If you entered a survivor pool this year, there is a good chance you survived Week 1. Money line favorites finished the week with an 11-3-1 record. The biggest favorite to lose was the Cleveland Browns, who kicked off at -235.
Other favorites to lose were the New York Jets (-166) and Chicago Bears (-152). Depending on your league rules, the Lions at -140 ended in a tie with the Arizona Cardinals. Those who took the Eagles and Seahawks (my two tips from last week) were definitely on edge for each of their games. The Eagles (-420) overcame a 13-point halftime deficit as their offense awoke from their slumber in the second half. The Seahawks (-400) also had a much tougher test than expected and had to fight off the Bengals on the last possession for a one-point win.
Like last week, my selections for this week will be broken down by the following categories: safest picks, riskier plays that will be popular, and contrarian plays to beat a large pool. Even though survivor pool rules say you cannot pick the same team twice, I will outline multiple scenarios in case bettors wish to navigate their own path. Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 2 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
|New England Patriots||-3000|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-470|
|Green Bay Packers||-152|
|Los Angeles Rams||-144|
|Los Angeles Chargers||-132|
New England Patriots (-3000), Baltimore Ravens (-750)
Is there going to be a bigger mismatch between any two teams in the NFL this season than the Patriots and the Dolphins? The Patriots are a whopping 18.5 point favorites, the biggest road favorite they have been in the last 10 years. One would argue the only bigger mismatch would be when the Patriots play the Dolphins at home. However, that game is Week 17 this year and New England might have nothing to play for at season’s end.
Survivor pool specialists are challenged with the decision of taking the sure thing and advancing with the Patriots this week, or waiting for a better spot with them later in the season. Either way, I am sure we will hear news of some bettor who risked something like $300,000 to win $10,000. If only I had that kind of money to risk.
The Ravens make the most sense of any pick this week. As mentioned last week, I prefer to stay away from picking road teams whenever possible. The Ravens’ home opponents for the rest of the season are the Browns, Bengals, Patriots, Texans, 49ers, Jets, and Steelers.
With the exception of waiting until Week 6 against the Bengals, I don’t see an easier win on the Ravens’ schedule than this week against Arizona. Given how much of a scare the Bengals gave me last week against Seattle, I want no part of betting against them for a while. Plus, A.J. Green may be healthy by Week 5, which makes the Bengals’ offensive attack that much stronger. The name of the game is “survive and advance.” You cannot go wrong with either pick, but for strategic purposes, take the Ravens this week and save the Patriots for weeks where there may not be better options.
Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular
Kansas City Chiefs (-470), Houston Texans (-420), Carolina Panthers (-320), Dallas Cowboys (-200)
The Kansas City Chiefs will be a popular play as they travel to Oakland to play the Raiders. The Raiders will be at a slight disadvantage after playing a late Monday night game. However, one of my cardinal rules is to avoid road-division games when possible. Given that the Chiefs get these same Raiders at home later in the season, it makes more sense to wait. Plus, why not wait until the offense is full strength and not without wide receiver Tyreek Hill out of the lineup?
The Houston Texans looked like they stole a win in New Orleans on Monday night, only to have their hearts ripped out by Drew Brees and kicker Wil Lutz on the last drive. The Texans are catching the Jaguars at a good time in Week 2, as Gardner Minshew will be making his first NFL start in place of the injured Nick Foles. However, Minshew looked pretty good against the Chiefs last week, completing 88% of his passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. My biggest fear is the Texans are on a short week and may come out flat given the devastating way they lost last week. Wait for a better spot with the Texans.
Carolina is a near-touchdown favorite against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Something about this game being played on a Thursday makes for a risky proposition. In addition, the Buccaneers are known to play well and pull huge upsets when least expected (see Week 1 at New Orleans last year).
The Dallas Cowboys face their second divisional opponent this week as they travel to Washington. Just like the Bengals before, I’d prefer to stay away from betting against the Redskins given how much of a scare they gave the Eagles last week.
Contrarian Play to Beat a Large Pool
Chicago Bears (-114)
Are the defending NFC North Champion Chicago Bears really as bad as they looked in Week 1? The Bears’ home schedule includes teams like the Vikings, Saints, Cowboys, and Chiefs. The Vegas line of 1.5 points suggests this is a game where the Bears are ripe for an upset.
However, I think the Bears have a huge advantage in that they are coming off extra rest after playing last Thursday, while the Broncos are on a short week after playing late Monday night. The Broncos’ offense looked out of sorts and their defense didn’t touch Raiders quarterback Derek Carr the entire game. It is not the safest pick, but those looking to save better teams for future weeks should give a look to Chicago.