NFL Betting: Baltimore to put on a Cleveland show

Week Two

Last week underdogs went 9-6-1 against the spread, and came just a couple of late cheapies away from 12-3-1. This is the problem with the season's opening week: we're basing a lot on reputation, and we haven't usually seen anything concrete in preseason, none of which excuses my own performance against the spread (though in fairness I had an adequate 11-5 straight-up).

The other surprise was that week one this year was almost as controversial zebra-wise as last season's, and last season they were scab referees calling the games. The worst call may have been a non-existent violation of a new rule protecting long-snappers, called against the Chargers' Cam Thomas and helping Houston to rally from 28-7 down and win 31-28 in San Diego. It was almost as if coach Norv Turner had never left San Diego and wasn't now the offensive coordinator in Cleveland. But then you look at Cleveland QB Brandon Weedon getting sacked six times and throwing three interceptions, and you realise that, yes, Norv has changed time zones, but not offenses.

Sure Things

Baltimore (-6.5) vs Cleveland: See above, which is why I'm taking the Ravens despite the pounding they took in Denver last week. Their D misses both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, though oddly it was the failure of their defensive backs, particularly the safeties, to be able to tackle Bronco receivers that was the most telling feature of their loss. The Browns' defense is solid, up front they are strong and cornerback Joe Haden was excellent against Miami, but with an offense primed to surrender the ball and struggle to score, I can't see the Ravens failing to feather their nests at home.

Outside Bet

Miami (+3) at Indy: The Dolphins are much improved from last year, and the Colts are probably not as good as last year's record, nor as their comeback win over the Raiders last week indicated. Andrew Luck has now led seven fourth-quarter comeback wins in his short career, which means if it's close the Dolphin D could be tested, but I think the Dolphins' D line is going to test the Colts upfront first. QB Ryan Tannehill was the overlooked guy in last year's outstanding crop of rookie QBs; in a year without Luck, Russell Wilson and RGIII, his season would have been highly-praised. The Dolphins could not run the ball last week against the Browns, but this week, if they can establish some running, Tannehill will pass for big yardage against Indy's D.

Value Bet

Kansas City (-3) over Dallas at 2.00: In a sense, this will be a familiar matchup, as coach Andy Reid moved from division-rivals Philadelphia to Kansas City, but what I took from last Sunday's Cowboy win over the Giants was the fact that despite being handed six turnovers, Dallas was still in a position to lose if a Giant doesn't drop the late onsides kickoff. At Arrowhead, I suspect Alex Smith will be far-less turnover prone, and the Chiefs will see opportunities to pressure Tony Romo. Ex-Chief Brian Waters, brought out of retirement for the second time in three seasons, could start for Dallas this week, which says a lot for the Cowboys' O line, though LT Tyron Smith was outstanding against the Giants.

One To Avoid

Denver (-4.5) at New York Giants: For the second week in a row I'm staying away from Denver, especially in this Manning Bowl which will get a lot of hype. The over-under on this one is 55, which might be an under bet, especially if the weather is wet and windy in Giants' stadium. Otherwise, look for 55 to get shredded.

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