Colts, Bengals, And Bears Bets And The NFL Week 2 Boomerang Effect

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The days may be numbered on Indiana’s reign as the nexus of regulated online sports betting in the Midwest, with Illinois’ launch of mobile gambling over the summer, but for the time being the Hoosier State still offers more wagering options than any of its four adjacent states.

Legal sports gambling is not yet available in Kentucky or Ohio, Indiana’s neighbors to the south and east. Michigan opened its first retail sportsbooks in March, but the state doesn’t expect to unveil mobile wagering until later this year, and until then, Detroit Lions fans in southwestern Michigan will find it easier to cross the border into Indiana and place a mobile bet than to drive to the nearest brick-and-mortar casino with a sportsbook. And although Illinoisans now have three online sportsbooks to choose from, bettors from the Chicago area who want to shop around for the most favorable odds may still find it worthwhile to zip down to northwest Indiana, where this week’s approval of theScore brings the state’s roll call of mobile gambling platforms to nine.

With DraftKings, one of the leading U.S. online sportsbooks, reporting record handle on some of last Sunday’s NFL games, the demand for Week 2 NFL bets is expected to be strong in Indiana, with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Cleveland to face the Browns Thursday night and the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears at home against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Bengals (0-1) vs. Browns (0-1)

It’s one of the most obvious yet reliable NFL gambling axioms — expect the oddsmakers and the betting public to overreact to Week 1 outcomes, and place your wagers against those overreactions. But how does that guideline apply to a pair of teams both coming off losses?

The sportsbooks are leaning on Cleveland’s superior talent and higher preseason expectations, as DraftKings, BetMGM, Unibet, BetRivers, and PointsBet have installed the Browns as 6-point favorites, while FanDuel set its line at Cleveland -6.5.

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Bettors may take a look at that point spread and think twice about the favorite’s chances to cover, given that Cleveland only put six points on the board for the entire game in Sunday’s 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Moneyline prices range from +205 to +215 on the Bengals and from -250 to -265 on the Browns.

The total points over/under opened at 46 and has already been bet down to 43.5, but even that may still be worth a try for a pair of teams that combined for 19 points in their Week 1 performances.

Colts (0-1) vs. Vikings (0-1)

In another battle between franchises desperate to notch a win, the question for bettors looking to pull a Week 2 zag on Colts-Vikings is which team’s loss in the season opener seemed more flukey. On the One Percent Better podcast, Colts reporter Stephen Holder made the case that it was Indianapolis’ 27-20 loss at Jacksonville:

For the Colts to lose this game, the following things had to happen: Two terrible interceptions by Rivers; stopped on a 4th and 1 inside the 5-yard-line; Marlon Mack gets hurt, too, which didn’t help; they miss a 30-yard field goal; they had a variety of just unconscionable penalties. … What I’m saying is, all of those things happened, and the Colts were throwing into the end zone in the final minute trying to tie the game.

Despite the loss of starting running back Marlon Mack to a season-ending Achilles’ tendon tear, if Colts quarterback Phillip Rivers – who threw for 363 yards last week — can avoid those costly turnovers, then Indianapolis, which is favored by three points against Minnesota, should hope for a rebound. Here are the odds at several leading online sportsbooks. They offer many additional types of wagers, so make sure to shop around.

 DraftKingsFanDuelBetRiversPointsBetUniBetBetMGM
Colts Spread-3
(-118)
-3
(-115)
-3
(-118)
-3
(-110)
-3
(-118)
-3
(-118)
Vikings Spread+3
(-104)
+3
(-105)
+3
(-104)
+3
(-110)
+3
(-104)
+3
(-110)
Colts Moneyline-167-168-167-160-175-161
Vikings Moneyline+148+142+148+135+143+135
Total Points Over/Under48.5
(-110)
48.5
(-110)
48.5
(-110)
48.5
(-110)
48.5
(-110)
48.5
(-110)

Bears (1-0) vs. Giants (0-1)

The Bears, 5.5-point favorites against the Giants at all the aforementioned mobile sportsbooks, might as well be poster boys for the Week 2 boomerang effect. They trailed the Detroit Lions by 17 points heading into last Sunday’s fourth quarter, then wound up sneaking out of Michigan with a win thanks to some clutch throws by Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky and an avalanche of bad coaching decisions and on-field errors by the Lions.

If Chicago had lost to Detroit, it’s hard to imagine the Bears being favored by almost a touchdown over anyone — even the Giants, projected basement dwellers of the NFC East. New York second-year running back Saquon Barkley will be looking to rebound from a dismal season opener, with just 6 total yards on 15 carries, and the Bears appear ripe for a reality check.

Bettors: On your marks. Get set. Zag!

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Rafe Bartholomew

Rafe has worked as an editor and writer at Harper's Magazine, Grantland, Eater, and The Athletic. He is a co-author of the New York Times Bestselling book Basketball: A Love Story and the author of two other books, Pacific Rims and Two and Two.

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