Week 2 NFL Odds & Picks: Betting Guides For Sunday’s Late Games
Getty Images. Pictured: Deshaun Watson, Andy Reid
Editor’s note: Games that kicked off at 1 p.m. ET have been moved below the late afternoon games.
What did we learn from Week 1?
Without a preseason, that 16-game sample size is all we have, although overreactions by the betting market and public have created some value. Our staff previews all 13 of Sunday’s main slate games below, complete with odds and picks for each.
Week 2 NFL Odds & Picks: Late Games
Click on a matchup to skip to that preview
After scoring 27 unanswered points to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Football Team fly west to take on the Arizona Cardinals, who are fresh off a 24-20 comeback victory against the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
In a battle between two second-year quarterbacks in Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, oddsmakers opened the Cardinals as 6.5-point favorites over the Washington Football Team with a total of 45.5. Both the Cardinals and the over have taken some money as the line now sits at -7 and 46.5 at most sportsbooks (check our updated odds page to shop for the best number).
So where is the betting value in this matchup?
Let’s find out!
Washington Football Team
Washington’s pass rush is everything we expected it to be. With five first-round picks on in their defensive line, including the 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat, this unit is a force to be reckoned with.
In their Week 1 matchup against a depleted Philadelphia offensive line, they sacked Carson Wentz eight times, forced a fumble and their consistent pressure led to errant throws for two interceptions.
While Washington certainly did a good job keeping Wentz in the pocket, the Football Team will have their work cut out for them against Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s fast-paced offense.
Washington’s secondary is still exploitable and if the defensive line can’t get to Murray, they could be in trouble.
Although the Washington Football Team scored 27 unanswered points to defeat the Eagles, the final score was a bit misleading. Washington’s offense struggled, only gaining 3.4 yards per play as Haskins threw for just 178 yards.
Washington’s rushing attack didn’t do much better. Rookie Antonio Gibson rushed for team high 36 yards on nine carries as the team’s committee of running backs struggled to the tune of 36 carries for 80 yards (2.2 yards per carry). It’s difficult to win a football game by 10 points when you only have 239 yards, and the result speaks to how their offense was largely fueled by turnovers and drives that started in Eagles territory.
Nevertheless, Washington has a talented trio of wide receivers in Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr and Dontrelle Inman, but it remains to be seen if they can do anything against a Cardinals secondary the includes Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker.
With Arizona’s struggles in defending tight ends and rookie Isaiah Simmons still adjusting to the NFL, tight end Logan Thomas should have his opportunities.
The 49ers were a bit hamstrung in their Week 1 game due to the absence of starting wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in addition to the injury to George Kittle and yet they were still able to throw for 6.8 yards per attempt. The question is, can Haskins get the ball to his receivers?
According to Pro Football Focus, Washington’s offensive line allowed 17 pressures on 36 drop backs which is tied for the second-worst pass blocking efficiency in the league. In addition, Haskins ranked dead last in the NFL in time to throw with 2.25 seconds, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
If Washington can’t protect Haskins, it may have trouble keeping up with this high-powered offense.
The Cardinals are playing with a blistering pace offensively as they ran 41% of their offensive snaps in no huddle in their Week 1 matchup against the 49ers. Snap to snap, the Cardinals played at a pace of 23.28 seconds.
Why is this important? Playing an uptempo offense is one of your biggest advantages to help negate an elite pass rush. Against a 49ers defensive line featuring Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, Murray saw pressure on just 23.5% of his drop backs which was the eighth-lowest in Week 1 according to PFF.
In 2019, Murray was tied for the fifth-most sacks with 50, mostly due to him trying to extend plays. However during his Week 1 matchup against the 49ers, Arizona’s quick passing game worked to perfection as Murray’s average depth of target was 4.8 yards which was 28th in the league in the opening week.
It’s exactly the type of game plan you’d expect vs. an elite pass rush, and you have to feel good about their chances against a Washington defensive line that’s just as dangerous.
Murray finished with 230 yards and one passing touchdown while rushing for 91 yards, adding another touchdown on a 22-yard scamper through the ground.
Although many speculated DeAndre Hopkins wouldn’t see as many passes in this spread offense, he proved to be a worthy addition, catching 14-of-16 targets for 151 yards.
The Cardinals may have some issues defensively. Although they limited San Francisco to 20 points on the road, the 49ers only went 2-for-11 on third downs. Is that skill, luck or a product of the 49ers missing Samuel and Aiyuk? It remains to be seen.
Still, it’s fair to wonder if Haskins and Washington’s offense can do much better.
Washington’s comeback win against the Eagles has provided us with some value. What would this line be if Washington had not come back from 17-0 to score 27 unanswered points for a Week 1 win?
I think we’d be closer to 10 than 6.5/7.
Washington’s 27 points in Week 1 were a product of turnovers, which allowed the team to start drives in Eagles territory. NFL teams that win the turnover margin win the game 78% of the time.
The Eagles had a turnover differential of -3 last week and teams lose 97.3% of the time in that scenario. If it takes a total second-half meltdown and three turnovers for a team to win by just 10 points, it’s clear they’re not very good.
Coming off Cleveland’s 32-point loss to Baltimore, there was a Week 3 lookahead line on the Browns laying 5.5 points to the Washington Football Team. I think it speaks volumes about how oddsmakers see this 1-0 Washington team that they thought a 0-1 Browns team should lay 5.5 points to them.
Although Washington has an elite front defensive line, they don’t have the horses to keep up with Arizona’s offense. Lay the 6.5 points PointsBet is still offering.
PICK: Cardinals -6.5
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Cardinals score a point]
The Ravens spanked the Texans, 41-7, last November in Baltimore. Can the Texans keep it close this time on their home turf?
You know what you’re going to get out of the Ravens: A steady diet of the run with Lamar Jackson and a deep backfield that now features second-round pick J.K. Dobbins along with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards.
Despite shellacking the Browns, 38-6, in Week 1 and Dobbins scoring twice on the ground in his debut, the Ravens weren’t their usual, dominant selves in the run game: Baltimore picked up just 111 yards on 30 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
The Ravens lit up the Texans for 41 points in Week 11 last season, but that was with Romeo Crennel still calling the plays. New defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver’s scheme is a bit more varied and multiple and will attempt to confuse opponents by sending rushers from unpredictable places while forcing the Ravens to drive the length of the field. The 34-20 outcome in favor of the Chiefs in Week 1 masked that Weaver was largely successful at executing this strategy against Patrick Mahomes, who managed just 211 passing yards on 32 attempts for an average of 6.6 yards per attempt — nearly two full yards below his career average of 8.5.
Baltimore isn’t nearly as strong as the Chiefs at wide receiver, which will allow Weaver to dedicate more resources to stopping the run, a luxury he wasn’t afforded in Week 1 that ultimately proved to be Houston’s undoing, as it was shredded for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries by rookie first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Deshaun Watson’s biggest issue in Week 1 was pressure:
Most telling stat of the night for #Texans:
Deshaun Watson on 14 pressured dropbacks:
4 sacks, 3 scrambles
1-of-7 passing for 6 yards
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) September 11, 2020
Watson should expect to be under duress again: The Ravens were the NFL’s most blitz-happy team last season, and when these two teams met in Week 11, Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale sent extra rushers at Watson on 20 of his 37 dropbacks (54.1%) while getting pressure 40.5% of the time.
Watson is, however, better equipped to handle the pressure this time around than he was last season against Baltimore and against Kansas City in Week 1. In last year’s matchup with the Ravens, Watson was without the services of deep threat Will Fuller, and it showed: Watson attempted only three passes of 20 yards or more downfield, completing none. And last week, Brandin Cooks was in on only 46.3% of Watson’s dropbacks. Cooks’ snap count should rise as he’s eased back in from an offseason quad injury.
Baltimore has a strong group of corners led by Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, and teams not going to beat them by allowing them to sit on underneath routes.
The Ravens also had the services of safety Earl Thomas III — who was released this offseason — in last year’s matchup. Thomas III played 38 snaps in coverage in that game and didn’t even allow a target. Replacing Thomas in the lineup is unproven 2018 sixth-round pick DeShon Elliott, who has played just 68 coverage snaps in his entire career.
On the ground, David Johnson got off to a promising start in Week 1, popping off for 77 yards on 11 carries (7.0 yards per carry), With Duke Johnson (ankle, questionable) banged up, Johnson will likely have to carry the load but should have opportunities against a Ravens run defense that sprung leaks against Cleveland’s backfield, allowing its backs to rattle off 137 yards on 24 carries (5.7 yards per carry).
Baltimore is obviously the superior team, but Houston has what it takes to keep this game closer than the line indicates. Weaver’s defense proved in Week 1 it could limit big plays from an explosive passing game and will force Baltimore to drive the length of the field.
On offense, Watson has the weapons necessary to make Baltimore pay for blitzing, something that wasn’t the case in last season’s matchup.
Per The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss, Watson has been the league’s second-most high-variance quarterback since being drafted in 2017, so we shouldn’t overreact to last week’s slow start. In fact, the best time to bet on Watson to deliver has been when expectations are low: According to our Bet Labs data, he has pulled off a 12-6 record against the spread as an underdog in his career. Jackson, meanwhile, can be hit or miss as a favorite. compiling an ATS record of 9-10 (including postseason).
I have this game power rated as Texans +6 and would bet Houston at +7.5 or better.
I make this total 50, so I showed value on the under at 52.5 before sharps bet it down to 50. That Houston can force Baltimore to drive the length of the field is a good case for the under, but Houston has enough ability to make Baltimore pay in one-on-one coverage on the blitz that I think it’s too risky to tail the sharps at the reduced number.
After a dominant 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans, the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs take on the Los Angeles Chargers in their Week 2 matchup Sunday afternoon.
The Chiefs have won 11 out of the last 12 meetings, including the last six as a road team. This time, the Chargers play their first game at their new home, SoFi Stadium.
Will the Chiefs spoil the Chargers inaugural game in their new stadium, or can Los Angeles finally get off the snide against their divisional foe and stymie Patrick Mahomes and this high-powered offense?
Let’s find out.
Kansas City Chiefs
Dating back to last season, the Chiefs have won their last 10 games, opening the 2020 season with a 34-20 victory over the Texans on Thursday Night Football.
It’s hard to imagine it stopping here. The Chiefs have owned the AFC West, going 29-2 in their past 29 division matchups including 6-0 against the division straight up and 5-1 against the spread (ATS) in the 2019 season.
Andy Reid’s reputation with extra time to prepare speaks for itself, as his teams are 17-3 straight up and 14-6 ATS after a bye. Given the three extra days to rest and prepare, the week after a Thursday Night Football game is essentially a mini-bye and Reid-led teams are 26-9 (.743) when he has 10 or more days to prepare for his next opponent.
Mahomes is leading one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, but in Week 1 we saw a Chiefs operate with a more run-heavy script with the emergence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs ran on 51% of their attempts (up from 39% in 2019) as Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown.
Whether the Chiefs continue this game script remains to be seen, but we can expect their offense to remain efficient.
Defensively, the Chiefs appear to be thriving in the second year of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system, and their strength is the pass rush. Chris Jones is first in the NFL in total pressures (hurries and sacks) with seven, and Frank Clark is in the top-10 with four. With the suspension of cornerback Bashaud Breeland and the absence of Charvarius Ward this week, Kansas City’s pass rush will need to get to Tyrod Taylor as the receiving duo of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will be a tough challenge for L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton and Antonio Hamilton.
Even with the absence of DT Khalen Saunders and Alex Okafor, this shouldn’t be a problem facing a Chargers team that lost center Mike Pouncey for the year and is missing guard Trai Turner.
An interesting caveat to note in this matchup is that Spagnuolo is familiar with Taylor from his time in Baltimore as defensive assistant and assistant head coach in 2013 and 2014.
These two matched up once in 2015 during Spagnuolo’s time as defensive coordinator of the Giants while Taylor was the starting quarterback of the Bills. The Giants defense held Taylor to a 18.2 QBR (ESPN) and the Bills to three points through the first three quarters on their way to a 24-10 victory.
Los Angeles Chargers
After watching the Browns’ performance against a lackluster Bengals defense on Thursday Night Football, we should be very concerned about the Chargers offense.
Despite having having weapons like Williams and Allen in addition to running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, they could only muster 16 points with a 39% offensive success rate, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
Although the Chargers are healthy at the skill positions, their offensive line is banged up. Pouncey is out for the year after having hip surgery and Turner is out for with a knee injury. The Chargers struggled to protect Taylor in Week 1, and he was pressured on 23.5% of his drop backs against a Bengals defense that was missing Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels in addition to losing DJ Reader in the second half.
Taylor was downright abysmal, finishing 16-of-30 with a league-low 53% completion percentage for 208 yards. To make matters worse, one of Taylor’s biggest strengths in his mobility appeared to be missing in action, finishing with just six carries for 7 yards with a 17% success rate. If he can’t complete passes accurately or run efficiently, what can he do?
The Chargers finished just 6-for-16 on third down, which is a disaster waiting to happen against the Chiefs. After watching the Browns put up 434 yards on offense and 35 points, you have to wonder if the Chargers will be making the move to Justin Herbert sooner rather than later.
The Chargers defense has two of the best pass rushers in the league with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. It’s no surprise they’ve done a solid job containing Mahomes and this Chiefs offense in the past. Nonetheless, their defensive performance against Cincinnati was concerning.
Despite signing defensive tackle Linval Joseph to be a run-stuffer, they still gave up 4.4 yards per carry with a 54% success rate against one of the worst offensive lines in the league. In addition, Joe Burrow — in his first career start — drove down the field effortlessly for the game-winning drive before an A.J. Green touchdown was called back for offensive pass interference.
I see no reason to fade the Chiefs in this matchup.
Super Bowl 54 showed us that even a top-tier defense eventually has to score to keep up with this Kansas City offense. Even if this Chargers defense can slow down Mahomes, based on their performance against the Bengals, it’s hard to have any faith that they can keep up offensively or, at the very least, keep them off the field.
My model makes the Chiefs -10.03, and while it’s tough to lay close to double digits on the road in a divisional matchup, the Chargers haven’t had home-field advantage since they moved out of San Diego.
Lay the points on Kansas City early in the season while you can, because we’re a week or two away from there being no value on the Chiefs for a while.
PICK: Chiefs -8
Week 2 NFL Odds & Picks: Early Games
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After Mitch Trubisky’s fourth-quarter comeback, the Chicago Bears now have high expectations in the NFC North. A good performance against the New York Giants on Sunday could turn the Bears into real NFC contenders.
The Giants offense looked anemic on Monday night, losing 26-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. New York’s offensive line was not able to free up Saquon Barkley, as the star running back ran for just six yards on 15 carries. The Giants are in the middle of a rebuild, so expectations are not high this season at MetLife Stadium.
The Bears won this matchup 19-14 a year ago at Soldier Field, so they will be hoping for a similar performance in this latest meeting.
Trubisky took a big step backward in 2019, as his yards per attempt went from 7.6 to 6.3, causing his passer rating to decrease by more than 10 points.
He turned things around in the fourth quarter of the season opener against Detroit, throwing three touchdown passes on three consecutive drives. Trubisky will have to up that level of play, because he’ll have backup quarterback Nick Foles breathing down his neck all season.
The other problem with Chicago’s offense is the fact it lacks consistent weapons at the skill positions. Allen Robinson is a legit No. 1 wide receiver, but outside of him, Trubisky doesn’t have many above-average targets.
Running back tandem David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen will look to improve the Bears’ rushing attack that ranked 25th in rushing success and 31st rushing explosiveness last season (per Sharp Football Stats). They’ll have to do it behind a regressing offensive line that went from the 10th in the NFL two seasons ago to the 25th in 2019 (per Pro Football Focus). Not to mention, long-time guard Kyle Long retired in the offseason, leaving a big gap on the right side of the line.
The Giants were 28th in defensive passing success last season, but were one of the best teams against the run. So, if the Bears are successful on Sunday, it will be dependent on Trubisky’s level of play.
Chicago still has one of the best defensive lines in football, but the unit is a bit banged up. Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn are all questionable as of writing, and if they all don’t play, Barkley is going to have a big day.
The Bears are strong on the front, but their real issues lie in the secondary.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Prince Amukamara have moved on, leaving two holes. Aging veteran Buster Skrine is still in Chicago, but he’s a liability covering the slot. Skrine allowed more than a 100 passer rating last season and will have to cover two young talented receivers in Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard.
The Bears ranked 17th in defensive passing success last season, but will likely take a step back during this campaign.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones looked much like his 2019 self on Monday night. He’s capable of a big play at any time, but turnovers have plagued him so far in his career. That was evident in the opener, where he threw two interceptions against the Steelers.
The Giants ranked 24th in passing success last season, and with issues in the Bears secondary, Jones will have to put up a clean performance if they’re going to win the game.
Few running backs have the big-play ability of Barkley, who led the Giants to the sixth-best explosive rushing attack. However, he struggled with consistency: He wasn’t very good at simply taking what is there in 2019, and with an offensive line that struggled in run blocking last year, he will need to develop some consistency.
The Giants offensive line wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be last season. They were the 17th-best offensive line according to PFF, and will get better in 2020. New York used its No. 4 overall pick on right tackle Andrew Thomas out of Georgia, who will no doubt improve the offensive line, which should boost both Jones and Barkley’s performances.
The Giants defensive line improved drastically last season, especially against the run. New York ranked third in defensive rushing success and it seems drafting Dexter Lawerence in the first round of last year’s draft paid off. But New York wasn’t very good against the run on Monday, allowing 5.9 yards per carry to Benny Snell.
Chicago’s rushing attack has been suspect the past few years, so New York should be able to shut down Montgomery and Cohen.
The Giants’ real issues on defense lie in their linebacking and secondary units. They ranked 28th in defensive passing success and 29th defensive passing explosiveness last season. Their linebacking group was one of the worst in the NFL and no significant upgrades were made at the position. In the secondary, they added James Bradberry from Carolina, but he won’t make a significant difference.
This game is going to come down to quarterback play. Both secondaries are weak, so it’ll be up to whichever young quarterback steps up in the moment.
I have the Bears projected at -6.48, so there’s a little bit of value on them at -5.5. However, I would wait for the status of some of the Bears who are questionable before betting this game.
PICK: Bears -5.5 if Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn play
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Bears score a point]
Sunday’s matchup against the Rams and Eagles is perhaps the most fascinating game of the 1 p.m. ET slate. The Eagles squandered a 17-0 lead, losing, 27-17, to the Washington Football Team last week while the Rams put together a fantastic defensive performance on Sunday Night Football to beat the Cowboys, 20-17.
The Rams have now locked in all of their stars to long-term contracts on both sides of the ball, so keeping everyone healthy is going to be critical if they’re going to make the playoffs since they lack depth at a number of positions. They are in the toughest division in football, so each and every week is vitally important.
For the Eagles, questions are starting to be raised about Carson Wentz. After a really bad second half against Washington in Week 1, the Eagles’ signal-caller needs to get back on track or they could be looking for another quarterback sooner than expected.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff took a step back in 2019 as issues with the Rams’ offensive line took a toll on the former No. 1 overall pick. His passer rating dropped all the way down to 88.8, which ranked 25th among qualified quarterbacks last season.
Goff is now be without Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, so it’s hard to imagine the quarterback improve with fewer weapons and a bad offensive line. He was really efficient against the Cowboys in the season opener, throwing for 8.4 yards per attempt, but he’ll have a much tougher time against the Eagles’ front seven — especially if the Rams aren’t able to run the ball.
With the departure of Gurley, Los Angeles’ rushing attack is reliant on a three-man committee. Malcolm Brown seems to have taken over the lead role after Week 1, rushing for 4.4 yards per carry. The Rams drafted Cam Akers out of Florida State in the second round in hopes he could be their feature back, but he ran the ball for only 2.8 yards per carry on 14 attempts against the Cowboys.
Los Angeles could have a really tough time running the ball against a Philly run defense that ranked fourth in rushing success allowed last season (per Sharp Football Stats).
The Rams don’t only have the best defensive lineman in all of football — they may have the best player in the game in Aaron Donald. Donald pressured the quarterback 80 times in 2019, which was the highest mark in the league.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 14, 2020
The problem for the Rams up front is building around Donald.
Dante Fowler Jr. flourished playing on the same defensive line as Donald, but Fowler has moved on to Atlanta. Right now there isn’t another above-average lineman to complement Donald. The Cowboys were able to run the ball with ease on the Rams last Sunday (5.0 yards per carry), so if the Eagles offensive line can find a way to shut down Donald, they should be able to find some success on the ground.
In the secondary, the Rams have one of the best corners in the game in Jalen Ramsey. However, outside of Ramsey, things look pretty bleak. The Rams ranked 11th in defensive passing success (per Sharp Football Stats), but that number is likely to go down with the departure of Eric Weddle at safety.
Wentz wasn’t very efficient in his first outing of the season, but if Philly is able to establish the run, Wentz could be much better in Week 2.
The Eagles offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first half of Week 1. They gained 5.98 yards per play, most of which came through the air. However, the second half was riddled with turnovers and poor offensive play as the Eagles turned the ball over three times.
Philadelphia also struggled to establish its run game, running the ball for only 3.4 yards per carry.
The Eagles dealt with a ton of offensive injuries last season, with many of their skill players sidelined or placed on Injured Reserve for various stints. Wentz was still able to post a fantastic touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-to-6, but struggled with efficiency — his yards per attempt (6.70) proved to be one of the lowest in football and his passer rating (95.2) came in at 15th in the NFL.
Philly’s running backs had the benefit of playing behind one the best run-blocking offensive lines last season. The Eagles return most of that unit, but with Jason Peters moving back to left tackle. And although the team struggled on the ground in Week 1 without Miles Sanders, he and Boston Scott showed a lot of promise in 2019, running for a combined 4.65 yards per carry.
That said, the offensive line struggled in the opener against Washington, allowing Wentz to get sacked eight times. The Eagles were dealt a big scare with Peters and Lane Johnson going down with in-game injuries, but both are probable to play as of writing, which is huge considering they’ll be facing Donald.
The Eagles’ success in this game rests in the hands of their offensive line. If they aren’t able to block Donald and Co., Wentz is going to be running for his life again.
Philadelphia’s defensive line is one of the best in all of football. Not only does the unit have a ton of talent, but it also has a ton of depth.
The Eagles ranked fourth in terms of rushing success allowed and third in stuff rate last season (per Football Outsiders). And they showed out against Washington, limiting the Football Team to only 3.4 yards per play and 2.2 yards per rush attempt. Now the Eagles will have a great opportunity to wreak havoc in the backfield against Pro Football Focus’ 31st-ranked offensive line of 2019.
The Eagles went through a number of changes over the offseason, mainly in their secondary. They traded for Darius Slay and let Ronald Darby walk in free agency. Slay is an upgrade from Darby and should improve a secondary that ranked 10th in passing success rate last season.
The Eagles should put up a better performance than we saw in the second half against Washington.
The difference in this game is going to be defensive line play — whoever is able to wreak more havoc will likely win. And in my opinion, the Eagles defensive line vs. the Rams offensive line is a significant mismatch that falls in Philly’s favor.
This spread has been moving around all week, but currently sits at Eagles -1.5. I have the Eagles projected at -1.97, so there’s some value on their moneyline at -112, but I would only go up to -115.
PICK: Eagles -112
[Bet now at Parx and get a $75 if the Eagles score a touchdown]
Somehow, the Falcons and Cowboys may be undervalued after Week 1 losses.
The Cowboys took awhile to get the gears moving but still pushed the Rams all the way in a close loss on the road while the Falcons were blown out by the Seahawks, but still recorded more than 500 yards of offense. Atlanta turned the ball over twice and went 0-for-4 on fourth down, though, so a couple of bad breaks flattered Seattle.
Dallas and Atlanta have similar profiles — both are powered by their offense and hampered by their defense. That showed in their respective openers. Dallas’ defense couldn’t get off the field, limiting the Cowboys to just 24 minutes of possession, while Atlanta allowed Russell Wilson to shred its secondary all game.
That defense — or lack thereof — should drive our betting decisions in this matchup.
The Falcons struggled on defense much of last season, especially in the early weeks, and it looks like many of the same problems are back.
Their secondary, in particular, is very porous.
They were especially bad against wide receivers in 2019, giving up far too many explosive plays. That was already the case in Week 1, and now they have to face the Cowboys’ trio of uber-talented WRs in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.
Atlanta is much stronger against the run and effectively stopped Seattle’s run game last week, pushing a usually rush-heavy team to beat Atlanta with the pass. Dallas is similarly run-heavy with Ezekiel Elliott, so Atlanta has a far better chance containing Zeke than the Cowboys’ receivers.
On offense, this is all about Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley — and apparently Russell Gage. All three receivers went for more than 100 yards last week with nine receptions each. Atlanta probably isn’t going to be able to stop Dallas from scoring, so its best hope will be a repeat of last week’s passing game, plus better efficiency when the Falcons get into scoring position.
The Cowboys’ biggest question marks coming into the season were at corner, so they can definitely be passed on.
The Cowboys came into the season as a chic Super Bowl pick, but contenders don’t start the season 0-2, so they know they need this one.
Injuries and coaching are the biggest question marks surrounding Dallas heading into Week 2. The Cowboys are loaded on offense, but their offensive line is banged up right now and not up to its usual standards. The ‘Boys missed retired center Travis Frederick in Game 1 and will be without right tackle La’el Collins for a second straight week, which will hamper the run game in particular against the Falcons.
The Cowboys also lost tight end Blake Jarwin for the season.
On defense, they’re missing Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee at linebacker. That will be a bigger problem against stronger running teams, but Atlanta doesn’t run the ball well.
The biggest question mark this week will be their play calling. If you didn’t know any better in Week 1, you’d think Jason Garrett was still calling the plays. Dallas was vanilla and unimaginative, too run-heavy and not nearly aggressive enough. If the Cowboys over-commit to the run game with their line problems against a stout run D, they could struggle.
Mike McCarthy needs to let this passing game take center stage and allow Dak Prescott and his receivers repeat what Russell Wilson did last week.
The line has moved wildly in this game, so be sure to shop around for the best odds before placing your bet. The Cowboys opened as 7-point favorites but have been bet down to -4 or even -3.5 at some books.
Meanwhile, money has been pouring in on the over. The total opened at 50 but is up to 53.5 at most books as of writing and will probably be even higher by kickoff. Everyone is expecting a ton of scoring in this game, and it’s pretty easy to understand why — both secondaries are iffy at best while each offense is loaded at receiver and should be able to pass the ball with ease.
There’s another hidden factor working to our advantage: Dallas and Atlanta ranked first and third in Week 1 pace of play, per Football Outsiders. These offenses are playing fast, which means more plays and more opportunities to score, especially later in the game as defenses tire.
I like the Cowboys better here, but was not touching them anywhere near -7. It’s a much better play at -4, but with such strong passing games, the backdoor cover is always a threat.
Instead, I’m just going to ride the points here.
Even with the total rising, it hasn’t gone far enough. I think a lot of versions of this game are into the 60s in a likely shootout. Neither offense is going away, and I expect a lot of yards and a ton of passing.
I’m on the over 53.5 and would play up to 55.
PICK: Over 53.5
[Bet the Falcons-Cowboys Over at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]
With the addition of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette, expectations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were sky high. Now after a 34-23 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, the Bucs are sitting at 0-1 and hope to right the ship against against another NFC South divisional opponent in the Carolina Panthers.
Desperation is a theme for both teams as the Teddy Bridgewater-led Panthers are coming off a season-opening loss of their own at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Since realignment in 2002, only 16 out of the 140 teams who have started 0-2 have made the playoffs — that’s 11.4%. Of course, there are two additional playoff berths this season (one per conference), but with an opening record with historically bad implications on the line, which one of these teams can get off the snide and avoid the 0-2 start?
Let’s find out.
Teddy Bridgewater has been historically great against the spread (ATS) throughout his six-year career. He’s 27-8 (77%) ATS overall and 17-3 against the number as an underdog — a role he finds himself in this Sunday on the road.
The Bucs saw Bridgewater as a member of the Saints last season, when the Louisville alum threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns with a 113.3 quarterback rating in that Week 5 matchup. Teddy doesn’t have that Saints offensive line to protect him this time, but given the weapons around him with Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel, you have to feel encouraged by a unit that finished eighth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA in Week 1.
That said, they’ll be facing a tougher defensive line this week, so we can expect a lot of runs and short passes to negate Tampa Bay’s pass rush.
Unfortunately for Bridgewater, he may see his winning record SU and ATS regress this season as this Panthers team doesn’t quite measure up to the Mike Zimmer- and Sean Payton-coached Vikings and Saints, specifically on defense.
The Panthers defense gave up six scoring drives, including three touchdowns on the first eight possessions against the Raiders. Carolina also couldn’t stop the run, allowing a 65% success rate on the ground (per Sharp Football Stats) as Las Vegas racked up 133 yards and three touchdowns on 31 attempts.
Derek Carr was 22-of-30 throwing for 239 yards and one touchdown as the Raiders had a 57% success rate in the passing game. Carolina had just a 6.7% pressure rate, was one of only three teams without a sack in Week 1 and the only team to not touch the opposing quarterback at all.
If the Panthers can’t stop the run or rush the quarterback, they could be in for a long day against this loaded Buccaneers offense. All things considered, this team will go as far as the offense takes it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady’s season got off to the rocky start. In fact, based on how he’s performed recently, he might as well have been the guy he replaced in Jameis Winston. As I stated in my preview of the Bucs’ opening matchup, Brady’s -25 mark in Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement and -12.6% mark in DVOA over the second-half of the 2019 season were nearly identical to Winston’s -32 mark in DYAR and -12.6% mark in DVOA, per Football Outsiders.
Nevertheless, last week was the third consecutive game in which Brady threw a Pick 6.
Fortunately, the Bucs now face a Panthers defense that struggled to generate a pass rush. According to ESPN’s David Newton, Brady has completed 71% of his passes since 2014 when not under pressure, so this has the recipe for a redemption game.
Although wide receiver Chris Godwin (concussion) has been ruled out, the cupboard is far from empty with Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard.
The run game could also favor heavily in this matchup after Josh Jacob’s performance against the Panthers last Sunday. Ronald Jones and Fournette were underwhelming against the Saints, combining for 71 yards on 22 carries (3.2 yards per carry), but they should have no problem replicating Jacob’s output in this matchup. That’ll go a long way in taking pressure off Brady, who is still getting acquainted with his new receivers in Bruce Arians’ system.
One of the biggest positives for Tampa Bay is its defense.
The Buccaneers held Christian McCaffrey to 38 carries for 68 yards as well as six catches for 42 yards in two games last season. And the unit picked up where it left off in 2019, holding Alvin Kamara to 16 yards on 12 attempts in Week 1. Even with a young secondary, Drew Brees threw for just 160 yards on 18-of-30 passing, and the Saints offense finished with 4.1 yards per play — the second-lowest among all NFL teams last week.
One thing is clear: Brady doesn’t have to do it alone. If the Buccaneers don’t turn the ball over, creating points or short fields for opposing teams, they should be in a good position.
This is theoretically a good buy-low spot for the Buccaneers, but when your buy-low spot involves laying more than a touchdown against a division rival that’s still figuring things out with a new quarterback, that’s troubling.
The combination of Tampa Bay’s solid defense and loaded offense vs. a leaky Carolina defense is a huge edge in this matchup. Still, my model makes this Tampa Bay -6.25, so it feels like we’re paying a premium for a team that has yet to prove how good it is on the field.
I’m not willing to do that.
While my model may see an edge on Carolina from a numbers perspective, the edge I see on the field for Tampa Bay forces me to throw the numbers out. This is a pass for me.
If you absolutely have to make a play, I would recommend adding the Bucs to a 6-point teaser, knocking out the key numbers of 7, 6 and 3 to get them under a field goal at -2.5 — teasing the Cardinals down from -7 to -1 would make a good second leg.
PICK: Bucs -2 or -2.5 in a 6-point teaser
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The San Francisco 49ers are traveling across the country to take on the New York Jets in a cross-conference matchup. Both teams are coming off Week 1 losses in which their offenses struggled to get off on the right foot.
Heading into this one, each team is also struggling with injuries, and this may change how the clubs approach Week 2, possibly going with more conservative game plans.
With that in mind, this may be a low-scoring affair with San Fran controlling the pace if it’s content to run. The reigning NFC champions sit as 7-point favorites with a total of 41.5. Let’s see how these two teams stack up.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have a handful of notable names on the injury report this week.
George Kittle is out with a knee sprain, which he suffered in the first half of the Week 1 loss, and they’ll still be without Deebo Samuel. It’s not a coincidence that the Niners offense took a turn for the worst when Kittle became nothing more than a decoy last Sunday, allowing the Cardinals to take control of the game in the second half.
With injuries to the pass catchers as well as not having the reliable Emmanuel Sanders this season, the Niners passing game will continue having issues for the time being.
Expect Kyle Shanahan to lean on his running game in this one against a Jets team with a sturdy defense but an anemic offense. The Niners ran for nearly 5 yards per carry in Week 1, and I expect them to be deliberate in trying to attack that part of what could be a worn-down Jets defense due to a lengthy stay on the field in the opening game and lack of conditioning in training camp.
On the defensive end, the 49ers are going to live in the Jets backfield. The team ranked second in the NFL in pressure rate last season, according to Pro Football Reference, and pressured Kyler Murray on a quarter of his dropbacks in Week 1. The numbers are a bit inflated for some teams but that was right around the 2019 average for Robert Saleh’s crew.
San Francisco will be down corner Richard Sherman, who was placed on the short-term Injured Reserve with a calf injury. The Niners secondary should still be in good shape with the Jets lacking weapons, but it is something to note for this one.
New York Jets
The story heading into this game will be the weapons that Sam Darnold does not have on the field.
Le’Veon Bell will be out at least three weeks with a hamstring injury while Jamison Crowder, who caught a 69-yard touchdown pass last Sunday, was ruled out late in the week with a hamstring issue. The Jets will also be without Denzel Mims, who has yet to log a snap because of — you guessed it — a hamstring injury.
Down his starting running back and favorite target, Darnold may be in for a long afternoon against an elite 49ers pass rush that should be able to generate pressure.
After acquiring much of their offensive line in the offseason, the Jets are still working on putting this unit together. An abbreviated camp did this unit no favors, and the Niners are not the right team for a group trying to build some chemistry.
New York is going to lean on its defense to put the offense in advantageous situations. Jimmy Garoppolo is not going to have his full arsenal of receivers, and the Jets were able to generate a pass rush last season and in Week 1 against Josh Allen despite being on the field for 70% of the game. There may be some carryover from so much field time last week, but this Jets defense can keep this game within striking distance, although the offense may not be able to pounce on the opportunity.
Gang Green did not have a run of loner than 10 yards last week, and will be counting on veteran Frank Gore to shoulder the load and establish the run.
Expect many of the Jets’ offensive drives to stall out quickly.
There has to be a little bit of urgency from the Niners coming to MetLife Stadium — in what appears to be the most competitive division in football, San Francisco is already a game behind each team. However, with the injuries to the skill players, I can’t lay the points with the Niners in this spot.
Instead, I’m going to look to the total.
Bettors hammered the opener of 43.5 down to 41.5, but I see value in this one all the way down to 41, so there’s still some room to get in as I have this game projected for 40 points.
While the 49ers have big-play potential in the backfield, the Jets should be able to stick to their bend-not-break defense while their offense stalls out against the elite 49ers front seven. New York’s defense ranked second in Week 1 stuff rate — the percentage of tackles on the opposing running back in the backfield –per Football Outsiders.
Both teams are banged up, and the Jets seem to be one of the most doomed teams in football this season with a lame duck coach in Adam Gase. On the other sideline, Shanahan knows his team and that the Niners aren’t where they want to be just yet, with injuries a part of the issue. I think that he keeps it pretty vanilla and plays to get out of this week with a win, and in a low-scoring battle at that.
If the total trickles under 41, I would instead recommend the Jets’ team total at anything under 17.5 — I can’t see them putting together enough drives to put points on the board.
PICK: Under 41.5 (down to 41)
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The Broncos will try to record their first win of 2020 after losing their opener to the Titans, who marched almost 90 yards to kick a go-ahead field goal in the final seconds this past Monday night.
Bookmakers opened the Steelers as 5.5-point favorites and the over/under at 43, but Pittsburgh has since been bet up to as high as -7.5 with the total dropping to 40.5. Let’s take a closer look at what the line move might suggest about how these teams might attack one another and, more importantly, what the impact will be to Drew Lock’s passing yards prop.
The Steelers are dealing with significant injuries that could dictate their overall strategy for this game.
Running back James Conner was forced out of last week’s game with an ankle injury, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Steelers then lost right guard Stefen Wisniewski (pectoral injury) and right tackle Zach Banner (knee injury) on the exact same drive. Banner’s injury is the more serious of the two as he was diagnosed with an ACL tear and is done for the season, although Wisniewski’s injury landed him on Injured Reserve.
Conner’s injury was revealed to be an ankle sprain, so he’s at least expected to be ready to go on Sunday.
As for the game, let me state outright that I don’t necessarily agree with the line move to the under in this matchup.
Denver’s biggest weakness on defense will be the absence of All-Pro cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder), who was placed on Injured Reserve this week. According to Pro Football Focus, Bouye was targeted 80 times last season and allowed only 52 catches, which placed him 16th in the league. Behind Bouye on the depth chart are Davontae Harris and Duke Dawson Jr., who have a combined nine starts under their belt compared to 63 for Bouye.
That secondary should be the softest part of their defense, and with the Broncos holding the Titans to just 3.8 yards per carry last week, I fully expect the Steelers to attack through the air, thus creating the possibility for a higher-scoring game than the current total suggests.
The Broncos’ injury news isn’t much better than the Steelers, but at least Denver didn’t lose any players for the season in the opener.
Nonetheless, the Broncos will be without Bouye and RB Phillip Lindsay (turf toe), but they could get back wide receivers Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler. Sutton’s possible return along with Bouye’s injury highlight both a strength and weakness for the Broncos, and it should dictate their offensive game plan.
Now let’s shift our focus to the current spread, which is as high as 7.5 at some sportsbooks.
The difference of a touchdown in the NFL is pretty significant considering the winning team often has to travel about 80 yards to put the ball in the end zone. If we assume that a 7.5-point handicap is correct, then based on that gap, the Steelers could be ahead for much of the game, which means that the Broncos would be playing catch up.
This matchup is all about tempo.
If Pittsburgh looks to attack Denver’s depleted secondary, it will put pressure on the Broncos to have to score to keep pace. And if the Broncos are playing from behind, Lock should be able to pick up some yards down the field, particularly late in the game if the Steelers are in a prevent defensive formation.
Heck, we saw this exact scenario play out last week when the Steelers faced Daniel Jones and the Giants — Jones had 279 yards passing along with two touchdowns and probably could have had even more if not for some errant passes and a costly red-zone turnover.
And Jones did that without his No. 1 WR Golden Tate, who missed the game due to injury.
Lock might be even more fortunate as Sutton was a limited participant for each session of practice for the Broncos this week. With his gameday status listed as questionable and not doubtful, I’ll take a chance that he’s on the field Sunday.
Lock and Co. will have to attack Pittsburgh through the air.
The Steelers play inside-out, in that they always have good interior line play along with quality linebackers who can fill gaps and stop the run. Last week, they held New York to just 29 yards and 1.45 yards per carry. And a season ago, they held opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry, third-best in the NFL.
I don’t think the Broncos want that smoke.
But if Denver can add Sutton to an already talented group alongside WR Jerry Jeudy and TE Noah Fant, I don’t see any reason why Lock can’t have a good day passing the ball. FanDuel has his passing yards prop set at 222.5, and I think he can do even better than that — I’d even bet this number up to 225.
I’ll risk a half-unit of my bankroll that Lock has a big day with his arm.
PICK: Drew Lock Over 222.5 Passing Yards (-110)
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The Jaguars and Titans battle for the AFC South lead as both teams enter this week 1-0.
Jacksonville enters Week 2 after shocking the football world by upsetting the division favorite Colts despite being an 8-point underdog. Meanwhile, the Titans narrowly escaped the Broncos, needing a field goal with 17 seconds remaining to walk away on top.
As of this writing, the line has been bet down from the open of Jaguars +11 to Jaguars +7.5, and while +11 might be high, moving the line down to +7.5 seems to be an overreaction to what we saw in Week 1.
I’ll be riding with the Titans. Let’s explore why.
The young Jaguars offense played well against a quality Colts defense. Led by quarterback Gardner Minshew, who completed 19 of his 20 pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns. This kind of efficiency led to a 70.9 mark in ESPN’s Total QBR — the third-highest single-game QBR for Minshew, which far outpaces his total QBR of 44.6 from 2019.
While the offense was playing better than expected, it was not thanks to the offensive line: Minshew was pressured on 28.6% of dropbacks while rookie running back James Robinson was given only 1.3 yards before contact per rush — 13th-worst of 52 qualified players.
This offensive line will have another tough task as it tries to slow down Jadeveon Clowney and the Titans’ defensive front.
Ninth-overall pick C.J. Henderson led the Jags defense, as he recorded three pass deflections, one interception and helped force a passer rating of only 24.1 when targeted. While Henderson played at a high level, the other defensive backs struggled as they couldn’t allow a passer rating under 108.3. The Titans should have the offensive weapons to attack the Jaguars defensive backs who struggled in coverage.
We might be viewing the Titans differently right now had Stephen Gostkowski not missed three field goals and an extra point in the season opener. As a Titans -2.5 backer last week, I feel your pain. But we can’t let the memory tarnish this week.
The question this offseason was all about whether Ryan Tannehill could maintain the level he played at last year. He showed potential of that on Monday night, producing a QBR of 73.8, better than the 64.2 he produced during the 2019 regular season and the 68.6 of the 2019 postseason. While the connection was not there with A.J. Brown until the last drive, Tannehill was in sync with Corey Davis, who hauled in seven passes for 101 yards.
The task for this passing attack will be a little tougher since Brown has already been ruled out for Sunday. However, I still expect Davis, Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith to cause trouble for the Jaguars defense.
While this offense did not run the ball as efficiently as it did down the stretch last year, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry in the opener, it was an improvement from its performance against the Broncos in 2019 in which the Titans averaged 1.9 yards per touch on the ground.
The Jaguars kept Colts RB Jonathan Taylor to 22 yards on nine carries last week, but I expect that was mostly due to him being a rookie getting used to the NFL in his first game. Veterans Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack combined for 54 yards on 11 carries, showing this run defense can be taken exploited.
Derrick Henry should have similar success as the veterans.
The Titans defense struggled in the first half of Week 1, allowing four drives of 25 or more yards. In the second half, it allowed only one and would prevent the Broncos from gaining a first down on three of their six drives.
Many teams struggled during their openers due to lack of preseason, and I expect the Titans to look more like the team that showed up in the second half once the cobwebs were shaken off.
The Titans will have learned from the Colts to not overlook the Jaguars and will come out ready to play. This should lead to a game script the Titans prefer to follow: Get out to a lead and ride Henry to put the game away.
Our experts’ consensus power ratings project this spread at Titans -8.7, showing value at the current number.
PICK: Titans -7.5
The last two times Detroit and Green Bay met, those games were decided in the final seconds — and in both the Lions had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
Coming off a massive fourth-quarter meltdown to the Bears, can the Lions possibly find a way to breakthrough against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field?
Injuries were the story on both sides of the ball for the Lions in Week 1. That’ll be true again in Week 2.
Last week the offense was without star wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who is out again with a hamstring injury. And on defense, the Lions already placed Justin Coleman on IR while veteran cornerback Desmond Trufant is now out with a hamstring injury — Trufant’s absence in particular will a critical blow to Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams.
Backup cornerback Darryl Roberts was also injured in the opening game, and is now listed as questionable for Sunday. First-round pick cornerback Jeff Okudah should make his NFL debut, but facing Adams will be a challenge.
Like Golladay, tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai is out again with a foot injury. Starting left guard Joe Dahl is also out.
The Packers pass defense ranked ninth per Football Outsiders’ DVOA in 2019, so the Lions will need to attack the Packers on the ground, as Green Bay allowed a robust 6.1 yards per carry to Minnesota’s running backs.
But will injuries to Detroit’s offensive line hurt their efficiency?
Green Bay Packers
While Week 1 performances can often result in overreactions, the Packers offense truly looked explosive against the Vikings — Green Bay’s 43 points were the most allowed by a Minnesota defense in the Mike Zimmer era.
Green Bay averaged a terrific 4.9 yards per carry and totaled 158 rushing yards. Rodgers completed more than 68% of his passes for 364 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The Vikings failed to record a sack and tallied only two quarterback hits against the Packers offensive line.
The Rodgers-Adams connection will be a problem for Detroit. Since the 2015 season, Rodgers and Adams have faced the Lions six times. In those games, Adams has averaged 10.7 targets, 6.3 receptions, 19.1 PPR points and exactly one touchdown per game.
The Packers’ versatile trio of running backs will provide a weekly defensive scheming problem. The Lions rank just 22nd in run defense DVOA after Week 1, allowing a 4.9 yards per carry to Chicago plodder David Montgomery.
As a team, Detroit allowed 149 total rushing yards against the Bears and 5.3 yards per attempt. Aaron Jones (4.1 yards per carry), Jamaal Williams (four receptions) and rookie A.J. Dillon will all have opportunities to wear down the Lions rushing attack.
The injuries make it tough to back the Lions to cover this number at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers is 47-25-3 (65.3%) as a favorite against the spread at home since 2009 (per Bet Labs). That’s a Return On Investment (ROI) of 26.6%.
This line has remained under the key number of 7, and is currently between Packers -6 and -6.5 depending on the book (check out our real-time NFL odds page to shop for the best number). The history in this matchup projects a close battle, but the injuries to Detroit are too much to overcome.
With a Lions team that is limited on both sides of the ball, I’ll give the points with the Packers.
PICK: Packers -6
The Bills have dominated their recent matchups with the Dolphins, winning five of the last six games between these AFC East rivals. Buffalo won both games in 2019, each time by double-digits.
Can the Dolphins reverse the trend and find a way to grab a win against one of the favorites to win the AFC Championship?
Buffalo is one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. Under head coach Sean McDermott, the Bills have ranked second and sixth the past two years in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, with one of the best overall pass defenses in the league.
Quarterback Josh Allen put his versatility on display with an overall fantasy QB4 performance in a comfortable 27-17 Week 1 win over the Jets. The third-year signal-caller had his first 300-yard passing game with 57 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.
The offseason acquisition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs is already paying dividends. He posted eight receptions for 86 yards while opening up the field for teammate John Brown (six receptions, 70 yards, one touchdown).
Buffalo’s dominant performance eliminated the need for fully showcasing its pair of pass-catching running backs. Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss combined for eight receptions but only gained 39 yards.
Both will serve as valuable weapons against a Miami linebacking corps that ranks just 29th by Pro Football Focus this season. In their two games against Miami last season, the Bills found success on the ground, rushing for 5.1 and 4.9 yards per carry in each game, respectively.
The Buffalo pass rush should also enjoy some success against the Miami offensive line. In last year’s 37-20 win at Miami, the Bills sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick seven times.
The Miami run defense was skewered for 217 yards and three touchdowns on the ground by the Patriots in Week 1. The Dolphins struggled all game to limit the rushing output of New England quarterback Cam Newton (75 yards and two touchdowns).
The Dolphins secondary didn’t allow a ton of yardage, but Newton tallied only four incomplete passes, completing 15-of-19 attempts. If not for rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry’s end-zone fumble, the 21-11 final score would have been much worse.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions and almost lost a fumble. Look for Buffalo’s defense to disrupt Fitzpatrick’s rhythm all game after he totaled three sacks, one interception and a fumble against the Jets last week.
The Dolphins’ rushing attack is in disarray after leading rusher Jordan Howard left the game against the Patriots with a hamstring injury. Both Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida were limited, and Miami averaged only 3.2 yards per carry as a team.
Lead wide receiver DeVante Parker also exited the game with an injury and is listed as questionable for Week 2. Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White is one of the league’s premier cornerbacks and will severely limit the production of either Parker or second-year wideout Preston Williams.
The Bills defense has been one of the league’s best units under Sean McDermott, and the addition of Diggs has greatly increased Buffalo’s big-play ability on offense. The Dolphins found little success in their two games against the Bills last season, allowing over 30 points twice.
Per Bet Labs, the Bills are 3-1 as road favorites in McDermott’s tenure as head coach. While it’s always tricky giving points on the road in a divisional matchup, Buffalo’s balanced offense and strong defensive play will be too much for Miami.
I am laying the 5.5 points in a game I see as a comfortable double-digit win for Buffalo.
PICK: Bills -5.5
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Two teams with postseason aspirations that lost in Week 1 as favorites will meet in an important Week 2 showdown as each look to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.
Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s matchup in Indianapolis.
Everybody is in panic mode in Indianapolis after the Colts dropped their opener against the lowly Jaguars. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see the Colts dominated that game. They out-gained Jacksonville by over 200 total yards, including 207 more passing yards, and finished with a 1.3-yards-per-play edge. It was an unlucky loss. That will happen when you lose the turnover battle 2-0 on the road in a division game.
My opinion hasn’t really changed on the Colts — a team I projected to win 9.0 games. Philip Rivers looked serviceable enough, especially in his first game of a new offense.
In contrast, my opinion on the Vikings has changed significantly after last week. One of the trickiest parts about Week 2 is not overreacting to what happened while also properly adjusting power ratings for teams that may be much worse or better than projected. It’s much more art than science with a one-game sample size.
Well, I took a stand and downgraded Minnesota significantly after what I saw against Green Bay. I came into the season on the fence about the Vikings, who I could envision having a disastrous season
Yes, the Vikings averaged a Week 1 best 8.1 yards per play, but they played from behind most of the game and accumulated plenty of garbage-time stats. On the defensive side, Minnesota looked horrendous, and I don’t see any quick remedies.
After Everson Griffen’s departure and Michael Pierce’s opt-out, the defensive line looked very thin. Then, the outlook became even bleaker even when Danielle Hunter went on IR. Newly-acquired Yannick Ngakoue should eventually help, but he’s still dealing with an injury and not fully up to speed with Mike Zimmer’s complex defense.
This is just a bad defensive front at the moment.
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The Colts, who boast one of the league’s most dominant offensive lines, should completely control the line of scrimmage. They shouldn’t have any issues moving the ball on the ground, and Rivers should have plenty of time to find open receivers in Indy’s heavy 11 personnel offense against a subpar group of Minnesota cornerbacks. In Week 1, third-round draft pick Cameron Dantzler actually took the most snaps at cornerback. Holton Hill was abysmal in coverage, and Mike Hughes still doesn’t look ready to take that next step. It’s also a group of corners that don’t possess elite speed, which could be problematic against Indy’s speedy wideouts.
On the other side of the ball, Minnesota really only has one bonafide threat at receiver in Adam Thielen. On paper, he might have a big edge on Xavier Rhodes, who I believe is way past his prime.
However, Rhodes, who had a horrid game against Jacksonville, might have a better shot at finding success this week. He practiced against Thielen for seven years and knows all of his tendencies. It works both ways, but I tend to give the edge to the cornerback in this scenario. I’m sure the Colts will run a lot of zone looks and offer help to Rhodes as well.
With the offseason acquisition of DeForest Buckner and a healthy Darius Leonard in the middle of the 4-3 base defense, the Colts’ front seven also should have the advantage at the point of attack against a below-average Minnesota offensive line.
Give me the Colts at home this week at a field goal or less against a Vikings squad I may fade frequently over the first half of the season. I know Zimmer has been money after a straight-up loss in the past with a 17-6 record against the spread, but he just doesn’t have his typical high-performing defense at the moment.
In regards to the total, it has ticked up since the open, which I think has created a bit of value on the under based on how I think the game will play out. It’s tough to pull the trigger with two questionable secondaries, but both teams feature run-first offenses that don’t play fast.
Remember, Rivers is the king of running the game clock all the way down before snapping it. Also, you could see both clubs play conservatively with a potential devastating 0-2 start on the horizon.
PICKS: Colts -3; Under 49