NFL Week 2 Lookahead Lines Report
Friends don't let friends bet NFL sides on game day. I understand the appeal of getting action down on a game that's about to kick off, but please, for the love of all things sacred, don't do it. I understand that the majority of the casual bettors out there don't have time to comb through every news blurb and injury report the moment it comes out. It's difficult for most bettors to feel informed early in the week, or even more, right when next week's line is posted on Sunday evening for the following week's games.
In my opinion, the only way to consistently put yourself in a position to gain positive expected value (+EV) while betting on NFL sides is to beat the closing line. Sportsbooks gradually increase the limits they let bettors get down as the week progresses, which is an indication the book feels they've priced the game correctly. Unless you're waiting later in the week because you're betting five to six figures on a side, your +EV increases if you can get down on a number before it's sharpened by the whales.
Each week of the season, I'll be providing a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of lookahead lines. This brief lookahead window provides a sneak peek at how teams are valued by bookmakers prior to the start of the week. It's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening after the previous week's games are complete. These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of the recency bias that comes after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down that you'd like, depending on your unit sizing. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number was.
When I take a position on a lookahead line, I believe the current number will beat the closing line. At times, it ends up being the best of the number, which is ideal. Basically, I'm parlaying my handicap. In essence, if I'm right in my Week 1 evaluation of the team and market, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 2.
For reference, I'll be using the initial odds released by Westgate back in May to show you how the game opened. I'll note the sportsbook for each current Week 2 lookahead line, with the spread listed based on the home team:
|GAME||CURRENT LINE (9/8)||PRESEASON LOOKAHEAD LINE (5/18)|
|Giants @ Football Team||-3||-3|
|Patriots @ Jets||+4||+3|
|Broncos @ Jaguars||+2.5||+1.5|
|Bills @ Dolphins||+2.5||+3.5|
|49ers @ Eagles||+4||+4|
|Rams @ Colts||+2.5||-1.5|
|Raiders @ Steelers||-5.5||-5.5|
|Bengals @ Bears||-4||-3.5|
|Texans @ Browns||-13||-13.5|
|Saints @ Panthers||+2.5||+2.5|
|Vikings @ Cardinals||-1.5||-3.5|
|Falcons @ Buccaneers||-8.5||-9.5|
|Titans @ Seahawks||-4.5||-3.5|
|Cowboys @ Chargers||-1.5||-1.5|
|Chiefs @ Ravens||+1||pk|
|Lions @ Packers||-10||-7.5|
Week 2 Lookhead Lines Takeaways
It matters less in Week 2, but I'm always on the hunt for scheduling and travel advantages. For the most part, these things are already baked into the number, but I believe there are instances each week that aren't accurately accounted for in the market.
The Broncos (-2.5) are on the second leg of back-to-back road games along the east coast to start the season, this time in Jacksonville (+2.5). If the Broncos handle the Giants in Week 1 in convincing fashion, I believe this line reposts at Denver -3 or 3.5.
Miami (+2.5) in September is often much warmer than the rest of the country, and the Dolphins have used that to their advantage, with a 71% win percentage in this spot over the years. Buffalo (-2.5) is making their second consecutive September trip to southern Florida after a 31-28 win last season and is looking to stake claim to their position atop the AFC East. If you like the Bills, grab this -2.5 on DraftKings, it's already -3 on FanDuel.
The Rams (-2.5) travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts (+2.5), and this game shows the largest offseason line movement of the week. Concerns over the status of Colts starting quarterback Carson Wentz back in August caused this line to move four points. If you're looking to back the Rams in this spot, who'll likely be coming off of a shellacking of the Bears in primetime, the 2.5 is for you. I expect the Colts to struggle a bit at home in Week 1 against Seattle, so this could climb to Rams -3.
Laying double-digits in the NFL is not something I like to do, but I can't envision a scenario where the Texans (+13) keep it close against the Browns (-13). What I can envision is the Texans winning what'll end up being their only game of the season at home against Jacksonville in Week 1, while the Chiefs curb stomp the Browns in their opening matchup. That scenario likely drops this line closer to Browns -10.5.
When initially scanning this slate, I found the NFC South matchup between the Saints (-2.5) and Panthers (+2.5) fascinating. I'm leaning towards a play on the Panthers' Moneyline at +126 on FanDuel, and believe this could get closer to a pick'em as game-time approaches.
Most books have the Titans and Seahawks tilt at Seattle -4.5, but a rouge 3.5 is available on DraftKings. I'm more interested in this game's total. Our odds table shows that FanDuel initially posted a 47.5, but all Week 2 Totals are currently off the board. If this is anywhere south of 50, it's a play.
The Cowboys (+1.5) play their second straight road game to start the year, this time in Los Angeles against the Chargers (-1.5). The extra rest from a Thursday night opener helps mitigate the travel disadvantage, but this should have more of a neutral field feel to it than a typical road game. The Chargers have historically lacked a true home-field advantage, and few teams have the weekly road turnout that matches the Cowboys. You can see that the books are having trouble discerning how to price this game, and if you have a lean, you're ahead of the market on this one.
The Ravens (+1) have had a tumultuous camp, one marred by injuries and COVID-19 concerns as the season approaches. This primetime matchup against the Chiefs (-1) is a litmus test for Baltimore. I'm certain they'd rather have J.K. Dobbins, Rashod Bateman and company before hosting the two-time defending AFC Champions, but they've yet to show any capacity to come from behind with Lamar Jackson under center. I'll take the Chiefs at less than a field goal.
This Lions (+10) at Packers (-10) matchup is the inverse of the aforementioned Texans/Browns game. If the 49ers dominate the Lions in the opener, and the Packers win convincingly on the road against the Saints, this line will climb to 12 or 13.
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