Koerner’s NFL Power Ratings: My Betting Approach for Every Week 2 Game
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott
- Sean Koerner uses his Week 2 NFL Power Ratings to find the best bets for every game.
- Compare his projected spreads and over/unders to the market.
Welcome to the week of overreactions.
The Ravens blew out Miami, 59-10, and bettors immediately hammered the over in Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals. Then the Patriots pummeled Pittsburgh in primetime, and the public piled on to make them the biggest NFL favorites since 2003.
Were both line moves warranted?
Let’s compare the odds to my projected spreads and totals for every game to identify the best bets for Week 2.
Odds below as of Wednesday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can exclusively bet every NFL spread this season at reduced juice (-105).
Buccaneers at Panthers
Odds: Panthers -7; 49
My Projections: Panthers -6.5; 47
Cam Newton and Jameis Winston got off to a shaky start.
For the first time in his career, Newton ended with negative rushing yards (-2) and still appears to be adjusting to a new throwing motion as he’s gone under the knife for his throwing shoulder in back-to-back offseasons now. Winston, meanwhile, threw for three picks against the 49ers in what has been one of the most highly criticized Week 1 performances.
Naturally, the public appears to be willing to back the Panthers enough to move the -6.5 opener up to a key number at -7.
Watch how the market reacts now with more than 80% of the bets on the home team as of writing (find live public betting data here). If it gets bet back down to 6.5, it means the sharps are on Tampa Bay. While I’d agree with a 6.5-point spread here, the true value for a matchup featuring two volatile quarterbacks could be on the moneyline in the +240 to +260 range.
I locked in the under 51 at -115 as soon as lines opened. I had the total pegged about four points too high, and 51 is what I would consider a “key” number for an over/under. There’s still some value on the under, but keep in mind that 49-50 in a pretty uncommon range for a total to land.
It might be best to wait and see if late public money can push it back up over 50 before kickoff.
Colts at Titans
Odds: Titans -3; 44.5
My Projections: Titans -3.5; 43
Public bettors are still supporting Cleveland after the 43-13 beatdown Tennessee delivered, and I thought that if they were consistent, they’d at least give the Titans enough credit for their win to put pressure on this line up until -4. And that appears to be the case.
The Titans have received more than 60% of the action as of writing, which looks like it will be enough to move them off the key number 3 and to 3.5. That’s when sharp bettors will come in hard on the Colts (if they like them here). If it doesn’t get much resistance the other way, I think it will end up closing at -4.
I’m not going to touch this one, but I’m always fascinated by the public vs. sharp action once a line moves from -3 to -3.5.
As for the total, I’m a bit puzzled. I had it pegged at 43, so I wasn’t surprised to see most of the action come in on the under. But the line has somehow crept from 44.5 to 45 at some books. I think I’ll nibble on the under at 45 as 45.5-46.5 isn’t a range of key numbers, while 43-44 is (in a sense).
Both teams prefer their quarterbacks to be game managers, run the ball and allow their above-average defenses help them win the game.
Chargers at Lions
Odds: Chargers -2.5; 47.5
My Projections: Chargers -2.5; 46.5
This is another key number battle we need to keep an eye on.
Despite the Chargers getting 80% of tickets, this number has dropped from -3 to -2.5. That’s a pretty severe reverse line move, and it looks like the majority of the moneyline bets are coming in on the Lions.
There’s no doubt the Chargers should be favored here, but the sharps have made an early statement that the line should not go back up to the key number of 3. This is likely only going to come down, not up.
I have this total pegged just a hair lower than the current total. It opened at 47 and has been bet up as much as one point at some books.
People are really buying into the Lions’ offense taking a huge step forward after lighting it up in Week 1. But we have to remember that was against the fast-paced Cardinals, who have one of the softest pass defenses in the NFL with Patrick Peterson suspended and Robert Alford on IR. The Chargers are a much tougher test, and the Lions will go back to their slower-paced approach this week.
Let’s see if this can creep up to 48.5 to get the hook on a key number like 48 and then nibble on the under.
Bills at Giants
Odds: Bills -1.5; 43.5
My Projections: Bills -1.5; 41.5
The Giants predictably flopped against Dallas, so their stock took only a minor hit. The Bills, however, are the team we need to get right here.
Buffalo managed to pull off the 1-point road win despite a -3 turnover margin. That’s almost unheard of, and we could underrate the Bills heading into this week as a result.
Josh Allen looked a bit off in the first half but really started to pick things up in the second. Not to mention that the Bills started to use Devin Singletary out of the backfield more, likely realizing he’s their best running back.
Betting behavior is a bit split here, and I would say I’m being fairly conservative making the Bills only 1.5-point favorites, which happens to align with the market. It’s a “gamble,” but I would say the bet here would be to take the Bills and bank on Allen limiting the turnovers. If he can do that — which I think he can — they could win by three or more with ease.
Under 41 hit with ease in Bills-Jets last week. I’m showing value on the Bills’ under again this week against the Giants at 43.5. It looks like there’s enough pressure from the market to push this up to 44 or even 44.5.
Waiting to lock in another key number for a total at 44 would be smart, and I think it’ll get there.
Cardinals at Ravens
Odds: Ravens -13; 46
My Projections: Ravens -11; 46.5
This is one of the most intriguing Week 2 matchups from a handicapping perceptive.
We have to gauge just how much of the Ravens’ 59-10 stomping of Miami was them being way better than we thought vs. the Dolphins being way worse than we thought. I’m going to take the high road here and say both, to a certain extent.
Lamar Jackson should be able to torch bad defenses and he gets another one this week.
But we have an equally challenging team to cap in the Cardinals. We didn’t see flashes of what kind of potential their Air Raid had until late in their Week 1 tie. The Ravens defense will be a much tougher test, but the unpredictability in how to game plan against the Cardinals goes in their favor this week.
It seems as if the market has overcorrected. Despite being as many as 2.5 points off my projected line at some books, it’s across pretty insignificant numbers and is a projection with less predictability, so I’m staying away from this one.
I had this total pegged at 46.5 on Sunday night, so when I saw 42.5 sitting there, I had to pounce as soon as the market opened.
Sure enough, books took a beating on the over — likely from both sharps and public bettors — and now it’s as high as 46.5 at some books. I would say that’s just right: We need to project the Cardinals’ pace to elevate the scoring environment considerably, not to mention that the Ravens offense is much more explosive than we realize and is facing a very vulnerable defense.
Unfortunately, I think the value in this market is all but gone. Be sure to follow me in The Action Network app to get alerts when I bet an opening number in the future.
Patriots at Dolphins
Odds: Patriots -19; 47.5
My Projections: Patriots -15.5; 48.5
Yet another fascinating Week 2 matchup to cap.
The public will be backing New England here all the way. The Dolphins got creamed by 49 points while the Pats blew-out the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The key here will be to see where the sharps resistance comes into play.
I don’t think anyone wants to take the Dolphins, but when it comes to setting an imaginary number of points to give them, there will come a point when the Dolphins become the sharp play. I’m guessing once we get to +20 or +20.5, you’ll see sharp action bet it down.
I don’t think it will get to +21, but I’ll be willing to bite the bullet here and back the worst team in the league against the best team in the league.
Cowboys at Redskins
Odds: Cowboys -5; 46.5
My Projections: Cowboys -3.5; 46
Books appear to be getting flooded with Cowboys action as they’re accounting for at least 85% of tickets and money as of writing. But the line has only moved from -4.5 to -5, which is pretty weak. I’m thinking the sharps agree the line should be closer to -3.5 and might be waiting for it to climb to a better number like 6 before coming in on Washington.
The Redskins are, of course, going to regress offensively from Week 1, but I don’t think we can write them off completely. Give me Washington if the line gets pushed up to anything north of 6.
Jaguars at Texans
Odds: Texans -9; 43.5
My Projections: Texans -7.5; 43
The Jaguars lost Nick Foles to a broken collarbone, so they’re going to have to roll with Gardner Minshew. I have this drop-off being right around 3.5 points.
Minshew is a raw rookie who had an up and down preseason. He at least got to see in-game action against the Chiefs and did look fairly comfortable considering he was thrown into the fire. His ability to move around the pocket and scramble if needed is going to make this feel like a Blake Bortles-led Jaguars going forward.
I’m thinking the Texans -9 is too much of an adjustment. The Jaguars defense is still very solid and could keep this a low-scoring game, which can make getting a big number like 9 even more valuable.
Seahawks at Steelers
Odds: Steelers -4; 46.5
My Projections: Steelers -3; 45.5
After being embarrassed by the Patriots on SNF, we’re getting quite the overreaction to the Steelers offense looking like a real issue. Obviously if you watched the game and reserved all bias, you too should have come to that conclusion. They were severely out-coached, but that’s a common theme for teams facing the Patriots.
It seems as if the public is backing the Seahawks here, but they had their own issues on the defensive side of the ball, allowing Andy Dalton and John Ross to have career games.
Look for Big Ben to bounce back here. The line moving from -3.5 to -4 tells me the sharps are in agreement.
49ers at Bengals
Odds: Bengals -2; 45
My Projections: 49ers -1; 46
The wrong team is favored in this matchup.
I think the Bengals are much better than we anticipated. New head coach Zac Taylor is tailoring the offense to be similar to the Rams, and it showed with a 400-plus yard passing game from Dalton in Week 1. The public seems anxious to buy into them in the short term and I can’t blame them.
While no one was confusing the 49ers of being a 10-plus win team entering the season, it’s interesting to see the public sour on them in what was admittedly a sloppy 31-17 win over Tampa Bay.
This feels like a bit of a Week 1 overcorrection, but going from -1 to +2.5 is a 3.5-point move that doesn’t cross over a key number. I’ll be much more interested in the 49ers if this gets to 3, which should trigger a bet.
Vikings at Packers
Odds: Packers -3; 44
My Projections: Packers -3.5; 45
Books are getting hammered on this under, and why wouldn’t they?
The Packers opened the season with a 10-3 snooze fest on Thursday Night Football, and the Vikings attempted only 10 passes in Week 1, relying solely on the run game and their defense to beat the Falcons, 28-12. That recency bias is leading the public to gang up on the under.
It’s worth seeing if the pressure can cause the line to dip past the key numbers of 43-44 and come in on the over with that extra value.
Chiefs at Raiders
Odds: Chiefs -7; 53
My Projections: Chiefs -7; 53
The Chiefs picked up right where they left off, dropping 40 points on a very good Jacksonville defense. Unfortunately, they lost their top playmaker in Tyreek Hill for multiple weeks.
If Hill were healthy, this line would likely stay at -7.5 or even -8. But he warrants a 0.5-point drop toward a key number like -7, and that’s where the line will correctly park.
Saints at Rams
Odds: Rams -2.5; 52.5
My Projections: Rams -3; 56
The total opened at 54, which I felt was a couple points too low in what should be a shootout in Los Angeles. Both teams should push the pace here, which will amplify the scoring environment that much more.
Early action has been on the under and has pushed it all the way down to 52.5. I’ve a hard time believing it can get much lower, so I’d recommend taking it now before the tide eventually turns and trends back to the opening line.
Bears at Broncos
Odds: Bears -2.5; 40.5
My Projections: Bears -0.5; 39
This is an interesting matchup as both teams performed poorly on national TV in Week 1. It seems that the public is being more forgiving of the Bears’ dud and is willing to side with them as the line is now up to 2.5 and pushing up to the ultimate key number of 3.
If and when this line gets to 3, it will be time to come in on the Broncos.
Another angle for this matchup is the under. We have two very good defenses facing two offenses that looked underwhelming in Week 1.
I’m a bit baffled by the 75% of the tickets on the under as 75% of money is on the over. The line has dropped from 41 to 40.5, and I ultimately think the pressure will push it below 40. Forty and 41 are key numbers for totals, so I’m willing to wait and see if it goes back up to 41 or beyond. But if it stays at 40.5 or drops any further, this will be a pass for me.
Eagles at Falcons
Odds: Eagles -1.5; 51
My Projections: Pick’em; 51
This is a Week 1 overreaction.
Unfortunately the value here won’t be worth it unless the market is able to get it up to -3. At that point, I think the Falcons are a play here. Yes, the Falcons offense, especially its offensive line, looked to be an issue, but it should improve this week.
Meanwhile, the public seems willing to overlook the fact Case Keenum and the Redskins dropped 380 passing yards on the Eagles’ vulnerable secondary. The Falcons’ passing attack is much better than the Redskins’, so the Eagles likely aren’t going to be so lucky if they need to drop 30 or more points again in order to win.
Browns at Jets
Odds: Browns -7; 44
My Projections: Browns -5; 43.5
Sam Darnold was ruled out indefinitely for mono. Since this came out of nowhere, the line move from Browns -2.5 to -7 can 100% be attributed to Darnold.
I had the drop-off from Darnold to Trevor Siemian to be worth about 3.5 points. Siemian is your average backup QB and has a 13-13 career record as a starter. I’m thinking the market overreacted to this news and will to see if this number can reach +7 by kickoff. That would make Darnold’s absence cross the two most valuable key numbers in 3 and 7, which is giving Darnold way too much credit.
We will also need to monitor if Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley are able to suit up. If the line reaches +7 and both players look likely to play, I will be taking the points.