Opening Lines: Week 2

The Patriots opened as 7-point favorites as they prepare to host the San Diego Chargers in Week 2.

To me, betting on Chargers games is about as scientific as placing bets on a roulette wheel. San Diego has an elite defense, strong running game and top-shelf quarterback, but you never really know if the team is going to show up on any given week. They could give you four good quarters, or they might give you one. Norv Turner can look like Bill Parcells one minute and Eric Mangini the next. Rivers could throw for 500 yards and six TDs, but they might somehow give up nine special teams TD and still lose. This enigma was never more evident than in last year’s game against New England. The Patriots were limited to less than 180 yards of total offense, but won 23-20 because of San Diego’s untimely turnovers and other mental lapses. In short, the Chargers won everywhere except the scoreboard. Even last week against the Vikings, they limited McNabb to 39 yards passing, held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing, and yet they still trailed for most of the game before pulling out a late 24-17 victory. How does that happen?

The Patriots gained roughly a billion yards against Miami in Week 1, but the Chargers pass defense will provide a much stiffer test. If someone wanted to argue that San Diego has the league’s best pass defense, I don’t think I’d argue with them (mostly because I deeply despise the other teams that could reasonably make that argument). Rivers is a far better quarterback than Chad Henne. San Diego’s running game in stronger than Miami’s. Chargers receivers and tight ends are more explosive and versatile than Miami’s corps. New England’s defense is still a work in progress, so I don’t like their odds of shutting down a better offense than the one they struggled against on Monday night. The national media is gushing about the Patriots after Brady’s 500-yard performance, but it’s important to remember that there are still holes in this team. They won 38-24, not 38-0.

With all that said, this line is right where it should be for sportsbooks. It’s tough to spot a team like San Diego more than a TD against any team, even if they’re on the road against a Super Bowl contender. If the Chargers grab the lead, their defense won’t make it easy for New England to catch up. If New England is staked to a lead of more than a TD, I don’t trust the pass defense to hold it. And don’t forget that the Patriots are coming off a short week.

I think New England will win a close game, but I expect San Diego to cover the spread.

 

Other Lines I Like This Week

Ravens (-7) @ Titans

Am I missing something here? The Titans couldn’t beat a team led by Luke McCown last week, and they struggled to put up points against a middle-of-the-pack Jaguars defense. And now they have to play a Ravens team that just throttled the defending conference champs. The Titans are playing at home, but that only means they won’t get booed until the 2nd quarter. This one seems like a no-brainer. I’d double this bet.

Packers (-10.5) @ Panthers

I usually hate laying this much cheddar to any team, but the Cheeseheads will be well-rested and have another week of tape on Cam Newton. A large part of Newton’s success in Week 1 was due to mistakes by an undisciplined Arizona defense. The Packers will likely play Newton the same way they played Vick in the playoffs last year. The biggest difference here is the players around Cam aren’t as good as Vick’s supporting cast in Philly, so they won’t be able to keep the score close. Packers will win this one in a laugher.

OVER (45) on Lions @ Chiefs

The Chiefs are going to miss injured S Berry, as he was quickly developing into one of the league’s better playmakers and was a big part of their surprising playoff run last year. Calvin Johnson and Detroit’s receivers could have a field day. On the other side, the Lions don’t have a linebacker who can come close to covering Jamaal Charles underneath, and Dwayne Bowe could create matchup problems in the secondary. This should be a recipe for a whole lot of points.

2010 record ATS: 25-17-1

2011 record ATS: 4-4

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