Gerald Herbert / AP
Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Seven divisional games. An NFC Championship rematch. Two meetings between teams that have reached Super Bowls in the last decade.
The NFL’s Week 2 slate is packed. Let’s rise to the occasion and keep the profit rolling.
The annual column picking every game got off to a good start last week, going 10-5-1 against the spread.
Check below for picks on all Week 2 games, which are separated into three confidence categories. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.
Detroit Lions plus-3 vs. Los Angeles Chargers Building a big lead is more predictive than blowing a big lead, and the Lions looked legitimate in crushing the Cardinals 24-6 before melting down and settling for a 27-27 tie. The Chargers are still somewhat of an unproven commodity given their mounting injuries and an uninspiring overtime win over a similarly enigmatic Colts team.
Pittsburgh Steelers minus-3.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks Adjust for opponent and the Seahawks’ 21-20 victory over the Bengals was almost as alarming as the Steelers’ 33-3 loss to the Patriots. Cincinnati outgained Settle by nearly 200 yards and 1.5 yards per play, giving more credence to a hunch that the Seahawks will regress this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-7 at Carolina Panthers Yes, the Buccaneers are turnover prone, but they aren’t going to average four per game. And they almost won anyway despite committing that many against the 49ers in Week 1. It was a three-point game with four minutes left as Tampa outgained San Francisco by nearly 0.5 yards per play.
Los Angeles Rams minus-2.5 vs. New Orleans Saints Consider this a strike against the very concept of a “revenge game.” Bettors’ misguided confidence on the Saints earning vengeance is contributing to this line staying under a field goal. Are the Rams not going to try as hard as the Saints because they won last season’s NFC Championship Game? Doubtful.
Denver Broncos plus-2.5 vs. Chicago Bears Empower Field at Mile High is one of the NFL’s toughest venues, especially early in the season for an unsettled opponent like Chicago. And if anyone knows how to prepare to face the Bears, it’s Broncos coach Vic Fangio fresh off spending five years as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Tennessee Titans minus-3 vs. Indianapolis Colts I can’t co-sign the market’s skepticism of the Titans. I priced Tennessee as the AFC South favorite ever since the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck, yet this line implies the Titans are equal — or even still a little behind — the Colts.
Green Bay Packers minus-3 vs. Minnesota Vikings The Vikings attempted 10 passes in their 28-12 win over the Falcons as 3.5-point favorites. They built a big early lead so much of the split — they tallied 38 rushes — was game-dependent but they say they remain committed heavily to the run game. That shouldn’t work against a rebuilt and rugged Packers’ defense.
New York Giants plus-2 vs. Buffalo Bills I already have enough exposure on this game based on conflicting win-total positions — over 6 wins for the Giants and under 7 wins for the Bills — that telegraph my takes on both these teams. One week shouldn't sway preseason assessments, and I still believe the Bills’ offense is a major issue while the Giants could prove better than expected.
Jacksonville Jaguars plus-9 at Houston Texans The lookahead line last week was Houston minus-3 before Jacksonville lost quarterback Nick Foles to injury and fell 40-26 loss the Chiefs. Is the drop-off from Nick Foles to Gardner Minshew and one poor defensive performance against the best offense in the NFL really worth six points? I don’t think so.
Washington Redskins plus-5.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys You’d think new Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was Bill Walsh based on the amount of praise he’s gotten out of his team’s 35-17 win over the Giants. Maybe he’s deserving but the evidence is inconclusive at the moment. The Giants’ defense might have had just as much to do with the Cowboys’ breakout, with the Redskins likely putting up more resistance.
Baltimore Ravens minus-13 vs. Arizona Cardinals Don’t mind laying a big price with the Ravens, which may remain slightly underpriced until the market rates them as they are — one of the best teams in the NFL. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury struggled with playcalling in his NFL debut, making this one of the biggest coaching mismatches of the Week 2 slate against the Ravens’ John Harbaugh.
Cleveland Browns minus-2.5 at New York Jets The pendulum has swung from, “the Browns will win the Super Bowl,” to, “same old Browns.” It’s typically wisest to stay centered in the middle during such see-saws. Cleveland has too much talent to not ignite against an opponent soon and an already-banged-up New York team looks like a good candidate.
San Francisco 49ers plus-2 at Cincinnati Bengals I don’t like backing teams on back-to-back road trips like the 49ers but a big line move — the Bengals opened as a 2-point underdog — has thrown the value out of whack. The Bengals have also endured a fair amount of travel themselves, coming off a game at Seattle.
Kansas City Chiefs minus-7.5 at Oakland Raiders The Chiefs put up 75 points and nearly 900 yards of offense in two meetings against the Raiders last year. Facing this offense is like going from summer-league rookie ball to the All-Star Game after Oakland stymied Denver just enough for a 24-16 Week 1 win as 2.5-point underdogs.
Atlanta Falcons plus-2 vs. Philadelphia Eagles Number looks dead accurate, and yet the vast majority of the action is reportedly coming in on the Eagles. The Falcons’ days as a contender may well be over, but more evidence than a single loss is needed to bet on it.
Miami Dolphins plus-19.5 at New England Patriots I’m going to stick to fundamentals and refuse to lay an astronomical price on the road despite this situation arguably justifying it. Miami has won five of its last six against New England at home — as if that matters.