The NFL Week 2 slate is loaded with marquee matchups including 49ers at Eagles, Raiders at Steelers, Chiefs at Ravens, Saints at Panthers, Cowboys at Chargers, and a Rams/Colts matchup that will feature Aaron Donald vs Quenton Nelson for the first time in their careers.
In this article we will break down two of Week 2 games and share our favorite bets from this slate.
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New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
Best Odds for New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers - 9/19/2021
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Here we have one of our first games of 2021 heavily affected by COVID-19. The Saints will be without 6 of their offensive staff due to positive COVID cases. The Saints will most likely also be without CB Marshon Lattimore after he tested positive as well. On top of that, starters CJ Gardner-Johnson, Kwon Alexander, and Marcus Davenport will all be out on Sunday against the Panthers.
The Saints are coming off an incredible showing in Week 1 against the Packers, winning 34-3. Jameis Winston could be a dark horse MVP candidate if the Saints surprise this year, throwing for five touchdowns on just 150 passing yards last Sunday. Personally, I was a little more bullish on the Saints coming into the season than most, so I did not drastically change their power ranking after Week 1.
The Panthers played a solid game against the Jets, controlling most of the game. A garbage-time touchdown made the final score appear closer than the game actually was. There were some positives for the Panthers, but they didn't get too many brownie points for handling a seemingly talentless Jets team in their home opener.
While I believe that both these offenses, (especially the Saints), can continue to play well, I don’t think either of the defenses are all that elite. The Saints could be a top-15 unit when completely healthy, which they are not. The Panthers will likely end the season in the bottom 10. The total opened up at 46 for this game but has been bet down to 44.5. I’ll bite at this price point and go OVER the total at 44.5 (-110) for 1u. I also lean towards the Panthers +3.5 but am likely leaving it off a potentially lengthy card.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Best Odds for Dallas Cowboys at LA Chargers - 9/19/2021
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The Dallas Cowboys are playing on the West Coast after opening the season in Tampa. Even though the Cowboys are on extra rest, this line has moved a full point in favor of the Chargers after opening up at -2.5. The Cowboys also have some injury problems, including a long-term injury for DE Demarcus Lawrence. Safety Damontae Kazee is Questionable for this game. DE Randy Gregory will also be out for this game with COVID-19. RT La’el Collins is also serving his 5 game suspension for PEDs.
Although the names listed are all important starters, I don’t see how this changes the game plan for them. Go for broke on offense and play little to no defense. WR Michael Gallup was also injured in Week 1 and will be out for multiple weeks. The Cowboys certainly have the WR talent to make up for this loss and we can expect Dak Prescott to throw 45-50 times per game. That being said, I feel like this total has gotten out of hand. After opening at 54, it has shot up to 55.5.
The Chargers can certainly throw the ball with Justin Herbert and WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. However, they were content to play a slower and more possession-oriented game against the Washington Football Team in Week 1. We can’t expect a total anywhere near 36 like the Chargers' 20-16 victory last week, but I think the Chargers defense is being undervalued in this spot.
The Cowboys run game was extremely inefficient in Week 1 but they also went up against perhaps the top run-stopping unit in the league in the Bucs. The Buccaneers' secondary was surprisingly poor in Week 1 and I expect a more well-rounded performance by the Chargers. I think the Chargers' offense can control this game against the Cowboys' paltry secondary and weakness up the middle.
This won’t be a low-scoring game, but a total of 55.5 is simply too high. Look for a final score closer to 28-24 than 31-27. I don’t mind the Cowboys with the points, but I prefer them in teasers through the seven. You simply cannot trust HC Mike McCarthy to make the right call at the right time.
Coaching mismatches are extremely important in the NFL. The biggest reason that the Chargers didn’t make the playoffs in 2020 was HC Anthony Lynn. Simply put, Lynn was the worst decision-maker I’ve ever seen on the football field.
It’s yet to be seen how effective rookie HC Brandon Staley will be, but ANYTHING is a step in the right direction over Lynn. The Cowboys, unfortunately, seem to be heading down a similar path with the ineptitude of Mike McCarthy. 3.5 might be enough for some, but there are plenty of angles to attack this week. The play in this one: UNDER 55.5 for 1u.