With one week of games in the books, we have a better handle on where teams stand and their outlook for 2022 has come into clearer focus with all the starters playing for 60 minutes instead of a couple of series (if at all).
This week our picks include a couple of games that smack in the face of recent history and three point spread picks that would lend you to believe that a serious beatdown is on the horizon for the underdog.
As we learn more about the 2022 versions of the 32 NFL teams, we get closer to quoting the late Denny Green, “They are who we thought they were” as the elite teams start to rise and those that are going to struggle start to sink.
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook
Take Tampa Bay Buccaneers and lay 2.5 points (-125) vs. New Orleans Saints
One thing Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has almost never done is struggle. Losing streaks historically end at one – not enough to even technically qualify as a streak. If another team had his number, it wasn’t for long.
However, in four regular season games against the Saints as a member of the Buccaneers, Brady is 0-4 with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. When it really counted in the 2020 playoffs he sent the Saints marching out, but his regular-season numbers against New Orleans have been stunningly bad.
I learned many years ago that if I was going to bet on a game Brady was involved in, it would be smart to bet with him, not against him. Granted, I would be 0-4 using that logic against the Saints, but Brady always finds a way to erase the blemishes on his career record and the fifth time will be the charm. The price to play is a little stiffer than I prefer (-125), but it’s money well spent with the G.O.A.T.
Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets: take the OVER on 39.5 points (-115)
This is another game that punches history in the mouth. When it comes to Over/Under numbers, I have a breaking point in both directions. On the Over, it’s 55.5 points or more – where a 28-27 or a 31-24 game still hits Under. I have to really be convinced that the offenses are going to light things up for four quarters without a drought.
On the flip side, an Under of less than 40 points carries the same wariness. There have to be a lot of punts and field position battles to make that happen.
The Browns and Jets have the lowest Over/Under of the season to date at 39.5 points. There’s a reason for that. From 2017-20, the Browns and Jets played four times and each time the game went under 39.5 points (31, 38, 26, 39). That’s difficult to do. I believe the Browns are capable of putting up 27 points against the Jets. With that preface out of the way, the Jets are going to have to score 12 points or less. While they’re capable of doing that, I don’t think they will. It may take a defensive/special teams touchdown or late points at garbage time to seal the deal, but I don’t see the Under hitting again when it’s this low.
Take Green Bay Packers and lay 9.5 points (-115) vs. Chicago Bears
For the last couple of years, the Packers have stumbled out of the gate and been humbled by their Week 1 opponent – the New Orleans Saints last year and the Minnesota Vikings last week. The sky was seemingly falling in Packerland and the end of the stranglehold on the NFC North was near.
Last year, the Packers followed up their skunky Week 1 performance by rattling off seven wins in a row on their way to the No. 1 seed. The Bears have been Rodgers’ personal punching bag in his career. He is 6-0 as a starter in the last six meetings and has won 20 of his last 23 games against the Bears – dominance on an all-time scale.
Granted, 9.5 points are a lot to give away, but over the last four games, the Packers have won each of them by double digits. For those bettors who are worried about this point spread, R-E-L-A-X.
Take Cincinnati Bengals and lay 7.5 points (-103) vs. Dallas Cowboys
If we are to believe Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Dak Prescott will be back in three to four weeks, not the six to eight weeks originally projected. However, that doesn’t mean behind a banged up offensive line Cooper Rush isn’t going to take his fair share of lumps in the meantime.
The Bengals did everything they could to lose their Week 1 game against the Steelers, including being minus-five in the turnover battle, missing an extra point that would have won the game in regulation, and missing a 29-yard field goal in overtime. Everything that could go wrong did.
When you have a Super Bowl team, mistakes like the ones made in Week 1 tend to get corrected in a hurry. Although the Cowboys defense is pretty good, it allowed Tampa Bay to score five times on them last week – four short field goals and one touchdown. If the Bengals get the ship back on course as expected, 7.5 points isn’t too many to lay – much less being able to do it at an almost straight up return on investment.
Take Los Angeles Rams and lay 10.5 points (-105) vs. Atlanta Falcons
The defending Super Bowl champs took it on the chin from the Buffalo Bills in the season opener and will have had 10 days to try to get the stink of that loss off of them. Much like the aforementioned Bengals, last Thursday’s performance is in no way indicative of what to expect from the Rams on a weekly basis.
When a champion gets thumped, there is typically hell to pay for the team next up on the schedule – a problem for the Falcons that is made worse when the Rams players and coaches have had a longer-than-normal week to prepare.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the script flipped on last week’s score and the Rams win by 21 this time around. Marcus Mariota is going to be scrambling for his life, and the running game won’t have the ability to rush up the middle like it did against the Saints in Week 1 before collapsing in the fourth quarter.
While 10.5 points is a lot to give away, I’m convinced the Rams will have that margin covered by halftime, and the second half will merely be piling on.
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