For the first of two straight weeks, we have a doubleheader on Monday Night Football. That means twice the NFL picks as usual to close the week.
First, we have Bryce Young making his first home start in the NFL in Panthers vs. Saints. Then, we head to Pittsburgh, where we have plenty of Browns vs. Steelers picks for you.
Let’s get to our NFL picks to close Week 2 with a double dose of Monday Night Football.
NFL Picks: Monday Night Football
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our NFL betting staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
The Saints were lucky to escape with a victory last week, as Ryan Tannehill gifted them the win after countless mistakes.
Now, New Orleans has to go on the road in the division, which is never an easy spot for the favored team. All home divisional dogs in the Action Labs database in the month of September are 75-56-2 (57.3%). Since the beginning of 2015, this spot for underdogs has been even more profitable, cashing at a 63% rate over a 46-game sample size.
The Saints defense allowed 147 scrimmage yards to the Titans running backs a week ago on just 21 touches. The Panthers should have success staying on schedule and protecting Bryce Young by creating some explosive runs.
As of me writing this up, 68% of all tickets are on the visiting Saints according to the Action App, but 65% of the money is on the home ‘dog in the Panthers. This line has stayed strong at three points despite the majority of bets coming in on the visitor. I expect sharp money to prevail in this game and for the Panthers to pull the upset on Monday night.
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If this was last season, I’m not even sure I’d need much of a write-up when picking Jamaal Williams to score a touchdown. All the guy did last year was find the end zone, doing so 17 times with the Lions.
This is the perfect time to buy stock in Williams’ touchdown prospects. He just got done facing the Titans’ brick-wall run defense, and the Panthers were just absolutely gashed by both Tyler Allegier and Bijan Robinson in Week 1.
Williams finished Week 1 with 18 carries for 45 yards while playing 75% of the snaps for New Orleans. Count me in for him to add a touchdown to his season stats this week.
Derek Carr is no stranger to new Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, who’s known to play a lot of Cover 3 and Cover 4 zone coverage while also creating pressure on quarterbacks via the blitz.
Carr tends to target players who run their routes out of the slot in these types of matchups, and that’s where Saints TE Juwan Johnson should make a living here.
The downside here is that the game is likely to be rather slow in pace, but my numbers grade this as a 22% edge on over 2.5 receptions. I’ll usually get a ticket to the window when that percentage is 15 or higher.
Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s unit looks nasty and should have its way with a blah Steelers line and a bad Matt Canada offensive scheme. Also, do you really trust Deshaun Watson on the road with a rookie right tackle starting for Jack Conklin against the league’s best pass rush? Points will be at a premium.
The average Browns-Steelers game over the last two years finished at 40.75 points. Unders went 12-4 in Week 1, and there are a slew of trends leaning under here:
Primetime unders the last four years: 60%
Home underdog unders the last two years: 61%
Kevin Stefanski unders with a total 43 or lower: 69%
Deshaun Watson unders with a total 42 or lower: 78%
Week 2 unders with a total 40 or lower: 71%
This is my favorite betting spot of the week. It’s my favorite under on the board with all the offensive line injury concerns and great pass rushes on both sides.
We’re not getting the odds we once did on my favorite prop, but we’re still finding sporadic situations where books price it poorly enough to give us some value.
Including the second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. Betting markets are expecting a tight, low-scoring affair in Pittsburgh. With a total of 38 and a spread of two, this is the exact kind of game to target with this prop.
Totals this low are somewhat rare in the modern NFL, so coming up with an exact probability on this prop is difficult due to sample-size issues. However, coming into Sunday of Week 2, games with a total in the 30s and a spread within a field goal saw this prop hit the yes just twice in nine games.
We split the pair Sunday with similar games, but we can live with hitting half of our +135 bets. Based on my larger dataset around this prop, I’d expect to hit this one about half of the time.
I also like this prop in the other Monday Night game (Saints vs. Panthers), though the larger spread lowers the odds a bit. Still, I’ll risk a small amount on a parlay of both games, as it’s a fun sweat and is has a positive expectation at +464 odds.
Pick: Either Team To Score 3 Unanswered Times: No (+135)
The Steelers are going to be without star defensive tackle Cam Heyward, and I can’t express how big of a loss that is for Pittsburgh. It’s going to open up the run game even more for Cleveland’s go-to guy on offense: Nick Chubb
Chubb handled 18 carries for 106 yards in Week 1. With wide receiver Amari Cooper being added to the Browns’ injury report late in the week, all signs point to a heavy workload for Chubb on Monday night. I’m betting on him for a big game to close Week 2 on Monday Night Football.
Diontae Johnson is expected to miss a few weeks, which should greatly benefit Allen Robinson statistically. Robinson ran a route on over 95% of Kenny Pickett’s pass attempts after Johnson left the game in Week 1.
While I am also interested in speedy playmaker Calvin Austin and his player props, the safest play here is to take Robinson and his receptions because I expect him to be moved all around the formation. The Browns pass rush may just be one of the NFL’s best, so the Steelers will have no choice but to get the ball out of Pickett’s hands quickly.
Robinson was targeted 8 times in his Steelers debut and it wouldn’t surprise me if he garnered that many once again. The line is heavily juiced to the over currently at 2.5 receptions, but I will be looking to play over 3.5 at a much better price on Monday night.
I get that Pickett was not good in his first outing of the season, but he’s not as bad as he was in Week 1 against the 49ers. He faced a tough defense and was playing from behind all game, which is not a recipe for success against an elite defense.
Pickens is one of the more athletically gifted WRs in the league and should be in for a bigger workload without Diontae Johnson. He had a solid seven targets in Week 1 and with Johnson commanding a significant target share, Pickens should be in for a drastic increase.
Pickens hit the over at this number in nine of 17 games last season as a rookie, and he should only be better this year.
I’m mostly ignoring the first week’s results since they’re largely meaningless and people overreact. I have Pickens projected for over 50 yards in this spot and would hit it all the way to 51.5 here.
Pick: George Pickens Over 42.5 Receiving Yards (-113)
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