NFL Week 2 round-robin underdog moneyline parlay: Star-crossed value
This is, fundamentally, an exercise in value. As painful as it is to see the Falcons blow a 16-point lead and the Texans' 17-point lead evaporate to a tie that at least salvaged a break-even bet, it serves as a reminder of what those close calls mean. If something priced higher than 66% becomes a coin-flip game (or better) late, then we've gotten good value on our bets regardless of the outcome. (This was certainly the case last week when we went 4-1 against the spread.)
This week's slate is much different from Week 1, where more on-paper mismatches occur with the favorite at home, resulting in a handful of double-digit underdogs. With the usual collection of games lined under a field goal as well, there's less to choose from in that sweet spot of carnage: the vulnerable touchdown favorite.
How it works
We parlay five underdogs together - whom we like against the spread - in 10 different three-team parlays. Using every combination of a three-team parlay is called a round robin, so we're going to use a total of 1.1 units to make 11 different bets: 10 three-team parlays and one five-team parlay, each for .1 units. You'll likely double your money if three teams pull off the upset. If four teams win, you're connecting on four separate parlays and will be very pleased with the return. If all five teams win, as they did for us in Week 1 last season, you'll be diving into a gold doubloon silo like a young Scrooge McDuck.
Who to play
Why not start the week off with a bang? The Chiefs are getting a little extra credit for destroying a playoff team on the road last week, but the aggressive line move from -3 to as high as -6.5 against the Cardinals was more about the market's distaste for Arizona leading up to the season. Now, the Chiefs have moved to -4 against the Chargers based on two things:
- They did what they were supposed to do by beating up on Arizona.
- Keenan Allen was ruled out for Thursday night, while it's largely being ignored that Chiefs first-round cornerback Trent McDuffie has been put on IR, while Harrison Butker won't play.
The Chargers have enough depth on offense to still move the ball against a thinner Chiefs secondary and a defense that is considerably more talented than what Patrick Mahomes and Co. saw in Arizona.
We know Brandon Staley takes the sideline with a play-to-win attitude, so while L.A. could lose by one score, the polar results (Chiefs win big/Chargers win) have a higher win probability than other games with the same point spread, which makes +170 more valuable as the first leg of a long-shot parlay.
Truthfully, because there are so many underdogs of over a touchdown, the goal this week is to just get three winners home. The Falcons will probably do just enough to make us think they can win and then not, but at least they have a plan. Their competitiveness last week wasn't a fluke; they were reliable on offense (running for 201 yards) - and defense (four sacks).
Besides, what are we afraid of with the Rams? We know what Matthew Stafford, the 2021 league leader in interceptions, looks like when he can count on little more than one outstanding receiver - that's the Lions of the mid-2010s. Against the Bills last week, the Rams missed a second and third receiving option, any semblance of a run game, and Von Miller on defense. They're not a lock to win this game the way the moneyline suggests.
How much of one game matters? It was ugly for Arizona, but a win probability shift that makes the Raiders more than 66% likely to win feels like an overreaction. Kyler Murray can make enough plays to keep up with the Raiders' offense, who, admittedly, shouldn't have much trouble scoring against the Cardinals.
A really good, potentially opportunistic defense with a quarterback that no one has much confidence in: Isn't that the description of both the Steelers last week and the Cowboys this week? The only difference is that Dallas gets to play at home. An embarrassing prime-time performance at home against the Buccaneers should light a fire at Cowboys practice while also souring the market on them. That's where we hop in and hope Dallas can do what it did (in Minnesota) last season: win a game against the Bengals with Cooper Rush at the helm.
A short week and a potential lack of confidence in the head coach isn't something you want from a 10-point favorite. The Texans, on the other hand, should feel really good about their compete level last week against the Colts, who probably shouldn't be rated much differently from the Broncos. A moneyline this high is too good to pass up for a small investment.
Here's how the odds look this week:
Who are your five underdogs for a football betting lottery ticket?
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.