Whole Nine Sports

Week 2 NFL Locks of the Week

NFL Betting
Dan Ambrosino
Follow Dan @AmbrosinoNFL
Follow Whole Nine Sports @WholeNineSports

Welcome back bettors. After a wild Week 1 of the NFL, let’s get back into betting strategy forWeek 2. While we shouldn’t overreact to what happened in the NFL’s first week, it doesn’t mean that the public hasn’t. NFL lines are driven by the public’s perception of teams. Vegas may set the initial line, but the line movement revolves around how much money the public is laying down on a certain side. If more money comes on the Patriots to cover, the oddsmakers will adjust the line so more people will bet the Dolphins to cover.

Ultimately, Vegas tries to get the lines as even as possible to limit any exposure they to the actual bet. They get even money on both sides, take the 2% vig, and walk away happy. In order for you to walk away happy, we need to take a look at if the spread is undervaluing or overvaluing certain teams.

Last week, I went 1-1-1. The Redskins had a backdoor cover in the last minute of the game in garbage time, and the Panthers cut the lead to three with very little time remaining. It happens. What is important, however, is that the analysis was correct. If you go back and look at the article, you will see that all of the facts were proven true in the game. I believe with a little more information under my belt, I can produce a winning week. Without further ado, here are my Week 2 Football Locks of the Week (odds courtesy of footballlocks.com).

Last Week: 1-1-1

Season TOT: 1-1-1

Kansas City -7.5 @ Oakland

Kansas City Chiefs

I will give the Raiders credit. They executed their game plan to perfection last week versus the Denver Broncos despite all of the Antonio Brown drama surrounding the team. However, they are no match for the Kansas City Chiefs. Against one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and 3 TDs at a completion percentage of 76%. They did all of this without Tyreek Hill for the majority of the game. The Raiders will be without their star rookie safety Johnathan Abram after he tore his rotator cuff and labrum, and their CB Gareon Conley suffered a gruesome injury in the game as well. The Chiefs should easily be able to continue their ferocious passing attack with Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, and rookie speedster Mecole Hardman in the fold.

The Chiefs run game was also unstoppable versus a ferocious defensive line. Lesean McCoy ran 10 times for 81 yards and Damien Williams ran for 26 yards and a score on 13 carries. The Raiders allowed 5.6 yards per carry to Royce Freeman and 4.1 yards per carry to Philip Lindsay in the last game. I thought the Raiders defense played well against the Broncos, but the Chiefs offense with Patrick Mahomes is much more dynamic than Joe Flacco and company. I expect the Chiefs to do what they did last week and score a lot of points.

Oakland Raiders

On the other side of the ball, Derek Carr and his offense were surprisingly good. They ran a ball control system by pounding the rock with rookie Josh Jacobs and utilizing Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller on the perimeter. However, Carr averaged 9.0 yards per pass attempt, meaning many of his throws were in the short or intermediate area. In order to beat the Chiefs, Carr will need to throw it downfield and gain yardage on chunk plays. Outside of Tyrell Williams, I don’t believe the Raiders have enough speed on offense to throw it downfield. If they Raiders try to play ball control offense, they have a chance, but Kansas City only allowed 81 rushing yards against Jacksonville last week.

I expect the Chiefs to get hot early, forcing Carr and company to play catchup. If the Raiders can’t slow the game down, this can get out of hand quickly. Coming off a short week, expect the Raiders to lose this game by double digits, as Patrick Mahomes looks to repeat as MVP.

Score: Chiefs 34 – Raiders 24

Pittsburgh -3.5 vs Seattle

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers we saw on Sunday night versus the Patriots are not the team we will see the rest of the season. Bill Belichick is Mike Tomlin’s kryptonite, and he knows exactly how to outsmart the Steelers’ coaching staff. We will see the Patriots do that to a lot of opponents this year.

The Steelers have a terrific offensive line, a stud running back, and a star receiver as their ancillary weapons to Ben Roethlisberger. Despite being outcoached and outplayed, the Steelers showed positive signs. They held the Patriots rushing attack to 99 yards on 29 carries (3.3 yards per carry). In a game in which they were being blown out, this is impressive. Also, despite all of the pressure New England brought; the Steelers O-line only gave up one sack. James Conner

got game scripted out and Juju Smith-Schuster was double covered most of the game. I don’t see this trend continuing against Seattle.

The Seahawks allowed Andy Dalton to pass for 418 yards and 2 touchdowns against them. They continually let subpar receivers like John Ross and Tyler Boyd get behind them in the secondary. While they were able to stop the run, this is partly due to Joe Mixon getting injured during the game. I expect the Steelers to push the ball effectively against a rebuilding Seahawks secondary.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks offense is purely predicated on the run. Of the 35 touches by a Seahawk skill position player, 27 went to the running back (77%). The Steelers linebacking core is one of the best in the league, with three first round picks in Devin Bush, Bud Dupree, and Mark Barron manning the unit. The Seahawks will likely be forced to utilize their receiving weapons in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in order to win. Russell Wilson, while efficient, only threw for 196 yards on 14/20 passing, with two of those completions accounting for 86 yards (nearly 44% of his total passing yards). While the Steelers did get beat deep during their match with the Patriots, those issues are transparent enough to fix with simple coaching adjustments.

I contend the Steelers will cover the 3.5 point line. Their opponent needs to travel cross-country for a 1:00 EST start and face a team highly motivated from being embarrassed on national television. I see the Seahawks’ run game being stymied and Ben Roethlisberger bouncing back with a home crowd. Bet the Steelers to win by about a touchdown.

Score: Steelers 23 – Seahawks 17

Arizona +13.5 @ Baltimore

Baltimore Ravens

I’m not sure if there is a team more overhyped right now than the Baltimore Ravens. They had a very impressive game, where Lamar Jackson threw for 5 TDs and the offense scored 59 points. However, how much of that is a testament to their offense being good as opposed to the Miami Dolphins being a dumpster fire? I believe we saw more of a mirage in Miami than actual truth.

Last year, Lamar Jackson completed 58% of his throws and threw 5 TDs to 3 INTs in the 7 games he started. I refuse to believe he could match that touchdown total in one game and improve his completion percentage drastically (85% last game) after just one offseason. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Their running game will still be dynamic, and their defense is still very good.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals, on the other hand, played three and a half quarters of awful football, until Kyler Murray and the offense started playing to their strengths. They used hurry-up, quick passing, and moved the pocket to buy Kyler time. The Cardinals offense needed to work out the kinks in the first game and should drastically improve moving forward. Murray ended the game with 308 yards passing, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. If he can manage a similar stat line versus Baltimore, the Cardinals should be able to cover the spread.

The Cardinal defense also played better than expected. They held the Lions rushing attack to 116 yards on 32 carries (3.6 YPC), which is decent. The banged-up Cardinals’ secondary will also have less trouble dealing with rookies Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin as opposed to the established Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones of the Lions. Despite how it may look, this game will be a lot closer than it appears.

Expect Kyler Murray to do enough to keep the Cardinals in it to the end, and for Lamar Jackson to revert to his running preference as the passing lanes become clogged.

Score: Ravens 26 Cardinals 19