Our NFL expert Tommy Newbery gives us his two picks for Week 2 of the regular season.
Last week we had two winners from our only two selections as both the Rams and Titans pulled off upset wins. We have four selections for this week.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
Detroit were dealt a tough hand by schedulers with back to back road games to start the season but I like them to get their first win here. They started well when on the road in San Diego last week but a second half collapse saw them squander a 21-3 2nd quarter lead. Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell shared the load at the running back position, and I expect success for both vs the Vikings who gave up 5.89 yards per carry in their week 1 defeat to San Francisco. Minnesota were the sexy pick going into the season and attracted the most over tickets on season win totals in Las Vegas. Week 2 is often referred to as ‘overreaction week’ and I’m trying not to do this, but I was never on board with how good the public thought the Vikings were going to be. I think the Lions are the better team and despite being on the road, this is against a familiar opponent so this becomes less of an issue. The number being MIN -2 means that on a neutral field this line would be a pick’em, I disagree and think it should be two or three points in the Lions favour. Detroit won both fixtures vs Minnesota last season and gave up just 17 combined points in these two games. I need to see more of Adrian Peterson, but at age 30 I am becoming less convinced he can get back to his 2012 form, which is what the Vikings are relying on in 2015. Take the Lions plus the points.
Houston Texans @ Carolina Panthers
Houston lost their week 1 opener to Kansas City and it really was a game of two halves. After early mistakes by QB Brian Hoyer, the Texans were down 27-9 at half time and they never fully recovered. Hoyer was pulled in the fourth quarter after chants of ‘Mallett, Mallett’ from the home fans. They got their wish and the former Patriot stepped in and looked okay, completing 8 of 13 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. He looks like the starter for this one and as long as he avoids the mistakes, the Texans should be much better. There were great signs on the defence, JJ Watt looks like the same player of last season in a dominating performance. His two sacks and nine tackles were a huge positive, and he also matched a career high six tackles for losses. Jadeveon Clowney saw limited playing time, mostly on third downs, but managed four tackles, one for a loss. His minutes should increase each week, so look for a dominant pass rush from the Texans. Carolina won their opener in unimpressive fashion over Jacksonville and as much as it’s true you can only beat who’s in front of you, the Panthers should have been a lot more convincing than they were. The final score was 20-9 to Carolina, but the offence managed to put just one TD on the scoreboard, as other points came from an interception and the kicking game. The defence as expected was tight, giving up just 169 passing yards and forcing two interceptions from Blake Bortles. I don’t really know what the win means yet, are the Jaguars better than last year so this was a good win? Or are they the same team as before, in which case Carolina are going to fall way short on the offensive side of the ball this season. Take a shot with the team that needs to bounce back fast in Houston, you can still get the key number of three which is getting the best of it in my opinion.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
As I mentioned earlier, week 2 is a great week to bet the NFL due to the overreaction to just 60 minutes of football. There is no better example of this than the matchup between Tennessee and Cleveland in my opinion, and my bet here is going to be on the Browns. Last week the Titans demolished Tampa Bay with rookie QB Marcus Mariota looking much better than his counterpart Jameis Winston. Looking into the numbers though, I’m not ready to hand over the rookie of the year title to the former Oregon QB. Tennessee benefitted from two interceptions and because of the early scoring (TEN were winning 35-7 at half time) it made it possible to commit to the running game in the second half. Mariota was only asked to throw the ball sixteen times and it was against a poor Buccaneers team. On the flip side Cleveland made the NY Jets look like Super Bowl contenders in their 31-10 loss, but were also unfortunate in the turnover ratio and with an early injury to starting QB Josh McCown. Johnny Manziel stepped in and wasn’t great with an interception and two fumbles, but I believe he will be much better prepared this week, where he looks set to start. The Browns defence should be much better than Tampa Bay, and this could be an issue for Mariota and the Titans offence. The overreaction is evident when the look ahead line for this was Cleveland -4, they’re now a home underdog? Crazy to me so take the Browns, but take them on the moneyline which is available at around 21/20.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Last up is the Dallas Cowboys who helped cash our final ticket of the week one games, narrowly beating divisional rival NY Giants. Up next is another divisional foe who despite being pre-season NFC East favourites lost their opening fixture to the improving Atlanta Falcons. After just 60 minutes of football, I am not sure which is the better of the two teams, so give me the underdog with what I think is a few too many points. If this line was around three, I wouldn’t be touching it and if it was near a pick’em, I would probably be all over the Eagles. This is a play based on the number, and also on a stat I really like. Since week 1 of 2010, betting the underdog in Cowboys games has produced an outstanding record of 57-25-1, just below 70% ATS. This shows how well they perform when they aren’t favoured, and I like this spot for Dallas. The injury to Dez Bryant will leave a dent in the offence, but with a week of game-planning without him I think the Cowboys will be well prepared. Romo will still have Cole Beasley and Lance Dunbar to target, along with stud TE Jason Witten. Both teams struggled to move the ball on the ground in their opening fixtures and if the same happens here I’d back Tony Romo over Sam Bradford. Bradford was asked to throw the ball 52 times in last week’s defeat which led to a couple of INT’s in an average performance. Take the 4.5 points with the Cowboys, they may need them as they could be up against it to win outright.
1pt Detroit Lions +2 @ 10/11
1pt Houston Texans +3 @ 10/11
1pt Cleveland Moneyline @ 21/20
1pt Dallas Cowboys +4.5 @ 10/11
Record to Date: 2 pt staked; + 1.82 pts
Further Tom Newbery analysis can be found at all32.co.uk