NFL Week 3 Betting Guide: Odds, Props and Picks

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 22, 2018

NFL Week 3 Betting Guide: Odds, Props and Picks

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    Week 2 of the NFL betting season featured some notable results. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Washington Redskins outright despite being six-point underdogs. The Los Angeles Rams easily surpassed their 11-point spread as favorites against the Arizona Cardinals.

    The Cleveland Browns nearly picked off the New Orleans Saints on the road but still won against the spread as 9.5-point underdogs, and anyone backing the Minnesota Vikings or Green Bay Packers may have been pacing as they watched a back-and-forth tie between the NFC North rivals.

    Looking ahead, one gigantic favorite and a few massive over/under totals highlight the slate. We'll take a look at everything in Week 3's betting guide, including picks on the moneyline and spread, over/unders, prop bets and more.

Moneyline Picks and Picks Against the Spread

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    New York Jets at Cleveland Browns: Browns (-170) and (-3)

    Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings: Vikings (-1400) and (-16.5)

    Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers: Panthers (-155) and (-3)

    Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens (-230) and (-5.5)

    Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins: Packers (-145) and (-3)

    Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles: Colts (+7) and Eagles (-275)

    New York Giants at Houston Texans: Texans (-260) and (-6)

    New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: Saints (+150) and (+3)

    Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: Raiders (+150) and (+3)

    San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs (-265) and (-6.5)

    Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars (-440) and (-9.5)

    Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams: Rams (-300) and (-7)

    Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals (+5) and Bears (-215)

    Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Cowboys (+105) and (+1.5)

    New England Patriots at Detroit Lions: Patriots (-300) and (-7)

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Steelers (-130) and (-1.5)

                                                                       

    ML Season Record: 18-13-1

    ATS Season Record: 15-17-1

Stay-Away Games

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    Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)

    Aside from a 19-minute stretch in which they gave up 24 points, the Colts have played great football, outscoring the Bengals and Redskins 44-19.

    Indy wasn't projected to do much, with sportsbooks giving it a lowly 6.5-win over/under total, per OddsShark. However, it looks better than a six- or seven-win team right now.

    The problem is the Colts are battling a significant amount of injuries, with left tackle Anthony Castonzo, tight end Jack Doyle, defensive lineman Denico Autry, running back Marlon Mack and cornerback Quincy Wilson ruled out.

    But their Week 3 opponent is in a similar boat.

    Running backs Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi are out. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is on injured reserve. No. 1 wideout Alshon Jeffery is questionable with a shoulder injury and was limited in practice all week.

    The good news is that quarterback Carson Wentz will return after suffering a torn ACL in Week 14 last season, but how will he fare in his first game back and with so many key skill-position players potentially missing?

    That being said, the Eagles will field a lot of players from their Super Bowl-winning team, including defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and linebacker Nigel Bradham.

    This could go either way, and there are too many questions on both sides to bet this game with confidence.

                                                                                        

    Chicago Bears (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals

    Led by edge-rusher Khalil Mack, the Bears defense has been lights-out, scoring two touchdowns and amassing a league-high 10 sacks.

    The Cardinals have scored six points through two games. Not much more needs to be said there.

    However, this is still a tough matchup to bet against the spread with the Bears giving up 5.5 points on the road. 

    Outside of two game-opening drives, the Chicago offense has struggled, scoring just 19 points. Of note, the passing game is a work in progress, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ranks second-to-last with just 4.7 adjusted yards per attempt.

    On the opposite sideline, changes may boost the offense. Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks indicated Arizona needs to use star running back David Johnson more in the passing gamewhether it be from the slot or elsewhere. Wilks also talked about simplifying the playbook with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

    Perhaps the Cardinals offense will come to life, and Chicago will continue to struggle in the passing game. Ultimately, asking the Bears to overcome a 5.5-point spread on the road is a risky proposition. 

Prop Bets You Can Take to the Bank

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    Buffalo Bills' Total Quarters Won (0): +150

    Evan Silva of Rotoworld called the Bills-Vikings game "perhaps the most lopsided matchup [in] the 2018 NFL season."

    It's hard to argue against that, as the Bills lost their first contest 47-3 to the Ravens. In Week 2's home game against the Chargers, they were down 28-3 in the second quarter before crawling to within 11 points late.

    Little hope exists for Buffalo, which ranks last in team efficiency and is bottom-five in offense, defense and special teams, per Football Outsiders. There's also rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who will be making his first road start in a hostile Minnesota environment.

    Meanwhile, the Vikings look just as strong as last year, when they went 13-3 and made the NFC Championship Game.

    They sport a versatile offense with a strong passing attack led by quarterback Kirk Cousins and wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. However, for this contest, running back Latavius Murray is the key on that side of the ball.

    Last Sunday, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon proved to be unstoppable in the passing game, as he had six receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns. Simply put, Buffalo didn't have the personnel to stop him.

    Minnesota will be without starting running back Dalvin Cook, who is battling a hamstring injury. Third-stringer Mike Boone is questionable with a groin injury. That could mean a heavy dose of Murray, whom the Vikings should ideally utilize more a la Gordon.

    Minnesota also ranks top-seven in offensive and defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders, and it has won 10 of its past 11 home games dating back to the 2016 season.

    All of this leads to a potential four-quarter blowout.

                                         

    Anytime Touchdown Scorer (Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley): -250

    Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is the league leader in red-zone touches, and it isn't even close. Through two weeks, he has nearly double the amount rushing attempts inside the 20-yard line (15) as the next-closest player (the Washington Redskins' Adrian Peterson). Gurley also has two catches.

    L.A. clearly looks to feed Gurley—or wideout Cooper Kupp, who has six red-zone targets—when it approaches the goal line. Chances are the Rams will be in the red zone often this Sunday, as OddsShark lists them with an implied team total of 27.5 points. 

    If they hit around the four-touchdown mark, it'd be shocking if Gurley was not involved at least once. He has scored a touchdown in all but six games since Week 1 of the 2017 season.

    If you dig a bit deeper, a few of those contests were against tough defenses, like the Jaguars and Seahawks. The Los Angeles Chargers are solid when healthy, but they are not the same without edge-rusher Joey Bosa (foot injury, out this week) and cornerback Jason Verrett (torn Achilles, injured reserve).

    Gurley has four touchdowns this year. Expect that number to rise to at least five Sunday.

Spreads to Bet

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    New England Patriots (-7) over Detroit Lions 

    It never feels comfortable to bet on a big road favorite, but the Lions defense can't stop the run or the pass, ranking bottom-six in efficiency in both, per Football Outsiders. Detroit is the only team to claim that unfortunate distinction.

    Of note, the No. 2 cornerback spot has been in flux. Nevin Lawson started in Week 1, but the Lions benched him for Teez Tabor in Week 2. However, they then benched Tabor for Lawson mid-game against the 49ers.

    That's not a good sign for a secondary that may be without No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay, who is questionable with a concussion (he did participate in Friday's practice).

    The Jets offense was responsible for 34 points against the Lions, and the 49ers' attack put up 30. So what can five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots do?

    They should pick apart the Lions. The Detroit offense may be able to hold its own, but 40 points isn't out of the realm of possibility for New England.

                                                                                                          

    Dallas Cowboys (+1.5) over Seattle Seahawks

    A big mismatch exists between the Cowboys defensive line and the Seahawks offensive line. Dallas is second in sacks with nine, while Seattle has allowed the most in the league (12).

    The key is whether the Dallas offense can produce long drives and points. It has just 28 points after two weeks, but if running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott can give the Cowboys an early lead, then Seattle may be forced to go more to the pass, which feeds into the strength of its opponent's defense.

    The Seahawks could try to neutralize the pass rush with a strong running game, but per football analyst Warren Sharp, they are dead last in rushing success rate at 32 percent (success rate is defined as the "frequency that a play generates required yardage").

    If All-Pro safety Earl Thomas is on the field, the Cowboys have to avoid him at all costs, but on paper, it looks like Dallas has the edge.

Line Movement

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    San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5 to -6.5 and 52.5 O/U to 55 O/U)

    Do you think sharp bettors are confident in the Kansas City offense? The over/under has jumped 2.5 full points to a staggering 55, with the Chiefs having an eye-popping 30.75-point implied total.

    The over/under is the highest on the board, and that's in large part due to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has 10 touchdowns through two weeks. Clearly, that's an unsustainable rate, but Mahomes has established a strong rapport with all of his playmakers. He's thrown touchdown passes to seven of them, and a non-scorer (Sammy Watkins) caught six passes for 100 yards last Sunday.

    On the flip side, the Chiefs defense has not done well, ranking last in efficiency, per Football Outsiders. It has given up 65 points, which is a good sign for a talented 49ers offense led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

    San Francisco only scored 16 in Week 1, but that was against a tough Vikings defense. The 49ers rebounded with 30 the next week against Detroit. The big surprise has been running back Matt Breida, who leads the league through two weeks with 184 rushing yards despite only 22 attempts. Like Mahomes, his pace is unsustainable, but this game may be a case of an unstoppable force meeting movable objects.

                                                                                       

    Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5 to -5.5)

    On paper, do the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens seem that different in talent disparity?

    Both look like playoff contenders. Denver has a strong running game, talented pass-catchers and a fierce pass rush led by Von Miller. Baltimore's defense is one of the better units in the league, kicker Justin Tucker is the best in the game and the passing attack has shown signs of life with the additions of Willie Snead IV, John Brown and Michael Crabtree.

    The sportsbooks and sharp bettors seem to think otherwise. Home teams give three points in the spread to start in NFL games, but Vegas gave Denver a half-point hook at the open. However, that line increased two full points toward Baltimore as the week went along (the line then dropped back toward Denver by a half-point).

    It's a bit peculiar when you consider Denver's 2-0 start and the fact that Baltimore is coming off a tough 34-23 loss at Cincinnati, but maybe there is something to the movement.

    The Broncos' wins came against the winless Seahawks and Raiders by a combined four points at home.

    The Ravens' lone victory came against arguably the worst team in the league (the Bills), but they were winning 40-0 early in the third quarter before taking their foot off the gas pedal. They couldn't stop the A.J. Green train in Week 2 (three touchdowns) but came back within five points before losing 34-23.

    The Broncos-Ravens game isn't one of the sexiest matchups, but it will be intriguing to see how it plays out.

Easy Over/Unders

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    Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers (44 O/U)

    The over/under of 44 for the Bengals-Panthers game seems a bit low for two offenses that have guys who can make explosive plays.

    For Cincinnati, Green can take a reception to the house any time he touches the ball (61 touchdowns in seven-plus seasons). Running back Giovani Bernard, who will replace the injured Joe Mixon, filled in admirably last year when he amassed 168 yards from scrimmage in Week 16 against the Lions.

    Wideouts Tyler Boyd and John Ross and tight end Tyler Eifert can also make significant impacts thanks to their respective abilities to move the sticks, catch deep balls and act as a consistent red-zone threat.

    For the Panthers, it's all about quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey.

    Newton's rushing ability in particular is tremendous, as he's averaged 617 yards on the ground through his first seven seasons. McCaffrey has enjoyed a great start to 2018, catching 20 passes for 147 yards and rushing 18 times for 87 yards.

    It wouldn't be a surprise to see the offenses go toe-to-toe. Even a relatively pedestrian 24-20 game would put this matchup past the over/under total.

                                                                                           

    Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins (45.5 O/U)

    The line in the Green Bay-Washington matchup has fallen in favor of the under, but the Pack could be in for a huge offensive game, especially on the ground.

    The 'Skins defense played well in opener, but the Cardinals offense may be the worst in the league right now (just six points thus far). Washington's defense took a step back in Week 2, as it allowed three 75-yard touchdown drives in a 21-9 loss to the Colts.

    Now it faces superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a tough Green Bay offense that welcomes back Aaron Jones, who was suspended for the first two games.

    Jones shone when given the opportunity last year, rushing for 125 yards against the Cowboys and 131 more in a matchup with the Saints. He makes the Packers backfield, which already has Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery, much stronger.

    That could be key against a Washington defense that hasn't done well against the run: Per Football Outsiders, the team is fifth-to-last in adjusted line yards and rush-defense efficiency. That could bode well for Green Bay, which has the ability to rotate in fresh legs with Jones back.

Value Bets

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    Oakland Raiders (+145) over Miami Dolphins

    The Oakland Raiders may be 0-2, but they've played well for three out of four halves. In that outlier in Week 1, the Rams outscored the Silver and Black 23-0 after being down 13-10 at halftime. Oakland posted an admirable performance the following week against the Broncos, losing on a game-winning field goal with six seconds remaining.

    Derek Carr's remarkable efficiency and his rapport with Amari Cooper stood out in that game. The 27-year-old quarterback completed 29 of 32 passes (90.6 percent) for 288 yards and a touchdown. After catching just one pass in Week 1, Cooper rebounded with 10 receptions for 116 yards.

    The problem is the Oakland pass rush, which is nonexistent sans Mack. But the secondary has done well: In particular, Gareon Conley is living up to the hype as a first-round pick, amassing four passes defended (tied for third in the league).

    The Raiders can give the Dolphins some problems. Miami has started hot, beating the Titans 27-20 and the Jets 20-12. But a home game against the Titans and a road tilt with the 1-2 Jets pale in comparison to the Raiders' tough opening schedule involving a game with a Super Bowl contender and a road matchup in the high altitude of Denver.

    This should be a close one, but the value is hard to ignore with bettors getting $145 for placing $100 on Oakland.

                                                                                              

    New Orleans Saints (+150) over Atlanta Falcons

    This game feels like it will be a back-and-forth shootout in which the last team with the ball wins. The Saints offense features three superstars in quarterback Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas. The latter's emergence has been particularly noteworthy, as the former Ohio State star has caught a league-leading 28 passes this year. 

    The Falcons will be without safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones, both of whom are on injured reserve (Jones is eligible to come back in November). That should help Kamara find some room to roam Sunday.

    On the flip side, the Saints defense laid a giant egg in a 48-40 Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers. It followed up with a respectable showing against the Browns in a 21-18 win, but New Orleans will have trouble against Julio Jones, who could be in line for a few deep balls (New Orleans has allowed four touchdown passes of 36 yards or more this year).

    But the Falcons are also without notorious Saints killer and starting running back Devonta Freeman, who has rushed for 5.7 yards per carry in eight career games against New Orleans. That could be the difference, and with the Saints marked as +150 underdogs, they sit as an interesting moneyline value bet.

Don't Get Sucked in (Sucker Bets)

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    Minnesota Vikings (-1400) over Buffalo Bills

    This is strictly a case of avoiding a bet with terrible value. Yes, the Vikings and Bills are in different stratospheres right now, but bettors need to place $1,400 to win $100. That isn't worth it.

    Granted, a path to a Bills victory seems impossible, but perhaps Allen will showcase his huge arm and have a big game. Maybe running back LeSean McCoy will play, dominate on the ground and help his team win the time-of-possession battle. The Vikings could also be their own worst enemy with some bad turnovers to give Buffalo great field position.

    None of those things happen will likely happen, but you never know. Massive upsets aren't uncommon. The 1968 New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts as 18-point underdogs in Super Bowl III. Buster Douglas was a 42-1 underdog when he beat Mike Tyson in a heavyweight title bout in 1990.

    That being said, betting on the Bills to win outright isn't a wise proposition either despite the tremendous value (+925). It's best to avoid the moneyline here and look for other bets on this game.

                                                      

    Houston Texans (-260) over New York Giants

    The Cowboys front seven overwhelmed the Giants offensive line in a 20-13 loss last Sunday. The G-Men allowed six sacks on Eli Manning, and Dallas defenders routinely hit running back Saquon Barkley behind the line of scrimmage.

    Now New York is going to Houston's NRG Stadium sans two key defensive players, as cornerback Eli Apple and linebacker Olivier Vernon are battling groin and ankle injuries, respectively.

    The Giants' offensive struggles and defensive injuries in the midst of a 0-2 start are concerning, but their Week 3 opponent is in trouble as well.

    Facing the Titans without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, tight end Delanie Walker and starting offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, the Texans lost 20-17 last Sunday thanks in part to a fake-punt touchdown pass.

    John McClain of the Houston Chronicle called the defeat one of the most embarrassing losses in team history, noting that the Texans committed 11 penalties and amassed one sack and zero turnovers.

    The Giants are clear road underdogs, but after Houston's Week 2 performance, it's hard to back it with confidence, especially as a -260 favorite.

Lock of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars (-9.5 and -440 ML) over Tennessee Titans

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    The Jags should win their game with the Titans by double digits.

    Running back Leonard Fournette, who amassed 1,342 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns despite missing three contests last year, is practicing this week after leaving Week 1 with a hamstring injury. He should be good to go.

    Last Sunday, quarterback Blake Bortles looked like a future Pro Bowler as he threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-20 victory over the Patriots.

    Wide receiver Keelan Cole is emerging as a strong No. 1 threat, as he caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 2.

    On defense, the Jags should give Mariota or backup Blaine Gabbert serious problems. (Mariota is questionable with an elbow injury, and a starter has not been named as of Friday afternoon.)

    The same goes for a scuffling attack. The Titans' passing game has amassed just 5.3 adjusted yards per attempt (fifth-to-last in the NFL), and the running game has not fared well, averaging just 3.4 yards per rush (fourth-to-last).

    The outlook isn't good against a Jacksonville team that has allowed the seventh-fewest yards per play (5.1), and that's with a matchup against the daunting Patriots offense. It's also not out of the question for the Jags to send more than half of its defense to the Pro Bowl.

    This game looks like a blowout.

                                                          

    All moneylines, spreads and over/under totals are via OddsShark and accurate as of Saturday at midnight ET. All other bet types are through Oddschecker and accurate as of Saturday at midnight ET.