Saint to avenge controversial playoff loss? Get NFL Week 2 tips for Sunday
Sept. 12, 2019
NFL predictions for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season. Can Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens run up another heavy score against Arizona in Week 2, and who will come out on top when the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams go head-to-head in a repeat of last season’s NFC Championship Game? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (18:00 BST)
Lamar Jackson’s ability to play quarterback was the subject of much debate in the offseason, but more performances like the one he produced in Week 1 will quickly end that discussion. The Ravens made the tough decision to jettison Joe Flacco in the offseason in order to go with Jackson and the ex-Louisville Cardinal repaid his team in week one with an almost flawless performance as Baltimore cruised Miami. Jackson went 17 or 20 for 234 yards and five touchdown passes, achieving a perfect quarterback rating in the process, and while that was certainly impressive stuff there is one big asterisk next to that display – it came against the hapless Dolphins. He is unlikely to produce similar numbers this time around, but can he build on that performance with another strong showing that leads his team to victory in Week 2? The Ravens playing their home opener after being out on the road a week ago, and providing the opposition are an Arizona Cardinals team who will be feeling a lot better about themselves despite the season-opening tie with Detroit. The Lions appeared to be cruising to victory when they took a 24-6 lead in the first few seconds of the final quarter, but after struggling for much of the game rookie quarterback Kyler Murray came to life to lead the team on three scoring drives, with a four-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald with 47 seconds remaining sending the two teams into overtime, where both converted field goals as they failed to find the winning score. Murray not have been able to complete the comeback, but those final 14 minutes of the fourth quarter against the Lions showed an exciting glimpse of what could come with him at the controls on offense and the Cardinals will be looking to him to build on that here. However, he is coming up against a talented Baltimore defense. While Jackson grabbed the headlines for his display in Miami, what cannot be overlooked was how dominant the Ravens were on the other side of the football in that victory, giving up just 10 points, 21 yards rushing and 211 yards of total offense. The combination of Murray, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson should be more of a challenge for them than the ‘Fins were, but there is very little chance of this unit suddenly collapsing like the Lions did against Arizona in the season opener. They will almost certainly pose plenty of problems for the visiting QB who did, after all, struggle through three quarters a week ago. Points will be at a premium for Arizona and that spells trouble against a Baltimore offense that is brimming with confidence right now. Jackson & Co. may not reach the same dizzying heights that we saw down in Florida, but we should see another strong performance from them as the Ravens go 2-0 and set themselves up nicely for a big run of games against Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the coming weeks.
Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos (21:25 BST)
The doom merchants were out in force in the offseason as they loudly predicted that Chicago would regress after a surprise 2018 season that saw them go from worst to first in the NFC North, winning five of their six games in the division, and in their season the Bears did very little to persuade the critics that they may have been wrong. Defensively they were outstanding against Green Bay, holding the Packers to 10 points and keeping Aaron Rodgers in check for just about the whole game, and despite a lack of turnovers there were plenty of reasons to believe that this unit could be even more dominant than it was last season. However, while that unit shone the offense spluttered in pretty spectacular fashion, and the post-game autopsy threw up plenty of reasons for the Bears’ epic failure on opening night – questionable play-calling from Matt Nagy, poor decision-making from Mitchell Trubisky and a complete lack of protection from the offensive line were three big reasons. Had the Packers just been that good or had the Bears beaten themselves on the night – I am leaning towards the latter. Chicago must rally quickly though in what looks set to be a three-way fight in the North, and that means Sunday’s trip to face Denver has a ‘must-win’ feeling to it even at this early stage of the season. The Broncos, of course, are now coached by former Bears co-ordinator Vic Fangio and just like his old team the defensive guru also opened the season with a defeat. Much was expected of the Denver defense as they prepared to open up against Oakland, but they massively underwhelmed as they gave up 357 total yards in a 24-16 defeat to the Raiders that was not nearly as close as the final score suggested. Fangio is a defensive genius and that group will almost certainly get better and better under his tenure, but if Week 1 proved anything it showed that his arrival does not immediately equal great defense and that his departure from Chicago was not going to be a massive hammer-blow for a Bears group that was so destructive and dominant in 2018. So can that Denver defense raise its game here? I expect to see a much stronger performance from them against Chicago and I expect them to make life very tough for Trubisky – after all, Fangio went up against Nagy and Trubisky almost every single day in practice last year. He knows their tendencies, he knows Nagy’s tricks and he will almost certainly know what he needs to do to rattle Trubisky, so I do not see the Bears putting plenty of points on the board here. However, while I expect the Denver defense to shutdown the visitors, I am also expecting the Chicago defense to do the same – or worse – to Joe Flacco and that Broncos offense. The lack of turnovers in Week 1 was a disappointment for the Bears, but they made Aaron Rodgers look ordinary for almost all of that game as they dominated the Green Bay offense, and if they can do that to a future Hall of Famer what can they do to Flacco! This matchup is going to be a tale of two defenses, so I suggest backing this to be a low-scoring affair and avoid predicting a winner because this matchup is too close to call after what we saw in Week 1.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (21:25 BST)
There is no more intriguing and exciting game in Week 2 than this showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams – a repeat of last season’s NFC Championship Game and a possible dress rehearsal for the conference’s big game this time around too. And before I go any further, let us get last season’s game out of the way. New Orleans appeared to be closing in on a Super Bowl berth as they drove downfield late in the game. They were in a great position to drain the clock and convert a game-winning field goal from well within Wil Lutz’s range, but the officials inexplicably missed a blatant pass interference call on third and 10 that forced the Saints to go for the kick with just under two minutes remaining, and that proved to be enough time for the Rams to get into field goal range for Greg Zuerlein to send it into overtime, where they won with another kick from ‘Greg The Leg’. New Orleans were furious with the failure to penalise Nickell Robey-Coleman for being far too early on with this hit on Tommylee Lewis, letting the Rams back into the game, so all of that will only add spice to what was already going to be a big meeting between Super Bowl contenders. So how will this highly-anticipated match-up play out? New Orleans head to the ‘City of Angels’ on the back of a thrilling Monday night win over Houston. The Saints thought they had iced the game when Lutz converted a 47-yard field goal attempt, only for the Texans to edge a point ahead 12 seconds later when Deshaun Watson hit Kenny Stills for a 37-yard score with just 43 seconds remaining, but the Saints had the last laugh as Lutz sensationally drilled a 58-yard field goal between the uprights to spark wild scenes in the Superdome. That victory came 24 hours after the Rams had also got themselves in some late drama in Carolina, surviving a second-half surge from the Panthers to hold on for a 30-27 victory. So who will improve to 2-0 at the Coliseum? The Rams are the odds-on favourites with the bookmakers, but they are acknowledging that this is a very close match-up to call. Could we see a repeat of last season’s 80-point epic in the regular season or will it be a close contest like that controversial NFC Championship Game? At this early stage of the season it is not always easy to predict what will happen, but Brees & Co. will be have a real edge about them as they look to gain a measure of revenge for that infamous loss in January, and the veteran QB is still surrounded by a host of weapons who can make a big impact at any given point against a Rams defense that struggled to contain Carolina in the second half in Week 1. This could turn into something of a shootout and when that happens I tend to find myself leaning towards a man who has won plenty of them – Drew Brees. That is right, I am tipping an upset in a high-scoring game.