It was an exciting and unpredictable Week 1 of the NFL season, and it ought to be an equally fun Week 2 given the slate of matchups.


Below are my confidence level straight ups. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 will be available to all NFL Pickwatch readers.


The selections with a 6+ confidence level, a group of games that have netted a 153-53-1 record over the past two seasons (including a 2-2-1 mark last week and a 70-24-1 mark last year), will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers. Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheat code to beat the sportsbooks over the last six years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.


Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City


There was an expectation that the Chiefs offense would lose a lot of firepower without Tyreek Hill, yet the reality is that Andy Reid simply shifted his offense from a lot of vertical passes to tons of short passes. This required Patrick Mahomes to buy into the more efficient approach and his five touchdown passes inside the 10-yard line indicates Mahomes is on board with this 100 percent. The Chargers can keep up in a shootout, but with Keenan Allen out, Los Angeles will have to rely on the inconsistent Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, and DeAndre Carter to keep up with Kansas City. That’s not a good combination to force a high scoring game and when that is added to the short week road contest against a division foe, it makes the Chiefs the percentage play.


KC’s pick: Kansas City


Confidence level: 4


Non-paywall picks


Miami at Baltimore


Tua Tagovailoa is taking forward strides in the Mike McDaniel offense, but it’s tough to look past the fact that he has thrown an interception in seven straight road starts. Baltimore came into this season with the most skilled secondary in the league and thus can absorb the multiple injuries this group has coming into this contest. The Ravens will also likely benefit from the return J.K. Dobbins, who is on track to start after practicing in full this week. Add that to this being a road game for the Dolphins and Miami having injuries at both offensive tackle positions and Baltimore is the pick in this one.


KC’s pick: Baltimore


Confidence level: 3


New York Jets at Cleveland


The Jets skill position players should make this a dominant platoon, but the subpar quarterback play just doesn’t allow for this group to play to its talent level. That is why New York posted an abysmal -8.07 offensive expected points added mark last week, a total that was 27th in that category in Week 1 (per Pro Football Reference). Cleveland doesn’t have much of a passing game, either, but it did grind out 217 rushing yards on 39 carries against Carolina and gave up only 54 rushing yards to a Christian McCaffrey-led ground game. That’s a formula for success again this week, so the Browns earn this selection.


KC’s pick: Cleveland


Confidence level: 5


Washington at Detroit


Frank Reich had so little trust in Carson Wentz’s ability to protect the ball in the red zone that he gave Jonathan Taylor an NFL record 85 red zone carries in 2021. It’s early yet but Wentz has seemed to have earned the trust of the Commanders coaches, as they allowed him to throw passes on three of Washington’s four red zone plays last week. Wentz completed all three throws and two went for touchdowns, which is a dangerous trend against a Detroit defense that might be the worst in the league. Combine that with Antonio Gibson rushing like his job is at stake (which it might be when Brian Robinson returns) it’s enough to push this pick into the Washington column.


KC’s pick: Washington


Confidence level: 5


Indianapolis at Jacksonville


The Colts were rattled by last year’s season ending loss to the Jaguars and the reverberations of that were still being felt this past week when Indianapolis cut kicker Rodrigo Blankenship after he had a bad performance in last week’s tie game against the Texans. The Colts come into this contest banged up, as Shaquille Leonard is out and Michael Pittman, Kenny Moore, and DeForest Buckner are all questionable. The Jaguars let Trevor Lawrence air the ball out early and often last week and will let him do that again. Merge that with Jacksonville’s combination of James Robinson and Travis Etienne being able to mostly offset Jonathan Taylor, this game being in Jacksonville, and the Colts penchant for slow starts and the Jaguars are a Week 2 upset selection.


KC’s pick: Jacksonville


Confidence level: 1


Tampa Bay at New Orleans


Tampa Bay’s passing game looked out of sync in last week’s win over Dallas, but a lot of that had to do with injuries. Chris Godwin is likely to miss this game, but Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage all practiced on Friday, so this platoon should be in better physical shape for this one. The same cannot be said for Alvin Kamara, who missed practices on Thursday and Friday and thus is almost certain to be out for this matchup. The Saints don’t want to rely on Jameis Winston’s passing to win this game, but they may have to. That’s a low percentage move against Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers long track record of struggling in New Orleans keeps this as one of the lowest confidence selections in Week 2.


KC’s pick: Tampa Bay


Confidence level: 1


Carolina at New York Giants


Pretty much every New York Giants beat writer tried to tell the world that Saquon Barkley was back to his pre-injury form in training camp and Barkley proved them right by racking up a Week 1 leading 164 rushing yards in New York’s upset win over Tennessee. Christian McCaffrey couldn’t say the same last year, as he had middle of the road numbers in my good blocking metrics in 2021 and posted a dismal 3.3 yards per carry against the Browns. These offenses basically go as their bell cow backs go and with Barkley looking closer to elite form than CMC, the Giants are the preferred option here.


KC’s pick: New York


Confidence level: 2


Cincinnati at Dallas


Week 2 contests can never truly be considered must-win matchups, but this is about as close as it gets as the Bengals and Cowboys both desperately want to avoid an 0-2 start. Cincinnati could have notched a win last week despite its pass blocking being a sieve, as a better blocking effort by Drew Sample would have led to a successful extra point that would have won the Week 1 matchup against the Steelers. The Bengals also come into this game healthy, as Tee Higgins will return after missing much of the Pittsburgh game with a concussion. The same cannot be said for Dallas, as Dak Prescott is only one of five starters the Cowboys will be missing for this matchup. That is more than enough to put this game into the Bengals win column.


KC’s pick: Cincinnati


Confidence level: 5


Chicago at Green Bay


The sports betting world is on board with the Packers to bounce back after last week’s debacle, as Green Bay is a double-digit point favorite at most sportsbooks. The primary reason for this is that the Packers have won 21 out of the past 24 games against Chicago, but the reality is that Green Bay’s offense is in terrible shape without Davante Adams and the Bears showed that they are capable of keeping up with a quality team in last week’s win over San Francisco. This pick will still go in the direction of Green Bay due to the Bears needing to prove that the Packers are no longer living rent free in their heads, but the confidence level is much lower than the point spread indicates it should be.


KC’s pick: Green Bay


Confidence level: 3


Minnesota at Philadelphia


Justin Jefferson may be headed for a season for the ages, as last week he racked up a phenomenal 16.7 yards per target on 11 targets against a quality Green Bay secondary. He was so dominant that Minnesota didn’t even need to incorporate Adam Thielen or K.J. Osborn into its passing attack very much. That means there is upside to be found here when that duo is added and when that is combined with a Dalvin Cook/Alexander Mattison led rushing attack, it makes this one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Philadelphia has the talents of Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, and one of the best run blocking walls in the NFL, but it doesn’t have quite as much capacity to keep up in a shootout game as Minnesota does, so the Vikings are the selection by a small margin.


KC’s pick: Minnesota


Confidence level: 2


KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 155-55-2 over the past two seasons (including a 2-2-1 mark last week and a 70-24-1 mark last year), are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.