One of the ways we can get an early season edge on the books is to identify teams that are significantly worse than the public believes they are and bet against them. Remember, the books aren’t into making predictions. They’re reading the public opinion, setting the line to get equal action on both sides to minimize their exposure, and profiting off the juice from the losing bets. We’re not betting against the books, we’re betting against the public, and the books are just charging a fee to hold the money.
With that in mind, let’s find some playoff teams from last year that are poised to fall back to the pack in 2022.
Tennessee – Historians will write doctoral theses on how the 2021 Titans were able to procure home-field advantage in the playoffs. If you read my preseason preview, you know I’m down on the Titans. Losing at home to the Giants adds some confirmation to that bias. They play in what may be one of the worst divisions in modern NFL history, but they’re still a dark horse to be the first pick in the draft next year.
New England – Yes, they always lose in Miami, but Week 1 was no Miami Miracle. They were thoroughly outclassed by a team with a rookie head coach. The preseason concern over who would “lead” the offense seems more than justified. There is no correct answer when the question is whether it should be Matt Patricia or Joe Judge.
Dallas – They were in trouble when Tyron Smith went down to injury. They’re in catastrophe mode with Dak Prescott out. Unfortunately, the Dak injury will move the public off of them, but remember how bad they were two years ago when he was out. It may not move them off enough initially.
Arizona – This team has a bad O-Line, lousy defense, and has been missing its offensive spark plug for the first six weeks. Their season may be over by the time DHop gets off suspension.
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. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games have a multiple-point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines.
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The ELO and I both start the season with .500 records. Before we jump into the Week 2 NFL Lines, let’s recap Week 1.
The trip obviously didn’t bother the Bills. They played a two-high shell cloud zone to protect the corners. Cooper Kupp still got his, but literally, nothing else worked for the Rams.
Denver at Seattle
“Beware the home dog on Monday Night!”
The old rules still apply.
Kansas City at Arizona
“I doubt they’ll struggle with just Hollywood Brown and the shell of AJ Green.”
Rondale Moore can’t possibly be that important to an offense. The second half of this game was basically garbage time.
Baltimore at New York Jets
“Joe Flacco Revenge Game!”
Nothing to do here but own up to that horrific call.
San Francisco at Chicago
“not having George Kittle is a blow.”
Called this one correctly, but it was all about the monsoon conditions they played in. Any attempt at analysis here is spitting onto the water-soaked field.
That didn’t work so well for Dougie P. or myself. What if…Washington is good? Say what you want about Wentz; he’s a massive upgrade over Taylor Heinicke. The defense has to be better, and they’re in a weak division with a soft schedule. A win against Detroit this week sets up a showdown with the Eagles in Week 3. Take those two games, and they’re in the early NFC East driver’s seat.
Tampa Bay at Dallas
“I like both defenses enough to bet the 50.5-point under.”
At least the under came through.
Indianapolis at Houston
“I’m skeptical of the Colts being elite this year.”
Nailed it. How the Texans didn’t win this game outright is still a mystery.
Last week: My picks, 4 – 4; Analytics, 4 – 4
Season: My picks, 4 – 4; Analytics 4 – 4
NFL Lines Week 2
Game of the Week
New England at Pittsburgh – Analytic Line: PIT (-2), Vegas Line: PIT (+2.5), PL: PIT (-3.5)
Back-to-back road games for New England, and they looked awful in Week 1. ELO and I both think the wrong team is favored. I don’t think the Steelers will need T.J. Watt to shut down the Pats’ “offense.” This New England offense is in trouble with their current playcallers.
Pick: Pittsburgh (+2.5)
Other NFL Week 2 Lines
New York Jets at Cleveland – Analytic Line: CLE (-3.5), Vegas Line: CLE (-6.5), PL: CLE (-4.5)
Going back to the well one more time with the Jets. They can’t be as inept at stopping the run as Carolina was last week, and forcing Jacoby Brissett to throw a lot is what you want to do. Besides, it would be the most Cleveland thing possible to beat their former QB on the road, then come back and drop a game to the Jets at home the following week.
Pick: New York Jets (+6.5)
Washington at Detroit – Analytic Line: DET (+1.5), Vegas Line: DET (-1.5), PL: Pick ‘Em
Detroit is a betting line favorite for the first time since the Johnson administration (slight exaggeration). Another game where ELO and I both think the wrong team is favored. Detroit backdoored a cover in Week 1. You can’t backdoor a win.
Pick: Washington (+1.5)
Arizona at Las Vegas- Analytic Line: LV (-2), Vegas Line: LV (-5), PL: LV (-6.5)
Throwing down will ELO over the Cardinals. They got run out of their own building in Week 1. I think they get run out of Allegiant Stadium in Week 2.
Pick: Las Vegas (-5)
Chicago at Green Bay – Analytic Line: GB (-7), Vegas Line: GB (-10), PL: GB (-7.5)
Green Bay faces a must-win Week 2 for the second year in a row. I expect the defense to play better than they did in Minnesota; the Bears don’t employ Justin Jefferson, so that should be the default assumption. On the other hand, the Packers’ offense is fully formed yet, so this shouldn’t be a double-digit line.
Pick: Chicago (+10)
Carolina at New York Giants – Analytic Line: NYG (-4), Vegas Line: NYG (-1.5), PL: NYG (-1.5)
I’m not sure how to feel about the Giants. A Week 1 win on the road is impressive, but if Tennessee is as bad as I think, it’s not a showstopper. Especially since they needed a two-point conversion and a missed field goal to get there. For some reason, I still believe in the Panthers and want to take them, but it’s eyes over heart In Week 2.
Pick: New York Giants (-1.5)
Seattle at San Francisco – Analytic Line: SF (-5.5), Vegas Line: SF (-9.5), PL: SF (-7.5)
This game feels like it’s exploiting the ELO algorithm, with San Fran losing in the Great Chicago Monsoon of 2022 and Denver doing everything possible to hand the game to Seattle Monday Night. Considering the Seahawks are on the road on a short week, and the Niners are straight up better. I’ll lay the big line on the home team.
Pick: San Francisco (-9.5)
Houston at Denver – Analytic Line: DEN (-8), Vegas Line: DEN (-10), PL: DEN (-10)
It’s supposed to be near 90° in Denver Sunday. Heat and thin air is a bad recipe for a dome-inhabiting road team. The Broncos needed a game to get their offense in sync. They should be ready to roll this week.
Pick: Denver (-10)
Cincinnati at Dallas – Analytic Line: DAL (+4.5), Vegas Line: DAL (+7), PL: DAL (+10)
Welcome to the Week 2 “You Can’t Make the Line High Enough to Bet on Cooper Rush” game. Can’t see Joe Burrow throwing five interceptions this week, and that’s what it will take to keep the Cowboys in this game.
Pick: Cincinnati (-7)
Tennessee at Buffalo – Analytic Line: BUF (-8), Vegas Line: BUF (-10), PL: BUF (-11.5)
The Bills beat the defending Super Bowl champs by 32 on the road. With extra rest and at home, anything short of beating the Titans by 50 will be a letdown game (minor exaggeration).
Pick: Buffalo (-10)
For some more Week 2 NFL Lines, check out our Player Prop article!