In Monday TPS reports, we’ll review the games with a focus on the lines and totals, and what to make of it all from a betting persptoective. Or more specifically, what to make of teams as we move forward and evaluate their 2017 identities and look for betting opportunities. This week saw some big bouncebacks from teams that fell in Week 1, as well as some near-disasters for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, who failed to cover and nearly lost outright in games where they were heavily favored. Lots to cover so let’s get to it.
Favorites/Underdogs for Week 2: 6-8-1 (overall 13-15-2)
Over/Under Full Game Totals for Week 2: 6-8-1 (overall 11-18-1)
Week 2 NFL Betting Recap: Covers, Comebacks, Injuries, High Notes and Letdowns
Kansas City Chiefs 27, Philadelphia Eagles 20
The Chiefs (-4.5 to -6) mostly controlled this game and brought consistent pressure on Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who got sacked six times and took 10 hits. The Eagles hung around but the Chiefs wore them down, then Justin Houston batted a Wentz chetckdown attempt in heavy pressure that doinked into the air for a BIG MAN INTERCEPTION (the best kind). Watch Chris Jones gently receive it like a fireman catching a baby:
The Chiefs scored 5 plays later to make it 20-13 and then took a 27-13 lead after KC worked it down the field after Alex Smith connected with Chris Conley for a 35-yard reception and Kareem Hunt made his way through the red zone on four consecutive rushes. Still, the Eagles gave KC bettors a scare when, trailing by 14 with just 18 seconds to go, Wentz found Nelson Agholor for a score at 8 seconds followed by a very successful onsides kick that Philly recovered at KC’s 39, leaving time for just one play — an unsuccessful attempt to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone. Chiefs cover, but not without some teeth clenching.
Baltimore Ravens 24, Cleveland Browns 10
The 2017 Ravens: ground, pound and defense. Baltimore rushed 32 times with Javorius Allen, Terrance West and Alex Collins, and Allen and West also collected a combined 7 receptions for 38 yards. Despite the absence of QB DeShone Kizer (migraine) for part of the game, the Browns (-7 or -7.5) had ample opportunity to cover the spread late (even if temporarily), but Kizer got intercepted in the end zone among other errors:
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 17, 2017
Kizer later threw his third pick of the game with about six minutes remaining. He’s still very raw and has been slow to go through his progressions, so Browns backers will require some nose-plugging when they’re getting spotted a touchdown or more.
Carolina Panthers 9, Buffalo Bills 3
Well this one went comfortably under (43)! After thrashing the 49ers in Week 1, the Panthers have yet to allow a touchdown and have only surrendered six points total. Carolina held LeSean McCoy to a mere 0.75 yards per carry on 12 totes and less than 200 yards of offense to Buffalo overall (194). Carolina’s offense has so far been fairly listless and now star tight end Greg Olsen is looking at a six-to-eight game absence with a broken foot. Buffalo did manage to cover the spread (+7.5), by the way, thanks to solid run defense that allowed only 2.8 YPC to Panthers rushers and they sacked Cam Newton six times. The Panthers look like a team that will play in a lot of these low-scoring defensive slugfests. Look for those totals to tick down. Once they get to 40-41 it’ll be dicey but you’re getting a key number at 43.
Arizona Cardinals 16, Indianapolis Colts 13 (OT)
Congratulations to everyone who put some cheddar on the Colts (+7.5) after they got boatraced by the Rams in Week 1. Jacoby Brissett clearly gives the Colts a better chance to win ball games. The Colts entered cover territory early with a 10 zip lead against a Cards team missing their top offensive weapon (David Johnson). Arizona managed to force overtime but the Colts still promised a cover with a 7.5-point cushion. The box score tells a slightly different story about Arizona (Palmer was 19 of 36 for 332 yards, one TD and 1 INT), but he was not sharp and this Cardinals team is looking like a non-contender.
Let’s go back to Kansas City for a moment where this heavily favored cheerleader (-13.5) got whacked by a preoccupied cameraman
Tennessee Titans 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 16
This was a fairly close game until it wasn’t. Just kidding. Once former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry spelled veteran DeMarco Murray, the Titans offense started humming as Henry nearly cracked 100 yards (92) on 14 attempts. The Jaguars offense had no answer, and Blake Bortles is most certainly not the answer despite what his garbage time-inflated might suggest. He was atrocious in the first half and the Jags will be doomed if they can’t keep games close or maintain a lead through a ground attack. The number 53 well surpassed the game total of 41.5.
New England Patriots 36, New Orleans Saints 20
Brady answered the doubters with a 447-passing yard performance, good for the third-highest output in his storied career. And incredibly he did it with many of his pass catchers hobbled (Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski, Phillip Dorsett) if they weren’t already on the shelf. I was reluctant to lay the points (-6.5) on the Patriots but they sure found a way, although Drew Brees did find plenty of holes in the Patriots’ defense with four completions of 20-plus yards. The oddsmakers expected points with a total of 55 and those willing to go over got rewarded.
Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Minnesota Vikings 9
Once Sam Bradford was declared out with a murky knee injury, the line moved through a key number (7) and into 9 territory. Tough luck for anyone who bet the Vikings early at +6 but it was good news for any early Steelers backers. The Vikings offense and its O-Line had a much tougher opponent here than they did against New Orleans last week, and reverted to the dink-and-dunk form of ‘16 as backup Case Keenum averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt. The Steelers offense got back to work with Le’Veon Bell and deep threat Martavis Bryant, and will visit the Bears next week as 7-point road chalk (as of Monday morning).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29, Chicago Bears 7
Speaking of Chicago, they were dreadful in Tampa Bay (-7) as the game turned ugly early when rookie Tarik Cohen tried to make a play on punt return and lost a ball he should have just let Tampa Bay down. The Bucs scored a TD on the next play and the game slipped away from there. In the second quarter Mike Glennon fumbled in his own territory as the Bucs defensive line pummeled the Bears up front. Meanwhile Bears rusher Jordan Howard left in a sling after managing just 7 yards on 9 carries. It was a comfortable cover for Tampa Bay who hosts the New York Giants in Week 3 (and probably will feast on their O-Line).
Miami Dolphins 19, Los Angeles Chargers 17
After just two weeks, the 0-2 Chargers can probably kiss the playoffs goodbye as the rest of the AFC West is 2-0. Miami (+3.5) controlled the clock here with workhorse Jay Ajayi and Jay Cutler protected the ball as he and Jarvis Landry picked the Chargers apart underneath to the tune of 13 catches for 78 yards. The Chargers once again got stymied on the ground: 14 total carries for 44 yards, buoyed by a 26-yard scamper by Branden Oliver. They couldn’t milk the clock late, nor could rookie kicker Younghoe Koo convert a 44-yard field goal (wide right) for win-but-no-cover in the final seconds.
Oakland Raiders 45, New York Jets 20
This was one of two Sunday megaspreads as the Raiders went off as 14-point favorites. It took a bit of warming up but the Raiders got to work in the second half, scoring 24 points as the Raiders running game ripped the Jets with some speed (Cordarrelle Patterson, Jalen Richard) and took advantage of a turnover deep in the Jets’ own territory. The Raiders are good. They opened as 3.5 road favorites as Washington but that hook has disappeared for the time being.
Denver Broncos 42, Dallas Cowboys 17
Hey guys, Trevor Siemian is pretty decent-good! He’s developed some chemistry with the wide receivers and the Denver (+1.5) running game churned out 178 yards with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles (and Sieman for 14). Siemian spread the ball around to 8 different receivers but mostly the studs — Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Of course the buried lede here is that Denver’s supposedly leaky run defense completely shut down Dallas’ vaunted rushing attack, holding Ezekiel Elliott to a mere 8 yards on 9 carries. Zeke had never before rushed for fewer than 50. This was a Denver cover from wire-to-wire leaving Dallas with some soul-searching to do… making them a pretty decent bet next week at Arizona where they’re currently 3.5 road favorites. If that gets to 3 I would run, not walk.
Washington Redskins 27, Los Angeles Rams 20
The Redskins (+3) absolutely gashed the Rams on the ground with Fat Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine, combining for 222 yards on 36 carries as they controlled the ball for over 36 minutes. The Rams did manage to knot the game at 20 with 7 minutes remaining — threatening to take the lead for a push or cover — but Washington answered with a 10-play, 70-yard drive in a Perine-led rushing attack. The game ended on a Jared Goff interception on the next play from scrimmage.
Seattle Seahawks 12, San Francisco 49ers 9
The Niners still have not scored a touchdown on the season. The Seahawks (-13.5) have scored a combined 21 points on the season. Both offenses have a lot of work to do. The Hawks were never a threat to cover here as the offensive line, once again, cratered under pressure and Russell Wilson had to scramble to buy time or just run for it (12 rushes, 34 yards). This does not bode well for Wilson but at least they’ve identified their best running back. His name is not Thomas Rawls or C.J. Prosie or Eddie Lacy, but Chris Carson. I’m not sure what to make of the Seahawks, who will travel to Tennessee next week as 2.5-point dogs.
Atlanta Falcons 34, Green Bay Packers 23
It appears the Falcons (-2.5) might be the exception to the Super Bowl Loser Curse. The narrative may have been different if the end of the Bears game went sideways in Week 1 but Atlanta just manhandled Green Bay with their loaded backfield and dynamic passing game. Granted, Green Bay was missing both starting offensive tackles (and Jordy Nelson who exited in the first quarter) and Rodgers had to navigate/escape a quickly collapsing pocket, but you can’t take anything away from Atlanta’s offense, which looked machinelike. Falcons cover all the way and the over hit thanks to a late Packers run.
The Falcons visit Detroit next week and ought to be a 2.5 to 3.5 point favorite, pending what happens on Monday Night Football. The Packers head back to Lambeau Field where the desperate and dissembling Bengals will catch 9 or 10 points. I might be willing to lay ‘em but we need to see about the Packers’ health.
Enjoy the Monday Night Game and consider that under (42)!