- The New York Giants should be prepped for the Chicago Bears’ D after getting pummeled by Pittsburgh last week
- Can the Las Vegas Raiders notch an upset over the New Orleans Saints in their first game in a new home?
- It was a good start to the year, as last week’s picks went 3-0, winning 4.2 units
“The journey of a thousand bets begins with a single winner” — Lao Tzu’s degenerate brother Steve
In the case of Upset Picks, our journey through the NFL season began with three winners. The odds were in our favor though, as six dogs won outright across Week 1 in the NFL. Upsets may be a little harder to find in the Week 2 odds: 11 of 15 games have a spread of five points or greater.
It would be easy to get cocky and think I have this thing figured out, but I’m actually going light this week. There’s only two games where I really like the underdog’s chances at an outright win, so I’ll be betting a standard amount and saving some units for later in the year. (Which is allowed under Upset Picks Rule #3: Eric makes up all the rules.)
Giants Ground Game Buries Bears
The Bears are favorites heading into their home opener, but there were a couple of things that stood out in Week 1.
New York Giants vs Chicago Bears
|New York Giants||+200|
All odds taken Sept. 19th from DraftKings
The Giants vs Bears odds have Chicago giving 5.5 points this weekend at Soldier Field, which feels like a lot. And while you’re never supposed to overreact to Week 1 performances, there are some lessons to learn from the first game of the year, specifically from the Bears side of things. (No, the lesson is not “Mitch Trubisky is the GOAT!”)
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Mitchell Trubisky threw 3 TD in the 4th quarter of the Bears' comeback win, all of which were in a tight window (less than 1 yard of separation)
Trubisky's 3 pass TD are the most in a single quarter since Next Gen began tracking 5 seasons ago. pic.twitter.com/Z75bCO95rV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 14, 2020
My big takeaway from Chicago’s miracle rally in Detroit is that their defense will not be getting back to its unstoppable status from 2018 anytime soon. With no Eddie Goldman on the line, the Bears got gashed on the ground by a 35-year-old Adrian Peterson; linebacker Danny Trevathan looked terribly slow in coverage; and the pass rush got no push against a mediocre Lions O-line.
More pressure notes:
-The Vikings had a 0% pressure rate against Rodgers. You don't pressure a QB, especially one like Rodgers, bad things will happen
-The Bears had just 1 pressure against the Lions. They have a top 5 defensive roster in terms of talent but continue to struggle
— Alex Rollins (@AlexRollinsNFL) September 14, 2020
Chicago’s aging D could get a boost if Robert Quinn is available to go this week. Without him, it’s hard to feel great about the Bears after Detroit averaged 5.4 yards per carry on first-and-10. Sunday is shaping up to be a banner day for Saquon Barkley, who was bottled up by the Steelers in Week 1.
Without any help from his ground game and with Pittsburgh blitzing over 60% of the time, Daniel Jones was still able to make some difficult throws and keep the Giants offense moving. The second-year QB continued to have brutal turnovers in key spots, but those mistakes will prove less costly than usual against a Bears offense that is averaging 17.9 points per game in Trubisky’s last 16 starts.
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 14, 2020
Chicago is 1-5 in their last six home openers. At least this year, they won’t be sending fans home devastated.
Pick: 1 unit on Giants moneyline (+200)
Raiders Open Vegas Residency With Upset Over Saints
While it doesn’t have the electricity that it would pre-Covid, football has come to Sin City!
New Orleans Saints vs Las Vegas Raiders
|New Orleans Saints||-230|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+195|
A majority of Saints vs Raiders betting trends are getting placed on the visiting squad, moving a line that opened at New Orleans -5.5 to -6 at some books. Considering how bad the Saints offense looked in Week 1 and the subsequent injury to Michael Thomas, I would’ve thought the line would be heading in the opposite direction.
Concern about an ancient-looking Drew Brees is the main reason I’m shorting the Saints on Monday night, but it’s not the only one.
Jared Cook said it's unfortunate Michael Thomas isn't playing…twice.
— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) September 18, 2020
The Raiders offense continues to make strides in their third year under Jon Gruden. Last week, they demonstrated tremendous balance against the Panthers, running the ball 31 times and passing it 30. Running back Josh Jacobs came out hot, forcing 10 missed tackles and rushing for 3 TDs in the season opener. Derek Carr even dialed up a few deep shots, something that has sorely been missing from his game in recent years.
Henry Ruggs saw 60.48% of the Las Vegas Raiders air yards in Week 1 — the highest mark in the NFL pic.twitter.com/rkqeP4eXjF
— Ben Hossler (@BenHossler) September 16, 2020
The Saints needed takeaways to spark their offense against the Bucs, scoring 17 points off turnovers. The Raiders have been very good at protecting the ball over the last year, averaging just one turnover a game in their last 17.
It’s easy to see the Las Vegas coming out hot in this one, even without fans: teams opening new stadiums in the last decade are 4-2 SU in their first regular season game at home.
This is a great spot to back the Raiders. It’s Vegas after all; the house always wins.
Pick: 1 unit on the Raiders moneyline (+195)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.