NFL bets, Week 2: Patriots looking to defy history vs. Dolphins, plus parlays, teasers, line moves and more tips
Get ready for football with everything you need to know about the Week 2 lines
At the time I'm writing this, the Patriots are 19-point favorites in Miami against a Dolphins team that was tarred and feathered in Week 1. By the time you're reading this, the line might be up to Patriots -20. Or -21. Or even more.
Basically, you can count on the Patriots going down to Miami and absolutely steamrolling the worst team in the league, winning by three touchdowns or more. Or can you?
Let's quickly mention that the Patriots are 1-5 straight up in Miami over the last six years, and 1-6 against the spread in Miami over the last seven years. Yes, those Dolphins teams seemingly had more talent than the 2019 version, but in each of those years New England was clearly the better team on the season. And it didn't matter.
But put all that side. If the Patriots close as 16.5-point favorites or higher, they'll have a chance to do what no team has ever done: win and cover as favorites of more than 16 points on the road.
Using the Pro-Football-Reference database, there are only four occurrences of teams being favored by such a large margin on the road, and none of them were able to get the job done. The 2012 Patriots (-18.5) won by just three in Baltimore, the 1992 Bills (-16.5) lost in overtime in Indianapolis, the 1992 49ers (-17.5) won by 12 in New England and the 1987 49ers (-23) won by eight in Atlanta. That's the list.
Not only were there no covers, no team came even close to covering. The 2012 Pats were losing in the final minute until Jabar Gaffney hauled in the go-ahead touchdown. The 1992 Bills obviously lost. The 1992 49ers were losing 12-10 at the start of the fourth quarter before scoring twice to make the final result seem more lopsided than it was.
The 1987 49ers came the closest to getting their cover, hopping out to a 20-0 lead by halftime. But the Falcons scored 10 points in the third quarter, and the 49ers could only manage a field goal and safety in the fourth quarter to take a 15-point lead before the Falcons tacked on a meaningless touchdown.
What's the lesson here? I'd say it's that you think you know exactly what's going to happen in Miami on Sunday, but there's plenty working against the Patriots to get the cover. What if Tom Brady doesn't play the whole game in the Florida heat? What if the Patriots go extremely run heavy with the offensive line banged up to not expose Brady to unneeded pressure and essentially shorten the game? What if they're dominating but a garbage-time touchdown while the Patriots are playing off turns 28-6 into 28-13?
The only way to look on this game if you're going to bet it against the spread is the Dolphins. And if you have the guts to do it, I wish you luck in this and all future endeavors.
Each week, I break down what you need to know about each game from a betting angle before you lock in your picks. Since it's too early to rely on season stats heading into Week 2, I'll largely talk about big line moves, home-field advantages of note, teasers and parlays to consider and more.
If you want to know which sides I like, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.
Over at SportsLine, I hit on all four of my Sunday night and Monday night plays, and I'll be posting all my Week 2 plays over the next few days. Join now and use promo code WHITE for $1 on your first month and you can get mine and every SportsLine expert's picks throughout the year, as well as my SuperContest picks each Saturday.
Biggest line moves (Sunday openers)
These are all the biggest moves since the Week 2 lines reopened on Sunday evening (we'll tackle the lookahead lines in a minute). We already covered the Patriots-Dolphins game above, but here's what you need to know about the other three.
The movement on Bears-Broncos is tied to the opening line being posted before the public got a look at the Broncos on Monday night and didn't like what they saw. What the people piling on Chicago seem to forget is how poorly their offense looked itself all the way back on opening Thursday. Trend to know: Going back to 1975, the Broncos are 48-6 straight up at home in Weeks 1 and 2 (including 22-1 since 2000). PFR has line data going back to 1978; the Broncos are 30-15-4 against the spread in that span. Think teams have trouble playing in Denver early in the season?
On 49ers-Bengals, bettors are identifying the 49ers' 14-point win over the Bucs as somewhat fraudulent after two pick-sixes capped an awful day by the Tampa Bay offense (and a not much better one by San Francisco). The Bengals on the other hand looked good enough to win in Seattle, something virtually no one expected could happen. Don't be surprised if this keeps creeping up and by Sunday the Bengals are laying three.
In the Cowboys-Redskins game, bettors were impressed by Washington's offensive effort against the Eagles despite their supposed lack of playmakers and possible issues on the offensive line. Before you get to excited to back them getting a big number at home, note that Washington continues to have in the league. On the other side, the Cowboys defense had played much better on the road for three straight years in 2015-17 before that flipped last season.
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Biggest line moves (lookaheads)
Patriots -19 at Dolphins (opened NE -11 before Week 1)
Jaguars at Texans -9 (opened HOU -3 before Week 1)
Cardinals at Ravens -13.5 (opened BAL -9.5 before Week 1)
49ers at Bengals -1 (opened SF -2.5 before Week 1)
Bears -2.5 at Broncos (opened PK before Week 1)
Bills -2 at Giants (opened NYG -1.5 before Week 1)
What are lookahead lines? The Westgate SuperBook posts what they call 12-day numbers on Tuesdays for the following week's game. So these Week 2 lines were up two days before the Packers beat the Bears. Here's where you can consider fading big movers that you consider overreactions to a single game.
We've already been over the Patriots, Bengals and Bears lines. The big Texans move is a result of the Nick Foles injury, with the books deciding the drop-off to backup Gardner Minshew is worth six points. The books did the heavy lifting on the other two games based on what we saw in Week 1.
No one can argue the Ravens looked like the best team in the NFL after rolling up 59 points in Miami. Are they four points better than they were perceived heading into the season? I had them worth 2.5 points better than average heading into Week 1; if i were to add four points to my rating, that would put them right in the mix with the Patriots for the best team in the league. So are the books overreacting, or did they severely underrate the Ravens heading into the season?
The Bills-Giants line is curious to me. The Bills offense looked awful for three quarters before rallying against a Jets team that didn't realize a game is 60 minutes, not 45. The Giants offense looked promising for much of the game but couldn't translate that into points. I love the Bills defense, but do we think this team is going to win back to back road games to open the season?
Home-field edges to know
These are the only two four-point home fields in play this week, per my preseason ratings. The Packers typically have one of the best cover rates in the league at home, but Aaron Rodgers playing on one leg in 2018 plus a healthy dose of Brett Hundley in 2017 has turned their cover rate mediocre in the last two seasons. If you think the Vikings and Packers are even in terms of talent, take the Packers.
I pegged the Raiders as having an underrated home field in last week's column and laid a point with them on SportsLine well before the week of Antonio Brown started. I'm not sure I love them against a Chiefs team that can drop 40 on anyone, but I also think the Chiefs defense isn't great (just look at Gardner Minshew's stats last week).
These four teams get my worst home-field advantage in the league at 1.5 points. All four actually had a negative number in my weighted HFA formula heading into the year. It should be no surprise to see the top three teams 'dogs at home. The Giants actually grade far below the other three, as they scored nearly six points fewer at home on average last year while giving up four points fewer on the road on average.
Fading the public
Patriots -19 at Dolphins
Cowboys -5 at Redskins
Vikings +3 at Packers
Saints +3 at Rams
Bears -2.5 at Broncos
Eagles -1.5 at Falcons
Browns -2.5 at Jets
If 80% of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. All betting trends data is from BetOnline via Vegas Insider as of Tuesday night.
A whopping seven teams top that 80% margin in the early part of the week, so we'll definitely want to keep an eye on this data closer to gametime. Note that they're all road teams; how many will fail to get it done in Week 2?
There are the Patriots again, as no one is looking to play the Dolphins. The line is actually moving against the public in Cowboys-Redskins, an indication the sharp bettors are all over Washington. There isn't much to point out with the other games at this point except that the Bears are the most public play so far, getting 92% of the tickets.
Underdog parlay of the week
Giants +110 vs. Bills
Broncos +130 vs. Bears
Though both legs of our underdog parlay lost last week, we came so close to cashing at 11-to-1 as the Colts took the Chargers to overtime and the Texans had the Saints beat before Will Lutz boomed a game-winning kick.
We're going with a more modest parlay this week that would pay +383 if it hits. It involves fading the big line moves based on Week 1 performances, as both home teams here were favored on the lookahead lines prior to their openers.
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Teaser of the week
Chiefs -2 at Raiders
Giants +8 vs. Bills
Teasing road favorites can be dangerous, but I love the Chiefs, who were perceived as one of the league's best teams heading into the year, giving less than a field goal to the Raiders, who were perceived as one of the league's worst. The Raiders also have a bit of a quick turnaround here after playing late Monday, and after this Sunday they won't play at home again until November. I think this is a terrible spot for them.
Let's go all-in with the Giants. Even though the Bills look to have one of the league's best defenses, the Giants showed enough against a quality Dallas defense that I think this game stays close. I also don't expect much from the Buffalo offense, even against a Giants defense that was gashed in Week 1.
After the teaser of the week went 12-5 last year, we picked up a Week 1 loss as the Seahawks were unable to cover a -3.5 line.
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