Written By Billy Attridge
Ah, you can smell it in the air! NFL Week 1 is back and thus we return with our Market Moves article detailing three games worthy of mention. We’ll explore early movement on a first half total in a NFC East matchup, a fascinating game between two potential AFC contenders, and we head to Carolina to see if the move off 3 is warranted. Before investing this weekend, find out why these numbers have moved. As we always do, we take a glimpse forward at the Vegas look-ahead lines for NFL Week 2.
Washington @ Philadelphia 1H Under 23 (-114):
The full slate of 1st half numbers hit the screen Wednesday, and we saw an early appetite for the Under in Redskins/Eagles, pushing this number down to 23 (-114)/22.5. When breaking down Washington, we have a team severely limited on offensive with questions marks at receiver and O-line. With TE Jordan Reed still in concussion protocol, the best weapon Washing has could be sidelined or limited. The strength of Philadelphia’s defense is their front seven, which, while not 100% healthy, looks to gain back some of their superstars in Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham, and Ronald Darby on the back end. So many things are unknown in Week 1, but it’s difficult to find an edge for Washington on this side of the ball. When the Eagles are on offense we’ll see Carson Wentz for the first time, behind a very strong offensive line. It looks like RG Brandon Brooks and RT Lane Johnson will go, but I’m skeptical on their ability to be 100%, and this Washington front seven is the strength behind DC Greg Manusky’s defense. The only injury concern for Washington on this side is CB Fabian Moreau, who looks like he will be sitting this one out. I’m bullish on the Eagles offense this year, but Week 1 may reveal some rust early on.
Kansas City @ Jacksonville +3.5 (-113):
Back in April this number opened as high as Kansas City -5.5, but speculation of a Tyreek Hill suspension and sharp money has dropped this line to 3.5 (Hill is obviously playing now). There are few teams more terrifying to bet against than the Chiefs, as their offense is primed for another monster year behind Patrick Mahomes and the plethora of speedy weapons at his disposal. One team that actually did well defending KC last year was this Jaguars unit – and they seem positioned to return to their 2017 defensive prominence. The scoreboard last year said 30-14, but one must remember KC was held way below their season averages in yards per play and success rate, plus they benefited from a pick-six and 5(!!) Jacksonville turnovers; leading to short field scores. If you “need” a narrative to go along with the line movement, Jacksonville’s defensive players have been quoted all off-season about getting their revenge. It will be interesting to see how new OC John DeFilippo calls plays with his old partner in crime Nick Foles, but you have to imagine this will look better than last year’s debacle. This move on the Jacksonville is very, very real.
Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina +2.5 (-110):
The Rams head east for an early start to face a team that’s garnered plenty of respect from professional bettors this off-season in the Carolina Panthers. We have seen Carolina’s regular season win total rise from 7.5 to 8.7, despite playing in a NFC South division projected to be much improved. While many will look towards the offensive side of the ball for Carolina, the defense should be your staring point. The new 3-4 look with Ron Rivera taking back play-calling duties includes Kawann Short, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Brian Burns, and Bruce Irvin up front, with LB Luke Kuechly manning the middle, and underrated corners James Bradberry and Donte Jackson in the back. With the Rams going through some changes on the offensive line, we could see pressure coming at Jared Goff. Last season, Goff only completed 43% of his passes when under pressure, a far cry from his 73% mark when operating from a clean pocket. This number opened Carolina +3, and while +3 (-120) can still be achieved on the buy at some shops, many of the sharpest sports books have gone to +2. This is a real position, but it is possible a few square joints head back to +3 with 70% of the tickets on the Rams. If you can’t get the number you’re looking for on a straight bet, Carolina would make a fine teaser leg getting through the 3, 4, 6, and 7 on a 6-pointer.
Vegas Look-Ahead Lines for NFL Week 2:
Carolina -4.5 vs. Tampa Bay
Tennessee – 2.5 vs. Indianapolis
LA Chargers -2.5 @ Detroit
New York Giants -1.5 vs. Buffalo
Baltimore -9.5 vs. Arizona
New England -11 @ Miami
Dallas -4.5 @ Washington
Houston -3 vs. Jacksonville
Pittsburgh -3.5 vs. Seattle
San Francisco -2.5 @ Cincinnati
Green Bay -3 vs. Minnesota
Kansas City -7 @ Oakland
LA Rams -3 vs. New Orleans
Denver PICK’em vs. Chicago
Atlanta PICK’em vs. Philadelphia
Cleveland -2.5 @ New York Jets