Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

One of my favorite things to do as a bettor is go against week-to-week overreactions, so I always check to see how much the line has changed since the early line the previous week. Sometimes big line movements make sense, but often they don’t. This line was 3.5 a week ago, but has since moved all the way to 6. It’s unclear why. The Browns struggled mightily in Philadelphia last week, but we already knew they were a bad team. The Ravens had a solid performance last week against the Bills, but they’re not good enough to be favored by this many points on the road against anyone, especially with top pass rusher Elvis Dumervil missing his 2nd straight game with injury. It’s a no confidence play, but Cleveland is the pick here.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Cleveland Browns 12

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +6

Confidence: None

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Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Detroit Lions (1-0)

One of my favorite things to do as a bettor is go against week-to-week overreactions, so I always check to see how much the line has changed since the early line the previous week. Sometimes big line movements make sense, but often they don’t. This line was 3.5 a week ago, but has since moved all the way to 6. At first glance, that might make sense, as Detroit pulled the upset victory in Indianapolis, while the Titans lost by 9 at home to Shaun Hill in the Vikings, but Indianapolis is an overrated team, so that win wasn’t that impressive, while the Titans actually outplayed Minnesota for most of the game, outside of two offensive plays that ended up going for defensive touchdowns the other way. They actually moved the chains at a 70.00% rate, as opposed to 62.50% for Minnesota. Their defense looked impressive, holding Adrian Peterson to one of the least productive games of his career (31 yards on 19 carries).

The Titans did lose outside linebacker Derrick Morgan to injury last week and they really missed him when he was injured last season, but they drafted outside linebacker Kevin Dodd in the 2nd round for depth purposes, so they’re much better prepared to handle his absence this time around. On the other side, the Lions are without top linebacker DeAndre Levy. The Lions are a solid team and better than the Titans, but this line is too high at 6 points. It’s not enough for me to put any money on it, but I’m taking the points here.

Detroit Lions 27 Tennessee Titans 23

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +6

Confidence: Low

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Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

This is one of the tougher calls of the week for me. Minnesota is still a solid team despite losing Teddy Bridgewater, but they are also missing defensive starters Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd and quarterback Sam Bradford is going into his first start with the team, after being acquired just two weeks ago. If this line was a field goal, I’d take the Vikings just because 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, but this line is at 2.5 (2 in many places). The Packers are missing top cornerback Sam Shields with a concussion, but are still the significant better team, so I like their chances of winning by at least a field goal in Minnesota, but not enough to be at all confident in them.

Green Bay Packers 23 Minnesota Vikings 20

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5

Confidence: None

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Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)

Coming into the season, I thought the Colts were one of the most overrated teams in the league. They get Andrew Luck back after an 8-8 2015 season, but their passing offense wasn’t the problem last season, as Matt Hasselbeck was serviceable until the last couple weeks of the season and actually outplayed Luck statistically. Their defense took a step back from the season before and they struggled mightily running the ball and protecting the quarterback. Their running backs and offensive line remain a problem and the defense could take another step back. They lost top linebacker Jerrell Freeman in free agency and have the oldest defense in the league, which looks like one of the worst in the league on paper, especially with Trent Cole, Henry Anderson, Patrick Robinson, and Vontae Davis all out with injuries. Luck’s obviously a big re-addition, but it’s probably not enough for this team to get back to the playoffs.

However, I also thought the Broncos were overrated coming into the season. They finished last regular season just 11th in rate of moving the chains differential and might not have even made the playoffs if not for an unsustainably good record in games decided by a touchdown or less, 9-3. This off-season, they lost two defensive starters in Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, who were not replaced, as well as talented guard Evan Mathis. They’re starting a 2nd year 7th rookie pick at quarterback, one of the least qualified week 1 starting quarterbacks in years, and have underwhelming talent around him on offense, especially with Demaryius Thomas dealing with a limiting hip injury. Even if they do win here, it could easily be another close game for a team who has won 12 of their last 16 wins by 7 points or fewer (including last post-season), relevant considering this line is 6.5. That seems way too high to me, even with the Colts banged up.

The Broncos won last week at home against a tough Carolina team and looked good doing it, but easily could have lost if not for a missed field goal at the end of the game (or if not for a timely Gary Kubiak timeout, which forced Graham Gano to re-kick after making the first one). Besides, defending Super Bowl champions tend to do well week 1. In the last 10 instances, Super Bowl Champions who open at home on a Thursday Night are 8-1-1 ATS, but the previous 9 teams are just 2-7 ATS the following week. Opening as Super Bowl champions is a very emotional game, so it makes sense teams would play well, but it’s also hard to carry that kind of performance into the following week.

Teams are also 48-74 ATS since 2012 off of a win as home underdogs. Teams tend to be overconfident and overvalued off of a big home win against a superior opponent. At the very least, the Broncos are overvalued here at 6.5, especially considering this line was at just 3.5 a week ago. I think a line of 4 or so would have much more appropriate. The Broncos also have a tougher opponent next week, as they head to Cincinnati, while the Colts host the Chargers. Underdogs are 80-56 ATS since 2012 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. Coming off an emotional, close win, the Broncos could easily not be focused for an inferior opponent, especially with another tough game on deck, while the Colts figure to be focused, facing the defending champions, with an easier home game on deck. I think it’s very unlikely that the Broncos win by more than 7. I’ll take 6.5 if I have to, but it’d be a bigger play at 7. The money line at +230 is also a good value if you like to take bigger risks.

Denver Broncos 23 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +6.5

Confidence: Medium

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

The Cardinals lost in upset fashion to the Patriots last week, but could have easily won that game if they hadn’t missed a 47-yard field goal at the end of the game. They actually slightly outplayed the Patriots, moving the chains at a 80.00% rate, as opposed to 75.00% for the Patriots. This week, I think we’re getting good line value with the Cardinals, with the line shifting from 8.5 on the early line last week to 7 this week, largely as a result of Arizona’s loss. I wish we were getting 6.5 with the Cardinals and I’d need the line to be that low to put money on this one, but Arizona should be the right side even at 7.

Tampa Bay looked solid in Atlanta last week, but Atlanta has one of the least talented rosters in the NFL. The Buccaneers are better than last season, but played a very easy schedule last season and still have a lot of significant issues. Arizona, meanwhile, was one of the best teams in the league last season. They were also one of the oldest in the league, but they kept all of their key players in free agency and added both Chandler Jones and Evan Mathis, though the latter is out for this one for an injury. They still figure to be one of the better teams in the league this season and should win this one by double digits. If you can get 6.5, it’s worth a bet.

Arizona Cardinals 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Pick against the spread: Arizona -7

Confidence: Low

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Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (0-1) at New England Patriots (1-0)

The Dolphins are in a much better spot than the Patriots here, as they have arguably the easiest game of their season on deck, a home game against the Browns in which they’re favored by a touchdown in the early line, while the Patriots have to play again in 4 days against the Texans on Thursday Night Football. Underdogs of 6 or more are 40-29 ATS before being favorites of 6 or more since 2008, while teams are 48-71 ATS as favorites before Thursday Night Football. The Dolphins could easily be a lot more focused for this one than their opponent.

On top of that, the Dolphins are in their 2nd of two road games, coming off a loss in Seattle. Teams are 131-95 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 106-64 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation.  This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 226-229 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 322-438 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.74 points per game.

That being said, this line is way too low for me at 6.5 to put any money on the Dolphins. The Patriots showed last week that even without Tom Brady, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Dion Lewis, and Rob Gronkowski, they’re still a very capable football team. They could have easily lost if not for a botched 47-yard potential game winning field goal by the Cardinals, but even losing by 1 would have been impressive on the road, against the Cardinals. This is the most talented Patriots’ defense since their undefeated 2007 team, keeping the Cardinals’ high flying offense in check. If they can get guys back on offense, they’re probably the team to beat in the NFL. This week, they get Nate Solder and possibly Rob Gronkowski back.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are overrated coming off of a 2 point loss in Seattle. The only reason that game was close is the Dolphins won the turnover margin by 2, but turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and the Patriots historically do very well in turnover margin. The Dolphins only moved the chains at a 54.55% rate last week, as opposed to 70.97% for the Seahawks. One of the worst teams in the league last season (31st in rate of moving the chains differential), the Dolphins are better coached this year, but lost a trio of talented free agents in Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Derrick Shelby and have one of the least talented rosters in the league. Missing center Mike Pouncey for the 2nd straight week, they figure to have a hard time scoring against New England, even though the Patriots are missing linebacker Dont’a Hightower. I’m taking the Dolphins to keep this closer than a touchdown because they’re in a better spot, but I’d need at least 7.5 to consider putting any money on this.

New England Patriots 17 Miami Dolphins 13

Pick against the spread: Miami +6.5

Confidence: Low

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Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans: 2016 Week 2 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Houston Texans (1-0)

The Texans are in a tough spot this week, as they’re favored by 2 at home against the Chiefs, but have to turn around and play in New England in 4 days after this game on Thursday Night Football, a game in which they’ll definitely be underdogs. As a result, they could easily look past the Chiefs a little bit here at home. Teams are just 48-71 ATS as favorites before Thursday Night Football. The Chiefs, meanwhile, host the Jets next week, an easier matchup, and figure to be more focused. Underdogs are 80-56 ATS since 2012 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs.

I’ve been holding out all week waiting for the line to move to 3 on this one, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen and the line is now even as low as 1 or 1.5 in same places, after opening at 2.5. That’s likely the result of big bets by sharp bettors on the Chiefs, so downward line movement is actually a good sign here. It’s more or less all the same under 3, though obviously try to get this as high as possible if you can. The Chiefs are banged up early in the season, missing running back Jamaal Charles and outside linebacker Justin Houston, but backup Spencer Ware has replaced Charles well and the Texans are missing key players too, without left tackle Duane Brown, center Nick Martin, and middle linebacker Brian Cushing, while JJ Watt does not look 100% off of back surgery. I like the Chiefs to come in and win this one outright in “upset” fashion.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 Houston Texans 13 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Kansas City +2

Confidence: Medium

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