NFL Week 1 was all about going contrarian and buying low on underdogs. True to form, dogs went a sparkling 12-4 ATS, including nine outright victories. Now it’s on to Week 2, which is commonly referred to as Overreaction Week. The public will be placing bets largely based on how teams performed in Week 1. If a team looked great, the public will happily tail it this week. If it lost or failed to cover, the public will consider it an auto-fade. But this recency bias can be dangerous, and value-minded bettors will look to capitalize on teams being undervalued. Simply put, wise guys will look to take advantage of market inefficiencies by buying low on teams that struggled last week and selling high on teams that impressed.
Here are five NFL Week 2 games that pros are targeting.
New York Giants (0-1) at Washington Football Team (0-1)
This “Thursday Night Football” matchup features division rivals looking to bounce back from disappointing losses. The Giants got manhandled by the Broncos 27-13, failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. Similarly, Washington fell to the Chargers 20-16 at home, losing outright as a 2-point home favorite. This line opened with Washington listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. With Ryan Fitzpatrick injured and Taylor Heinicke starting in his place, a combination of an injury adjustment along with pro money favoring the Giants dropped the line from 4.5 to 3.5. Some shops are even down to 3. The Giants have value as divisional dogs in a prime-time game and dogs with a low total (41). Low totals benefit dogs, as fewer expected points scored makes it harder for favorites to cover. When two winless teams face off, the road dog is about 65% ATS over the last decade. Also, the lead ref, Scott Novak, has historically favored road teams (40-27 ATS, 59.7%).
Buffalo Bills (0-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-0)
The Bills dropped their opener to the Steelers 23-16, losing outright as 6.5-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the pesky Dolphins walked into Foxborough and upset the Patriots 17-16 as 3.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Buffalo listed as a 3.5-point road favorite. The public says the Bills are a great team and will bounce back and roll Miami. However, despite this lopsided betting, the line has remained stagnant at 3.5. In fact, some shops look to be inching down to 3. This signals some sharp line freeze action and possible reverse line movement buying low on the Dolphins, particularly at + 3.5 with the hook. Miami has value as a contrarian home divisional dog. Divisional dogs often bark loudest due to the built-in familiarity leveling the playing field. September divisional dogs are about 60% ATS over the last decade.
Los Angeles Rams (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
This nonconference matchup is one of the ultimate buy-low, sell-high plays of Week 2. The Rams crushed the Bears 34-14 on “Sunday Night Football,” easily covering as 9.5-point home favorites. On the flip side, the Colts fell to the Seahawks 28-16, failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. This line opened with Los Angeles listed as a 4-point road favorite. The public can’t believe this line is so low and is rushing to the window to lay the points with the Rams, expecting a blowout win and cover. However, despite this lopsided betting toward Los Angeles, the line hasn’t budged. This signals some line freeze liability on the Colts, as the oddsmakers refuse to move to 4.5 and hand out the hook to contrarian wise guys buying low on Indianapolis. The Rams are also in a tough schedule spot, as they’re a West Coast team going east for an early game. Indianapolis is one of the top contrarian plays of the week as well, as about 75% of tickets are riding with the Rams.
Denver Broncos (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
These nondivision opponents are coming off polar-opposite performances. The Broncos took care of business against the Giants, winning 27-13 and covering as 3-point road favorites. But the Jaguars got embarrassed by the lowly Texans 37-21, losing outright as 3.5-point road favorites. This line opened with Denver listed as a 6.5-point road favorite. The public is absolutely hammering the Broncos, expecting an easy win and cover. However, this line has actually fallen from 6.5 to 6. Why would the oddsmakers drop the line to make it easier for the public when it already likes Denver? Because respected pro money has bought low on the Jaguars plus the points, triggering reverse line movement in their favor. The Broncos will be playing their second straight road game, which is often a difficult schedule spot. The Jaguars will also enjoy heightened home-field advantage with fans back in the stands. Also, Denver will miss wide receiver Jerry Jeudy with an injury.
Minnesota Vikings (0-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
The public perception of these teams couldn’t be more different. The Vikings just fell to the lowly Bengals 27-24, losing outright as 3-point road favorites. Meanwhile, the Cardinals looked unstoppable in a dominant 38-13 victory over the Titans, winning outright as 2.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Arizona listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. The public is pounding the Cardinals, who looked far better in Week 1 than the Vikings. However, the line has remained frozen at 4.5, which signals a line freeze and some reluctance on the part of the books to hand out a better number to contrarian Vikings bettors. Typically, teams are given 3 points for home-field advantage. So this line indicates that Arizona is only 1.5 points better on a neutral site. In other words, the teams are evenly matched. Short road dogs + 6 or less went 51-33 ATS (61%) last season. Dogs that missed the playoffs last year, like Minnesota, went 9-2 ATS in Week 1.