Avoiding the Red Zone: 2014 Week 2 NFL Wagers

By Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

A fumbling Marques Colston had our NFL handicapper looking for answers in Week 1.

Week 1 Record:  0-4

NFL Record Year-to-Date: 0-4

First things first, let’s address what needs to be addressed; last week was awful. Those who follow me know that I usually make my bets selectively enough that even when I have losing weeks, they are rarely bloodbaths. However, last week brought an 0-4 record, despite beating a few closing lines and having 24 points scored in the first quarter of a game that I had the over of 51. We saw a star WR fumble in overtime, we saw a defender drop an easy pick-6, and we saw the Bears offense turn back into the Rex Grossman-led teams of the 2000’s. Excuses aside, it was a terrible week.

Week 2 is going to be an education week for me. I am only making one bet, and it is only half of a bet: Green Bay teased to -2 at home vs the Jets. The second leg of the teaser will be left open, and filled next week, or some other time in the future.

This lack of plays is not a result of me being scared after a terrible week 1. It is because there are so many questions that need to be answered before I can confidently wager my money on almost all of these teams. I promised readers as well as myself that discipline will always be my creed, and this is a week where that shows. Instead of wagering my money based on one-week overreactions, I will watch the games this week looking for a few answers to a handful of questions. Since I have no plays to dissect, lets discuss exactly what it is I am looking for:

  • It is only week 2, but the Dolphins-Bills game could tell us which of these Week 1 surprise teams is legitimate. One of the reasons I hated the Bills this season is because EJ Manuel has not looked like an NFL quarterback until this point, but he did his job last week, which was not to give the game away. If he can refrain from making big mistakes against the Dolphins solid pass rush, the Bills may be a team to consider betting on in the future. As for the Dolphins, we will see if they just benefited from home field advantage against a team that is not used to such humidity, or if they are going to give the Pats a run for their money in the division.
  • As bad as the NFC East looked last week, the Washington professional football team might not be as bad as the box score says. RG3 played a terrible game, but he completed a very high percentage of his passes, and the team got within the 10 yard line twice, only to fumble both times. As bad as RG3 looked, with no options, no running, and no deep balls, I think it is very possible that this was intentional, and that the team did not want to risk him being killed by JJ Watt in his first game back. I will be looking to see if the team lets him loose against the Jaguars.  I think they do, and I think the WPFT covers the spread, but after what we saw last week, I couldn’t pull the trigger.
  • The two other NFC East teams who looked like they would lose to an SEC team, the Giants and the Cowboys, have interesting match-ups. I planned on pounding Dallas overs all season, but I need to see something, anything, that shows me that Tony Romo can put points on the board. Last week could have been a one game fluke, but to the naked eye it looked more like a rusty QB who had no clue on the field.
  • 9.5 out of 10 times I would be betting on any team in the Giants spot; they are facing a team on a very short week from the West coast flying East to play a 1pm game. This spot favors the home team so much that it is almost always an auto-play. However, the Giants just looked so hopeless that I can’t even be confident that they can beat the Arizona Cardinals if they show up at 75%. I need to see something from the Giants on Sunday, or they will be on my “do not bet under any circumstance no matter how good the spot is” list. If they win, I will be ok playing them, in the right spot, going forward.
  • Are the Patriots finally getting old? Is Brady entering the beginning of the end of his career? Or was Week 1 just a classic case of the Pats doing what they tend to do a lot when they go to Miami: struggle? In a game that features one “could they actually be bad?” team and one “could they actually be good” team, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the NE/Minny game.
  • As great as the Falcons looked last week, I don’t know if one week is enough to change my perception on the team. They beat a weak defense at home. If they can go into Cincinnati and give THAT defense fits, I think it will be time to show Matty Ice & crew some respect.
  • Finally, we have my Philadelphia Eagles. Whatever that was that happened in the first half last week against the Jaguars, it needs to never happen again this season. Playing sluggish halves like that will not be ok against good teams. Is it possible that Foles just had some first half jitters. Sure. My feelings right now are, while I am a Foles supporter, he seems to have games where he is just off, and when he is off, he looks like Blaine Gabbert. While I expect the defense to be pretty crappy all season, I need to see that the offense is ready to win shootouts, and play four full quarters. If it turns out that last week’s first half was just a matter of overlooking a team and thinking the game was over before the game began, great. However, with a defense that is so porous, this team is relying on its offense to carry them, and that means for the entire game. A solid full game performance on national TV in Indy would surely calm my nerves.

So while this week offers little in terms of betting value, there is plenty to watch for. We had one bad week, but instead of freaking out and forcing plays, we are going to make sure we are equipped to only make smart bets going forward.

P.S., my props have been much better, going 3-1 so far, so give me a follow on the old Twitter @DanUrda. Enjoy the weekend!

Week 2 Play(s): Green Bay -2 (open leg of a 2-team teaser)

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