NFL Week 2 betting market report: How bettors perceived all 32 teams
For those of us deep in the weeds on how point spreads are made, Week 2 is significant. Each team gets a second data point - a big one since we finally saw them play in Week 1. The betting market then reacts to actual play instead of preseason analysis. It's very helpful in calibrating what bettors think of the teams.
For example, in Week 1, the Dolphins and Chargers could only be compared to each other and Los Angeles was a 3-point favorite. All we knew for sure was that the two teams were deemed to be close, as they started the season with roughly the same expectations. We knew the market thought they were at least decent - not the favorites for their division this offseason, but still lined at 9.5 wins. Sure enough, they gave us a thriller.
A week later, both teams were field goal road favorites against league-average teams. This tells us that the Chargers and Dolphins needed an increase in their estimated rating, marching in lockstep up the board.
How ratings work
Every week, we'll look at what the betting market thinks of each team based on the closing lines from that week's games. The "rating" column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers' rating to create a point spread, with the specific number being the percentage chance that the team beats an average opponent on a neutral field. Ratings aren't rankings. The closing line is considered a better reflection of a team's value than one 60-minute game.
The range column is my evaluation of what each team is capable of. It's our job as handicappers to determine where within its range a team will play based on things like the situation, on-field matchups, and roster/injury issues. The earlier in the season, the wider range a team may have.
Market ratings and our range
We've got movement at the top, with the Chiefs rising again because of the return of Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. The 49ers got a major increase after annihilating the Steelers, but that change sent their point spread with the Rams through -7. That big number cost San Francisco bettors when Los Angeles kicked a last-second field goal to cover the spread.
Ahead of Thursday Night Football, the Eagles went from -7.5 to -5.5 against the Vikings, based almost entirely on Philadelphia's injury report. Its banged-up secondary kept Minnesota in the game long enough to middle those spreads.
The Ravens covered in Week 1, so you would expect their rating to go up. However, they had so many injuries that we're compelled to move them down, especially since they closed as 3-point underdogs in Cincinnati. Winning that game outright should send them back up for next week as they're favored by more than a touchdown against the Colts.
The easiest way to understand how these market ratings have changed from last week is to think about:
- How a team looked in Week 1
- How injuries were perceived to affect a team's chances in Week 2
The Steelers and Seahawks got downgraded after disappointing bettors in Week 1. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they both covered in Week 2 - a great example of the market overreacting from one game to the next.
The Packers won in Week 1 but had enough injuries going into Atlanta that - in conjunction with the Falcons' rating going up - they went from opening as favorites to closing as 3-point underdogs. If Aaron Jones, Christian Watson and David Bakhtiari return for Week 3, Green Bay's rating will go up, and the team will close as favorites against the Saints.
Lastly, betting Jets-Cowboys asked us to balance how much Dallas should go up after winning 40-0 in Week 1 and how far the Jets should fall with Zach Wilson replacing Aaron Rodgers. It turns out both might not be adjusted enough in their respective direction. Naturally, the Jets' range has to shift with their limited ceiling.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.