Written By Billy Attridge
NFL Week 2 is here but sadly it comes with a slew of injuries for a couple contenders. One team hoping to have key cogs return are the Philadelphia Eagles as Aaron Donald and the Rams visit town. We also explore another total, and just like Week 1 it’s dancing around a key number so it’s worth investigating. After “Maserati Mitch” got his ass in gear and slammed the gas bringing Chicago back from a 23-6 deficit in Detroit, the Bears now find themselves laying 6 against the Giants. As tradition has it, we glance into the future and uncover NFL Week 3 look-ahead lines as well. As mentioned many times, this is not a “picks article” but a look into the logic behind line moves in the betting market. My goal is to provide a better grasp of the market to help your overall investment approach.
Los Angeles Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles +1 (-110):
When it comes to line adjustments, there’s a lot to unpack here. All summer, sports books hung Week 2 lines (with small limits) and the Eagles were installed 3.5 to 4-point favorites. Fast forward to kickoff last Sunday and the Eagles -3.5 still remained. Then the unimaginable happened, Philadelphia blew a 17-0 first half lead and injuries pile up. Later that evening in front of a national audience, the Rams shine and beat Dallas. When oddsmakers re-opened the line, Los Angeles was +2.5 and the market quickly moved to Rams -1.5 before resistance. Needless to say, Philadelphia was an excellent candidate for a 6-point teaser when they reached +1.5. Even at +1 and “PICK” the Eagles show value. Everyone is talking about the rash of injuries Philadelphia has to overcome, but they get back three major contributors in the form of right tackle Lane Johnson, Miles Sanders, and defensive end Derek Barnett. Javon Hargrave has also practiced two straight days, Brandon Graham is on pace to clear the concussion protocol, and Desean Jackson has stated he is 100% healthy and ready to go this week. From a matchup perspective, The Rams were awful defending tight ends last year, and new Rams rookie safety Jordan Fuller will have his hands full between the speed of the Eagles receivers and defending Dallas Godert and Zach Ertz. Like mentioned last week, I’m not a huge trend guy but one with merit to pay attention to is this; 0-1 teams facing 1-0 teams Week 2 have won the game outright 59% of the time, and covered the spread at a 63% clip as an underdog of 7 or less.
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins Over 40.5 (-110):
The Bills head south to face Miami in a 1:00pm AFC east showdown. Buffalo opened 3.5-point favorites with a total of 43. Immediate action on the under (and Buffalo) came in, with a key number of 43 getting gobbled up by Sunday evening. As this total trickled down Monday and Tuesday to 40.5, we’re starting to see some take-back. Let’s start with the weather situation. Rain storms are expected Sunday afternoon, and at publication they’re calling for a 40% chance. As for the matchup, Miami struggled to prevent New England from having their way on the ground, and that opened up spots where Cam Newton was able to take advantage through the air throwing for 8.2 yards per attempt. This is where Buffalo can take advantage. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll continued his creativity from last season, attacking the Jets where they were vulnerable helping get Josh Allen over the 300 yard mark through the air. I envision Miami struggling to stop the rush attack again, and early this season it’s clear mobile quarterbacks have an edge, but unlike New England, Buffalo will use pace (6th fastest Week 1 pace in neutral situations). This should lead to points. Buffalo scored 27 with ease in their opener, and two drives were halted inside Jets territory due to Josh Allen fumbles. On the other side, Miami catches a break facing Buffalo’s front 7 without linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, and as long as Fitzpatrick’s slinging the rock, big plays tend to happen in both directions. Despite the early professional support for the under, barring increased inclement weather, this total should tick back up to the key of 41 and even beyond.
New York Giants +6 (-115) @ Chicago Bears:
There hasn’t been drastic movement in the Windy City game, but something tells me this number could be on the move. We saw a buy order on New York Tuesday afternoon, pushing the line to +4.5/4 before Chicago money entered the market. The Giants are coming off of a home loss to Pittsburgh in a game that could have swung in their favor if it wasn’t for some poor decisions by Daniel Jones, while the Bears survived by the skin of the teeth thanks to a costly drop by Lions rookie running back DeAndre Swift. It’s interesting to see Chicago’s perception shift; down 17 points in the 4th with an anemic offense the first three quarters the Bears are being priced like a team that wasn’t getting clobbered by the banged-up Detroit Lions. Chicago allowed 4.8 yards per carry for the game, including 6.6 to the ageless Adrian Peterson. This was an area New York could not get going Monday night, but that was partly due to the outstanding play from Pittsburgh’s front-7. I’m not saying the Giants suddenly locate a ground game, but they were competitive without one against a superior Steelers defense. Akiem Hicks missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, and Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack remain limited. The idea of Mitch Trubisky spotting anybody 6-points is questionable, especially when his #1 wide receiver asked to be traded Tuesday.
NFL Week 3 Look-Ahead Lines:
Jacksonville -1.5 vs. Miami (TNF)
New England Patriots -6 vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Buffalo -3 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Pittsburgh -6 vs. Houston
San Francisco -6.5 @ New York Giants
Tennessee -1 @ Minnesota
Cleveland -4 vs. Washington
Philadelphia -5.5 vs. Cincinnati
Atlanta -3 vs. Chicago
Indianapolis -7 vs. New York Jets
Los Angeles Chargers -6.5 vs. Carolina
Arizona -3.5 vs. Detroit
Tampa Bay -3.5 @ Denver
Seattle -3.5 @ Dallas
New Orleans -4.5 @ Green Bay (SNF)
Baltimore -1.5 @ Kansas City (MNF)