A summary of the week that was in the NFL as it pertains to betting, the book, and the landscape ahead.
The Lines They Are a Changin’
Biggest line move was New Orleans Saints at home dropping consistently all week from a -6 1/2 point favorite down to -4 1/2 by the time they kicked off Sunday. The Bears made bettors look good early on as Chicago struck first and held a 7-3 lead after the first quarter. That was as good as things got for Chicago though as New Orleans came back to score 4 times before the Bears answered back, eventually the Saints pulled away late to cover with a 30-13 final. Saints defense rattled QB Jay Cutler of the Bears on their way to 6 sacks and also controlled the time of possession.
All week long I expected the Baltimore spread at Tennessee to go up but that simply did not happen. The Ravens destroyed Pittsburgh Week One while the Titans had come up short in their opener at Jacksonville. So the Ravens -6 seemed to be a short price that bettors would jump on but that was not the case. The closing line was either 6 or 5 1/2 and the dog bettors were rewarded as Tennessee came up with the perfect plan and attacked the Ravens through the air. Many bettors believe that NFL caliber teams with such short schedules simply do not have games where they fall flat after a big emotional wins, but I am still convinced that it does happen. The Ravens had to be sky-high after finally getting past their nemesis Pittsburgh and heading into Tennessee was a flat spot. Tennessee outplayed the Ravens on both sides of the ball to get the outright win.
The Kansas City Chiefs season is basically in the books after stud RB Jamal Charles was lost for the year after just two carries on Sunday at Detroit. Week One the Chiefs fumbled the opening kickoff against Buffalo and found themselves out of the game just as it started. Week Two they lost one of the top running backs in the league and looked emotionally out of the game as soon as Charles left the field. A brutal two weeks for the Chiefs will only gets worse as they head to San Diego to meet the Chargers who sit as a whopping 15-point favorite.
So maybe Cam Newton is that good. While most expected the Carolina Panthers to be pushed around the field on Sunday vs Green Bay in their home opener, it was the Cam Newton show once more as he led the Panthers to an early 13-0 lead. While it is true that the Packers eventually got to the rookie quarterback, sacking him 4 times while managing 3 picks, there is no doubt that Newton is exciting to watch and difficult to defend. Once again the young pivot targeted veteran WR Steve Smith as the pair hooked up 6 times for 156 yards. Smart move kid. In the end the first pick of the draft had tallied 432 yards through the air, 1 TD pass, 53 rushing yards and a TD on the ground.
We will find out if the Seattle Seahawks are a much better team at home, or just a bad team overall, on Sunday. The Hawks stumbled in their opener at San Francisco and then were blanked 24-0 at Pittsburgh as the Steelers took out the frustrations of their opening week loss. Arizona travels to Seattle as a 3 1/2 point favorite on Sunday after dropping a close game at Washington to put the Cardinals at 1-1.
It looks like it is going to be a long season for the Dallas Cowboys. While they rallied last week to edge San Francisco in overtime, it was the type of game that they may feel for weeks to come. Dallas QB Tony Romo was battered and beaten, WR Miles Austin was hurt, and they went into that game without WR Dez Bryant. The Cowboys rushing game, with or without Felix Jones, is a mixed bag right now, their quarterback is beaten up, and at least one of their two stud receivers is likely to be sitting on the sidelines.
I’ll say it again . . . the New England Patriots are that good. New England made it a priority to shutdown TE Antonio Gates on Sunday, so WR Vincent Jackson went off for 10 catches, 172 yards and 2 TDs. Patriots gave up a ton of yards once more, but all that seems to matter at this point is that they are one of three 2-0 teams, in their own division. Interesting footnote is that 2 of the bottom 3 teams in Yards Allowed are New England andGreen Bay, both undefeated.
The Buffalo Bills seem to have found a nice offensive rhythm – RB Fred Jackson leads the league in rushing while QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied for the league lead in TDs thrown. Buffalo at New England this week looks to be another fireworks show.
Cincinnati Bengals are favored this week (-2 1/2 -115 at home to the Niners), not many expected to say that often, if at all this season. Rookie QB Andy Dalton and fellow newbie WR A.J. Green have looked very good early and the Bengals have an adequate running game to match a decent defense.
Will all games involving either the New York Giants or the Dallas Cowboys be circled on the betting board this season? Seems like it could be that way, Dallas is getting beat up and the Giants were limping before the season got started.
Buffalo isn’t the easiest place for road teams to play in the NFL, the Bills hosting New England could be a much more competitive game than one might think.
Will the real Tennessee Titans please stand up! The ones who stumbled at Jacksonville two weeks ago or the squad that outplayed Baltimore? Titans are a TD favorite at home to Denver on Sunday.
Games of the Week
10:00 Pacific: New England Patriots (-7.5) at Buffalo (53.5)
10:00 Pacific: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (No Line – Injuries)
Games I Won’t Be Watching
1:05 Pacific: Kansas City (45.5) at San Diego (-15)
10:00 Pacific: Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) at Indianapolis Colts (39.5)