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The Weekly Taste

Week 2 Best Bets: Cardinals, Saints, Dolphins

by John Venezia
Updated On: September 22, 2022, 6:02 pm ET

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Overall, Week 1 was strong. Your boy JVTV went up almost six units, which is a solid start. I did tweet that I will attempt to refrain from having many occasions where I dish out more than seven or eight plays on a Sunday. As far as adding in on Monday and Thursday though, that's a different story. There are several Week 2 looks ripe for the picking. Let's hammer it.

 

*Note: You have heard me say shopping around is pivotal, especially in futures betting, so make sure you look to see what book is offering the more favorable odds.

 

Arizona Cardinals @ Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5) | Over/Under 51.5

If you read my column last season, you would remember NOBODY in the business had a better read on the Arizona Cardinals than I did over their final five or six games. I knew when they were going to win, lose, cover, or not cover because I just had this team down to a science. Additionally, I was pumped to see how right I was about their fraudulent 7-0 start, and how the unraveling has already translated into this year.

Last year, Kliff Kingsbury was pushing all the right buttons early before they hit the rocks. And prior to the start of this season, the organization was already experiencing a lot of turbulence with the Kyler Murray contract clause regarding X amount of time dedicated to studying because he's a video game junkie freak, which is very telling.

After getting embarrassed at home on Sunday against the Chiefs (44-21), the Cardinals find themselves in a predicament heading into Week 2. Arizona draws a Raiders defense that was diced up by Justin Herbert (279 yards and 3 TDs) and the Chargers offense. Luckily this same LV defense is still nearly the same unit that surrendered the seventh-most points per game last season (25.8). 'Zona still has some weapons in Hollywood Brown, Zach Ertz, James Conner, and of course the rugrat toddler Murray. The main takeaway for this Cards offense is to RUN THE BALL more than they did. This same Vegas defense allowed Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson to each eclipse 60 yards on the ground last season. Out of the seven losses they had, not a single team that beat the Raiders last year ran the rock fewer than 30 times (outside one of the Chiefs' wins where they toted it 25 times). You have enough horses in the ground game, you get the picture. Because of the bloodbath schedule they have, winning this game is imperative or they are realistically looking at a 3-9 record before their Week 13 bye.

For a defense that got ravaged by KC dropping a 40 bean on them, they catch another offense focused on airing it out. Last year 'Zona allowed the eighth most pass tuddies, which is likely going to be a central focus for LV with Derek Carr and his old college buddy Davante Adams – fresh off a monster 10/141/1 debut. However, one thing that may help is getting back DE JJ Watt to rush the passer. With the Raiders allowing six sacks last week, it should be a major area of focus for the Cards. The Black and Silver did not excite me this season despite the Adams addition. They are fun to watch at times, but certainly come highly flawed. I especially am not a fan of new HC Josh McDaniels. Based on the matchup though, I would highly suggest backing any Tae Adams prop in catches, yards, or TDs. He is certainly live to repeat Week 1's highlight reel performance.

While I thought the Cardinals would be much worse this year than last, I do think there are a ton of overreactions after just one game. In no galaxy would I put Vegas as a near touchdown favorite against a squad that can drop a 30-piece on any given week. In addition to LV being just 9-14 ATS since 2019, this is the money zone. Road dog getting 5/5.5 points, need I say more? That metric is now 10-1 ATS dating back to last season.

Prediction: Cardinals cover (+5.5)

 

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) @ New Orleans Saints | Over/Under 44.5

Will this finally be the time for selfish Brady and the Bucs to thwart these pests in New Orleans during the regular season? It's been four straight losses for them during the Brady era (not including the postseason). To be fair, Brady deserves it, he ruined my Gasparilla in January AND my huge eight-leg parlay last week, as well as one of my fantasy matchups.

Tampa Bay has lost SEVEN straight to New Orleans dating back to 2018 (1-7 since 2018) and failed to cover in all of them. In fact, the last time the Bucs covered against NOLA (Week 1 of 2018), I was still six weeks away from turning 25 as I approach my twilight years at nearly 29. Counting only the regular season during the Brady era, my former home of Tampa has been outscored 117-53 with a -9 turnover differential, and only put up over 23 points once. The worst part is Tampa Bay is dealing with a slew of injuries which includes LT Donovan Smith (hyperextended elbow) (Their regular starters on the interior were lost in the summer), and at wideout with Julio Jones (knee), Mike Evans (calf), and Chris Godwin (hammy). Since Godwin is likely to miss a few weeks, and Jones, Evans and Smith are not practicing, it does not leave a good sign. Although Evans is pretty likely to go, he's been handled by Marshon Lattimore and the Saints in recent years (seven games with less than five grabs, seven games with less than 75 yards, and only three tuddies), and has not notched a 100 yard game against them since 2018. With Brady having been sacked 13 times by this Dennis Allen defense, none of the above help point in the right direction.

Nothing is really wrong injury-wise with this Bucs defense. It looked fantastic against a weak Dallas offense on Sunday night. Of the last three seasons, both of these defenses are the creme de la creme in the run game. The big question for the Bucs will be if they can replicate the first three quarters of what Atlanta did last week with the amount of pressure and discomfort they were causing on Jameis Winston – who was sacked four times. If they can deliver those pressures or force Winston into mistakes, it could assist with limiting an offense that is capable of big plays as well as setting up short fields. If Alvin Kamara plays (rib injury), LB duo Devin White and Lavonte David will need to stick to him in the pass game since his rushing prowess has been highly limited in the last four matchups (failed to exceed 61 yards on the ground).

A huge overreaction from last week was the fact that the Saints were down two scores heading into the fourth quarter at a terrible Falcons team. Listen, I get it. Understand though, that Atlanta has almost always played the Saints tough in this brutal divisional bout. It seemed for most of the game they were either not trying, or just getting their footing but either way once they started running no huddles and more uptempo, everybody was finding the in-sync rhythm. Our boy Jamo dimed 13/16 for 213 yards, 2 scores in the 4th quarter. Even if Kamara is out (true toss-up right now), he could still spread out the Bucs with Michael Thomas – fresh off a resurgence, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry. If he is given time, it's a winnable matchup for this offense.

Preseason I had the Saints not only winning the division but arguably finishing as the top seed in the NFC en route to a championship game appearance. Earlier this week, I made sure to grab the Saints +3 ticket, which evaporated the last few days. Remove the obvious recent success they have had vs. Tampa Bay, and you'll find New Orleans is the much healthier team. Not to mention, if I took them to win the division I kinda have to take them. If you're grabbing this at +2.5, just take it on the Money Line as only about 20% of games finish on one or two points. Take them on the division before Sunday if you believe in them as there are still some +310's out there.

Prediction: Saints win and cover (+3)

 

Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)| Over/Under 44.5

The Dolphins cracked the code on Baltimore last season with their 22-10 beatdown. Lamar Jackson was sacked four times and pressured on 19 of 53 dropbacks in that one. Per Pro Football Focus, L Jax was only 5/13 for 50 yards, 1 TD/1 INT against that pressure. Does Miami have what it takes to pull another one out?

I was not a huge believer in Miami this season. Between a loaded conference, a teenager at head coach, and a QB with a noodle arm it just did not look promising. But what I can say is they looked phenomenal in Week 1 against the Pats at home, as they have for the last decade. Though they did not score an offensive touchdown until 2:19 left to go in regulation, Miami managed to control the entire game against the Ravens. How?

They made Lamar Jackson and Co. uncomfortable. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Miami had their safeties pulling a Houdini routine by hiding and placing them all over the field. Both safeties played over 40% of snaps in the box with Jevon Holland lining up as a safety 44% of the time, 40% in the box, 11% in the slot, and 4% at corner. Brandon Jones was in the box 72% of the time, 13% at safety, 13% in the slot, and 1% at corner. Combined, they account for 38 total blitzes. With the frequency this defense also ran a bunch of Cover 0 looks (no safeties to help), Balty was not prepared for it. While you would think they are studying up for that this year, the Fins brought in edge rusher Melvin Ingram to bolster a pass rush that already ranked for the fifth most sacks (48) last season against a team that is dealing with significant injury questions along the offensive line.

Adding WR Tyreek “T-Hilly” Hill should open up this offense that was thirsty to hit the next level. That 8/94 start from the Cheetah was promising when you combine him with the blazing Jaylen Waddle – fresh off a 104/1,016/6 rookie line. Adding in other weapons like RBs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, Miami became a track team overnight. And even though the Ravens defense is a good unit, they are dealing with more question mark injuries in the secondary with the status of star CB Marcus Peters, and losing CB Kyle Fuller (torn ACL). So long as Tua has decent time to throw, and doesn't make his typical idiotic decisions, the Fins offense should be able to move the rock and get in the end zone.

JohnnyVTV does believe in the Ravens this season. After watching Sunday against the Jets though, I'm a tad worried. They came out flat against a horrendous team, and they probably were going through the motions showing basic vanilla stuff. But Lamar not running is a concern that I did not think would truly come to light because of the failure for the team and him to come to terms on his contract. It's a worrisome notion, so seeing what happens in Week 2 will be paramount. I think Miami comes out strong and throws some fastballs their opponent is not ready for. Ravens find a way to win, but Miami covers outside of a field goal.

Prediction: Dolphins cover (+3.5)

 

Teaser of the Week:

I did not write out the teaser on last week's plays, but I did tweet them out. We're bringing a big boy two-team six-point slammer to the card!

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (+9.5) vs. the Indianapolis Colts

The Jags have won six straight games at home against the Colts dating back to 2015 (and one as the home team in London in 2016). I love Jacksonville at their regular 3.5 – which I will write about further this weekend, so why would I not play this up to almost double digits? Indy is dealing with key injuries that may miss or just play banged up in WR Michael Pittman, DT DeForest Buckner, as well as trotting out a new kicker in Chase McLaughlin after letting Lego lover Rodrigo Blankenship go. I think Indy wins, but the Jags should come out hot after blowing their first victory under Doug Pederson.

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals (+11.5) at the Las Vegas Raiders

Of course, I always take the road team getting 5/5.5 points, which you can clearly see above. So why not add another six to it? Zona should focus a bit more on the ground game this week since they let their game plan get away from them in last week's dismantling. The Raiders aren't necessarily a good team, and I didn't even like backing them to win by six, let alone 12. Even in a split backfield last year, the Cards were 6-0 in every game that James Conner notched at least 16 rush attempts. They know what to do.

 

May your weekend be filled with Espresso Martinis, Sunday gravy, and LOTS of winners!

 

The Plays:

- Arizona Cardinals (+5.5)

- New Orleans Saints Money Line and (+3)

- Miami Dolphins (+3.5)

- Jaguars and Cardinals six-point teaser

 

Fantasy football guru Matthew Berry has joined the team and his two shows have you covered all season long. Spend weekdays at noon with the Fantasy Football Happy Hour and then, every Sunday at 11am getting ready for kickoff with the Fantasy Football Pregame. Watch both shows live on Peacock and catch replays for the weekday show on the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

John Venezia

John Venezia (@_JohnnyVTV) is a former gambling lead for JDF Sports that has turned his attention to cashing winners for NBC Sports EDGE. He is a bitter Falcons' fan from New Jersey that is still hanging on to his team by a thread.