Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season was crazy. Underdogs went 12-4 against the spread, setting a record for the most underdogs to cover in Week 1 in NFL history. There were some bad beats, with the 49ers’ non-cover standing out as the worst of the bunch, and a few other games that came down to the final drive.
Overall, Week 1 was a learning experience, per usual. Now, Week 2 of the NFL season is here, and bettors are feeling a lot better about the data they’ve been given. That will help savvy gamblers find undervalued teams. Checking out the trends that could impact each team will help out, too.
That said, just because things didn’t go your way in Week 1 doesn’t mean it’s time to overreact. Too often, bettors let one game influence them and throw all of their offseason research out the window to chase recent trends. That’s a sure-fire way to lose money.
Maybe your sleeper team didn’t cover, but there’s still plenty of time for them to get back on track. And maybe your best bet didn’t hit, but that doesn’t mean that the team is bad. They might have just had a bad week, like the Packers did in Week 1.
Week 2 will help continue to shape our betting strategy as we learn more about each team. For now, it looks like there are some nice matchups that bettors can take advantage of in Week 2, so we’ll rely on trends and some recent results to tell us what those are.
Here’s a look at Sporting News’ best bets for Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season, including picks against the spread, moneyline bets, over/under wagers and some player props.
(All odds are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.)
Chiefs (-3.5) at Ravens
The Chiefs and Ravens both hit speed bumps in their season openers, but only the Chiefs emerged with a win. Patrick Mahomes helped the Chiefs overcome a 12-point deficit during a second-half rally against the Browns. Meanwhile, the Ravens blew a 14-point lead against the Raiders. It marked the first time they had lost a game in which they had a 14-point lead since 2014.
Up until Monday night’s overtime loss to the Raiders, the Ravens had won 98 straight games dating back to 2004 when they had a 14+ point-lead.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 14, 2021
Those performances aside, the Chiefs hold a significant advantage over the Ravens in recent meetings. John Harbaugh has struggled to beat Andy Reid during his career. He has just a 1-5 record against him in six meetings. That includes four consecutive losses to Reid’s Chiefs, and in the three games featuring Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, the Chiefs have won by an average of 7.3 points per game.
|2020||Chiefs win 34-20|
|2019||Chiefs win 33-28|
|2018||Chiefs win 27-24|
|2015||Chiefs win 34-14|
Jackson has largely struggled in those contests. He has averaged just 170.3 passing yards in three games against Kansas City, all losses. He has done better with his legs — running for 196 yards — but he has only accounted for four total TDs while committing two turnovers and being sacked nine times. Only the Browns (12) have sacked Jackson more during his career.
The Ravens are also banged up in the secondary, and couldn’t hold up late against the Raiders. If Jimmy Smith can’t play, that could make Patrick Mahomes’ job a bit easier. Even if he does play, Marcus Peters’ absence will continue to loom large and Mahomes should be able to pick apart the Ravens’ defense.
The trends say that betting on the Chiefs is a good value at -3.5, so we’ll be trusting them even in a tough Baltimore road environment.
Seahawks (-4.5) vs. Titans
This pick is all about trusting the Seattle crowd to rattle Ryan Tannehill’s Titans.
The Seahawks have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. The 12th man tends to show up in full force, and that’s part of why Russell Wilson has posted a 55-17 record at home during his career.
Seattle has gone 44-32-2 against the spread at home since Wilson took over at quarterback in 2012. That’s good for a cover percentage of 57.9, which is tied for the third-best in the NFL over the last nine seasons.
Needless to say, the “twelves” will want to welcome back their hometown team with a win. The Seahawks can be trusted to win by a touchdown after the Titans struggled to contain Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Tennessee allowed Arizona to score 38 points. Wilson is the NFL quarterback that is most similar to Murray, so the Tennessee defense could continue to struggle in coverage.
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Big bumps for Steelers and Saints, but how about that NFC West?
Broncos (-6) at Jaguars
A week after underdogs went 12-4, our best bets for the week are three favorites. Go figure, but hopefully, the principle of “regression to the mean” comes into play here.
Here’s something you probably don’t know about Teddy Bridgewater: during his career, the Broncos quarterback has posted a 36-13-1 record against the spread as a starter. He has been as steady as they come in terms of delivering covers, and he should have a chance to do that easily against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville is a dumpster fire right now, to put it kindly. Urban Meyer’s time in Jacksonville is already off to a rocky start, and his team just lost to the Texans by 16 despite being favored by three points.
The Broncos just manhandled the Giants and allowed only seven points before a last-second TD scramble by Daniel Jones cut the lead to 14. The Broncos have a strong roster and should be able to keep Trevor Lawrence and Co. in check. They have a good chance to win this game by double digits, though playing in hot, humid Jacksonville could be a challenge for Denver.
Eagles moneyline (+164) vs. 49ers
The Eagles are coming off a dominant win over the Falcons, but that’s not the main reason for this pick. It’s more about the 49ers’ secondary.
San Francisco lost its top cornerback, Jason Verrett, to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 1. Verrett was injured with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter and the 49ers leading 41-17. After he left the game, the 49ers were helpless to stop the Lions’ passing attack. They allowed 1.9 yards per play more with Verrett sidelined and gave up nearly as many points in three drives without Verrett as they did in 11 drives with him.
|Splits||Lions plays||Lions yards||Yards per play||Lions points|
|Before Verrett’s injury||59||288||4.9||17|
|After Verrett’s injury||29||196||6.8||16|
Certainly, that’s not a good sign for the 49ers. Their current cornerback depth chart is topped by the likes of Josh Norman, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams, rookie Ambry Thomas and rookie Deommodore Lenoir. That will make it hard for them to contain an improved Eagles receiving corps, especially given that the team also struggled to manage T.J. Hockenson.
Jalen Hurts, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith should do enough to keep the Eagles in the game against the 49ers. Their defense will help slow down the 49ers’ run game, which is without Raheem Mostert, so that’s a positive as well.
The Eagles are good enough in the trenches to win this one outright. It will just depend on whether Hurts can continue to throw accurately and make the right decisions against the 49ers’ defense.
Lions at Packers: OVER 48.5 (-108)
Yes, the Packers scored just three points in their Week 1 loss to the Saints, but that seems like an aberration. And Aaron Rodgers and Co. should be ready to perform well against a much weaker defense.
The Packers have been excellent at bouncing back after losses under Matt LaFleur. He is in his third season coaching the team and they are 6-0 following a loss in the regular season under his watch.
What they have done offensively in each of those games is even more impressive. The Packers have averaged 33.2 points after regular-season losses since LaFleur became coach in 2019. They have never failed to score fewer than 24 points in any of those contests.
The Lions just allowed the 49ers to rack up 41 points on them in a game where 74 total points were scored. Even if the Packers come out swinging and make this a blowout, the Lions will have a chance to get some garbage time points to assist the over. This seems like a solid bet as long as the line doesn’t move above 50.
Vikings vs. Cardinals: OVER 50.5 (-118)
This is another NFC game that seems likely to hit the over. The Vikings have had the over hit in 12 of their last 17 games dating back to the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. They have struggled to contain opposing passing offenses, and viewers saw that firsthand in their loss to the Bengals.
Joe Burrow was able to throw the ball relatively easily against Minnesota’s porous secondary. Just imagine what Kyler Murray and Co. will be able to do against that unit with Murray looking fully healthy. Arizona took on a similarly overrated Tennessee defense in Week 1 and posted 38 points. They could have a chance to do that again in Week 2.
The only concern here is that the Vikings will probably need to mount at least a decent offensive outing for this number to hit. That could be tough considering how good the Cardinals pass rush looked with Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt working together. Still, the Vikings have some explosive playmakers like Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook that should allow them to move the ball enough for this to hit.
If you’re too afraid to bet an over above 50, feel free to bet the Cardinals to go over 27.5 points. That should happen in this one. The major drawbacks here come solely on the Vikings’ side of the ball.
Jets point total: UNDER 17.5 (-114) vs. Patriots
Taking the Patriots at (-5.5) in the game wouldn’t be a bad bet, but the best bet involving the game is the under for the Jets’ point total. Zach Wilson had some issues in his first start against a solid Panthers defense. He didn’t get anything going until the Jets were down by 16 points, and he took six sacks for 51 yards on the day. He led the Jets to just 14 points during the contest.
Now, he’ll face a Patriots defense that is even better than that of the Panthers. He also gets to face a coach who has been elite against rookie quarterbacks for the last two decades.
Bill Belichick always finds a way to rattle rookie quarterbacks. The Patriots’ coach has a 21-6 career record against rookies, and New England has allowed an average of 10.2 points in their last five games against rookie QBs. That dates back to 2018. The rookies they faced during that span are Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones.
Not all of those quarterbacks have panned out, but Allen, Herbert and Tagovailoa at least look to be strong starters. If the Patriots have limited those players to an average of 10.2 points, they can certainly keep Wilson to under 17.5. They may have a chance to shut out Wilson if all goes well; they did shut Herbert out last season, so feel free to trust the Patriots in this spot.
Player props will be added throughout the week leading up to games.
Antonio Gibson rushing attempts: OVER 16.5 (-114)
The Washington Football Team is taking on the Giants on “Thursday Night Football,” and they’ll be doing so with their backup quarterback. Taylor Heinicke will start in place of an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick in what figures to be a grind-it-out type of game.
What does that mean for Antonio Gibson? Well, it means that Washington may run the ball more. They’ll want to put as little pressure on Heinicke as possible, and establishing the run would give them a chance to control the clock and wear down the Giants’ defense.
It also helps that Washington has a strong defense that should force Daniel Jones into some turnovers. If they can do that and can score off turnovers to build a lead, that will give Gibson more opportunities to carry the ball.
Gibson doesn’t have a lot of competition for carries on the roster. J.D. McKissic and Jaret Patterson ran the ball just three total times in Week 1 while Gibson got 20 carries. So long as he doesn’t fumble, Gibson should have a chance to get 20 carries again to support Heinicke.