2022 NFL Preseason Week 2 Odds, Overview & Picks

By Hank Blaine

Week 2 of the preseason likely will be the week where starters play the most – although some head coaches, like the Rams’ Sean McVay, opts to not play many of his key guys at all in exhibition games these days.

Top 2022 NFL Preseason Week 2 Matchups and Expert Picks

Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots

  • When: Friday, August 19th, 2022. 7:00pm EST.
  • Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
  • NFL Odds: Panthers (+2.5) // Patriots (-2.5)

These teams have been fighting this week during joint practices so tempers could be high on Friday. The Patriots got some bad news this week when they placed veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season and comeback attempt with the franchise where he became a Super Bowl hero seven years ago.

Butler, 32, suffered a hip injury. He had started in the Patriots’ preseason opener, playing 23 snaps and recovering a fumble, but had not practiced since. Butler was the hero of the team’s 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. His interception at the goal line in the final minute is one of the iconic plays in franchise and NFL history.

Will the Carolina quarterback job be decided after this game? Former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick (in 2018) Baker Mayfield is battling Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall pick in 2018) for the starting gig. Most believe it will go to Mayfield.

He started the preseason opener, a 23-21 win at Washington, and finished his day 4-of-7 passing for 45 yards and led Carolina on a 13-play opening drive that culminated in a field goal. He scurried for 3 yards on one play and botched the exchange with center Pat Elflein just inside the red zone, contributing to the first drive stalling and ending with a field goal.

Darnold took over with Carolina in the red zone after a fumble by Washington’s Antonio Gibson and completed a play-action fade pass under pressure to Rashard Higgins for an 8-yard TD. Darnold went back out for a second drive, threw incomplete on third down and finished 2 of 3 for 16 yards.

Even if Mayfield starts every game, Darnold will make more money this year. He has a fifth-year option salary of $18.8 million, along with a 17th-game sweetener of $1.1 million. Mayfield, who originally had the same fifth-year salary, agreed to take a pay cut in excess of $3 million to facilitate a trade from Cleveland. Both guys will be free agents after the season.

2022 NFL Preaseson Week 2 Pick: Panthers

Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills

  • When: Saturday, August 20th, 2022. 1pm EST.
  • Where: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
  • NFL Odds: Broncos (+6) // Bills (-6)

Neither team’s star quarterback, Russell Wilson of Denver and Josh Allen of Buffalo, played in his team’s preseason opener but is likely to get at least a series on Saturday. Just four of the Broncos’ 22 starters across their offense and defense appeared in their first preseason game.

Coach Nathaniel Hackett explained this week that the reps the Broncos get in practice can be just as valuable as preseason action — and it can come in a more controlled environment.

“You know me — I don’t like the preseason,” Hackett said. “That’s just my philosophy, my upbringing after just seeing all the different things that I’ve seen in the past. There’s always that risk-reward. I think we would all sit here and say, ‘Sure, we want the guys to go out there, do good and get reps.’ In the end, we want to be smart with the guys. It’s a 17-game season.”

According to reports, Courtland Sutton is emerging as Wilson’s go-to target in practices. With Tim Patrick’s season-ending knee injury, Sutton’s and Jerry Jeudy’s roles will only be more prominent, especially in the red zone. Wilson has shown in training camp he’s going to move the ball around to find the matchups he likes. But he’s also shown in practices that when he really needs a completion or has been moved off his spot by the pass rush, he’s going to look for Sutton.

One of Buffalo’s most impressive players in its preseason opener against the Colts was linebacker Baylon Spector. The team’s seventh-round draft pick from Clemson was all over the field against the Colts, finishing with a team-high nine tackles and one pass defensed in a 27-24 victory. Spector played 50 snaps, second on the defense behind only defensive tackle Prince Emili (53).

Spector is likely to see a good deal more playing time vs. Denver as he tries to earn a reserve spot on the roster behind starters Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. With fellow linebacker Andre Smith serving a six-game suspension to start the season, it remains to be seen if the Bills will keep five or six linebackers on the 53-man roster.

2022 NFL Preaseson Week 2 Pick: Broncos

Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets

  • When: Monday, August 22nd, 2022. 8:00pm EST.
  • Where: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NY
  • NFL Odds: Falcons (-2) // Jets (+2)

This is the lone game on Monday and wraps up Week 2 of the preseason. The Jets of course will not have No. 1 QB Zach Wilson after he injured his knee in the preseason opener and had surgery this week. Wilson’s arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday was deemed a success, with no surprises from the original diagnosis. His meniscus required only a “trim” — as the Jets expected.

The Jets don’t want to rush Wilson back on the field, with sources emphasizing they won’t play him until he’s 100 percent. That he injured the same knee last season — suffering a sprained PCL that cost him four games — is a factor. He probably will take at least two weeks of practice before he’s cleared to play, so the calendar is working against him with regard to opening day.

Joe Flacco will start Week 1 vs. Baltimore but it remains to be seen if he plays here as the Jets don’t want to risk another injury. Offensive lineman Mehki Becton’s season already is over after he was placed on injured reserve. He played only one game last season after hurting his knee in the 2021 season opener. The 11th overall selection in 2020 played 14 games as a rookie.

The first receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft was Drake London by Atlanta even though he suffered a fairly serious injury his final season at USC. London injured his knee in the preseason opener vs. Detroit and won’t play this week. Because the team is thin at wideout, it signed KeeSean Johnson this week. Johnson spent training camp in San Francisco with the 49ers after signing a reserve/future contract in January.

Prior to that, Johnson was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, making his league debut against the Lions in 2019. He recorded 36 receptions for 360 yards (10.0 avg.) and one touchdown in 18 games (five starts) for the Cardinals from 2019-20. Johnson spent the 2021 season on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.

2022 NFL Preaseson Week 2 Pick: Jets

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READ MORE: 2022 NFL Preseason Week 3 Odds, Overview & Picks