Beating the Spread: Week 2 Picks

Our Week 2 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

Last week was a historic one for underdogs.  Of the 15 games over Sunday and Monday, 12 underdogs covered the spread and nine won outright!  It was the first time since 1983 that underdogs had a winning record against the spread.  For us, Brennan and I posted a winning record at 3-2 (both would have been 4-1 but the Jets got us both by that 0.5 points), Erik was on pace to finish the same before the Raiders unlikely comeback on Monday night dropped him to 2-3 and Justin benefited from that same 0.5 points that cost Brennan and me to finish the week 1-4.

Brennan is bucking the underdog trend and taking all favorites this week while Justin is a big fan of several games going under their point total.  Erik and I have got a good mix of ‘dogs and favorites and two of us believe in a high-scoring affair and a victory for the Patriots.  Justin and I are bumping heads in the 49ers-Eagles matchup and everything else is a unique pick.

Gamblers know that 60% is the magic number to come out ahead, so that’s the goal again this season.  We didn’t make it last year, which just motivates us, even more, this season.  Every week the four of us will pick five games against the spread or on the over/under.  We’ll track the picks every week and see where we end up.  Feel free to play along in the comments or find us on Twitter!

Let’s get to the lines and picks for Week 2!

The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

Week 1 Betting Lines
Away Home Line O/U
Bengals Bears Bears -3 45
Bills Dolphins Bills -3.5 48
Texans Browns Browns -12.5 48
Patriots Jets Patriots -6 43
Broncos Jaguars Broncos -6 45.5
49ers Eagles 49ers -3.5 50
Rams Colts Rams -4 47.5
Raiders Steelers Steelers -6 47.5
Saints Panthers Saints -3.5 44
Vikings Cardinals Cardinals -4.5 51
Falcons Buccaneers Buccaneers -12.5 52
Titans Seahawks Seahawks -5.5 54
Cowboys Chargers Chargers -3 55
Chiefs Ravens Chiefs -3 55.5
Lions Packers Packers -10.5 48
Staff Picks

 

Analysis:

Justin Dunbar: Justin puts together an article analyzing some of his picks in more detail.  Check out his Week 2 Betting Preview for more! Here are some snippets from his first two picks for this week.

The Bills are due for a major offensive explosion and exceeded this total in more than half of their games last season (including twice against the Dolphins). Pace of play will certainly be in the over’s favor here with neither team looking to run the ball, while both teams possess an extensive amount of big-play ability…Would I love it if I could get SF (-3) here? Of course! Yet, even while acknowledging this risk, I feel comfortable taking it considering the great gap in team quality here. The 49ers aren’t traveling from the West coast to the East coast here after playing in Detroit, and have constantly adjusted well to east coast 10:00 AM PT games.  BUF/MIA Over 48 and SF -3.5

To the pain of all fantasy football managers of Bengals wide receivers, the team ranked with the lowest pass rate above expectations last year. There’s a clear emphasis to ease Joe Burrow back into action, and I expect that to be the case again in Chicago this weekend. Cincinnati still put together an efficient performance en route to a win, yet they’re acting as a slow-paced group currently, which hurts the chances of this becoming a high-scoring affair. Plus, did you watch the Bears this past weekend? A 4.5-yard average depth of target isn’t going to cut it, Andy Dalton. Down to their third left tackle, it’s hard to see Dalton holding onto the ball long enough for plays to develop down the field, nor does he offer that big-play ability anyway. I expect this to be a run-heavy, low-scoring affair. If you have Joe Mixon or David Montgomery on your fantasy team, that’s great! That probably signals the “under” hitting in this game, though. CIN/CHI Under 45

When this line opened prior to Week 1, the total was set at 45.5. Is one strong offensive performance from the Eagles against a subpar Falcons defense enough to change our expectation of this game that much? Although the Eagles had a pass-heavy game plan in Week 1, both of these offenses are likely to be run-centric, leading to a slower-developing game. Plus, whereas Jalen Hurts only needed to average a 3.6-yard average depth of target while playing in a very favorable game script, he’ll have to air it out more against a 49ers team that offers more competition on both sides of the ball. To that end, he remains untested. Consider this a fade with an overreaction to Week 1, in addition to betting against two teams with two limited quarterbacks to eclipse this total. To be honest, I’m hoping I’m wrong here and Hurts steals the show! SF/PHI Under 50

The Steelers seem to be the one team who can consistently churn out an elite defense, but one thing is for certain: they don’t play in high-scoring games. In addition to a superb defense, their offense continues to be extremely limited, with Ben Roethlisberger (6.3 aDOT) once again neglecting to push the ball down the field in Week 1. The Raiders revamped their offensive line this offseason, but it isn’t in good shape, and this isn’t the pass rush to be tested by; Derek Carr has consistently been one of the worst quarterbacks when under pressure. Plus, if the Raiders’ poor run defense incentivizes the Steelers to run the ball and slow the pace of the game, that just helps the “under” hit here. Las Vegas will be having to travel to the East coast to play a 10:00 AM PT game after an emotional Monday Night game, and there isn’t significant turnover potential with either of these quarterbacks. I expect this to be a slow-moving game, and although the Raiders’ line is also enticing, my lack of faith in them recovering from adverse circumstances leads me to the under. Now, I get to be on the right side of Pittsburgh’s defense! I’m sorry for the Bills’ pick guys; please forgive me and don’t allow any points in this game! LV/PIT Under 47.5

 

Brennan Rampe: Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson had a rough first game. The Jets were unable to move the ball well, and Wilson got sacked six times. Conversely, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones looked sharp (29/39, 281, 1TD) in his first game, performing admirably against a solid Dolphins defense. The Patriots’ offense should perform a lot better against a less-talented Jets defense, and Bill Belichick is a master at confusing and disorienting rookie quarterbacks. Wilson will also not have left tackle Mekhi Becton to protect him, as he is expected to miss 6-8 weeks after getting rolled upon. The Patriots will beat the Jets for the 11th time in a row and will cover while doing so. Inside the Numbers: since 2015, New England is 55-39-3 as a favorite against the spread. NE -6

The Broncos impressed in their first game against the Giants, with Teddy Bridgewater distributing the ball well to the Broncos’ explosive playmakers and the defense shutting down the Giants’ offense. The Jaguars had a really rough first game against the Texans, with the rookie quarterback (and first overall pick) Trevor Lawrence throwing three touchdowns. The Clemson product also threw three interceptions, notable because the Texans only had three interceptions total in 2020. The Jaguars’ defense also struggled, giving up over 30 points to a Tyrod Taylor-led Texans offense. The Broncos have an even better defense than the Texans do, along with significantly better offensive playmakers. Lawrence will be in for a rough day, and most likely a rough rest of the season. I also am unsure of first-year head coach Urban Meyer holding on to his job after the season, even though it’s only Week 1. Inside the Numbers: Under Vic Fangio, Denver is 14-10 against the spread in conference games. DEN -6

Carson Wentz was serviceable in his first game with the Colts but didn’t put up a lot of points against an average Seahawks defense. On the other hand, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns against a hyped-up Bears defense in his first game with the Rams. The Colts will struggle to put up points against a great Rams defense, while Stafford should have another good game despite playing another talented defense. The Colts will lose two in a row at home. Inside the Numbers: Under Sean McVay, the Rams are 31-23-2 as favorites against the spreadLAR -4 

The Falcons struggled heavily in their first game with Arthur Smith as their new head coach. The offense scored only 6 points, and the defense wasn’t any better, giving up 32 points. They now travel to Tampa Bay to face the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Tom Brady had a great game against the Cowboys (32/50, 379, 4 TD, 2 INTs), continuing to defy Father Time at 44 years old. The 2 INTs were on a Hail Mary and a catchable pass that deflected off the hands of Leonard Fournette. Brady is undefeated in his career against the Falcons. The Buccaneers also come into this game with extra rest since they last played on Thursday. I generally shy away from double-digit favorites, but the Buccaneers will crush their divisional rival. Inside the Numbers: Brady is 6-4 against the spread as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. TB -12.5

The Packers stunned everybody by having an absolutely awful game against the Saints. The Saints defense made 2020 NFL MVP winner and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers look mortal, as he only managed 133 yards and 2 interceptions. Rodgers only threw 5 interceptions all season in 2020. The defense also gave up 38 points to Jameis Winston, who threw 30 interceptions for the Buccaneers in his last season as a starter. The Lions offer a great bounce-back opportunity for the Packers. Their defense gave up 31 points in the first quarter to the 49ers and lost their top cornerback, Jeffrey Okudah, to a season-ending Achilles injury. Rodgers is 17-5 in his career against the Lions. The Packers should bounce back on both sides of the ball for their first win of the season – and it should be a big one. Inside the Numbers: The Packers are 8-4 in division games under Matt LaFleur. GB -10.5

 

Erik Smith: I’ve been down on the Bengals coming into the season, but I was encouraged by their win against the Vikings last week. I’ve seen way, way, way too much of Andy Dalton in my life, and I know that he’s not in the same class as Joe Burrow. This Bears’ defense isn’t what it once was, and I get the three points with the better offense. As long as this Bengals offensive line doesn’t have a meltdown on the road with the crowd noise, the Bengals may win outright. CIN +3

Buffalo never runs the ball (other than when Josh Allen keeps it himself) and Miami’s number one running back is a pass catcher (Myles Gaskin). The Dolphins welcome back Will Fuller V to compliment Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker, who both performed well in the opener, giving the Dolphins an underrated aerial attack. Both teams have good defenses, but I expect plenty of passing in this one which should keep the points flowing. I expect the Bills offense to bounce back, while the Dolphins should break enough big plays to hold up their end of the bargain. BUF/MIA Over 48

This could hit the under two different ways. Houston is a fluke after winning their opener, and the Browns destroy them to the tune of… oh, 31-10. Or, the Texans are a tenacious opponent even on the road, but their run-heavy, ball-control approach keeps this game at a slow pace, with the Browns pulling out a 23-17 win. Regardless, I just don’t see the Texans going toe to toe with the Browns in a high-scoring game. I’ll take the under because I don’t see this Cleveland defense allowing even half of what the Jaguars defense gave up last week. HOU/CLE Under 48

The Ravens’ injuries are starting to hit a critical mass, as they have lost their top three running backs, their first-round rookie wide receiver, their left tackle, and a top cornerback to injury and it’s not even Week 2. Meanwhile, the Chiefs just keep doing what they do every week, with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce wrecking defenses nearly at will. Lamar Jackson may have a hard time finding holes with the offensive line banged up, and he fumbled twice last week as the Raiders pass rush tormented him all night. I’m not too worried about the three points as these teams may be headed in different directions to start the season. KC -3

This is going to be less of a home game than it appears on the surface since the Chargers’ stadium will likely be packed with Cowboys fans. But the Chargers should have a coaching advantage here, and I know that they have a defensive advantage over Dallas. So that leaves the offenses, and I’m willing to bet on Justin Herbert, an improved offensive line, and the combo of Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. The Chargers are the more complete team, and this Cowboys defense is going to turn most teams into an offensive juggernaut, let alone the good offenses like Los Angeles. LAC -3

 

Bryan Sweet: The longest streak of consecutive games with 30+ points in NFL history is eight, a record shared by three teams.  Both the 2007 Patriots and 2010 Patriots achieved this milestone and they were joined last week by the 2021 Buccaneers.  Yes, Tom Brady was the QB for all three of those teams and I think he’ll stand alone as the only team in NFL history to get 30+ in at least nine consecutive games.  With these two teams battling in the NFC South, we have some recent history that also points us to a high-scoring game.  In the last two meetings, in Weeks 15 and 17 of 2020, the totals were 58 points and 71 points, respectively.  There’s a good chance Tampa Bay gets to 40 themselves and I think this game goes over easily.  ATL/TB Over 52

I backed the Panthers in this column last week and they got “hooked” by that 0.5 points I mentioned in the open.  This week, they are hosting a division rival in the Saints that just lambasted one of the preseason favorites for the NFC in Week 1 by 35 points.  So why do I think the Panthers can keep this one close?  I think this is a better Carolina team than the one that took the field last season and a slightly worse New Orleans team.  In Week 7 last year, Carolina lost by three and that was without Christian McCaffrey for Carolina and with Drew Brees in New Orleans.  Now, maybe my non-LASIK corrected eyes can’t see past 2020 Jameis Winston, but I believe there will be turnovers and a low-scoring game.  Carolina might not get the victory, but I think they can keep this game within a field goal.  CAR +3.5

Taking another home underdog here as the Eagles will play host to a 49er team that built an early lead then hung on as Detroit mounted a furious comeback in Week 1.  I think the difference in this game, however, will be Jalen Hurts.  A quick look back at San Francisco’s 2020 season against “mobile” QBs shows a losing trend.  San Francisco lost to Kyler Murray (once), Russell Wilson (twice), and Josh Allen.  Now, Philadelphia isn’t up to the level of those teams, but his ability to extend plays and drives with his mobility could keep the game close enough to cover this spread.  Add in the fact we have a west coast team traveling to the east coast in an early kickoff and an outright upset wouldn’t surprise me. PHI +3.5

You simply can’t bet against Bill Belichick against a rookie QB.  The Patriots have historically befuddled young QBs and it looks like Mac Jones might be the perfect fit for this New England offense.  The Jets really only have one viable offensive weapon in Corey Davis, and you just know Belichick will scheme ways to take him out of the game.  The loss of LT Mekhi Becton also can’t be overstated as New England will likely employ an attacking defense to exploit that loss.  Zach Wilson looks like he’ll be very good if not great eventually, just don’t expect it to happen this week as I expect New England to roll to an easy victory.  NE -6

Another recurring team in my picks this week as I expected the Browns to hang with the Chiefs in Arrowhead and they did just that.  They get to host a Texans team that looked good against a bad defense last week but will likely get exposed against a good defense this week.  I think the Browns challenge for the AFC North title this season and I think they are the vastly superior team in this matchup.  Cleveland should be able to effectively minimize the impact of Houston’s top receiving threat in Brandin Cooks and look for Myles Garrett, Jadaveon Clowney, and Takk McKinley to spend plenty of time harassing Tyrod Taylor.  Cleveland rolls.  CLE -12.5


 

What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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