Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 2 best bets

Kirk Cousins Vikings vs Bengals
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email
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Man vs Machine

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Man vs Machine. This NFL season, I’ll be making my five best NFL bets each week. Our Pickswise supercomputer will make its best five bets, and then we’ll compare. May the best man (or machine) win.

Our computer model gives probabilities and projections for the main NFL betting markets (spread, total & money line), best bets for spread, total, money line, and same game parlays. It also features prop bet probabilities for first and anytime touchdown scorer, plus individual player projections for passing, rushing, receiving yards, and touchdowns for betting and fantasy use.

Last week I went a solid 3-2, but the computer was even more impressive at 4-1.

For more information on how the supercomputer works and how it generates picks, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now let’s look at the picks:

My 5 best bets

Bills -3.5

Buy low, sell high. The Bills lost a fluke game to the Steelers, while the Dolphins won a fluke game against the Patriots. Miami had less than 250 yards of total offense in their victory over New England, and only won because of a couple of Pats fumbles. Buffalo’s defense did a great job on the Steelers’ offense, and they were much more efficient than Pittsburgh in that game. They’re primed to bounce back.

Steelers -6

This is a good spot to fade the Raiders. After playing a rollercoaster Monday Night Football game that went to overtime, they have to travel across the country on a short week for this one. They should be exhausted. Derek Carr struggles with natural pressure, and the Steelers were able to get plenty of it on Josh Allen last week without blitzing.

Vikings +4

The talk about this Vikings team this week has been hysterical and overly harsh. They lost in overtime by a field goal to a Bengals team that clearly isn’t as bad as people thought. Minnesota lost because of a controversial call on an alleged Dalvin Cook fumble.

Falcons +12.5

Did the Falcons look terrible in Week 1? Sure, but this spread is still inflated. Tampa Bay is dealing with some injuries in their secondary, so Calvin Ridley should feast if Matt Ryan can just have a bit more time to throw. Getting nearly two touchdowns in this division rivalry game is too good to pass up.

Chiefs -3.5

This is just a horrible matchup for the Ravens. Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to blitz, and Patrick Mahomes excels at beating it. The Ravens have also suffered a slew of injuries in their secondary, so Mahomes should have a huge night.

Computer picks

The computer and I agree on the Vikings. Our model is also going with the 49ers, Panthers, Colts, and Titans. I’d lean toward the Eagles and Seahawks, but I agree with their tendencies on the Panthers and Colts.

I’m 3-2 and the computer is 4-1, so if you’d tailed either of us last week you’d have made some nice money. It should be another fun Sunday…

2021 Season Results

Pickswise Expert (3-2)
Pickswise Computer (4-1)

Don’t forget to check out our free picks on the side and total for every NFL game. You can also view all of our computer picks here.

How are the pre-game win probabilities calculated?
The Pickswise supercomputer creates pre-game probabilities using machine learning techniques as inputs to a Monte Carlo approach. This means we simulate a sporting event 10,000 times, catering for the deep range of outcomes and probabilities within a given event. We first predict the performance of each individual player based on hundreds of algorithmic variabilities, which we use to run our event simulations.

Why do the win probabilities and predictions change over time?
The probabilities are dynamic in nature and get updated as new information becomes available. This includes but is not limited to team news, weather conditions, and moves in the betting market.

What does a ‘value bet’ mean?
A value bet is where we’ve identified that the probability of the event occurring is more likely than the listed sportsbook odds. Taking these bets gives you an increased chance of being a successful gambler.

How is the change in win probability calculated during a live game?
Live win probability is a statistical metric that projects the team’s likelihood of winning at any given point by simulating the remainder of the game. Based on the performance of historical teams in the same situation and the current state of the game, the model updates in real-time following every major event during the game.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL Picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest NFL Prop Bets and NFL Parlays as well as expert NFL Underdog Picks and NFL Computer Picks.

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