The season’s opening week saw a number of big upsets that wreaked havoc across NFL pick ’em pools. Will the favorites bounce back or will the underdogs rule the day again? The expert number-crunchers from TeamRankings are here to help with your Week 2 NFL picks, offering up strategy advice and tips to help with you dominate your football pools.
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Week 2 NFL Pick ’em Pool Picks: Tips, strategy
How We Identify NFL Week 2 Value Picks
Week 2 presents a unique opportunity. We have one week of results, and it’s easy for the public to overreact to the first game. That, in turn, provides some value if you can stay steady and row against the tides
To win an NFL picks pool, you have to score points that your opponents miss. That means you need to identify unpopular picks that might be worth a calculated gamble and avoid trendy upset picks not worth the risk. This approach to making picks is a big reason why since 2014, an average of 71 percent of our subscribers have reported winning a prize in a football pick ’em contest.
This post was written on Tuesday, but if win odds and pick popularity numbers hold, the teams below all provide compelling risk-versus-reward gambits to differentiate your Week 2 picks from your pool opponents. Just realize that we’re not necessarily saying you should make all of these picks. In particular, some upset picks may be unnecessarily risky for your pool, even if they are technically undervalued. (If you want our game-by-game pick recommendations for all of your specific pools, use our Football Pick ’em Picks product.)
Note: Win odds and estimated pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans
Point Spread: -12.5
Category: Heavy favorite at a reasonable price
The Browns are heavy favorites this week against Houston, and ordinarily we wouldn’t highlight such a big favorite. However, the dynamics of this week dictate that Cleveland does provide some relative value, at least compared to how favorites this big are usually priced.
Houston’s upset win over Jacksonville apparently has created some confidence with the public. Just as many pick ’em players are picking a Texans upset in the game as they are picking other underdogs who have much higher chances of winning (we will highlight them below).
In comparison, Tampa Bay, also as a 12.5-point favorite, has 98-percent public pick popularity, so pick ’em entries are four times more likely to pick a Texans upset compared to a Falcons upset. Four other favorites are being picked by over 90 percent of the public, and three of those are favored by less than six points.
This isn’t a game to make an upset pick, and in confidence pools, you should be able to get some differentiation value by making Cleveland your top confidence pick.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Point Spread: -3.0
Category: Favorite priced like an underdog
The Chargers are a three-point favorite against Dallas, but the public is in the “love” phase of its love-hate relationship with the Cowboys after watching them come within seconds of beating Tampa Bay in the prime-time season opener. Meanwhile, few people outside of Washington and Los Angeles watched the Chargers win a low-scoring affair in the early Sunday time slot.
There are four other teams favored by three or 3.5 points this week who have public pick popularity of 75 percent or more, so the Chargers are coming at a huge overreaction discount here.
Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Point Spread: -3.0
Category: Favorite priced as a coin-flip
Here’s yet another game where the public is likely overreacting to a prime-time game result. The Bears lost by 20 points in the Sunday Night Football opener. The Bengals won in overtime against Minnesota after blowing a sizable lead.
The public is picking the Bengals slightly more often right now, allowing you to get a little value by just sticking with the favorite.
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Point Spread: +4.5
Category: Value gamble in weekly prize pools
Look kids — another huge public reaction to a Week 1 result. The Cardinals are a 4.5-point favorite against Minnesota, but the public is picking the Cardinals as often as they are picking Cleveland, the largest favorite of Week 2. Just last week, we highlighted the Cardinals as a value-driven gamble when just 20 percent of the public was picking them to beat the Titans. Now the fickle public has completely turned.
Picking the Vikings is a little too risky in season-long pools, but if you are in a weekly contest, this is a fantastic differentiation opportunity, as just eight percent of the public is picking an upset that isn’t expected but quite possible. We project Minnesota with 37-percent win probability.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Rams
Point Spread: +4.0
Category: Value gamble in weekly prize pools
Finally, we have a team that impressed the public in a prime-time spot in Week 1 and is getting a huge share of picks. The Rams are being picked by 90 percent of pick ’em entries as a road favorite at Indianapolis. The Colts are coming off a loss to Seattle.
Just as with Minnesota, Indianapolis provides a great bang-for-the-buck upset play in weekly contests, with just 10 percent of the public picking an upset that has around a 40-percent chance of happening.
Get All Our Week 2 NFL Picks
Our Football Pick ’em Picks is the only product that gives you the picks, tools, and content you need to maximize your edge in NFL pick ’em pools. It uses algorithms to identify the calculated risks that give you the best chance to win your straight-up, point spread, or confidence pool based on characteristics like your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure.
Over the past seven years, our subscribers have reported winning prizes in season-long football pools more than three times as often as one would expect. If you want to learn more, you can also check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick ’em pools.
Good luck in your pools this week!