NFL Picks and Predictions Week 2: The Ultimate Bettor's Guide
Sunday was a pretty good day for the public. David Purdum of ESPN.com stated that a bookmaker told him it was a "bloodbath." For our picks last week, we hit 8-5 on the day, a 61.5 percent mark, which is very good, considering sharps and Vegas books took a big hit on the weekend.
Unfortunately, we missed out on both Monday Night Football games, which dropped the win-loss record to 8-7 on the week. Our locks of the week went 3-2, with a near cover in Atlanta but a blowout loss in Tampa Bay.
Week 2 will be the first normal week of the season. With one game under everyone's belt and only one Monday Night Football match, the year should normalize from here on out.
This is the best time of the year to start getting into lines. Right now is when a lot of incorrect reactionary movement is occurring in the "public." They just made that money on Week 1 but will surely lose it soon enough. They don't build those casinos in Vegas if the public is able to hit at a high rate consistently.
All picks ATS: 8-7 (.533)
Locks of the Week ATS: 3-2 (.667)
Denver @ Kansas City
Result: Denver 31, Kansas City 24
This line swung more toward the Kansas City Chiefs the longer it was on the board. Eventually, it landed on the Chiefs being three-point favorites at home.
A lot of this action must have had to do with Week 1's results, where Peyton Manning's arm essentially looked dead, while the Chiefs were able the roll through the Houston Texans, aided by tight end Travis Kelce. Against the Ravens in Week 1, Manning only averaged 4.38 yards per pass attempt, while he hit the 5.69 mark against the Chiefs.
Through two games, he's 50-of-85 passing, which give him a completion rate of 58 percent. Since 2002, his lowest completion percentage has been 65 percent, and he hasn't gone under 60 percent since his rookie season of 1998. Despite the fact that the Broncos have won over the past two weeks, the narrative that Manning's days are number might have truth to it.
Kansas City quickly went from being up 24-17 to being down 31-24 and losing the game after the Broncos and Manning went coast-to-coast, over 80 yards, in less than two minutes. Then the Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles fumbled the ball late, which wound up as a defensive touchdown for Denver. That was the deciding score of the game.
Overall, the teams seemed fairly evenly matched. Manning looks better in two-minute, hurry-up situations where he can be his old self. The Chiefs could have made a huge splash on national television, too, had they not shot themselves in the foot.
New England @ Buffalo
The Line: New England @ Buffalo (PK)
My top bet of last week was the Buffalo Bills and the points at home against the Indianapolis Colts. In a 13-point victory, the squad made those with Buffalo tickets look amazing, but the Colts aren't the New England Patriots.
According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, there is "friction" between Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and team owner Jim Irsay. In Massachusetts, everyone knows who is in charge. At the same time, the Patriots aren't a finesse passing offense like Indianapolis is. Hell, Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass against the Steelers on Week 1 out of a four-tight end set off play action.
Giving Bill Belichick a long week to face Rex Ryan, who was an in-division opponent for years as the New York Jets head coach, should give the clear edge to New England. Still, bettors more often than not take the "what have you done for me lately" approach. The Bills shocked the world on Sunday, so by Monday everyone had forgotten the fact that Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were unstoppable on Thursday.
On top of that, Rex...just...won't...stop...talking. When asked about Dion Lewis, a Patriots running back who gained 69 of the unit's 70 rushing yards in Week 1, Ryan responded, "I don't think we're gonna focus on that kid. I can't even tell you that kid's name," according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. He's in full heat-check mode.
ESPN.com's Mike Reiss brought the subject up to Lewis, who gave a modest answer of "They have a great defense, he's a great coach, and we have work to do." Rex is still Rex, and the Patriot are still the Patriots. As a head coach, Belichick has a 9-4 edge in head-to-head matchups against Ryan. In their last eight games, he's gone 7-1. I can't believe this game is a toss-up in Vegas. Give me the team with the coach, the quarterback and the rings.
The Pick: New England (PK)
Arizona @ Chicago
The Line: Arizona @ Chicago (+1.5)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer looks good. The former first overall pick has had a roller coaster of a career. He sat his first year behind Jon Kitna, and by his third season, he had made the Cincinnati Bengals, a team which hadn't been to the playoffs in a decade-and-a-half, a Lombardi Trophy contender behind his arm, finishing with a passer rating of over 100. Only he and Peyton Manning hit that mark in 2005.
Due to an "unhappy triad" injury in the playoffs that year, Palmer's play declined in 2006, while Manning took his Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Chicago Bears. Over a four-year stretch, Palmer's passer rating steadily dropped from 101.1 to 69.0, including his 2008 season, which featured elbow issues that nearly had him going the route of Tommy John surgery for recovery.
He bounced back to being a middle-of-the-pack passer for the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Bengals, but after going 4-12, he requested a trade. He was sent to the Oakland Raiders after holding out against owner Mike Brown. While in Oakland, he went 8-15. Despite going through two fairly large injuries, this was the lowest point in his career. He just didn't have "it" anymore.
Between 2014, when he missed time due to another knee injury, and Week 1 of 2015, he's made seven starts, which ended in seven wins for the Cardinals with a combined stat line of 160-of-256 in the air for 1,933 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Extending that number to his last 16 games, dating back to Week 8 of 2013—when he really started to pick up Arians' offense—he's 361-of-562 for 4,466 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
In that span, Arizona is 14-2.
In the six road games during that 16-game stretch, the Cardinals have won by 13, 11 twice, seven and three and have lost by three points just once. So if this were the spread in those games, they'd have gone 5-1. I like the chances of Arizona covering here and becoming Super Bowl contenders in the mind of the media this week.
Other notes: The Bears secondary is still bad and almost allowed a fresh-off-the-plane James Jones to score thrice on them. Chicago largely was in the game late against the Packers because of its rushing attack facing what is now the 31st-best run defense in the NFL based on yards per carry. Arizona only allowed 2.7 yards per rush attempt against the New Orleans Saints—three full yards better than Green Bay's—the best mark in the NFL during Week 1.
The Pick: Arizona (-1.5) @ Chicago
San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
The Line: San Francisco @ Pittsburgh (-5.5)
There's a lot going on in this game. The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a very late Monday Night Football game on the West Coast to play a morning game on Sunday in Pennsylvania. We need to sit back and think for ourselves for a second: Did the 49ers really look that good, or were the Vikings just not as great as we thought?
I'd lean toward the latter. That Vikings defensive line didn't look like what it was made out to be. There were some poor calls by the referees. Adrian Peterson couldn't get going at all, and sophomore passer Teddy Bridgewater looked like he was short-circuiting in front of our eyes. On top of that, I'm sure everyone in San Francisco was pumped to play for their in-house coach who got a promotion, especially on a nationally televised game when the 49ers broke out new uniforms.
The Steelers get extended rest after losing the season-opener to the New England Patriots on Thursday. Offensively, the Patriots really didn't look all that impressive, other than when tight end Rob Gronkowski was blowing up coverage designs. San Francisco's 31-year-old Vernon Davis used to be that guy, but it feels like a long time since 2013.
After Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams posted about as good of a performance as San Francisco's Carlos Hyde, I'd be willing to bet this game comes down to quarterback play. With only a week of film on Keith Butler's new scheme in Pittsburgh compared to Minnesota's Mike Zimmer's, who has been an NFL defensive coordinator or head coach since 2000, the San Francisco offense will drop back to earth.
In 2014, the Steelers ranked second in the NFL in offensive yards per game with their option-sprinkled scheme. Can the 49ers keep up if the Steelers score 30? The current over is 44.5, which projects to a 19-point score from San Francisco, if you're assuming Pittsburgh is a 6.5-point favorite. It looked like the offense left everything on the field on Monday, and the 49ers were still only able to drop 20 on the Vikings.
The Pick: Pittsburgh (-5.5)
Tennessee @ Cleveland
The Line: Tennessee @ Cleveland (-3)
I'm not going to overreact to the first week of the regular season, but I am going to react. I thought Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was going to be horrible in Ken Whisenhunt's scheme; the head coach has been more of a downfield passing coach lately rather than one who values efficiency. Somehow, I had been blinded by recency bias. This was still the same offensive mind who chose to start an aged Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart, who looked to be the young future of the franchise at one point, because of his ability in two-minute situations.
Not only did I eat my words about Whisenhunt's 3-25 stretch heading into 2015, but he really made Mariota look brilliant. Now, there are some flaws. Plenty of naked bootlegs exposed the Oregon passer, giving me flashbacks of the early Robert Griffin III-era Redskins, but for 80 percent of the game, Mariota was accurate and thriving.
On the other side, the Cleveland Browns lost their quarterback to a concussion and managed to fumble a would-be-touchdown and a would-be-interception in the same game. Against the New York Jets, the touted offensive line of the Browns didn't live up to the hype, often allowing pressure into Johnny Manziel's face, who would then immediately drop his eyes and run, even against zone defenses.
Unfortunately for the Browns, the defensive coordinator going head-to-head against the young Manziel is Dick LeBeau, an innovator in the zone blitz. Dual-threat quarterbacks can be a huge headache to defensive coordinators, but only if they're disciplined. Heading into the 2014, there was no doubt in my mind that Manziel would land with a defensive-minded head coach because of that one fact. He was so reckless that offensive minds would hate him, but defensive minds would fear him.
You see that same notion stretched across the league with run-first passers such as Tyrod Taylor landing with the Rex Ryan Bills or Michael Vick signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin. Mariota is a pass-first quarterback who has the ability to run, though—a large difference from where Manziel is at this point.
The Pick: Tennessee (+3)
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
The Line: Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-10)
I know you're thinking that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a horrible start to their regular season on Sunday. It's true. Of the 32 franchises in the NFL, only the Buccaneers, Colts, Browns, Jaguars, Bears, Raiders, Vikings...and Saints lost by more than seven points. Of those squads, only Indianapolis had a winning record in 2014, and the eight teams combined for a 45-83 mark between them.
On first thought, you'd want to punt all of their seasons, as it looks like an extension of last year's efforts.
I don't love Tampa, but I'm struggling to find a reason to trust the Saints. They couldn't run at all against the Arizona Cardinals, averaging the worst yards per carry in Week 1, while their passing offense has gone from testing deep often to an almost exclusive dink and dunk.
The team's top three performers in receiving yards? Mark Ingram, a running back; Willie Snead, a second-year undrafted receiver who was on three practice squads last season; and Khiry Robinson, another running back. They put up 212 yards in the air against the Cardinals, while Ingram and Robinson, the team's top two rushers, only posted 43 yards on the ground.
Tampa Bay's linebacker unit is nothing to mess with. Lavonte David is one of the better "Will" linebackers in the league, while rookie Kwon Alexander is also a freak athlete and is already calling in plays as the "Mike" linebacker. Both should be solid in coverage, neutralizing the advantage the Saints backs had against the Cardinals.
Even with that advantage, New Orleans still messed up at the end of the game, as the coaching staff went conservative instead of taking a shot to win, and then Arizona put a nail in the coffin when David Johnson broke a huge play on the rebuilding defense. That game could have easily been a road victory for the fleur-de-lis, but the play-calling was horrid.
The Buccaneers weren't ready to play last week, but looking at personnel and coaching schemes, this isn't a great play for the Saints, especially not at the price you'd have to pay to take their side of the line. The once proud Superdome has seen the home team lose in five of its past eight games on the turf, as the home-field edge has crept out at the same pace Drew Brees' arm has.
Give me the Saints in a much closer game than advertised.
The Pick: Tampa Bay (+10)
Atlanta @ New York Giants
The Line: Atlanta @ New York Giants (-3)
Just based off Week 1, the Atlanta Falcons looked like a much improved defense from 2014, which was expected under head coach Dan Quinn, the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator. The additions of first-round pick Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn, plus the maturation of defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman in his sophomore season, have warped that front seven.
Offensively, Matt Ryan didn't have the best performance of his life. Atlanta's running game is built around the high variance of rookie Tevin Coleman. Devonta Freeman, the team's No. 2 runner, averaged just 1.8 yards per carry against the Philadelphia Eagles. Outside of throwing to Julio Jones and Roddy White, the staples of this offense for years, this team can't get much going.
The Falcons can do enough to keep themselves in games now, but winning against contenders may still be out of the question in 2015.
On the other hand, the New York Giants still have a weird feeling to them. Eli Manning is more like a game manager every regular season. He managed to not throw an interception and was only sacked once, but the fact that he couldn't throw a touchdown against that Dallas Cowboys secondary last week on turf is a bit of a concern when he had 36 attempts in the air.
The pass defense of the Giants, which has been dealing with a multitude of injuries, is also a liability. Tony Romo wasn't sacked once, and he completed 80 percent of his throws. Now the Falcons offensive line isn't close to the Cowboys', but that's a near unheard-of number.
There are two things going against the Falcons: They play on a short week and go from playing in a dome to playing outdoors in the Northeast. Outside of that, I struggle to see where the Giants have the positional unit advantage on any point on the field.
The Pick: Atlanta (+3)
San Diego @ Cincinnati
The Line: San Diego @ Cincinnati (-3.5)
This is one of the more conflicting games for me this week. When the San Diego Chargers are on, they're one of the best teams in the NFL. Philip Rivers was a legitimate MVP candidate last season before the squad went through multiple starting centers, the second-most cerebral position on the field.
In the first seven weeks of 2014, San Diego had won five games, all in a row, and had lost two by the combined score of four points. The Chargers started slow in Week 1, reflecting their 2014 Week 1 loss in the first half against the Detroit Lions last week, but slowly picked away at the Lions, steadily coming back from a 21-3 deficit to win 33-28.
Rivers posted a 35-of-42 effort, completing over 80 percent of his passes. Unfortunately, of his seven incompletions, two ended up as interceptions, one as a score for Detroit. It's easier to have a fluke two-interception game than to accidentally lead the NFL in completion percentage for a week and lead your team on a 30-7 run with your back against the wall.
This line is just too high for me. This means that on an even field, Vegas would favor the Bengals by a half a point. I understand that Cincinnati blew out Oakland 33-13 last Sunday, but it's Oakland with Matt McGloin, a third-year undrafted player from Penn State with a completion percentage of 58.6 and a passer rating of 76.4.
Both teams are solid. If anything, I was more impressed with the Chargers last week, though. The Bengals shouldn't be favored over them on a neutral field, and this is what the line suggests.
The Line: San Diego (+3.5)
Houston @ Carolina
The Line: Houston @ Carolina (-3)
Here's what we know about this game:
- Carolina doesn't have a tight end like Travis Kelce, who scored twice in the first quarter against the Texans last weekend on his way to a 100-yard game. He caught all six of his targets from Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
- Ryan Mallett completed a higher percentage of throws, was sacked on a fewer percentage of dropbacks, averaged more yards per attempt and had a higher touchdown rate than Brian Hoyer did last week. Hoyer started for the team against the Chiefs, but according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Mallett will start in Week 2.
- If anyone is going to make Mallett a starting quarterback, it's going to be Texans head coach Bill O'Brien. Not only did Ryan Fitzpatrick have his best season as a professional under O'Brien last season, but Christian Hackenberg, O'Brien's experiment at Penn State, went from being a future first overall pick to a below-average college player after the coach left Happy Valley.
- The Panthers have horrible receivers. Ted Ginn Jr. had two drops, including a would-be touchdown. Rookie Devin Funchess, the man who was supposed to replace the injured Kelvin Benjamin, had another. Carolina managed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars by 11, but only because Blake Bortles threw an interception for a touchdown. If the Jaguars had scored on that drive, Carolina would have lost the game.
- Star Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion last week and might not be ready to go for the game, but defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is back in practice.
- J.J. Watt is still the best defensive lineman on the planet and will have success against a poor Carolina Panthers offensive line. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who is working back into the lineup, looks like he's back and is causing mismatches already.
All in all, the Texans are trending up, while the Panthers are trending down. I know the game is in Carolina, but the Panthers lost four times at home in 2014, including twice to teams that eventually finished with losing records in the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. Carolina also kept it within two points of the 2-14 Buccaneers, four points within the 7-9 Cleveland Browns and seven points within the 5-11 Chicago Bears in their four wins.
The Pick: Houston (+3)
St. Louis @ Washington
The Line: St. Louis @ Washington (+3)
These teams have history. In 2012, the St. Louis Rams were awarded the second overall pick for their 2-14 2011 record. They eventually traded the pick to the Washington Redskins, who used it on Robert Griffin, now their backup passer. In exchange for the second overall pick, the Rams added starters in defensive tackle Michael Brockers, offensive tackle Greg Robinson, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and outside linebacker Alex Ogletree.
Since the trade, Jeff Fisher's Rams have faced the Redskins twice. In 2012, the Rams won by a score of 31-28, giving Griffin his first loss as professional. In 2014, Fisher blew the Redskins out to the tune of 24-0. Instead of sending the usual captains, Fisher allowed Brockers, Robinson, Jenkins, Ogletree, Stedman Bailey and Zac Stacy to call the coin toss. Bailey and Stacy were also acquired via the now infamous Griffin trade.
No one really understands why Fisher has this massive chip against his shoulder when facing Washington, but it's evident that he does.
Washington not only just lost at home by a full seven points to the Miami Dolphins, but it also lost its offensive star, receiver DeSean Jackson, to a hamstring issue. That means the game is basically up to running back Alfred Morris, if the squad is going to pull away with a victory.
Against the Seahawks last week, the Rams met Marshawn Lynch in the backfield early and often. Luckily, Lynch gained plenty of yards after contact. Morris isn't Lynch.
New Rams quarterback Nick Foles might quietly be great in new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti's system. According to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, Foles' Week 1 performance was the first time a passer threw 65 percent of his passes for a completion and averaged 11 yards per attempt in the Pete Carroll era. ESPN Stats & Info also noted that Foles went 7-of-8 on passes longer than 15 air yards down the field.
The Pick: St. Louis (-3)
Detroit @ Minnesota
The Line: Detroit @ Minnesota (-3)
The Detroit Lions managed to post an early 21-3 lead on the San Diego Chargers, but their vanilla defense and offense were stretched to the point where San Diego came back into the game and won 33-28.
On the other side of the ball are the Minnesota Vikings, a squad that completely blew up on national television.
The offensive line is horrible. Rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings even ran into quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, essentially bringing him down for a sack. When Bridgewater wasn't running into his own linemen, he was allowing three- and four-man rushes to adjust his throws. The Vikings receivers couldn't separate, and with Adrian Peterson only posting 31 yards against San Francisco, it's hard for anyone to respect the West Coast offense that Minnesota has built.
I don't trust either of these teams, but the Lions are better suited for a dome. The combo of Haloti Ngata and Ziggy Ansah is better than any defensive interior and edge players that San Francisco had, so that duo should also give the Vikings some issues.
On top of that, Minnesota is coming off a short week where it traveled from San Francisco to Minneapolis. Once again, I do not feel good about this, but if you must, lean toward the Lions getting points. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has still yet to win against in-division Detroit. At least the Lions looked respectable for a stretch during Week 1.
The Pick: Detroit (+3)
Dallas @ Philadelphia
The Line: Dallas @ Philadelphia (-4)
Oddly enough, the Philadelphia Eagles haven't won a home game against the Dallas Cowboys under head coach Chip Kelly. In those games, though, receiver Dez Bryant has totaled 14 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. This week, the Cowboys will miss their top receiver, as he went down with a foot injury last week that will take the majority of the season to recover from.
And while Kelly hasn't won in Philly, Dallas has been a different story. He's won twice there, including a 33-10 lashing last season on Thanksgiving.
Dallas' offensive line looks great, but the running backs aren't, and the offense has little-to-no downfield consistency without Bryant. Philadelphia has established itself as one of the better front sevens in the league, even if new cornerback Byron Maxwell is getting burned early on.
The Eagles stalled a bit offensively last weekend when they abandoned the running game and struggled in matchups against Atlanta's speed pass-rushers on the Georgia Dome turf. Luckily for them, the Cowboys, who are missing Randy Gregory due to injury and Greg Hardy due to suspension, don't have that ability on the edge. Plus, the surface changes to the open grass of Lincoln Financial Field.
Both teams did much better in the second halves of their Week 1 games, but the Bryant injury might be the straw that breaks the camel's back in Arlington, Texas. Without him, it's hard to imagine Dallas competing at a high level.
The Line: Philadelphia (-4)
Miami @ Jacksonville
The Line: Miami @ Jacksonville (+6)
Ryan Green of 1010XL 92.5 FM in Jacksonville noted that after Jacksonville's double-digit loss at home to the Carolina Panthers, a team which finished with a losing record in 2014, former third overall pick Blake Bortles had thrown his seventh pick-six in 14 starts.
I don't trust the Jaguars as far as I can throw them. An interception returned for a score could be the difference between leading by seven at the end of the drive or being down by seven at the end of the play in a tied game. You just can't attach yourself to a squad that is making those types of mistakes at such a high rate. Even without defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and while losing stud linebacker Luke Kuechly due to a concussion, the Panthers, a middle-of-the-pack squad, won handily.
Don't bet on Jacksonville until it is a double-digit dog.
The Pick: Miami (-6)
Baltimore @ Oakland
The Line: Baltimore @ Oakland (+6)
This line opened late, as there was suspicion the Raiders might hold quarterback Derek Carr out of the game, but when the news came that he would indeed play Sunday, it opened with the Baltimore Ravens being favored by six points.
Last season, the Raiders didn't face one team with a losing record at home. Against a six-point spread, Oakland would have covered against the San Diego Chargers and managed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.
Still, in a 50/50 line, I'd rather trust in the Ravens—who took it to Peyton Manning last weekend and nearly won, over the Raiders—who got blown out at home by the Cincinnati Bengals.
If it gets to plus-7.5 on Oakland, I might think about switching, but for right now, Baltimore is favored on the road, as it should be. Think about it this way: If the Raiders are six-point dogs at home, and home teams usually get an extra three points, than the Ravens would be favored at home by 12 against this team.
That seems like a lot, right? It is until you realize Oakland lost by the tune of 130-27 in its last three road games of 2014. The Raiders are not a good team. Do not trust them to not get the doors blown off with the excuse of "Derek Carr wasn't in" when he was part of the failure stretch last season.
The Pick: Baltimore (-6)
Seattle @ Green Bay
The Line: Seattle @ Green Bay (-3.5)
Since Pete Carroll has taken over the Seattle Seahawks as the head coach, the team is undefeated against the Green Bay Packers. They've never faced the Packers in Lambeau, though. With that being said, a simple change of venue is going to completely flip the Green Bay run defense.
In those three Carroll matchups, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch averaged over 120 yards per game. On a 16-game pace, he'd be breathing down the neck of being only the third running back in a decade to rush for 2,000 yards, with the other two being Chris Johnson and former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.
Last week against the Chicago Bears, who don't have a great offensive line themselves, the Green Bay front seven allowed Matt Forte to run for 141 yards. Even quarterback Jay Cutler got in the action with four carries for 31 yards. Lynch got 73 yards against by far the best defensive line in the world on Sunday, with many of those yards coming after contact.
To add injury to insult, the Packers also lost starting inside linebacker Sam Barrington to a foot issue this past week. That means Nate Palmer, a third-year player converting from outside linebacker this season, and an unknown—possibly Clay Matthews or rookie Jake Ryan—will start on the inside.
Palmer has played in one game since 2013. Ryan has one career tackle under his belt. A Matthews conversion would move the team's top pass-rusher off the edge against a weak offensive line. There are a lot of things going against the Packers in this one.
The Line: Seattle (+3.5)
New York Jets @ Indianapolis
The Line: New York Jets @ Indianapolis (-6.5)
If you bet on the Colts this week, you're going to be labeled as betting with the "public." Sure, Indianapolis is the more popular team, and sure the Jets and Colts had different outcomes last week, but this isn't as much of a "public" bet as much as it's the correct one.
The over currently sits at 46.5, while Indianapolis is favored by 6.5 points. That means Vegas is projecting a score of 26.5-20 in a Colts win.
Since Andrew Luck was drafted in 2012, the Colts have lost 15 regular-season games. Indianapolis has responded by winning 14 of the games immediately after a loss. It just doesn't lose back-to-back.
Since 2013, the Colts have lost 10 games. Following a loss, they've scored more than 26.5 points seven times, with the efforts hitting under the mark coming in at 25, 23 and 22 points. On average, they're scoring 33.1 points coming off a loss.
The team also would have covered a 6.5-point spread in seven of those 10 games, and would be a half-point from covering eight, as they "only" won by six against the Denver Broncos in 2013, the team that finished the season in the Super Bowl. Indy's average margin of victory coming off a loss since the start of the 2013 is 13.6 points. In wins, it is averaging a 15.4 mark, well over double the point spread currently.
In short, the Colts are favorites, but not by enough. With Luck at quarterback, they win 93.33 percent of their games coming off a loss. In those wins coming off a loss, they average a victory by nearly two-and-a-half times the current spread. All of this is occurring while Indianapolis heads back home to a retractable stadium after playing in northern New York in less-than-ideal weather for the high-flying offense.
Throw in the fact that Jets starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie might miss the game because of a knee injury, and I'm all over this one.
The Pick: Indianapolis (-6.5)
Locks of the Week
- Seattle (+3.5) @ Green Bay
- New England (PK) @ Buffalo
- Tennessee (+3) @ Cleveland
- Arizona (-1.5) @ Chicago
- New York Jets @ Indianapolis (-6.5)
- Tampa Bay (+10) @ New Orleans
All lines courtesy of OddsShark.com.