Expert NFL Predictions & Picks: Why You Should Bet Bears, Lions, Dolphins, More Week 3 Edges
Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: DeVante Parker
Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, reveals the four biggest edges based on his Week 3 NFL Power Ratings. He has a 390-288-4 (57%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action App, where you can follow all of his picks.
Expert NFL Picks: Week 3
|Lions +7.5 vs. Ravens||1 p.m. ET|
|Bears +7.5 at Browns||1 p.m. ET|
|Dolphins +3.5 at Raiders||4:25 p.m. ET|
|Packers-49ers Under 50.5||8:15 p.m. ET|
The Ravens are coming off an emotional 36-35 win over the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, so I view this as a potential letdown game. As of writing, 66% of the action has come in on Baltimore, yet the line has remained parked at -7.5 (check real-time public betting data here).
There are plenty of reasons the sharps may be on the Lions here.
The Ravens continue to face lousy injury luck. All-pro LT Ronnie Stanley remains out and the defense will be without Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams and Justin Houston. Their COVID- and injury-ravaged defense, coupled with Jared Goff’s willingness to take what the defense gives him when trailing, makes the Lions a serious threat for a backdoor cover here. We’ve already seen them pull off a miraculous backdoor “push” in Week 1 against the 49ers.
I’m only interested in getting the Lions at the key number of +7.5 here.
Justin Fields gives the Bears the best chance to win, but it took an Andy Dalton injury to force head coach Matt Nagy’s hand and make the change.
On paper, the Browns have an above-average defense after an offseason in which they made a lot of significant upgrades in critical areas. However, it hasn’t shown up on the field as the Browns currently rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass. I expect them to be a top-16 ranked team from now on, but maybe this matchup isn’t as imposing for Fields as we may think.
Not only does Fields provide the scrambling ability that will help extend drives, but he’s also an above-average deep-ball passer, and he should help unlock Darnell Mooney’s upside. I am very bullish on the Bears with Fields taking over at QB and increased their power rating by one point.
The Browns will be without Jarvis Landry for at least the next three games as he was placed on IR. It likely forced their hand to have Odell Beckham Jr. suit up for the first time this season as he’s still recovering from a 2020 ACL tear. I expect Beckham to be limited in his return to action, so the Browns will be unable to take advantage of the lone weakness of the Bears defense (their cornerbacks).
I like how the Bears match-up against the Browns and consider it a gift we are getting a key number of +7.5 here. I only want it at +7.5, though.
I expect this game to be very low-scoring. I bet on the under 45.5 mid-podcast recording with Chris Raybon, but with the total down to 43.5 now, the next-best play here is to back the Dolphins at +3.5.
Tua Tagovailoa has already been ruled out due to a rib injury, meaning Jacoby Brissett will start. Brissett is one of the better backups in the league, and Tagovailoa hasn’t shown enough to be considered more than replacement-level QB. Therefore, I’m lowering the Dolphins’ power rating by only one point and have them as +2.5 underdogs after the adjustment.
The Raiders have been one of the bigger surprises of the young season as they are 2-0 after beating the Ravens and Steelers. However, based on my expected wins metric that looks at the percentage of time a team has been leading, trailing or tied, the Raiders have played closer to a 0.9 win team. Their 1.1 wins above expectation is the highest by any team so far, indicating they have been more lucky than good.
Las Vegas will be without RB Josh Jacobs and LG Richie Incognito again this week, meaning it will be difficult for them to get anything going on the ground. The Dolphins have the best CB duo in the league and rank seventh in DVOA against the pass. And while Derek Carr has played like a legit MVP candidate to date, this is a terrible matchup to be forced into a pass-heavy game script.
I like the Dolphins at the key number of +3.5 here.
In Week 1, I attacked the under on Packers-Saints (it won). In Week 2, I attacked the under on 49ers-Eagles (it also won). For Week 3, I love the under between these two teams as I’m projecting it closer to 48.
Normally, this would be a game in which Kyle Shanahan would attack the Packers’ weakness on defense (24th rush DVOA). However, the 49ers just lost Raheem Mostert (IR), Elijah Mitchell (doubtful) and JaMycal Hasty (out). Now they’ll be starting third-round rookie Trey Sermon, who just cleared the concussion protocol.
The 49ers have breezed to a 2-0 start against below-average teams, but they could struggle to put up points here against the Packers.
The Packers had a nice 35-17 bounce-back win against the Lions on Monday Night Football. However, the 49ers will be a tougher test, especially since they welcomed back Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw last week. I’m expecting Kinlaw — who was drafted in the first round last year to be the DeForest Buckner replacement — to have a huge Year 2 breakout. Getting Kinlaw back should be a huge help. The 49ers will need Nick Bosa and the defensive line to pressure Aaron Rodgers and disrupt his timing.
This could be a game in which being without LT David Bakhtiari comes back to bite the Packers.
The Packers play at the fourth-slowest pace while the 49ers play at the eighth-slowest, so I’m expecting a slower-paced, low-scoring environment than we would typically see in a game with a total of 50+ points.
League-wide, holding calls have gone up from 1.8 in 2020 to 2.5 this season. We need to keep an eye on a trend — it could give the under a bit of value before the market catches up.