The first round of NFL games showed a lot of quality play despite the lack of pre-season. Mike Carlson has three bets for this weekend's match-ups.
"Belichick was praising Russell Wilson, and for good reason, but that may not be enough to lull the Seahawks' offense to sleep, and the key for them will be whether they can run enough to scheme receivers open against what may still be the league's best secondary."
Week one of the NFL season went better than anyone could have expected, and my betting picks went that way too. I do have a regret: which was not tipping the Ravens at home against the Browns, but the best bet of Buffalo over the Jets and the value bet of the Bengals and Chargers going under 41.5 both hit. I missed on the Eagles, as did almost everyone, but in my side bets I also hit the Pats/Dolphins staying under 42.
Play was still quality
The most interesting things about the first week was how good much of the play was, given the lack of contact and exhibition games in pre-season, and how much the home field crowd of 16,000 in KC seemed to effect the refs on Thursday night: the Chiefs had only one penalty called against them. In the high penalty games, the home teams seemed to benefit: Buffalo had only 7 of 16, the Niners only 5 of 14 (though some were crucial), the Saints only 6 of 15. But whether home field advantage remains worth three points on any line is a question. The Titans didn't seem to wilt at Mile High last week; this week the Seahawks will take on the Cam Newton Pats without the famous 'twelfth man' effect.
This week the lines opened appearing to encourage unders, but those numbers changed as money raced in. On the Betfair 'NFL Only Bettor' podcast I dithered on a midweek best before settling for the Chiefs/Chargers over at 46.5, but it immediately went up to 47.5! So here's the new look Iron Mike picks for week two:
The Steelers started slowly last week, but once Big Ben got going it was like old times, with Dionte Johnson, James Washington and rookie Chase Claypool all helping JuJu out with the receiving.
Granted this was against the Giants, but they also got 113 yards on the ground from Benny Snell, as their O line dominated, and stuffed Saquon Barkley's running completely (15 carries, six yards!). Denver played well defensively at home to the Titans, but couldn't win the battle of the trenches when they had the ball, making life difficult for Drew Lock, and although rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy showed some flashes, I doubt they will be able to get much going against the Steelers' D. I also like the over in this one, as it's dropped to 40.5, and I think the Broncos can contribute enough points to clear that.
Pete Carroll just had his birthday this week; he's a young 69. Bill Belichick is 68, making this the oldest combined age of head coaches in NFL history. Carroll is also 3-1 career against his old team, and even without the noise advantage of the twelfth man, I think the Seahawks may have enough to take the Pats in a close one.
Belichick was praising Russell Wilson, and for good reason, but that may not be enough to lull the Seahawks' offense to sleep, and the key for them will be whether they can run enough to scheme receivers open against what may still be the league's best secondary. Defensively, Jamal Adams, whom the Pats know well from the Jets, made a huge impact against the Falcons with a sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, 12 tackles overall, 8 of them solo. Look for Greg Olson to get the winning TD. If you're worried about this one, try Green Bay -5.5 v Detroit at 20/23.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Bowl! It's always tough to go down to Miami from the not-yet frozen tundra, but the Bills seem amply suited to the task this week, and having watched the Dolphins against the Patriots, it may be that their offense doesn't get itself going yet.
Fitz is an ex-Bill, so he could go on one of this hot streaks, but as the starter with Tua looking over his shoulder I don't think they are ready for that. The Bills' D remains as good as last year, and the addition of Stefon Diggs paid immediate dividends, but like Fitz, Josh Allen is a Dr Jekyll and Carlos Hyde kind of passer: a couple of mistakes could change the complexion here, which is why I consider it outside. But I also kind of admire the under, even though it has dropped from 43 to 41 during the week, it's still 10/11.