In this series, I will pick an underdog every week that I think will not only cover the spread, but also have a good chance at winning outright.
Last week's win was a good start, but it's a long season. For week 2, my first instinct was to look at teams that may have looked so good or so bad that they caused an overreaction among the betting public. When I then looked back at past data, what I found was that home dogs tended to perform pretty well in week 2. This makes sense in the context of the original thesis. Some teams look so good in week 1 at home (or bad on the road) that bettors misjudge the team as well as forget about the home-away disparity that occurs in the NFL.
There are actually only four home dogs this week in the Bills, Bucs, Cardinals, and Giants. I actually like all four, although I can only choose one.
Bills: They almost pulled off a huge upset of the Patriots in week 1, and face a road team that couldn't win their week 1 game at home. However, it's unclear just how good the Patriots are, and the Bills have always played them tough.
Bucs: They lost to the Jets on a stupid penalty on the penultimate play of the game, but otherwise pretty much had that game won. Winning a road game is always difficult in the NFL, even if it was against the lowly Jets. The Saints, on the other hand, won at home (where Brees has been significantly better during his Saints tenure), but needed a final goal line stand against a Falcons team that's also been much better at home historically.
Cardinals: They also almost won on the road before a 2-TD comeback in the 4th quarter by the Rams. The Lions may also be slightly overrated because of their dominant fantasy numbers against Minnesota in week 1. I just don't like how Arizona blew its lead in the 4th quarter, and the Stafford-Megatron-Bush-etc. crew is pretty good at last minute comebacks if needed.
Giants: Despite 6 turnovers and a -5 turnover margin, they were still right in the game at the end there. You would certainly expect regression to a more normal turnover number, just as you would expect regression to a more normal TD performance from Peyton Manning. There has already been an overreaction to Peyton's 7 TDs and Giant's 6TOs, as the line opened at NYG+2.5 before being bet by the public to NYG+6. Sharps then came in on the other side and the line has settled at NYG+4. In the end, it's just too difficult to pick a team on less than normal rest against a team with more than normal rest, even if it's early in the season.
Underdog of the Week:
NO @ TB
TB +145 ML
I decided to go with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's very difficult putting out picks before Thursday's game, and more so in this case because tonight's Patriots-Jets game might reveal more about both the Bills and the Bucs. Furthermore, with the Saints being a team that the public loves to bet on, the line could easily get better by kickoff on Sunday. In fact, this is one of the reasons that I'm going with the Bucs. Covers.com Consensus picks has New Orleans at 78%, which is a very high number. I also like that while Doug Martin was held to only 65 yds from 24 rushes, the Saints gave up over 6 yds per carry against the Falcons.
Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 3 years, at least two home underdogs have won outright in week 2 each year.