Week 2 of the NFL season is here and I've been over every play from the opening week of the NFL. I've studied all the Week 2 spreads with the passion of Nicholas Cage in "National Treasure," like I'm trying to use them to solve some historical clue and save my family. Well, listen Dad, you can go to sleep soundly tonight because I figured it out: I declare Week 2 "The Week of The Dog." Specifically, it's actually The Week of The (Road) Dog, but I don't discriminate when it comes to what type of dog you love, every type of man's best friend has a home here in my best bets column.
On paper, we had a middle-of-the-road start to the season, going 4-6 across the board in Week 1. I went 1-1 in my kidney bets (which by my gambling math means I still have two kidneys, but one is somebody else's?). But it feels like we did even better than that.
We won our biggest bet of the week on Brady and the Bucs. ??It took five turnovers and seven sacks to lose the Bengals bet. The Lions had a gross backdoor cover to hurt us and, hand up, I didn't realize the Cardinals defense had the afternoon off last week when we got smacked for betting the under against Mahomes.
A few small lessons to learn there, but largely I think I saw the board clearly with only a few bad breaks. This week, I see it in grayscale...LIKE A DOG.
In my Week 1 article (while picking the Browns on the road, who won NBD), I told you I considered myself a bit of a road dog connoisseur due to my largely nomadic lifestyle. I mean I started this column in Vegas, continued writing it in Albuquerque and finished it somewhere near Memphis, Tennessee. I'll be watching the Sunday games in Florida. I know good road dogs, we can catch each others' scents...and this week the good ones smell like MONEY. Below are 10 bets that I Love, that I Adore and that I would Bet an Organ For...in that order. Let's go!
Bets I Love
Texans at Broncos: Texans + 10
You knew the first game in the 'Love' portion of the column had to be a road dog! If you find yourself in conflict this Saturday night or Sunday morning as you place your bets, here are three little words to remember: Take. The. Points.
I've even heard sparkles on the internet that this spread could get up to 10.5 and you must take it. Yes, the Broncos fans will be incredibly loud for the home debut of Russell Wilson and Denver should come out with something to prove following their shocking loss in Seattle, but Denver is not a team that is two scores better than anyone right now. We saw in the first game, and I previewed it in my coaches article, how much Nathaniel Hackett believes in utilizing his running game. The Broncos aren't a team that should blast anyone out of the stadium, especially while Russ is still building continuity with his new teammates.
The Texans hung with the Colts last week. They aren't a good roster or a team we expect to make much happen this season, but they did climb out to an early two touchdown lead. They are playing with passion and speed and causing turnovers. Their goal this season is to be in every game, and to make every single team earn a victory against them. The Texans are a great underdog to bet on because they will not quit. Guys like Rex Burkhead, Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills will keep trying to make plays even if they are behind. You won't ever be out of this bet, even if the Broncos get out to a quick lead. That means we are going to win with the points. Boom.
Bucs at Saints: Total Points Under 46
All the public money on this game is on the Bucs, but what bettors should actually be focused on is the under. I got this total at 46 in Vegas. I believe it has fallen to about 44 in some books, but I like it as low as 41.5.
If you watched closely during the Saints' first win against the Falcons, you saw that the Saints have some serious issues on the offensive line. Jameis Winston was sacked four times and was constantly running for his life. As Winston so eloquently said after the game, "It was pain everywhere." When you eliminate Taysom Hill's long rush attempt, the Saints largely struggled on the ground as well.
Now the Bucs defense is coming to town with a potent set of defensive lineman and linebackers. This spells a situation where the Saints are going to be dealing with a high amount of broken and negative plays on offense. It will be tough for them to put up big numbers.
On the other side of the ball, I expect the Saints defense to perform much better at home this week. Marshon Lattimore always gets hyped to cover Mike Evans and will likely raise his game. The Saints had a slow start on the road but found their stride late. I expect them to face a Tampa team that is interested in long, methodical drives and running the football. These coaching staffs know each other well, and no one wants to make any critical mistakes early, so expect a low-scoring game as they head into the locker room at halftime.
The most recent time these two teams played ended in a 9-0 Saints victory. That game took place in a season where Tom Brady led the league in completions, attempts, yards and (43) touchdown passes. Nine points. Give me the under and give it to me now. Boom.
Bears at Packers : Bears +10
Another road dog, baby! WOOF WOOF WOOF! I got this at +10 earlier this week, but if the line has moved to +9.5 you still need to get on it. Some might think this is an overreaction to a poor showing by the Packers in their opener, coupled with a comeback win by the Bears, but it's not. The reality is at this point in the season very few teams should be more than a touchdown favorite over anybody. This league just has too much parity and is too matchup-based. Yes, this game is in Lambeau on Sunday Night Football -- both situations where Aaron Rodgers typically owns the souls of Bears fans, but this game just shouldn't shake out this way. When both of these teams are playing decent football they are running the ball a ton, and that usually means it's hard for anyone to win by double digits.
If Green Bay does get lucky enough to get ahead, the last thing Rodgers wants to do is pass more than necessary to expose himself to a ton of hits like he took last week, and to rely on his questionable receiving core to make plays. They will take a more conservative route. If the Packers get down early, it's extremely likely they can pull back ahead, but it shouldn't be like years past where Rodgers throws for three second-half TDs and they win going away. They simply don't have the firepower for that in Green Bay, and will be using every piece of their offensive prowess just to take the lead back.
The weather should be rough in Green Bay on Sunday night, with possible thunderstorms. Again, this plays in the favor of the underdog to just keep it close. This game really feels like it finishes inside a touchdown, which means the underdogs are barking. Add in that the Bears have an in-memoriam game for the beloved bear Jim who passed away at a Chicago area zoo and I smell a cover. Boom!
Vikings at Eagles: Vikings +2
Another road dog, woof woof. I promise this pick isn't an overreaction to the Vikings win over the Packers in Week 1. If you read my pre-season futures blog, you'd know I am not a believer in the Vikings, but this is a response to the Eagles giving up more than 6 yards a carry to the Lions in their opener. Now the Eagles get Dalvin Cook at home on Monday night, along with aVikings defensive line that is just a little too good to allow Jalen Hurts to break the pocket and make plays. This feels like the type of game the Eagles barely win at home by 1 with a late field goal, or one the Vikings stay comfortably ahead because they are able to run the clock out by holding the ball late. Either way, I expect the Vikings to cover on the road in Philadelphia on Monday Night. Boom.
Bets I Adore
Titans at Bills: Titans +10
Do you hear that? It's the road dogs of the Tennessee Titans barking and it's our second Monday Night Football road dog of the column. I couldn't be happier, because I adore the Titans in this spot.
The Bills are primed for a letdown after they demolished the Rams in the NFL season opener. Meanwhile, the Titans should be extremely motivated to bounce back after letting a Week 1 win slip through their fingers against the Giants.
Yes, the Bills are good, but the Titans are enormously disrespected. Tennessee finished last season with a 12-5 record and the one seed in the AFC despite All-World running back Derrick Henry playing in only eight games. They have the reigning coach of the year in Mike Vrabel.
On what looks like it could be a rainy evening in Buffalo, you don't think the Bills could come down to earth a little bit, while Henry and the Titans slow the pace of the game down on offense? There isn't a little part of you that knows deep down in the places you don't talk about...that Ryan Tannehill is going to hit that big play-action pass after seven straight runs including one disgusting scramble he made himself for a first down about three plays earlier? You've seen this movie before. Vrabel and the Titans impeccably working the clock to shorten the game and keep the ball out of Josh Allen's hands. It was only a three-point game last year, and remember: Good teams win, great teams cover. Boom.
Patriots at Steelers: Patriots -2
So when I bet this game on Monday, I got the spread at even, which is a lot sexier I will admit. However, I would bet this game with a line as high as Patriots -3 (and I expect it to drop closer to 1.5 around kick-off). It doesn't matter to me if Najee Harris plays, but it certainly matters to me that T.J. Watt will not.
The Steelers needed five turnovers, seven sacks and two missed kicks to win last week. Their offense was an absolute disaster and it appears the coaching staff has done nothing to implement what Mitch Trubisky is actually good at into the game plan. They are playing a Patriots defense that is coming off a mostly strong Week 1 performance and finished last year with the second ranked unit in the league. This Steelers offense can't stretch the field and will have an incredibly hard time scoring this week. The Patriots offense will likely rally back to their average after an opening game filled with critical turnovers and poor execution, especially without having to block Watt coming off the edge. One of these teams is contending for a playoff spot, the other is just trying to figure out when to start their quarterback off the bench. Always bet the team trying to win, and the Patriots should do that easily in Pittsburgh. Boom.
Colts at Jaguars: Jaguars +4
A rare home dog this week, you absolutely have to bet on the Jaguars. The Jaguars are talented enough to stay in almost any game this year, even if they don't always win them. They have dynamic receivers and backs, a quarterback with all the potential in the world, and a coach who has won a Super Bowl. The Colts are still trying to find themselves with Matt Ryan under center and I expect another slow start on the road like we saw from them last week. When you rely as heavily on the run as the Colts do, sometimes it is hard to run away from anybody. I'd bet this line at +3.5 as well, because The Jaguars keep this game close and they certainly bring it within a field goal late if they don't win it outright. Boom.
Bets I Would Bet My Lungs For
Last week I bet my kidneys (I'm 1-1 in my organ bets), but this week we know the road dogs bark, so we have to bet our lungs. I've got three picks for you, so that's two lungs and then we are throwing the damn ribs in for the third bet because THAT IS HOW YOU WIN GAMES WHEN YOU'RE A ROAD DOG, BABY! WOOF WOOF.
Falcons at Rams: Falcons +10.5
I can't put into words how much I love this bet, but I have to try, because, well I am writing a column about it, so here it goes: "I love this bet more than I love Mila Kunis in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' which is an UNCOMFORTABLE AMOUNT."
This spread is way too high because far too many people overlook the play on the offensive and defensive lines when they are betting. If you know football, you know the game is won in the trenches. Last week as I said earlier, the Falcons demolished the Saints offensive line while making Jameis "hurt everywhere." Last week, the Rams' offensive line got demolished in the NFL opener against the Bills. The Falcons ran the ball extremely effectively against a good Saints front, and the Rams could hardly figure out how to get their best ball carrier any touches. Seems like Atlanta can hang with these boys in the trenches.
Meanwhile, the Rams have one of the worst home-field advantages in football and their star quarterback has a lingering elbow issue that is clearly still impacting him on the field. Again, very few teams should be more than a touchdown favorite against anyone and at this stage in the season. The Rams are not one of those teams. Now you are giving me a line where the Falcons can lose by a touchdown and a field goal and I still win money? Is this stealing? I think it is and I am betting ORGANS ON IT! Boom.
Falcons at Rams: Total Points Under 46.5
Two bets on the same game? Can he even do that?? Hell yes I can, I'm sprinkling some ribs on it baby!! And do you know what? Vegas doesn't even want me to.
I tried to include the Falcons and the under in a parlay at the Westgate Superbook and they told me the spread is too large, that you can't parlay the under and +10.5 points on the same game.
Please pull up a seat in my Gambling 101 class and take out your pens and paper because what I am about to tell you is very important.
Urgent Gambling Rule of Thumb: If Vegas, a city where shiny, glittery towers are created entirely with the money people have used to bet on literally everything, DOESN'T want you to make a bet, it's because it's good for you and you should make that bet. If the casino offers it, you (like insurance in Black Jack) you usually don't want it, but if the casino refuses it, you NEED it.
You'll notice in my previous paragraphs, I didn't mention much about the offenses in this game succeeding. It's because I don't think they will. Atlanta has an elite cover corner who can at least stay with Cooper Kupp, and Arthur Smith loves running the ball too much. Remember if the Rams win this game 20-10 you win both bets. I think we are looking at something closer to 21-17 and that means green. Boom.
Seattle at 49ers: Seattle +8.5
How could we not end this column with another road dog baby! WOOF WOOF! I'm not going to lie to you, I liked this game even more when I was able to bet it with Seattle at +10 earlier in the week, but the line still hasn't moved enough for me not to want to bet my lungs on it because it takes my breath away.
Look, both of these teams are beat up. Safety Jamal Adams will likely miss the rest of the season for Seattle. The 49ers are missing starting running back Elijah Mitchell, but even more importantly, All-Pro tight end George Kittle is likely to miss another game with a groin injury.
We will still see a combination of Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel do the ball carrying for the 49ers, but if your running back and wideout are toting the rock all game long, it's going to be hard to hold a lead larger than a touchdown, if you are lucky enough to get the lead to begin with.
The 49ers should not be favored by more than a touchdown ever, and certainly not against a divisional opponent who has such familiarity with the team. Trey Lance still has a lot to prove when it comes to consistently beating NFL defenses and the Seahawks and Pete Carroll will have a plan to make life hard for him. The Seahawks showed an impressive ability to run the ball in the first half last week and will do the same this week. No one in the 49ers secondary can negate the impact of DK Metcalf, who I expect to have a monster game. Seattle is going to be a cover machine this year if the NFL keeps giving them spreads easier to take down than a game of Jenga on a rowboat. ROAD DOGS baby!! WOOF WOOF. Let's all make some money. Boom.