NFL Week 2 Betting Preview & Picks
Hey, if a winning streak is going to end, might as well have it end in horrific fashion.
Following a 5–0 start to the season, my under pick in Thursday night’s Ravens-Bengals game went down in a blaze of glory as both teams nearly covered the over in the first half. I realized I could be in for a long night as soon as Joe Flacco gifted the Bengals excellent field position with a horrendous interception on the Ravens’ second possession of the game.
There was something to be gained from last night’s game, however. Whenever a total is sitting in the low 40s and the over either hits or nearly hits in the first half, the second half under is often a great play. Oddsmakers don’t guess at these lines. If the total was set at 43.5 like it was at kickoff for last night’s game, and the two teams score 42 points in the first half, a lot of times the scoring will slow down in the final two quarters.
Last night was a perfect example of what I’m talking about with this strategy. After the Bengals took a 28-14 lead into halftime, the two teams combined for just 15 points in the second half, which easily cashed the second half under of 23. The first half of last night’s game sucked for under bettors but there was still money to be made in the final two quarters.
Here is what I like for Sunday’s Week 2 action:
271 Kansas City Chiefs at 272 Pittsburgh Steelers
- Point Spread: Steelers -4.5
- O/U: 53.5
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
The Steelers opened as 4.5-point home favorites for this matchup and that’s where the spread currently sits at most sportsbooks. The real line movement has come from the total, which opened at 49.5 but has climbed all the way up to 53.5.
Public bettors are backing the underdog in this matchup. The Chiefs are receiving 77% of the betting tickets and 63% of the money. Typically, you don’t see this level of support from public bettors on an underdog but clearly, bettors loved what they saw from Patrick Mahomes and Co. a week ago (and conversely, did not like what they saw from the Steelers in Cleveland).
The Chiefs will once again be without safety Eric Berry (heel) and linebacker Ben Niemann (hamstring). For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but it’s unlikely he’ll miss Sunday’s game. Le’Veon Bell also continues to hold out so James Conner will receive another start.
In the last seven meetings between these two teams, the under is 6-1. The Chiefs are also 1-4 against the spread in their last five games versus the Steelers and the home team has covered the number in seven of the last 10 meetings overall.
Oddsmakers usually don’t move a total that much unless they’re receiving serious play from sharp bettors. If wiseguys are on the over, it’s easy to see why. The Chiefs have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league, averaging 6.6 yards per play a week ago versus the Chargers. The Steelers haven’t been the same defensively since Ryan Shazier suffered his tragic spinal injury last season. Mahomes already looks comfortable running Andy Reid’s offense and with playmakers like Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt at his disposal, this Kansas City offense should light up the scoreboard again.
On the other side, fantasy owners know how drastic the differences is between Big Ben at home and Big Ben on the road. Don’t let last week fool you either: The Steelers averaged 5.9 yards per play and scored 21 points in bad weather. They tied because Roethlisberger threw three interceptions, Conner lost a key fumble in the fourth quarter and Chris Boswell missed a field goal in overtime. They’ll score against this Kansas City defense.
Pick: Over 53.5
277 Cleveland Browns at 278 New Orleans Saints
- Point Spread: Saints -9
- O/U: 49
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
The Saints opened as a touchdown favorite but the point spread has climbed to 9 at most sportsbooks. As for the total, it hit the board at 47.5 but climbed to 49.
As of Friday morning, 65% of the betting tickets and 77% of the money is on the Saints to cover the spread. As of the total, 69% of the betting tickets and 76% of the money is on the over.
The Browns remain banged-up defensively. Linebacker Christian Kirksey (Shoulder/ankle), cornerback EJ Gaines (knee), Emmanuel Ogbah (ankle) and free safety Damarious Randall (head/neck) all missed practice time this week.
For the Saints, left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee), and guard Andrus Peat (quad) were all limited on Thursday but should play. Michael Thomas (illness) sat out Wednesday but returned to practice on Thursday following his outstanding Week 1 performance versus Tampa Bay.
The underdog is a perfect 5–0 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams. The road team has also covered in four of the last five games in this series.
One thing we underestimate in football is overtime. While overtime is only 10 minutes in the NFL, the Steelers and Browns essentially played a full extra quarter a week ago in their 21-21 tie. While Pittsburgh returns home to face the Chiefs in Week 2, Cleveland has to travel to New Orleans to take on what I could only assume is a ticked-off Saints team that lost their home opener to the Bucs.
The Saints defense allowed the Bucs to gain 8.5 yards per play last Sunday. So every time Tampa Bay lined up offensively, the Bucs nearly gained a first down per play. That’s incredible.
I don’t expect the Saints to play that poorly defensively again this week. To their credit, the Browns turned a couple of key turnovers into points a week ago to force overtime with the Steelers. That said, don’t confuse that with believing Cleveland played well offensively. The gained just 3.8 yards per play, which was more than just two teams in Week 1: The Eagles (3.6) and Bills (2.5). They have a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and new faces on offense. It’s going to take the Browns time to gel offensively.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees carved up the Bucs defense and should do so again Sunday versus the Browns. Myles Garrett is a beast but the way to truly impact Brees is to put pressure in his face. He’s so adept at stepping into the pocket that he should be able to neutralize some of Garrett’s pressure. I see the Saints boat-racing a gassed Browns team on Sunday.
Pick: Saints -9
287 New York Giants at 288 Dallas Cowboys
- Point Spread: Cowboys -3
- O/U: 42.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Cowboys opened as 3-favorites and the point spread hasn’t budged despite the Giants receiving most of the betting tickets (more on that below). As for the total, the number hit the board at 43.5 but was bet down a full point to 42.5.
As previously mentioned, the Giants are drawing the majority of the spread tickets in this game. As of Friday morning, 67% of the betting tickets are on New York to cover the spread and 72% of the money is as well. As for the total, 62% of the betting tickets are on the under and 53% of the money is, too.
It would appear as though the Giants will miss Olivier Vernon for a second straight week due to an ankle injury. The status of cornerback Janoris Jenkins is also uncertain after he left practice to attend to an unspecified personal matter. Offensively for the G-Men, Sterling Shepard (back) should be good to go after practicing Thursday.
For the Cowboys, Randy Gregory (concussion, knee) and center Travis Frederick (illness) are both out. Safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) is doubtful but defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (groin) should play after practicing in full on Thursday.
The under is 4–0 in the last four meetings between these two teams but the over has hit in seven of the last nine meetings in Dallas. The Giants, meanwhile, covered the spread in five of their last seven games against the Cowboys.
I expect the Cowboys to continue to struggle offensively without Frederick. They also have zero speed on the outside and don’t have weapons that can create separation for Dak Prescott in the passing game. It would help if OC Scott Linehan utilized Ezekiel Elliott more in the passing game and I don’t understand his hesitancy to do so. After gaining just 4.1 yards per play last week in Charlotte, the Cowboys offense is a problem.
Fortunately for Dallas, the Cowboys did play well defensively against the Panthers, holding Carolina to just 4.8 yards per play. The Giants are loaded with weapons at the skill positions thanks to Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckem Jr., but Eli Manning limits their scoring potential. I see this game falling under on Sunday night.
Pick: Under 42.5
Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images.