NFL Week 2 survivor picks: Chubb, Cleveland to cruise against Houston
If you followed my advice in Week 1, congratulations on making it to Week 2. The 49ers largely cruised to victory - although the Lions made it interesting in the final minutes - and if you avoided the Jaguars, you also avoided a devastating early exit.
Let's break down the Week 2 slate:
|Texans||Browns (-11.5)||CLE (9)|
|Falcons||Buccaneers (-13)||TB (9)|
|Titans||Seahawks (-5.5)||SEA (6)|
|Rams||Colts (+4)||LAR (5)|
|49ers||Eagles (+3.5)||SF (5)|
|Lions||Packers (-10.5)||GB (4)|
|Broncos||Jaguars (+6)||DEN (3)|
|Raiders||Steelers (-6)||PIT (3)|
|Patriots||Jets (+5)||NE (3)|
|Chiefs||Ravens (+3)||KC (3)|
|Vikings||Cardinals (-4)||ARI (2)|
|Cowboys||Chargers (-3)||LAC (2)|
|Giants||Washington (-3.5)||WSH (2)|
|Bengals||Bears (-3)||CHI (1)|
|Bills||Dolphins (+3.5)||MIA (1)|
|Saints||Panthers (+3)||CAR (1)|
Top pick: Cleveland Browns
There's a tie atop my confidence rankings, but there was no hesitation to give the Browns the tiebreaker here. As I said last week, divisional games are a hard pass for me in survivor pools. The Falcons - who looked terrible in Week 1 - will, in all likelihood, be handled easily by a Buccaneers team at home for a second straight week with extra time to prepare.
Matt Ryan looked cooked, but Atlanta's offense has legitimate weapons and is only going to get better under Arthur Smith. You don't have to go too far back to find examples of why this is a classic stay-away game: the Falcons won twice on the road in 2019 as double-digit underdogs, including once as 13.5-point 'dogs in New Orleans.
That brings us to the Browns.
They lost a heartbreaker at Arrowhead in Week 1 - the toughest game on anyone's schedule this season - but there were plenty of positives to draw from. Cleveland's 8.2 yards per play were the most of any team in Week 1. The Browns averaged 5.9 yards per rush (tied for first) and 10.9 per pass (third). Plus, they led by nine with just over 10 minutes to go and had done a great job of taking away the big play up to that point.
Then, Tyreek Hill happened. The Texans don't have Tyreek Hill. It took a near-perfect game from the best quarterback in football, Patrick Mahomes, to narrowly beat Cleveland. The Texans don't have Patrick Mahomes.
The Browns' rushing attack was terrific, and Nick Chubb looked unstoppable at times. He amassed 83 yards on 15 carries (5.5 yards per rush), while Kareem Hunt recorded 33 on six. This team is going to be a nightmare playing with the lead, and it now gets a Houston defense that ranked dead last against the rush last season.
Even in Week 1, the Texans allowed 4.8 yards per rush. However, Urban Meyer inexplicably refused to hand the ball off early - 13 of the Jaguars' first 15 plays were passes - before Jacksonville got into a negative game script. But if Carlos Hyde can rumble for 4.9 yards per carry behind a bad Jaguars offensive line, just imagine what Chubb can do behind Cleveland's.
The Browns are a talented and well-coached team, which poses a nightmare of a matchup for Houston. I told you last week not to pick against the Texans in the opener, and they proved me right. I also said we'd be picking against them soon. To quote Cosmo Kramer, "Giddyup." The fade Houston train is leaving the station.
Avoid: Green Bay Packers
The Lions looked bad, as expected, for most of Week 1 ... until they didn't. The Packers looked terrible, unexpectedly, for most of Week 1 ... and they never got better. It's only Week 2 of the league's first 18-week campaign, but this feels like a huge game for both teams.
Following a drama-filled offseason, everyone was ready to turn the page on the Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay soap opera. But that chapter is still being written. In an interview with Erin Andrews on Fox's pregame show Sunday, Rodgers admitted he did, in fact, contemplate retirement, saying: "I don't think I have anything left to prove on the field."
Those aren't exactly inspiring words from the face of your franchise. There's a non-zero chance Rodgers is still fed up with the organization. He added: "They wouldn't commit to me past 2021. So, I figured if they wanted to make a change, even though I just won MVP, why wait? They drafted my replacement, so let him play if that's what you want."
Rodgers also said he didn't think he was 100% able to "commit to everything that my job entails." Are we seriously ruling out the fact that Rodgers' head just isn't in it anymore - at least with the Packers? How motivated and committed is he? Rodgers averaged a pathetic 4.8 yards per pass attempt in Week 1, with no touchdowns and two interceptions, before being supplanted by his "replacement."
Now, he faces a divisional foe in prime time with a week of storylines and questions about his relationship with the team clouding his preparation. Plus, the Lions proved themselves to be a pesky bunch against San Francisco. Say what you want about Dan Campbell - the memes write themselves - but his team won't quit at any point this season. He'll strap the pads on himself before that happens.
Detroit collected a league-high 31 first downs in Week 1, with Green Bay managing a league-low 14. While the Packers' pass attack faltered, so too did their running game. They managed just 2.9 yards per rush - only the Jets fared worse - while the Lions found some real success on the ground. That's going to be the blueprint for Dan Campbell's team, and it's been an Achilles' heel for the Packers for years now. The recipe is there for Detroit to pull the upset, in what I'm hereby dubbing the Jamaal Williams revenge game.
There's a very real chance Rodgers responds to a week of questions by going scorched earth on one of the league's worst teams, but I need to see it before I'm willing to buy in on a Green Bay squad that looked as bad as any in Week 1.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.