Week 3 of the NFL season is on the horizon, meaning it’s time to take the lessons learned over the first fortnight of football and apply them toward winning your bets for the rest of the season.
Upstart teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins seem to be for real, while former powerhouses like the New England Patriots may be crumbling.
Wise gamblers will be using those trends and others to make educated wagers on the upcoming slate of games, getting a much-needed edge over the public.
If you need some help deciding which way to lean and still haven’t decided on your Week 3 bets, keep reading to see my picks for every game and some in-depth analysis on the underdogs that are bound to cover the spread.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (+2.5) over Houston Texans
It’s always wise to take the home dog coming off a win, especially when the team getting points is the defending Super Bowl champions playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Remember, Baltimore’s overhauled defense only allowed six points on Sunday—a huge step forward after letting Peyton Manning throw for seven touchdowns in the season-opener.
Houston hasn’t looked that great in either of its two games, narrowly escaping the up-and-coming San Diego Chargers in Week 1 and needing overtime to take care of the Tennessee Titans.
Expect this one to be a back-and-forth battle that doesn’t have as many points scored as some are predicting. The Ravens will come out ahead thanks to home-field advantage and some big plays from their clutch quarterback, Joe Flacco, down the stretch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
It’s time to fade the Patriots, as this team can no longer cover the massive spreads that sportsbooks continue to offer.
The Pats didn’t sniff the 10.5 points they were favored by in the opener, needing a last-second field goal to overcome the Buffalo Bills.
A short rest wasn’t helpful when the team took to the field for Thursday Night Football, narrowly beating another AFC East rival—the New York Jets—in a 13-10 battle. New England was favored by 11.5 at kickoff and once again failed to reward backers.
Although it’s tough to get your money in behind a Josh Freeman-led Bucs team away from Raymond James Stadium, it’s absolutely worth it in this case.
The Pats will still likely be without top receiver Danny Amendola and will certainly be missing versatile running back Shane Vereen. Unless Rob Gronkowski can get back on the field, Tom Brady will have a total of zero serviceable tight ends to throw at, and his receiving corps is still largely depleted.
Any time Julian Edelman is serving as a No. 1 option in an NFL team’s passing game, it’s time to bet against that club. That time is now, so make the play and watch as Tampa keeps things close in a defensive showdown at Gillette Stadium in Week 3.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+2.5) over Green Bay Packers
The Packers may be coming off one of the best offensive performances we’ve seen in football this year, but that won’t stop smart bettors from playing the Bengals in Week 3.
Cincy is an absolute value right now getting 2.5 points, as it possesses one of the best defensive lines in the league and is deep enough in the secondary to blanket all of Green Bay’s passing options.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lit up the Washington Redskins weak corners and safety for 480 yards and four touchdowns, but he won’t be as fortunate away from Lambeau Field. There’s just going to be too much pressure in the backfield, and his rushing game won’t be able to open things up the way it did this past Sunday.
Even if the Green Bay offense catches fire, the Bengals have the weapons to hang around. A.J. Green is arguably the top wideout in the NFL at this juncture, while rookie Tyler Eifert is a perfect tight end in the team’s system.
This should still be a relatively low-scoring affair, and the points could come in handy here. Don’t be shocked if the Bengals definitely cover and are in position to outright win on a late field goal.