I don’t want to overreact too much to what we saw in Week 1 — because the Jaguars were bad under head coach Urban Meyer in his first NFL game — but the Texans looked dominant.
Tyrod Taylor in particular was great with 21-of-33 passing for 291 yards and two touchdowns and 4-40-0 rushing. At times he looked like a Deshaun Watson doppelganger.
Yes, the Texans are probably still a bad team — but maybe they’re not as bad as we thought, and they’re getting double-digit points.
As a starter, Taylor is 28-18-3 against the spread for his career, and he has consistently exceeded expectations wherever he has been. For instance, even with the lackluster 2018 Browns, Taylor went 3-0 ATS before being replaced by quarterback Baker Mayfield — and you know what that means: #RevengeGame.
Pick: Texans +12.5
Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts Week 2 odds
The Rams are traveling from west to east and playing in the early game Sunday, but that won’t dissuade me from backing them.
In Week 1, the Rams looked as good as ever. Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford was 20-of-26 passing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in his first game with the team, and the defense held the Bears to just 14 points.
Meanwhile, in Week 1 new Colts quarterback Carson Wentz — with his 251-yard performance on 38 attempts — looked like the guy who underwhelmed for years with the Eagles following his 2017 MVP-caliber campaign. In the post-injury/hype era of the past three-plus seasons, opponents are 27-14 ATS against Wentz.
The Colts are exploitable, and Rams head coach Sean McVay is an exploiter: He is 8-1 ATS with the Rams in Weeks 1-2. Maybe that’s just randomness, but McVay is a meticulous planner, and I’m willing to bet that’s the reason his Rams have started fast.
This line opened at -3.5 Sunday night and has steadily been bet up to -6 or a juiced -5.5 at most books, so I'm getting a little bit of a discount to market right now by betting this at DraftKings — but I'm definitely not getting the best of the number overall.
I regret not betting this earlier, but I still believe I'm fine as long as I'm grabbing this under -6.
The Patriots look like they have returned to form on defense, and rookie quarterback Mac Jones impressed with his poise and game manager-plus efficiency in Week 1.
Pick: Patriots -5.5
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 2 odds
You can say whatever you want about the 49ers and their Week 1 bad beat after leading 38-10 in the third quarter and 41-17 in the fourth quarter.
But not covering as favorites is what head coach Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers do. In his four-plus years with the team, underdogs are 18-9-1 ATS against the 49ers. When Shanahan’s 49ers have an edge, they have managed to make the least of it.
And the Eagles looked good in Week 1, especially second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was 27-of-35 passing with 264 yards and three touchdowns and 7-62-0 rushing.
The Eagles +165 moneyline was one of my best DraftKings bets for Week 1, as I thought they had underappreciated strength on both sides of the ball entering their matchup with the Falcons, and I still believe that’s the case as they enter Week 2.
I’m not saying that Hurts will have a 2019 Lamar Jackson-like campaign — but it’s within the range of outcomes: Good luck getting Hurts at +10000 to win MVP heading into Week 2.
At anything more than a field goal, I’m happy to back the Eagles, even if I must pay a little extra juice.
Pick: Eagles +3.5
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars Week 2 odds
This line is -6 at every other book, so there’s lineshopping value here (even at -115 odds), and it’s worthwhile to pay a little extra juice to get below the somewhat key number of -6.
The Broncos have a top-five defense, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was good in Week 1 with 28-of-36 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns and 3-19-0 rushing against a tough Giants defense.
A game manager by reputation, Bridgewater displayed surprising downfield aggressiveness in Week 1, and it paid off.
As for the Jags … they entered Week 1 as -3.5 favorites and lost to the Texans by 16 points. Anything less than -7 in this game feels bettable, especially considering that Bridgewater is a heroic 22-3 ATS on the road for his career.
Pick: Broncos -5.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 2 odds
This line is -5.5 at every other book, so we once again get value by betting it at FanDuel.
In Week 1, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did what he does. He was an incredibly efficient 18-of-23 passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns as the Seahawks sailed to an easy 28-16 victory over the Colts.
The oven is officially turned on: Russ is ready to cook — and in Week 1 the Titans looked like dead meat. They performed poorly on both sides of the ball in their 38-13 home loss to the Cardinals, and now they are playing in Seattle, where Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is 54-38-3 ATS for his career.
The Seahawks are one of the few teams in the NFL that have a true home-field advantage — and I don’t think they need much extra help to dominate the Titans, who allowed Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to have his way with them with 21-of-32 passing for 289 yards and four touchdowns (to one interception) and 5-20-1 rushing.
Some of that was because Murray is a great player — but so is Wilson. And a large part of that was because the Titans have little strength at cornerback.
Pick: Seahawks -4.5
Freedman’s favorite player props
Player prop lines move quickly, so these are my six favorites only as of writing. As Sunday approaches, I will surely find new favorites, which I will add to my prop card in the Bet Tracker.
Taylor Heinicke over 21.5 yards rushing (-120, Caesars): I'm not even sure if I'm spelling his last name right, but Heinicke rushed for 17 yards last week while playing 71% of the snaps, and last year as an in-game replacement in Week 16 he rushed for 22 yards on just 35% of the snaps. In his two NFL starts (Week 16 in 2018 and Wild Card Round last year), he rushed for 33 and 46 yards.
James Conner over 8.5 carries (-115, DraftKings): The Cardinals are home favorites, Conner had 16 carries for 53 yards in Week 1, and the Vikings just watched Joe Mixon put up 29 carries on them. It’s worth remembering that the 2018-20 version of Conner averaged 1,040.3 yards and 8.7 touchdowns from scrimmage in 12 games per year.
Jalen Hurts over 49.5 yards rushing (-110, Caesars): In his four full NFL starts, Hurts has 106, 63, 69 and 62 yards rushing. The dude is a runner.
Alvin Kamara over 4.5 receptions (+110, BetMGM): Kamara had four of quarterback Jameis Winston’s 20 targets last week, so he’s still a key part of the receiving game, and the team is without Nos. 1-2 wide receivers Michael Thomas (ankle, PUP) and Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring, IR), so Kamara should see targets. In his one game against the Panthers last year, Kamara was 8-65-0 receiving on eight targets.
Matthew Freedman is the Chief Strategy Officer of FTN Network and a betting and fantasy analyst who focuses on the NFL, including the draft. He also dabbles in player props for NBA, NHL, and MLB. Before joining FTN, he was the Editor-in-Chief at FantasyLabs, part of The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFtheOracle.