacksonville.

The Raiders had plenty of defensive issues in Los Angeles, but Justin Herbert was also really sharp with the ball. Even then, the Raiders held the Chargers to 24 points. It will be up to Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones to get a pass rush going after a very disappointing debut.

When the Las Vegas Raiders Have the Ball

If you think there is pressure on Kyler Murray to perform this year, then what about Derek Carr? He is in his ninth season and still seeking his first playoff win, but Sunday in Los Angeles was one of the worst games of his career. Carr tied a career high with three interceptions and suffered five sacks and fumbled twice.

While he found a rhythm in his first game with Davante Adams, he may have locked on too much to one receiver. Adams finished with 17 targets, 10 catches, 141 yards, and a touchdown. Newly-paid tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow barely existed for Carr for three quarters.

New coach Josh McDaniels also did not seem to bring the type of offense we’ve come to expect from him with little use of the slot receiver, just 13 rushing attempts, and a gadget play where Adams was sacked that needs burned out of the playbook immediately.

Despite getting sliced up by Herbert and going minus-six in sacks and minus-three in turnovers, the Raiders had the ball late in a 24-19 game with a chance to win. Carr is usually more reliable in those moments, but he needs to play better early so the team isn’t trying to dig out of a big hole again.

Raiders vs. Chargers Prediction

Ten of Arizona’s last 11 losses have all been by 6-plus points, so when Kliff Kingsbury’s team loses, it leaves no doubt.

Right now, I trust the coaching staff of the Raiders to figure things out quicker than the Cardinals, who seemed to have no clue how to play Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs with their excessive blitzing in Week 1.

The Raiders are another unfamiliar opponent from the AFC. While the Cardinals are limited on weapons, the Raiders are still loaded on that front.

I will take the home team to avoid going 0-2 while dropping the Cardinals to that fate for your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Raiders -5.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, September 18, 2022 – 04:25 PM EDT at AT&T Stadium

When the Cincinnati Bengals Have the Ball

Joe Burrow just had the most extreme example of a Super Bowl hangover game in Week 1. He started the game by taking a sack and throwing a pick-six.

Before the end, he became the first NFL quarterback since 1998 to:

  • Throw at least four picks
  • A pick-six
  • Take at least seven sacks, all in the same game

The crazy part is he still should have won the game, but the Bengals had some major issues with the snapping portion of their kicking unit hurting them at the end of regulation and overtime.

Burrow threw 14 interceptions and took a league-high 51 sacks last year, so it’s not the most shocking thing in the world to see him struggle. The Bengals also lost No. 2 wide receiver Tee Higgins to a concussion, and his Week 2 status is unknown. But unlike the Cowboys, the Bengals still have enough talent to get the job done.

Burrow knows he has to cut down on the bad throws, but it will be interesting to see if he struggles again this week with how the Dallas defense had some success at sacking Tom Brady in Week 1. Micah Parsons could be a force in this game as he is so quick and strong at getting to the quarterback. The Cowboys know they have to step up on defense too as the offense is completely unreliable right now.

When the Dallas Cowboys Have the Ball

The Cowboys were the only team to not score a touchdown in Week 1. We knew things would be more difficult this year, but Sunday night’s 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay was shockingly bad.

Dak Prescott was missing the players the Cowboys let go like:

  • Amari Cooper
  • La’el Collins
  • Cedrick Wilson Jr

He was also missing the players who are injured and out such as:

  • Tyron Smith
  • Michael Gallup
  • James Washington

Then Prescott himself was injured and did not finish the game. For the second time in three years, he has a major injury that required surgery on his thumb, and he will be out six-to-eight weeks.

While it looks like the sky is falling in Dallas, backup Cooper Rush did start against the Vikings last season and passed for 325 yards in a comeback win in front of a national audience.

He is one of the better backup options in the league, and head coach Mike McCarthy has been surprisingly good at getting the backup ready to execute. McCarthy is 8-5 ATS as an underdog of at least 4 points with his backup quarterbacks.

Bengals vs. Cowboys Prediction

This is going to be difficult with the limitations the Cowboys have, but we did see the Bengals lose a game to the lowly Jets last season after unknown quarterback Mike White passed for over 400 yards.

Crazier things have happened than Cooper Rush hanging within a touchdown to a team that just lost to Mitch Trubisky when Dallas still has its backfield, the No. 1 receiver (CeeDee Lamb), the main tight end (Dalton Schultz), and wideout Noah Brown knows this system well.

But my main reason for picking Dallas to cover is that the defense, led by Parsons, needs to take advantage of an offense that was mistake-prone last week.

NFL Pick: Cowboys +7 (-110) at Bovada

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Atlanta Falcons vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, September 18, 2022 – 04:05 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium

When the Atlanta Falcons Have the Ball

The Falcons surprised the Saints with a surprisingly effective offense that rushed for 201 yards and did not surrender a sack to sack-prone quarterback Marcus Mariota. Now we have to find out if that was just some division familiarity with the Saints and Falcons having similar staffs to last year, or if the Falcons really are going to run a balanced offense and score some points.

Mariota even had 12 carries for 72 yards, and that could be useful against a Los Angeles defense that saw Josh Allen run for 56 yards and a touchdown on opening night. No one will ever convince Mariota for Allen, but he can move. The Falcons just do not have as many established receivers as the Bills do.

It also seems unlikely that Aaron Donald and company are not going to be able to sack Mariota after taking Allen down a few times and collecting four turnovers from Buffalo. Mariota had some fumbling issues against New Orleans, including a crucial bobbled snap late in the game when the Falcons could have iced things.

When the Los Angeles Rams Have the Ball

It seems wild to think that Sean McVay can go from never having a losing record at any point in a season to starting 0-2 coming off a Super Bowl win. But losing streaks are a rarity for him, and he knows this offense has to protect Matthew Stafford better after seven sacks on opening night. The Bills also may be the best defense the Rams see all season.

Atlanta sacked Jameis Winston four times in Week 1, which is huge for a unit that had just 18 sacks in 17 games last year. But look for the Rams to protect better and get the run game going, perhaps with Darrell Henderson taking more carries from a disappointing Cam Akers.

Allen Robinson disappointed in his team debut with one catch for 12 yards as Cooper Kupp again dominated with 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.

It would be big if Van Jefferson can return at receiver after some August surgery, but that is not a guarantee to happen.

Falcons vs. Rams Prediction

There is some temptation to back the Falcons here after how surprising they were in Week 1 and how bad the Rams were. But I am going to trust my gut on these teams’ expectations this season and predict that Week 1 will just show the difference between playing a division foe (Saints) and playing the Super Bowl favorites (Bills).

Eight of Atlanta’s 10 losses last season were by double-digits, and half of those were by more than three touchdowns. This team has been crushed repeatedly under Arthur Smith. Sean McVay is 11-2 SU as a double-digit favorite, so he has lost a couple times before in such a spot. But it should not happen this week.

The Rams have not covered the spread in three straight games going back to the NFC Championship Game.

McVay has never lost to the spread in four straight games. Let’s count on another easy win here.

NFL Pick: Rams -10.5 (-110) at Bovada

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