The second Sunday of the NFL season is in the books and Week 2 was a head scratcher. Seemingly significant injuries didn’t seem to matter and most favorites faltered.
In total, 10 underdogs covered the spread on Sunday and six won outright. Including Cincinnati’s win over Baltimore on Tuesday, those numbers jump to 11 and seven, respectively.
Upsets have been a common theme through two weeks of the NFL season. Week 1 underdogs went 7-7-1 against the spread, and Week 2 underdogs are 11-4 against the spread so far. The Seattle Seahawks have the chance to be the 12th as 4-point underdogs against the Bears on Monday Night Football in Chicago.
Public bettors typically put their money on favorites. The high volume of upsets on Sunday meant a profitable day for the sportsbooks.
“It was a very, very good day,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews told ESPN.
The frustrating day for the public was epitomized in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest. The contest calls for participants to choose five teams against the spread each week. Winning picks earn points towards standings in the season-long contest.
According to ESPN the five most popular selections in the contest on Sunday were the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. Not only did all five teams fail to cover, but they all lost their games outright.
The four teams that covered the spread on Sunday were the Los Angeles Chargers (7.5-point favorites against the Buffalo Bills), Los Angeles Rams (12-point favorites against the Arizona Cardinals), Atlanta Falcons (5.5-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers), and Dallas Cowboys (3-point favorites against the New York Giants).
Houston, We Have a Problem
The public’s favorite play of the day, according to ESPN, was the Texans. Houston was a 3.5-point road favorite in a division game against the Tennessee Titans. Over half of the entrants in the Westgate SuperContest picked the Texans.
In theory, the Texans appeared to be a solid bet. The Titans were ravaged by injuries in Week 1 and entered Sunday’s game missing their top three offensive tackles, starting tight end, and starting quarterback Marcus Mariota – injuries that would appear to be detrimental against a Texan defense that features pass rushers J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney.
That was enough for one “sharp” to bet $110,000 on Houston -2. That bet pushed the line to Houston -4 before it settled at Houston -3.5.
Despite those circumstances, the Titans beat the Texans 20-17.
Johnny Avello, director of the Wynn sportsbook, told ESPN that most books in Las Vegas were hoping for a Titans victory because of how money came in on the Texans.
Books also profited off victories by the Jacksonville Jaguars (1.5-point underdogs at home against the New England Patriots) and Miami Dolphins (3-point underdogs at the New York Jets).
When Week 2 lines closed, three teams were listed as favorites by more than a touchdown. The early lines for Week 3 are much tighter. Only the Vikings, listed as massive 16.5-point favorites at home against the Bills, are favored by more than one score. The New Orleans Saints were the last team to be favored by that much when they were 16.5-point favorites against the Jets in Week 15 last year.
Week 3 brings the return of Eagles’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who has been rehabbing a torn ACL since last December. With Wentz behind center, the Eagles opened as 6.5-point favorites at home against the Indianapolis Colts.
Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point sportsbook tweeted Monday that early Week 3 money is coming in on the Bears -3 at Arizona, Washington +3 at home against Green Bay, and San Francisco +6 in Kansas City.