NFL betting: Can Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs hold off a divisional underdog?

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·Betting analyst
·4 min read
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Week 2 of the NFL wrapped up the same way it started — with a high-scoring, exciting matchup between divisional rivals. Aaron Rodgers returned to form assuring the fans at Lambeau Field that the Pack is back in a 35-17 victory ove the Lions. Green Bay covered as 11.5-point favorites against the rebuilding Lions, but it hasn't been that easy for favorites this season against their divisional foes. Underdogs have held their own, covering in four of the eight divisional games this season with three of the underdogs winning outright on the moneyline.

"Divisional 'dogs" hold more value early in the year due to the familiarity between the two teams coupled with the natural variance a new season brings. Week 3 provides us with four opportunities for divisional matchups with some pretty significant point spreads. Underdogs have cashed in nine of 14 matchups this year where the closing line was four points or more. All five divisional dogs fit the criteria so let's find some winning bets.

All lines from BetMGM.

Indianapolis +5.5 at Tennessee

Even coach Frank Reich isn't able to put Carson Wentz back together again. Two sprained ankles will most likely force Jacob Eason to a starting role. I would typically shy away from laying a handful of points with a defense that has allowed 68 total points in two games, but I don't know if I see a path for the Colts to move the ball. The Titans' defense has been respectable against the run (14th in success rate), and if Ryan Tannehill builds a lead early, the problems could snowball quickly for the young Colts quarterback. The Titans' 7.38% sack percentage ranks eighth in the league and a little pressure could turn that snowball into an avalanche. Sometimes, the best bets are ones you don't make. The Colts are a dog I can't back in this spot.

L.A. Chargers +6.5 at Kansas City

The Chiefs are the least profitable team everybody is scared to bet against. Kansas City is a brutal 1-11-1 ATS in their last 13 games dating back to last season, but their offensive firepower keeps bettors way. It's time to face your fears and grab the points with the Chargers. Herbert threw for over 300 yards in both meetings against Kansas City last season, including an overtime loss in his rookie debut. The Chiefs have been defenseless after two games, with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's group allowing a league-worst 59% success rate and 7.6 yards per play. Mahomes will win the shootout, but Herbert with 6.5 is the winning side.

Cincinnati +4.5 at Pittsburgh

It's been a tale of two weeks with each of these teams impressing in their openers only to fall flat in Week 2. I will chalk up Joe Burrow's three interceptions to growing pains, but the Steelers could be the team that struggles to heal quickly enough. Significant injuries on all three levels of the defense allowed the Raiders to rip Pitt's defense for 425 total yards.

Pittsburgh is the side with a healthy Devin Bush and Joe Haden, but I don't see how we get there by Sunday. Groin injuries are tough to trust, and the Steelers' offense is even tougher to depend on. First-round pick Najee Harris is averaging only 3.2 yards per rush, and the Steelers are dead last in offensive success rate. It's a bad situational spot for Cincy, playing the backend of consecutive road games, but I can't lay more than three points with the Steelers' offensive struggles. It's Bengals or no bet for me, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Cincy win outright. The moneyline odds for the Bengals are +170.

Philadelphia +4 at Dallas

Turnovers have bailed out Dallas' defense in a big way the first two weeks. Their 419 yards per game allowed ranks 26th in the league, and only four teams have given up more yards per play. Philly's offense should be able to get back on track against this Dallas defense, but efficiency will be paramount to keep pace with the Cowboys. The Eagles have yet to turn the ball over on offense and do not have the firepower to survive being on the wrong end of the turnover margin. The Eagles' rushing attack looks much more diverse under coach Nick Sirianni and will be a key reason why they keep Dak Prescott off the field long enough to get the cover.

Stats provided by profootballreference, football outsiders, rbsdm.com

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