Note: Sports gambling advice is intended for recreational purposes only. All odds and lines are from William Hill US Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
I’m filling in this week for Austin with our Broadway Best Bets column. That might be good news for our bettors out there, as Austin had a so-so Week 1.
Austin’s Season Record: 2-3
Justin’s Season Record: 0-0
While officially I didn’t publish my best bets last week, I did have a good Week 1. I missed on the Cowboys and the DAL-LAR point total over on Sunday night, but outside of that, it was a great first day of football. I even hit a 5-team teaser that would’ve cashed as a straight parlay (Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Buffalo).
Cincinnati covered the 6.5-point spread on Thursday night, so I’m already off to a good start this week. Anyway, let’s get into my best bets for Week 2, trusting that we can keep the hot streak going.
San Francisco 49ers (-7) at New York Jets
Week 2 brings a lot of big spreads. I generally avoid betting on lines bigger than a touchdown and instead look for value elsewhere. While the Niners likely will win this game by more than a touchdown (see below for my feelings about the Jets), there are some “watch-outs” to be wary of.
For one, San Francisco’s receiver depth is still extremely lacking. Brandon Aiyuk appears set to make his debut, but Deebo Samuel will miss at least two more weeks on IR. This is also a long road trip for a West Coast team in a game that kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.
I feel much better betting on the points than the Niners. While I’ve picked San Francisco to win, I’m not sure they’ll get there by more than a touchdown, as bad as the Jets are. I’d rather bet on the Niners defense to rattle Sam Darnold and run out the clock. Even if you do think the 49ers will cover the spread, the under could still cash in a 30-10 type of game. These are two teams that play slowly (SF was 24th in total plays last week despite playing against the high-octane Cardinals, while the Jets were 30th in a game they were mostly losing).
Give me the under here, although I might tease the line up by a point to get over that pivotal 42 number.
The Pick: Under 41.5
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Both of these teams are coming off a loss, although the plays in that Cowboys building probably feel like they did enough to win last week after a questionable offensive pass interference call was too much to overcome. The Falcons, meanwhile, piled up 500+ yards of offense but only mustered 25 points mainly due to an 0/4 4th-down conversion rate.
These are two explosive offenses that should take the ball up and down the field on each other. I don’t see a lot of value in taking either side, but I also don’t see how these teams don’t score tons of points. According to Football Outsiders, the Cowboys and Falcons were #1 and #3 in neutral-script play pace last week.
The Pick: Over 53.5
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
Did you know Frank Reich is 0-3 in Week 1 as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts? The Philip Rivers led offense drove up and down the field on the Jaguars, but too many turnovers, a missed field goal, and multiple failed fourth-down conversions led to a surprising loss for Indy.
The Vikings defense looked horrific against the Packers (who really didn’t have a great offense last season), and their offense did look to be affected by the loss of Stefon Diggs. The Vikings appear to be at the outset of a rebuilding season, and I think this line is too low for the home team looking to get back on track and avoid an 0-2 start.
The Pick: IND -3
Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Bills handled the Jets last weekend in Josh Allen’s first-ever 300 yard passing game, but I actually thought the contest was closer than it should’ve been for the majority of the afternoon. The Jets are unquestionably the worst team in football in my opinion, and Josh Allen still makes too many negative plays, whether it’s airmailing a receiver or being careless with the football.
Meanwhile, while Miami looked mostly terrible against New England, I believe this is a well-coached team capable of bouncing back in a huge division matchup. The Patriots were one of the hardest teams to prepare for heading into last week, as no one knew how the Cam Newton-led offense would function. Josh Allen is a somewhat similar player to Newton, so the Dolphins should feel prepared to defend him.
The Bills are thin on the defensive side this week, with no Tremaine Edmunds or Matt Milano along with a few other depth pieces. Ryan Fitzpatrick had trouble moving the ball last week, but the Patriots have the stingiest secondary in the league. The middle of the field should prove more accessible this week against Buffalo.
I’m not outright selecting Miami to win (though I will sprinkle a little on that money line), but Miami is a team I’m adding to my teaser card this week. I think they can keep this game closer than expected.
The Pick: MIA +5.5
Lock of the Week
Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals (-7)
Again, I’m wary of betting such big lines, but I’m not as wary betting on the points. While trying to glean too much from Week 1 can be a dangerous trap, I am confident that both of these teams want to run a lot of plays, and more plays means more chances to score. Arizona was 5th in neutral-script play pace last weekend, and Washington was 7th. Arizona also ran the 3rd-most total plays a week with Washington at 10th.
Both defenses performed above expectation in Week 1, but Kyler Murray is a bit better at evading pressure than Carson Wentz behind an Eagles line that was down 3 starters. The Cardinals should be able to handle the pressure better, and I don’t know who stops DeAndre Hopkins in Washington’s secondary. Then there could be an opportunity for some garbage time points from Washington, which is why I don’t want to bet on Arizona by 7 — that backdoor cover possibility scares me.
The Pick: Over 46.5
How Betting Lines Work
A quick reminder for anyone unfamiliar with betting lines. “Favorites” are listed next to a negative number, which represents how many points they must win by to “cover the spread.” Titans -2.5, for example, means that Tennessee must beat the Broncos by 3 points or more for bettors to win. Gamblers can also bet on the game’s “total,” betting on whether or not the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a pre-selected number of points.
“ML” or “moneyline” is not against the spread, just picking the winner of the game. Many people refer to the moneyline as “straight up,” but this can be confusing, because if you’re ever at a betting window in Vegas, a “straight bet” means you are betting on the point spread. Instead of saying “straight up,” you’d want to say “moneyline” when you mean to pick the winner of the game regardless of the point spread to avoid any possible confusion.