NFL Tipsheet Week Two: Back Denver to cash in on home advantage
After a solid start to the column last week, Mike Carlson returns to preview the week two NFL action, hopeful of spotting some value where markets have overreacted to the opening set of results...
Look out for overreactions to week one action
It wasn't a bad first week for the column. I somehow missed going under 88 points with Tampa Bay and New Orleans, and didn't take the Bills plus 45, but otherwise the best bet of the Bengals came through, and the Dallas-Carolina under was better than the Bengals-Colts under. Denver and Seattle was a push, and I couldn't figure how the Texans failed to cover +6, even with Deshaun Watson looking so bad.
Week two is where everyone overreacts to the results of week one - since they've now got the only real information since last January on everybody but the Super Bowl teams. So there may be some profit to be had by going against some of the trends, and I am willing to take a few chances this week.
Keenum can lead Broncos to victory
Best Bet: Denver -6 v Oakland at 19/20
The Broncos get their first two games at home, with the advantage of altitude, and they need to cash in on that. Case Keenum was in and out at QB last week for the Broncos, but he likely won't feel as much pressure from the Raider D, while Denver's defense should be up to the task of again making Derek Carr's life miserable.
I'm going to take a bit of a risk and actually pick the Jets -3 v Miami at 19/20. I wasn't that impressed by how the Dolphins beat the Titans in the seven-hour Delayathon in week one, and on the road I think they will be shakier. The Jets' D ought to be able to slow them down, and rookie Sam Darnold won't have to play perfectly, though Miami are not likely to allow the special teams plays and give the Jets the turnovers the Lions did.
Pittsburgh can bounce back from week one defeat
Value Bet: Pittsburgh -4 v Kansas City at evens
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I think the Steelers at home rebound from that dismal performance in Cleveland. Big Ben does tend to like home cooking, and the Chiefs' defense is suspect, something the pass-dropping Chargers were not able to exploit.
Defensively, the Steelers still need to find the right way to replace Ryan Shazier and settle the secondary down behind those linebackers; the mismatches created by Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and Travis Kelce will be difficult for them to control. So this makes Over 53 AT 19/20 something you might consider if you are in a risk-taking mode. I tend to avoid overs in the 50s, but this might be worth an exemption.
Otherwise, Jacksonville to beat New England at 19/20 is worth a shot. They were getting a point, but money was coming in on the Jags, because of the Pats' limited offensive weapons and their own fierce defense. Blake Bortles is terrible at trying to close out a close game, however, just think back to the playoffs last year, so I like the Under 45.5 at evens as a better value bet.
Saints could march on against Browns
Outside Bet: New Orleans -10 v Cleveland at evens
I liked this better at -9.5, and I tend to stay away from double-digit spreads, but I still think this is an overreaction to the Saints' woes against Tampa and the Browns comeback-lite against the Steelers. On the fast track in the Super Dome the Saints ought to put some points up. But maybe not enough to pass 49, so I'm tempted to also take under 49.5 at evens in this one.