NFL Betting Guide: Week 2
Do you think you know a lot about NFL football? Try regularly picking five games against the spread.
Even with all the information, advanced stats, and people attempting, elite sports bettors are lucky to get about 53% to 54% of -110 (even probability) bets correctly. It's essentially flipping a coin.
That being said, people try -- myself included. There are plenty of contests, media personalities, and other casual games at work or with friends that pick five games each week against the spread to see how they fare.
Using NFL odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, here are my five picks against the spread and a couple of totals I like this week. Play or fade as you please.
Week 1 Recap
Last Week: 3-2
Year-to-Date Record: 3-2-0 (60.0%)
Last week was a terrible one despite the result.
Had Detroit not backed into a cover they didn't deserve, that game would have been a loss. The Commanders actually mismanaged the game to score a late touchdown and cover when a close field goal could have more surely won the game outright.
Both totals missed, as well, so we've got work to do in Week 2 despite the record. We'll have enough bad beats along the way to take the wins, though.
Pick #1: Patriots (-2.5) at Steelers
Here's your "WTF?" line of the week. I've got to take it.
Backing the Pats here has less to do with them and more to do with how unsightly it appears Pittsburgh will be playing on their worst Sundays. With five turnovers, the Steelers barely squeaked by the Bengals, and they posted -0.07 Offensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play.
That was perhaps the best version of the team we'll see in a while, too. T.J. Watt is now out for an extended period with a torn pectoral, and Najee Harris -- though fine to play -- will already be managing a knee injury and see fewer snaps.
Even in a loss, New England did a nice job against the run last week (-0.94 Total Rushing NEP allowed), so Bill Belichick's defense will likely be forcing Mitchell Trubisky into obvious throwing situations.
Given that, 78% of bets and 80% of the handle are on the Steelers? Okay then.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Patriots 23-13
Pick #2: Saints (+2.5) vs. Buccaneers
Brady has posted a negative mark in Passing NEP per drop back in both years he's spent in Tampa Bay facing them, and there are already paths to failure blossoming entering this matchup.
The Bucs have allowed 13 sacks and turned it over 11 times in Brady's four regular-season meetings with New Orleans, and now they've got a myriad of offensive line concerns. Both tackles are limited or out of practice this week, and remember, center Ryan Jensen is already done for the year.
The Saints' offense actually looked like a well-oiled machine last week. They posted 0.14 Offensive NEP per play overall, and Jameis Winston was especially sharp (0.84 Passing NEP per drop back) in the fourth quarter.
Tampa's defense does lead the NFL in Defensive NEP per play (-0.26) following their bludgeoning of Dallas, but the pick is that New Orleans pushes them far closer to the bottom-10 passing defense in that category than they were a season ago.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Saints 24-17
Pick #3: Jaguars (+4.5) vs. Colts
In every single pick this week, I'm taking a team that didn't cover last week (seen as "underachieving" by the masses) against a team that did -- except this one.
One of the most obvious trends in this game you'll hear all week is that the Colts can't win in Jacksonville. They haven't since 2014. This Jaguars team is an improved version, too.
Jacksonville, in my opinion, has the right recipe to defeat this Colts offense if their Week 1 strengths hold. They allowed the fourth-fewest total Rushing NEP (-4.92) in the NFL against the Commanders.
Indy's defense put up a pretty pedestrian effort (0.01 Defensive NEP per play) in Week 1 against a Texans offense that no one is writing home about. If Trevor Lawrence can move it as he did in Washington, they can win this game outright.
Oh, by the way, in a close divisional contest, the Colts just cut their beloved kicker. I'm sure irony will make it so that has no impact on Sunday's game whatsoever.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Jaguars 19-17
I'm not giving the full feature to either of these last two picks because they're huge favorites -- and I normally hate laying those.
However, I feel like I'm getting the Broncos at a substantial discount off their disaster in Seattle on Monday. With two goal-line fumbles that would normally destroy a NEP model, Denver still posted 0.12 Offensive NEP per play last week, which was ninth-best in the league.
This offense really showed signs of being elite despite the miscues, and they'd still have won outright if Nathaniel Hackett knew how to use timeouts like the average Madden player.
Denver's win total entering the season was 10.5. Houston's was 4.5. The Ponies are the significantly better team, and thanks to these circumstances, I don't even have to lay double-digit points with a home crowd that's been dying to see Russell Wilson since March.
This one smells like a rout.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Broncos 31-10
I'll admit, I was more trepidatious about this one than Denver, but I still think I should take it.
Coming off last week's embarrassing loss in Minnesota, the Packers' stock is low just as it was when they dropped 2021's opener by 35 points. They had minus-money odds to win this division and a win total (10.5) that was up there with anyone. They're still a really good football team, and we all expected Chicago would be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
The Bears outlasted the 49ers in a monsoon, but we didn't learn a ton due to the circumstances. The Bears' offensive line still gave up the highest pressure rate in the league (31%), and that's the dysfunction we expected on that side of the ball.
This number is a bit unnerving because Green Bay doesn't have dynamic playmakers outside, and you'll ultimately need some offense to win by double digits. However, Chicago was PFF's second-worst projected secondary entering this season, and these are the first normal conditions they'll face.
It also so happens to be against the two-time reigning MVP. The Bears are getting 71% of the bets here, but it's worth remembering Aaron Rodgers does basically have tangible equity in Chicago's franchise.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Packers 28-16
Totals of the Week
Pick #1: Commanders at Lions (Over 48.5)
Every team feels good about their offense on paper entering the year. The Lions and Commanders put it into action during Week 1.
Though their defense was horribly outmatched, Detroit put up an outstanding 0.23 Offensive NEP per play against an Eagles defense that was believed to be solid entering the year. D'Andre Swift even posted 175 yards from scrimmage.
Washington definitely surprised Week 1 as well. Though many felt Jahan Dotson was a reach in the first round, he delivered right away with a pair of scores, and Carson Wentz was the upgrade last week's column forecasted, posting 0.30 Passing NEP per drop back.
These teams both played quickly, showing confidence in their offense. Detroit was fastest in the NFL in situation-neutral pace last week, and Washington was 12th.
Sharps have pounded the over here; 57% of bets are on it, but a whopping 86% of the handle is on the same side. I'm going to fall in line with it and see if these two offenses can keep it rolling.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Commanders 27-24
Pick #2: Falcons at Rams (Under 46.5)
We'll follow sharp money again with this trip to Los Angeles.
The Rams' offense was completely shut down to open the season. The Bills earned seven sacks despite not blitzing a single time, demonstrating that L.A. might significantly miss the now-retired Andrew Whitworth. They didn't really run (0.24 total Rushing NEP) to the standard Sean McVay has set, either.
The visiting Falcons forced four sacks last week, so they were converting well despite a poor pressure rate (26%) overall. Atlanta's 0.09 Offensive NEP per play was slightly below the league average in Week 1, and they especially struggled to convert touchdowns, kicking two red-zone field goals.
Bettors prefer to side with the "over," so it's no surprise to see 47% of tickets still on the over despite some hit-and-miss results for these teams in Week 1. However, a gargantuan 86% of the money is on the "under" here, expecting the Rams' star-studded defense to rebound as they drop from Josh Allen to Marcus Mariota.
Both of these teams were in the bottom half last week in situation-neutral pace, and if the Rams' offensive line issues continue, I could see Atlanta easily covering in a lower-scoring contest.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Rams 24-14