2022 NFL Analysis and Picks — Final Report (Week 2)
Las Vegas offers several NFL handicapping contests.
The longest-running and most prestigious of these handicapping contests is the Westgate Super Contest (previously the Las Vegas Hilton), with a $1,500 buy-in. Participants are required to pick five games per week against the spread. I’ve entered that contest only once (didn’t cash) and don’t really pay much attention to it unless one of my friends is on the leaderboard. My pal Steve Fezzik won it twice — the only person in history to achieve that incredible result.
I’ve had a chance to join syndicates and otherwise enter as an individual on my own. Sports handicapping contests can be fun, and there are bragging rights to go along with cashing. But for most of us, they’re not a positive EV decision. Picking the correct sides (only) in the NFL each week poses a much tougher challenge than betting on other options — such as totals, halves, halftimes, and propositions. In fact, sides (taking one team against the pointspread) is really the toughest thing to handicap successfully as a long-term earning prospect.
Then, there’s the carnage of survival pools, which I’ve played numerous times in the past (cashing a few times). The biggest survivor contest is run by the Circa Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. It costs $1,000 to enter. Participants pick one NFL team each week, and if that team wins (no pointspreads), they remain alive in the contest. The trick is — you may use a team only one time. If your team loses, that’s it — you’re out. Whoever lasts the longest wins the contest and takes the money.
Incredibly, 6,133 participants entered the Circa NFL Survival Contest, which smashed last year’s record. Now, after just one week, only 2,685 people remain. A week filled with upsets caused 56 percent of the players in this pool to lose and get eliminated in the very first week. An astounding 3,448 people couldn’t pick one winner (without a pointspread) in Week #1. That amazing.
Maybe these contests are worth playing, after all.
As for my results last week, I ended up with 12 wins and 10 losses, for a small net loss of $40. The Denver loss to Seattle (on a teaser) was a killer, resulting in a swing of -$660.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
Baltimore Moneyline: Laying $300 to win $100 — WON
New Orleans/Atlanta UNDER 42.5 — $220 to win 200 — LOST
New England +1 (first half) — $230 to win 200 — LOST
New England +3 (game) — $220 to win $200 — LOST
Cleveland +0.5 (first half) — $220 to win 200 — WON
Cleveland +2.5 (game) — $220 to win $200 — WON
Pittsburgh +4 (first half) — $220 to win $200 — WON
Pittsburgh +6.5 (game) — $220 to win $200 — WON
San Francisco/Chicago UNDER 41.5 — $110 to win $100 — WON
Philadelphia/Detroit OVER 48.5 — $220 to win 200 — WON
Houston +4 (first half) (even) — $200 to win 200 — WON
Houston +8.5 (game) — $220 to win $200 — WON
Jacksonville +3 (game) — $220 to win $200 — LOST
Arizona +3.5 (first half) — $220 to win 200 — LOST
Las Vegas Raiders +3.5 (-110) — $110 to win $100 — LOST
Green Bay/Minnesota OVER 23.5 (first half) — $220 to win 200 — LOST
NY Giants/Tennessee UNDER 43.5 — $220 to win 200 — WON
Tampa Bay/Dallas UNDER 24.5 (first half) — $220 to win 200 — WON
Denver -6.5 (game) — Laying $220 to win $200 — LOST
Teaser (-120): Denver -.5 / (with Baltimore -1) — Laying $360 to win $300 — LOST
LA Rams +0.5 (first half) — $220 to win 200 — WON
LA Rams +2.5 (game) — $220 to win $200 — LOST
Now, it’s on to NFL Week #2.
2022 NFL WAGERING RECORD
Starting Bankroll: $10,000.
Current Bankroll: $9,960.
Net Gain/Loss: – $40.
Last Week’s Results: (12-10) – $40.
A starting guideline for handicapping Week #2 will be anticipating rebounds. Another term to use is — return to the mean (RTTM).
What we’re looking for are teams that played badly and lost (and betting on them) and also looking for teams that played well and won (and betting against them). The objective here is to (hopefully) take advantage of natural public overreactions to what they see in one week of football, which is a very limited time frame.
Let’s also add in the natural human reaction, as well. Teams that lost and were embarrassed in the opening game often put in more energy and focus in the following week, while teams that won and then celebrated could be more content and less prepared. This doesn’t always apply 100 percent of the time, of course. However, RTTM situations are a good starting point in all sports wagering.
I began Week #2 with a pointspread winner, touting the LA Chargers +3.5 in my video (posted on Facebook Wednesday). That pick will not be included in the tracked results here (only content posted here will count).
Let’s get to it:
MIAMI DOLPHINS at BALTIMORE RAVENS
Dolphins +3.5 (-110) O 44.5 (-110) +150
Ravens -3.5 (-110) U 44.5 (-110) -185
Analysis: Both teams are coming off strong performances and relatively easy wins last week. In fact, both were equally impressive. However, I’m inclined to take the points with Miami. One reason is their quality of competition. Miami defeated the better team (NWE) with the stronger QB. Meanwhile, Baltimore playing against a NYJ team quarterbacked by J. Flacco basically amounts to getting a bye week. I’m going with the team that showed more in its opener and beat a better team. That’s the Dolphins. / One concern: Miami has some injury worries, as three offensive tackles were limited in practice this week, and A. Jackson sat out with an ankle injury. However, it’s the Ravens’ injuries that are a much bigger concern and a reason to like Miami plus the points here. Bad news for the Ravens — Baltimore lost two starters due to *season-ending* injuries in Week 1. CB K. Fuller tore an ACL, while LT J. James suffered an Achilles injury. If M. Peters remains sidelined, Baltimore could possibly miss *both* starting cornerbacks. That means Miami WRs T. Hill and J. Waddle could enjoy big days. / These two teams played each other last November. Miami won handily 22-10 and kept QB L. Jackson in check with 4 sacks and just 39 rushing yards. This game should be closer and could end on a late FG. Hence, taking +3.5 appears to have some added value if you share the opinion these two teams match up approximately equal in talent.
My Pick: Miami +3.5 (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200
NEW YORK JETS at CLEVELAND BROWNS
Jets +6 (-110) O 40.5 (-110) +200
Browns -6 (-110) U 40.5 (-110) -250
Analysis: Here’s one of the RTTM situations which was discussed earlier. Bet on the team that lost and was embarrassed last week and bet against the team that was victorious. This means taking the NY Jets plus the points versus the Browns. KEY TREND: Since 2012, every NFL team that lost by 10+ points in Week 1 is 36-21-1 (61 percent winners) in Week 2. ANOTHER KEY TREND: Since 2010, NFL teams that lost in Week 1 were 57-40-1 ATS (59 percent winners) when facing a team that won in Week 1. / That said, betting on this long-suffering team right now requires a huge leap of faith, especially since head coach Saleh announced QB Flacco will be his starter again. I won’t get into the NYJ quarterbacking mess, but it’s painful to smell the Jets right now and inhale. That’s why Cleveland is laying nearly a TD this week. But is that enough points? / Cleveland pulled out a late win last week on a long FG (I loved the Browns as a dog in that contest). QB J. Brissett did just enough to win with his arm, but it was the duel RB threat of N. Chubb and K. Hunt that racked up 200+ yards on the ground and absolutely dominated the time of possession (32:00-18/;00). If the Browns running game does anything similar here vs. NYJ, they should win easily and cover the number. / A scary stat: The Jets were just 2 of 14 on 3rd down against Baltimore last week. No team is going to win unless it converts third downs at a significantly higher percentage. / As for the pick(s) this looks like a low-scoring game, and the total reflects that outlook. The total is 40 and even as low as 39.5 in some spots. I’m inclined to go OVER this number because any game totaled in the 30s in today’s pass-happy NFL is a real anomaly. The NYJ also attempted 59 passes last week, and stats like that typically help games go OVER. If I can find a 39.5, I’ll bet it. Otherwise, it’s a pass. / The wager I will make is NYJ +3.5 in the first half. We’re taking advantage of the RTTM angle, and getting a little extra with the half point. Low-scoring games (based on the total) also tend to be good for dogs getting points. If Cleveland does run away with the game, it probably happens in the second half when the rushing attack simply wears down the Jets. In the first few quarters, however, I’ll look for the Jets to come in with some fight and keep this one close until halftime.
My Pick: NY Jets +3.5 (first half) — Risking $220 to win $200
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS at DETROIT LIONS
Commanders +1.5 (-110) O 49.5 (-110) +110
Lions -1.5 (-110) U 49.5 (-110) -135
Analysis: I love Detroit in this game. The same RTTM applies (see above). The Lions played tough but lost (to a very good Philadelphia team). Washington struggled at home and required some late heroics to pull out a victory against lowly Jacksonville. So, we have a winning team playing a losing team, but Detroit actually looked better, at least on offense. / Here’s a surprising fact: The Lions are favored by -2.5 points this week, which is the first time they have been a favorite in their last 25 games, dating way back to Week 11, 2020. Expect the improving Lions to rise to the occasion. What I really liked from Detroit was the running game (181 yards LW, despite playing from behind much of the game). Detroit has also become well known under head coach D. Campbell for covering pointspreads, though not for winning games. Detroit went just 3-13-1 last season, yet posted an 11-6 mark against the spread. With last week’s results, that’s now 12-6 ATS under Campbell since last season. I say Detroit sees a winnable game here on their schedule, draws a favorable spot with being home a second straight week, arrives with some confidence after playing the Eagles tough, and gets the win and cover vs. Washington. I’ll add some money to the OVER, as well. Lions’ games can quickly turn into shootouts, and this one has points written all over it.
Detroit -1.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Washington-Detroit OVER 23.5 (first half) — Risking $165 to win $150
Washington-Detroit OVER 49.5 (-110) — Risking $165 to win $150
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Colts -4 (-110) O 46.5 (-110) -200
Jaguars +4 (-110) U 46.5 (-110) +165
Analysis: Both teams come into Week #2 after stinging disappointments in Week #1. However, the Jaguars likely have the better mindset at the moment. There was nothing to be ashamed about in losing the road opener on a late TD (to Washington). Jacksonville should continue to improve and will win some games this season. They may have found the perfect opponent here since the Jags have dominated this series lately. In fact, the Colts haven’t won in Jacksonville since 2014 and lost here last year in the final week of the season to cost them a playoff spot. That’s seven straight losses at JAX. Indy is also playing consecutive road games, always a challenge in the NFL. / As for Indianapolis, the tie at Houston was a humiliation for a team expected to contend for the AFC South title and perhaps even go further. New vet QB M. Ryan started off slowly, but ended up with good stats, mostly generated in a furious panic mode in the 4th quarter. I agree with oddsmakers that the Colts still deserve to be favored, but not by -4 points. Didn’t anyone watch the Colts’ performance last week as -8.5 faves? One could argue the Colts may play better this week, having heard some criticism about the tie against the Texans. Nevertheless, I see Jacksonville as the team that could surprise, particularly versus an opponent that for some reason always plays poorly at JAX. / An intangible: The Colts cut their kicker last week, so have a new unproven player attempting FGs.
My Picks: Jacksonville (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Buccaneers -2.5 (-110) O 44.5 (-110) -155
Saints +2.5 (-110) U 44.5 (-110) +130
Analysis: The Bucs are playing consecutive road games following a Sunday night game, which is always tough. Strangely enough, over the last three seasons, NFL teams that started the season with back/back road games went 7-1 ATS in their Week 2 contests. However, Tampa Bay is also banged up in a big way. Those injuries will keep me off of Tampa and lead me to bet on the Saints instead, especially as a home dog. / It’s a bit surprising to learn the Bucs haven’t played well versus New Orleans, even with T. Brady’s many successes. New Orleans has dominated this matchup over the years and hasn’t lost to Tampa Bay during the regular season since Week 1, way back in 2018. Although both teams won last week, New Orleans has to feel a bit disrespected by this line. It’s rare to see the Saints as a home dog in the Superdome. / Admittedly, New Orleans is an unpredictable team and we never know which J. Winston will show up at QB. But I’m expecting the NOR defense to step up after a disappointing effort in Atlanta last week when this unit (reportedly one of the NFL’s best) surrendered 200+ rushing yards to the miserable Falcons. Tampa Bay has serious injury concerns this week, including WR M. Evans who is questionable. That will make things easier for New Orleans to focus elsewhere and continue making T. Brady feel unwelcome in New Orleans. / The bottom line is — I’ll take the Saints getting points — both for the first half and the full game — in an opportunity for the new coach and offense with Winston at QB to make a statement against their division rival. You can’t go wrong taking division home dogs, usually. So that’s another tipping point in the Saints’ favor.
New Orleans +1 (first half) — Risking $165 to win $150
New Orleans +2.5 (-110) — Risking $165 to win $150
CINCINNATI BENGALS at DALLAS COWBOYS
Bengals -7 (-110) O 42 (-110)
Cowboys +7 (-110) U 42 (-110)
Analysis: The big news for this matchup is Dallas QB D. Prescott being sidelined with an injury (out 6-8 weeks). That puts an inept backup QB named Cooper Rush into the crossfire, which is the main reason why the Cowboys are an uncharacteristic +7 home underdog. Frankly, there’s little that’s positive to take away from either team’s performance in last week’s opener. But Dallas looked far worse overall, even when they were healthy. Now, they’re not. The Cowboys couldn’t move the ball either on the ground or through the air. The offense is likely to continue performing poorly with so many problems along its offensive line, which has usually been Dallas’ strength. The lack of wideouts is also problematic for Dallas. And forget about overpaid money pit E. Elliott, who has morphed into a very average running back and has never matched the production of his rookie season. There’s utterly nothing to like about the Cowboys right now, which makes them impossible as a betting option and it isn’t just a backup quarterback getting the start. It’s more the mess of an offensive line working with replacements and unproven skill positions that were iffy before Prescott left with an injury. / But wait. Before we jump on the Cincinnati bandwagon, the cats aren’t much better as an inspiration of betting confidence. The Bengals’ offensive line was horrid last week against Pittsburgh, and the lack of pass protection showed as the offense committed multiple turnovers. If Dallas is to have any shot at winning here, the silver and blue defense must continue this pressure and force the Bengals into making mistakes. I do think that’s possible, but I’m not confident enough to bet on it. The UNDER is tempting (42 seems high), but something also tells me the Bengals could roll up the score and rout the Cowboys if they can somehow patch up their OL issues. This is an ideal spot for Cincy–they played possibly their worst game imaginable (five turnovers) last week and were still within striking distance of the win, so they should improve significantly on that result against a hobbled, poorly-coached opponent. / Gut instinct: Everyone in the world seems to be on Cincy. That scares me. My conclusion is — this game is a pass.
My Pick: No Action
CAROLINA PANTHERS at NEW YORK GIANTS
Panthers +1.5 (-110) O 44.5 (-110) +115
Giants -1.5 (-110) U 44.5 (-110) -130
Analysis: Here’s a tale of two teams with very different outcomes last week. It seemed that everyone was sky-high on Carolina in what was QB B. Mayfield’s big “revenge” game, but then the Panthers looked putrid for 45 minutes at home hosting the Browns with a backup QB. Carolina still had a chance to win late, but ended up losing a heartbreaker. The NY Giants, meanwhile, experienced the complete opposite scenario and emotional roller coaster. The Giants weren’t expected to go into Tennessee and roar back from the dead, ultimately winning a 21-20 thriller. It wasn’t just the “W” that mattered, it was the way the victory happened with head coach Brian Daboll showing supreme confidence in his offense and calling for a last-second 2-point conversion attempt to win, rather than kick the PAT for the tie. I think that carries over here in a big way. / One key advantage for NYG could be the Giants’ rushing attack. The Panthers got gashed on the ground last week, giving up 200+ rushing yards to Cleveland. Also in Week 1–no team put up more rushing yards than these Giants. I’ve been a critic of S. Barkley (164 rushing yards LW) in recent seasons, but if he’s the focal point of the offense, New York should win and cover this low number. Yes, the team that wins the rushing battle will likely win the game — and C. Mccaffrey (10 carries for 34 yards last week) hasn’t shown he’s back to form after an injury. / Perhaps the more compelling trend that applies to this game is Carolina’s dismal track record. They’ve now lost 8 straight games and failed to cover in all 8 going back to last season. I don’t know how anyone could back a team that’s lost 8 straight and is getting less than a FG in the spread, especially versus an inspired opponent. Last week, I said I’d never bet the Giants so long as QB D. Jones is starting. I have to break that pledge this week, and also go against the trends that suggest playing the losing team from Week 1 when playing against a winning team.
My Pick: New York Giants -1.5 (-110) — Laying $220 to win $200
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Patriots -1 (+100) O40.5 (-110) -120
Steelers +1 (-120) U40.5 (-110) -100
Analysis: This line looks very strange, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t Pittsburgh be favored? Especially at home? Especially against a team that looked really bad last week? New England got bitch slapped in Miami, where they never seem to play well. What was most concerning, however, was the poor performance of the Patriots’ offense. One would think QB M. Jones will continue improving after a pretty solid debut rookie season. But he backslid badly in the opener. This all leads some handicappers to expect head coach B. Belichick will do something magical to have his team ready for a significant rebound in Week 2. / The Patriots are playing consecutive road games after a terrible showing. Earlier, I noted that over the last three seasons, teams that started the season with back-to-back road games are 7-1 ATS in Week 2. / I also mentioned the trends on playing teams coming off a Week 1 loss versus teams off a win. That applies strongly to the Patriots this week (though the line does bother me). / After upsetting the Bengals in a surprise, the Steelers are playing their home opener. But Pittsburgh will be without T.J. Watt, which is a huge loss. The defensive dynamics completely change based on this news. For this reason, the line probably shifted a point or two, so there you go. / It’s hard to nitpick the Steelers’ win, but they were the beneficiaries of 5 turnovers. Pittsburgh should have won easily, but didn’t. If New England doesn’t hand the ball over in the same way–and there’s no reason to expect they will, especially with the best defensive player out with injury–the Steelers’ task becomes much tougher this week. Key Stat: Over the last 10 years, if you blindly wagered on every NFL team in Week 2 that had lost by 10+ points in Week 1, you would’ve gone 36-21-1 (61 percent) with those bets. Pats lost by 13 last week.
My Pick: New England Patriots -1 (even) — Risking $200 to win $200
ATLANTA FALCONS at LOS ANGELES RAMS
Falcons +10 (-110) O47.5(-115) +400
Rams -10 (-110) U47.5(-105) -550
Analysis: The LA Rams will have been rested for 10 days after a shockingly bad Thurs. night opening Week 1 performance against the odds-on favorites to win it all, the Bills. But then, Buffalo can make any team look bad when it’s in top form. Head coach S. McVay is too good a coach for that defeat to carry over into a second straight week, especially playing at home again. The Rams might not be as strong as the Super Bowl team last February and questions linger about their depth, yet the Rams remain loaded with enough talent to handle outclassed opponents, and the Falcons do look outclassed in this matchup. / Let’s credit the feisty Falcons for playing well (for 58 minutes) in losing at home to the division rival Saints in a game they absolutely should have won–but lost. That’s yet another big lead blown by Atlanta, which could impact the emotional state of a possibly deflated team having to make a long trip against a good team that will certainly be re-focused. / I see the Rams’ aggressive defensive front four (they sometimes use a 3-4) pressuring M. Mariota all afternoon, and forcing mistakes and turnovers. Accordingly, I expect the LA Rams to win easily and the defending Super Bowl champions to get the cover. Smaller wager than normal, but worse a morsel to two. Key Stat: Over the last 10 years, if you blindly wagered on every team in Week 2 that had lost by 10+ points in Week 1, you would’ve gone 36-21-1 (61 percent) with those bets (Rams lost by 21).
My Pick: LA Rams -10 (-110) — Laying $110 to win $100
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Seahawks +10 (-110) O42.5 (-110) +340
49ers -10 (-110) U42.5 (-110) -450
Analysis: Here’s another ideal game where all the stars line up on the RTTM trends. Since 2010, teams that lost in Week 1 are 57-40-1 ATS (59 percent covers) when facing a team that won in Week 1. Also since 2010, teams that lost as an away favorite in Week 1 are 17-8-1 ATS in Week 2. These apply to betting on the 49ers this week, which is laying -10 at home to the surprising Seattle Seahawks. / Let’s credit P. Carroll’s defiant team for a shocking upset of Denver on MNF, but now they go on a short week versus a division foe that’s coming off a loss. What stands out here is how misleading some of the stats and scores were from the previous week. Seattle was outgained by nearly 200 yards against Denver, and its offense went into hibernation in the second half (just 80 yards of offense). Seattle won the game by virtue of some great red zone defense, stopping the opponent multiple times and forcing two goalline fumbles, not to mention bonehead coaching by the other team. We can’t expect those things to work in Seattle’s favor again. So, this does look like an opportune spot to fade the Seahawks. / San Francisco completely disintegrated in the second-half loss at Chicago, but let’s also remember they were ahead 13-0 at one point. The driving rainstorm could be a valid excuse for the lackluster effort by the greenhorn QB. T. Lance. He’ll have no such excuses this week. / What worries me most here is the line appears to have reacted way too favorably towards the 49ers. Sure, I’d like to board the train to San Francisco, but I’m not laying double digits with a team that still has major QB questions. Perhaps Lance breaks out this week, or soon. But I’m not putting money down blindly on that prospect. / A far better play here might be the UNDER, which seems justified based on a few things: First, the 49ers defense is a Top-5 unit. They’re capable of shutting down any opponent, especially a Seahawks offense that (as stated earlier) struggled mightily as last week’s game went on. I’m also willing to bet that head coach M. Shanahan will keep things simple again this week for his offense. The formula worked in Chicago until the heavy rains started, so there’s no reason to put the game on Lance’s shoulders. I see a low-scoring game and see some value in going UNDER any number north of 40.
My Pick: Seattle/San Francisco UNDER 42.5 — Risking $220 to win $200
HOUSTON TEXANS at DENVER BRONCOS
Texans +10 (-110) O45.5 (-110) +375
Broncos -10 (-110) U45.5 (-110) -500
Analysis: This game reminds me so much of the SEA-SFO matchup. We’re supposed to anticipate a rebound situation and bet the superior favorite versus the outclassed opponent coming off an emotional high. Once again here are the trends: Since 2010, teams that lost as an away favorite in Week 1 are 17-8-1 ATS in Week 2. Denver lost as an away favorite in Week 1. In that same span, teams that lost in Week 1 are 57-40-1 ATS (59 percent covers) when facing a team that won in Week 1. This doesn’t quite apply since Houston ended up in a tie, but the factors are much the same. / I’m riding with those trends in this game. This is an unusual pick for me to go with the favorite and lay -10. Much has to do with how both teams performed in the opener and the complexion of both games, especially in the yardage categories. Houston surrendered 220+ plus yards more than they gained last week. So, this defense has major holes. And Denver outgained its opponent by nearly 200 yards, despite the loss. The Broncos should be able to move the ball up and down the field all game long. New QB R. Wilson and the Broncos couldn’t punch it in the end zone last time around, committing two devastating fumbles at the goal line, and there was some questionable play-calling and time mismanagement. But I believe their red zone struggles will ultimately prepare them for improving the rest of this season. They’ll likely punch it into the end zone several times against the vulnerable Texans this week, who surrendered 500+ yards in their opener. Another key intangible — If Denver has the lead, I think they try to roll up the score. This game could turn into a crowd pleaser, and the coach after getting hammered for his idiotic mistakes in the MNF debacle will be eager to unleash the offense and demonstrate the Broncos are a true contender. Here’s the perfect opponent to make a strong statement.
My Pick: Denver Broncos -10 (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200
ARIZONA CARDINALS at LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Cardinals +6 (-110) O51.5 (-110) +200
Raiders -6 (-110) U51.5 (-110) -250
Analysis: In the Las Vegas Raiders-Arizona Cardinals matchup, the host Raiders are laying -6 points. The total is 51.5. Initially, when I looked at this game (and also being influenced by local coverage here in Las Vegas) I thought Las Vegas might bounce back in a big way after losing at the tough LA Chargers last week. The Raiders should certainly score points at home, especially since the defense they face this time around will be much softer. However, after reading and thinking about it more, the road underdog might actually be the much better value, getting +6 points. While the Cardinals’ defense was destroyed by the Chiefs in Week #1, Kansas City can make any team look bad then they are in sync. The Raiders aren’t nearly in that class and Arizona should have an easier task now, even though Las Vegas does field many threats and potential scorers. Arizona also boasts some key playmakers and should produce points. They moved the ball well against the Chiefs last week and should do the same against Las Vegas. I figure a high-scoring game is likely. I also think you have to grab +6 points, because that’s too many to lay to an opponent with just as many weapons. Let’s also remember that head coach K. Kingbury has been a strong early-season coach. Under his reign, even with last week’s loss, his Cards are 17-8 ATS in September and October. The moneyline bet option on Arizona at +200 is also very tempting.
Arizona Cardinals +6 (-110) — Laying $165 to win $150
Arizona/Las Vegas OVER 51.5 — Laying $330 to win $300
CHICAGO BEARS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Bears +9.5 (-110) O42.5 (-110) +375
Packers -9.5 (-110) U42.5 (-110) -500
Analysis: Not to sound like a broken record, but here’s another RTTM situation. The embarrassed team that lost returns home and faces a weaker opponent coming off a huge upset win. The trends all fit here on the Packers, plus one more: Green Bay is a perfect 9-0 ATS in their last nine games coming off a loss. A Sunday night game at Lambeau Field only heightens the emotional intensity, and the Packers should rise to the occasion in primetime where they historically perform well. I point once again to Chicago falling behind 13-0 and being dead in the middle of the 3rd quarter, and then was saved by the rains, inexplicably pulling off a win vs. San Francisco. However, A. Rodgers is not T. Lance. This is a much bigger test. I look for the Packers to take out some frustration on the Bears here, and cover the number easily. When Packers’ coach M. LaFleur wins, he usually covers. In his 4+ seasons, he’s 34-21 ATS, one of the NFL’s best records. Obviously, if betting on Green Bay, catching the 9.5 is key here. It’s not as strong a play if you must lay -10. Key Stat: Over the last 10 years, if you blindly wagered on every NFL team in Week 2 that lost by 10+ points in Week 1, you’d end up at 36-21-1 (61 percent winners). Packers lost by 16 in Week 1.
My Pick: Green Bay Packers -9.5 (-110) — Laying $220 to win $200
MONDAY NIGHT GAMES:
TENNESSEE TITANS at BUFFALO BILLS
Titans +10 (-110) O49.5 (-110) +350
Bills -10 (-110) U49.5 (-110) -450
Analysis: Since 2005, teams that scored 28+ points in Week 1 have gone just 28-52-5 ATS (a lowly 35 percent covers) the following week. This angle tells us to fade Buffalo coming off a 31-point victory (21-point margin) in the first game. It does seem that everyone is high on the Bills express now, which is a consensus favorite as the NFL’s best team at the moment. I certainly can’t fault the Bills because they look like the best team and have all the tools. However, maybe oddsmakers and the public are giving Buffalo slightly too too much credit here. Are they really giving 10 points to the Titans, which was the AFC’s top seed last season? This looks a little high. / Trouble is, I’m already enrolled in the bet-against Tennessee club. There’s little to like about the Titans coming into this season, other than their above-average defense which looked solid last week, despite the shocking loss to the Giants. The Titans have a knack for rising to the occasion in primetime games as they’re 8-2 SU on Monday Night Football and do respond well off of losses under head coach M. Vrabel. Not that it matters much, but Tennessee did defeat Buffalo in a similar spot last season. / Final decision: I’ll play Tennessee for a small amount only because there’s value in fading the public hype. We also have to think the Titans may be a little hungrier for a win following their Week 1 upset loss.
My Pick: Tennessee Titans +10 (-110) — Risking $110 to win $100
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Vikings +2.5 (-110) O50.5 (-110) +105
Eagles -2.5 (+110) U50.5 (-110) -125
Analysis: This is one of the best games of the week, with two 1-0 teams coming off impressive victories, albeit Minnesota’s win was slightly more impressive. The Vikings look to be significantly improved from last season, but can they now upset Philadelphia in their home opener on MNF? That might be a bit too much to expect this early in the season. I’d be inclined to bet on the Eagles and lay a small number at -2.5. What keeps me away are major concerns about the Eagles’ vulnerable defense, which allowed 6.2 YPC rushing as well as 35 points to the Lions last week. Those kinds of numbers won’t fare well against coach K. O’Connell’s new offensive scheme. WR Jefferson (referred to by Aaron Rodgers as “the best player in the game right now”) caught two touchdown passes and racked up 184 yards receiving. Much-maligned mediocre QB K. Cousins even looked like an All-Star too, spreading the ball around when he wasn’t looking Jefferson’s way. RB D. Cook had 90 yards rushing in a balanced attack. I see Minnesota continuing to have success on offense this week, especially since the Eagles defense arrives with some question marks. / Accordingly, this sure looks like a great OVER play. The Eagles’ first game produced 73 points, while the Vikings appear to have opened up the offense more with the new coach and coordinator. Both teams have playmakers, so points should be scored. We also have a total that’s not too high based on the heavy passing nature of today’s NFL.
My Pick: Minnesota/Philadelphia OVER 50.5 — Risking $220 to win $200
Here’s a video shot on Friday early evening in Las Vegas that includes most of these same picks and ideas and is a bit more relaxed: