These are the lines to like in betting the NFL Week 2 and College Football Week 3. Here are our football locks of the week, as well as the numbers to know when picking underdogs, upsets, favorites and covers for Saturday and Sunday. This week’s locks include Tom Brady remaining undefeated against Jacksonville, the Ohio State University being THE dominant defensive line, Dallas’ O-line being a huge letdown, Hawaii flying halfway around the world and Buffalo rookie Josh Allen doing his best Nathan Peterman impression in his first NFL start at QB.
Patriots (–1) at Jaguars
Historically, betting with Bill Belichick is a smart move. Since 2003, Belichick is 145–88–8 ATS. The Patriots’ worst record against the spread over the past 15 seasons is a respectable 7–7–2 in 2015, according to research compiled by Action Network. This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, where New England defeated Jacksonville, 24–20, thanks to a few controversial calls going in its favor in Foxborough. This week is the Jaguars’ home opener; Jacksonville has lost six consecutive home openers since 2011.
As of Thursday, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette had not practiced due to a hamstring injury, which caused him to leave the season-opener early after only 12 touches and 55 yards. Without Fournette, the Jags will lean even more on QB Blake Bortles and a savage defense led by All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey — who famously told GQ that Tom Brady “doesn’t suck” and ESPN that Rob Gronkowski is not “as great as people think he is.” Brady is 8–0 all-time against the Jaguars and Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one win shy of 300.
Ohio State (–13) vs. TCU (at Arlington, Texas)
What was supposed to be a home-and-home series on campus in Columbus and Fort Worth was converted into a one-time showdown at Jerry’s World in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Had this game been on campus — where ESPN’s College Game Day will be on Saturday morning — TCU might have a chance. As it stands, Ohio State’s last game without suspended head coach Urban Meyer should be another impressive win.
Ohio State’s defensive line will be a problem for a TCU offense breaking in three new starters along the O-line and new QB Shawn Robinson. According to Pro Football Focus, the Buckeyes’ pass-rushing trio of Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Dre’Mont Jones have combined for eight sacks and 27 pressures in two games despite no lineman playing more than 46 pass-rushing snaps this season. The best defensive line in the nation will make it hard for the Under-Frogs to keep it close enough to cover.
Giants (+3) at Cowboys
These NFC East rivals will face off in prime time on Sunday night, both desperate for a win following 0–1 starts to the season. Dallas is favored. But most of the love for the Cowboys depends on their vaunted offensive line, which has looked shaky, at best. Center Travis Frederick continues to miss time battling Guillain-Barre syndrome. Losing the All-Pro is a crushing blow both physically and mentally, as Frederick’s line calls often paved the way for big plays.
Last week, Dallas’ O-line allowed six sacks and was called for four penalties. Left tackle Tyron Smith was called for holding twice, after allowing only eight penalties in 2017 and six in 2016. Smith also continues to deal with back issues, never a good thing for a 6’5”, 320-pounder in his eighth NFL season. Rookie Connor Williams — a second-round pick out of Texas who was moved from tackle to guard — was overpowered in his NFL debut, so much so that the Cowboys signed guard Xavier Su’a-Filo this week. Already thin at receiver, Dallas can’t afford its once-strong O-line to slip into mediocrity. Expect Ezekiel Elliott to be a one-man offense while Dak Prescott struggles and Cowboy Nation pushes the panic button in defeat.
Hawaii (+6) at Army
There are a lot of numbers that look bad for Hawaii, as the Rainbow Warriors travel 4,955 miles to take on Army. The Noon Eastern Time kickoff is 6 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The Rainbow Warriors are 2–10 all-time in the Eastern Time Zone and only 5–8 in road games under coach Nick Rolovich. Army is the nation’s No. 8 rushing offense (308.5 ypg) and Hawaii has the No. 121 rushing defense (196.3 ypg).
But this Hawaii team has been cooking this season, with a 43–34 upset at Colorado State, 59–41 upset against Navy and 43–29 win over Rice. Hawaii arrived on the East Coast on Wednesday morning, giving them a few days to adjust for jet lag. QB Cole McDonald’s run-and-shoot attack ranks No. 4 nationally in passing offense (391.0 ypg) and will face an Army defense that allowed 307 passing yards to lowly Liberty last week. On a neutral site at a normal time, Hawaii would be favored. Take the points and count on the Rainbow Warriors to wake up in time to cover or pull off their third upset of the young season.
Chargers (–7) at Bills
Last season, the Chargers intercepted Nathan Peterman five times in the first half of a 54–24 Bills loss. This season, Peterman threw two interceptions and posted a zero passer rating before being benched in Week 1 for raw rookie Josh Allen. One a positive note, Bolts pass rusher Joey Bosa is expected to miss the game in Buffalo. But the rest of Chargers defense should feast on Allen, who completed 6-of-15 passes (40 percent) for 74 yards and a 56.0 passer rating while taking three sacks in the second half of a 47–3 loss at Baltimore in his NFL debut. After struggling against Mountain West competition at Wyoming, Allen’s first NFL start could be a long afternoon.