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NFL Week 2 picks: Is it too early to call the Cowboys' game against the Falcons a must win?

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It’s too early to say any game in Week 2 is a must win. Even 0-2 teams have 14 weeks to get things right.

And yet, the history of 0-2 teams making the playoffs is miserable. Since 2007 there have been 107 teams to start 0-2 and just 12 have made the playoffs. That’s 11.2 percent. None of the nine 0-2 teams last season made it.

There are 16 teams trying to avoid 0-2, and none will be under more pressure than the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas came into the season with a lot of hype and optimism and left Los Angeles 0-1 after a close loss to the Rams. Mike McCarthy made a questionable decision to pass on a game-tying field goal to go for it on fourth down. A questionable pass interference call has been debated for days. Dallas’ offense did very little, especially late in the game when it needed a long drive.

It’s one game. No real need for worry. But a home loss to the Atlanta Falcons would really get Cowboys fans in a panic.

The Falcons are not a fun matchup. They had three receivers last week get nine catches and more than 100 yards. Atlanta can score in a hurry, though too often the Falcons wait until they’re down a couple scores to heat up.

Dallas is a 4-point favorite at BetMGM, down from 6 at the start of the week. People are already concerned about the Cowboys, it seems. I’ll take the Cowboys -4. And I’ll be ready for the wave of negativity if they fall to 0-2 after an offseason of positive coverage.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) walks off the field after a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) walks off the field after a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )

Here are the against-the-spread picks for Week 2 of the NFL season, with lines from BetMGM:

Bengals (+6) over Browns

Throughout these picks, you’ll hear a lot about not overreacting to one week. Week 2 is a favorite among veteran NFL bettors, because you can take advantage of the fact that every NFL week is viewed as the definitive answer on each team, especially when there’s only one game to over-analyze. Because there’s such intense interest in the NFL, and usually six days between games to break down every angle, every game takes on too much importance in our minds. The challenge is figuring out what surprises we saw in the opening week are signs of things to come, and which results were just random one-week variance in a competitive league.

All that said, maybe we shouldn’t be too down on the Browns after being blown out in Baltimore. It was their first game with a new coach and the Ravens might be the best team in football. Still, I can’t trust them to cover almost a touchdown.

Eagles (+1.5) over Rams

This is a good example of not overreacting to one week. The Rams did play well against the Cowboys and the Eagles blew a 17-0 lead to a Washington team everyone assumed would be one of the two or three worst in the NFL. The Eagles were favored by 2.5 points at the start of the week, and the line has moved four points. Injuries don’t help Philadelphia, but this line would have looked ridiculous before last Sunday.

Panthers (+9.5) over Buccaneers

Nobody is worried about the 0-1 Bucs, apparently. There’s no shame in losing at New Orleans. The Panthers can move the ball and the backdoor cover will be in play.

Steelers (-7) over Broncos

We have been talking about it a lot the past month: If Ben Roethlisberger is back, the Steelers check just about every other box you’d want in a contender. They looked great on defense in Week 1 and the offense should be even better in Week 2.

49ers (-7) over Jets

Perhaps this is a case of overreacting to how bad the Jets looked in Week 1. But did you see them? I just can’t figure out how that offense is going to score. And the 49ers will be angry after Week 1.

Dolphins (+5.5) over Bills

We’ll see a better effort from the Dolphins in Week 2. Buffalo did look good in Week 1 and if they can cover here, they’d stamp themselves as a real threat to be one of the NFL’s best teams this season.

Colts (-3) over Vikings

Indianapolis lost on Sunday and took a lot of survivor pool picks with them. They also out-gained the Jaguars 445-241 and never punted. I won’t be too down on Indianapolis after a bad loss.

Lions (+5.5) over Packers

Hey, remember a week ago when a lot of people were pumping up the Lions as a potential NFC North champion? Let’s give them one more chance, and hope that they learned some lessons after yet another blown fourth-quarter lead. This pick gets stronger if Kenny Golladay and Jeff Okudah can return to the lineup.

Giants (+5.5) over Bears

For three quarters Sunday, it seemed impossible the Bears could turn back to Mitchell Trubisky in Week 2. Then the Bears had a great comeback in the fourth quarter and those questions disappeared. I’d still like to see Trubisky repeat that fourth quarter before I back the Bears at a spread this high.

Titans (-8) over Jaguars

The Jaguars were double-digit underdogs at the start of the week. Should a win over the Colts, in which they were nearly doubled up in yards, really change our perception of Jacksonville that much?

Cardinals (-6.5) over Washington

Washington’s defensive line is a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Still, I’m buying Arizona being a nice 2020 breakout.

Texans (+7) over Ravens

Baltimore is a really good football team. Still, the Texans have a few extra days to rest and prepare, losing to the Chiefs is no reason for alarm and Deshaun Watson is still tough to lay a touchdown against.

Chiefs (-8.5) over Chargers

Kansas City just seems like a team we should back until they prove otherwise, or the lines get adjusted too high.

Seahawks (-4) over Patriots

Kind of strange to see the Patriots getting more than a field goal coming off a win. New England did look good, especially on defense. A week of film on the new Cam Newton offense will help Seattle, which looked great. The one issue here is that Seattle isn’t going to have that home-field advantage we’re used to.

Raiders (+5) over Saints

The Michael Thomas injury is one of the rare non-quarterback injuries that should move the line. The line did move about a point after news broke that Thomas could miss some games with an ankle injury, but it still seems a bit high.

Last week: 9-5-2

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