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.
Another week gone, and it was a tough one for the panel. I called the oddsmakers’ bluffs by going low, while the overs went 13-3. Brennan and Tyler were bitten by Sean McVay and his last-second field goal, and Jason had another solid week and has jumped out to an early lead. It’s a grind, but we move forward.
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)||Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)||Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)||Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)|
|Pick #1||Patriots -2.5||Patriots -2.5||Patriots -2.5||Broncos +6.5|
|Pick #2||Browns -3.0||Ravens -7.5||Dolphins -6.5||Patriots -2.5|
|Pick #3||Vikings -1.0||Packers -2.0||Cowboys/Cardinals under 43.5||Chargers/Vikings over 54.5|
|Pick #4||Steelers/Raiders under 43.5||Cowboys -12.0||Chiefs -12.5||Browns -3.0|
|Pick #5||Eagles -5.0||Chiefs -12.5||Steelers/Raiders over 43.5||Panthers +6.0|
The New England Patriots have lost two in a row at home while the New York Jets got blown out on the road by the Dallas Cowboys. Bill Belichick is probably very happy that he’s going up against Zach Wilson and not Aaron Rodgers. New England is 0-2, but they have fought until the very end in both losses. Wilson is just…not good. Another quarterback will probably be added to the Jets roster at some point, but there aren’t a whole lot of options. Wilson is 0-4 against the Patriots and always seems to play extra horribly against them. New England has won 14 consecutive matchups in this one-sided rivalry, and I’m betting they’ll make it 15 this weekend. NE -2.5
Inside the Numbers: The Patriots are 66-54-4 in divisional games against the spread since 2003.
The Baltimore Ravens impressively beat the Cincinnati Bengals on the road despite being without several starters. The Indianapolis Colts beat their divisional rival Houston Texans, but rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson left the game with a concussion. After missing a week of practice, he’ll yield to Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis’s starting quarterback this week. Minshew is a capable backup, but it’s a tall order to play well against Baltimore’s defense on the road. The Ravens should take care of business at home, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them keep that momentum going and run away with the AFC North. BAL -7.5
Inside the Numbers: The Ravens are 102-91-8 against the spread in conference games since 2008, John Harbaugh’s first year as head coach.
The Green Bay Packers lost by one point to the Atlanta Falcons in a painful loss. The New Orleans Saints beat their divisional rival Carolina Panthers in a defensive battle. This will be Jordan Love’s first home start. Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and David Bakhtiari were all inactive despite being listed as questionable last week. Hopefully, all will play this week, but it doesn’t look good for Christian Watson as of press time. New Orleans may be 2-0, but their offense is very mediocre. Jamaal Williams will miss time with a hamstring injury, and Alvin Kamara is still suspended, so all eyes will be on rookie Kendre Miller, fresh off an injury of his own. Derek Carr will likely to have to take to the air, but that will be tough against a Packers defense that has allowed only 212 passing yards per game so far this season. I foresee Green Bay winning a close one. GB -2.0
Inside the Numbers: The Packers are 21-13-0 as a home favorite against the spread under Matt LaFleur.
The Cowboys trounced the Jets at home while the Arizona Cardinals blew a 20-0 lead to the Giants in a brutal loss. Jonathan Gannon doesn’t appear to be a great hire, and no one knows what the plan is in Arizona, if one even exists. Kyler Murray still remains on the PUP list and it’s unknown when he will return. Josh Dobbs has been adequate in spot duty, but he’ll struggle against Dallas’s dominant defense. The Cowboys sadly lost Trevon Diggs for the year due to a torn ACL suffered in practice, but they are still loaded with talent. Losing Diggs would likely be an issue against better teams, but the Cowboys should still be able to beat Arizona easily. DAL -12.0
Inside the Numbers: The Cowboys are 10-4-0 against the spread as an away favorite against the spread under Mike McCarthy.
Another big spread! I’m sure one of them will end up being correct. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in what was a surprisingly low-scoring game, while the Chicago Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Justin Fields was supposed to take a big leap this season, but it hasn’t happened. He might not be the guy, and it didn’t help that he called out his coaching staff when asked about what’s been holding back his progression. Chicago placed left tackle Braxton Jones on IR, and defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned. The franchise is an absolute mess right now. Kansas City’s offense hasn’t been great, but this should be the week where it all comes together. Barring a miracle, the only thing the Bears will contend for in 2023 is the right to draft star USC quarterback Caleb Williams. KC -12.5
Inside the Numbers: The Chiefs are 13-11-2 against the spread in non-conference games since 2018.
For what seems like for the first time in forever, the Denver Broncos’ problems are not on the offensive side of the field. The offense ranks first in points per possession, first in TD drive%, and eighth in EPA/play. After a questionable Week 1 performance, Russell Wilson seemed to recapture some magic from years past and get the offense clicking in Week 2. This is a good sign going into their matchup against the Miami Dolphins, who might have the scariest offense in the league right now. As Jerry Jeudy gets healthier and rounds into form, the Broncos should be able to move the ball successfully on the middling Dolphins’ defense, who looked better on paper than in person last week due to several drops by Patriots receivers and miscues elsewhere on offense. I like Denver to make this game relatively close by way of a shootout with the Broncos defense doing enough to keep it competitive enough for them to cover the touchdown spread. DEN +6.5
Bill Belichick’s Patriots have beaten the Jets 14 straight times. 14 games in a row. That’s almost enough consecutive wins to form an entire perfect regular season of wins vs. the Jets. It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback, who the HC is (for the Jets), or what the weather is like. Belichick has the Jets’ number, and I just don’t see that changing this week. Yes, the Patriots have gotten off to an 0-2 start for the first time in two decades and yes, their offense has stuttered for long periods of times through two weeks, but hear me out. Zach Wilson is starting at QB for the Jets. Plain and simple, I do not have faith in Zach Wilson playing a strong enough game to overcome the defensive mastermind that is Coach Belichick.
The over/under for this game is a measly 36.5, one of the lower numbers in recent memory. Vegas does not expect many points in this one, and while I agree, I do expect most of those points to be scored by the Patriots. They might not get to 20, but they probably don’t need to. Mac Jones and the offense has shown enough life for me to see them moving the ball more successfully than the Jets.
The Jets might have more talent and explosiveness in their skill position group, but the Patriots defense is well equipped to neutralize them, especially with Wilson at the helm. This shouldn’t be a barn burner by the Pats, but I am expecting enough short fields and mistakes from Wilson to give New England plenty opportunities to pull this out by more than a field goal. NE -2.5
This might be the chalkiest play I take all year, but I think this is one of those rare easy public wins where it really is as easy as it seems (famous last words). Through two games, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is on pace for perhaps the most prolific passing season by anyone at the position, as he’s on track for over 6,000 yards and 51 TD’s. Of course, “on pace” stats through two weeks are absolutely useless, but the point remains: Cousins is slinging it like nobody’s business and the offense is eating up yards in bunches. All-World wide receiver Justin Jefferson, rookie Jordan Addison, and tight end T.J. Hockenson are a formidable trio, putting up numbers in bunches thanks in part to the Vikings’ ground game inefficiency.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers haven’t been able to stop much defensively through two games, allowing the Dolphins to do pretty much whatever they want in Week 1 and making Ryan Tannehill look like Tom Brady in Week 2. Both defenses are putting up little resistance, both offenses are more than capable of lighting it up, and Justin Herbert historically has his best games when his implied team total is over 25. This week, the Chargers’ implied total is 27. No need to get super deep with this one; I am buying a ticket to the show like everyone else and hoping for a massive fireworks display. LAC/MIN O54.5
This is a pick I am making more on gut instinct than logical football reasons, so buyer beware. Deshaun Watson is playing like the Monstars from Space Jam came down to Earth and took his powers away, missing easy throws and generally looking lost in the pocket. Watson’s play makes his contract look like one of the worst in NFL history. The Cleveland Browns literally gave away their Week 2 game against the Steelers, losing three fumbles in addition to Watson’s pick-six on the very first play from scrimmage. Not only did they lose in awful fashion, but the Browns also lost the heart and soul of their offense in running back Nick Chubb to a gruesome, season-ending knee injury. Adding to their misery is their Week 3 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, whose greatest team strength is their ability to stop the run, which on paper totally neutralizes the Browns’ offense due to its reliance on the run game.
Over the last 17 games, the Titans have only allowed 2.9 YPC, a mark unmatched over a 17-game stretch since 2007. So why am I going with the Browns? Well, despite the miserable night Cleveland ended up having, there were positives to take away from the game. The defense played out of their minds (again), holding the Steelers offense to only nine first downs and 255 total yards. The Browns have held their opponents to only 130 rushing yards through two weeks, a positive indicator when going up against Derrick Henry and the Titans, who are likewise reliant on the ground game. The Titans should have a harder time moving the ball against this Browns defense at home in front of what should be a wild crowd. The line is also more juiced towards Browns -3, which is telling; most people will be tempted to side with the Titans due to the loss of Chubb. I’ll take the Browns and lay the points. CLE -3.0
The Carolina Panthers are off to a nightmare start to the year, with injuries, poor offensive line play, and uninspired playcalling all serving as factors in their disappointing play thus far. Number one overall draft pick Bryce Young is out with an ankle injury, leaving the Red Rocket, Andy Dalton to start under center against the Seattle Seahawks. I’m actually thinking this could be a good thing for the anemic Panthers offense. Bryce Young hasn’t been afforded much leeway through the first two weeks, taking six sacks through the first two weeks, ranking 13th through two weeks in this department.
This doesn’t seem too bad on the surface, but the Panthers’ rookie QB has only been blitzed 11 times through two games, good for third fewest in the league. Yet, the Panthers have somehow allowed the sixth-most QB Hits and the eighth-most QB Hurries. You get the point: poor offensive line play + rookie quarterback = rookie mistakes at a higher rate. Andy Dalton’s experience will come in handy as he should be able to limit turnovers on offense and move the ball more reliably against a Seahawks defense that can certainly be had. Dalton might also be able to squeeze more out of a skill position group that hasn’t done much so far. The Seahawks are coming off a big upset win, and Panthers are coming off another ugly loss that was not as close as the score would suggest, so we get a nice, inflated number to take advantage of here. CAR +6.0
I’ll keep this first one short and sweet. The Patriots have won 14 straight against the Jets, and have started the season 0-2. The Patriots don’t start the season 0-3; that’s just a fact of life. On top of that, there will be strong winds and rain in the area on Sunday afternoon. I don’t fully trust Mac Jones in those conditions, but I certainly trust Zach Wilson even less. I’m expecting a sloppy, low-scoring football game that probably features multiple Jets’ turnovers. NE -2.5
The public may stay away from the Browns following the primetime loss and injury to Nick Chubb. That’s understandable, given how the offense looked without Chubb in the lineup on Monday night, but I’ll fade what I assume will end up being a public underdog. The Browns’ defensive line, led by Myles Garrett, is scary. The Cleveland pass rush should have a field day against the patchwork offensive line of the Titans. The Browns may have a tough time moving the ball, but winning this one might not take much. Ryan Tannehill has been horrible when pressured, as 7.5% of his attempts under pressure this season have been graded as “Turnover Worthy Plays” by PFF. Deshaun Watson may not be the guy, which is objectively hilarious given his saga, but he should be able to get the job done thanks to a few short fields. CLE -3.0
Let’s start with the fact that this game begins at 1 PM ET. That’s good news for the Vikings for two reasons. First, the Chargers playing in the early window, which rarely goes well for the Chargers. Second, there are eight other games happening, and all eyes aren’t on Kirk Cousins under a prime time microscope. He can sit in the pocket, hit open receivers, and win this game. The only thing that gives me pause: both teams found ways to end up 0-2, so neither inspires a jolt of confidence, yet both will be hungry and playing with purpose; if the Chargers came into this game at 1-1, it would be the quickest I ever picked the Vikings in my life. With Brandon Staley well on his way to a coaching hot seat, I’ll roll with the home team. MIN -1.0
Picking unders bit me in the backside last week, but I’ll never give up my love of unders. If I just keep taking unders, I’m bound to win eventually, right? Just last week, I picked the under in the Steelers game and lost quickly. In a way, the game went over because the offenses were too bad. Go figure. Here’s another fact: the Steelers never entered the red zone on Monday night. Their offensive line is a mess, and Maxx Crosby is waiting on the other side. The Raiders can’t move the ball either, especially on the ground, where they average just 2.6 yards per carry. Unfortunately for them, they have to deal with T.J. Watt. Both teams will likely try to run the ball to negate the pass rush, but neither team should be able to do so successfully. I’ll go back to the well and take the under on Sunday night. PIT/LV U43.5
Five points is kind of a weird number for a spread: over a field goal, but not quite a touchdown. Given that this game doesn’t start until Monday night, we’ll probably see some line movement by kickoff. Either way, I’ll take the Eagles here. The Bucs come into this one undefeated but untested, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears and Vikings don’t have too many playmakers on defense and didn’t make things uncomfortable for Tampa. The Eagles, on the other hand, have playmakers all over the place on defense. The run-stopping unit is ranked second in the league by PFF, allowing just 3.4 yards per carry. They’ll keep Tampa behind the sticks and force them into obvious passing downs. Baker Mayfield will have to be the guy to keep them in this one. If you ask me, he’s not that guy (pal). PHI -5.0
Let’s keep this one simple. It’s Zach Wilson against Bill Belichick and the spread is under a field goal. The Patriots will cover. Since 2021, there have been 50 quarterbacks under center for at least 200 plays, and among all 50 QBs, Zach Wilson is the worst of all in terms of EPA+CPOE quarterback efficiency. Mac Jones isn’t incredible himself and is 24th in the same metric, but he has at least looked serviceable at times in his career, unlike Wilson. The Patriots have won 14 consecutive games against the Jets, which includes four games with Zach Wilson starting. Belichick has the game plan to shut him and the Jets offense down once again. NE -2.5
Defensively speaking, this is not what anyone expected out of Denver. Perhaps the loss of their standout defensive coordinator last season, Ejiro Evero, has been a much bigger deal than anticipated. They’re barely generating any pressure whatsoever and are tied with the 2nd lowest pressure rate through two games. Without much of a pass rush, their secondary has been exposed, aside from Patrick Surtain of course, and Frank Clark and Justin Simmons have been ruled out this week. The Broncos are 30th in EPA/play on defense after playing the Commanders and Raiders. Miami should torch them at home with the best offense by EPA’s metrics, even if Jaylen Waddle doesn’t suit up. For as mediocre as they rate on defense so far, former Broncos head coach and current Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, will pull out all the tricks in the bag to keep their offense at bay. It’s a revenge game for him after all. MIA -6.5
It’s one thing for Arizona to score against the Washington Commanders and New York Giants, but Dallas is a different story. They crushed the Giants by a score of 40-0 and held the Jets to just 10 points en route to a 30-10 victory. The Cardinals’ implied team total feels a touch too high at 14.5, to be honest. We have seen the way Dallas plays with a lead now for two straight games, and all they do is pound the rock. They are tied with the Falcons with the highest rush rate among all teams. As -12.5 favorites, it’s highly likely the Cowboys are in the same game state as the first two weeks. They will drown out the clock and keep this game beneath 40 points once again. DAL/ARI U43.5
Kansas City is the biggest favorite on the board, and for good reason. Everything surrounding the Bears franchise right now is a mess: their defensive coordinator resigned earlier this week, Justin Fields looks lost, and they have now lost 12 games in a row, dating back to last season. Their defense has no business stopping Patrick Mahomes and company, despite the Chiefs’ lackluster offensive start. There’s no better panacea than the Bears’ defense for a team struggling to put points on the board.
The Kansas City defense, on the other hand, has been excellent through two games, especially with the reintegration of Chris Jones on the defensive line last week. They held what is supposed to be a high-powered Jaguars offense to just nine points at home and are eighth in EPA/play in the early going. They should be able to cover this steep spread at home. KC -12.5
The Steelers offense has been brutal to start, but their opponents couldn’t have been much more difficult. They had to face the 49ers in Week 1 and the Browns on Monday Night Football last week. They’ll draw a much more favorable defensive matchup in Week 3 when taking on the Raiders, who are 31st in EPA/play so far. As for Pittsburgh’s defense, they have been shredded on the ground without Cam Heyward in the middle of that defensive line. Josh Jacobs is due for a big game and should go off the way that Jerome Ford (16/106), Nick Chubb (10/64), and Christian McCaffrey (22/152) have. Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers have both been practicing as well, so if they have a full complement of weapons, this Raiders team should score its way into the 20’s. More than anything though, this is a play on a number in the low 40’s. All we’re asking for is a 24-20 finish at the minimum, and that feels well within reach based on these defenses. PIT/LV O43.5