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NFL Week 2 Upset Alert: Don’t Fall in Love with Green Bay Yet

The top sportsbooks have released their betting odds for NFL Week 2 action, and I am particularly interested in three games: Packers vs. Falcons, Ravens vs. Bengals, and Colts vs. Texans.

For your best bets, I will recommend investing in all three underdogs: the Falcons, Ravens, and Texans. I like to invest three quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog moneyline.

Picks Summary

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, September 17, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Paycor Stadium

Joe Burrow’s Slow Starts

The best reasoning that a Bengals backer will give will emphasize star quarterback Joe Burrow and Cincinnati’s pass attack.

However, Burrow is not his usual self at the start of the season. In his professional career, he has yet to achieve a passer rating higher than 90.6 in a Week 2 game.

More extensively, although he rediscovers his dangerous self after Week 2, Burrow’s career passer rating in September is 93.2. For comparison’s sake, his career passer rating is 99.4.

Calf Injury

Burrow’s Week 1 effort was particularly bad also because, in addition to being a slow starter, he is also dealing with longstanding calf issues that impaired his mobility.

Cleveland was able to use its pressure on Burrow to compel him to operate on his calf more often, which he struggled to do.

Baltimore’s Pass Rush

Baltimore is well-equipped to replicate the successful pressure that Cleveland applied on Burrow.

The Ravens’ defense became one of the NFL’s best last year after it acquired Roquan Smith, giving them what is arguably the top linebacker duo along with Patrick Queen.

Smith is known as an elite pass rusher, as evident in his high win rate. He will add to the rising youth on his team’s defensive line that will again help position the Ravens as a top-three team in sacks per game.

Burrow vs. Mike Macdonald

But Burrow has also struggled against Mike Macdonald, Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, as evident in his difficulty with Macdonald’s defense that has persisted when he isn’t getting sacked.

Last year, Burrow had a passer rating below 83 in both of his games against Baltimore.

Among other things, Macdonald has his defense doing a good job of disguising coverages.

Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson won’t have to do much to be better than Burrow on Sunday.

Star tight end Mark Andrews might return for Week 2, but Jackson now has a lot of weapons at wide receiver with which to take advantage of Cincinnati’s overhauled secondary.

Jackson’s characteristic disposition to run also carries a good outlook in view of the 45 rushing yards that Deshaun Watson managed for Cleveland against the Bengals last week.

NFL Pick: Ravens +3.5 (-105) at Caesars Sportsbook

NFL Pick: Ravens (+165) at Bet365

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

Sunday, September 17, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at NRG Stadium

Houston’s Defense

It might seem like the Texans’ defense played poorly in Week 1 against Baltimore because they allowed 25 points. However, they allowed 25 points primarily because their offense struggled on the road against the Ravens’ high-caliber defense.

In actuality, their defense was impressive, limiting Baltimore to 265 total yards of offense.

Softer Test

Indianapolis’ offense will pose a softer challenge to Houston’s defense than Baltimore did.

The Colts, without Jonathan Taylor, lack a good running back group.

Quarterback Anthony Richardson likes to run, but he is hurt, and, even if he does play, he is a raw rookie whose running ability does not compare with that of Baltimore’s quarterback.

The Colts rely heavily on one single wide receiver, Michael Pittman Jr., whom Houston is equipped to contain.

Houston’s Defense vs. Richardson and Pittman

The Texans limited star running quarterback Lamar Jackson, last week, to 38 rushing yards.

This performance shows, among other things, that the Texans’ young edge rushers are ready to make an immediate impact.

Their experience with Lamar makes them uniquely well-prepared for this game because now they get to face another quarterback who likes to run. Richardson is anyhow going to be less fit, as he is dealing with a knee bruise.

In the passing game, Richardson will rely on his top receiver Pittman. But Houston is also well-equipped against Pittman Jr. because former early first-round draft pick cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is proving his value.

Last year, Stingley held Pittman to three receptions and 31 yards on six targets. Stingley also achieved a pass break-up.

Houston’s Pass Attack

Houston’s offense has a significant edge where Indianapolis’ doesn’t. The Texans’ edge is in its pass attack against a Colts’ secondary that is filled with unproven and unhopeful names.

The fact that Indianapolis allowed Trevor Lawrence to complete 75% of his passes for Jacksonville hardly inspires hope.

Texans’ quarterback C.J. Stroud is displaying good chemistry with wide receivers Nico Collins and Robert Woods, which will enable him to play more than well enough.

NFL Pick: Texans +1 (-108) at BetRivers

NFL Pick: Texans (+100) at Bet365

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, September 17, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Packers’ Run Defense: Recent History

Run defense has been a tremendous issue for Green Bay ever since Matt LaFleur became head coach in 2019. Since 2019, they rank 32nd in EPA (expected points added) per play against the run and 31st at limiting opposing YPC.

Last season, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, their run defense ranked 31st. They also ranked 28th at limiting opposing YPC.

Reason for Hope?

In the offseason, Green Bay needed to improve its front seven personnel.

But the Packers lost more than they gained. Defensive linemen Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry are now with Seattle and Minnesota, respectively.

Predictably, their Week 1 game against the Bears suggests that they have not improved. They were fortunate in that, down many points, Chicago had to pass the ball a lot – its top running back, for example, only carried the ball nine times.

Behind an offensive line that has been dealing with injuries, and suffering from rust induced by inaction during the preseason, the Bears managed 122 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Atlanta’s Rush Attack

First-round draft pick Bijan Robinson displayed his NFL readiness when he ran for 56 yards on ten carries in Week 1 against Carolina.

But the Falcons also have a second strong running back in Tyler Allgeier, who led the team with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

With this two-pronged rush attack, Atlanta is just the sort of team that Green Bay’s defense does not want to deal with.

Green Bay’s Key Injuries

The Packers’ offense needs guys to step up in lieu of Aaron Rodgers’ departure.

But explosive and versatile running back Aaron Jones, who had a great game in Week 1, sustained a hamstring injury while scoring a touchdown. Jones might not be his usual self in Week 2 if he even plays.

Likewise, Christian Watson, who is by far his team’s top returning wide receiver, might not be able to return in time from his hamstring injury.

Atlanta’s Secondary

As evident in their success against Carolina’s quarterback last week, when the Panthers mustered ten points, the Falcons boast an effective secondary.

Most prominently, cornerback A.J. Terrell has had a strong start to his career, notwithstanding injury issues that disrupted his last season.

Safety Jessie Bates, who intercepted two passes last week, has proven to be a valuable acquisition.

Jordan Love, who failed to complete even 56% of his passes last week against Chicago’s deteriorated defense, remains quite unproven for Green Bay, hardly someone who can be relied upon to generate much offense, especially without help from a fit Aaron Jones.

NFL Pick: Falcons +1.5 (-110) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Falcons (+105) at Bet365

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