Week 1 of the NFL season presented bettors with several upsets, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars winning outright as big dogs, and the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears both covering against highly touted opponents.
Those largely unexpected results may be nothing more than a byproduct of shortened practice schedules and opening day jitters – or a sign that the NFL’s perpetual parity has leveled the playing field.
That’s up to bettors to decide, and based on the opening lines posted by the sportsbooks, the season’s second week offers plenty of upset potential. Week 2 features a healthy dose of big favorites facing seemingly overmatched underdogs. But as last week’s slate showed, anything can happen when two NFL teams take the field.
The New England Patriots (0-1) kicked off their title defense with a dud, as the aforementioned Chiefs went into Foxboro and won handily in a 42-27 romp. Normally, a poor performance like that might pull the line down a week later, but the Patriots are far from normal.
New England has been listed as 7-point road favorites against the New Orleans Saints (0-1), a line that may be more indicative of their opponent’s outlook than anything else.
The Saints brought newly acquired running back Adrian Peterson back to Minnesota for a “grudge match,” but head coach Sean Payton saw his once vaunted offense struggle to get in gear during a Monday Night Football fiasco. That 29-19 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) was never as close as the final score would suggest, and facing Tom Brady and crew, New Orleans’ suspect defense may be vulnerable to another offensive outburst.
Those Vikings take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) this week, heading into Heinz Field as consensus 6.5-point underdogs. Based on that number, the linemakers don’t seem to be swayed by how the Vikings handled the Saints – or by the Steelers’ Week 1 woes.
Pittsburgh muddled through an unconvincing 21-18 win over the undermanned Cleveland Browns (0-1), but the books like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to bring his A-game in the Steelers’ home opener.
In a rare Week 2 contest involving closely matched teams, the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) make their way to Mile High to face the Denver Broncos (1-0). Both teams opened up healthy leads early last week, but the eventual finals told two different tales.
Dallas relied on a surprisingly suffocating defense to snuff out the New York Giants (0-1) in a 19-3 snoozer. With standout second-year running back Ezekiel Elliott back in the fold – courtesy of a court-ordered injunction that staved off his six-game suspension for off-field issues – the Dallas offense also dominated with 392 total yards and a 34-minute time of possession.
As for Denver, a 24-7 lead over the Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) entering the fourth quarter somehow turned into a last-second game-tying field goal attempt, with the Bolts down 24-21. Of course, rookie kicker Younghoe Koo had a successful attempt “iced” by Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, only to see his second try blocked to seal the loss.
The consensus line leans toward Dallas at the moment, to the tune of a 2-point edge as road favorites.
And for those that love to take the points in lackluster games, the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) head north for a date with the Seattle Seahawks (0-1) – and they’ll bring 14 points with them as heavy road dogs.
That same two-touchdown spread separates the New York Jets (0-1) from the Oakland Raiders (1-0), who will be enjoying one of their final home openers by the Bay.