The NFL has tinkered with its Monday night doubleheader formula the past few years, but it seems to like the Week 2 doubleheader.
It’s back this season and the league leaned on divisional rivalries for the two Monday night games. Let’s take a look at both Monday night games to end an entertaining Week 2:
Saints (-3) over Panthers
A three-point home underdog in a prime-time divisional game will often be an automatic play for me, but I can’t get there with the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina struggled to move the ball in Week 1. It would be easy to blame Bryce Young. While the rookie quarterback wasn’t great, I wonder if the Panthers did enough to surround him with talent. There aren’t a lot of playmakers on this offense. I don’t know how they move the ball consistently against a New Orleans Saints defense that’s much better than the Falcons defense that held Carolina to 10 points in the opener.
On the other side, New Orleans moved the ball well against the Tennessee Titans last week but didn’t score much. They did win, and I think the points will come easier this week, especially with the Panthers missing No. 1 cornerback Jaycee Horn. The Saints might be a sneaky good offense with Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed and, eventually, Alvin Kamara (he’s suspended four games). Maybe it’s square to go with a road favorite here, but I’ll take New Orleans.
Steelers (+2) over Browns
This line never got to Pittsburgh Steelers +3, which might be telling. I got it at +2.5 for the official picks last Thursday, and mentioned that I was hopeful it would get to a full field goal. Given how good the Cleveland Browns looked in Week 1 and how bad the Steelers looked in the opener, it seemed possible. But it went the other way.
I haven’t given up on the Steelers being pretty good this season. The San Francisco 49ers drubbed them in Week 1, but the 49ers might just be that good. And it doesn’t take away from the Browns’ Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Bengals looked bad again in Week 2.
The Steelers have two injuries that are very concerning. Receiver Diontae Johnson and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward will be out, and that’s a big loss on each side of the ball. Still, I’m going to blindly trust that the Steelers will find a way to avoid an 0-2 start.
Here is the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
Some MNF props
The props picks this season have been up and down, but it’s still worth a look.
In the first game, wait for the inactives list to drop 90 minutes before kickoff, but if the Panthers activate D.J. Chark then I think he goes over 26.5 yards. Chark is a big-play threat who can do that in one play. Someone has to catch passes for the Panthers, and everyone else struggled in Week 1. They might want to see if Chark gives them something on offense. On the other side, I like Derek Carr over 230.5 passing yards. Assuming a competitive game, Carr has the weapons to get to 300 for a second straight week.
In the other game, I think Elijah Moore over 41.5 yards is an obvious pick. Amari Cooper is likely to miss this game, and the Browns got Moore seven targets last week. That tied Cooper for the team lead. He’s going to be the focal point this week. While the same logic could be given to George Pickens over 42.5 yards with Diontae Johnson out, I prefer Pat Freiermuth over 35.5 yards and also Freiermuth +275 anytime touchdown.
MLB with 11 games
There are two weeks left in the MLB regular season and a few playoff spots still up for grabs. The Baltimore Orioles did clinch a playoff spot, but there’s still business to be done. An extra-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday allowed them to take a two-game lead in the AL East out of that series, but Baltimore needs to keep winning to hold off the Rays. The bad news is they face the AL West-leading Houston Astros, who are up by just 1.5 games in the division and have to keep winning themselves. The Astros are -160 favorites and in this game, I can’t take the Orioles no matter how good they’ve been to us this season.
What’s the best bet?
I’ll keep it simple: Steelers moneyline +110. They’re a well-coached team and have a lot of urgency after falling to 0-1. Pittsburgh will avoid the 0-2 start.