With the uncertainty of Week 1 washed away by a full slate of season-opening games, both the bookmakers and bettors now have a clearer picture of what each NFL team is all about.
Last week the Seattle Seahawks were the biggest favorite on the board, giving 10.5 points to the Miami Dolphins while playing in front of the famed “12th Man” at Qwest Field. But the Dolphins’ defensive front kept quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense in check all game, before Wilson led a game-winning touchdown drive to complete a close 12-10 comeback win.
Accordingly, the books have tempered expectations for Seattle, installing the Seahawks as only 3.5-point favorites for Sunday’s divisional tilt with the Los Angeles Rams. In the wake of L.A.’s hapless 28-0 defeat on Monday Night Football, one might expect this line to creep higher as the weekend approaches, but for now bookmakers aren’t keen on giving Seattle a double-digit spread to cover.
As for the Dolphins, they acquitted themselves quite well as big underdogs on the road, and they’ll be in the same boat this Sunday, facing the New England Patriots (-6.5). Miami nearly pulled off opening week’s biggest upset, and first-year head coach Adam Gase will need his team to bring the same mentality to Foxboro this Sunday.
The defending Super Bowl champions will be without quarterback Tom Brady, as he continues to serve his four-game Deflategate suspension, but head coach Bill Belichick proved his bona fides as perhaps the most talented coach in NFL history last week with a surprising 23-21 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona. The Patriots proved they can play their style even with backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo running the operation – winning outright after being underdogs by upwards of 9.5 points – but they return to the familiar role of big favorite this time around.
Week 2 also includes a few more high-profile contests featuring divisional rivals going toe to toe.
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins (-3.5) fell to 0-1 last Sunday, making this week’s matchup at FedEx Field pivotal in the NFC East race. Despite leading fellow NFC East rival the New York Giants for most of the game, the Cowboys dropped a close one 20-19 when wideout Terrance Williams failed to reach the sidelines with no timeouts and less than 10 seconds remaining.
Conversely, the Redskins were demolished 38-16 on national television by the Pittsburgh Steelers, in a performance which shouldn’t have inspired much confidence on both sides of the ball. Even so, Washington will be favored by more than a field goal facing the Cowboys and backup QB Dak Prescott.
The Steelers (-3.5) take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in an AFC North showdown, but considering the game takes place at Heinz Field, that close spread essentially represents a pick’em.
Both teams sport 1-0 records, but the Bengals struggled a bit in putting away the New York Jets 23-22, while the Steelers rolled in the aforementioned romp over the Redskins. Pittsburgh enjoys a 56-35 advantage in the all-time series, so until Cincinnati can prove otherwise, they’ll be forced to take on the role of underdogs in this classic rivalry.