Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season arrived with a bang last weekend with four teams putting up 40-burgers on the scoreboard, the hapless Cleveland Browns not losing, and new head coaches reeling off an awful 0-7 record in their respective debuts.
Plenty of points were scored, the new helmet targeting rule produced just a single penalty, and all things considered, football fans were treated to a feast of fun, close games.
That certainly bodes well for Week 2, and according to the latest lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada, bettors will find no less than seven games involving spreads of 4 points or fewer on the board.
The first tight game to be decided takes place on Thursday Night Football, when the Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) host the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) for the early AFC North lead.
The Bengals impressed in Week 1, knocking off Andrew Luck and the Colts on the road as 3-point underdogs. They’ll be (+1) dogs this time around, despite playing a division rival in their home opener.
That disparity may be due to Baltimore’s barnstorming opening game, which saw Joe Flacco and a revamped receiving corps light up the Bills in a 47-3 laugher. Flacco tossed three touchdowns, with his new targets Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead IV, and John Brown each hauling in a score.
Heading into the tiger’s den in Cincinnati may seem like a tall task, but the Ravens hung a 20-0 road shutout on the Bengals just last year. That performance may have been an outlier, however, as Cincinnati won five straight home dates against Baltimore between 2012 and 2016.
Fans of back-and-forth offensive football – defined by quarterbacks airing it out and defenses desperately trying to hold up – should have a blast watching the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1) host the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0).
Second-year QB and newly minted starter Pat Mahomes impressed many in his Chiefs debut, coolly guiding the Chiefs to a 38-28 road win over their AFC West rivals in L.A. And while injuries to the Chargers defense certainly helped, Mahomes looked like the perfect fit for Andy Reid’s experimental and explosive offensive scheme.
His 15 for 27 line for 256 yards may seem pedestrian at first glance, but Mahomes connected on four touchdown passes, including a 58-yard catch and scamper from speedster Tyreek Hill.
The high-octane Chiefs offense may be too much to handle for a Steelers defense typically defined by being stout in all areas. Pittsburgh didn’t give up much in a 21-21 tie to the Browns, but allowing three scoring drives to Tyrod Taylor – in a rain soaked slopfest no less – isn’t what bettors have come to expect from Mike Tomlin’s crew.
Throw in a bruised elbow for Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger, and the Chiefs’ status as (+4) road dogs may be appealing to bold bettors.
The Carolina Panthers (1-0) visit the Atlanta Falcons (0-1), but despite their respective Week 1 starts, it’s the Panthers tagged as big (+6) dogs for this Sunday’s NFC South clash.
Carolina’s defense was suffocating in a 16-8 home win over Dallas, and the woeful Cowboys offense never even crossed midfield through the entire first half. Atlanta’s offense struggled mightily in the red zone during a 18-12 road loss to the Eagles, making the current spread even more of an apparent mismatch.
And those Cowboys (0-1) host the New York Giants (0-1) as (-3) favorites, with both NFC East hopefuls looking to dodge the dreaded 0-2 hole.
Other divisional games to watch for include the Denver Broncos (1-0) hosting the Oakland Raiders as (-6) favorites; and the Los Angeles Rams (1-0) hosting the Arizona Cardinals (0-1) as (-13) faves – the heaviest line of Week 2.