Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:15 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Buffalo -7½ over Las Vegas
1:00 PM EST. We've mentioned this in many past articles but it's worth repeating- the second week of the NFL season often challenges every notion we form after Week 1. Suddenly, teams that looked buttoned-up and efficient regress to a more mediocre form. On the flip side, teams who struggled in their first contest may rediscover their stride, especially teams who were considered among the elite in the pre-season. There may be no greater example of this type of situation than Week 2's matchup between the Raiders and Bills.
Every sports show in America has something to say about Josh Allen's egregious four-turnover game on Monday Night. The two-time Pro Bowler took accountability after the game, saying, "Same shit, same place, different day... I hurt our team tonight. I cost our team tonight. This feels eerily similar to last year, and I hate that it's the same." Allen paved a beautiful path for a Jet victory, hurling one interception after another deep down the field in the second half, and then fumbling on a late 4th quarter drive when Buffalo really needed a change in momentum. It was a nightmare performance by the 27 year old, maybe the worst of his career, and it hasn't come without vitriol. ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said someone needs to tell the Buffalo QB to "grow up." Commentator and former NFL player Marcus Spears suggested Allen would lose his top receiver, Stefon Diggs, if he didn't change his bad habits.
And Josh Allen isn't the only Bills' player facing criticism. The Bills' defense allowed the Jets to run for 172 yards on just 28 carries- good for more than 6 yards per rush. The anemic Jets' offense, led by the wide-eyed #2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson, couldn't find a rhythm without Breece Hall and its running attack. Yet again, Buffalo gifted New York with a path to victory through their porous front seven.
It was a terrible collective performance for a Bills' team that no-doubt still has Super Bowl aspirations this season. Yet just six days after that debacle, the 0-1 Bills find themselves as -7.5 favorites at Orchard Park. They'll be the only team with a losing record on the field this Sunday, as the Raiders journey to Buffalo for their second-straight away game to start the season.
Vegas' coach Josh McDaniels is no-doubt full of optimism after a Week 1 win against a divisional foe. The Raiders were often a laughing stock last season, seemingly unmotivated and reckless far too often, especially away from Sin City (3-6 ATS in 2022 away games). Bringing in Jimmy Garoppolo is already paying dividends; the veteran journeyman QB took over the game last Sunday, throwing five passes for 60 yards late in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the game-winning drive. Garoppolo wasn't completely mistake-free, though. His third quarter interception on 3rd and goal was a horrendous decision, but he's a fresh feel and steady hand for a Raiders' squad in need of more leadership. The Raiders' defense was also formidable, limiting the Broncos to just 260 total yards on 4.5 yards per play.
So we should bet on the Raiders, right? Not so fast. The Raiders' win, although worth celebrating, was a 1-point victory against one of the worst teams in the NFL last season. It was also versus a new head-coach and new system in Denver; that much transition can take time for any franchise to start realizing wins. Meanwhile, the Bills faced one of the best defenses in the NFL (and they looked like it), in a raucous enemy environment and still should have won with ease. Still, if not for Allen's four turnovers.
This is an ideal spot for the Bills. Buffalo is coming off an embarrassing loss on national TV, their quarterback is the butt of everyone's jokes this week, their defense simply could not stop the Jets' rushing attack, and they're off three straight ATS losses going back to last season.
How good are the Raiders? It might not matter. It probably feels gross after last Monday Night, but there's only one way to look at this game. Vengeance is mine, says Josh Allen and the Bills - we'll take the chalk in this affair.
Buffalo -7½ -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)