NFL Expert Picks: 20 Favorite Bets for Week 2

NFL Expert Picks: 20 Favorite Bets for Week 2 article feature image
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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady greets Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell following the AFC Championship.

  • The Action Network's NFL experts give their favorite bets for Week 2 of the 2018 season.
  • Hope you're ready to feel the Bills love. Plus, get over/under betting angles on multiple matchups.

Our second NFL Sunday of the year is just a few days away and if history is any indication, most of the hot takes you saw all week will look ridiculous come Sunday.

Remember when Tampa won at Atlanta in Week 1 of 2016? Everything ended up working out just fine for the Falcons, who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl that year. (Well, worked out just fine up until they blew that 28-3 lead.)

You will see that theme of fading the overreaction throughout this column. A week after having our most popular play be on the Bucs, three of us like another ugly side on the surface — in addition to a total on Sunday Night Football.

Let’s get into our staff’s favorite 20 NFL Week 2 bets and hopefully improve upon a 9-6-2 Week 1.

You will see a few of us directly oppose one another, which is healthy dialogue. The information and intelligent takes are the valuable parts of this exercise.

*All odds as of the 8 a.m. ET hour on Sept. 14 (hence slight line variations are possible). Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

SUNDAY’S EARLY ACTION

Sean Koerner: Bills +7.5 (vs. Chargers)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

Make no mistake, the Buffalo Bills are a terrible football team and should be underdogs in this matchup. There is a bit of a Week 1 overreaction in this line after the Bills got waxed, 47-3, by the Ravens.

The blessing in disguise from that game is it allowed the Bills to officially move on from Nathan Peterman as they turn to their No. 7 overall pick of the 2018 draft, Josh Allen. The Wyoming product will surely have his fair share of rookie mistakes early on, but is still an upgrade over Peterman.

On the other side of the ball, we have a Chargers team that opened its 2018 season with a 10-point home loss to Kansas City. The Bolts will be without Joey Bosa again this week, which downgrades this defense more than people realize.

I think this line has a couple points of value, and getting the hook on a key number makes the Bills +7.5 my favorite bet this week.

Evan Abrams: Bills +7.5 (vs. Chargers)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

This was a very close call for me between going in on the Bills and going in on the Lions this week. I’ve always been a fan of bet the opposite of what you just saw, and in Week 2, you are normally offered the biggest gap between reality and recency all season.

The world just experienced Peterman starting for the third time, and I think we have all had enough, including the Bills. Over those three starts, Peterman had 1 TD, 7 INT, 3.5 Y/A and a laughable 16.8 passer rating.

Yes, the Bills had the worst VOA rating in a Week 1 since the expansion Browns lost, 43-0, to the Steelers in 1999, but there are a few reasons I am (gulp) backing Buffalo:

  • Under Sean McDermott, the Bills are simply much better at home.
  • I’m getting the hook off a key number.
  • Los Angeles is missing both Bosa and Corey Liuget.

Take the points and watch the other 1 p.m. ET games.

Stuckey:  Bills +7.5 (vs. Chargers)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

I could have easily gone with the Falcons or Dolphins, but I’ll roll with the home dog catching more than seven points — which is always a good proposition in the NFL in my book. Favorites of 7.5-plus points are 74-95-1 (43.8%) ATS since 2003 for an ROI of -12.2%.

I agree with almost everything that Evan and Sean stated above. I also think the Bills will use an even more conservative game plan in Allen’s first start. You can run on this Chargers team, and I anticipate the Bills might hand the ball off 40 times on Sunday.

That’s a good thing because it would limit the turnovers, which Peterman handed out like candy on Halloween when he was under center.

I love buying low in the NFL, even if I have to do so on the team I rate as the worst in the league. Along those lines, home underdogs off a loss of at least 40 points are 10-3-2 ATS since 1995. NFL teams are not as good or as bad as they appear on their best and worst weekends.

If it’s hard to put the bet in on an underdog and you’re not betting against the Patriots, you’re probably going to win more times than not in the NFL.

Ken Barkley: Eagles -3.5 (at Buccaneers)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Week 2 overreactions have begun. Ryan Fitzpatrick went to New Orleans and played out of his mind … maybe the Bucs aren’t that bad? Nick Foles and the Eagles struggled in prime time in front of America … maybe they aren’t that good?

We like to celebrate Tampa’s accomplishment while also completely ignoring how its defense got shredded through the air over and over again. We like to question Philadelphia, but Atlanta has incredible talent on the defensive side of the ball (although some of it won’t be there the rest of the season).

I’ll take Philadelphia with extra rest at a pretty low number to look marginally less sloppy.

Chad Millman: Cardinals +13 (at Rams)

4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

Call me crazy, but me thinks there has been a bit of an overreaction from the public and bookmakers when it comes to both the Rams and the Cards. Los Angeles won in prime time, which the public loves — and the Cards lost ugly to a team the public is against, the Redskins.

The true power-rated spread on this game should be 9.5 or 10, so I’ll take the value.

Travis Reed:  Panthers +6 (at Falcons)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

I’ll admit that this game is a little tricky to handicap with all of the injuries on both sides. The Panthers lost their starting tight end and right tackle, while the Falcons lost their starting safety and linebacker.

It’s tough to call it a wash, but I also can’t definitely say that either team will have an advantage based on these four players missing.

Before the season, the lookahead line was Falcons -4. The Falcons lost their opener while struggling in the red zone once again, and now they are two points better than they were before the season?

My model actually thinks the Panthers are the better team, and the line should be closer to Falcons -2. I’ll take the Panthers and the points, and I’ll be sure to put some on the moneyline as well.

Mark Gallant:  Steelers -4 (vs. Kansas City)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

Historically, Week 2 has been the best week to bet against the public in the NFL. This is likely because everyone overreacts based on what they see in Week 1, therefore creating value on the other side.

If the percentages hold up, the Steelers could become the least publicly bet favorite in our database (since 2003) at just 19% of spread bets. In 15 years! Even if that doesn’t happen, the Chiefs will still end up with 70+% and be ripe for fading.

Danny Donahue: Steelers -4 (vs. Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

To tail Ken’s overreaction theme, I think bettors are getting a bit carried away with their love for Kansas City after Week 1. As it stands now, KC is on pace to be the most popular side of the weekend, and while its offense certainly did look good, a one-game sample size isn’t enough for me to buy in just yet.

The lookahead line was Steelers -7, which of course was under the assumption that Le’Veon Bell would play, but even the best backs in the league are worth about only a half-point to the spread. I’d take the Steelers at anything less than -6.

Scott Miller: Panthers-Falcons Over 44.5

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Yes, I know both Panthers-Falcons matchups last season stayed under 40 points, and both of their unders easily cashed in Week 1. But this line is an overreaction to both of those facts.

The Falcons lost two of their most impactful defenders for the foreseeable future in Week 1, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. The Panthers, with shifty pass-catching RB Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton’s wheels, are uniquely equipped to exploit this new-found weakness.

The Falcons can’t possibly be worse on offense than they were in Week 1, particularly in the red zone. Carolina is starting a rookie (Donte Jackson) and a 37-year-old (Mike Adams) in its secondary. Expect Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to remind them of that early and often.


LATE SLATE

PJ Walsh: Raiders +6

4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

Last week, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened Denver as a 3-point favorite in Week 2 lookahead lines. The market drastically overreacted to the Raiders’ loss to the Rams on Monday Night Football and opened the Broncos -6 this week.

Since 2003, NFL teams coming off losses of 20 or more points are 401-337 (54.3%) ATS. When the team is an underdog of three or more points in the following game, the ATS record improves to 241-182-10 (57%). Dogs of six points or more are even better at 58.2% ATS.

I’ll let the market continue to overreact to Oakland’s blowout loss and steal those three free points of line value.


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Matthew Freedman: Patriots PK (at Jacksonville)

4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

I’m not overthinking this. Since 2003, the Patriots are 75-42-3 against the spread away from Gillette Stadium, which translates to a 26.2% ROI. The Patriots have won their division every year but one in that span — when quarterback Tom Brady missed almost the entire 2008 season.

Meanwhile, the Jags have won their division just once since 2003: last year. Recency bias, much?

One of these teams has the only quarterback in history with five Super Bowl victories, and the other has a man with the most interceptions since he entered the NFL in 2014.

The Jags have the superior defense, certainly the best defense in the AFC — but the Patriots have had a top-10 scoring offense each season since 2004. Defense might win championships, but the Pats’ offense covers the spread.

Collin Wilson: Jaguars -1 (vs. Patriots)

4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

I’m not going to keep this as simple as Matt, which could come back to bite me since betting against Bill Belichick is similar to tossing stacks of cash into a furnace.

I purposefully used the term furnace because anyone wearing a hoodie in 92-degree heat in Jacksonville on Sunday will feel like they are in a furnace.

The Jags dodged some bullets and locked up the red zone in their victory over the Giants in Week 1. No one has ever backed Blake Bortles comfortably, but he did play one of the best games of his career in the AFC championship game in Foxborough last January.

Call me captain contrarian as I love the Jags — despite the fact that New England is 21-0 against the AFC South since 2010.

Matt LaMarca: Lions +6 (at 49ers)

4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

The Lions were one of the biggest disappointments in Week 1, but I don’t think they’re nearly as bad as they showed during their loss to the Jets. Things snowballed on them in the second half after the Jets scored a touchdown on defense and special teams. That game was tied at 17 all before the Jets rattled off 31 unanswered points.

However, the main reason I like the Lions is the value with the current number. The lookahead line in this game was only -3.5, so moving all the way to six seems like an overreaction.

This tends to happen after blowouts, which is a big reason why teams have gone 155-123-8 ATS after losing by at least 28 points the previous week.

Sean Newsham: 49ers -6 (vs. Lions)

4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

I actually think the Lions market correction was warranted. While watching Monday Night Football last week, I kept asking myself:  “How is Matt Stafford still alive?”

Stafford threw four interceptions and took a beating under constant pressure.  I expect Detroit’s line to keep struggling to protect Stafford against San Francisco.


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Geoff Schwartz: Cowboys-Giants Under 42.5

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

For the second week in a row, I’m going with a Cowboys under 42.5. My Week 2 Trench Report focuses heavily on this game. The under has hit the last four matchups (two fairly easily) and should continue this weekend.

Both offensive lines are struggling and will face two outstanding, even underrated, defensive lines. Eli Manning is getting comfortable in the new offense under Pat Shurmur, but it will take some time before that offense clicks. Points will be at a premium at “Jerry World” this weekend.

Chris Raybon: Cowboys-Giants Under 42.5

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

I completely agree with Geoff. Not only is the under 4-0 in this matchup over the past two years, but the under is also 21-12 all-time with Dak Prescott under center.

Dating back to last season, the total points scored in Dallas’ last five games are as follows: 24, 6, 33, 37, 40. After both teams went under by more than a touchdown in Week 1, we could be in for another ugly one.

Ian Hartitz: Cowboys-Giants Under 42.5

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

The first 2018 matchup between these NFL East rivals features an improved Cowboys defensive line against a typically brutal Giants offensive line, but the major factor is the lack of dominance from the Cowboys’ highly praised stalwarts.

Since the beginning of last season, the Cowboys have scored just 7, 9, 12, 6 and 8 points in five games when missing the full services of one of the following offensive linemen: Tyron Smith, Zack Martin or Travis Frederick (illness, out indefinitely).


Monday Night Football

Peter Jennings:  Bears -3.5 (vs. Seahawks)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

I admit 3.5 is a tough number, but I love the Bears at home against a declining Seahawks team. The Bears are in win-now mode and are, in my opinion, undervalued after blowing the game vs. the Packers.

John Ewing: Seahawks +3.5 (at Bears)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

I have to disagree with Pete, here. Chicago looked good in the first half against Green Bay when it raced out to a 17-0 halftime lead. People seem to forget the second half when the Bears were outscored, 24-6, and lost to a hobbled Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, Mitch Trubisky looked competent (completed 66% of his passes) and newly acquired Khalil Mack was disruptive (had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown). However, should the Bears really be favored over Russell Wilson by 3.5 points?

The lookahead line for this game was Chicago -1 — and our simulations make it Bears -1.5. I think the overreaction happened the other way around.

Plus, when two winless teams meet in Week 2, the underdog has gone 31-14-2 (69%) ATS since 2003.