Betting on football can be a risky proposition, but it wasn’t for many gamblers in Week 1 when Las Vegas casinos took a bath on the first NFL Sunday of the year. There might be a reversal of fortunes in Week 2, but a few games seem easier to predict than others.
Many games on the schedule seem tough to gauge. The Denver Broncos are perfect against the Kansas City Chiefs with Peyton Manning at the helm, but the veteran quarterback has looked well past his prime in the last couple of games. Teams like the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens are expected to win straight up, though it’s no guarantee they will cover the large point spreads.
There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to gambling, but here are the three best bets for Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season.
New England Patriots (-1)
The Patriots are still out for blood after Deflategate, and the Buffalo Bills are set to be their next victim. Because the Bills were so good against one of the AFC’s top teams in Week 1, some sportsbooks even have New England vs. Buffalo listed as a pick’em. But the Patriots could win big in Buffalo, given that Bill Belichick has been given 10 days to prepare.
New England followed up their one Thursday night game last season with a 28-point victory. Sunday’s game should be decided by less than four scores, but Buffalo probably isn’t as good as they looked in the opener. Tyrod Taylor ranked fourth in Week 1 with a 123.8 passer rating, and the quarterback who was a backup for the first four years of his career won’t match that performance against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
A three-point betting line at home indicates that the Bengals and San Diego Chargers would be even on a neutral playing field. But Cincinnati is the superior team, making them one of the best bets in Week 2.
The Bengals have won at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons, and there’s little reason to believe they won’t have a similar year in 2015. Cincinnati has won their last nine games at home against non-divisional opponents, including wins over the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. After ranking in the top three in opponents’ passer rating in each of the last two seasons, they should be able to limit Philip Rivers’ effectiveness. The Chargers will be in trouble if they have to rely on their running game, having struggled to run the ball in the preseason and averaging 3.2 yards per carry in Week 1.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
The Vikings opened as three-point favorites over the Detroit Lions, and they are a strong play now that they are giving less than a field goal at home. Minnesota became a trendy playoff pick at the start of the season, and one loss doesn’t mean their postseason hopes are finished.
Minnesota played a sloppy game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, and they should perform much better in their home opener. Adrian Peterson won’t be limited to 31 yards again, and Teddy Bridgewater will have more success against the defense that allowed the most passing yards in Week 1. Matthew Stafford and Detroit have struggled mightily away from home, failing to cover the spread as road favorites in 12 of their last 14 tries. That trend should continue on Sunday.