In the days since the opening week of the NFL season concluded, multiple Week 2 point spreads have seen significant changes. The public appears to be betting against teams that performed poorly in Week 1, though putting too much emphasis on one game could backfire.
Only three winless teams are favored to beat an opponent that was victorious in Week 1. The Carolina Panthers are Week 2’s biggest favorites, according to the latest Las Vegas betting odds, and five games feature point spreads of a field goal or less.
There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to gambling, but here are the five best bets for Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season:
Washington Redskins (-2.5)
Washington began the week as 3.5-point favorites at home over the Dallas Cowboys, but the betting line has since moved. Getting fewer than three points on the road indicates that the Cowboys are better on a neutral field than the Redskins, which isn’t likely the case, making last year’s division winner the smart pick.
The Redskins looked awful in their season opener, but their 22-point loss was an aberration. Kirk Cousins should be much better in Week 2, and Dak Prescott won’t torch Washington’s defense like Ben Roethlisberger did. The rookie quarterback wasn’t asked to do much in his NFL debut, and Dallas could find themselves in trouble if they need Prescott to make big plays on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
The Steelers’ performance against the Redskins, however, wasn’t an aberration. Pittsburgh might have the NFL’s best offense, and it will be on full display when they host the Cincinnati Bengals.
Had the New York Jets not missed an extra point and a 22-yard field goal in Week 1, they would have put up 27 points against Cincinnati. With the league’s No.1 wide receiver and a top running game, scoring several touchdowns might not be a problem for Pittsburgh. The Steelers have historically managed to keep Andy Dalton in check, and Cincinnati has not scored more than 20 points in a game against Pittsburgh since the quarterback was drafted in 2011.
Indianapolis Colts (+6)
The Denver Broncos picked up right where they left off last season, following up their Super Bowl title with a win over last year’s NFC champions. But they’ll have a tough time winning big over the Colts, who just need to keep Sunday’s game close in order to cover the point spread.
Denver beat Carolina by two points in Week 1, and last year nine of their 12 regular-season wins came by just one score. The Colts defeated the Broncos in 2015, and they always seem to have success against Denver, covering the spread in their last nine matchups. Andrew Luck has a 92.3 career passer rating against the Broncos — he had a 98.4 passer rating in a win over Denver last season — and Trevor Siemian might be the AFC’s worst quarterback.
Cleveland Browns (+6.5)
Cleveland is once again one of the NFL’s worst teams, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing close games against the Baltimore Ravens in the past. The Browns usually give their AFC North rivals some trouble, and the same will happen in Cleveland on Sunday.
The Ravens haven’t beaten the Browns by more than 10 points in their last nine matchups, and seven of those games were decided by one score. Taking over for the injured Robert Griffin III, quarterback Josh McCown probably gives Cleveland their best chance to win. He led the Browns to a victory in Baltimore last year, and he won’t need to put up big numbers against the Ravens, who only managed to score 13 points in Week 1.
Minnesota Vikings (+2.5)
The Vikings are home underdogs against the Green Bay Packers, but they have a real chance to finish ahead of their NFC North rivals in the division. Despite their issues at quarterback, Minnesota might defeat Green Bay on Sunday night.
Whether it’s Sam Bradford or Shaun Hill who gets the start, Minnesota’s quarterback doesn’t need to put up big numbers for the Vikings to win. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t do much in the team’s win over the Packers last year, and it was Minnesota’s defense that carried them to a victory in Week 1. The unit is one of the best in the NFL, and a big day out of Adrian Peterson might be all the Vikings need.