From a very young age, we instinctively trust what we see. Without football to watch every summer, we spend countless hours consuming as much offseason content as possible. We access roster cuts, training camp battles and brace ourselves for key injury news. By the time the season begins, we know all 32 teams inside and out. And then another wild Week 1 happens.
The mental picture we painted for each team is now an abstract work of art. We watched many of our prior convictions get shredded in 60 minutes on Sunday. In Week 2, we pick up the pieces and learn a valuable lesson in betting professional football. The game that you love can betray your eyes.
There is a great deal of truth to "Overreaction Monday," as it's only natural to believe what you see. The goal isn't to disregard what we learned in Week 1, but rather place it in proper perspective. Teams have bad games, incorporate new schemes and have to build their conditioning. The good news is that you still might be correct in your assessment of most teams. If you are, there will be plenty of value on the board in Week 2 for you to capitalize on.
Here are three matchups where I think there is value based on an overreaction to Week 1.
Tennessee +5.5 at Seattle
The Titans' defense put Kyler Murray into the MVP conservation by allowing 38 points in the first three quarters, but a bad defense in Tennessee is not a new revelation. In 2020, Vrabel's defense ranked 29th in defensive DVOA and he still finished 11-5. They only closed twice as underdogs of more than three points the entire season. Tannehill's Titans won both of those games outright against Buffalo and Baltimore by a combined score of 72-40. The opening line was Seattle -3.5 and the Seahawks were 2-5 ATS as favorites of more than 5 points last season. I will take the 5.5 as a value bet with the Titans.
Denver at Jacksonville +6
If Charlie Brown was a football team he would be the Jaguars. All the hope of Urban Meyer bringing a winning culture to Jacksonville died after a 37-21 loss to the Texans. Market confidence has plummeted on a team that many bettors had pegged as a value play to win the AFC South just a week ago.
Despite being high on Denver, a 3.5-point line move is a very aggressive reaction to one week. Denver was previously -2.5 and you can currently bet the Jaguars at +6. Denver's 14-point win over the Giants was not as impressive as the scoreboard indicates. The Giants squandered three possessions inside the Broncos 25 without scoring a point. Teams that saw the line move 2.5 points or more in their favor covered 58% of the time in 2020. There is nothing wrong with embracing a stinky dog even if you have to hold your nose. There is too much line value to walk away from this one.
Minnesota +3.5 at Arizona
There is not a single player in the NFL that saw his stock rise higher in one week than Kyler Murray. His five-TD performance last Sunday pushed his MVP odds down from +1950 to +900. Only Patrick Mahomes now has shorter odds to win the award. Murray's offense faces an embarrassed Vikings team coming off a brutal upset loss to the Bengals. Minnesota's defense produced a league-high 16.2% adjusted sack rate and five sacks versus the Bengals. Zimmer will keep the pressure on Murray and make him earn his new place in the MVP conversation.
The Vikings offense was fourth in yards per play last season. Cousins will provide a good test to see if Arizona's defense greatly improved or if last week was a byproduct of a new OC in Tennessee finding this way. Entering the season, I had both these teams pegged as roughly nine-win teams. I will buy low with the Vikings at +3.5.
Stats provided by football outsiders, teamrankings.com