Stuckey: My 5 Favorite Week 2 NFL Games on Sunday’s Betting Slate

Stuckey: My 5 Favorite Week 2 NFL Games on Sunday’s Betting Slate article feature image

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold

  • Overreactions from Week 1 of the NFL season have created betting value in Week 2.
  • The Bills (+7.5) may be one of the worst teams in the NFL, but they are in a good spot against the Chargers.
  • The Jets (-3) looked great on Monday Night Football, but are bettors giving them too much credit?

You have to love the overreactions after Week 1 of the NFL season. Like clockwork, those hot takes lead bettors to the poorhouse in Weeks 2 and 3.

This is the NFL, where most teams are within a field goal spread of each other on a neutral field. Teams are never as bad or as good as they seem at their lowest or highest.

I like to incorporate this buy-low/sell-high philosophy into metrics-based analysis and what I see on the field when capping the NFL.

I’ll have good weekends and bad, but hopefully come out ahead by the end of the year. Most importantly, I’d just like to share the insight into what I’m seeing to facilitate discussion.

Let’s take a look at the five games that jump out to me in Week 2.

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Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills

  • Spread: Chargers -7.5
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

I told you it was going to be ugly. Look, I’m not happy about betting the Bills, either, as I have them rated as the worst team in the NFL. However, that doesn’t mean Buffalo won’t have betting value throughout the season.

With running back LeSean McCoy publicly stating that he needs to do everything possible to help out quarterback Josh Allen in his first career start, I expect a heavy dose of the run game. While I’m not a huge Allen fan, the rookie does have some wheels, which could help.

I don’t think the Bills will let Allen do too much through the air Sunday. A focused commitment to the running game not only protects Buffalo’s young quarterback, but it’s the best way to attack this Chargers defense — which ranked dead last in yards per rush (4.9) in 2017.

Here are a few other reasons why I like the matchup today:

  • Buffalo might have the worst offensive line in football, but Los Angeles is missing star defensive end Joey Bosa (foot) and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (suspension).
  • Speaking of offensive lines, L.A. has its own issues on that front and will be without its right tackle Joe Barksdale (foot). Sam Tevi will make his second career start in his place.
  • The Bills also should have an advantage at kicker in the swirling winds at Orchard Park.
  • Even if the Chargers move the ball, they might have trouble scoring touchdowns in the red zone, as they did all last year (28th). L.A. finished fourth in yards last season, but only 13th in points. Led by their excellent safeties, the Bills can potentially avoid breaking more times than not when they do bend.

Additionally, home dogs off a loss of 40+ points are 10-3-2 ATS since 1995. While I’m not a big trends guy, that does fit with my buy-low/sell-high NFL capping philosophy.

Plus, taking 7.5 point underdogs in the NFL is never a bad idea. Since 2003, road favorites of more than seven points have an ATS record of just 74-95-1 (43.8%) for an ROI of -12.2%.

The Bills should put up a solid effort in their home opener against a notoriously slow-starting team traveling across country. Buffalo could get blown out again, but I won’t regret taking the hook on the home side and a piece of the under.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

  • Spread: Jets -3
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold looked great in his debut, but he had an ideal matchup against a nonexistent Detroit defensive line that played without its best pass rusher (Ziggy Ansah). The rookie won’t enjoy the same luxurious pocket today against a strong (and deep) Miami defensive line that should generate immense pressure against a vulnerable N.Y. offensive line.

Miami should have a horrid run defense this year, but Bilal Powell and company don’t keep me up at night. It also looks like Miami found a player in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who should help contain wide receiver Quincy Enunwa.

I was actually impressed with Miami’s offensive line last week, but the Dolphins will sorely miss guard Josh Sitton — who was placed on IR this week. That said, I think Miami will have some plus advantages on the outside — especially with wide receiver DeVante Parker expected to suit up.

I like the Miami skill-position players just a tad more in what should be a low-scoring, tight affair. The Jets’ short week after a road upset win only helps. Cameron Wake and the Miami defensive front will be the difference.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

  • Spread: Falcons -6
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Yes, the Falcons lost two key defenders in their opening week loss to the Eagles. Not having both linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal will hurt over the long run. But I don’t think Carolina is equipped to exploit their absences on Sunday.

Not only did the Panthers lose tight end Greg Olsen to a serious injury last week, but their offensive line is in disarray. Coming into the season, their two starting tackles were set as Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams — both now sit on IR.

The Panthers will also be without starting guard Trai Turner (concussion) and an underrated Falcons defensive line should disrupt the Panthers’ offense. I just don’t see how Cam Newton and company move the ball with any consistency.

And yet I actually think the biggest advantage for the Falcons will come on the other side of the ball, as Matt Ryan and his talented receivers can exploit a very questionable Panthers secondary that made do last week against Dallas’ subpar receiving group. However, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and especially Julio Jones have an enormous advantage against Carolina’s weak secondary that includes a rookie corner and a 37-year-old safety.

Give me a desperate Atlanta squad in its home opener with a few extra days of preparation. I played the Falcons -5.5 earlier in the week, but clearly still like them at -6.

Arizona Cardinals at L.A. Rams

  • Spread: Rams -13.5
  • Over/Under: 45
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Inject double-digit NFL underdogs into my veins. Throw in a short week for the Rams and I can’t pass up the Cardinals at +13.5. (Although I only hit it for a 0.5 unit as I’ll wait to see if +14 will somehow pop up.)

Catching 13.5 points in this divisional matchup looks even better if this game grinds along how I envision. Arizona’s new head coach Steven Wilks wants a run-heavy offense and a stout defense. When asked about his philosophy earlier in 2018, the defensive-minded coach stated, “We want to be productive, number one, in running the football.”

For that reason (and others), I had Arizona circled as an early-season under team. And after hitting the under last week, I’m going back to the well. Even if the Rams fully focus on stopping running back David Johnson (and they might), quarterback Sam Bradford rarely turns the ball over.

And don’t sleep on the Arizona pass rush, which could make life difficult for Jared Goff. I expect to see a heavy dose of Todd Gurley.

The Rams should win this game, but this is too many points and too high of a total for a game that should have a quick-moving clock.

New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Spread: Patriots -1.5
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

I played this under 45 earlier in the week and still love it at 44. Don’t forget that 43 is now the most important number for NFL totals after the extra-point rule change.

I think the Jaguars in particular will have a lot of growing pains on offense early in the season, breaking in a group of unproven receivers with a new group of offensive linemen. And while T.J. Yeldon is a capable backup, the loss of Leonard Fournette (currently listed as doubtful) wouldn’t help Sunday. Even if the Jags consistently move the ball, the Patriots should flash that elite red zone defense as they do every year.

Tom Brady is also breaking in a new group of weapons, and the Pats are dealing with a number of injuries/suspensions on offense. New England also has major questions at tackle after letting Nate Solder go and placing first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn on IR. The lack of fitness for tackle Marcus Cannon is also concerning. That spells trouble against a vicious defensive line that gets Dante Fowler back from suspension.

Bottom line: The Jags’ defense is built to contain the Patriots. It can generate pressure with an elite defensive line, while playing tight man coverage with the league’s best secondary in order to disrupt Brady’s quick passing game.

I played the under 45 earlier in the week and will likely add the first-half under 22. Points should be at a premium.