Week 2: NFL weekly with TJ Calkins
Thanks for checking us out for week 2. The biggest storyline for week 2 from a gambling perspective should be just how putrid the Miami Dolphins from the top to bottom of the roster. This is a correct strategy for a rebuilding team from a long term football perspective, but it makes them a target for bets during the first year of the rebuild.
There is fallout beyond just their own matchup with this week, as the Baltimore Ravens blow out of the Dolphins last week has resulted in a line much higher than it should be in the Ravens matchup with the Arizona Cardinals this week. All in all, there are not too many games to avoid from a betting perspective this week and we additionally will have some entertaining ones in each time block. Let’s get to them.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
- Opening Line: Tennessee Titans -3 and 44
- Current Line: Tennessee Titans -3 and 44.5
The Colts furious comeback attempt fell just short in week 1, ultimately falling at the Chargers. They look to bounce back in a divisional matchup and containing the run will be the key. With the absence of Melvin Gordon, Chargers now top running back gashed for 154 total yards and three total touchdowns. The bright spot for the Colts is Ekeler had just 58 yards on the ground, doing the majority of the damage in the passing game. Running back Marlon Mack racked up the yardage on the ground as he will do most weeks, this week being no different. The team also showed an ability to come back while trailing and they are simply far more balanced than the Titans. The Colts +3 are a sound play and with two teams eager to run the football, the under 44.5 is in play as well, albeit not as strong of a play as the Colts.
The Titans final score looked more impressive than the team did on the field in their week 1 blowout of the Browns. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was self admittedly not sharp and the turnovers and penalties sunk the Browns in a game where they saw two reserve offensive linemen play the majority of the game. The Titans
are not a team that will generally have a great deal of offensive success if they aren’t able to pound the ball on the ground with running back Derrick Henry and he will be the key for a consistent offensive attack. The passing attack will remain inconsistent and this is a team that will not be able to come back in games they find themselves trailing. Without forcing turnovers, they won’t be blowing anyone else out and the Colts played efficient, turnover-free football last week. Look for both teams to even their record at 1-1.
- Colts +3
- Under 44.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions
- Opening Line: Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 and 47
- Current Line: Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 and 48
The Chargers held on to secure a home win in week 1 against the Colts. The offense ran through running back Austin Ekeler and wide receiver Keenan Allen and was efficient in doing so. The defense did allow a comeback to force overtime but the offense was able to end it there, not allowing the Colts to touch the ball in overtime on the back of a fortuitous coin flip. They now travel to the eastern time zone for an early game in a betting spot to avoid.
The Lions, much like the Chargers saw a game-long lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, ultimately leading to a tie. Both the offense and defense failed in the second half with the defense doing enough to secure the overtime tie. They get to try again in a home game and while they’re not the better team, the home dog carries enough value to keep this game from being one to look to on the betting side of things.
- None for this game
Buffalo Bills at New York Giants
- Opening Line: Buffalo Bills -2.5 and 43
- Current Line: Buffalo Bills -2 and 43.5
The Bills were a team to have a successful comeback after having a completely lackluster offensive showing throughout the entire first half. Quarterback Josh Allen picked it up in the second half with a rushing score and a passing strike to John Brown, who is in a blow-up a spot this week against a Giants secondary that showed they were quite susceptible to the pass, allowing over 400 passing yards and four passing scores last week. Expect more than a half of offensive production and more of the same from the Giants secondary. Both the Bills and the over are sound plays in this spot.
The Giants have two very very good skill position pieces in Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. These two accounted for 255 yards from scrimmage last week and that will be the expectation going forward. The quarterback play from Eli Manning will remain subpar at best and this team will continue to lose often. The coaching and front office work remain equally incapable and an 0-2 record is well on the way.
- Bills +2.5
- Over 43.5
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
- Opening Line: Baltimore Ravens -13.5 and 41.5
- Current Line: Baltimore Ravens -13.5 and 46.5
The Cardinals and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray struggled to move the ball until late in the game, but performed admirably late, with the tie being something of a win. They now travel to the east coast in an unfavorable matchup with the Baltimore Ravens and their elite defense. The key to a cover will be Murray protecting the football as this offense will grow weekly throughout the season. This spread credits the Ravens far too much for their lopsided win over the Dolphins as opposed to discrediting the Dolphins for the absolute dumpster fire they are in the early stages of a complete rebuild. This game is likely more competitive than the betting line suggests and the Cardinals +13.5 are a sound investment. It becomes must play should the line reach 14. The opening total was a smash spot for the over but the massive line movement has poured cold water on that.
The Ravens had a dominant win at Miami in week 1, but make no mistake about it, the win was far more about Miami than it was about Baltimore. The Dolphins are a true 0-16 candidate with holes on offense and realistically, nothing resembling a strength on defense. They will be rolled over weekly and there is early bias towards the Ravens after playing just one game. Not to discredit the Ravens, they did exactly what they were supposed to do, scoring early and often against a helpless foe. Quarterback Lamar Jackson had easily his best game as a pro but will come back down to Earth against what isn’t remotely a top-notch defense, but is at least an NFL caliber one. The Ravens likely win here and could even cover if the high-end defense provides some scoring, but all the value is in taking the points.
- Cardinals +13.5
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
- Opening Line: New England Patriots -14.5 and 47
- Current Line: New England Patriots -19 and 48.5
The Patriots were absolutely dominant against true playoff contender Pittsburgh week 1, and now draw what is likely to surface as the least competitive NFL team in modern history. The betting line says it all as the Patriots will have their way. Even at -19, if playing one side here it must be the Patriots, but that is a steep figure in the NFL and one only to be played if you truly believe the Dolphins are that woeful. They likely so go ahead and fire it up. The total is also too low as the Patriots can easily hit the over themselves and that is another sound play.
As discussed, the Dolphins are just a total disaster. The defense simply cannot stop the run nor the pass and the offensive line doesn’t allow much chance for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. They also simply cannot run the ball, toting it 10 times for 12 yards last week. It’s sadly very straightforward with this team.
- Patriots -19
- Over 48.5
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
- Opening Line: Dallas Cowboys -7 and 44
- Current Line: Dallas Cowboys -5 and 46.5
The Cowboys offense was dominant at home against the low-level Giants in week 1. They get a different test this week in a divisional road game against a Redskins team that showed more juice than expected against divisional favorite Philadelphia in week 1. The Cowboys were lead by Dak Prescott’s 405 passing yards and four touchdowns. The offense should be more sound overall under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, but to expect a leap to the league’s elite is likely a stretch. The defense may be something of a worry as they allowed 323 passing yards and an additional 140 rushing yards so it wouldn’t be remotely surprising if the Redskins kept pace in this one. There’s no value in a bet on the Cowboys this week.
As mentioned, the Redskins were far from dysfunctional on offense in week 1, with a capable showing from the entire stable of little known pass catchers. The defense was also solid, only succumbing to what will likely be an unstoppable connection from Carson Wentz to Desean Jackson. This team overall is unsexy but they are capable. The early betting line movement here is unfortunate but of playing one side, the value remains with the home underdog. The total is the one to attack as it has not yet moved enough, and over 46.5 is a sound play.
- Redskins +5
- Over 46.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
- Opening Line: Houston Texans -9.5 and 44.5
- Current Line: Houston Texans -8.5 and 43.5
The Jaguars took an extremely tough blow in week 1, losing starting quarterback Nick Foles to a broken collarbone. Rookie Gardner Minshew performed admirably in relief, but it is completely unknown whether the offense will be sustainably effective with Minshew under center. If they are to be effective, running back Leonard Fournette will have to carry the offense with Minshew acting as more of a game manager than a game changer. Despite being scorched by the Chiefs in week 1, the defense remains high end and will be able to keep the team competitive. From a betting perspective, this is a team to avoid until we can gather some more film and information.
The Texans lost an absolute heart breaker on Monday night in New Orleans. Both the offense and defense were as expected and this team is above average but does have its warts. The ability to run the football remains questionable and the defense is exploitable. We should learn plenty about their chances of playoff competition this year against backup rookie Gardner Minshew. All in all, this is a game to sit out.
- None for this game
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Opening Line: Pittsburgh Steelers -4 and 46.5
- Current Line: Pittsburgh Steelers -4 and 46.5
The Seahawks overall were a let down in week 1, narrowly beating the lowly Bengals at home. They were surprisingly unable to move the football on the ground and the secondary was completely exploited by a team with one of, if not the absolute worst, offensive line in the league. The coaching brain trust remains a problem and caps the offensive ceiling by keeping handcuffs on elite quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson only three 20 passes last week and they needed a fourth-quarter touchdown strike to grab the late lead, which was narrowly hung on to. This matchup sets up somewhat poorly for the Seahawks as the Steeler defense will remain far more stout against the run than the pass and there’s no reason to believe the coaching staff won’t stubbornly fail at running the football before turning to a more pass-heavy attack while trailing. There is no value to playing the Seahawks in this road spot. They are a team that generally preys on the weak in the NFL and loses the majority of their games against playoff-caliber teams.
The Steelers were an absolute dud week 1 in New England. Unequivocal dud. The offense was plagued by drops and questionable play-calling and they will be a different version in the bounce-back spot at home. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is historically better at home and if last week is any indication at all, the matchup will be a sweet and exploitable one. Not to understate how bad the Seattle defense was, they allowed 418 passing yards and a pair of scores to Andy Dalton, laying out a road map for success against Seattle. The Steelers will be far more efficient and both Pittsburgh -4 and over 46.5 are sound plays.
- Steelers -4
- Over 46.5
San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Opening Line: San Francisco 49ers -1.5 and 45
- Current Line: Cincinnati Bengals -1.5 and 45
The 49ers came away with a road win in week 1, thanks wholly, if not fully, to poor decision making by Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. The mediocre 49er defense scored twice on interception returns, and there was truly room for another defensive score or two. In another eastern road spot, it is absolutely prudent to expect a loss to any none Dolphin team in this spot. Stubborn coach Mike Shanahan refuses to play his best wide receiver in Dante Pettis and it remains to be seen if that will change. They were unable to consistently run the football and this team has the look of a mediocre squad across the board.
The Bengals were quite competitive in their week 1 loss, showing an ability to move the ball through the air and we have seen the proper line movement towards them already. Their run defense was quite stout and a mistake from mistake-prone 49er quarterback Jimmy Garroppolo would be the icing on the cake for the Bengals to get their first win and cover -1.5 in the process.
- Bengals -1.5
Minnesota Packers at Green Bay Packers
- Opening Line: Green Bay Packers -3 and 46
- Current Line: Green Bay Packers -3 and 44
The Packers has a rough go and got as ugly a win as one will see in the opener at Chicago. The offense couldn’t run the ball and the passing game success was mostly on a single drive. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have reached the point where he’s long on name recognition than ability and there’s little reason to believe the Packers should be favored in this spot. While the defense performed admirably, it’s more than reasonable to believe fraud Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has a huge hand in that, along with Chicago’s refusal to run the football. Even in a home spot, it’s not probable the Packers earn a win in this divisional matchup.
The Vikings were impressive in a home win against the Falcons and showed a commitment to running the football. Running back Dalvin Cook is in for a massive year under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, now all he has to do is stay healthy. The Vikings showed they will commit to running the ball and quarterback Kirk Cousins was efficient when called upon. The defense remains stout and shadow cornerback Xavier Woods held down the elite Julio Jones last week with Packers number one Davonte Adams getting that treatment this week. The Vikings +3 and on the money line are sound bets.
- Vikings +3
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
4:05 PM EST
- Opening Line: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5 and 53.5
- Current Line: Kansas City Chiefs -8 and 53
The Chiefs offense didn’t miss a beat from last season, coming in and trouncing the high-end Jaguars defense. While the injury to Tyreek Hill is something of a concern, the silver lining is that it was clear a healthy offseason returned Sammy Watkins to form. He looked as good as he has in years, was dominant and will make the blow of losing Hill a less significant one. This team will continue to score on any and everyone and remain the best bet for the league’s best record in my view. The defense will continue to allow production and understand in Chiefs games are not recommended. The line and total in this divisional tilt are both just high enough to sit this one out from a betting perspective.
The Raiders played truly inspired football on Monday night and it seemed to have closure to the Antonio Brown saga brought a looseness to the team. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs looked fantastic and would be the skill position story of most teams, but he was overshadowed by not just one, but two teammates. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams looked great operating as the top wideout and dropped a monster stat line. Feel good story tight end Darren Waller is clearly going to be an effective factor, playmaker and additionally a safety blanket for quarterback Derek Carr. I expect this game to be both fun and competitive and one to be enjoyed from a pure football aspect rather than from a gambling aspect.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
4:25 PM EST
- Opening Line: Los Angeles Rams -3 and 53.5
- Current Line: Los Angeles Rams -3 and 53
The Saints pulled off a crazy win in the final seconds at home on Monday night in a game they were somewhat outplayed in for the duration. While they remain a high-end team, this road test should certainly have a wider line than it does and is not a spot to expect an upset. The ESPN broadcast team ballyhooed the fact that quarterback Drew Brees only attempted one pass of over 20 yards. That in and of itself is not a concern, but the lack of zipping on many of Brees passes is the concern. Brees historic home/road splits are of one of the highest differentials and this road spot is a bad one for the Saints, whose defense is a sieve to the pass as it has been in years past.
The Rams went to the east coast and got a road win at Carolina and now return home to the place quarterback Jared Goff excels. His sample size is much much smaller than that of Brees but he has a wide gap in output in-home versus road games. Additionally, the Rams are a far more complete team and are in a spot to cruise to a fairly easy win despite the tight betting line. Both the Rams -3 and over 53 are sound plays.
- Rams -3
- Over 53
Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos
4:25 PM EST
- Opening Line: Denver Broncos -1 and 41.5
- Current Line: Chicago Bears -1.5 and 40.5
Arguably no team outside of the Dolphins had a more disappointing opener than the Bears did at home in a loss to the Packers. The defense was quite respectable but the offense was woeful, from the coaches to the players. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is more and more thought of as fraudulent and a poor performance from him was not at all shocking. What was shocking is that head coach Matt Nagy made blunder after blunder in both personnel deployment and play calling. He continued to use running back Tarik Cohen as his slot wide receiver despite the drops and general ineptitude Cohen put forth. He also refused to establish a ground game with rookie running back David Montgomery, and this ultimately worked to the team’s detriment, scoring just three points. I respect Nagy’s body of work and am treating this as a one-off showing that we can confidently put an X through and move on without worry of repeating itself. In this matchup the defense as a whole will have their way with the Broncos shaky offense and a run-heavy game plan will see their first win of the season come to fruition. The Bears -2.5 is quite a sound play.
The Broncos mediocre talent situation was well known entering the season, and they additionally played a completely uninspired game against the Raiders on Monday night. With just one game under head coach Vic Fangio’s belt, we can’t assume this will be the norm but we definitely can’t assume it won’t be. There is just no facet of the game in which Denver is a better team than Chicago and it’s safe to assume an 0-2 start is coming.
- Bears -2.5
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
8:20 PM EST
- Opening Line: Philadelphia Eagles Pick Em and 51
- Current Line: Philadelphia Eagles -1.5 and 51
The Eagles started very slow and played from behind early in their divisional win against Washington. The offense then began humming behind the connection that was reported as unstoppable throughout the training camp. That connection is now back to MVP form quarterback Carson Wentz to free-agent acquisition wide receiver, Desean Jackson. The Eagles offense should continue to hum on both the passing and running games against the low-level Falcons defense. The Eagles defense, however, is certainly front heavy and a funnel to the pass, where they can be exploited. While I expect the Eagles to win, they can definitely be outscored in this spot, but not soundly beaten. The over of 51 is a superior play as this could be an offense’s delight from the opening kick.
The Falcons defense was gashed by the run game of the Vikings early and often, and the Falcons couldn’t get on track in time with Vikings elite cornerback Xavier Rhodes mostly shitting down elite offensive cornerstone Julio Jones. That will not be a concern in this one and they will have to outscore Philly as opposed to beating them soundly. This simply isn’t a team that excels in a close ground out games. Expect a big game from quarterback Matt Ryan and again, just hit the over.
- Over 51
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets
8:15 PM EST – Monday Night
- Opening Line: Cleveland Browns -2.5 and 45.5
- Current Line: Cleveland Browns -2.5 and 45.5
The Browns player terribly, particularly on offense, however there was more to it. They were called for a mind blowing 18 penalties for 182 yards. Some calls were fair, some were not, but ultimately they shot themselves in the foot far too often to win a game. Additionally they had one staring lineman injured and another ejected, and the play up front was unsound to say the least. These facets should easily be assumed to be better on Monday night and the Browns are a vastly more talented team on paper. The defensive line will be a terror in this game against a Jets offensive line that allowed four sacks last week. Spoiler: there’s many more sacks en route. Quarterback Baker Mayfield played his worst game as a pro and he will bounce back. One of these teams is starting 0-2 and it’s quite a sound bet that it isn’t the Browns.
The Jets snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, blowing a game long lead and not being able to muster any offense late in the game. They will compete in most games and aren’t a terrible overall team by any means, but they are far from a great one and lack the ceiling the Browns have overall. A line of less than a field goal is an easy choice to bet against the Jets despite being at home.
- Browns -2.5