Could we have had a better start to the season? Bucs/Cowboys going down to the wire, the craziest Monday Night Football game I’ve ever seen, a potential AFC Championship Game preview between the Browns and Chiefs, and several upsets; Week 1 provided us with everything we could have asked for.
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 2 slate! Every week, I’ll be providing my personal projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 2 from a betting perspective! Right now, the Texans are in first place in the AFC South! Is it time to stop the count? Nope. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this week’s action.
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 2 Personal Projections
BUF at MIA (Over 47.5)
As someone who was expecting them to come out firing out of the gates, I was definitely surprised to see the Bills fall short of the Steelers in Week 1. However, there are a few notes to keep in mind:
- Buffalo was just one for three on fourth downs
- Buffalo was just one for four in red-zone touchdown rate
- Buffalo’s third-down conversion rate ranked 14th, much lower than you’d expect for a high-octane offense
- Buffalo was beaten greatly in terms of penalty yardage differential
- Buffalo allowed a special teams punt block touchdown
In other words, a lot of proverbial noise went into their struggle against Pittsburgh. They still ranked second in neutral-down pass rate, while Josh Allen didn’t take a major step back in terms of his peripheral numbers (75% adjusted completion rate, 5,4% big-time throw, 1.6% turnover-worthy play). Drops (9.1%) and poor pass protection hurt them more than anything else, and I wouldn’t expect that to continue again. Not only do they still possess one of the league’s best receiving corps, but Miami’s pass rush is nowhere near the level of Pittsburgh’s, which should allow Allen to play more from a clean pocket. As such, expect them to drop 30+ points in this game.
The Dolphins offense isn’t a complete slouch either. They’ll get Will Fuller V back in this game, solidifying a deep, electric receiving corps, and they’re clearly trying to get Tua Tagovailoa to stretch the ball more down the field; he had a 10.5 average depth of target in Week 1. They’ll be needing to keep pace with Buffalo’s offense, and overall, I’d expect a lot of passing, and a lot of urgency from both sides here.
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. I’ll gladly take the over and enjoy watching a high-paced, offensive shootout in Miami. Forget me having it as a recommended bet; wouldn’t that just be a lot of fun to watch? Let’s hope these two teams air it out on Sunday!
SF (-3.5) at PHI
Trust me; it kills me to be going past a key number (three) here. However, it needs to be done. The best way to bet in Week 2 is to take advantage of the public’s overreaction of Week 1 games, and the Eagles stand out as a clear team to fade. After defeating the Falcons 32-6, there’s a lot of talk about them being a “team to watch”, in addition to them receiving some buzz to win their division.
Unfortunately, we have to come back to reality and realize one clear truth: it’s only been one week. While Philadelphia was impressive, it certainly helped that they were able to take advantage of a Falcons team that was out of sync adjusting to a coaching change, and clearly didn’t know how to prepare for the Eagles. To his credit, head coach Nick Sirianni did have a great game plan, adopting a pass-heavy offensive game script, while allowing Jalen Hurts to feast in the short passing game. The second-year quarterback had an average depth of target of just 3.6 yards, relying on yardage after the catch to move the football; they exploited a weakness in Atlanta’s defense, and took full advantage.
However, the 49ers are a different beast. They were projected heading into the year to be a top-10 team on both sides of the ball, and surely are a great threat to score more than the six points Atlanta mustered in Week 1. Remember, the Falcons ranked second-worst in third-down conversion rate. Credit to the Eagles defense for doing their job, but a lot of that is statistical noise that will likely trend the other way eventually. In all likelihood, Hurts will have to air the ball out more to keep up with San Francisco in this game, and we just don’t know how that’s going to go.
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. Really, there’s not a lot pointing to Philadelphia keeping this within six points. Take the significantly better team, and run from there.
CIN (+8.5) at CHI
NYG (+9.5) at WSH
Here are two games that have very low point totals, making it unlikely that a team wins in blowout fashion. Both of the underdogs possess, in my opinion, the better quarterback, and could easily win this game outright. Let me put it to you this way: do you trust a team led by Andy Dalton or Taylor Heinicke to win by multiple scores? I think the Bengals might win that game outright, but since the line has shifted from them being a three-point underdog to just 2.5 points, the value in them as a standalone bet has decreased.
BUF at MIA (Over 47.5)
SF (-3.5) at PHI
SF at PHI (Under 50)
CIN at CHI (Under 45)
LV (+5.5) at PIT
ATL (+13) at TB
JAX (+6) vs DEN
NYG at WSH (Under 40.5)
For those who want to go crazy, here is a cluster of other games that I like this week. The conservative nature of the Bengals, Bears, Giants, and Washington all play well to them covering the under, as none of these teams have the offensive quality (outside of Cincinnati) to support a fast-paced offensive attack. I see the Falcons and Jaguars as two clear ways to fade overreacting to Week 1, while the initial line of the 49ers/Eagles total was 45.5; that’s a substantial amount of market movement. Also, I promise I don’t hate the Steelers! This just has the makings of a low-scoring game, and the Raiders appear to have the better offense; I expect a closer game than the market appears to believe will take place.
CLE vs HOU
GB vs DET
These are both straight-forward, as the lines for these games are in the double-digit range. The Packers have a very difficult schedule this season, and don’t play the Lions again until Week 18; where other divisional blowouts may take place or they may not be playing for anything (should they clinch a playoff spot). The Browns, meanwhile, play the Lions in Week 11, but, besides that, it’s unclear where you’d use them. In other words, you definitely want to play one of these two teams here. You can’t go wrong here, but just for the chance Green Bay’s game against Detroit in Week 18 doesn’t have any impact on the playoff picture, I’d side with them and roll with Cleveland in Week 11. It’s your call, though!
Parting Bold Predictions
BUF and MIA Each Score Over 30 Points
PHI Doesn’t Score a Touchdown In First Half
Josh Allen Has Five Passing Touchdowns
Remember, these are BOLD predictions! All of these align with my previous betting picks, but allow us to get a bit spicy here! Enjoy an exciting week of football, and please remember to bet responsibly!
(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)