FO Staff Picks: Chargers, Jaguars in Week 2

Jacksonville Jaguars RB James Robinson
Jacksonville Jaguars RB James Robinson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 2 - Compiled by Vincent Verhei

Sometimes, gambling advice is objective—like in the NFL picks you get with FO+, for instance. But sometimes gambling advice is subjective. We're trying something new this week, with staff picks from the FO writers. We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 2, plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks how Dallas will do while Dak Prescott is sidelined.

Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.

Favorite Pick Against the Spread

Cale Clinton: Lions (-2) against the Commanders in Detroit. Jacksonville squandered a lot of opportunities against the Commanders, namely through multiple dropped touchdowns. Detroit scored 35 points against a Philadelphia defense we projected to be top-10 in DVOA. After Dan Campbell spent his postgame presser emphasizing how often this team loses close games, I think the Lions comfortably pick up their first win of the season.

Derrik Klassen: Falcons (+10.5) at home against the Rams. I'm not sure the Rams are all-the-way dead, but the Falcons offense looked kind of feisty with the juice Drake London provides in the passing game and some of the athleticism Marcus Mariota offers. Grady Jarrett also looked like a man possessed versus the Saints and should tee off again versus a much worse Rams interior. Falcons can make it a game.

Bryan Knowles: Eagles (-2) at home against the Vikings on Monday night. Philadelphia scored 38 points in three quarters before taking their foot off the gas; at least on offense, they looked every bit the preseason darlings the Almanac suggested they were. The Vikings were impressive enough in their win over the Packers, mind you, but I'll ride the Eagles until the public catches up with the DVOA.

Ian O'Connor: Bills (-10) against the Titans in Buffalo. Josh Allen and the Bills dominate in their home opener. We all remember what happened in Tennessee last year, but this one won't come down to a late fourth-down decision. The Titans gave up 21 second-half points to the Giants in Week 1; this week, the Bills come out firing and score early and often.

Jackson Roberts: Ravens (-3.5) against the Dolphins in Baltimore. I am simply not sold on the Dolphins despite their relatively comfortable win over the Patriots in Week 1. Meanwhile, a fired-up Lamar Jackson is going to be a scary sight for a lot of defenses this year; our models are all quite respectful towards the Jets' defense, but that win was never in doubt.

Aaron Schatz: Texans (+10) at the Broncos. I am still flying with my preseason opinion that the Texans do not suck. They are mediocre, and mediocrity covers a 9.5-point spread. Davis Mills was QB9 in DYAR in Week 1 against a supposedly good Colts defense, and Jerry Hughes had two sacks. Jerry Hughes is a good player! The Texans roster is filled with reasonable veterans and promising rookies.

Tom Strachan: Falcons (+10.5) at home against the Rams. The Falcons were very unlucky to lose to the Saints on opening weekend and whilst I still believe they'll have a very high draft pick come 2023, they showed some signs of life above expectations. 10.5 is a very large line for any team to lose by, and the Rams showed some vulnerabilities against the Bills. I like the Falcons to keep it closer than expected.

Mike Tanier: Cowboys (+7) at home against the Bengals. I love picking the backup quarterback in his first start. And only his first start. Especially when I get home field advantage and a touchdown. This spread already drifted down from +8, however, and I won't go a half-point below +7

Vincent Verhei: Jaguars (+3.5) at home against the Colts. Jacksonville was my pick to beat their preseason projection this year, and would have beaten Washington if they hadn't made so many self-inflicted errors in the red zone. The Colts, meanwhile, looked awful for most of their game against Houston. Honestly, I think the Jaguars take this game straight-up, but if you're offering four points I'll certainly take them.

Carl Yedor: Chargers (+4) against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Thursday night. In the Almanac, we projected the Chargers to be one of the top three teams in the NFL this season, ahead of the Chiefs. The Chargers offense may have been a bit sluggish at times in Week 1 against the Raiders, but their defense appears to have taken a real step forward from a year ago. I'm tempted to pick the Chargers to win outright, which means I am more than happy with picking them to cover at 3.5.

Upset of the Week

Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.

Cale Clinton: Chargers (+4) over Chiefs in Kansas City. Not having Keenan Allen throws a bit of a wrinkle in things, but Justin Herbert had no problem spreading the ball around in last week's game against Las Vegas. The Raiders had a lot of success against the Chargers defense by going to their top wide receiver, a thing the Chiefs decidedly do not have on this current roster. I'm excited to see the matchup between Travis Kelce and Derwin James, who should do a better job trying to limit him than what the Cardinals did.

Derrik Klassen: Chargers (+4) over Chiefs in Kansas City. The Chiefs are a juggernaut and I do not expect them to lose, but the Chargers are also a top-, I don't know, seven team in the NFL,and I'm fine rolling with a team that good as an "upset" pick.

Bryan Knowles: Jaguars (+4) at home over Colts. Nothing bad has ever happened to a favored Colts team in Jacksonville, right? Indy is 0-5 in their last five trips to Jacksonville as a favorite and 0-7 in their last seven trips overall; they haven't won there since Andrew Luck was under center. Considering Indy couldn't get out of its own way enough to beat the Texans, I like getting Trevor Lawrence and some points.

Ian O'Connor: Chargers (+4) over Chiefs in Kansas City. We projected the Chargers defense to finish third in DVOA, much better than the Chiefs. Los Angeles should be able to at least *slow down* Patrick Mahomes better than the Cardinals did, though you can never really shut him down. Justin Herbert and the Chargers beat the Chiefs in Week 2 last year on the aggressiveness of Brandon Staley, then fell in an overtime thriller late in the season. It'll take a lot of points, but I like Los Angeles' chances of pulling the upset, even at Arrowhead without Keenan Allen.

Jackson Roberts: Jaguars (+4) over Colts in Jacksonville. I'm perplexed by the notion of the Colts team we saw in Week 1 giving four points in a sticky, possibly rainy climate down in Jacksonville. I love picking Florida teams to win early in the season, especially if the opposing quarterback is on the wrong side of 35. And not only did the Colts blow their season by losing to the Jags in the 2021 finale, but they haven't won at all in Duval County since 2014!

Aaron Schatz: Jaguars (+4) over Colts in Jacksonville. Yeah, we're all picking the same game here, huh? I harken back to my "subjective case for the Jaguars" from the preseason. Better coaching, better quarterback play.

Tom Strachan: Saints (+3) over Bucs in New Orleans. The Buccaneers got off to a strong start in Week 1, but the reality is they were never remotely pushed by a poor Cowboys team. During the Tampa Bay Tom Brady era, the Saints have won three of their four matchups by at least nine points, and whilst the Falcons hung around against the Saints longer than expected, I'm expecting the New Orleans defense to be very much up for this game.

Mike Tanier: Cardinals (+5.5) at home over Raiders. My Seven Quadrillion-Star Play of the Week is Cardinals straight-up at what was a +215 moneyline when I punched it. (It's dropping.) The Cardinals ran into a steamroller last week, while the Raiders were lucky that the Chargers offense took most of the second half off.

Vincent Verhei: Jaguars (+4) at home over Colts. I already told you that I expect the Jaguars to win outright.

Carl Yedor: Saints (+3 at time of writing, now down to +2.5) over Buccaneers in New Orleans. Rolling with my Chargers pick from above would be consistent but make for repetitive discussion, so I'll go a different direction here. With how the Saints have historically matched up against the Bucs (at least in the regular season) and a spate of offensive injuries befalling Tampa, this has the makings of an ugly defensive slugfest where the Saints could thrive. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore's biannual (sometimes triannual) matchup with Mike Evans typically brings out the best in him, and with Chris Godwin banged up, Tampa Bay may struggle to move the ball efficiently.

Do You Have a Favorite Player Prop Bet This Week?

Jackson Roberts: I like a lot of Patrick Mahomes props this week, but my favorite is over 19.5 rushing yards (-115 on BetMGM). He didn't reach that total in Week 1, but that's because he was never sacked or honestly even bothered by the Arizona front seven. With Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack coming for his hide, Mahomes is sure to escape the pocket more often and pick up a couple first downs with his legs.

Vincent Verhei: Geno Smith under 208.5 passing yards (-115 at DraftKings). Smith only threw for 195 yards against Denver on Monday night, and 63 of those yards came on touchdown passes to Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson when the Broncos forgot to cover tight ends. The Broncos adjusted at halftime, and Smith only had 27 yards in the third and fourth quarters. I know the 49ers had some coverage busts against Justin Fields in Chicago, but I don't think it'll happen two weeks in a row.

Carl Yedor: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, under 50.5 rushing yards (-120 at PointsBet). The Chargers' run defense proved to be an Achilles heel down the stretch last year, and their concerted effort to improve defensive personnel paid dividends in Week 1 against the Raiders. I anticipate that the quarterbacks will be looking to put up points in bunches by attacking through the air, which shifts rushing volume away from Edwards-Helaire. You also have the inherent risk of injury for a running back, and the fact that none of the other sportsbooks I can access have this line above 47.5 rushing yards, suggesting an under is good here.

Bonus Question: What Will the Cowboys' Win-Loss Record be when Dak Prescott Returns?

Reports are changing quickly on just how many games Prescott will miss. There's a lot of guesswork in the answers below.

Cale Clinton: We'll see how precipitous the fall-off is from Prescott to Cooper Rush, but Dallas is sadly going to have to embrace Rush for a while. There's no sense in hurrying Prescott back from injury; give him until at least the bye to get ready for their harder back half of the schedule. Optimistically, I think the Cowboys could head into Green Bay in Week 10 with a 3-5 record and an uphill fight for a wild-card slot.

Derrik Klassen: Let's assume Prescott misses six games just to make that easy. In that case, Dallas is going to be 1-6 or 2-5. The receiving corps is very bad and even the return of Michael Gallup will necessitate significant snaps from Noah Brown or Dennis Houston, or Jalen Tolbert randomly emerging after being a healthy Week 1 scratch. The offensive line is a bit of a mess still as well. Dallas' defense is good enough to keep them in some low-scoring games, but Cooper Rush is not going to produce anything but bottom-five offense with this supporting cast.

Bryan Knowles: I'm slightly optimistic about the Cooper Rush experience; Dallas' schedule isn't a murderer's row before the bye hits. Let's say 4-4 going into the bye, which will make it all the more hilarious when the Cowboys drop back-to-back games against the Packers and Vikings with Prescott back—plenty of quarterback controversy fodder for the morning shows.

Ian O'Connor: I'm assuming Dak misses four games and is back for their game at Philadelphia. With games against the Bengals, Giants, Commanders, and Rams before then, I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose all four. But I'll say they beat one of New York and Washington, and Dallas goes into Philly at 1-4.

Jackson Roberts: The sudden flip-flop on Prescott's injury timetable and the fact that Jerry Jones is now confident his quarterback can return within the next four weeks is a best-case scenario—Dak with five broken fingers is more trustworthy than Cooper Rush in my estimation. I'll presume for now he misses the next three games and the Cowboys scrap their way to an ugly win against the Commanders to secure a 1-3 record.

Aaron Schatz: I don't buy this idea that Prescott will be back in just four or five weeks. I still think we're talking Week 10 against the Packers, after the Dallas bye week. There are some easy games on the Dallas schedule between now and then, but I can't imagine they will beat all of the Giants, Lions, Commanders, and Bears. If they lose the other three games and split against the bad teams on their schedule, that puts them at 2-6 when they hit the bye week and Prescott probably returns.

Tom Strachan: Jerry Jones optimism is eternal, but I find it hard to believe we see a lot of Dak Prescott before Thanksgiving. The offense looked rotten even with Dak at the helm, and if Jones is going to kid himself that Dak will be back sooner rather than later, it sets up for an awful lot of Cooper Rush or similar-level quarterbacks. I'll be generous and say they get to two wins, resulting in a 2-6 record that has the Jones family ready for wholesale changes in the offseason.

Vincent Verhei: If Prescott misses six weeks, he misses games against what should be three good teams (Bengals, Rams, Eagles), two other teams that won in Week 1 (Commanders, Giants), and one that looked feisty in defeat (Lions). A clean sweep is definitely on the table, but I'll give them one win in there somewhere, pushing them to 1-6.

Carl Yedor: Based on how Russell Wilson's rushed return from a finger injury went for Seattle last year, Dallas would be wise to let Dak take as much time as necessary to heal and come back on the longer end of the injury timetable against the Packers in Week 10. Micah Parsons and company put together a strong defensive performance against the Bucs in Week 1, so I think that unit will be effective enough to drag the team to two wins (specifically against the Giants and Bears). That would have the Cowboys staring at a 2-6 record entering that contest with Green Bay.


9 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2022, 11:56am

1 Ian seems to think that the…

Ian seems to think that the Cowboys are currently 1-0? He gives them one win in the next 4 games and that seems to evalaute to 2-3 at the end.

3 Falcons-Rams

Falcons are not home in this game, the Rams are

4 Indy at Jacksonville Streaks

Bryan said:

'Indy is 0-5 in their last five trips to Jacksonville as a favorite and 0-7 in their last seven trips overall...'


While the point remains, I believe these streaks should be 0-4 and 0-6, respectively.  2016's game was in London.

5 Colts not that bad

Enjoy the call for Jags as they feel broadly under rated. That being said, if the Colts lose this game then are they probably going to go 0-5 with the Chiefs, Titans and Broncos coming up before they repeat their Jags matchup. 

With FO win projections of 7.6 (Jags) and 7.9 (Colts) and the Colts with a tougher schedule coming up, then surely this is a Colts win by a field goal or less. 

7 LV @ AZ

Mike: Cards aren't home, Raiders are.  Still like Cards to upset? (I'm guessing yes)

8 by my count...

6 predics here put to the test already, and the record is 1-5. Chargers did cover though! if Geno gets some YAC help, the player props could easily be 0-3. 

I like this though: " We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 2, plus a bonus question each week. " Just my contribution to a "good response"!

9 I do like it. The main…

In reply to by NYChem

I do like it. The main question is not if people will like it, but will they even see it. It was posted only yesterday and it's already buried way down the page. It doesn't make any sense. The articles should be in the order they are published. If someone wants to look at a specific section only, that's what the index is for.

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