As I'm sure will be pointed out in the comments, my Week 1 NFL Picks stunk. Like, bad, man. I'm embarrassed so there's no need to harp on it. That doesn't mean I get to stop picking though. And at the very least I'd like to try and learn from my mistakes.
Examining some of the trends that come out of the first week of games helps when doing that. For instance, are we seeing a ton of underdogs winning against the spread? How are big point-spread favorites doing? Are teams going on the road and covering? Etc.
Turns out things are pretty even Steven actually. Against the spread (ATS) favorites went 8-8 in Week 1 ... which means underdogs did the same. The Broncos, Saints, Chiefs, Bears, Seahawks, 49ers and Cowboys -- all favorites -- covered their respective spreads. Of those games, I'd venture to argue that the Saints, Bears, Seahawks and 49ers were "coin flips" to cover in the end.
The Falcons had a last-second shot to win the game (and therefore cover), Chicago stormed back against the Bengals, the Seahawks had a fourth-quarter comeback win and the 49ers and Packers were involved in all kinds of silly drama that affected how the game played out. That doesn't mean we should discount those teams covering, it's just worth noting that underdogs could've ended up going 12-4 if things break a little differently.
And hey, look, it wasn't just me struggling. It was generally a tough week for top bettors:
The LVH SuperContest field finishes the week with a combined 1966-2986 record for a 39.7% ATS win rate.— WagerMinds (@WagerMinds) September 10, 2013
The Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest, for what it's worth, requires a $1,500 entry and asks bettors to pick their top five games from the week.
Anyway, back to trends from actual games. A look at home underdogs shows that road chalk wasn't particularly friendly, but it didn't necessarily kill you. The Patriots, Buccaneers and Texans all failed to cover. The Bucs lost to the Jets behind an abysmal performance and the Pats and Texans nearly fell to "inferior" opponents. The Chiefs were the lone "lock" of the week, rolling easily against the Jags. The Seahawks covered their 3.5-point spread on the road but didn't make it easy on backers.
As for heavy favorites, they were a sunk cost. Only the Broncos managed to cover a point spread of a touchdown or more with their Thursday night throttling of the Ravens in the NFL opener. The Colts (-8.5), Patriots (-9.5) and Steelers (-7.5) didn't really come close to covering.
The best bet of the weekend was taking home teams to cover the spread: they were 9-7 for the week, with the Colts, Browns, Jaguars, Panthers, Steelers, Rams and Redskins losing.
So what do we glean from all of this? Parity is king. An even record for favorites and underdogs, a poor performance by heavy favorites and struggles from even quality teams on the road against anything short of an overmatched opponent all indicate that things are tight in the NFL.
So with that in mind which way am I leaning for the Thursday night game featuring the Patriots and the Jets?
There's no question about it. The Jets +13 isn't a "lock" because the Jets don't have a ton of offensive firepower and that could make it difficult to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Pats. But Brady's going to be missing a lot of weapons. Shane Vereen is definitely out, Rob Gronkowski is extremely doubtful and Danny Amendola could miss the game as well. That leaves Julian Edelman, Zach Sudfeld and Kenbrell Thompkins to catch passes. Stevan Ridley can run but he better not be fumbling if the Pats want to win.
Meanwhile the Jets bring an impressive defense. Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Sheldon Richardson looked stout up front early for New York. Antonio Cromartie can cover any of the Pats best receivers.
I don't think Geno Smith is going to blow up and I don't think Bilal Powell/Chris Ivory are going to get the running game going. But I do think the Jets will play the Pats close. And though it could happen, expecting New England to win by two touchdowns is definitely a stretch.