There is no drama like NFL drama. Mix in the weekly challenges against the point spreads and totals, a parlay here and a survivor contest there — plus several fantasy rosters — and offseason doldrums are understandable.
“It just doesn’t disappoint,” says South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews of the sports world’s 80-ton gorilla. “Every year, the same thing. Every year.”
And for the season-opening weekend, yet again, it was good to be the house.
“Yeah,” says Andrews, “it was very good.”
Will Baltimore franchise-tag Lamar Jackson next season? Did Denver’s greenhorn boss think he was a mile high when he ordered that 64-yard field-goal attempt? Did Tom Brady really, says People magazine, un-retire without consenting the better half?
And then there’s Dallas, the prime-time soap opera that never really went off the air, did it?
A broken thumb on his throwing hand required surgery, shelving quarterback Dak Prescott and turning the Cowboys’ odds upside-down.
Andrews reviewed his power ratings and noted that he would have installed Dallas, with a healthy Prescott, as a two-point home favorite Sunday against Cincinnati.
Instead, he opened Bengals -7. In our short time chatting about the game, money had eked it past that magic number to 7.5.
“It isn’t always just how good the [starting] quarterback is,” says Andrews, “but how good is the backup?”
Current line: Check NFL Week 2 odds here
Prescott’s understudy Cooper Rush had started one game, a victory in Minnesota, in five seasons in Dallas.
For pure entertainment value, Jerry Jones, never far from a reporter’s pad, microphone, or telephone, has no equal among his 31 owner-peers. The Cowboys’ kingpin himself noted how Prescott will be kept off the IR in hopes of a speedy recovery.
“We want him to be in consideration for playing within the next four games,” Jones told reporters. “We think he will be back out there throwing pretty quick. That’s not being optimistic. That’s us having good surgery.”
As The NFL Turns. Weekly viewing is dynamite.
Each team’s records, overall and ATS, are in parentheses.
Betting Line: Dolphins (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Ravens (1-0, 1-0 ATS)
The opening number of Ravens -4.5 moved to 3.5 during early wagering.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 1:02pm ET
|MIA Dolphins||at||BAL Ravens|
|M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland|
Andrews watched mid-week money come in on Miami, a move with which he concurred.
“I’ve been kinda high on the Dolphins, and I’m not that high on the Ravens,” he says. “I know Baltimore had a lot of injuries last year and everyone was making excuses for it.
“Jackson is terrific. Other than him, who do they have on offense? I mean, I don’t see anybody on their offense that’s any good.”
Betting Line: Patriots (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Steelers (1-0, 1-0 ATS)
Pittsburgh is priced on oddsboards as the short favorite, although Andrews isn’t sure the betting market has that right.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 1:02pm ET
|NE Patriots||at||PIT Steelers|
|Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
Stellar linebacker JJ Watt (torn pectoral muscle) will be out for a while, and tailback Najee Harris (foot), who ran for only 23 yards last week, said Wednesday he expects to play.
Mitchell Trubisky, the Steelers’ new quarterback, went 21-for-38 for 194 yards and a TD, with one sack, in the overtime triumph over Cincinnati.
For the Pats, QB Mac Jones has been nursing a sore back and he missed practice Thursday with an upset stomach.
Through all of that uncertainty, Andrews opened this at pick’em, and New England money has tilted the scales. As he weighs those questions, Andrews ponders the Patriots’ 20-7 defeat in Miami.
“I’m not sure New England should be a favorite here. They sure didn’t look like they’re setting the world on fire.”
Also read: Steelers part of NFL Week 2 Wong Teaser
Betting Line: Buccaneers (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Saints (1-0, 0-1 ATS)
There’s been a move on the Under in this NFC South clash.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 1:02pm ET
|TB Buccaneers||at||NO Saints|
|Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
Bet NFL at Caesars: $1,250 First Bet + 1000 Tier Credits + 1000 Reward Credits®
This is indoors, so the weather hasn’t been a factor in this total being sliced from an opener of 46. On Wednesday, the Bucs had a long list of linemen and receivers that missed practice with injuries.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay possesses the NFL’s lone defense, at 0.047, which allows fewer than 0.100 points per play. That’s impressive. Anyone for a 6-3 game? And what exactly are the prop odds for zero TDs in this one?
Also read: NFL Week 3 picks include one on Bucs vs. Saints
Betting Line: Seahawks (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at 49ers (0-1, 0-1 ATS)
Weather could be a factor again for Trey Lance and the 49ers.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 4:05pm ET
|SEA Seahawks||at||SF 49ers|
|Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
Andrews had not heard that Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith had improved to 9-0 ATS as a starter in his past nine starts — for Seattle, the Giants, and the Jets — stretching back to 2014, with Monday’s cover.
“He’s not bad,” says Andrews. “He’s not great, obviously. But he’s not bad.”
A Florida native who played at West Virginia, the 31-year-old Smith has thrown for 36 touchdowns and 37 picks in his career. His QB Rating of 119.5 is third in the league.
Added Andrews, “I don’t think much of the Seahawks. I think they’re a pretty bad team.”
In his debut as the Niners’ starter, Trey Lance was horrible in the Soldier Field mud bowl, going 13-for-28 for 164 yards, an interception, and two sacks.
Andrews points out that Lance had the benefit of playing inside the Fargodome at North Dakota State.
“He didn’t have that much experience playing in any kind of weather, and it sure showed. He certainly didn’t look very comfortable. I don’t know who would have looked very comfortable, but he certainly didn’t.”
The Sunday afternoon forecast for Santa Clara is 66 degrees, with a 70% chance of rain and 14-mph winds.
Betting Line: Bengals (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Cowboys (0-1, 0-1 ATS)
Action on the Under has prompted a downward move on the total.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 4:26pm ET
|CIN Bengals||at||DAL Cowboys|
|AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
Six minutes into the Dallas opener last weekend, Brett Maher booted a 51-yard field goal. That was it. No more scoring by the Cowboys, the lone NFL squad without a TD.
Prescott exited halfway through the fourth quarter. Rush took over and threw for 64 yards, nearly half as much as Prescott had accumulated in 3½ quarters.
A Michigan native and Central Michigan product, the 28-year-old Rush has played in 11 games for the Cowboys. In that triumphant start at Minnesota last season, he went 24-for-40 for 325 yards, two TDs, and a pick.
Andrews opened this total at 44.5, it eked down a point in about a day and a half, then got bet down two more points within 24 hours.
Cincy quarterback Joe Burrow had four passes picked off last weekend, and he fumbled twice (one of those went to the other guys). He doesn’t figure to be that bad again, but he was sacked seven times, too.
The Bengals did record the opening weekend’s best overall-defensive marks, according to one ratings system, so this promises to be a huge challenge for Rush.
Dallas’s secret weapon might be KaVontae Turpin, whose 80 total return yards on five kick and punt returns lead the league.
Are Cowboys the play? NFL Week 2 Betting Tips & Strategies
Betting Line: Texans (0-0-1, 1-0 ATS) at Broncos (0-1, 0-1 ATS)
Andrews’s power ratings actually made this spread 11 points.
“It’s a little bit light [at 10], but I wouldn’t be too anxious to lay points with the Broncos.”
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 4:25pm ET
|HOU Texans||at||DEN Broncos|
|Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado|
$2,000 in Risk-Free Bets at PointsBet with Promo Code BONUSDAY
That’s because new head coach Nathaniel Hackett went for that ill-fated field goal in Seattle instead of giving quarterback Russell Wilson, for whom Denver mortgaged the world to acquire, a fourth-and-five shot.
“Terrible,” says Andrews. “I saw Peyton Manning [on a side telecast] calling, ‘Timeout!’ Makes no sense to me, whatsoever.”
One clip shows Manning calling — or signaling with both hands — for a timeout 62 times before Denver finally does call time. Later, when discussing the tough AFC West, we revert back to the Denver gaffe.
“The guy’s been around a while,” says Andrews. “I can’t believe he did that, but they do goofy things, these guys.”
Hackett, 42, has actually only been around NFL locker rooms for 13 years. There’s much to learn.
Betting Line: Cardinals (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Raiders (0-1, 0-1 ATS)
A couple of half-point movements — “some business,” he terms it — quickly nudged this up from Andrews’s 4.5 opener.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 4:25pm ET
|ARI Cardinals||at||LV Raiders|
|Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada|
Ex-Packers star receiver Davante Adams (141 yards, a TD) produced, but the Raiders still lost and did not cover against the Chargers. Andrews, though, thinks the local NFLers are solid.
“They have a great offense and skill positions,” he says. “Obviously, they have to worry about the offensive line again. They tried to address it, but I’m not sure how well they addressed it. And their defense has some flaws.
“They’re in a very tough division, but I think this team is very good.”
Houston’s danger man is linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who holds the Texans record with 19 total tackles and slipped into second on that list with 18 last weekend against the Colts.
Betting Line: Bears (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Packers (0-1, 0-1 ATS)
Green Bay opened -9 in Las Vegas last Sunday night, a number that’s been nudged up.
NFL · Sun (9/18) @ 8:22pm ET
|CHI Bears||at||GB Packers|
|Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin|
The Packers were a mess last weekend, with issues including young receivers who can’t catch and an as-usual banged-up offensive line. However, every Bears fan knows the numbers.
Of its past 11 defeats (not including playoffs, ahem), Green Bay is 11-0 straight up and ATS. In those games, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 26 TDs and had only one pass picked off.
Against Chicago on Sunday Night Football, Rodgers is 6-0 SU and ATS, with 23 TDs and zero interceptions. At Lambeau, he’s only lost 19 of 106 regular-season games, and he’s 23-5 (21-7 ATS) lifetime against the Bears, with 61 TDs and 10 interceptions.
The Bears and second-year QB Justin Fields beat San Francisco in a Soldier Field slop-fest last weekend.
But I talked to one professional bettor, a lifelong Bears fan who utterly despises Rodgers, who will either give the points here or have no action in this NBC standalone spotlight. He knows all the aforementioned figures and won’t stand in their way.
“I think they’ll get better as the year progresses,” says Andrews. “I think what we’re seeing right now is probably the worst version of Green Bay. Rodgers has got to get some sort of rhythm going with these receivers.
“So far, he doesn’t have that. But I think he will develop that during the course of the year. Chicago’s defense is very good. The question mark is its offense.”
Since 2014, the Bears are 42-12 when allowing 19 points or fewer, and 12-66 when yielding at least 20 points.
The chance for rain is more than 40% at kickoff, decreasing as the game progresses.
Also read: Bears vs. Packers prediction
Betting Line: Titans (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Bills (1-0, 1-0 ATS)
Andrews opened this 10.5, which some professionals snapped up right away.
“I think the public will wind up betting the Bills, but I’ll probably be rooting for [Buffalo] come Monday night.”
NFL · Mon (9/19) @ 7:15pm ET
|TEN Titans||at||BUF Bills|
|Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, New York|
It’s no surprise that Buffalo’s Josh Allen, at 9.6, owns the NFL’s top yards-per-attempt average.
There is a better-than 40% chance of rain at kickoff, which should dissipate into the evening.
Betting Line: Vikings (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Eagles (1-0, 0-1 ATS)
Andrews was surprised that more money, at least for the first few days, came in on the Eagles.
“I thought the Vikings looked really good,” he says. Minnesota, a slim opening dog but then a 2-point favorite, had its way in a 23-7 home victory over Green Bay.
NFL · Mon (9/19) @ 8:31pm ET
|MIN Vikings||at||PHI Eagles|
|Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
Philly did not cover as a six-point favorite in defeating Detroit, 38-35. It does feature the two-headed rushing dynamo of Miles Sanders (96 yards) and QB Jalen Hurts (90), both top-10 in the NFL.
The Eagles’ secondary figures to have a long evening trying to harness Minnesota receiver Justin Jefferson, who has a league-leading 184 reception yards.
Hear from another bookmaker: BetMGM’s Jason Scott offers thoughts on sports betting industry
Photo of Derek Carr and Davante Adams by AP Photo/Kirk Irwin.