Week 1 of the NFL season presented its share of surprising storylines that will leave bettors and oddsmakers scrambling to establish a new status quo with their lines for the match-ups ahead in Week 2. With so little on the books about these teams for 2021, will overreactions to the first glimpse of real game action present some opportunities for values before lines adjust throughout the week? The odds shown throughout the articles are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Thursday, September 16 — 8:20 p.m. ET
New York Giants at Washington Football Team (-3)
Predicted movement: How will the books adjust and react throughout the week to the reality that Taylor Heinicke will start for the Football Team? Clearly, the change at quarterback has affected the initial line on this game. The Giants’ offense hardly showed a pulse against the Broncos. To be fair, Denver has a good defense, but so does Washington. The team signed Heinicke to an extension all the way back in February for precisely this situation. They trust him to run this offense. Washington should win this game by more than three points, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the spread reflect that as Thursday approaches.
Sunday, September 19 — 1:00 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Indianapolis Colts
Predicted movement: For the Colts, this should feel like a redux of their Week 1 loss to the Seahawks. An NFC West opponent comes into town and executes a stellar offensive game plan to distance themselves by the end of four quarters. The Rams probably have a better defense than Seattle, too. I know it’s difficult to balloon a spread that wildly for a road favorite, but I think this has a chance to get to -5 before kickoff. However, there could be enough defense on both sides to keep the score low, which might make a larger spread untenable. If the -4.5 holds, that could signify movement toward a lower game total.
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears (-3)
Predicted movement: How about those Cats? The Bengals were much maligned during the preseason. Storylines about Joe Burrow’s readiness and Ja’Marr Chase’s drops dominated the headlines surrounding this team. All they did in response was go toe-to-toe with an improved Vikings squad before knocking them off in an exciting overtime finish. Cincy feels like the kind of team oddsmakers and bettors are ready to underestimate for the early part of this season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears get more love with this point spread in advance of the game. Movement to -3.5 or -4 seems possible despite Chicago’s opening defeat. However, if Matt Nagy decides to shift to Justin Fields, expect the spread to move wildly.
New Orleans Saints (-4) at Carolina Panthers
Predicted movement: The Saints came away from Week 1 with the most impressive showing of all 32 teams. They diced up the Packers in a neutral-site game in Jacksonville. For the Panthers, Sam Darnold did his part to game-manage his current team over his former team, but that offense certainly lacks the firepower of an Alvin Kamara-led unit. Don’t sleep on Jameis Winston, either, who made timely throws en route to five touchdowns last week. This spread finding some legs on the Saints side feels like the logical path forward ahead of Week 2. It’s already moved from -3.5 to -4.
Buffalo Bills (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins
Predicted movement: Buffalo’s offense looked disjointed against the Steelers in Week 1. With Miami as the home team coming off a hard-fought win in New England, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this line stagnate throughout the week, ultimately landing in the -3.5 range, give or take. That said, the presence of Josh Allen might be a deterrent to anyone swinging too far toward Miami. If you look purely at the quarterback matchup, the upside lies with Allen over the still-improving Tua Tagovailoa.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-12.5)
Predicted movement: Just how bad are the Jacksonville Jaguars? That seems to be the relevant question at the heart of this massive point spread. The Texans beat the tar out of the Jags last week. Now they are nearly two-touchdown underdogs to the Browns. Cleveland just lost in a valiant effort to the defending AFC Champions in Week 1. If the Jaguars’ ineptitude was the primary factor that allowed the Texans to look so surprisingly competent — and if you consult social media for early returns on Urban Meyer’s performance in Jacksonville, that seems to be the consensus — then this spread is probably about right. It’s hard to envision such a large number ballooning much further than it already has
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Predicted movement: What an epic collapse by the 49ers from a betting perspective on Sunday. The Lions roared back to within eight points to cover the final spread by a narrow margin. The Eagles, on the other hand, were impressive throughout their dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons in their opening game. Returning to their home digs in Philadelphia should benefit the Eagles in Week 2. That said, the 49ers are a much tougher opponent than the Falcons.
With the offensive scheme Kyle Shanahan runs, virtually any running back will find success on the ground. The 49ers’ defense will also need to contain Jalen Hurts after the young gunslinger built confidence with rookie target DeVonta Smith last week. The spread probably will hold in this range as bettors go through the feeling-out process after an intriguing set of Week 1 circumstances for both sides.
New England Patriots (-5.5) at New York Jets
Predicted movement: The Patriots lost a heartbreaker in Week 1 to the Dolphins, but Mac Jones looked like a sharp game manager in his NFL debut. He went 29-for-39 and recorded 281 passing yards and a touchdown. Though the biggest storyline of the game for Damien Harris was his costly late fumble, the lead rusher for New England established himself with a triple-digit yardage output. Overall, the Patriots looked capable offensively against a solid Miami defense. They should be able to move the ball again in Week 2 against a Jets unit that, to its credit, limited Sam Darnold and the Panthers to 19 points. As for the Jets’ offense, Zach Wilson failed to put up points against Carolina until the second half. Though the Jets are at home for this game, there weren’t enough encouraging elements in their Week 1 performance to suggest this line can’t creep further in the Patriots’ favor by half a point or so.
Denver Broncos (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Predicted movement: We’ve already pondered the general incompetence of Urban’s bunch, so it stands to reason that the Jaguars would be home underdogs to a Broncos team that took care of the Giants in Week 1. Denver’s loss of Jerry Jeudy could affect their ability to move to football effectively — against any other opponent, anyway. Even on the road, Denver should manage against the woeful Jaguars. This spread probably doesn’t reach a touchdown, but -6.5 seems in play. Denver’s defense should prove stronger than the one Jacksonville faced last week (Houston), so this total could dip even lower than it currently stands.
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)
Predicted movement: The Raiders impressed in their enthralling Monday Night Football win over the Baltimore Ravens. However, the initial line on their upcoming date with another AFC North foe doesn’t project that same level of success. The Steelers ground out a win over the Bills in their opener. Still, it’s hard to tell if they limited Josh Allen or if he was just rusty. This line squeezing closer to a field goal difference would make some sense, especially if Vegas starts to back its local squad through the week.
Sunday, September 19 — 4:05 ET
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
Predicted movement: Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ first-team offense were total duds in their limited preseason action. Surprise, Kliff Kingsbury hadn’t yet opened up the playbook. He did Sunday, and Murray balled out to rout the Titans in Nashville. Now the Cardinals will host a Vikings squad that lost a grueling overtime battle to the upstart Bengals. This spread should balloon in favor of the Cardinals this week as their high-flying offense was one of the league’s bright spots in Week 1.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12)
Predicted movement: Here, we have another massive number in a lopsided matchup. That said, I’m not sure if this one can balloon any higher than -12. It actually briefly began at -12.5 before falling a bit. I expect it to stay in this range without any headlines to push it. The Falcons’ offense looked putrid against the Eagles last week. Matt Ryan has played some bad games over his career, and those outcomes may show up more frequently now that Julio Jones is gone. Atlanta’s ground game will have their work cut out for them against a solid defensive front that stifled Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1. Can Ryan rise to the occasion? I’m not convinced. Brady and Co. should roll by multiple touchdowns. However, I doubt that we’ll see the line move to reflect my expectation because it has already fallen by a half-point.
Sunday, September 19 — 4:25 ET
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
Predicted movement: This total is bonkers, right? The Cowboys gave up a lot of points against the Buccaneers on Thursday. But what else would you have expected in a Brady-Dak shootout? Can Justin Herbert carry his side of the bargain in this one? I’m not convinced that Dallas’ defense will play as poorly as they did last year. I’m also not convinced that a mild sophomore slump for Herbert is an impossibility. The spread could draw closer to a pick’em, too. If it holds steady, Dallas feels like a possible value on the road in front of a fan base that hasn’t yet wholly embraced the second Los Angeles team. That makes for an interesting storyline for a game played in the House That Jerry (Helped) Build.
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks (-5)
Predicted movement: The Russ Bus was full steam ahead in Week 1, as Wilson cooked to the tune of four passing touchdowns in an impressive throttling of the Colts on the road. In contrast, the Titans came out looking rusty. They seemed to miss departed offensive coordinator Arthur Smith quite a bit. The weapons are there for Ryan Tannehill, but can they be put to better use in Week 2? This total feels like it has some room for growth in a game with sneaky shootout appeal. With how balanced and competent Seattle’s offense looked in Week 1 — especially relative to Tennessee’s — the spread could move to -6 before kickoff.
Sunday, September 19 — 8:20 p.m. ET
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Predicted movement: How does Patrick Mahomes keep doing it? Nobody is as dangerous as that man when down by multiple scores. The Chiefs might benefit from starting a little more effectively when they take to the road to face a Ravens team that should be out for blood after dropping their primetime affair on Monday night. Who wants to lose in front of a national audience two weeks in a row to begin a season? That said, Baltimore won’t be able to push this spread any closer to a field goal — the carnage would be significant if that total ever reached -2.5. It feels like there’s nowhere to go but up (in favor of KC) if the line is to move at all. However, the current number feels pretty reasonable.
Monday, September 20 — 8:15 p.m. ET
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-11)
Predicted movement: No team disappointed more severely in Week 1 than Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers. After a couple of wasted series against the motivated Saints defense, it was clear there would be no R-E-L-A-Xing for Packer fans on opening weekend. The Lions, meanwhile, actually showed some grit in battling back from a massive deficit against the 49ers. They pulled up with a frustrating backdoor cover for those who were convinced a blowout was in order (hi, hello). Lambeau Field is the ultimate get-right venue for what ails a struggling green and gold squad. For that reason, it’s difficult to imagine the lines shifting in favor of Detroit. This one boils down to whether you believe that Week 1 was an anomaly for the Packers. That said, their awful opening effort should keep this spread somewhat in check throughout the week.
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Brenden Schaeffer is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Brenden, check out his archive and follow him @bschaeffer12.