This week’s football slate is an important one in both the NFL and NCAA as several clubs look to get a leg up in what figure to be tightly contested division races. First up in the NFL are the Broncos and Chiefs, who will lock horns at Arrowhead Stadium later tonight.
Kansas City opened as a 1.5 favorite in this evening’s clash with Denver, but last week’s effort by both teams has the Chiefs laying three points. Andy Reid’s squad went on the road and scored an impressive 27-20 victory over the favored Texans while the Broncos knocked off the Ravens 19-13 at Mile High.
In spite of Denver’s win, Peyton Manning’s performance was an eyebrow raising one, and not in a good way. Manning’s play dropped off sharply at the end of last season and many wondered if this would be the year he fell off a cliff, so to speak. If his showing against Baltimore means anything, Manning is on the precipice … of something not so great.
The Chiefs have been horrific as a home favorite against divisional opposition in recent years, but the public moved the line probably in large part because of Manning, who is also dealing with a bad back. And right now, 61-percent of the money is on KC at -3.
There is plenty of incentive for the Chiefs as well. Denver has dominated the AFC West since Manning’s arrival in 2012, winning the division rather comfortably in each of the last three seasons. Tonight represents a major opportunity for Kansas City to wrest early control of the division and send a message to the Broncos that Manning’s reign of terror could be coming to a close.
The Chiefs are not the only team looking to make a divisional statement this weekend. Buffalo is feeling its oats after last season’s 9-7 finish and its campaign ended with a 17-9 win over the Patriots in Foxboro. But Tom Brady, who is 23-3 lifetime against the Bills, did not play in that game.
Buffalo is, nonetheless, high on the hog (has Rex Ryan ever not been?) after whipping the Colts last Sunday, a victory which improved its record to 5-1 in its last six home games. A win for the Bills this week could signal a potential changing of the guard in the AFC East, which has seemingly belonged to the Patriots since once caveman uttered to another, “Hey, look what Zog do”.
New England’s track record has earned it favored status as the Pats opened as a 1.5 point road favorite over the Bills; however, many books now have the game lined at +/-1 or pick’em. Brady and company are getting the majority of the spread share, though, raking 57-percent of the money to their side.
Also on tap this weekend are pivotal meetings between the Seahawks and Packers and Cowboys and Eagles. The former is a rematch of last season’s riveting NFC Championship Game while the latter gives one of the two favorites to win the NFC East the prospect of an early division lead.
With the Seattle/Green Bay game taking place at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have won nine straight, Mike McCarthy’s squad is the favorite at -3.5 points. And the public money is resting on Green Bay as well at 53-percent. Philadelphia, which lost as a three point Monday Night Football favorite in Atlanta, is giving five points to the Pokes and the public likes the Eagles as well, backing them at 58-percent.
The rest of the NFL Week 2 Lineup:
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers -3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints -10
San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers -6
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings -3
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears +2.5
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns +1
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals -3.5
St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins +3.5
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants -2
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders +6
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars +6.5
Monday Night Football –
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts -7
The odds makers will be pulling heavily for a number of teams with the public taking a strong side in several games. Garnering 65-percent or more of the people’s money are the Texans (72%), Lions (68%), Cardinals (77%), Titans (78%), Rams (78%), Ravens (78%), Dolphins (82%) and Colts (75%).
A good majority of those percentages, no doubt, are plays against a certain team rather than for another. Washington, Cleveland and Jacksonville have seldom given bettors reason to back them. And their recent numbers as home underdogs could have books worried that another bath is in order this weekend. Those three clubs are a combined 19-30 against the spread since the 2012 season when getting points at home, and that total includes an impressive 8-4 ATS mark from Cleveland.