Every week I’ll dissect various narratives that affect NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering the vast majority of bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is more grandiose than ever; that’s exciting, but it also means sportsbooks can lure and fool action-junkies into taking a lousy wager based on repeated narratives purported by the media. My job is to ensure these narratives do not trick you. Let’s get started with Betting Narratives, Week 2 edition.
Tom Brady has never beaten the Saints as a Buccaneer in the regular season. That will remain the case Sunday, even though Tampa Bay is a 3-point favorite on the road.
FADE – This isn’t the same Saints Team.
Last week, Dennis Allen began his first stint coaching New Orleans after a long, storied run by Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Peyton. The jury was out (and still is) about how well Allen would do in his new role. The Saints’ defensive coordinator for years, we at least expected a clean performance from their defense. Instead, we got a pretty clumsy version of New Orleans on both sides of the ball. It only totaled 109 yards in the first half, accrued eight penalties for 99 yards, and allowed the Falcons to move up and down the field. Atlanta also totaled over 200 rushing yards and controlled the time of possession. In short, I don’t trust this team as much as I did the Peyton-led version we saw in years past. It’s only been one week, but that’s where I stand for now. As I said, the jury is still out.
On the other hand, the Bucs looked rather scary and like a legit Super Bowl contender after Week 1. Sure, they faced a Cowboys team limping into the contest offensively, but their defense was very impressive. In Dallas’ home opener, Tampa Bay allowed only 71 rushing yards and 244 total yards to their opponent. The Cowboys’ passing game wasn’t refined either, which is one way you can attack the Buccaneers (just ask Ryan Reynolds, our co-head of betting, who explained this in detail in our Week 2 reaction pod), but I’m not sure it would have mattered. Tampa’s offense is a work in progress, but Tom Brady led his skill players down the field on multiple occasions. I give credit to the Dallas defense, specifically the incomparable Micah Parsons, in that regard.
The fact that Brady has never beaten the Saints as a Buc in the regular season and that the Tampa Bay offense wasn’t in its most refined form is why I like the Bucs even more this weekend. We can only expect positive regression from a Tampa offense that’s still ultra-talented. Conversely, I’m not sure I trust the volatile Jameis Winston and a new coach against this version of the Buccaneers. Right now, many sportsbooks have this number at -2.5 in favor of Tampa, which means they could win by a mere field goal, and you’d win your bet. That’s a great number to grab now if you like Brady and the 2020 Super Bowl champions.
Trey Lance isn’t ready to take San Francisco to the next level, and the 49ers will NOT cover their inflated line against Seattle this weekend.
FADE and DON’T FADE
The 49ers could absolutely annihilate the Seahawks at home this weekend, but that doesn’t mean Trey Lance is “the guy” in San Francisco. I’ll let wiser minds expand in more detail on why I don’t think this is the case. From my perspective, there’s an “it factor” and poise that he just doesn’t demonstrate. Rain, slop, or no inclement weather, Lance looked lost in Week 1, and shows signs that he still has a long way to go in building his on-the-field football IQ.
On the other hand, Trey Lance can still thrive in certain situations. He has everything around him that a quarterback could want. On paper, the San Francisco defense is still one of the most elite units in the NFL. It proved how capable it was late last season, holding off offenses like the Bengals, Rams, and Vikings to accrue wins. In addition, the Niners’ offense is full of hyper-speed talent that should consistently create separation as it evolves this season. And the 49ers have Kyle Shanahan, arguably the most creative play-caller in the league, who alone should improve their production.
Awaiting the Niners this week is a Seattle Seahawks team that’s high off a big win at home against Denver. I’m not eager to pull the trigger on the 49ers at -9.5, but there’s reason to believe they’ll give their best effort on Sunday. San Francisco had 12 penalties, they were 0-2 on fourth down conversions, and the play-calling was conservative and underwhelming in Week 1. The case can be made for a Niners’ blowout.
The Steelers should be considered a top contender in the AFC North, and there’s still value in betting on their win total and division-winning future bets.
The jury is very much still out on the Steelers. They had a fantastic outcome in Week 1, dream-like really, but I’m not sure we can continue to expect the same results. The Steelers only achieved 13 first downs in Week 1 (the Bengals had 32 first downs, to compare), they struggled to move the ball, and their offensive line looked terrible. The Bengals also turned the ball over five times despite controlling the contest. They held the ball for 43 minutes of game time and still lost – that’s astounding.
I wouldn’t be too bullish on betting the Steelers this weekend, or jumping onto any future bandwagons. Pittsburgh has much to figure out. Mitch Tribusky looked okay in his first outing, but he didn’t have to do all that much. Najee Harris is banged up, and T.J. Watt is set to miss at least six weeks. The Steelers’ defense should be able to keep them in most contests. However, there’s still plenty to examine and question about the future success of this program. Mike Tomlin certainly found a way to silence their doubters in Week 1.
The Arizona Cardinals’ defense should create many OVER opportunities this season, including in Week 2.
The above statement is accurate; I’ll stand by that all season. There’s a difference between a defense that’s below average and working on improvement, and a defense that just looks… bad. The Arizona Cardinals presented the latter in Week 1. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of the week, the Chiefs gained 33 first downs on only 66 plays in Arizona. They produced 9.2 yards per pass, and Mahomes was without pressure all game.
And if you watch how all this happened, it was even more damning for Arizona’s defense. Play after play, Kansas City’s wide receivers were wide open. And by wide open, we mean there wasn’t a defender within seven yards of the catcher. That’s not a good sign ahead of their Week 2 matchup against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Derek Carr threw three interceptions in Week 1 against the acclaimed Los Angeles Chargers’ defense, a unit that confused and stifled the veteran quarterback all game. The defense ultimately won the game for L.A. despite Carr’s efforts to bring the Raiders back. Now Carr and the Raiders return home to face this version of the Arizona Cardinals, and I think we should expect offensive fireworks. Davante Adams looked sensational as a Raider, snagging 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Darren Waller grabbed four balls for 79 yards himself. That duo and an offense looking to correct its wrongs should thrive against a defensive front far less intimidating than the Chargers’, and a secondary that should let Adams and Waller gain frequent separation. The over is set at 51.5 in this battle– I don’t see how it goes under.
The Packers are in trouble and should NOT be 10-point favorites in Week 2.
We’ve seen this story before, and I’m not buying it for one second. They still have Aaron Rodgers. Matt LaFleur, a proven, perennial playoff-earning coach, is still the head coach. They still have a dynamic run game behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Wide receiver Allen Lazard returned to practice today, and the Green Bay defense is still one of the most talented units in the NFL. Oh, and they’re facing the Bears on Sunday.
Chicago survived in Week 1 among the mud and the muck, but it didn’t win in most other categories. San Francisco out-played the Bears in total yards (331 to 204), time of possession (33:28 to 26:32), first downs (17 to 15), and yards per play (4.9 to 3.6). The Bears also benefited from true hurricane-like conditions in the final minutes of the game, which only added to the Niners’ level of difficulty in an attempted comeback.
Aaron Rodgers is a staggering 69-38-4 (62%) against the spread (ATS) in games at Lambeau Field. He’s also an insane 49-28 (64%) ATS against NFC North opponents and 25-12 (67.5%) ATS when the battle is at Green Bay. Last year, after Green Bay’s Week 1 road debacle against the Saints, Green Bay answered with a smooth 34-17 win over Detroit. The Packers are -10 on Sunday, and I would not be shocked if they covered that line. You shouldn’t be, either.