Welcome back to another edition of Beating the Spread! I’m Jake Roy, and I’ll be leading the BTS team again this season. I’m joined by two-time Beating the Spread participants Tyler Gentile and Brennan Rampe, and newcomer Jason Wolf. We’ll be here every Friday throughout the season to crown a new champion.
Week 1 is in the books, and the panel is off to a hot start. We had winning records across the board, led by Jason at 4-1. Unders were the trend around the league, and Vegas looks like they’re adjusting early with several really low totals on the board this week. Do we zig when Vegas zags? I don’t know, I just work here.
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)||Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)||Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)||Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)|
|Pick #1||Chiefs -3.0||Buccaneers -3.0||Bengals -3.0||Bears +3.0|
|Pick #2||Packers/Falcons under 40.0||Chiefs -3.0||Bears/Buccaneers over 41.0||Falcons +2.0|
|Pick #3||Jets/Cowboys under 40.0||Packers -2.0||Falcons +2.0||Texans +1.5|
|Pick #4||Bengals/Ravens under 46.5||49ers -7.5||Jets/Cowboys under 40.0||Ravens +3.0|
|Pick #5||Browns/Steelers under 39.5||Bengals -3.0||49ers -7.5||Steelers +2.0|
There couldn’t have been a worse start to the season for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they should rebound against this beat-up Baltimore Ravens squad. Joe Burrow and the offense clearly showed some rust without any preseason play together. That said, the Browns’ defense is legit, perhaps a Top 5 unit, and they’ve done a fantastic job shutting down Burrow and company over the past couple of seasons: Cincinnati is averaging 14 ppg (points per game) over their last four meetings. The Ravens defense hasn’t found that same sort of success against Burrow, as they’re averaging 36 ppg over their last four meetings.
J.K. Dobbins received all the attention for his season-ending injury, and rightfully so, but it also appears likely that Baltimore will be without two starting members of the secondary (Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams) and two on the offensive line (Tyler Linderbaum and Ronnie Stanley). In spite of their 25-9 win over the Houston Texans, the Ravens really didn’t impress whatsoever. Lamar Jackson looked terrible and it’s not like Houston has some sort of powerhouse defense. The Bengals offense will rebound here against a weak secondary, and I’m going to add Cincinnati to win their division at +250 as well. CIN -3.0
Anytime a Chicago Bears game has this low of a total, it’s worth taking the over. Their defense is THAT bad. Once they unleashed Justin Fields to run the ball more, Chicago really became an over team last season. Their last 12 contests averaged a total of 53 points and have gone over this mark in 11 of these games. The lone miss came in at exactly 41 points. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were lucky to cede only 17 points last week to the Minnesota Vikings, who could’ve scored into the 30s if they didn’t turn the ball over twice near the red zone. Baker Mayfield didn’t look half bad either, but really this all comes down to how pathetic that Chicago defense is. CHI/TB O41.0
Building off that Bears analysis, the Green Bay Packers’ 38-20 win over Chicago was more due to the Bears’ pathetic play than anything. Green Bay is banged up with some notable names (Aaron Jones, Cristian Watson, and Quay Walker) appearing unlikely to play this Sunday. The Atlanta Falcons made a plethora of additions to their defense in the offseason and pose a legitimate test for Jordan Love, unlike Chicago. The Falcons offense functions through the ground game which has been the Packer’s Achilles heel on defense over the past couple of years. In 2021 and 2022 they were 31st in rush EPA per play. Look for Atlanta to take care of business at home through their rushing attack. ATL +2.0
This line is now down to 38.5 and for good reason. Zach Wilson against this Dallas Cowboys defense who just held the New York Giants scoreless?! Unless they find another special teams or defensive touchdown, the New York Jets aren’t finding more than 13 points in this contest. This Jets’ defense is equally nasty and should keep Dallas relatively in check, as they did to most teams last season. They allowed the fewest yards per play, second-fewest points per game, and were sixth in EPA/play in 2022. These are two of the best defenses in the game right now. Don’t overthink it with Zach Wilson at the helm. Take the under here. NYJ/DAL U40.0
The Los Angeles Rams’ victory in Seattle was surprising and well-earned, but don’t expect a repeat feat against their other NFC West foe as the San Francisco 49ers defense is among the NFL’s best. They didn’t allow a first down to the Steelers until moments before halftime last week en route to a 30-7 spanking in Pittsburgh. As he showcased last week, Matthew Stafford is great when he doesn’t face pressure, but he’ll see boatloads of it in this matchup. He and the Rams are 0-4 in the regular season against San Francisco since joining L.A. with an average losing margin of 14 across those games. To further the pro-49ers stance, Kyle Shanahan has owned Sean McVay: he’s 8-0 against him in the regular season. Lastly, the Brock Purdy offense looked phenomenal against what is supposed to be a solid defense side in Pittsburgh. Another 30-point performance is not out of the question against the bottom-barrel Rams defense. SF -7.5
The Buccaneers upset the Vikings on the road, while the Bears lost to the Packers for what seems like the millionth time in a row. Baker Mayfield didn’t post great numbers but was impressive in the win. Chicago spent a ton of money in free agency and cashed in some draft picks, but they looked as bad as they did last year. Chase Claypool could be a healthy inactive; that trade in particular has been a n abject disaster for the Bears. They haven’t won a game with him on their roster! The Bears placed cornerback Kyler Gordon on IR, so I expect Tampa Bay’s offense to look better than it did last week. The defense looks as good as last year, and I don’t think they’ll give up a lot of points. The Buccaneers should improve to 2-0 after this game, so it could be another long season for the Bears. TB -3.0
Inside the Numbers: In his last meeting against the Buccaneers, Justin Fields threw three interceptions, was sacked four times, and led his team through a 38-3 drubbing.
The Kansas City Chiefs now 0-1 for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era, although they were without Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. Meanwhile, the Jaguars soundly defeated their divisional rival, the Indianapolis Colts. These two teams met in the Divisional Round last year, and the Chiefs won it. This game will be played in Jacksonville and not in Kansas City, which could be a challenge for the Chiefs. However, Jacksonville’s defense looks similar to last year, and they didn’t make any major moves to improve it. Kelce and Jones are both back, which will improve this team greatly. There’s no way the wide receivers drop as many passes as they did last week. I think Kansas City is the better team and they’ll be motivated to get their first win of the season. This is still the team to beat in the AFC. KC -3.0
Inside the Numbers: The Chiefs are 22-18-1 as an away team against the spread since 2018.
The Packers beat the Bears, and Jordan Love looked solid. They won 38-20 despite being without second-year wide receiver Christian Watson. The Falcons also won but were playing a rookie quarterback in his first career start. Desmond Ridder has been fine in the games he has played, and still hasn’t thrown an interception. However, he still hasn’t been very impressive as a passer. The offense for Green Bay was good, but the defense was also impressive. They have so much talent on that side of the ball and even scored a defensive touchdown. Watson should return, which should make the offense even better. Green Bay has the better coach and the more talented team, and they should be able to win this game. GB -2.0
Inside the Numbers: The Packers are 20-14-0 as an away team against the spread under Matt LaFleur.
The 49ers were dominant on both sides of the ball last week in a 30-7 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Brock Purdy looked great in his return from UCL surgery, and the defense only gave up seven points. It was the biggest home loss in the Mike Tomlin era! They now face a second consecutive road matchup before hosting three games. The Rams surprisingly won on the road against their divisional rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. It may have been a stroke of luck. Seattle has struggled on defense for years now, and San Francisco’s defense has been excellent ever since they drafted Nick Bosa in 2019. The 49ers have dominated the Rams recently, winning eight in a row against them in the regular season. I think the Rams will lose to the 49ers again, and this has the potential to be a blowout. SF -7.5
Inside the Numbers: The 49ers are 34-23-0 after a win against the spread under Kyle Shanahan.
The Bengals and Ravens are about to face each other for the first time this season after meeting three times last season. Cincinnati won two of those matchups. Baltimore won last week, but they are dealing with a ton of injuries already. Running back J.K. Dobbins is out for the year, and safety Marcus Williams could be out for the season with a torn pec. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is still recovering from surgery, and offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Tyler Linderbaum are going to miss some time. The Bengals looked bad last week, but Joe Burrow should bounce back and take advantage of the injured Ravens secondary. CIN -3.0
Inside the Numbers: The Bengals are 13-12-1 in divisional games against the spread under Zac Taylor.
The look-ahead line to this game was Bears +1. As a result of the Packers whomping of the Bears in Week 1, the Bucs are now favored by 2.5 after the line opened at -3. I believe this is a slight market overreaction and the Bears are a marginally better team than the Bucs. As such, I will be backing Justin Fields and the Bears to right the ship in Week 2 after a miserable home opener. The Bucs are coming off an unexpected upset victory, and the Bears are coming off an unexpected drubbing. I like buying teams low and selling them high, and this game seems like the perfect opportunity to do a little bit of both. I think Chicago will limit turnovers (Vikings had three against the Bucs in Week 1) and come away with the W here, with Justin Fields making enough plays to put his team over the top. CHI +3.0
The Packers were able to dismantle the Bears because they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but they should find the sledding a little tougher this week: the Falcons’ offensive line is amongst the best in the league. The Falcons usually have the advantage in the run game as is but the Packers are facing injury questions along the front seven this week that could make stopping the run even harder in Week 2. Edge rusher Rashan Gary and linebacker Quay Walker were both dinged up in the Packers’ Week 1 victory. Injuries on the offense to wide receiver Christian Watson and running back Aaron Jones put the Packers’ offense in question as well. Green Bay was perfectly fine without Watson in Week 1, but life without Aaron Jones would prove more difficult to overcome. Even if some of these guys suit up in Week 2, the Falcons should come out and play their game by dominating at the line of scrimmage on the offensive end and controlling time of possession, clearing the way for them to pick up the win. ATL +2.0
The Texans’ defense performed surprisingly well in a game in which they were ten point underdogs. Granted, there was a certain element of rusty play from the Ravens’ brand new offense which contributed to the defensive success but the Texans’ defense held up much better than anyone could have reasonably expected. They were able to limit the Ravens’ usually effective ground game to 110 rushing yards on 32 attempts (3.4 YPC); super impressive stuff against a top run blocking unit in the league. Not only did the defense show out, but C.J. Stroud looked impressive as well, especially considering he was facing constant pressure all game. Stroud did his best despite the defense living in the backfield, standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurate balls with consistency while doing a solid job of avoiding costly mistakes. Anthony Richardson, while impressive, looked a little more erratic in his first start against the Jags, so I’ll side with the Texans here and take the seemingly better defense and a rookie quarterback backed by a home crowd looking to help the team’s new head coach win his home debut. HOU +1.5
You could take the Bengals/Browns Week 1 game and throw the whole thing in the trash due to the extreme weather conditions in which the game was played… but you might want to take it out and dry it off, because the Bengals are in for more rain in Week 2 as the Ravens come to town as three point dogs. The line for this exact matchup has seemingly been Bengals -3.5 for the past three seasons but as a Ravens fan, I would have expected this season’s rendition to have reached Bengals -4 due to all of the Ravens’ impactful injuries they have heading into this game. In all likelihood, Baltimore will be without top cornerback Marlon Humphrey, safety Marcus Williams, two top starting offensive linemen in center Tyler Linderbaum and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. So why did the line only open at -3.5 before being bet down to -3? It seems to me this line should be more heavily favoring the Bengals. Whether it be inclement weather or the Ravens pass rush, the Bengals offense is due to struggle again. Maybe Burrow isn’t fully healthy or maybe the Bengals kryptonite is a wet ball, but either way something fishy is going on with this line, and I’m jumping in the mouse trap and taking the bait. BAL +3.0
Buy low, sell high is typically good advice in most endeavors, gambling included. With all of the preseason hype for the Jaguars, I think they’re flying a little too high at the moment. They knocked off the Colts, but it took three turnovers to put them away. Patrick Mahomes isn’t Anthony Richardson, and Chris Jones and Travis Kelce should be back in the lineup. It might be a public play, but Andy Reid has only started 0-2 four times in 24 years as a head coach, and just once with the Chiefs (2014). The public has to be right sometimes, right? I’ll lay the points in a bounce-back spot for Kansas City. KC -3.0
In the offseason, you can find a reason to hype up almost any player for fantasy purposes. Drake London received a considerable amount of hype this off-season, with most citing the Falcons’ willingness to throw the ball with Desmond Ridder under center. Of course, that was all lit on fire after a week when the Falcons came out and did exactly what they did last season: throwing the ball 18 times with an average depth of target of just 3.2 yards. The Packers faced a Bears team that also refused to throw the ball down the field and held them to 14 points through the first 57 minutes of the game. While the Falcons arguably have more dynamic playmakers than the Bears, I see a similar defensive game plan from the Packers that should keep this one low-scoring. I like the Packers, but on the road, I’ll roll with the under. GB/ATL U40.0
How is the Jets’ week two game against the Cowboys any different than their game against the Bills on Monday night? Other than playing on the road, I see this playing out very similarly to week one. I know the Cowboys just scored 40 points, but that included two defensive touchdowns and short fields all night. While Zach Wilson is liable to turn the ball over, they don’t always end up in quick scores. Quinnen Williams and the Jets’ defense should be able to contain Dak Prescott much like they did Josh Allen, but without the crowd behind them, I don’t see the Jets scoring many points. Mark me down for the under in Dallas. NYJ/DAL U40.0
Last week, because I’m an idiot, I picked the Bengals while simultaneously saying I knew the Bengals were going to lose. Of course, the Bengals played the worst game they have in some time and lost in embarrassing fashion to the Browns. This week, I’m following my own advice and waiting to see something from Cincinnati on offense before I get on the train again. However, despite the offensive woes, the Cincinnati defense was able to get off the field, holding the Browns to just 4-14 on third down. The Ravens’ new coordinator Todd Monken didn’t dial up many deep passes in week one, opting for mostly passes around the line of scrimmage. If the game plan is the same, the Bengals should be able to do a good job of limiting yards after the catch and explosive plays. Joe Burrow didn’t have a preseason, and it may still be too soon for the offense to be firing. Give me the under. BAL/CIN U46.5
Who decided it was a good idea to have two Monday night games? Monday night should be reserved for one game to be watched in its entirety. Luckily, you won’t be missing much in Pittsburgh. Over the last five or so years, Steelers’ home games have been Under Machines. Much like previous seasons, the offense just doesn’t have much bite to it. They’re down a playmaker in Diontae Johnson while facing a certified game wrecker in Myles Garrett. Last week, the Steelers dropped back 52 times and scored only seven points. Part of that was out of necessity as they went down big early, but the passing game clearly wasn’t the way forward. Mike Tomlin is a good coach, and he knows they need to run the ball more to remain competitive. The Steelers should be able to keep this night home game close in a grind-it-out, ugly football game. CLE/PIT U39.5