NFL Picks & Predictions - Three Sunday Games With Top Betting Value

Oakland Raiders Players Celebrate

Matthew Jordan

Friday, September 16, 2016 2:57 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 16, 2016 2:57 PM UTC

The smart play overall in Week 1 of the NFL season was on underdogs as they went 8-6-2 against the spread, with six outright upsets. What's in store for Week 2? Here are three games with betting value.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans (-2)
If you are planning to give the points here, you will want to shop around. Some books, like JustBet, have Houston at -3. I've said it before and will again: spreads right on either 3 or 7 simply should be outlawed. Who likes a push? The 2-point spread at Bovada is the smallest I can find, and I think that's good value. For one, this is a payback game for Houston. The Texans were beaten Week 1 at home by the Chiefs last year, but I'm more talking about the wild-card game in Houston when the Texans were thoroughly embarrassed 30-0. On the bright side, that forced the front office to be aggressive this offseason in upgrading the offense with free agents Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller  and taking Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller in the first round of this year's draft. All three were big contributors in Houston's Week 1 23-14 win over Chicago. Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, Miller carried 28 times for 106 yards and caught four passes, and Fuller had five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Suddenly, the Texans look pretty good on offense.

Another reason I like Houston here is that the Chiefs might be a bit flat after staging the biggest comeback in franchise history last week, coming from 21 down to beat San Diego 33-27 in overtime. A nice win, but that supposedly stout Chiefs defense looked anything but. Linebacker Tamba Hali was a non-factor in Week 1 and is questionable for Sunday with a knee injury. Kansas City will likely again be without running back Jamaal Charles this week, and both of the team's starting guards are questionable with injuries.

NFL Picks Against The Spread: Texans. Kansas City is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a win. Houston is 6-2 ATS in its past eight following a victory.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
The Bucs might be a much better team than last year's 6-10 club. QB Jameis Winston appears ready to take a big step forward off a terrific rookie season. He had four touchdowns in the Week 1 win in Atlanta. I like this Bucs offense when you include top running back Doug Martin, receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But that defense wasn't very good in 2015 and it's what got head coach Lovie Smith fired and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter promoted. That unit wasn't great against the Falcons, who too often had to settle for short Matt Bryant field goals instead of touchdowns. Thus, I think the Bucs will have a problem on Sunday against what will be a desperate Cardinals team off their loss to New England in Week 1. Arizona allowed New England to convert 11 of 16 third downs and that's not usual. Expect Arizona to do something with rookie cornerback Brandon Williams, who was continually targeted and burned by the Patriots. Arizona did claim cornerback Tharold Simon off waivers from the Seahawks on Wednesday. The Cards still would have beaten New England had Chandler Catanzaro not missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play. Arizona had won 10 straight home games in September.

NFL Picks Against The Spread: At 7, I don't like this game but at 6.5 the Cardinals will cover. The Bucs are 2-6 ATS in their past eight after a win. The Cards are 15-6 ATS in their past 21 after an ATS loss.

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Atlanta Falcons vs Oakland Raiders (Total Of 49)
I fully expect this to be the highest-scoring game of Week 2, although Saints-Giants will be close if they play against one another like they did last year in the Superdome. The Atlanta pass rush was last in the NFL in 2015 with 19 sacks and that unit barely touched Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston in the Falcons' 31-24 home loss in Week 1. The revamped Oakland offensive line is better than Tampa's, and Derek Carr wasn't sacked in the Raiders' 35-34 win in New Orleans. Then again, the Raiders got to  Drew Brees just once and Oakland coach Jack Del Rio made the gutsy call to go for 2 points and the win at the end because he didn't trust his defense in a potential overtime against Brees. 

It's interesting that both teams were so bad on defense because of their head coaches, Del Rio and Atlanta's Dan Quinn, are former defensive coordinators. Let's see if the Falcons attack Oakland cornerback Sean Smith, one of the team's big offseason free-agent acquisitions, with Julio Jones. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith gave up four receptions on six targets for 183 yards against the Saints, the most surrendered by a cornerback in Week 1. The QB rating for passes thrown into Smith's coverage was 149.3, the second-worst by any corner in the league. He was benched by Del Rio after allowing a 98-yard TD reception by Brandin Cooks. Jones and Falcons No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu are battling ankle injuries from Week 1 but both are expected to play.

NFL Picks Against The Spread: The Over is my NFL Pick here. It is 8-3 in Atlanta's past 11 in September. It's 5-0 in Oakland's past five in the month. 

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