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Beating the Book: Chris Liss Handicaps Week 2

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

It's nice to get off to a good start, and 10-4-2 qualifies. I have to say it was a pretty easy Week 1 because there were so many home dogs, and five out of seven covered. (Actually, there were eight, but the Rams pushed). When there hasn't been hard data for nine months, and you can get both the venue advantage and the points, it's usually a good bet. This week, there are five more home dogs, but also some actual results from which to form the lines, so I imagine Vegas will tighten it up.


Ravens -1.5 at Bengals

The Ravens looked awfully tough against the Jets, but the Bengals handled them last year, and I like Cincy getting points at home. Moreover, the Bengals passing game looks improved with Carson Palmer another year removed from his arm injury and Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham in the fold. Back the Bengals.

Bengals 20 - 16

Dolphins +5.5 at Vikings

The Vikings were one of the best teams in the league last year, but I'm not sure who they are yet in 2010. The Dolphins are tough against the run, and it remains to be seen whether the current crop of Vikings receivers can do consistent damage down the field. I think this is probably enough points to put the onus on Minnesota to prove it's still the better squad. Back Miami.

Vikings 24 - 21

Bears +7.5 at Cowboys

It's hard to say whether the Bears were shaky last week because their offensive line is bad, because Jay Cutler and his receivers aren't yet on the same page in Mike Martz' system or because the Lions are better than we think. This matters because if it's just a matter of Chicago getting comfortable in its new offense, we'd expect significant improvement week to week. My feeling is that while that might be the case, it'll be tough to get in sync against Dallas' stout front seven, and I don't think the Bears defense can keep Miles Austin and Dez Bryant down. Back the Cowboys who roll.

Cowboys 34 - 20

Eagles -4.5 at Lions

Michael Vick looked awfully good last week, but the Lions will have a week to prepare for him, and it's hard to see them not being the better value here at home. The loss of Matthew Stafford hurts a little, but it's unclear whether he's truly better than Shaun Hill at this stage or their respective careers (I'd expect Stafford to be better by the end of the year, but so far he's been pretty horrible). Take the Lions who keep it close enough.

Eagles 21 - 20

Cardinals +6.5 at Falcons

This seems like a decent sized line, but I kind of like taking the Falcons at home off a tough loss in Pittsburgh. I expect them to pull away, and Derek Anderson to make some mistakes as he tries to bring Arizona back. Back Atlanta.

Falcons 27 - 13

Chiefs +1.5 at Browns

The Browns almost have to be the right play here because the line screams Kansas City, who just beat the Chargers on Monday night. Either way, the special teams with Josh Cribbs going against Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster should be the highlight of this game. Go against the grain and back the Browns.

Browns 19 - 17

Bills +13 at Packers

Double digit home favorites are always the toughest games on the board for me because there's no hidden value the way there is with a three-point home dog (the equivalent of a nine-point road dog). Everyone knows what the deal is - good team laying major points against a bad one. Still in Week 2, good and bad are less established no matter what happened last year, and the Bills actually match up well with the Packers insofar as a 13-point dog can. Buffalo had the No. 2 ranked pass defense by YPA in the NFL last year, and Green Bay is down to its backup running back, so this game could be reasonably close - barring turnovers and other disasters (which could very well happen). Still, back Buffalo.

Packers 24 - 13

Steelers +5 at Titans

The Steelers are without their starting quarterback, but Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau will make sure they defend, and as such, their early games should be violent, close-to-the-vest and low scoring. That and five points is enough for me here. Back Pittsburgh.

Titans 16 - 13

Buccaneers +3 at Panthers

I'd feel a lot better about this if I knew for sure Matt Moore were playing, but as of Wednesday night, it seems likely. The Bucs are an improving young team, but Carolina was very good down the stretch last year, and losing on the road to the Giants isn't a major indictment of them. Back the Panthers who bounce back at home.

Panthers 27 - 17


Rams +3.5 at Raiders

The Raiders looked a lot worse than the Rams last week, but keep in mind St. Louis was at home and playing against what seems like a weaker opponent. I think the right play here is to buy Oakland low against a rookie QB making his first road start. Back the Raiders.

Raiders 24 - 17

Seahawks +3.5 at Broncos

This is a very strange and suspicious line given what happened last week. The Seahawks blew out the 49ers while the Broncos lost to the Jaguars, and yet Seattle is getting more than a field goal? And though 63 percent of the public (as of Wednesday night) is on Seattle (a rare instance where the majority picks the dog), this line actually moved up to 3.5 from its opening of 3 (At least on one site). Back the Broncos who should be hungry coming off the loss and playing at home.

Broncos 27 - 20

Texans -3 at Redskins

I can't imagine a universe in which I'd back the Texans fresh off their demolition of Indy as a road favorite. Sure, the Redskins beat Dallas, but that was thanks to a fluke play at the end of the first half, and no one's taking Washington seriously yet. Back the Redskins who win outright at home.

Redskins 23 - 20

Jaguars +7.5 at Chargers

The Chargers always seem to play poorly early in the year, but they should be fairly desperate after losing in Kansas City. The Jaguars should have a hard time slowing down Philip Rivers et al., and I don't think their offense will keep up. Back San Diego.

Chargers 31 - 17

Patriots -2.5 at Jets

The Pats have been slightly under the radar given their inner-circle Hall of Fame quarterback, receiver and coach, while the Jets have been overhyped since last winter. But how quickly things change - after just one week, the Jets are home dogs! Now this is a real problem for me because I was making pro-Pats/anti-Jets bets all summer, and I don't want to switch gears and start rooting for the Jets. But the price of the two squads has changed, so I have to re-evaluate... I'm still taking the Pats. Tom Brady's going to carve up the grab-and-clutch one-on-one defense of Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromatie, and Bill Belichick will outcoach Rex Ryan.

Patriots 24 - 16


Giants +5.5 at Colts

While the Giants might be legitimately good, and the Colts could very well take a step back toward a 10 or 11-win season, I don't think we can say these two teams are equals just yet. And if they're not equals, this is an appropriate line. I expect Peyton Manning to have his way with New York's secondary, but the gulf between Eli and him isn't nearly as great as it once was, and the Giants have the better running game and defensive line. Back the Giants who keep it close enough.

Colts 27 - 23


Saints -5.5 at 49ers

The overhyped 49ers came down to earth in Seattle, but this is a major letdown game for the Saints after a 10-day layoff coming off a decisive win over Minnesota. Moreover, the 49ers will be desperate to get back on track, and I typically like Monday night home dogs no matter what. Back the 49ers.

49ers 20 - 19

We were 10-4-2 in Week 1. We were 131-122 last year against the spread. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties)