As longtime readers of MTS will tell you, we like to do things early around here. When it comes to the NFL, each week we preview all the game action about ten days in advance. Why? Because, like any organism, we’re trying to carve out a niche! And yes, we know that this week’s action hasn’t even started yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t jump start your betting analysis for the following week with some helpful insights and tips. After the intervening week of games, we’ll update our preview and insert the most recent betting lines.
Week 2 in the NFL is going to be a doozy. The slate features an important AFC West clash on Thursday night, a traditional NFC East slug fest on Sunday afternoon, a possible NFC Championship Game preview on Sunday Night Football, and Andrew Luck facing a mighty Jets’ defense on Monday.
Let’s dig a bit deeper on each matchup.
Denver (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0) – Spread: Chiefs -3
The Broncos go on the road for the first time this year and do so on a short week. Last year, Denver was unbeaten at home but just 4-4 on the road, both straight up and against the spread. The Chiefs are playing their first of two straight Prime Time games. Kansas City was 10-6 against the spread last year, including 6-2 at home, but the Broncos have won six straight in the series with an average margin of victory of 13.3 points.
Both teams covered in Week 1. The Broncos downed the Ravens at home in a low scoring game (19-13), but were lucky to do so, getting a pick-six from Aqib Talib. The Chiefs looked mighty impressive on the road, jumping all over Houston and cruising to a 27-20 win.
Houston (0-1) at Carolina (1-0) – Spread: Panthers -3
After opening on the road, Carolina comes home for back-to-back games. The Panthers were a mediocre 4-4 in Charlotte last year, straight up and ATS, but they won their final three at home, including a playoff victory over Arizona. The Texans went 9-6-1 ATS including a solid 5-2-1 on the road. They won three of their final four road games last year with the lone setback a 17-10 decision in Indianapolis.
The Panthers covered on the road in Week 1 in a stinker of a game against Jacksonville (20-9), but the win came at a steep price with LB Luke Kuechly going down with a concussion. The Texans lost SU and ATS to KC, replacing starter Brian Hoyer with Ryan Mallett late in the game. The team hasn’t announced its starter for Week 2.
San Francisco (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1) – Spread: Steelers -6.5
After dominating Minnesota on Monday Night Football (20-3) and covering as home-dogs, the 49ers travel three time zones east to take on the Steelers. While San Francisco went only 6-10 against the number last year, they were 4-4 on the road. Pittsburgh has extra days to prepare after playing New England in the season opener last Thursday. The Steelers lost straight-up (28-21) but managed to push ATS as seven-point dogs. The Steelers went 11-5 overall (6-2 home) last year and 9-7 ATS (5-3 home).
Tampa Bay (0-1) at New Orleans (0-1) – Spread: Saints -11.5
The Saints have won seven straight against their division rivals from Florida, though both of last year’s games came down to the final seconds. New Orleans, often among the toughest teams in the league to beat at home, was an uncharacteristic 3-5 in the Bayou last season and just 2-6 against the number. The Bucs are playing their first of two straight road games with a date in Houston looming in Week 3. Interestingly, during a 2-14 campaign in 2014, Tampa Bay went 7-9 against the spread, including 5-3 on the road.
The Bucs got off to a rough start to 2015, though, getting demolished by the Titans (42-14) in the battle of rookie QBs, despite being modest three-point home favorites. The Saints hung tough on the road with a good Cardinals team in Week 1, but their 31-19 loss has them at 0-1 ATS, as well.
Detroit (0-1) at Minnesota (0-1) – Spread: Vikings -3
The Lions begin the season with a second straight road game while the Vikings are short on prep time after playing the late MNF game in Week 1. Both teams will be sorely disappointed after Week 1. The Lions let a massive 21-3 early lead slip away at San Diego, falling 33-28 and failing to cover as three-point road dogs. The Vikings only managed a field goal against an understaffed Niners team, losing 20-3 as slight road favorites.
Detroit won both matchups with Minnesota last year, 16-14 at home and 17-3 three on the road. The Lions were 4-4 SU on the road last season, but a terrible 2-6 against the spread. The Vikings were 5-3 straight up and against the spread at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014.
Arizona (1-0) at Chicago (0-1) – Spread: Cardinals -2.5
Chicago is at home for a second straight week. They were competitive against the Packers in Week 1, but lost 31-23 and failed to cover as 6.5-point home dogs. With a tough road game in Seattle looming in Week 3, the Bears will be desperate for a win over Arizona. The Bears were 2-6 at Soldier Field last season and 3-5 against the number. Chicago’s coach, John Fox, who was with Denver in 2014, managed an 8-0 home record last season, but was just 4-4 ATS as the Broncos were constantly over-bet.
With a healthy Carson Palmer back under center, the Cardinals picked up where they left off before the QB’s season-ending injury last year. Arizona handled a game New Orleans squad, 31-19, easily covering the 2.5-point spread at home. Their Week 2 matchup with Chicago is the Cards’ only road game during the first four weeks of the year. During an 11-5 season last year, the Cardinals were 4-4 away from home and 5-3 ATS.
New England (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0) – Spread: Pick’em
The Patriots have dominated Buffalo recently, winning six of the last seven meetings and 21 of 23. However, New England has struggled with Rex Ryan, who coached the Jets for the past six years. Each of the last four times Ryan has faced New England, the game has been decided by three points or fewer. The Patriots have extra time to prepare for this game after beating Pittsburgh at home on Thursday, 28-21, pushing as seven-point faves. Last season New England went 5-3 on the road and 4-4 ATS.
Buffalo starts the year with two straight and three of four at home. They were arguably the most impressive team in Week 1, jumping out to a 17-0 halftime lead over the Colts and cruising to a 27-14 win. The Bills were 5-3 at home last season and 4-4 ATS.
San Diego (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0) – Spread: Bengals -3
The Chargers trek to Cincinnati for the first of two straight road games. Last year, San Diego was 4-4 straight up and against the number outside of Southern California. The Bengals were 5-2-1 at home in 2014 and 4-3-1 against the spread. But back in 2013, the Bengals were 8-0 ATS and SU at Paul Brown Stadium.
The recent head-to-head games haven’t been close, with each one being decided by more than a touchdown (including a 27-10 Charger win in the 2013-14 playoffs). In Week 1, the Chargers came back from 18 down to win and cover at home against Detroit (33-28), while the Bengals dominated the Raiders in Oakland (33-13).
Tennessee (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1) – Spread: Pick’em
During a terrible 2-14 season last year, the Titans were also a brutal 3-12-1 against the spread with a 2-6 mark away from home. But 2015 could be a different story. The Titans demolished Tampa Bay on Sunday (42-14), getting four TD passes from rookie QB Marcus Mariota, and now have a second straight winnable road game.
The Browns lost starting QB Josh McCown early in Week 1 and saw Johnny Manziel struggle in his stead, losing 31-10 as 3.5-point road dogs. The Browns finished 4-4 at home last year going 4-3-1 against the number. Six of Cleveland’s eight home games went under while Tennessee played ten unders in 2014.
Atlanta (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1) – Spread: Giants -1.5
The Falcons sampler platter of the NFC East continues in Week 2. After beating Philadelphia at home on Monday (26-24, covering as small home dogs), Atlanta travels to New York in Week 2 before a trip to Dallas in Week 3. Last year, the Falcons were 3-5 on the road straight up and against the number, and six of those eight road games stayed under the total.
The Giants were just 3-5 in East Rutherford straight up and ATS, which continued a trend of mediocrity at home; they also went 3-5 ATS at home in 2013 and 4-4 in 2012. They blew a late six-point lead in Dallas last Sunday, losing 27-26, but picked up the ATS win as touchdown underdogs.
St. Louis (1-0) at Washington (0-1) – Spread: Rams -3.5
While there are no must-wins in Week 2, all of St. Louis’ first five opponents made the playoffs last year except Washington. A loss in this one would negate a big portion of the excitement of beating Seattle in Week 1. The Rams went 3-5 on the road last year and 4-4 against the spread. Their Week 1 win as 3.5-point home dogs has them at 1-0 ATS in 2015.
Washington’s schedule is much more forgiving early on, but after this game, three of the next four contests are away from home. Washington was 1-7 on the road last season and 3-5 ATS. Kirk Cousins couldn’t muster any real offense on Sunday as Washington fell SU and ATS at home to Miami (17-10).
Miami (1-0) at Jacksonville (0-1) – Spread: Dolphins -7
Despite a second straight road game to kick off the year, Miami’s schedule is manageable for most of the first two months of the season. The Dolphins were 4-4 straight up and against the number on the road last year, and they’ve won three straight against Jacksonville. Despite sleepwalking through most of the first half, Miami beat Washington last week (17-10), covering as four-point road favorites, largely thanks to Jarvis Landry’s punt return TD.
The Jags were 3-5 at home, overall and against the number, last year. The offense looked uninspired in Week 1, falling at home to Carolina both SU and ATS (20-9). Third-year QB Blake Bortles didn’t show the improvement many were expecting, making rookie-esque mistakes throughout the contest.
Baltimore (0-1) at Oakland (0-1) – Spread: No line until Oakland QB situation clarified
Two teams in search of offense will hook up in the Bay Area in Week 2. The Ravens will be playing a second straight AFC West road game to begin the year after falling to Denver in Week 1 (19-13 as 4.5-point underdogs). Baltimore went 4-4 away from home last year and 3-4-1 against the number.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are hosting a second straight AFC North squad after getting run out of their own barn by the Bengals on Sunday (33-13). All three of Oakland’s wins last year came at home and they were 4-4 ATS at the Coliseum. Baltimore is 7-1 all time against Oakland, though, with four straight wins by an average margin of 21 points.
Dallas (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1) – Spread: Eagles -5
The Cowboys and Eagles have played each other more than 100 times with Dallas holding a 14-game edge. The teams have split the last four meetings and each won on the road last year. Indeed, the Cowboys were 8-0 on the road in 2014, including 7-1 against the spread. They picked up an emotional comeback win in Week 1 over the Giants (27-26), but it was a Pyrrhic victory that saw Dez Bryant go down with a broken foot. They also failed to cover as seven-point faves.
This is the only home game during a four game stretch to start the year for the Eagles. Philly went 6-2 at home last season and 5-3 against the number. The Sam Bradford era got off to a rocky start in Atlanta on Sunday. The Eagles played well in the second frame but couldn’t overcome a 20-3 halftime deficit, losing 26-24 as three-point favorites.
Seattle (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0) – Spread: Packers -4
The defending NFC champs face the conference’s runner-up in arguably the game of the week. Looking down the road, this game could decide who hosts the Championship Game come January. Whether Seattle will be in that conversation isn’t clear after a sloppy Week 1 loss in St. Louis (34-31 in OT), though, where they failed to cover as 3.5-point road favorites. Last year, Seattle was 5-3 on the road and 4-4 ATS.
The Packers will get an extra day off after this game, returning to action against Kansas City on Monday in Week 3. Green Bay went 8-0 at Lambeau Field last season and 6-1-1 against the spread. They found themselves in a dogfight with the Bears on Sunday, but emerged with a hard-fought 31-23 road win, just covering as 6.5-point road favorites.
New York Jets (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1) – Spread: Colts -7.5
The Jets and Colts are meeting for the first time since 2012. Indy went 6-2 at home last season and 5-2-1 against the spread. New York was 2-6 away from home and 3-4-1 against the number. The Colts play three straight divisional games coming up before a marquee date with New England on October 18. The Jets host Philadelphia next week before traveling to London to face the Dolphins on October 4.
The teams went in opposite directions in Week 1. Indy’s high-powered offense was embarrassed by the Bills, getting shutout until halftime in a decisive 27-14 loss. The Jets, on the other hand, ran all over the Browns (31-10) on the strength of two touchdowns from RB Chris Ivory.
(Photo credit: Craig Hawkins (flickr) “In the huddle, Broncos vs. Steelers 2012″ [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)