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NFL picks against the spread, Week 2: Can the 49ers cover a huge spread?

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The San Francisco 49ers are 13.5-point underdogs against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. Can they spring the upset? Time for my LVH SuperContest picks, as well as my picks for the remaining games.

Welcome back for Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season. The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the Carolina Panthers, and are 13.5-point underdogs. I’d like to see the 49ers shock the world and pick up the upset, but for now, I’m just hoping they can find a way to cover. The team should be better than last season, but this short week facing a team playing on ten days rest is a brutal matchup.

If the 49ers are going to cover the spread, they need to play another dominant defensive game. They were disciplined in their assignments, and strong in their tackling. That kept Todd Gurley bottled up all game, and prevented the Rams from getting anything going on offense. They face just a few more weapons against the Panthers, so they’ll need to take this up even further. I don’t think the 49ers can hang in a shootout with Carolina, but if they can force some turnovers, this game could be closer than expected.

For the third straight season, I am back for the LVH SuperContest. SB Nation's partners over at Odds Shark are sponsoring my entry again. The contest requires selecting 5 games each week and picking them against the spread. This year's contest is expected to have over 1,800 participants, which is a new record for the SuperContest. SB Nation is represented by myself and Matt Ufford, and there are folks from all over the blogosphere involved. Everybody picks their own five games and there will be a running leaderboard HERE. After Week 1, you can follow my standings under the name "Fooch.”

I’m off to a bad start in the SuperContest, going 1-4 with my five picks against the spread. I did get the 49ers pick correct, but things went south on Sunday. Ideally we’ll bounce back this week, but after a strong performance in 2015, I’m guessing this year is all about regression.

Here are my SuperContest picks for Week 2:

TEXANS (-3) over Chiefs
GIANTS (-4.5) over Saints
RAIDERS (-5) over Falcons
Jaguars (+3) over Chargers
BEARS (-3.5) over Eagles

This was a tough week for picks. The early part of the season is still about figuring out where everybody stands. There is some recency bias mixed in, and so you try and adjust where you can. The four home teams I took are all favorites, and that is probably a bit worrisome. The two games I am looking forward to watching most would have to be Raiders-Falcons and Jaguars-Chargers. Both of those games feature a team on the rise with a chance to make a bit of a statement.

The Raiders stunned the Saints last week with a two-point conversion. They head home to face a Falcons team that lost 31-24, but wasn’t nearly that close in the second half. The Raiders are 6-21-3 ATS in their last 30 games as a betting favorite. Oakland got a lot of love this offseason, and if they are going to take a step forward from last year, they win this game and cover. As they say, good teams win, great teams cover.

The Jaguars travel to face the Chargers a week after nearly upsetting the Green Bay Packers. Like Oakland, Jacksonville has higher expectations than normal. The Chargers nearly upset the Kansas City Chiefs last week, but blew a big lead and lost Keenan Allen for the season. A letdown seems in the cards. The Jaguars have never actually won in San Diego, but there’s a first time for everything!

Here are all my picks for Week 2:

BILLS vs. Jets (-1): Bills - Lost
LIONS vs. Titans (+6): Titans
TEXANS vs. Chiefs (+3): Texans
PATRIOTS vs. Dolphins (+6.5): Patriots
BROWNS vs. Ravens (-6.5): Browns
STEELERS vs. Bengals (+3.5): Steelers
WASHINGTON vs. Cowboys (+2.5): Cowboys
GIANTS vs. Saints (+4.5): Giants
PANTHERS vs. 49ers (+13.5): Panthers
CARDINALS vs. Buccaneers(+7): Cardinals
RAMS vs. Seahawks (-4.5): Seahawks
BRONCOS vs. Colts (+6): Colts
RAIDERS vs. Falcons (+5): Raiders
CHARGERS vs. Jaguars (+3): Jaguars
VIKINGS vs. Packers (-2.5): Packers
BEARS vs. Eagles (+3.5): Bears