It feels like we enter NFL Week 3 with as many questions as we have answers after just two games and a plethora of big-time injuries. The Week 3 odds have changed significantly in many games compared to the look-ahead lines. In other games, the spread hasn’t changed much despite growing evidence that maybe it should. It was incredibly hard to find winners in last week’s slate of games and we went 2-3 on the picks here, bringing the season total to 5-4-1 up 1.7 units. Time to get back on track with the NFL Week 3 picks against the spread.
Dallas Cowboys +5 at Seattle Seahawks
The total on this game is 57, clearly the highest of Week 3 and one of the highest that we’ll see all season. This game is setting up as a clear shootout. We have two sub-par defenses and Russell Wilson on one side, and the Cowboys elite offense on the other.
On the one hand, we have Russell Wilson coming off a thrilling victory over the Patriots and looking like the MVP. On the other, we have the Cowboys who should be 0-2 on the season. This game is a clear buy low, sell high opportunity. In a shootout, I want those points in my pocket. And getting more than +4 is a clear value.
The Pick: Cowboys +5
Tennessee Titans -2.5 at Minnesota Vikings
This is the pick I feel least confident in because of just how damn easy it looks. There is something fishy about this line and I’m the fish that’s taking the bait. The Titans are clearly better than the Vikings, right? Any NFL observer would have little choice but to come to that conclusion. The Vikings have been downgraded in power rankings across the realm of sports betting more than any other team in the league to this point.
Their once fearsome defense has looked like a sieve after mass turnover combined with an injury to their top pass rusher Danielle Hunter. Hunter is still out and the Vikings standout linebacker Anthony Barr was just placed on IR. This Vikings defense still has All-Pros in Eric Kendricks at linebacker and Harrison Smith at safety. Smith is one of just two safeties currently on the roster with Anthony Harris, another well-regarded player. So, it’s not as if this team is devoid of talent on defense–they’re just playing like it. Can Mike Zimmer get this defense together in time for the Titans?
It’s possible. Mike Zimmer has historically been great both after a loss and at home. However, there isn’t much he can do for a sputtering Vikings offense led by Kirk Cousins who looks like he’s playing with one eye blindfolded without his former top receiver Stephon Diggs.
Is this the square pick? Yes. 69% of the bets at Pregame.com are on the Titans, and that accounts for just 56% of the money. Do I feel like I’m destined to lose fading the Vikings after betting on them the first two weeks? Yes. Should you fade this pick? Good luck betting on this Vikings team.
The Pick: Titans -2.5
LA Rams +2 at Buffalo Bills
Similar to the Titans vs. Vikings, I believe we’re getting the better team giving up less than the field goal. The difference here is that the Bills are at home. If you can figure out what home field means in a COVID season, you have quite the edge on the books. Because just like everyone else, they have no idea how to price a home-field advantage this season. Tentatively, the number for home field is 1.5 points. Are the Bills a half-point better than the Rams? I’d say so.
But that’s the lazy handicap. The biggest key to this game is that the Bills are getting back their top two linebackers, Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. The Rams offense is predicated on play-action, which can be especially effective against linebackers that aren’t sound. Sean McVay has been having great success dialing up plays for Jared Goff to get the ball to tight ends in the middle of the field, and that could have been incredibly effective against two backups. With their linebackers back, the Bills are excellent on all levels of the defense. They rush the passer better than the majority of teams, and have play makers at each position group.
The Rams defense has been playing fine. They are 14th in total defensive DVOA through two games, and are 20th in Football Outsiders DAVE rankings, which take into account preseason expectations. Josh Allen is playing out of his mind, and while he can’t be expected to keep up the frenetic pace he’s been playing at, I expect another quality game from the Bills QB.
The Pick: Bills -2
Chicago Bears +3.5 at Atlanta Falcons
This line is just wrong. No, I do not believe the Bears are a legit 2-0 team. But they’re better than the Falcons with a hobbled Julio, and it’s not especially close. Look no further than the battles in the trenches, where the Bears have clear advantages on both sides of the ball. Bad defenses like Atlanta’s, which may be missing more than a few already bad starters, are the only types of defenses that Trubisky takes advantage of. The Bears have shown a commitment to run the ball and have done so successfully. This not only sets up easier play-action throws for Trubisky, but it also keeps Matt Ryan off the field. Ryan will be facing the best defense he’s seen this season by a fair margin. This spread is at least two points too high, and there is no choice but to take advantage of going through three and getting the hook.
The Pick: Bears +3.5
Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens
What is up with this line? I feel like Sponge Bob Square Pants again, but Patty Mahomes getting three and the hook? Come on now folks. Let’s go over who the two have played. These teams both waxed the Texans. In Week 1, the Ravens got the hapless Browns in their first game under a new head coach. They predictably rolled as big favorites. The Chiefs had a scare last week against the Chargers. But this is a Chargers team that has always played the Chiefs close and has arguably a top-10 defense.
When the Chiefs and Ravens matched up last year, it ended 33-28 Chiefs. When the playoffs rolled around, the Ravens could not get past the Titans. You can argue that the Ravens are the better team, but you cannot be sure of it. This line assumes the Ravens are clearly the better team.
The Pick: Chiefs +3.5