NFL Week 2 Betting Preview

If someone had told you at the end of last season that in the fall you’d be betting on a Patriots-Jets game without Tom Brady, although Brett Favre would be involved, you wouldn’t have believed them. Well, here we are, and it’s time to take sides in this weekend’s most highly anticipated matchup. Here’s a look at that game, and the other matchups that have handicappers talking in Week 2.

New England Patriots at New York Jets (-1, 37)
Sunday, Sep 14, 4:15 p.m. (ET) CBS

Looks like we found out how much sidelined quarterback Tom Brady is worth to the New England Patriots (1-0, 0-1 ATS) this week: At least a couple of touchdowns. The Pats head into the Meadowlands as rare underdogs on the betting odds on Sunday to face the New York Jets (1-0, 1-0 ATS) without Brady at the helm for the first time in seven years.

Matt Cassel takes over for New England, which opened as 2½-point road underdogs but have been bet down to a pick ‘em at a few sportsbooks. Cassel took the Patriots home in their 17-10 win last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’ll have his work cut out for him against Brett Favre and the Jets.

Favre looked right at home in New York’s 20-14 triumph over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday as 3-point road faves, throwing two touchdown passes in the win. The Jets haven’t defeated the Pats SU at home since 2000, although oddsmakers expect them to turn the trick on Sunday.

The Patriots are 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings between the division rivals, although the favorite is 7-2-1 against the number in the last 10 matchups.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-1, 45½)
Sunday, Sep 14, 4:15 p.m. (ET) CBS

The banged-up San Diego Chargers (0-1, 0-1 ATS) look to make amends for last week’s loss when they travel to Denver (1-0, 1-0 ATS) to take on the Broncos on Sunday.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman is out for the season with torn ligaments in his left knee, while running back LaDainian Tomlinson is questionable with turf toe. On top of that, center Nick Hardwick will miss the game with a foot injury, tackle Marcus McNeill is out with a neck injury, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie is questionable.

The Chargers slammed the Broncos last season, outscoring Denver 64-6 in two games in which they covered easily. San Diego bettors had better hope for more of the same, because Denver looked ready to go in its 41-14 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders last Monday as 3-point road faves.

Denver backers are bolstered by the return of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who missed the opener after serving his suspension. Marshall’s re-emergence gives Denver their No.1 offensive threat to go along with rookie WR Eddie Royal. Royal clicked with QB Jay Cutler against the Raiders, and figures to give the Broncos another deep threat this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+6, 44½)
Sunday, Sep 14, 8:15 p.m. (ET) NBC

What was supposed to be the first battle this season between the contenders for the AFC North title looks like a mismatch as the Cleveland Browns (0-1, 0-1 ATS) entertain the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0, 1-0 ATS) on Sunday Night Football.

The Steelers rolled past the Houston Texans 38-17 last week as 6½-point home faves, and have gone 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine meetings against the Browns. It’s not like the games have been close, either – Pittsburgh has won nine straight against the Browns by an average of 15.6 points per game.

This Browns team was supposed to be different, although it certainly didn’t look like that last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Cleveland was drilled 28-10, never coming close to covering as 6-point home underdogs against Dallas.

Ben Roethlisberger is probable for Sunday night with a shoulder injury, while Browns wideout Dante Stallworth is doubtful with an ailing quadriceps muscle. Cleveland is also depleted in the secondary, as safeties Sean Jones and Brodney Peel will miss the contest with injuries.