Every week, I’ll dissect various narratives affecting NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering most bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is more grandiose than ever. While that’s exciting, 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.
Week 3 Betting Narrative: Avoid Betting on Raiders-Titans (+2) and Falcons-Seahawks (-2)
DO NOT FADE
You couldn’t pay me to bet on those two games. The Seahawks played with a fiery spirit in their opener against ex-starting quarterback Russell Wilson, which felt akin to watching live breakup revenge on national TV. That was predictable, but Seattle showed their true colors in Week 2. Geno Smith’s 9-0 record against the spread (ATS) in his last nine starts came to an abrupt end in San Francisco, as Seattle’s offense didn’t score a single point. The Seahawks lost 27-7 and were bullied on both ends of the field.
The Falcons are fighters; that much we know. After losing a close divisional game in Week 1, Atlanta nearly manufactured a startling comeback against last year’s Super Bowl champion Rams in Week 2. Mariota was just okay, throwing 2 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. The reality is their offense only mustered 261 yards, and they were utterly dominated in the first half. They were also recipients of multiple mishaps by the Rams in the final quarter. I wouldn’t want to bet on Atlanta in any situation. I just don’t know what to expect from them at this juncture.
The Raiders and Titans are equally confusing. How did Davante Adams get only 2 receptions for 12 yards against a Cardinals defense that looked historically putrid in Week 1? How did Las Vegas score 20 points and gain more than 200 yards in the first half, only to score 3 points and gain a mere 113 yards in the second? Josh McDaniels’ offense hasn’t come together yet, and at first glance, it looks like Derek Carr is uncomfortable in his system.
The Titans, meanwhile, are suffering through significant problems on offense. Derrick Henry just doesn’t seem to have the same burst, rookie Treylon Burks might be their only formidable option at wide receiver and Ryan Tannehill is struggling to gain first downs without A.J. Brown. They only had 12 in Week 2. Just like it’s tough to pick a game between two 2-0 teams, it’s equally unpredictable to pick a side in these two contests. It’s probably better to just watch and take more notes.
Week 3 Betting Narrative: Jimmy Garoppolo Is Good for San Francisco.
DO NOT FADE
There was palpable energy when Jimmy Garoppolo entered the game for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Trey Lance injury was unfortunate, and it’s sad for a potentially talented quarterback with minimal experience. Now, the poor kid is forced to wait even longer. But it’s not hard to understand why Garoppolo is received well by the Niners roster. Garoppolo has way more experience than Lance, and experience goes a long way. He stepped in and instantly led his team to 10 points in the 1st half. He also distributed the ball to eight different receivers throughout the game, proving his deep understanding of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook. In an impressive win, the Niners had complete control against the Seattle Seahawks, dominating time of possession (38:20 to 21:40).
It didn’t take long for sportsbooks to account for his value. The 49ers were initially 3-point underdogs in their Week 3 matchup at Denver. That line has since moved to 49ers -1.5, a movement we agree with. The Broncos’ roster talent is comparable to the 49ers’, but early evidence shows the coaching and chemistry in Denver aren’t there yet. Shanahan should coach circles around the Broncos on Sunday night, and that’s only more true now that Garoppolo is back at the helm. The San Francisco 49ers are instantly Super Bowl contenders once again.
Week 3 Betting Narrative: The Bills Ability to Easily Cover ATS Must Regress, Right?
I don’t think we’ll see this will regress any time soon. Week 3 gives us a compelling matchup in Miami, where the surging Bills may finally face some adversity against an up-and-coming offensive juggernaut. The thing is, Buffalo looks like a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. Even though their offense scored at will, they’ve shut down two franchise quarterbacks and only allowed 430 yards in the first two weeks. Something tells me those stats might tick up this weekend against Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. That’s a difficult combination to shut down completely, but the Bills can still cover as 6-point favorites.
At this juncture, I don’t have a play on that game. I’d rather watch and observe, but it wouldn’t shock me if Buffalo blew out Miami. They outscored the Dolphins 61-11 in two battles last year. Of course, the feel of the Dolphins is different this season. Mike McDaniel is creating a special environment in South Florida, where his players are seemingly more confident and more trusting in the system. That’s not something we saw under Brian Flores, and it’s already paying dividends.
McDaniel is 2-0 to start the season after beating future Hall of Fame coaches Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh in his first two games. No matter what happens in Week 3, the Bills look like the most complete team in the league. Barring a significant injury (a.k.a. to Josh Allen, who we think is running a little too aggressively), sportsbooks will need to adjust eventually; the talent gap between Buffalo and most NFL teams is wide.
Week 3 Betting Narrative: The Under Has Hit 70% ATS. This Will Regress to the Mean.
DO NOT FADE
Yes, this will regress. Offenses are off to a slow start in 2022, but that’s hardly surprising. In Week 1, only three out of 12 starting quarterbacks who didn’t play in the preseason won outright. The other nine are showing some rust. Playoff teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are all off to slow starts.
We’re also seeing many stars either coming off injury or still working their way back. To name a few, these are key players like Julio Jones, Chris Godwin, Derrick Henry, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas and Michael Pittman. Okay, maybe that was more than a few, but you get the point.
Still, we’ve witnessed average NFL totals tick up for quite some time. In 2020, teams were averaging a staggering 24.8 PPG. There’s just too much offensive talent to keep down for long. Many NFL teams are still figuring out the kinks, but I would look for totals that feel too low as the season trudges on. There’s inherent value there based on regression alone.
Week 3 Betting Narrative: The Broncos Are off to a Rocky Start, but They’ll Be Okay.
I’m not so sure they will be okay. Coaching (or lack thereof) can provide a real disparity between week-to-week team performance. We’re seeing instances already where some coaches may be in over their heads. Nathaniel Hackett stands out among the rest. Let’s look at some objective failures we’ve seen from Hackett in the first two weeks:
- 25 penalties for 206 yards
- Multiple delay of game penalties in the red zone
- A field goal sacrificed in Week 2 due to poor clock management
- A missed 64-yard field goal in Week 1 that sealed their loss to Seattle. They had 1:11 left on the clock on third down, and they spent two timeouts before they let the clock run down to 20 seconds before kicking the aforementioned field goal. Yikes.
In Hackett, we’re just not seeing the many attributes an NFL coach needs to be successful. I’ve heard on various podcasts Hackett is apparently a well-liked guy. Players, coaches, general managers – they love him. Sometimes, being a “good guy” or a well-liked dude just isn’t enough, however. Few personalities could take on the enormous responsibility of running a pro football team. Unlike many other sports, where superstars tend to control the narratives and output of their franchises (the NBA, increasingly MLB), coaching still matters in the NFL. It’s still early, but there’s not much to like about what we’ve seen from the Broncos so far, and most of that is probably because of Hackett’s mistakes.