Week 1 of the NFL season was one of the most competitively priced in recent history with no team favored by more than 7 points.
The Patriots were favored by that number over Pittsburgh in their 28-21 Thursday night win that resulted in a pointspread push. Green Bay was also favored by 7 in their 31-23 win at Chicago, covering by a single point.
And Dallas closed as a 7 point favorite in the most bizarre game on Sunday as the Cowboys took advantage of some New York Giants mental miscues in their dramatic 27-26 come from behind win Sunday night.
This game was just the latest example of the need for an assistant coach in charge of clock and situational management when the Giants failed to properly use the play clock to preserve what would have been a 23-20 or 26-20 victory with less than 2 minutes remaining, allowing the Cowboys nearly an additional minute of playing time to mount their game winning touchdown drive.
None of the other 13 opening week games featured lines greater than 4.5.
Through Sunday favorites were 9-4-1 ATS with 2 of the 4 underdog covers coming in upset outright wins. Seattle defeated St. Louis at home in overtime and Buffalo, also at home, defeated Indianapolis. Tennessee also pulled an upset, winning at Tampa Bay as 3 point road underdogs.
The Bills’ win was not all that surprising as money poured in on Buffalo in the hours leading up to kickoff, moving the Colts from a 2.5 road favorite Saturday night to just a 1 point favorite at kickoff (and there were pick ’ems at some Books).
St. Louis was pretty much a solid 3.5 to 4 point home underdog to Seattle for most of the week and Tennessee was a pretty solid 3 point road underdog at Tampa since even the earliest lines came out back in late April.
The Giants were the lone underdog that covered in a loss, although, as noted above, they should have won that game but for those clock management issues.
The first 14 games produced 9 OVERS and 5 UNDERS with an average total points per game of 46.5.
As a reminder, we don’t want to overreact to just one week’s results, especially the opening week of a season when there are more unknowns than at any other point of the season. But at the same time we also don’t want to fail to react.
Those Week 1 results mean something. But exactly what they mean will become known over the next few weeks as teams play teams of different quality, with different offensive or defensive strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Week 1 often produces more questions than answers. Week 2 begins to answer those questions.
Here’s a look at those Week 2 games.
Pro Football – Thursday
Denver Broncos +3 at Kansas City Chiefs (O/U 42): This is a tough spot for Denver which has to travel after barely a couple of days to prepare for this prime time Divisional contest. Both defenses played well in opening week wins but whereas the Chiefs’ offense played well against defensively stout Houston on the road, the Denver offense sputtered at home against the solid Baltimore defense. The forecast is for the gap between these teams to be narrowed this season and the Chiefs own most of the intangibles in this prime time contest. KANSAS CITY.
Pro Football – Sunday
Houston Texans +3 at Carolina Panthers (40.5): Houston was badly outplayed at home by Kansas City, trailing 27-9 at the half in their 27-17 loss. Carolina won a defensive struggle at Jacksonville despite less than 265 yards of total offense. Both teams’ success is expected to result more from their defensive play than their offenses, neither of which is considered well balanced of potent. UNDER.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +10.5 at New Orleans Saints (47): Both teams are off of ugly losses. Tampa Bay was blown out at home by Tennessee, trailing 35-7 at the half to Tennessee in the battle of rookie QBs. Buccs rookie QB Jameis Winston looked overmatched but will face a more permissive defense in this game. The Saints should have more success running the ball than they did in their loss at Arizona which should create more scoring opportunities for Drew Brees and his reconstituted offense. OVER.
San Francisco 49ers +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers (45): San Francisco is off a Monday night home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Pittsburgh is well rested following a Thursday night loss at New England in which the offense moved the ball well. The defense remains a work in progress but the situation and the much stronger offense give the Steelers significant edges. PITTSBURGH
Detroit Lions +3 at Minnesota Vikings (44): Detroit played well early in its loss at San Diego but failed to protect a 21-3 lead. Minnesota played Monday night in San Francisco and is almost a universal fashionable pick to make major strides this season. Detroit was an 11 win team last season but their total this season is just 8.5, indicative of a significant expected decline. MINNESOTA.
New England Patriots pick ’em at Buffalo Bills (45): This is a key AFC East Divisional test for both teams. New England is rested following their Thursday night opening win. Buffalo looked very good in the win over Indianapolis. The Patriots offense vs. the Bills defense is an intriguing matchup. With the Jets, Buffalo coach Rex Ryan had success against the Pats, covering all 4 meetings the past two seasons with an outright upset win and losses by 1, 2 and 3 points. BUFFALO.
Arizona Cardinals -1.5 at Chicago Bears (44.5): Arizona is off of back to back double digit win seasons that included a 9-1 start in 2014. They got off to a strong start with an impressive win over New Orleans with 427 yards of total offense. The Bears played very well in their loss to Green Bay and play a second straight home game, seeking to avoid a 0-2 start. Arizona’s defense appears not as strong as last season with several key departures while Chicago’s appears at least somewhat improved. CHICAGO.
Tennessee Titans +2.5 at Cleveland Browns (41.5): The linesmakers are putting very little stock in Tennessee’s 42-14 blowout win at Tampa Bay as the Titans are almost a FG underdog here – which may say more about Tampa Bay than about the Titans. Cleveland QB Johnny Manziel was not sharp in relief of injured starter Josh McCown despite an early TD pass. The Browns limitations on offense make them very difficult to back as favorites, even at this price and even at home. TENNESSEE.
San Diego Chargers +3.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (45.5): Both teams won their openers with Cincinnati especially impressive in routing Oakland on the road. The Chargers overcame a 21-3 deficit at home to defeat Detroit but will face a more formidable defense this week. The Bengals remain one of the most talented teams in the NFL whose problems surface in the Playoffs, including a loss to the Chargers on this field two seasons ago after having won in San Diego five weeks earlier. CINCINNATI.
St. Louis Rams -3 at Washington Redskins (42): The Rams won a wild home opener over Seattle in OT in a game they led much of the way before allowing the ’Hawks 18 straight fourth quarter points to fall behind 31-24. Washington played tougher than expected in their 17-10 home loss to Miami, displaying a strong running game that gained 161 yards against a tough Dolphins’ defense. The Rams appear improved but are they improved enough to really warrant laying a field goal on the road? WASHINGTON.
Atlanta Falcons +3 at New York Giants (50): Atlanta hosted the high powered Philadelphia offense Monday night and faces another potent offense here. The Giants blew a win at Dallas and face a Falcons team they defeated here early last season. Both defenses have more concerns than the offenses and both QBs are at worst just below elite level. OVER.
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders (No Line): The status of injured Oakland QB Derek Carr kept this game off the boards on Monday. Baltimore’s defense played well in their loss at Denver while the offense struggled against what might be one of the NFL’s top defenses this season. Despite a second straight road game the Ravens’ offense should exploit a Raiders’ defense that allowed Cincy to gain 6.0 yards per play while recording no sacks and forcing no turnovers. BALTIMORE
Miami Dolphins -6 at Jacksonville Jaguars (41.5): Miami struggled more than expected in winning at Washington. The defense played well against the pass but was permissive vs. the run. Jacksonville’s defense fared well against Carolina while the offense struggled. Both teams’ openers stayed UNDER their closing Totals by more than 10 points and at a key number of 41 or higher the fundamentals suggest this one should also be lower scoring than expected. UNDER.
Dallas Cowboys +3 at Philadelphia Eagles (54.5): Philadelphia played at Atlanta Monday night. Dallas will be without WR Dez Bryant for at least a month which will put pressure on the Cowboys to develop a stronger running game than the one displayed Sunday night. Such a development will also enable Dallas to fashion time consuming drives which lessens possessions and makes it tougher for the fast paced Philly offense to maintain that rhythm. UNDER.
Seattle Seahawks +3 at Green Bay Packers (48.5): Green Bay has been pointing towards this game ever since their bitter loss at Seattle in the NFC Championship game. That may partially explain their somewhat lethargic effort in their win over Chicago last week. Seattle expended a great deal of energy last week in losing in OT at division rival St. Louis and are in danger of falling to 0-2, albeit both losses would be on the road. The on field play and leadership of holdout DB Kam Chancellor was clearly missed. The Packers know they can play more than even with the Seahawks and this game may ultimately decide the home field for this season’s NFL Championship game. GREEN BAY.
Pro Football – Monday
New York Jets +7 at Indianapolis Colts (47): After a sluggish start the Jets played a solid game in defeating Cleveland. The Colts were outplayed in all phases of the game in losing at Buffalo with the Bills’ defense frustrating Indy QB Andrew Luck with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. But Luck has been a far better signal caller at home than on the road. The Colts ended 2014 with 7 straight UNDERs, including 3 in the Playoffs. After last week’s loss at Buffalo, that streak has reached 8. UNDER.
NFL Last Week: 8-6-0
NFL Season: 8-6-0
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]