Week 2 NFL Betting: 5 Week One Losers Primed to Bounce Back
Overreaction Monday, the day after the first weekend of NFL action each season, may be the best and most appropriate nickname in sports.
After seeing each NFL team take the field for the first time since the previous winter (we can’t count the pre-season since nobody actually plays), we finally have something concrete to lean on when assessing their strengths, weaknesses and potential for the upcoming campaign. But far too often, we put way too much weight in the result of 1 game, skewing our perspective for the upcoming weeks.
Even though we know better, we’re often quick to pile onto the bandwagons of teams who looked way better than expected in their season opener, and we’re usually guilty of giving up on squads who laid an egg.
Because of that, Week 2 of the NFL season might be the best time of year to be the contrarian in the group and go against the grain. Looking to back teams that stumbled out of the gate makes a lot of sense because we can often find a bit of point spread value due to their lowered expectations. We also know they’ll play with a bit of desperation as they look to avoid a 0-2 start.
Here are 5 teams who lost in Week 1 that are primed to bounce back this week.
1. New England Patriots (-6.5 at New Orleans)
We might as well get the obvious one out of the way first. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and company will go into New Orleans this week as an extremely motivated bunch after their defense was shredded for 537 total yards in a 42-27 opening-night loss to the Chiefs in Foxboro.
Deep down, Hoody might actually be happy about that outcome. All that silly talk about the Patriots potentially going 19-0 this year has already been put to rest, and he’s certain to have his players’ full attention in practice leading up to their visit to the Saints on Sunday. As a nice bonus, New England gets a few extra days of preparation after kicking off the regular season last Thursday, compared to the Saints who visited Minnesota on Monday night.
Not that the Patriots really need that much help bouncing back. They’ve gone 40-18-1 against the spread in their last 59 games following a straight-up loss, including a pair of double-digit victories following defeats last season. And though New Orleans has been known as a tough place to play in recent years, the Saints are just 11-12 straight up in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome over the past 3 seasons.
Yeah, it’s really square, and you might be better off to tease the Patriots down to a 1-point favorite than lay the 6.5 or 7 points that they were laying at betting sites as of Tuesday morning.
2. Tennessee Titans (-1.5 at Jacksonville)
I liked the Titans to win the AFC South before the season started, and I’m not going to jump off the Tennessee wagon after a 26-16 loss at home to Oakland in Week 1.
Though the final score differential in that game was 10 points, the Titans matched up very well with a Raiders team that went 12-4 last season. Tennessee finished the game with just 1 less first down and 9 less total yards than the Silver and Black, and Titans third-year QB Marcus Mariota went a respectable 25-of-41 for 256 yards in his first game back from a broken leg. It was also the first time Mariota had top receivers Eric Decker, Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews at his disposal in the same game, so the Titans passing attack could be forgiven if it wasn’t firing on all cylinders yet.
While Tennessee should be hungry to bounce back this week and not fall 2 games behind in the AFC South, the Titans’ hosts might be feeling a bit too good about themselves. Jacksonville pulled off one of the bigger stunners in Week 1 by not just upsetting the Texans in Houston, but whipping them 29-7. Success like that has been few and far between for the Jaguars in recent years, and it won’t be a surprise to see them let down a bit this Sunday.
Once again, be careful not to put too much stock in the final score of that game. Despite winning by 22 points, the Jags were held to just 125 yards through the air and gained 4 less first downs than Houston. The Texans shot themselves in the foot with 4 turnovers, which directly led to 19 of the Jags’ 29 points (including a fumble return touchdown), and Houston QB Deshaun Watson made his NFL debut in the second half.
I don’t think it will be enough.
3. Seattle Seahawks (-13.5 versus San Francisco)
A lot of the talk following Seattle’s 17-9 loss at Green Bay on Sunday was about the Seahawks’ interception return for a touchdown that was called back because of a debatable penalty to Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane, followed by Lane’s equally questionable ejection.
While that negated TD was a huge swing in what was a scoreless game at a time, and Lane’s disqualification hurt the Seattle secondary, it’s tough to argue that the Seahawks should have won in Lambeau. The offense looked horrible, gaining just 12 first downs and with its biggest play coming on a 20-yard scramble by Russell Wilson. Meanwhile, the Seattle defense allowed the Packers to go 9-for-16 on third down, and the Hawks had too many men on the field when Green Bay scored its second major of the game.
We know this team is going to be really good this year, and the Seahawks have a bit of a history of starting slowly (remember, they were half a minute away from losing at home to Miami in their 2016 opener). If anything, putting up awful numbers on offense and struggling to get defensive stops on third down are things that Pete Carroll can point to in practice this week, eliminating the concern about a potential Seattle letdown against a weak opponent like the 49ers.
Excluding last year’s season finale, when the Seahawks had already locked up a playoff spot, Seattle has posted double-digit victories in each of its last 5 meetings with the 49ers and won 5 of the last 7 clashes by 16 points or more. With San Fran licking its wounds after getting whipped on its home field by the Panthers in Week 1, don’t be surprised if we see another lopsided result this Sunday in Seattle.
4. New York Giants (-3.5 versus Detroit)
We learned 2 things in particular about the New York Giants from their 19-3 loss in Dallas on Sunday night: 1) Odell Beckham Jr. is pretty darn important to their offense, and 2) those concerns about their offensive line are justified.
With no running game to speak of (35 yards), the lack of a deep threat (tailback Shane Vereen drew 10 of 38 passing targets) and Eli Manning scrambling for his life (sacked 3 times), it’s no wonder New York couldn’t get much going in Dallas.
Especially with the Giants enjoying the benefit of playing on Monday Night Football, which buys them an extra day and a half of recovery time. That’s also some extra time for Ben McAdoo to come up with some answers on the offensive side of the ball since the New York defense accounted for itself quite nicely last week despite being on the field for nearly the entire first half.
And if you’re going to have a mediocre offensive line, Detroit’s actually a pretty good opponent to draw. The Lions’ biggest weakness appears to be their pass rush, especially with Ziggy Ansah not at full health to start the year, so Manning should have a bit more time to find receivers down the field.
5. Cincinnati Bengals/Houston Texans (-5/+5 versus each other)
Ordinarily, I’d be looking to back both of these teams this week as they come off embarrassing performances last week. Cincinnati and Houston combined for more turnovers (9) than points (7) in Week 1, with each of them losing by 20+ points at home to the Ravens and Jaguars, respectively.
The only problem is, they play each other. Houston will visit the Bengals to get Week 2 underway on Thursday Night Football, where the early money is on Cincinnati to right the ship. After opening as a 3.5-point favorite, the Bengals had been bet up to 5-point chalk at most betting sites (and even up to -5.5 at Bovada and Bookmaker) by Tuesday afternoon.
So which team is in a better position to bounce back? Road teams are always at a bigger disadvantage in Thursday night matchups because their short week gets cut even shorter due to travel, and it’s tough to gauge where the Texans’ heads are at after having to live through Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Houston.
As I mentioned when discussing the Tennessee/Jacksonville game, Houston was done in last week by turnovers. Watson looked far from overwhelmed in his pro debut, and this Cincy crowd – which actually booed Dalton when the MLB All-Star Game was held in Cincinnati 2 years ago – could be quick to turn on the Bengals if they struggle early again on Thursday.