In each issue of the Sheaf during the NFL season, your trusted “Sports & Health” section will provide its readers with a rundown of the week that was, while teeing up the upcoming week.
“Sports & Health” will also provide shaky — at best — betting advice for the brave student gamblers on campus.
Oddsmakers set what is called the point spread for each game. When a team is favoured to win, they are allocated a certain amount of points they have to cover.
For example, if team A (-3) is favoured against team B by three points, team A would have to win by more than three points for their bettors to cash in. A three-point win by team A would result in a push, meaning all bettors just receive their money back.
If team A were to win by two points or less, or loses outright to team B, team B’s bettors cash in.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-6.5)
Even with a new head coach, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston looked like his old self in week one, throwing three interceptions against a San Francisco 49ers team that had only recorded two interceptions over all 16 games last season. The Buccaneers lost to the 49ers 31-17.
The Panthers week one effort was at least better than Tampa’s. Carolina lost 30-27 to last year’s NFC champions, the Los Angeles Rams.
Considering Winston’s bad start to the season, I would stay far away from trusting him with your money. Plus, short weeks are always more difficult for the road team that must travel.
Be confident in Carolina at -5. They should be able to handily beat the Buccaneers by at least a touchdown.
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-13.5)
What a start it was for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in their week one victory. Jackson threw for a career-high five touchdowns while producing the most points scored in a single game in the history of the franchise. The Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins 59-10.
The Cardinals settled for a tie in week one against the Detroit Lions. Arizona scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
Don’t let this double-digit point spread scare you from taking the Ravens. They should be able to beat Arizona by at least two touchdowns.
Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) at Washington Redskins
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw for a career-high four touchdowns in his week one win against the New York Giants.
Meanwhile, the Redskins were the biggest underdogs in week one. Washington jumped out to a shocking 17-0 lead against the Philadelphia Eagles before eventually collapsing and giving up 24 points in the second half.
Take Dallas on the road here and look for Prescott to have another good day distributing the ball.
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)
The Seahawks squeaked away with a 21-20 win against Cincinnati in week one.
Pittsburgh started their season on the wrong foot with a 33-3 loss on the road to New England. The Steelers still have never won in New England during the Tom Brady era.
Trust Seattle here to cover the spread, even if Pittsburgh wins, it should be by a slim margin less than four points.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at New York Giants
The Bills scored 17 unanswered points last week to come back from a 16-0 deficit and stole a win from the New York Jets.
This week, they should hope they get off to a better start against the Giants, a team that put forth a lacklustre effort in a 35-17 loss to the Cowboys in week one.
Until the Giants take the QB keys from ageing QB Eli Manning, stay away from betting on them.
However, even if the Bills win, it might not be enough to cover the -2.5 spread.
San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The 49ers handled their business last week in Tampa to start the year 1-0. Meanwhile, the Bengals are 0-1 even with a career day — 418 yards passing — from QB Andy Dalton.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo missed some open throws in week one and finished with a light 166 passing yards.
Take the Bengals at home for this game that is a nearly a pick-em. They played a much tougher opponent last week on the road in Seattle and lost by just one point. For the 49ers to win, Garoppolo must play better than he did last week.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Detroit Lions
The Chargers survived a late comeback from the Indianapolis Colts last week, winning in overtime 30-24. The Lions blew their lead against the Cardinals which ended up being a tie game after overtime expired.
Outside of an outstanding debut from rookie tight-end TJ Hockenson, there is nothing on this Lions team that gives me the confidence to bet money on them. The Chargers should be able to win this one on the road — the only concern would be if they can cover three points.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3)
Last week, the Vikings looked like a really good football team, running out to a 28-0 lead against the Atlanta Falcons before winning 28-13.
Green Bay rang in the new season on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears, winning 10-3 in an under-whelming game for the casual fan.
This is a big matchup that likely carries playoff implications in the National Football Conference’s North Division. Trust the Vikings (+3) here. Even if they lose, it should be by less than three points.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-8.5)
The Jaguars chances for success this season fell off of a cliff in week one. QB Nick Foles injured his clavicle bone on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and the team never recovered, losing 40-26 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The free-agent QB acquisition is out without a time table for his return.
Houston is coming off a two-point loss on the final play of the game against the New Orleans Saints in a thrilling week one Monday night football matchup.
Without Foles throwing for Jacksonville, stay away from the Jaguars. Covering 8.5 points is quite the task, but Deshaun Watson and the Texans should be able to do it.
New England Patriots (-18.5) at Miami Dolphins
The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are off to another promising start. They hosted the Steelers in week one and beat them handily, 33-3.
The Dolphins are a dumpster fire. Following their opening week 59-10 loss to Baltimore, there were reports that numerous Dolphin players had requested a trade following the embarrassing blow-out game.
This is a tough one to call as it is the biggest spread of the week. Betting on the Patriots appears to be safe, just be wary of a nasty back-door cover by Miami.
Kansas City Chiefs (-8) at Oakland Raiders
Last week, Chiefs QB and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes looked just as good as he did in 2018, throwing for three touchdowns and 378 yards in a 40-26 victory.
Meanwhile, the circus that is the Oakland Raiders picked up somewhat of a surprising win in week one against Denver.
Bet on Kansas City to easily blow out the Raiders in Oakland here, although the silver and black seem to be trending in the right direction after cutting ties with Antonio Brown.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-3)
Drew Brees and the Saints came away victorious against the Houston Texans in week one on a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Rams squeaked out of week one with a three-point win against the Carolina Panthers.
This game might shape up to be a close one if the Saints defense can keep up with the Rams’ offense. Take the Saints here as three-point underdogs.
Chicago Bears (-3) at Denver Broncos
Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears lostin week one, tying for the least points scored in week one with just three.
Joe Flacco’s Broncos lost the ladder half of Monday night football against the Raiders in week one.
Placing money on this game is a move only meant for die hard fans of either team. Everyone else should stay away from it.
Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Carson Wentz’s Eagles took down the Redskins in week one after falling down 17-0 in the first half, finishing the game on a 32-10 scoring run to secure the win, 32-27.
The Falcons did not look good in their opening game, falling behind 28-0 to the Vikings in the 28-12 loss.
Take the Eagles here and hope that they continue their quality of play where it left off in last weeks’ come-from-behind win.
Cleveland Browns (-3) at New York Jets
An offseason filled with hype had oddsmakers labelling the Browns as a Super Bowl contender this season. The extensive media coverage was all for nothing in week one as Cleveland suffered an embarrassing 43-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Jets are another team that got considerable off-season praise. They too had a disappointing performance in week one, losing 17-16 after surrendering a 16-0 lead to the Bills.
This is a risky game to bet on, but one has to believe that Baker Mayfield can lead the Browns to a win in week two by at least a field goal.
These point spreads are courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, last updated on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor