By Joel Wirth
Mmmm, that pie tastes humble! We all know the NFL is a week-to-week league, but did it have to be one of those weeks for my first column? I guess those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So, painful as it may be, let’s look back and see what went wrong in Week 2.
Minnesota at Arizona
I thought this would be an AZ blowout, but it turned into a back and forth game, and the Cards needed a missed FG at the horn to hold on for the win. Arizona’s Week 1 pass rush didn’t materialize. They’ll need that to cover for their secondary.
Tennessee at Seattle
I liked Seattle; they blew a 14-point 4th quarter lead and lost in OT. The right process, bad result.
Las Vegas at Pittsburgh
This should have been a smash spot for Pittsburgh. Are the Raiders actually good?
Buffalo at Miami
I thought Miami would keep this close. Nobody could have seen the Jacoby Brissett Experience (4.2 YPA over 40 PA) coming, but the defense was bad all day. Taking the L on this one.
New England at New York
Again, I thought the home team could keep close in another inter-division game. I foolishly ignored the history of Bill Belichick-coached teams vs. rookie QBs.
San Francisco at Philadelphia
My upset special; I may have overrated Philly based on them beating a hapless Atlanta team and underrated the 49ers after they let Detroit battle back in Week 1.
Last week: My picks, 0-6 – Analytics, 1-5
Trend of the Week
Pacific and Mountain time zone teams are (7-0) straight up and (6-1) against the spread when playing in the Eastern time zone, 1:00 PM road games. Early on, the league power dynamic has shifted left.
OK, history lesson over, on to Week 3, where more data points will mean better picks. In the immortal words of ’80’s icon Howard Jones, “Things Can Only Get Better”!
Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website, “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article, and vary depending on the sportsbook.
Line of the Week
- Washington at Buffalo: Analytic Line: Buffalo (-12) Vegas Line(s): Buffalo (-8 to -8.5)
Are the numbers unimpressed with Taylor Heinicke or over-impressed by Buffalo destroying the Jacoby Brissett “led” Dolphins? Josh Allen seems like he’s given back some of the gains he made last year. Will he get them back before this season’s results start to factor more heavily into the analytic power ratings? Football Team gets a mini-bye following the Thursday Night Football win over the Giants.
Verdict: Four points is a big difference between spreads, but I do not see it. Vegas wins this one, and Washington keeps it within a touchdown.
Make It A Parlay
- Baltimore at Detroit: Analytic Line: Detroit (+7) Vegas Line(s): Detroit (+7.5 to +9)
There is more variability book-to-book than number-to-book in this game. Baltimore may be undersold because of their Week 1 loss to a better-than-expected Raiders team and their early injuries. Going into the year, I thought Detroit would be plucky enough and would run the ball well enough to keep scoring down and cover some big spreads. Now, they’ve got their own injury problems, and they’re much less equipped to handle them than the Ravens. So the second half of Monday night’s game is probably more reflective of the current state of the Lions than the first.
Verdict: Vegas wins this one again. I don’t expect a Raven’s letdown, and they should still easily cover the bigger number.
- Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City: Analytic Line: Kansas City (-8) Vegas Line: Kansas City (-6.5)
Is Vegas starting to catch on to the fact that KC isn’t a good cover team? Power rankings don’t care about things the books have to consider, like crossing key numbers, so this game is an interesting case study, as the analytic number and the Vegas line are on opposite sides of 7.
Verdict: I don’t think it matters; the Chargers should keep this within a TD—another win for the books.
- New Orleans at New England: Analytic Line: New England (-1.5) Vegas Line(s): New England (-2.5 to -3)
The Pats schooled Zach Wilson last week, while the Panthers exposed the supposedly new and improved Jameis Winston. Wilson will get better with experience. Jameis is what he is.
Verdict: The books again. New Orleans’ power rating is being propped up by their fluky Opening Week blowout of Green Bay, and they’ll be playing their third straight game away from their home stadium.
- Miami at Las Vegas: Analytic Line: Las Vegas (-1.5) Vegas Line: Las Vegas (-3.5 – -4, one OTB)
A lot of early-week uncertainty, as both teams have QB injury issues and backup situations that don’t exactly inspire confidence. However, Derek Carr looks more likely to play, and the suddenly fearsome Vegas pass rush should keep eating against Miami’s O-Line.
Verdict: If Tua were fully healthy, the ELO line would be more appealing, but even if he can play, he’ll be compromised. The Raiders keep rolling, and another lean to the books.
Upsets of the Week
- Tampa Bay at Los Angeles Rams: Analytic Line: Pick ‘Em Vegas Line(s): Los Angeles (-1 – +2.5)
- Seattle at Minnesota: Analytic Line: Pick ‘Em Vegas Line(s): Minnesota (+1.5 – +2)
Two games that ELO thinks are toss-ups, but Vegas leans toward the road teams. The Tampa/LA lines are all over the place, with one book installing the Rams as a one-point favorite, while the rest have them as dogs of varying degrees.
Verdict: The numbers redeem themselves here, leaning on the home sides. The Vikings are a much better team at home and get their first chance to show it this year and peel their backs off the wall. The Bucs/Rams game should give us a peek into how much home-field advantage Sofi Stadium provides. I’m picking outright wins for both home squads.