NFL Week 2 Betting: Cardinals and Patriots-Seahawks UNDER Offer Value
With the NFL back in full swing, Week 2 presents a particularly interesting challenge for books and bettors alike. Each team has played a game, and the sample size is far too small to glean much from, yet there is always the temptation to overreact to how the new season started. Are the Ravens going 16-0? Are Tom Brady and Drew Brees washed up? Are the Bills heading to the Super Bowl? Week 1 provides but a glimpse of what’s in store for the rest of the campaign, and this season will present some unprecedented challengers for both line makers and handicappers. Will home advantage vary based on which stadiums have fans to watch on? Will players show rust and be more prone to injury given the lack of preparation time? It will be fascinating to see how it all unfolds. Let’s take a look at a couple of Week 2 matchups and what we might expect in these encounters.
Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals -7 O/U 46.5
At first blush, one might jump at Washington being given seven points against a Cardinals team that 5-10-1 SU last season, and won only two games by more than a touchdown. Arizona is facing a Washington team coming off a come-from-behind 27-17 win and both organizations are led by young high-upside quarterbacks. However, Arizona’s impressive Week 1 win against San Francisco is a lot more trust-inducing than Washington’s victory. The Cardinals fully deserved their upset against last season’s NFC champs. Arizona put up 29 first downs, 410 total yards, and 180 rushing yards, including 91 from QB Kyler Murray. Murray’s 13 rushing attempts may seem like a cause for concern, but he expertly managed to evade defenders in San Francisco, only being hit once on his carries. Murray looks like he is ready to take a second-year leap, as does the entire offense, which seems far more comfortable with Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s unconventional offensive scheme. Of course, the team’s margin for error has increased exponentially with the addition of WR DeAndre Hopkins, who began his Cardinals career with 151 yards receiving, catching 14 of 16 targets. He’s a dream of a security blanket for a young quarterback, and the chemistry between Hopkins and Murray already looks to be ahead of schedule.
In truth, the seeds of the Cardinals improvement began last season. This team only won five games, but did lose four games by six points or less and ended the season 2-1 SU with convincing victories at home against Cleveland and at Seattle. This seems like a team on the rise, and could be much better than anticipated.
Washington, meanwhile, was ruthless in taking advantage of a makeshift Philadelphia offensive line in Week 1. The team generated eight sacks against Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense. This, more than anything, was how the team was able to keep a foothold in the game and eventually score 27 unanswered points. However, Washington gained only 258 yards, at a miserly clip of only 3.7 yards per play, substantially below the 4.9 yards per play put up by the Eagles. Dwayne Haskins still looked raw, completing only 17-of-31 passes for 178, only 5.7 yards per attempt. Haskins’ expected completion rate was all the way up at 67.2%, and he had the largest negative discrepancy in this category of any Week 1 quarterback. Last year, he was the third-worst signal-caller in this category.
DeAndre Hopkins should loom large in this game as well. Philadelphia was without Alshon Jeffrey against Washington in Week 1, whose secondary does not appear to have any answer for a true top-end wideout. Murray will be able to lean on Hopkins once more, against a Washington team that also has to deal with a difficult early season travel spot here, traveling across the country and multiple time zones to take on a confident Cardinals team. Play: Arizona -7
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks -4 O/U 44.5
Seattle’s offense came out like a house on fire in Week 1 and Seahawks’ fans were thrilled that the often conservative Seahawks offensive coaching staff ‘Let Russ cook’ against a subpar Falcons passing defense. Wilson was in MVP form on opening day, connecting on 31-of-35 passes while throwing four touchdowns and 322 yards. The Seahawks won 38-25, and fans likely hope that this will finally be the year that Wilson is fully let loose. However, Seattle has a long and tested culture of emphasizing the running game. Despite a poor effort from Seattle’s running backs against Atlanta (all three finished with negative points added), Head Coach Pete Carrol insisted that there’s no way his team will deviate too far from a balanced, or even run-heavy approach. Carroll said: “Seven and six carries wasn’t enough for our guys and we need to get more. We were at 20 (runs). We want to get more than that in general. But when Russ was completing every pass we weren’t discouraged about moving the football. But we love running the ball, we always have, and those guys will get more carries as we move down through the schedule.” It seems highly inevitable that Wilson will have a tougher go of it here. The Patriots still boast a high quality defense and a secondary buoyed by All-Pro CB Stephen Gilmore. He will likely lockdown Seattle WR Tyler Lockett, who caught all eight of his targets against the Falcons last Sunday. While the Patriots losing Don’ta Hightower is unquestionably a blow, starting LB Ja’Whaun Bentley looked like a commanding presence. Already a team captain in only his second full season, he’s now being viewed as the Pats’ new field general. He was very good against Miami, excellent in all facets of play, showing a command of the defensive scheme, and being competitive in coverage. His emergence could help the Patriots avoid a major drop off from last season’s fantastic defensive performance. New England gave up only 278 total yards in Week 1, and grabbed three interceptions. The pass rush should be able to impact Russell Wilson as well, as Seattle’s offensive line remains a question mark.
Meanwhile, New England moved on from the Tom Brady era in Week 1 by completely revamping their offense around new starting quarterback Cam Newton. The team ran the ball 42 times for 217 yards in a 21-11 win against Miami. Newton himself carried the ball 15 times for 75 yards and two scores. That sort of output may be unsustainable. However, he’s only signed for one year, he loves to run the ball, and so OC Josh McDaniels may be comfortable letting him keep running. He probably won’t have 15 carries, but at least ten is hardly out of the question. New England have little to like from a pass-catching perspective, outside of longtime servant Julian Edelman. It’s hard to see sustained success passing the ball here for Newton, as he goes up against a great Seattle linebacking corps and perhaps the best safety in football in Jamal Adams. However, the Patriots do have a deep and versatile stable of running backs. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, and rookie J.J. Taylor ensure that this group should remain fresh behind Newton for all four quarters.
Much has been made of the issue of air quality for this game in Seattle on Sunday night. While New England boss Bill Belichick said the situation looked fairly positive, any deficiency in the air quality could impact and fatigue players, potentially causing a sluggish affair. Additionally, the schedule advantage for the Seahawks is somewhat blunted here, as both teams started the season on the East Coast, and now travel across the country for this prime-time tilt. The Seahawks and Patriots should be in relatively similar shape in this spot. Play: UNDER 44.5