• Bet Cowboys +7.5 vs. Bengals (-115 BetMGM): Nine points of movement is an overreaction to Prescott’s absence, excusing the Bengals’ own troubles.
• Bet Packers -10 vs. Bears (-110 BetMGM): Aaron Rodgers' Packers sport an all-time record of 23-5 against the Bears — including a 21-7 ATS mark.
• Bet Cardinals +6 at Raiders (-110 PointsBet): Arizona went 8-1 ATS in road games a season ago and is 17-7-1 ATS under Kliff Kingsbury.
• New users who bet $10 or more at BetMGM will receive a free year’s subscription to PFF+ — a $79.99 value.
There's arguably no sport more difficult, nor exciting, to bet on than NFL football. Information is both scarce in utility, and abundant in opinion. Markets are so finely tuned and so heavily wagered that there are few opportunities to gain an edge over the oddsmakers.
Enter: a new projection tool capable of making ATS picks with long-term success.
A majority of the most profitable NFL bettors use some kind of projection tool to help guide their wagers. Such a tool will be provided to the reader today, and for the rest of the NFL regular season. It is important to note that these projections are not a gospel, but merely a compass toward identifying an edge in a razor-thin market that is betting NFL spreads.
Utilizing the new projection tool, here are five best bets against the spread in Week 2:
Dallas Cowboys (+7.5) v. Cincinnati Bengals (-115 BetMGM)
Model Line — Bengals (-3)
• Quantifying Prescott's absence: Prior to the events of Week 1, and the unfortunate injury to Dallas QB Dak Prescott, the lookahead line on this contest was Dallas -1.5. The Cowboys looked dreadful in their opener, and with Prescott sidelined it’s justified to expect the Bengals to win this game outright.
Nine points of line movement, however, cannot be justified.
• Bengals' Week 1 bungles: It is important to remember that both of these teams disappointed in Week 1. If the Pittsburgh Steelers can beat the Bengals outright, the Cowboys can certainly cover the spread on their home turf. Micah Parsons and Co. should be able to apply the pressure on opposing QB Joe Burrow, and backup Cooper Rush should be able to keep this one close.
The market has overreacted to Prescott’s absence, and excused the Bengals’ own troubles. This is a terrific opportunity to back Dallas at home.
Green Bay Packers (-10) v. Chicago Bears
Model Line — Packers (-12.5)
• Few divisional matchups more lopsided: The Packers simply have owned the Bears during the Aaron Rodgers era. The future Hall of Fame QB has dominated Chicago with an all-time record of 23-5 versus the Bears — including a 21-7 ATS mark.
• Lambeau Leap :Additionally, in an era of diminishing Home Field Advantage, the Packers' edge at Lambeau Field has been an exception to the league-wide trend. Green Bay was 7-1 ATS in regular season home contests of 2021, covering the spread by an average margin greater than six points.
Let us not overreact just yet to a poor week one showing in Minneapolis. Back Green Bay to cover the spread versus their division rival.
Model Line — Raiders (-2)
• There are seldom indications that the Cardinals appear to be a contender in the NFC following their blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. But their defeat was an expected — and likely more a reflection of the Chiefs' rank in the NFL hierarchy than of the Cardinals.
• This line opened with the Raiders as 2.5-point favorites, and such line movement toward Las Vegas is certainly optimistic considering the team is looking to bounce back from a loss of its own.
• Arizona's ATS accolades: Additionally, the Cardinals were 8-1 ATS in road games a season ago and own a 17-7-1 ATS record in such contests since the arrival of HC Kliff Kingsbury.
This is a good opportunity to be a contrarian and back the Cardinals, who almost surely are not as bad as they appeared in Week 1.
Week 2 Cautionary Bet of the Week:
Model Line — Steelers (-4)
• Decreased Wattage: In what may otherwise be perceived as a layup bet, the model has no knowledge that the Steelers are devoid of the reigning DPOY T.J. Watt. Any attempt to quantify his absence into the projected outcome of this game would be subjective and unreliable. Regardless, this is a welcome opportunity to back Pittsburgh as a home underdog. The New England offense looked broken in its opener, and questions regarding the team’s offensive potential have been thus far justified.
Feel comfortable with a small wager on the Steelers as home dogs, but be cautious in the interpretation that this line has six points of value.
How PFF contributor Tommy Jergens' Projections Work:
A myriad of both objective, and subjective ratings are employed in a logistic regression model to determine the likelihood that each team will win the game outright. By this determined win-probability, a spread is assigned to each game and compared to the consensus line.
This model has successfully identified the outright victor at a greater than 67% rate, and has chosen the closing line ATS winner at an efficiency near 53% since 2006.
One can find all of the projected picks for Week 2 here.
— PFF contributor Tommy Jurgens