NFL expert Tom Selwyn (@Tom_Selwyn) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available from Sunday's action on Week 2.
Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins | Sunday 16th September 2018, 18:00
Week 2 is probably one of, if not the hardest week of the NFL season to make picks – there’s just so much over-reaction to what happened in week 1. One thing I think it’s safe to take from week 1 though, is how good the Redskins looked – they absolutely dominated the Cardinals in their own building. I think they’ll look good again this week as they return home to face the Colts, so I’ll be backing Washington -5.5 to start this week off.
For better and for worse, Indy looked like being back to the team they were before QB Andrew Luck’s injury. Luck finally looked back to being his old self, which is great news for Colts fans and fans of the sport in general, but he also still doesn’t have an adequate OL or a running game and the defence still looks suspect.
The OL and running game could be overmatched again this week too as they face a much-improved, Alabama-themed, Redskins DL. The unit gave Arizona nothing for almost the entire game last week as they consistently pressured QB Sam Bradford and only allowed one of the league’s best RBs, David Johnson, just 37 yards on the ground.
Washington’s offense wasn’t overly explosive last week, but they moved the ball easily against Arizona and there was certainly no drop off from Kick Cousins to Alex Smith. With RBs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson forming a nice tandem, the offense figures to be better this year.
Going up against a defence that gave up a lot of yards to Joe Mixon of the Bengals last week, look for Peterson and Thompson to have another nice game en route to Washington’s 2nd win of the season.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams | Sunday 16th September 2018, 21:05
Speaking of the Cardinals, they have another tough matchup this week against the Rams. They looked sluggish to start week 1, but Los Angeles crushed Oakland in the 2nd half last week and I think Sean McVay and the rest of the coaching staff will be keen to make sure that doesn’t happen again this week (check out the robot that is McVay by the way – https://twitter.com/AdamLefkoe/status/1040056254721417218).
The Rams are a much better team than the Cardinals and once they get a lead, they shouldn’t relinquish it. As I mentioned above, I think there’ll be an emphasis on getting out to a fast start, so I like the Rams to lead after every quarter bet this week.
The 2nd half of last week certainly seemed like there would be no sign of the Rams’ offense slipping from the standards they set last year. They outscored the Raiders 23 – 0 in that period and although I figure Arizona’s defence to be better than Oakland’s, I don’t believe they’ll be able to stop all the things that Los Angeles can do on offense.
The performance of the Cardinal’s offense last week is what reaffirms to me that if the Rams get in front, they’ll stay there. The OL got shoved around by the Redskins DL and now they get to face the trio Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. If they can shut down RB David Johnson as Washington did last week, then I don’t see how Arizona will consistently move the ball through the air. I think QB Sam Bradford will be under a lot of pressure and he doesn’t have much on the outside save for WR Larry Fitzgerald – it could be another miserable game for Bradford.
The Rams are rightfully favourites here, but I think the value is in them getting the lead early and keeping it.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons | Sunday 16th September 2018, 18:00
My final pick this week comes from Atlanta and I’ll be the first to admit this will be projecting more than hard evidence, but I feel it’s a line that can be attacked. Panthers venerable TE Greg Olsen sadly went down to another foot injury in their win last week and his replacement as Carolina’s lead TE will be 4th round rookie Ian Thomas.
Thomas’ line is currently 25.5 in places and there might be lower ones when all the bookies get their lines up. Either way, that’s pretty low for a starting TE on a team that likes to target the position regularly. It’s a little speculative as we have a very small sample size, but I’ll be backing him to go over that in his first game as a starter.
There are a few reasons why I’m keen to take this line on and the first is how often QB Cam Newton likes to target the TE position. Throughout his career, Newton has targeted TEs at just over 25% of the time and although you would target a player like Olsen more often than not, I still think the figure indicates a strong preference for going to TEs.
Thomas has also been receiving rave reviews from Olsen himself, saying “Ian has all the traits to be a true NFL tight end. He's strong enough. He can engage at the line of scrimmage. He's smooth. He's faster than you think he is. He catches the ball well. So I think Ian has a chance to have all the traits to be a complete guy.” High praise from one of the league’s best.
The final reason is related to the injuries that the Falcons suffered in week 1, specifically to LB Deion Jones. It was no coincidence that Eagles TE Zach Ertz got most of his yardage after Jones went down and with him out the line-up it gives me more confidence that Thomas can have some success.
So yes, it’s very much projecting how good a rookie can be on his first start, but I do believe it’s a nice line to go after – one nice catch and run could be all it takes!
Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins – Washington Redskins -5.5 (5/6 Sporting Bet)
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams to lead after every quarter (20/21 Bet365)
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons – Ian Thomas to have over 25.5 receiving yards (11 Paddy Power)