Before we head to recapping Week 1 and get into Week 2 picks, let’s discuss the importance of not overreacting to things we saw in the season’s opening week. This week is typically one of my most profitable weeks every season because if you can properly value teams without being skewed by one performance in Week 1, you can profit as a bettor.
There are plenty of historical trends that back this point up. In the last 10 years, teams that lose by 10 or more in Week 1, have come back and covered at a 62% against the spread clip (39-24-3) in Week 2. In addition, since 2010 teams that have lost straight up as a favorite in Week 1 and were underdogs in week 2 have covered the week 2 line in 14 of 20 games (70%). Beware of the overreaction.
HOU/KC Over 54 (Push) – I was lucky to push the Houston/KC over 54, with a late field goal following an onside kick return. If the Chiefs weren’t blowing out the Texans so early, scoring might have been even higher. There were 26 combined missed tackles, leading to some big runs by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Kansas City offense looked crisp and was much more efficient than explosive. The Chiefs had the best pass success rate of the week at 67% but produced a league-low zero explosive pass plays. The Houston offensive line was manhandled, leading to a choppy offensive performance. Houston allowed a league-high 55% pressure rate in Week 1.
Washington +6 (W) – As expected, the Eagles’ Mash Unit along the offensive line couldn’t hold off the ferocious Washington pass rush. Washington recorded six sacks, were sixth in pressure rate on the week, and held Philadelphia to 4.0 yards per play. There are big plays to be made against this Washington secondary, as when Carson Wentz did have time to throw, Desean Jackson and Jalen Reagor ran free multiple times with moderate success. Washington allowed a league high ADOT at 13.5 yards. Speaking of Reagor, whew, he is the real deal. He has speed for days and could produce many big plays once the Eagles settle down on the offensive line.
Las Vegas/Carolina Over 47 (W) – Las Vegas and Carolina flew over the 47-point total and both teams showed exactly what we thought they were. Both defenses are atrocious and with efficient quarterbacks who don’t make mistakes, expect both teams to play in shootouts all season. Vegas finished in the top eight for the week in both run and pass success rates. Not surprisingly, the Carolina secondary got shredded by Derek Carr who completed 73% of his passes for 8.0 yards per attempt. This won’t be the last time that the Carolina secondary gets exposed. It didn’t help that the Carolina pass rush, or lack thereof, only produced four total pressures. Future DFS stacks will be built purely by playing whomever is facing this Carolina defense.
Record YTD: 2-0-1
Favorite Week 2 Picks:
Cleveland -6 vs Cincinnati (-110)
Typical overreaction spot. The look-ahead line here was Cleveland -7.5, but this re-opened under six points Sunday night. I just don’t understand this. The Browns, with a rookie head coach, got smashed by arguably the best team in the NFL right now. It was a terrible matchup for the Browns who entered the game with a mash unit at linebacker and in the secondary, which was easily exploited by the Ravens.
This wasn’t a surprise and shouldn’t affect the overall rating for the Browns. They get to face a rookie quarterback, in Joe Burrow, who obviously didn’t have a full offseason camp and faced his first NFL action just four days prior to this matchup. Because of a bad offensive line and only having 2.38 seconds to throw, the sixth-shortest time among all quarterbacks in Week 1, Burrow was forced to look short often or use his legs.
The Chargers are a defense who rarely blitz in general and in fact only blitzed Burrow 18.6% of his dropbacks but were able to generate a solid 20.9% pressure rate. He looked a bit lost at times and considering the Browns blitzed Lamar Jackson 36.7% of his drop backs, figure the Browns to blitz Burrow early and often leading to mistakes.
Since 2000, there have been seven quarterbacks who had to play a road Thursday game off a short week in the first half of their rookie seasons. The list is a mixed bag of great (Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson) and awful (EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, and Brandon Weeden) and the inbetween (Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones). Collectively, these seven quarterbacks produced a 1-6 record with one passing touchdown combined, with 10 interceptions with a 5.7 ypa. Every quarterback completed less than 56% of their throws besides Watson. The numbers are ugly.
Since 2010, teams off a 20+ blowout loss in Week 1 are 18-12 (60%) ATS in Week 2. The Browns were in this exact situation just last year and blew out the Jets in Week 2. Tyrod Taylor had plenty of time to look deep last week against this Bengals defense and finished second among all quarterbacks in Week 1 in average depth of target and seventh in completed air yards intended. This coming from a dink and dunk QB. There are plenty of opportunities for a get right game for Baker Mayfield. In addition, the Bengals will be without two interior defenders in star Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels. The Browns should have their way against a bad and beat up defense.
Tampa -8.5 vs Carolina (-110)
Tampa also fits into the category of a Week 1 team that is coming off of a blowout loss (10+) looking to bounce back. We saw Tom Brady have a rough opener with his new team but that should’ve been expected in a new offense after 20 years in New England. Some of the issues were just a timing problem with his wide receivers. But let’s be fair, playing the Saints and their top-10 DVOA pass defense right off the bat in a year with no preseason isn’t an easy task.
The game got away from Tampa with two plays, the Brady pick-six and a botching of a popped up kickoff. Otherwise this was a very close game. Tampa now gets to face arguably the worst secondary in the NFL.
Carolina entered the season with non-descript Donte Jackson and fourth-round rookie Troy Pride Jr. at cornerback and Browns cast-off Juston Burris at safety. Jackson left Week 1 early and the secondary got torched by Carr, allowing a 57% success rate and 8.0 yards per attempt. In addition, continuing a trend from last year, the Panthers’ run defense was even worse than the pass defense. They allowed 137 rushing yards to Las Vegas and a 65% run success rate. I think this is a clear get right spot for Brady and the Tampa offense.
As bad as the outcome in Week 1 was for Tampa, the one bright spot was a stellar defense. They allowed the ninth-lowest success rate in the league in Week 1 on defense and limited Saints wide receivers to eight receptions for 53 total receiving yards. Teddy Bridgewater most likely won’t be able to move it against this Tampa defense like they did in Week 1.
Dallas -4.5 vs Atlanta (-110)
Dallas should have a field day against this poor Atlanta defense. The Falcons secondary was a major problem last season and Week 1 showed that it may be even worse this season. Rookie CB A.J. Terrell, along with Darqueze Dennard and Isiah Oliver got torched by Russell Wilson. They allowed 17 of 20 targets to be caught for 222 yards and over 10 yards per attempt. None of the cornerbacks received a PFF grade above 48.8. They were atrocious.
I expect a huge game from Dak Prescott, who typically feeds off bad defenses. The Falcons were 21st in DVOA pass defense last season and after what happened last week, it’s easy to consider them a bottom-10 pass defense. Last season, Prescott faced six teams that ranked in the bottom-10 in DVOA pass defense and in those games the Cowboys went 6-0. Prescott completed 69% of his passes for 321 yards per game, 9.3 ypa, 19 touchdowns, and three interceptions. Add in the usual Ezekiel Elliott performance and it’s going to be really hard for Atlanta to get any stops on Sunday.
Something is going on with this Atlanta team for them to consistently be trailing big early in games. They trailed by 16 after three quarters against Seattle and last season trailed by double digits after three quarters in eight of their 16 games. And early last season they were getting boat raced out of the gates, trailing by double digits at halftime in six of their first eight games prior to their bye week. They trailed by 17+ in four of their eight games at halftime.
The Falcons get more respect from the market than they really should, based on a lot of empty stats they rack up in garbage time after trailing big early. It inflates their box scores and leads to spreads that aren’t as high as they should be, especially against opponents who are similarly rated or slightly better.
Evidence of this is that in the last three years, as an underdog of 3-7 points, the Falcons are 1-8 ATS and have lost those eight games by an average of 17 points per game. They get too much respect and with such an awful defense it’s hard for them to stay in these games.