Week 2 of the NFL season is almost here, which means bettors everywhere are getting ready to overreact.
It’s a time-honored tradition among recreational football bettors to turn Week 1 flukes into the foundation of their Week 2 strategy. And after several outlier results were scattered across the scoreboard last weekend, that tradition is sure to continue.
Perhaps you watched Baltimore Ravens (1-0) quarterback Lamar Jackson light up the Miami Dolphins (0-1) defense in a 59-10 rout for the ages, bombarding a tanking team to the tune of five touchdown passes and a line of 17/20 for 324 yards.
The second-year signal caller’s stats were definitely surprising, what with Jackson largely relegated to a rushing role last season after taking over for an injured Joe Flacco. He averaged 17 carries for nearly 80 yards per game on the ground in an abbreviated 2018 campaign – not the usual development plan for a young QB in modern pro football.
That uniquely tailored game plan produced six wins in seven starts, however, leading many pigskin pundits to predict Jackson and the Ravens would roll out a heavy rushing attack this year. Instead, Jackson only carried the ball three times for six yards while demolishing the woeful Dolphins through the air, and threw a wrench into opposing defensive coordinators’ planning in the process.
Looking at the Ravens’ gaudy numbers on both sides of the ball, bettors could be eyeing Baltimore as a trendy longshot to finish with the league’s best regular-season record.
Online sportsbook Bovada certainly has high hopes for these Ravens, installing them as huge 13.5-point home favorites over the Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1) this Sunday. That equates to a whopping (-800) moneyline against (+500) for Arizona – recipients of a come-from-behind tie against the Detroit Lions (0-0-1) to open the year – thanks to a point spread which would ordinarily rank as the widest of any NFL week.
But did you hear how the Dolphins lost by 49 points at home, including a ridiculous 42-10 scoreline at the half?
After such a dreadful performance – one which cements Miami as a tanking team built expressly to lose its way to a #1 overall draft pick – the ‘Phins are listed as (+19) home underdogs to the New England Patriots (1-0). This line initially opened at a “modest” (+14.5), making New England the largest road favorites of the last decade even before bettors drove the number up nearly two field goals in two days.
The Pats put on a show of their own in Week 1, outclassing the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) in every facet of the game en route to a 33-3 shellacking at home.
With the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots facing a team many experts believe has a legitimate shot at 0-16, the outcome is one of the widest spreads in recent memory.
With that said, a word of warning – over the last 10 seasons, 11 teams have faced spreads of (-14.5) or higher and they’ve gone 10-1 straight up. Against the spread, however, those juggernauts have compiled a subpar 4-7 record.
If fading double-digit lines isn’t your idea of a good time, the Week 2 slate thankfully offers several games with a spread of 3-points or fewer.
The game of the week will likely feature the New Orleans Saints (1-0) visiting the Los Angeles Rams (1-0) in a rematch of last year’s controversial NFC Championship Game. That pivotal semifinal contest in the Superdome was decided 26-23 in overtime to L.A. after the refs swallowed their whistles on a last-minute pass interference call against the Rams.
The Saints also won a 45-35 barnburner over the Rams in New Orleans last season, but this Sunday’s third round between offensive geniuses Sean Payton and Sean McVay takes place in Tinseltown. Accordingly, the Rams are slim (-2.5) home favorites in what should be an up and down track meet between two of the most talented teams in football.
Other close games to look for include the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) hosting the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) as (+2) home dogs, the Green Bay Packers (1-0) hosting the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) as (-3) favorites, and the New York Jets (0-1) hosting the Cleveland Browns (0-1) as (+3) dogs on Monday Night Football.