Early point spreads tend to be smarter bets than after lines shift throughout the week. In Week 3 of the NFL, you might want to get an early start now that you have two full weeks of action to analyze.
Below, we take a look at the picks for every Week 3 matchup based on the early point spreads and then examine three of the best bets of the early lines in greater detail.
HOUSTON TEXANS (+1) at Baltimore Ravens
Despite an ugly performance on offense, the Baltimore Ravens got their first win of the season against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. Meanwhile, Houston won its second straight game in comeback fashion, an overtime victory over the up-and-coming Tennessee Titans.
The Texans failed to cover the spread as favorites twice this season, but as a nearly straight-up road underdog, they are an enticing option against Baltimore in Week 3.
Houston has the firepower to put up a lot of points against Baltimore this week. Rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins has added another dimension to the team’s passing game, taking the pressure off of Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels to carry the burden themselves.
Baltimore will have its chances to score, as long as Joe Flacco is successful against the beatable Texans' secondary. But it’s hard to imagine the Ravens' offense being able to keep up with Ray Rice potentially relegated to the sidelines after injuring his hip in Week 2.
Jacksonville Jaguars at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-16.5)
This spread may seem a little high, and it actually might be if the Seahawks take the Jags lightly, but the noise level at CenturyLink Field and the Seahawks’ stifling defense will be able to keep Jacksonville off the scoreboard altogether this week. Through two weeks, the Seahawks boast the top defense in the NFL, giving up just 10 total points and allowing only 460 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, the Jags are at the opposite spectrum, offensively. Other than a garbage-time touchdown against Oakland last week, they have fielded the worst offensive unit in the NFL through the first two games. Two of their 11 points this season came on a safety in the opening moments of their 28-2 shellacking by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
Look, the Jags have been underdogs twice to start the season and didn’t come close to covering either time, despite having a favorable spread last week against the Oakland Raiders. Don’t expect them to show any signs of life against the most imposing defense in the league this week.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (+7.5) at New Orleans Saints
New Orleans escaped with a win in Week 2, but scored sparingly against Tampa Bay. That may be what happens again against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3—but by more than a touchdown? This is my best bet of the week, so jump on it early before it shifts in the other direction.
Carson Palmer and the Cards have made some noise in the early stages of the 2013 season. After not only covering the spread, but also beating the Detroit Lions last week, the Cards are looking much improved with better play from their quarterback. With plenty of weapons to target, Palmer is more than capable of keeping things close against a beatable Saints defense.
On the other hand, the Saints have been struggling offensively by their standards and will face a tough Cardinals' defense. While the Cards are susceptible to giving up some big plays, they have talented defensive backs and have been dominant against the run, limiting teams to just 2.6 yards per carry for fourth-best in the NFL. The Saints are 23rd in rushing while averaging just 3.1 yards per attempt.