2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 2

2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 2

by September 16, 2021 1 comment

The 2021 NFL season is alive and well. Three NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for Week 2.

These three writers will make their picks for the entire season, earning two points for any correct win-loss outcome and an additional three points for correctly predicting the exact score. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A cumulative points total and record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 18 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Sam Schneider, Joe Heller, and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

New York Giants vs. Washington Football Team

Sam: Football Team 26, Giants 16

The Taylor Heinicke era begins in Washington after the team placed starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve with a partial hip dislocation. The defending NFC East champs will be without him for a minimum of six to eight weeks. Enter Heinicke, who in parts of two games over the last two seasons went 23-for-34 with 259 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Whether he can put it together consistently remains to be seen, but his first test is a Giants team that looked woefully bland in their 27-13 drubbing at the hands of Denver.

Joe: Football Team 20, Giants 13

Taylor Heinicke gets the start after Ryan Fitzpatrick landed on Injured Reserve with a hip injury. Washington’s defense will give him ample opportunity to make enough plays and lead his team to the win. The Giants will fall to 0-2 with the loss.

Andersen: Football Team 16, Giants 10

Losing Ryan Fitzpatrick hurts, but the Football Team has enough playmakers to propel itself to victory. Specifically, this defense should come up big against Daniel Jones.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sam: Steelers 27, Raiders 16

The Raiders are a good (not great) team, and they proved that in their feel-good win on Monday night. Consistency, however, remains an issue. The Steelers just waltzed into Buffalo and right back out with a W as though nothing happened. Ben Roethlisberger may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he’s still a better pure passer with better weapons than Lamar Jackson had against Las Vegas. The Steelers also have the better defense, and you better believe there is already a plan in place for covering Darren Waller (19 targets on Monday). They’ll limit his damage, Big Ben will withstand six sacks, and the Steelers roll on to 2-0.

Joe: Raiders 23, Steelers 20

The Raiders impressed many people with their overtime win against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. In Pittsburgh, they will win in a similar fashion: on a late-game score.

Andersen: Raiders 17, Steelers 14

The Raiders looked solid on Monday night, forcing the ball into Darren Waller’s hands while letting Derek Carr showcase his true talent. This could be a close game, and it certainly won’t be a mistake-free affair. However, in the end, Vegas should come out on top.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sam: Eagles 28, 49ers 26

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the injury bug continues to haunt San Francisco, this time costing them both running back Raheem Mostert and defensive back Jason Verrett. Per usual, the Niners have a stable of running backs with a “next man up” mindset, featuring Elijah Mitchell (104 yards rushing in Week 1) and others. Jeff Wilson returns by midseason and Kerryon Johnson has been signed. The real concern is Verrett, a key cog in the secondary. This comes leading into a date with Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, who just laid a beatdown on the Falcons. San Francisco will be able to score, but the secondary was picked apart by Jared Goff last week after Verrett left the game.

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Joe: 49ers 17, Eagles 13

Both teams come in at 1-0. The 49ers will jump to 2-0 behind a better defensive performance than they had against the Lions. The Eagles will no longer be alone at the top of the NFC East, as was the case after their opening affair.

Andersen: 49ers 31, Eagles 21

The 49ers were hit hard by injuries once again, losing Raheem Mostert to Jason Verrett to season-ending injuries. However, that won’t stop them from edging out the Eagles, who looked great in Week 1. While this could be a close game, the 49ers have a better defense than Philly and are capable of racking up a big offensive showing, too.

Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns

Sam: Browns 41, Texans 13

It’s not often that you have a “get right” game this early in the schedule, but Cleveland could use one after another self-inflicted heartbreaker against the Chiefs. It’s their home opener and they get the Texans, who are flying high after whooping the Jaguars to open the season. They are walking into a buzzsaw. I won’t bother explaining in how many ways the Browns are not Jacksonville; I’ll just say Cleveland is out for blood. They’ll look like the contender you thought they were.

Joe: Browns 30, Texans 27

Tyrod Taylor and the Texans will give the Browns a scare in Cleveland. In the end, though, Baker Mayfield will lead his team on a late scoring drive to steal this one for the Browns. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt could flirt with the 100-yard mark.

Andersen: Browns 28, Texans 21

The Texans dominated against the Jaguars last week, but the same won’t be true against Cleveland. Houston might keep it close, but the Browns are just too strong and experienced on both sides of the football. Myles Garrett could feast in this one.

Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Sam: Broncos 27, Jaguars 26

We witnessed a mixed bag from No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence last week as he lobbed three touchdowns but also hit Houston Texans defenders with passes three times. James Robinson couldn’t do much with just five carries, and he likely won’t do much more against a stout Denver front seven that stymied the Giants. This will be about the Broncos building an early lead and withstanding a comeback from the Jags late. They’ll get close, but an onside attempt could finish the threat.

Joe: Jaguars 20, Broncos 17

The Jaguars’ defense wasn’t ready for the Texans in their opening game. The Broncos played an inconsistent Giants offense in their opening matchup. Trevor Lawrence will limit his turnovers on his way to his and head coach Urban Meyer’s first NFL win.

Andersen: Broncos 21, Jaguars 13

Losing Jerry Jeudy hurts a lot, but the Broncos’ defense is going to wreak havoc against Trevor Lawrence. Denver should jump to 2-0 while Jacksonville is on its way to another pitiful season.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

Sam: Panthers 24, Saints 21

Really wanting to boycott making this pick, but here goes. I have a hard time believing that there will not be more positive COVID-19 tests in New Orleans in the coming days that affect the personnel for this game. So far, six offensive coaches, one player, and the nutritionist have tested positive. They sure didn’t all pick it up on the Monday off. That’s an awful lot of staff that has to have come in contact with quite a few players of late. Whether more players test positive and aren’t allowed to play or not, this is likely to affect the game, even if as a constant distraction and changes in practice and meetings. Carolina played a solid game last week, but it was against the Jets. New Orleans’ defense played a great game against the Aaron Rodgerses. If the defense holds up again, the Saints likely take it, but I’m hedging my bets.

Joe: Panthers 37, Saints 34

Sam Darnold‘s home debut for Carolina will be a gritty back-and-forth divisional game. On the other side, Jameis Winston will play like he did versus the Packers. This week, he will come up short of starting 2-0.

Andersen: Saints 21, Panthers 17

I’ll be the first to admit that I slept on the Saints far too much last week. While I’m not expecting a similar trouncing of the Panthers, it’s clear that this team is still very relevant. New Orleans should be able to edge out Carolina as long as it can keep its COVID-19 situation under control.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sam: Rams 27, Colts 16

Everyone knew the Rams would be good, but most figured they’d still have to lean on the defense. The defense completely shut down opening day sacrificial lamb Chicago, as expected. Noteworthy, though, was a revitalized Matthew Stafford firing footballs deep down the field and torturing the Bears’ defense. The Colts have a solid secondary – wait, do they? I’m not so sure. Russell Wilson put up four touchdowns with ease and picked them apart. Expect more of that from Stafford on Sunday.

Joe: Rams 31, Colts 13

This game screams blowout. Russell Wilson picked apart the Colts’ defense last week while Matthew Stafford blew out the Bears in his Rams debut. The latter will pick up right where he left off, leaving this game out of reach early.

Andersen: Rams 34, Colts 14

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

Sam: Bills 31, Dolphins 24

Neither of these teams is fooling me again this week, so let’s return to regularly scheduled programming. The Bills are still a contender, regardless of just how bad the defense looked against Pittsburgh. Miami still has a long way to go, regardless of stealing a victory in Foxborough. If Buffalo comes out rusty on defense again, Miami will seize a lead. However, in all likelihood, Josh Allen will look more like 2020 than 2018 or 2019 and his playmakers are going to show up. Watch out for a monster game from Stefon Diggs.

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Joe: Bills 24, Dolphins 17

Josh Allen will rebound from the Bills’ loss to the Steelers with a win against Miami. The Bills’ defense will seal this one with a big-time stop late in the game.

Andersen: Bills 17, Dolphins 14

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

Sam: Patriots 24, Jets 19

The Patriots get back on track in their second-straight game against a division rival. Mac Jones isn’t getting enough credit for his solid play in the loss to the Dolphins in which he compiled a 102.6 rating. A 100-yard rusher in Week 1, Damien Harris looks to be the man in New England and gets a Jets team that coughed up 187 total yards to Christian McCaffery last week. New York doesn’t have a leg to stand on in the running game, let alone two. That’s more pressure on rookie Zach Wilson, who contends with Bill Belichick’s 21-6 record against rookie quarterbacks since 2000.

Joe: Jets 27, Patriots 17

In his home debut, Zach Wilson will lead this team to its first victory of the season. Rookie receiver Elijah Moore will have his first breakout performance in front of the Jets’ faithful. Mac Jones will make a few costly mistakes that the Patriots won’t be able to recover from.

Andersen: Patriots 26, Jets 13

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears

Sam: Bengals 27, Bears 24

Andy Dalton looks to beat Cincinnati for the second time since his departure prior to 2020. He’s going to have a bit more room to maneuver than he had against the Rams, but the Bengals’ defensive front has also undergone a massive facelift and held Dalvin Cook to 61 yards, repeatedly meeting him at the line of scrimmage. Chicago will try to get David Montgomery free on swings and screens to avoid the middle of the line and should move the ball in chunks. However, Cincinnati will find out what the Rams did. There is no denying that the defense in Chicago is getting older and they’ll be tested and bested by the Bengals’ young wideouts on the outside.

Joe: Bengals 31, Bears 17

Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase will exploit the Bears’ defense, similar to how Matthew Stafford and co. did in Week 1. The calls for Justin Fields to be the starting quarterback will begin to get even louder following Chicago’s 0-2 start.

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Andersen: Bengals 24, Bears 17

Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sam: Buccaneers 30, Falcons 14

Atlanta was unable to hang with Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense last Sunday, so what shot could they possibly have against the World Champs, who get a second-straight home game after the aerial dogfight against Dallas? This will prove to be an easier test. The Falcons’ offense is going to come around this season, but not this week against a Bucs defense that will show the 29 points they gave up to Dallas was an exception rather than the rule. 

Joe: Buccaneers 41, Falcons 24

This game is another one that has blowout written all over it. Tom Brady and the offense looked to be in midseason form last week, and the defense should be able to rebound from its questionable showing. On the other hand, the Falcons will have a tough day on both sides of the ball as head coach Arthur Smith still searches for his first victory.

Andersen: Buccaneers 41, Falcons 13

Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals

Sam: Cardinals 34, Vikings 20

In your lopsided spread of the week, Minnesota is only getting 4.5 points from Vegas after a loss to Cincinnati where Kirk Cousins was repeatedly harassed by the Bengals’ front. Meanwhile, Arizona stomped all over a solid Tennessee team on both sides of the ball, highlighted by Kyler Murray’s five touchdowns and Chandler Jones’ five sacks. Four points are too little. 10 points are too little. Arizona chews up SKOL and spits out a 2-0 record.

Joe: Cardinals 31, Vikings 20

The NFL’s most impressive team in Week 1, the Cardinals will jump out to an early lead against the Vikings. The Minnesota offense will look more like that which was expected. Defensively, they will have trouble matching up with DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of Kyler Murray’s weapons.

Andersen: Cardinals 31, Vikings 24

The Cardinals put on a show in Week 1. Rather than looking like a team with an elite offense but dismantled defense, Arizona boasted tremendous success on both sides of the football. While Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and Christian Kirk all had great games, so did defensive phenom Chandler Jones (five sacks). On the other hand, Minnesota fell to the Bengals in overtime and struggled to run the football. Arizona should snag a win here.

Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks

Sam: Seahawks 29, Titans 24

Were this game in Tennessee, it would be completely legitimate to beware of the letdown game for Seattle, who beat up on the Colts with ease last week. The game is not in Tennessee, though. It’s in Seattle and the 12th Man is going to be a difference-maker in crunch time. The Titans are a far better team than they displayed last week in the Arizona massacre and will come out with something to prove, starting with a healthy dose of Derrick Henry before getting A.J. Brown and Julio Jones involved. They’ll keep it close until the end before the home-field advantage has the final say in favor of Russell Wilson and company.

Joe: Titans 27, Seahawks 24

The Titans travel to Seattle to play in one of the most challenging stadiums for visitors. After their embarrassing loss to Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, head coach Mike Vrabel will have his team ready. Derrick Henry will get back to form and Ryan Tannehill will also play better. On the other side, Russell Wilson will throw three touchdowns in the loss.

Andersen: Seahawks 27, Titans 20

Don’t underestimate the power of the 12s, especially in a game against an offense that is easily flustered. Tennessee’s poor start to last week’s game left them in an early rut that they were unable to escape. Expect the Seahawks to win this one, especially after they took care of the Colts on the road.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sam: Cowboys 31, Chargers 27

Dallas gets to go on the road again, this time against a Chargers team that squeaked out a win against the Washington Football Team in Week 1. Justin Herbert will find the sledding much easier against the Cowboys’ defense and will look to air it out from the get-go. Ezekiel Elliott, meanwhile, hears the rumblings in the media and will look to put on a show against a Chargers front that is much improved but still susceptible. Dallas put up some fireworks in the opener only to come away with a loss. They won’t let that happen again.

Joe: Cowboys 31, Chargers 30

Dak Prescott will have success for the second time in as many weeks against one of the better defenses in the NFL. Justin Herbert and the offense will make it exciting but fall short.

Andersen: Cowboys 30, Chargers 20

The Cowboys looked really good against the Bucs on opening night, giving the reigning champions a run for their money in Week 1. Meanwhile, the Chargers defeated the Football Team by just four points. Dallas vs. Los Angeles should be an exciting game, but the Cowboys have enough offensive firepower to give them the edge here. Further, using their defense as a negative is harder to sell after the team drafted Micah Parsons.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sam: Chiefs 30, Ravens 23

Based on what happened against the Raiders, I can’t be convinced Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill won’t have an easy time getting through the Baltimore secondary. Lamar Jackson looked underprepared for the game and got little help from his receivers on Monday, and to beat the Chiefs, you have to bring your best stuff. The Ravens haven’t beaten Kansas City since 2012 and, right now, the two teams seem to be on opposite trajectories. This one isn’t even as close as the score would indicate.

Joe: Chiefs 37, Ravens 30

Week 1 proved that Andy Reid‘s team is still clicking on all cylinders, even with little to no preseason action. For Baltimore, until they prove they can consistently run the football outside of Lamar Jackson, defenses will have better success against him.

Andersen: Chiefs 31, Ravens 23

The Ravens were dismantled by both the Raiders and the turnover bug on Monday night, dropping them to 0-1 on the season. Meanwhile, the Chiefs won one of the most anticipated matchups of the season against the Browns. Quite simply, the Chiefs are the better team. As of now, while the Chiefs will likely lose a couple of games this season, it’s hard to predict which game will give them a loss. They should jump to 2-0 against Baltimore on primetime.

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

Sam: Packers 34, Lions 19

The Lions showed signs of life late in the game against San Francisco. They put up 33 points and appeared to find some things that work well on offense. The key words here are “late in the game.” Detroit cannot expect to win games picking away at the lead once the game is out of reach, and that’s exactly what they’ll try to do again this week. This time, the team will be attempting to beat a division rival coming off one of the worst offensive performances of Aaron Rodgers’ career. Aaron Jones gets going, Davante Adams sees plenty of open field, and all the D’Andre Swift in the world won’t be enough to stop the Packers in a Lambeau Field opener.

Joe: Packers 34, Lions 31

Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers will bounce back from a dismal Week 1 showing, throwing three touchdown passes in the Packers’ home opener. For the second week in a row, Jared Goff, head coach Dan Campbell, and the Lions will lose another close game. However, the spotlight of Monday night will show that this team isn’t the same old Lions.

Andersen: Lions 24, Packers 14

Call this an overreaction or contrarianism or pure idiocy if you so please. However, I have seen enough football to know that a slow start can be tough to shake. The Packers aren’t headed for a pitiful season and they should make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Detroit should finish under .500. Still, the Lions played ferociously in Week 1, giving 100 percent effort until the final whistle and staying in the game for all 60 minutes. The same cannot be said about Green Bay. The Packers will eventually right the ship, but it won’t be done in Week 2.

Point Totals

Sam: 12
Joe: 16
Andersen: 20

Records

Sam: 6-10
Joe: 8-8
Andersen: 10-6


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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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