Three NFL Week 2 Upset Picks To Consider (2023)
These upset picks for NFL Week 2 stand out as value bets based on model predictions, matchup research, and/or recent news.
September 13, 2023 - by Jason Lisk
Justin Fields and the Bears will look to bounce back in Week 2 (Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire)
Hitting an NFL Week 2 upset pick that the public didn’t see coming isn’t just about bragging rights. Historically, NFL underdogs tend to offer more fertile hunting grounds for betting value than favorites do.
Thus begins our quest to identify which underdogs will truly have that dog in them during NFL Week 2. In this article, we pick our three favorite NFL Week 2 upset picks based on moneyline odds, or the relative payout you’d get if you bet on the underdog to win the game outright.
Some of these upset picks will be close to coin-flip propositions, while others may be longshots that we expect to lose much more often than win. (See the end of this article for some important notes on expectations.)
The unifying theme is a belief that these picks are all sensible gambles from a risk vs. reward standpoint, and will prove to be profitable bets over the long run.
Upset Picks Results to Date
We keep track of our overall season performance against consensus moneyline odds (at publication time) for every upset pick we make in this column.
We started writing this article a few weeks into the 2021 NFL season. From inception through the end of the 2022 season, the picks we highlighted went 44-56-2 (a 44% win rate) for a total profit of +23.1 units, if you had flat-bet one unit on each pick.
(Because we’re picking underdogs at plus-money odds, we don’t need to hit 52.4% or even 50% of them to turn a profit.)
Last Week: 1-2 for -0.8 units
2023 Season: 1-2 for -0.8 units
Oh, what might have been. All three of our Week 1 picks got closing line value relative to our release line at Thursday publication time, and all three teams were leading at some point in the fourth quarter. Going 1-2 feels a bit disappointing given those scenarios, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
- Arizona (+271) gave Washington a game, but fumbled the ball away late and lost 20-16.
- Tennessee (+151) didn’t score a touchdown and also suffered three Ryan Tannehill interceptions, but still only lost by one, 16-15.
- Cleveland (+118) crushed a struggling Bengals offense 24-3.
To get all our favorite betting picks for NFL Week 2, which may include point spread picks, over/under picks, props, or other bet types, check out our Staff Betting Picks.
Week 2 NFL Upset Picks
In the analysis below, “SU” means a team’s straight up win-loss record, while “ATS” means its record against the spread.
Chicago Bears (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Point Spread: +3
This is a playable moneyline and point spread pick according to our Ensemble Forecast model, which are picking up several regression factors that could provide value on the underdog Bears in this matchup.
We have a tale of two teams here, and the potential for bettor overreaction after one week of games. Tampa Bay won in an upset at Minnesota in Week 1, but the Bucs were outgained by 127 yards, and benefited from a +3 turnover margin.
Chicago was the opposite, losing 38-20 as a slight favorite against Green Bay despite the total yards for each team being pretty even. Green Bay only had 15 first downs in the game, but came up with some big plays and a pick-six, and the Bears were -2 in turnovers.
While QB Baker Mayfield is getting some praise for the road upset last week, he only averaged 5.1 yards per pass attempt in his Bucs debut. Tampa Bay also had only 73 rushing yards on 33 attempts, so the offense wasn’t very efficient overall, but just bunched its key plays together.
We’ll play against that inefficient offensive performance in Week 2 now that we’re getting points, going against a team that is getting skewered in the Chicago media but may get better turnover luck in Week 2.
Carolina Panthers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
Point Spread: +3
This is a playable moneyline value pick according to our Ensemble Forecast model.
The Panthers are a home dog against the division rival Saints, coming off a game in which Carolina scored only 10 points in Bryce Young’s first career start.
The Saints are also one of the most popular picks in NFL pick’em contests this week, so this is a chance to play against public sentiment. In game winner based pools, 87% of the public is picking the Saints. In point spread based pools, the Saints still have sky-high 72% pick popularity, making them the week’s most popular pick. (In Week 1, the five most popular spread picks went 1-4 ATS and 2-3 SU, all as favorites.)
Let’s give some stat-based support for the Panthers’ upset odds here as well:
- The Panthers lost last week in large part because of a -3 turnover margin, as they outgained Atlanta in total yards, while the Carolina defense held the Falcons to 221 total yards and 13 first downs.
- The Saints converted some big plays against the Titans last week, including a 41-yard bomb on third down to seal the 1-point win. But they only had 15 first downs and struggled to run the ball with RB Jamaal Williams (2.6 yards per carry). RB Alvin Kamara is still suspended.
So we can points with a home team here, against a team that may struggle to run the ball (unlike Carolina’s last opponent, Atlanta), and where the underdog is coming off an extreme negative turnover margin game and solid defensive performance.
New England Patriots (vs. Miami Dolphins)
Point Spread: +2.5
This is a borderline playable moneyline value pick for Week 2 according to our Ensemble Forecast model, but we went with it because Seattle (another one we considered) is facing some injury uncertainty.
Like the Panthers pick, it’s also a play against public sentiment after last week, as the Dolphins are the second-most popular spread pick in Week 2 pick’em contests, with only 17% of public game winner picks are on New England. Meanwhile, we give the Patriots 44% win odds.
Miami exploded for 36 points against the Chargers, with WR Tyreek Hill racking up over 200 receiving yards and five receptions of 20+ yards. We anticipate that Bill Belichick will have a better game plan than the Chargers did to keep Hill from dominating the game.
New England came within one or two key plays of beating the defending NFC Champion Eagles last week, and might be a bit undervalued with QB Mac Jones having an actual offensive coordinator to work with this year. The Patriots had 382 total yards while holding the Eagles to 251 yards, and racked up 24 first downs as they nearly came back from an early 16-0 hole.
With Miami winning and teams like the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals all losing last week, the Dolphins will be getting a lot of chatter on the airwaves in Week 2, and we’ll fade the noise.
Upset Pick Expectations
Whenever you read about upset picks from a betting perspective, it’s important to understand the implications. Both the betting markets and our models give all three of these three teams less than a 50-50 chance to win.
If you bet an underdog on the point spread, that isn’t such a big deal to you. You’re just hoping for the pick to at least keep it close and cover the number.
If you bet an underdog on the moneyline, though, you need them to win the game outright. When that happens, you bet produces an outsized return.
Depending on the payout odds, you can still turn a profit by winning, say, 30 or 35 out of every 100 moneyline bets that you make on underdogs. However, you need to manage your bankroll carefully to weather what could be long losing streaks along the way.
Remember that we expect to get the majority of these picks wrong, and we also expect to see big swings in results from week to week. That includes losing all three picks in plenty of weeks.
After two straight seasons of profitable picks for this column, will the advice be profitable again in 2023? Who knows. Given the lower win probabilities and larger payout odds inherent with underdogs, variance can be pretty wild over an 18-week season and only around 50 total picks.
Profitability may end up depending on whether or not we hit a few home runs over the course of the season with long shot picks, or whether a several-week heater more than offsets most weeks being losers.
Given the dynamics at play, the week-to-week performance of our three picks is not worth dwelling on. We’ll see how pick performance ends up overall when the dust settles at the end of the 2023 season.
NFL Week 2 Betting Picks & Model Predictions
To see a curated list of some of our favorite Week 2 betting picks, along with the rationale behind each pick, check out our Staff Betting Picks.
To see algorithmic picks from our various data models for Week 2 (including game winner, point spread, over/under, and moneyline value predictions), visit our NFL picks page on TeamRankings.
To find your own trends and angles for NFL betting, check out our free and customizable NFL betting trends tool.