As it has done for the better part of a century, opening weekend in the NFL came and went. Dallas, Washington, San Francisco and Tampa Bay upset the opposition and bookmakers alike. Cleveland and St. Louis kept it tight to beat the spread despite losing, while the Patriots and Jets obliterated the pointspread. There was certainly money to be had.
Week 2 kicked off on Thursday with Green Bay beating Chicago and the spread. Now, it’s time for a full slate of action and this particular Sunday schedule features a host of intriguing matchups.
Those looking for favorites worth backing both outright and against the spread should take a close look at Cincinnati’s (-7) trip to Cleveland, Houston (-7.5) at Jacksonville, and Arizona at New England (-14). It’s hard to imagine any of these three going the way of the dogs.
The rest of the schedule is pretty tight so expect parlay bets to take a big sting this week.
Here’re just some of the matchups on tap this Sunday.
Baltimore Orioles @ Philadelphia Eagles
Possibly the most difficult matchup to call outright this week, Baltimore (1-0, 0-0 home) heads to Philadelphia (1-0, 0-0 home) for what you would expect to be a tough-as-nails bout. Baltimore though lit-up the scoreboard last weekend in a 44-13 trouncing of Cincinnati, electing to utilize the arm (yes, the arm!) of Joe Flacco. Historically, Philadelphia has known how to pile-up the points as well, so this could turn into a shootout. But then again, it could equally become a battle between Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy on the ground.
Playing at home, Philadelphia is narrowly favored (-3), but that homefield advantage could soon take a hit if Michael Vick repeats his four-interception performance against Cleveland. You think that Philadelphia crowd would patiently wait things out?
Take Baltimore to beat the spread and win outright in this one. Philadelphia is a notoriously slow season starter and last week’s rustiness just isn’t appealing against a Ravens side already shortening its Super Bowl XLVII odds.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-0 home) hosts the Jets (1-0, 0-0 road) in a matchup that should give an indication of which way both teams are headed.
The Steelers were preseason favorites to take the AFC North but a depleted offensive line and injuries – especially those to Rashard Mendenhall and James Harrison – took the air out of the team in Denver last weekend. Or was that just the Mile High City?
The Jets looked impressive offensively last weekend, with Mark Sanchez quieting a few more doubters after a three touchdown performance. This was not the same team that struggled scoring in the preseason. Or was it just that the Jets beat a Buffalo Bills team that has been dreadful both on the road and in the division of late?
The Steelers are six-point favorites ahead of kickoff. The Jets will probably keep this one tight, but take Pittsburgh to win by a touchdown or more.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
Drew Brees and the Saints (0-1, 0-0 road) were picked off by the surprising Washington Redskins last week and will be looking for a bounce back win against the Panthers (0-1, 0-0 home). Carolina was outlasted by division rivals Tampa Bay.
How much New Orleans’ loss was down to the fallout of ‘BountyGate’ and how much was down to RGIII and Co. remains to be seen. The Panthers will hope it’s the former if they’re to pull off a victory this weekend. But having put up 32 points, it might be the latter, which spells bad news for Cam Newton’s side.
Take New Orleans in this one to beat the -3 spread and to win outright. Carolina may be improving, but Brees will be champing at the bit heading into Charlotte, N.C.
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday Night Football pits Detroit (1-0, 0-0 road) against San Francisco (1-0, 0-0 home). The Niners had the result of the weekend last week, defeating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Lions meanwhile struggled past a resilient St. Louis team, and looked far less impressive than preseason odds suggested.
San Francisco enters the game as seven-point favorites and -300 to win outright. Take both! Yes, the 49ers looked good last week and the Lions looked average, but the real reason to take the Bay Area team is history.
The 49ers have won 13 of the last 14 games against Detroit, dating back to 1988. It gets better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint): Detroit hasn’t won in San Francisco since 1975! Sure, streaks like this are made to be broken, but this Niners’ defense just looks too strong for a patchy Lions offense.
After all of that, if you’re still looking for a few wagers to keep you busy, try these Week 2 specials out:
(1) Will Jim Harbaugh (SF) and Jim Schwartz (DET) shake hands or hug at the end of Sunday night’s game? Yes (-400); No (+250).
(2) Will the team of (botching) replacement referees still be on the field in Week 6? Yes (-140); No (EVEN).
NFL Week 2 Schedule
Thursday: Chicago 10-23 Green Bay
Sunday: (1 PM ET) Kansas City @ Buffalo | New Orleans @ Carolina | Cleveland @ Cincinnati | Minnesota @ Indianapolis | Houston @ Jacksonville | Oakland @ Miami | Arizona @ New England | Tampa Bay @ NY Giants | Baltimore @ Philadelphia; (4:05 PM ET) Dallas @ Seattle | Washington @ St. Louis; (4:25 PM ET) NY Jets @ Pittsburgh | Tennessee @ San Diego; (8:20 PM ET) Detroit @ San Francisco
Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Denver @ Atlanta