NFL best bets for Week 2 from Steve Makinen


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NFL Week 2 Best Bets

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Chicago at Tampa Bay

Matchup Analysis

Are the any games on the Week 2 slate in which things couldn’t have gone much worse for one team but went unexpectedly well for the other? Chicago’s loss to Green Bay was ugly, a sky is falling type of game. Meanwhile, the Bucs marched into Minnesota and took down a 13-4 team from a year ago in strong underdog fashion.

Has the public sentiment taken this week’s point spread too far? Is Tampa Bay ready to be a favored team expected to win? I am leery and expect a bounce back from the Bears in a far less pressure type of situation. Quite frankly, they put too much stock into last week’s game versus the Packers and should be grounded better for this one.

Take a look at the system: Teams that lost on the point spread by more than 14 points in Week 1 divisional games are 14-7 SU and 14-6-1 ATS (70%) in Week 2 since 2007. The Bears fit this bill.

Take Chicago in any underdog line

Kansas City at Jacksonville

Matchup Analysis

It was somewhat surprising to see how much the Kansas City offense struggled without TE Travis Kelce in their Week 1 loss to Detroit. Granted, they probably made more mistakes than could be expected, but with Kelce listed as questionable (I would say more like doubtful), it won’t get any easier at Jacksonville against a team eager to make its case for being a Super Bowl contender in the AFC.

The public isn’t backing off the Chiefs yet either as over 70% of the handle and bets were on them as of this writing. I really don’t like when the public gets in big behind road favorites, especially in expectedly high-scoring games.

This was the DK Betting Splits system I wrote about prior to the season: In games where the totals reached 46.5 or higher and oddsmakers thus expected them to be a little more explosive, the majority number of bettors struggled, going 28-53 ATS (34.6%). The Jaguars are on the rise and probably have this game circled on the calendar.

Take Jacksonville but only in the home dog role

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Matchup Analysis

I was inclined to go with Baltimore in this game based upon the fact that Ravens QB Lamar Jackson boasts the 10-0-1 ATS underdog record, but to me, something seems “fishy” about the line. At +3.5, it almost seems as if the oddsmakers are entrapping bettors in a web to take them. Especially with as poorly as Cincinnati played last week against the Browns.

Historically though, teams that lose as road favorites in Week 1 bounce back well, and teams playing in back-to-back divisional contests to open a season also play well in that second game. That said, with so much conflicting strong info on both sides of the point spread, as well as heavy money coming in on the Under, I like both offenses to bounce back strongly in this contest.

This is two of the better QBs in the game coming off unusually poor outings. This particular system shows the potential for a higher scoring outing based upon the Bengals’ atrocious effort in Week 1: Week 2 teams that went under their Week 1 total by at least 17 points are 25-17 Over (59.5%) the total since 2008. I’ll call it a 28-24 type of game that could go either way.

Take Baltimore-Cincinnati Over 46.5 (or anything +/- 1 pt)


NY Giants at Arizona

Matchup Analysis

There are two rare but highly effective next-game extreme systems that came out of the ugly 40-0 decision in New York last Sunday night First, shutouts are extremes: Teams that get shut out in a game have been solid bounce-back teams in the next outing, going 22-33 SU but 33-20-2 ATS (62.3%) since 2012.

Second, blowout games are red flags: NFL teams that lose by 35 points or more in a home or neutral field game have been fantastic bets in the follow-up contest, going 9-11-2 SU but 18-4 ATS (81.8%) in their last 22 tries.

I know there are a lot of doubters out there about the Giants, but I am a believer in the coaching staff specifically, as head coach Brian Daboll is one of the better guys in the league at getting his team up after losses and proved it last year. He also has two of the top coordinators in football. I like Daboll’s bunch to bounce back here against an Arizona team that doesn’t figure to have as much grit as last week after a disappointing loss. Let’s say 24-16 G-Men.

Let’s lay the points with New York, at anything +/-1

NY Jets at Dallas

Matchup Analysis

Let’s be perfectly honest here…did you think for once this season that you’d ever see a game involving the Cowboys showing the lowest total on the betting board? And at AT&T Stadium no less? Yes, yes, I know, the Jets lost QB Aaron Rodgers to injury last week, but seriously, they are still a professional football team, and they still scored 22 points without him in beating the Bills this past Monday.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys put up 40 points in a downpour in New York without their offense having to even be tested. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s team put up 30 PPG at home last year, including 40.5 PPG in the two contests versus AFC foes. It would appear that the dumping of this total since coming out at 40 has something to do with 86% of the handle at DraftKings going the way of the Under. I’m willing to bet that the massive majority is wrong.

Take the NY Jets-Dallas total Over anything less than 40

Cleveland at Pittsburgh

Matchup Analysis

Interesting line scenario this week that looks like a massive overadjustment from the opening week results. There’s literally no way that Cleveland would have been favored at Pittsburgh prior to last Sunday. However, a combined dominant win for the Browns over the Bengals and an ugly loss at home to the 49ers, and poof, we have this week’s scenario.

How rare is it for Cleveland to be favored at Pittsburgh? Well, in a word: very. It has happened once since the Browns’ return to the league in 1999. That was two years ago, and the Steelers won that game 26-14 as 1-point home dogs.

Now, a lot was made last week prior to the 49ers game about head coach Mike Tomlin’s success in Pittsburgh as a home underdog. It’s one thing to be a home dog to an out-of-conference opponent that has Super Bowl aspirations. It’s an entirely other motivating factor to be a home dog to a divisional opponent that you believe you are better than. Cleveland struggles in the favorite role (13-25 ATS in the last 38) and in divisional games (17-32 ATS since 2015). Here, the Browns are both.

Take Pittsburgh to cover the 2.5, with a sprinkle on the moneyline as well

For more system matches and key trends, check out the Week 2 NFL Analytics Report.


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As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.