The Ultimate NFL Week 3 Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game

The Ultimate NFL Week 3 Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Ezekiel Elliott, Tom Brady

  • See our staff's previews, betting picks and predictions for every NFL Week 3 game slated for Sunday.

There is a lot happening in Week 3.

We have two massive double-digit favorites. Multiple backup quarterbacks have been promoted to starting roles due to injuries (or benching). And we’ll get two young QBs facing off in what could be an offensive shootout.

So what are the best betting angles for Sunday?

Our staff helps sort through every 1 and 4 p.m. ET game to help you find the best edges. Here are the games they’ll hit on:

  • Dolphins at Cowboys: 1 p.m. ET
  • Bengals at Bills: 1 p.m. ET
  • Lions at Eagles: 1 p.m. ET
  • Jets at Patriots: 1 p.m. ET
  • Falcons at Colts: 1 p.m. ET
  • Raiders at Vikings: 1 p.m. ET
  • Ravens at Chiefs: 1 p.m. ET
  • Broncos at Packers: 1 p.m. ET
  • Panthers at Cardinals: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Giants at Buccaneers: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Saints at Seahawks: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Texans at Chargers: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Steelers at 49ers: 4:25 p.m. ET

See how they’re betting all 13 games, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds, analysis of the biggest matchups and much more. (Including picks for every game.)


Go To: MIA-DAL | CIN-BUF | DET-PHI | NYJ-NE | ATL-IND | OAK-MIN | BAL-KC | DEN-GB | CAR-ARI | NYG-TB | NO-SEA | HOU-LAC | PIT-SF


Dolphins at Cowboys Betting Odds

  • Odds: Cowboys -21.5
  • Total: 47
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Apparently getting 19 points wasn’t enough last week for the Dolphins, who got steamrolled 43-0 by the Patriots. The public is all over their opponent yet again this week, and the line has been driven up over 21.

Read below to see Sean Koerner’s projected odds for this game and how he’s betting it, along with notable betting systems, mismatches to know and more.

Dolphins-Cowboys Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Dolphins

Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (calf) was out last week and continues to miss practice, so he appears to be trending downward for his Week 3 status.

The Cowboys are taking a big hit in their secondary with S Xavier Woods (ankle) expected to miss four to six weeks. Additionally, they’ll be without Michael Gallup (knee), which will open the door for WR Devin Smith to get in more reps. Justin Bailey

Note: All injury info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Cowboys -18.5
  • Projected Total: 46.5

We have two teams favored by 20 or more points this week: The Cowboys and Patriots.

NFL teams that have been favored by 17 or more points are 6-15 against the spread all time. But despite that, sportsbooks are undoubtedly getting hammered with action on both favorites and would like both underdogs to cover.

What makes it even harder for people to back these underdogs is the recency bias of the Patriots making the 19-point spread against the Dolphins appear way too conservative. Part of sports betting is being willing to gamble on spreads like this simply being way too high.

Even with Josh Rosen taking over under center for the Dolphins, I’m going to bite the bullet and take them and Jets knowing full well they’re terrible teams, but that the imaginary points we’re assigning these games have been inflated enough that books know both are more likely to cover than not. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Cowboys’ Run Offense vs. Dolphins’ Run Defense

The Cowboys consistently have one of the best ground games in the league. In each of the past three seasons, Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rushing yards per game — 108.7, 98.3 and 95.6 — and Dak Prescott is an above-average runner both on designed plays and as a scrambler.

week 3-nfl-odds-spreads-over unders
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

As massive home favorites, the Cowboys should run all over the Dolphins, who are in full-on tank mode. In Weeks 1-2, they allowed an NFL-record 102 points. Gone from last year’s front seven are edge defenders Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, tackle Akeem Spence and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Meanwhile, the Cowboys offensive line is better than it was last year thanks to the return of All-Pro center Travis Frederick (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and the development of second-year left guard Connor Williams.

Through two weeks, the Cowboys have a 100% success rate on power runs, and the Dolphins on defense have a league-worst stuffed run rate of 12% (per Football Outsiders). The running game that can’t be stopped is facing the stop unit that can’t stop sucking.

Through two weeks, the Dolphins have allowed an NFL-high 391 yards and four touchdowns rushing — and the Cowboys have a great offensive line and a running back who just signed a $90 million contract extension.

The Dolphins defense will be defenseless against the Cowboys running game. Matthew Freedman

PRO System Match

The Dolphins have been outscored 102-10 during the team’s 0-2 start. Miami failed to score against New England in Week 2 and totaled fewer than 200 yards of offense.

Even as a 21.5-point underdog, few bettors want to back the Fins. Only 18% of gamblers are taking the points with Miami in Dallas as of writing (see live public betting data here). This could be a mistake.

Historically, it’s been profitable to buy low on teams after a bad offensive performance.

Since 2003, teams getting less than 30% of bets after scoring fewer than 10 points have gone 147-94-4 (61%) against the spread in their next game. A $100 bettor would be up $4,438 following this Pro SystemJohn Ewing

Expert Pick

Ewing: Dolphins +21.5

Bettors are fading the Dolphins. More than 70% of spread tickets are on the Cowboys -21.5. Miami has lost its first two games by 40 points each; few expect the Fins to win this game. But covering is a different story.

It won’t be pretty, but here are three reasons I’m backing the Dolphins:

  • Since 2003, underdogs of 20 or more points are 5-0 ATS.
  • The Dolphins are 0-2 ATS, and underdogs that failed to cover the spread in Weeks 1-2 have gone 52-33 ATS in Week 3.
  • According to our NFL power ratings, the spread for this game should be Cowboys -18.5.

Bengals at Bills Betting Odds

  • Odds: Bills -6
  • Total: 44
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Bills will look to keep momentum after starting the season with back-to-back road victories for the first time in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Bengals are looking for their first win of the season.

Read below to see Sean Koerner’s projected odds, matchups to know, betting picks and more.

Bengals-Bills Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bills

The Bengals opened the week with nine players on their injury report, including A.J. Green (still) and three offensive linemen: Cordy Glenn, Michael Jordan and Andre Smith, who all missed practice. If those linemen are ruled out, things could get ugly for Andy Dalton considering the Bengals are already allowing the seventh-highest sack rate through the first two weeks.

The most noteworthy injury for the Bills is Devin Singletary, who has missed back-to-back practices. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Bills -6.5
  • Projected Total: 42

The Bills are correctly favored here.

The total opened 1.5 points below my projection but has been bet up to two points higher than my projection with 82% of tickets and 89% of money flooding the over.

I don’t think the market has reached its apex, as it looks like this number could go up to 44.5. Forty-four is a fairly key number, so it’s worth waiting to see if we can get the hook with 44.5. Once it reaches that number, I think the sharps will come in and quickly send it back down to 44 — or even 43.5 — before kickoff. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Bills RBs vs. Bengals LBs

The Bengals have been straight-up brutalized by opposing backfields to open the season, and although the defensive line is partially at fault, the bulk of the blame belongs to linebackers Nick Vigil and Preston Brown, who have both been exposed on the ground and in coverage.

Through two weeks, the Bengals have allowed an NFL-high 427 yards and five touchdowns from scrimmage to running backs.

In Week 1, they sort of held Chris Carson in check, allowing him to get “only” 81 yards and two touchdowns on 21 touches. But in Week 2, they were utterly canceled, as Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson combined for 238 yards rushing, 79 yards receiving and three total touchdowns on 35 carries and five targets.

The Bengals are No. 31 in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA with an 18.8% mark. More specifically, they are No. 32 in second-level yards allowed per run with 1.75: Once opposing backs get 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, the Bengals linebackers have been the worst in the league at limiting yards.

And last year, the Bengals were No. 31 against running backs with a 22.0% pass DVOA.

On the ground or through the air, they can’t stop anyone. One of their main problems is that they have a league-worst Pro Football Focus tackling grade. Even when Bengals defenders get close to ball carriers, they struggle to bring them down.

Vigil and Brown have been among their worst defenders, and that’s reflected in their PFF grades.

  • Vigil: 42.5 overall, 45.8 run defense, 49.4 coverage, 29.8 tackling
  • Brown: 52.4 overall, 56.9 run defense, 51.0 coverage, 69.6 tackling
Josh Allen-Frank Gore
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Josh Allen, Frank Gore

And it’s not as if the Bills’ backfield is anything special: Frank Gore is old, Singletary (hamstring) is day-to-day and T.J. Yeldon is yet to play a snap. The Bills backs probably won’t be all that efficient on a per-touch basis.

But each of Gore, Singletary and Yeldon can play on all three downs and produce across a variety of game scripts — and Vigil and Brown are just so unspeakably bad.

By the end of the game, it wouldn’t be surprising if some combination of Gore, Singletary and Yeldon had a 150-yard, two-touchdown performance. Matthew Freedman

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Bills -6

It’s time to believe in Sean McDermott.

The Bills have started the season with two consecutive road wins for the first time in franchise history. Buffalo last started the season 2-0 in 2014, with wins at the Bears and home against the Dolphins.

Buffalo has one of the best defensive units in the NFL, particularly against the pass. The Bills ranked second in the league in pass defense DVOA in 2018, which will cause problems for a Cincinnati offense still without Green. Dalton is second among all quarterbacks with 729 passing yards, but that has translated to just 37 total points.

Joe Mixon played through an ankle injury in Week 2 and was largely ineffective (11 rushes for 17 yards). Establishing the run game is essential for a Bengals offensive line that has allowed nine sacks over the first two games.

Cincinnati’s defense was equally atrocious in Week 2, allowing an incredible 259 rushing yards and three passing touchdowns to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Look for the Bills to roll in their home opener to a comfortable win. I would take this line up to Buffalo -8.


Lions at Eagles Betting Odds

  • Odds: Eagles -6
  • Total: 45.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

The Eagles are 0-2 against the spread so far this season, failing to cover as massive (-10 vs. Redskins) and narrow (-1 at Falcons) favorites.

Can you trust them to cover as 6-point home favorites in Week 3 — especially without their two star wide receivers?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Lions-Eagles Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Lions

The Lions should be at full strength for Week 3, but it’s the complete opposite story for the Eagles.

The main injuries involve their offense as DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) are considered longshots to suit up. I wouldn’t expect either to play. Corey Clement (shoulder) and Dallas Goedert (calf) have also missed practice this week and might not be ready for Sunday. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Eagles -6.5
  • Projected Total: 47

Normally when two starting wide receivers are expected to miss a game, it can impact the line. But that’s not the case with the Eagles, who design their roster to have depth at every position to avoid such drop-offs.

So while Jeffery and Jackson are expected to miss Sunday’s game, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside can step up. The Eagles can also just pepper their main target, tight end Zach Ertz, and even pass-catching back Darren Sproles.

The lines for this matchup are right in line with my projections, but I wanted to highlight how the Eagles are able to survive the poor injury report thanks to their roster construction. Of course, with Nick Foles no longer their backup, they’re praying Carson Wentz can stay healthy all 16 games. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Lions WRs vs. Eagles Secondary

The Eagles’ secondary looks like it’ll be a weakness throughout the season. And it doesn’t help that the defensive line hasn’t generated as much pressure as expected. The Eagles rank 31st in adjusted sack rate through two weeks against subpar offensive lines (Washington and Atlanta). Injuries to Timmy Jernigan and Malik Jackson have also hurt the production, especially the defensive line depth — an overarching strength coming into the season.

The lack of pressure can be partially attributed to opponent scheme: The Falcons got rid of the ball very quickly and used misdirection to get guys open in short to intermediate routes. You can expect Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to use similar concepts with his spread sets and through play-action.

And ultimately, if the Eagles aren’t generating pressure, I don’t think their defensive backs can match up with the bevy of talent Matthew Stafford has at his disposal, especially on the outside if they decide to play more man to get Malcolm Jenkins on Detroit’s talented rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Fantasy-Football-Half PPR-Rankings-Flex
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones

Expect a big day from Kenny Golladay, who should join a long list of No. 1 receivers who have burned the Eagles’ secondary over the past calendar year.

Detroit’s defense will look a lot like New England’s defense, which means you’ll see a ton of man-to-man from the Lions’ corners. They have three talented corners led by Darius Slay, one of the best cover corners in the NFL. Then there’s Rashaan Melvin, who  gives them size to match-up with physical receivers, and Justin Coleman, an above-average slot corner.

That trio would’ve been able to battle the Eagles’ starting receivers, but their job will potentially be even easier now with injuries to Jackson and Jeffery.

The Lions’ secondary should have the upper hand here. Stuckey

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Lions +6

We already covered the Lions’ secondary, but don’t sleep on their defensive line — it’s one of the NFL’s best with the additions of Mike Daniels and Tre Flowers to a deep group that features Snacks Harrison, Da’Shawn Hand (who might return this week) and A’Shawn Robinson.

They can match up in the run game with Philly’s excellent offensive line.
I don’t think Miles Sanders, who looks like he’s still figuring things out as a rookie, will have a ton of success on the ground. And the Lions could get linebacker and captain Jarrad Davis back this week.

This is a good matchup for the Lions, especially with all of the Eagles’ injuries. Stafford might make a boneheaded throw or two, and Ertz might have a huge game for Philly, but the Lions should keep this within a touchdown.

I played this at +7, but would take it at 6 or better.


Jets at Patriots Betting Odds

  • Odds: Patriots -22
  • Total: 43.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Patriots covered the 19-point spread in Miami with incredible ease, shutting the Dolphins out 43-0. Now Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are once again massive favorites against another AFC East opponent.

Will it be another cakewalk?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Jets-Patriots Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Patriots

The Patriots placed OL Isaiah Wynn (foot) on injured reserve this week, but otherwise they’re looking good. Tom Brady (calf) has practiced in a limited fashion all week, but it’s highly unlikely he’d miss this game.

The Jets are decimated already and will continue to be without Sam Darnold (mono), and Trevor Siemian (ankle) was placed on IR following his early exit on Monday night.

Demaryius Thomas (knee/hamstring) hasn’t practiced all week and the same goes for LB C.J. Mosley, who isn’t expected to play. First-round pick Quinnen Williams (ankle) is also expected to be out. Missing defensive starters isn’t ideal with the Patriots on deck. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Patriots -21
  • Projected Total: 44

The Patriots made a mockery of the 19-point spread last week. Now they face the Jets, who will roll out their third-string quarterback, Luke Falk.

One thing I overlooked last week was Belichick vs. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, who recently left New England for Miami. Belichick left Brady in with a 37-point lead late in the game to throw another touchdown pass, which had to be some sort of reminder from Belichick that he is the boss.

We might get him to ease off the gas a bit this week if the Patriots take an early lead. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Patriots WRs vs. Jets Secondary

This could get ugly.

The Patriots will feature Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman against a Jets secondary that’s one of the worst in the NFL.

The Jets have allowed huge games to their opponents’ top WR in each of the first two games. In Week 1, Buffalo’s John Brown posted seven receptions, 123 yards and one touchdown on 10 total targets. Last week, Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. finished with six receptions, 161 yards and a touchdown on another 10 targets.

If the Jets get Mosley and Williams back from injury, it would bolster their run defense. They will also need to generate pressure after totaling only one sack at home vs. Buffalo in the opening week.

Julian Edelman
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Julian Edelman

The secondary must play well against the most talented and deep receiving group the Jets will face all season. The Patriots are massive favorites in a game with a relatively low over/under. That line indicates the Jets could struggle on offense with Falk against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense.

If the Jets have any hope of keeping this game close, their secondary must produce at a level we have yet to witness this season. Mike Randle

PRO System Match

Jets quarterbacks can’t stay on the field, and the Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl champions. Fewer than 20% of bets are on the Jets to cover this double-digit spread as of writing (see live public betting data here).

Historically, it’s been profitable to buy low on teams after a bad offensive performance.

Since 2003, teams getting fewer than 30% of bets after scoring fewer than 10 points have gone 147-94-4 (61%) against the spread in their next game. A $100 bettor would be up $4,438 following this Pro System.

The Jets look like a mess, but this could be the week to back them ATS. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Under 43.5

The Jets’ third-string quarterback will make his first career start in Foxboro? With a depleted receiving corps? In front of a subpar offensive line? Against one of the best secondaries in the NFL?

That’s not how you dream it up as a kid.

I’m just not sure how the Jets move the ball.

The Patriots and their man heavy defense have three corners who can take away anybody the Jets put out there on the outside. I assume the Jets will play super slow and feed Le’Veon Bell to try to shorten the game as much as possible — it’s their only prayer to even stay remotely close. Perhaps Bell can break a few big plays, but this is just a nightmare matchup for the Falk and Co.

Brady and the Pats could put up 50, but I’ll take my chances with the under at anything higher than 43. (Remember that 43 is the most important number when it comes to NFL totals since the extra point rule change.)


Falcons at Colts Betting Odds

  • Odds: Colts -1.5
  • Total: 47
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Should the Colts be bigger home favorites this week?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Falcons-Colts Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Falcons

The Falcons could be without OL Kaleb McGary, but the bigger story is on the Colts side with Marlon Mack (calf) missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday and was seen carrying a walking boot on Wednesday.

His practice status on Friday will give us a clearer idea of where he’s headed. It’s not likely he plays against the Falcons if he misses another one. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Colts -2
  • Projected Total: 47

While the Colts might not be Super Bowl contenders without Andrew Luck, they’re still equipped to be competitive in close games.

They came away with a two-point road victory over the Titans last week following a hard-fought road loss to the Chargers in overtime. Now the Colts get back-to-back home games against the Falcons and Raiders.

The Colts should be able to establish the run behind their solid offensive line and lean on their defense to keep them in games, so Jacoby Brissett should only need to manage both games to win them.

The market is trying to push this week’s game to a pick ’em, so if that happens, we can come in on the Colts as they should be favored by a couple points here. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Falcons’ Secondary vs. Colts’ Passing Attack

The Falcons defense is predicated on speed and was vulnerable against power rushing attacks last season. It seemed like that could be the case again in Week 1, when the Vikings — who beat Atlanta 38-12 despite only 10 pass attempts from Kirk Cousins — ran the ball 38 times for 172 yards. But the Falcons actually held their own up the middle.

Grady Jarrett is a monster up front, and the addition of Tyeler Davison (via the Saints) has really beefed up the Falcons’ interior. Dalvin Cook got most of his yards off the edge in the Vikings’ zone scheme.

The Falcons will face a very similar road test against one of the NFL’s heaviest run teams, led by a mean and dominant run-blocking offensive line, especially up the middle. Through two games, the Colts rank second with 185 rushing yards per game.

But as I said before, the Falcons’ run defense up the gut will be stout and I’m not as worried about defending the edge with as much speed and athleticism they have on defense.

As a result, the biggest mismatch is the Colts’ passing attack vs. the Falcons’ secondary. As a result of Luck’s retirement and the injury to Devin Funchess, the Colts are just not that dangerous through the air.

You have to remember that Atlanta’s defense dealt with an enormous amount of injury misfortune. It finished eighth at 6.2 yards per attempt in 2017. This season’s healthy unit? Seventh at 5.8. Meanwhile, the Colts offense ranks 29th at 5.3 yards per pass attempt and dead last at 147 yards per game.

TY Hilton-Desmond Trufant
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: T.Y. Hilton, Desmond Trufant

The Colts’ aerial attack is now basically T.Y. Hilton, who can be matched by Desmond Trufant. And Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal shouldn’t scare the Falcons, who have a promising second-year corner in Isaiah Oliver.

I think this defense is being slept on. But remember that the Falcons lost Ricardo Allen, Keanu Allen and Deion Jones — all of whom are back this season with an improved interior defensive line. I don’t expect the Colts to do anything through the air, and the Falcons will do more against the run that many might assume.

With Mack also banged up and two of their best defenders also potentially out (star LB Darius Leonard and starting CB Pierre Desir), this is Falcons or nothing for me. If all three are out, I’ll likely grab them as a short dog or favorite. Stuckey

Expert Pick

Chad Millman: Colts -1.5

I’m gonna disagree with Stuckey here.

Week 1, the Colts lose in OT, thanks to Adam Vinatieri leaving many many points on the field. Week 2, the Colts survive the Titans, in spite of Adam Vinatieri leaving many many points on the field.

In both cases, the Colts were underdogs, and neither made sense to me. This one doesn’t, either.

Their offensive line is among the best in the NFL, and that seems to be forgotten by fans who are betting the Falcons at a 62% clip as of writing (see live public betting data here). Maybe there’s some residual, high-flying perception from the Falcons beating the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, but look beyond that score: I saw a Falcons team lose a lead, only to win because one of the best players in the league made a miracle mad dash for the end zone off a screen pass.

The Colts are strong where it matters — on the offensive front and  in the running game — two areas where the Falcons don’t have enough answers to be getting so much respect, especially on the road.


Raiders at Vikings Betting Odds

  • Odds: Vikings -9
  • Total: 43.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

The Minnesota Vikings’ comeback fell short in Green Bay, but sportsbooks have them favored by a touchdown over the visiting Oakland Raiders. So far bettors appear willing to lay the points as 60% of tickets are backing the purple people.

Our analysts break down the most important angles of Sunday’s matchup, featuring a look at Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Raiders-Vikings Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Vikings

The Vikings have some injuries on the defensive front, but nothing of note. However, the Raiders could be in trouble with offensive lineman Gabe Jackson (knee) still out and now lineman Trent Brown (knee) hasn’t practiced all week.

Brown is Pro Football Focus’ best-graded offensive lineman through the first two weeks, and the Vikings have a top 11 defense in terms of sack and pressure rate thus far Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Vikings -8.5
  • Projected Total: 42.5

The action on this total has been completely split, yet it’s been bumped from 43 to 43.5 since opening. Despite my number only being a point lower, it’s worth pulling the trigger on the under if the total reaches 44.

Both teams are 2-0 to the under, and while we don’t give a whole lot of weight to small sample sizes like that, their game plans are conducive to a low-scoring matchup.

The Vikings will try to run the ball at will, and if they get out to an early lead, they’ll continue to lean on their run game and defense to preserve it. The Raiders should have a similar game plan while the matchup is still competitive. And they don’t have the talent to stage a comeback if they fall behind and are forced into a pass-heavy game script.

This game has under written all over it. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Vikings Passing Attack vs. Raiders Secondary

This sets up as a pretty good matchup for Kirk Cousins to break out of an early season slump. Due to some scheme changes and improved play at the linebacker position, the Raiders’ defense is much more formidable against the run than it was a season ago.

In fact, Oakland has allowed just 2.8 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season, which ranks fourth in the league.

However, due to some subpar corners and an unfortunate injury to Oakland’s first-round draft pick safety Jonathan Abram, this secondary is extremely vulnerable. And while the Raiders do look better against the run, Dalvin Cook should still get his in Gary Kubiak’s zone run blocking scheme.

That should open up the passing lanes for Cousins and his outstanding wide receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Look for the tight end(s) to get involved down the seam and Cook out of the backfield to exploit a group of linebackers and safeties better suited for defending the run.

Some of Cousins’ struggles since arriving in Minnesota can be pinned on a horrid pass-blocking offensive line. That unit is still an area of weakness but Oakland just doesn’t excel at generating pressure.

This is a great matchup for Minnesota’s passing attack to really get going. Stuckey

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Vikings -9

This game has all the makings of a big Minnesota win. Over the past three seasons, head coach Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have a 76% winning percentage and 7.62 point differential in home games.

In Week 1, the Vikings put on a dominant defensive display against a Falcons offense that is vastly superior to Oakland. Minnesota won 28-12 and sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan four times.

The Raiders were 1-7 on the road last season and that one win was against the Cardinals. Oakland allowed an average of 28.5 points and scored an average of 13.9 points in their eight road games. The Raiders 27th ranked pass defense is now short-handed with Abram out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Minnesota will be undaunted by Oakland’s fourth-best run defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). Cook leads the NFL with 265 rushing yards and a 6.5 yards per carry average. He totaled 165 rushing yards last week in Green Bay against the Packers’ stout run defense.

Through their first two games, the Raiders have relied heavily on rookie running back Josh Jacobs, who ranks fifth among all running backs with 35 rushing attempts. However, Jacobs’ status for Sunday is questionable with a groin injury.

Take the Vikings at home to easily cover the spread in Oakland’s first road game of 2019. I would feel comfortable taking this line up to Minnesota -9.5.


Ravens at Chiefs Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chiefs -5.5
  • Total: 52
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

In a matchup between the NFL’s most exciting quarterbacks, it appears bettors trust Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs over Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Fresh off two dominating performances to start the season, the Chiefs are receiving 59% of spread tickets. In addition, the over is getting more than two-thirds of tickets as of Thursday.

Can Jackson and the Ravens finally bring the Chiefs back to Earth?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of Sunday’s highly anticipated matchup featuring a look at Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Ravens-Chiefs Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Ravens

The Ravens are looking quite good compared to other teams in the league. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is still battling an MCL sprain, so he’s not expected to be ready. And Mark Andrews (foot) returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost left tackle Eric Fisher (groin) after he had surgery and Damien Williams (knee) missed another practice on Thursday. LeSean McCoy (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday, but even if he suits up, he might not be 100%. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chiefs -6.5
  • Projected Total: 53

When this total opened at 51.5, I felt it was a bit low, but not enough to bet — especially since 51 is a fairly key number. Bettors have since flooded the over with 73% of tickets and 83% of the money (see live public betting data here), pushing the line as high as 55 at some books, but it appears the market realized it overshot and is starting to correct itself.

I’d lock in the under at 54.5 if you can find it. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Ravens Run Offense vs. Chiefs Run Defense

In Jackson’s eight 2018 starts (including playoffs), the Ravens had a 1940s-esque 61.1% run rate and were efficient on the ground, managing 5.0 yards per carry and sporting a 54% rushing success rate. And they’ve maintained that ground-based dominance in 2019.

While Jackson’s aerial exploits have grabbed most of the headlines over the past couple of weeks, the Ravens have relied very heavily on the run, putting up a 54.5% run rate on the way to an NFL-high 79 carries and 447 yards rushing.

All of that production came with positive game script against the Dolphins and Cardinals, so perhaps it’s not representative, but the early action suggests that the Ravens will stick with the ground game whenever they can.

In running back Mark Ingram — a between-the-tackles grinder with sufficient speed and under appreciated agility and vision — the Ravens have a player whose skill set matches the strength of their offensive line, which returned all five starters this year and in 2018 ranked No. 1 with a power run success rate of 78% (per Football Outsiders).

In Jackson, the Ravens have perhaps the best dual-threat quarterback in the league: In his eight starts last year (including playoffs), he averaged 76.3 yards and 0.5 touchdowns rushing on 16 carries per game. While he had just six yards on three carries in Week 1, he embarrassed the Cardinals in Week 2 with 120 yards on 16 carries.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lamar Jackson

With Ingram and Jackson spearheading the running attack, supported by Gus Edwards and Justice Hill in the backfield, the Ravens have the means and the will to run the ball as often as possible. Given that run-game aficionado Greg Roman is the offensive coordinator, that’s likely what they will do.

And the Chiefs defense has been historically poor against the run. Last season, the Chiefs were dead last with a 9.8% run-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders), and they haven’t gotten significantly better this year.

The season is young, but the Chiefs are currently a bottom-five team with 1.65 second-level yards and 1.58 open-field yards allowed per carry: Whenever a runner has gotten past the frontline defenders, the Chiefs have struggled to contain him.

This game has the highest over/under on the slate, so people might expect lots of points, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens looked to shorten the game with their running attack and and keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline.

As they did in Weeks 1-2, the Ravens could have upwards of 30 rushing attempts. Matthew Freedman

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Ravens +5.5

You might have guessed that the Ravens are running it as much as any team in the NFL like they did last year. That is still true, as Baltimore leads the league with 39.5 rushing attempts per game. But the passing game has been the most potent part of the offense.

Rookie wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Andrews, two Oklahoma alums, have been two of the best offensive players in the league so far this season. And Jackson’s accuracy has improved dramatically in just one season. He’s a different quarterback than when these teams met last December in Arrowhead.

The Ravens have used a myriad of formations this season, but one of their most unique and effective sets they’ve been running is the heavy pistol, known as Desert Eagle. Baltimore will utilize 22 (and even sometimes 23, meaning two backs and three tight ends) personnel to punish defenses physically. They will also throw out of these formations.

Baltimore has also been utilizing a ton of motion and play action later in the game with great effectiveness. It’s an offense that’s very unique in today’s NFL and one that doesn’t have a lot of patterns as of right now. (Although that should change as teams get more tape on the Ravens and then it will be up to Roman to counter-adjust).

The Ravens should be able to use their power personnel and run right at a Chiefs defense that is still susceptible to the ground game. Kansas City is allowing 6.0 yards per carry (worst in the NFL).

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chiefs linebackers Anthony Hitchens (left center) and Damien Wilson (left) and cornerback Kendall Fuller (right).

It’s a small sample size, but the Chiefs did finish 31st in the NFL last year at 4.9 yards per carry given up. That should allow them to set up the play action to Brown/Andrews and designed or improvised runs for Jackson.

Mahomes will still get his as he always seems to do (the Chiefs have scored at least 25 points in an NFL record 24-straight games), especially against a Ravens secondary that is without Tavon Young and Smith.

There were some communication issues last week against Arizona (Kyler Murray connected on seven throws of 20-plus yards) that could rear their head against K.C. this week.

And keep in mind this Chiefs aren’t playing with a full deck on offense. Both of their backs are questionable, Tyreek Hill remains sidelined and left tackle Eric Fisher is now out. And secondary issues aside, this is still an excellent Ravens defense.

But this Ravens offense can keep up in a match up of two teams with solid special teams. And I trust the Ravens’ defense to make just a few more plays in the secondary than I do the Chiefs defense at this very moment.

I previously mentioned that game last season in Arrowhead. Kansas City pulled that out 27-24 in overtime. I expect a similar barnburner, so had to grab the 7 and like it anything 6 or above. We also could see wind and rain on Sunday, which would favor the Ravens, in my opinion.


Broncos at Packers Betting Odds

  • Odds: Packers -7.5
  • Total: 43
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Neither the Broncos or Packers have looked particularly great on offense after two weeks, but the Packers have Aaron Rogers and they’re at home in Week 3. As for the betting market, Green Bay is garnering more than 60% of spread bets as of Thursday. Can the Broncos keep this one close on the road?

Our analysts break down all the angles, including a look at Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Broncos-Packers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Broncos

The Broncos will likely be down Ja’Wuan James (knee) again as he’s expected to miss several weeks, but otherwise they’re in good shape.

On the Packers side, Jimmy Graham (groin) has missed two practices in a row. Beat writers think the Packers are concerned about Graham’s health, so there’s a chance he won’t be suiting up in Week 3. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Packers -7
  • Projected Total: 43.5

The Packers look like a top-five NFC team thanks to their defense.

Their offense, however, has been fairly average through two games. A lot of that could be due to the fact they’ve gotten out to early leads. Last week they scored a touchdown on each of their first three drives to go up 21-0 against the Vikings, then switched to a much more conservative game plan, allowing Minnesota to score 16 unanswered points.

The Packers could win 10 or more games but suffer from back door covers, in which case a line like -7.5 sticks out as a potential trap. But it appears sharps were comfortable enough to bet the Packers off the key number of 7 and up to 7.5.

I’m going to pass on this line, but if the Packers start 3-0, books could add an extra point or two to their spread against the Eagles in Week 4. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Packers Pass Defense vs. Broncos Pass Game

When will John Elway admit he lucked into Peyton Manning and stop trying to sell the fanbase on under-competent reclamation projects at quarterback?

Despite some big individual performances from Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, the Broncos’ Joe Flacco-led passing game has been hapless in 2019, ranking 22nd in yards per attempt (6.9) and 27th in yards per completion (10.0).

Yes, they’ve played the stingy Chicago defense, but they’ve also played the far more generous Raiders and failed to crack 17 points in either contest. Now Flacco will head back on the road, where he’s averaging 6.49 yards per attempt and a 1.2-to-1.0 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to 7.27 and 1.4-to-0.7 at home.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Flacco

When he sets foot on the Lambeau turf, he’ll be faced with a much improved Mike Pettine pass defense that has limited opponents to 5.9 yards per attempt (third-lowest) while earning top-five grades in coverage and pass rush from Pro Football Focus.

Pass rushers Preston Smith and Kenny Clark (1.5 sacks each) should be able to pressure Flacco as he looks to throw behind an offensive line that PFF grades just 19th in pass protection.

A reinvigorated secondary featuring corners Jaire Alexander (4 passes defended) and Kevin King (1 INT, 2 PD), 2017 first-team All-Pro safety Adrian Amos (1 INT, 1 PD), and rookie safety Darnell Savage Jr. (2 PD) should be able to limit the receivers to their usual minimal gains.

Hopefully, any Broncos fans who made the trip to Green Bay eat themselves into a food coma on that good Wisconsin cheese, because they’ll want to sleep right through what’s almost certain to be the offense’s third-straight snoozer. Chris Raybon

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Packers -7.5

The Packers offense under new head coach Matt LaFleur has looked incredibly unimpressive, averaging just 15.5 points in Weeks 1-2, but they opened the season against divisional rivals in the Bears and Vikings, both of whom have tough defenses (12.0 and 16.5 points allowed per game).

Given the strength and familiarity of their recent opponents and allowing for a scheme adjustment grace period, we can probably excuse some of the struggles the Packers have had on offense.

And it helps that they’ve looked good on defense, where they’ve made significant investments since bringing in coordinator Pettine last year. The defense ranks No. 3 with a 75.7 PFF grade, thanks primarily to the team’s improved pass rush (No. 3 with 16 quarterback hits) and pass defense (No. 3 with 4.5 adjusted yards per attempt allowed).

As for the Broncos, I’m underwhelmed. Flacco has a high 69.1% completion rate, but his 6.4-yard average depth of target is one of the league’s lowest marks: He’s refusing to attack downfield, and the Broncos offense is stagnant as a result. Honestly, they’re lucky to be averaging 15 points per game.

On defense, the Broncos are No. 26 in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA with a 42.0% mark. Even with cornerback Chris Harris Jr., the defense has been slow to take to new head coach Vic Fangio’s scheme. It probably doesn’t help Harris that after years as an All-Pro slot man, he’s been moved to the outside.

The Broncos’ defensive strength is their pass rush: They can get to the quarterback with edge defenders Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. But the Packers have a good offensive line bookended by All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and nine-year veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga. The Packers might be able to neutralize Denver’s pass rush.

Finally, with Rodgers as the starter, the Packers over the past 12 years have been one of the surest bets in the NFL to cover at home, where they are 49-27-3 against the spread. On average, at home they have exceeded the spread by 3.7 points per game and offered backers an A-graded 25.4% return on investment (per Bet Labs).

Rodgers has averaged just 206 yards passing over the past two weeks. I expect him to progress toward his 2008-18 average of 269.7 as a starter, and Rodgers’ improved play should make the difference.

I’d bet this line to -8.


Panthers at Cardinals Betting Odds

  • Odds: Cardinals -2.5
  • Total: 44.5
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Cam Newton (foot) won’t play on Sunday. And with backup Kyle Allen getting the start, the Panthers have moved from 2.5-point favorites to … 2.5-point underdogs.

But is Newton’s absence really worth five points to the spread given his recent performance? Or is Carolina being undervalued in Arizona?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, featuring analysis of the QB matchup and picks.

Panthers-Cardinals Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Cardinals

Outside of OL Lamont Gaillard (knee) and DL Jonathan Bullard (hamstring) missing practice all week, the Cardinals are close to full strength.

The biggest storyline for this game is the health of Newton (foot), who was officially ruled out on Friday.

Also working in the Cardinals’ favor is the potential absence of DT Kawann Short (shoulder) who also hasn’t practiced all week. Short is tied for a team-high in quarterback hurries through two games. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Kyler Murray vs. Kyle Allen

The first four letters of their name and the fact they started their collegiate career at Texas A&M is where the similarities start and end for Murray and Allen.

Murray was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft; Allen went undrafted in 2018. Murray passed for 4,261 yards with 42 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in his final season at Oklahoma, adding 1,001 yards and 12 TDs on the ground; Allen’s best collegiate season saw him top out at 2,210 yards with a 17-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio and 102 yards and two TDs rushing.

That said, I’m not sure the line move from Carolina -2.5 to +2.5 due to Newton’s absence was warranted — I actually had the Cardinals rated as the better team at home assuming Cam was playing. The Panthers are 1-9 in their past 10 games dating back to last season, including 0-8 with Cam. Ironically, their only win came in the one game Allen started in Week 17, albeit against a Saints team resting its starters.

Kyle Allen
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Allen

Still, Allen is in a tough spot against a Cardinals defense that’s been more competitive than expected, ranking a solid 15th in points allowed per drive (2.0) and holding an explosive Ravens’ offense to 23 points last week.

Murray, meanwhile, has rebounded after a rocky start in the first three quarters of Week 1 against the Lions to go 45-of-69 (65.2%) for 584 yards (8.5 yards per attempt) with two TDs and no INTs over his past six quarters of action. Chris Raybon

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Panthers +2.5; Over 44.5

I actually think this is a great spot to back Carolina with Newton out.

After starting 0-2 — with both losses coming at home — the Panthers hit the road with extra prep/rest after last week’s Thursday night game. You should get a desperate team’s best effort on the road here.

Most importantly, Allen will get the nod at quarterback. And while the market has adjusted the line in Arizona’s favor by five points (although not through any key numbers), I actually think Allen starting will help Carolina’s offense.

Newton simply is not himself right now. He’s either not healthy or forgot how to accurately throw a football. In last week’s loss to Tampa Bay, more than 60% of his balls were uncatchable! 60!

And through two weeks, he’s been the most inaccurate passer — by a wide margin. And it’s not like he’s been running like he has in the past. Newton has only five rushing attempts for -2 yards this season. And we’re talking about a guy who has rushed for almost 5,000 yards over his first eight NFL seasons.

Cam has no touchdowns and one interception in two games with a Total QBR of 26.9. It’s been as ugly, as you’ve heard.

Allen can at least get the ball down the field to Carolina’s speedy receivers, who will be matched up against an Arizona defense still playing without its top two corners. And as I said before, it’s not like the Panthers will see any drop-off in the QB running department.

This is still a deeply flawed Arizona team across the board.

I’m buying low on the Panthers. And as a +2.5 dog, it’s also a great teaser piece, especially if the +3 never pops in the market — which you should hold out for if you like Carolina.

I also like the over up to 45. I think Allen will actually improve this Panthers’ offense, and we know both teams play fast. They both rank inside the top six in seconds per play in neutral situations. Maybe they go a little slower with Allen, but I think the improved passing game can make up for any drop-off there.


Giants at Buccaneers Betting Odds

  • Odds: Buccaneers -6.5
  • Total: 47.5
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

It’s the dawning of a new age for the New York Giants. Earlier this week, Big Blue named Daniel Jones as the starting quarterback, relegating Eli Manning to a mentor role.

While the Giants should look different with Jones under center, the move had very little impact on the betting market. The line for this game opened with the Bucs as 6.5-point favorites and that’s where it sits on Thursday afternoon.

Should you back Jones and the Giants on the road? Or will they fall to 0-3 against the spread? Our experts break this game down, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Giants-Buccaneers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Buccaneers

Everyone on the Bucs has either been practicing in full or getting in limited sessions, which would indicate that there isn’t too much to worry about the injury front from their side.

The Giants are also trending upward as Sterling Shepard was cleared from the concussion protocol on Thursday. Their main injuries revolve around their secondary receiving options in Bennie Fowler (hamstring) and Cody Latimer (concussion) as they both continue to miss practices this week. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Buccaneers -6
  • Projected Total: 49

The Daniel Jones era has arrived.

Before the season started, I wrote that when the switch from Manning to Jones was made, it likely wouldn’t impact my Giants’ power rating. The market seems to agree, as the line has stayed at the 6.5 opener despite the surprise announcement.

Last week I recommended taking the Buccaneers moneyline in the +240 and +260 range instead of at +6.5 since their Thursday night showdown against the Panthers featured two highly-volatile QBs. I’m thinking the same thing here with the Giants moneyline available in the +240 range — that way you get the built-in uncertainty of Jones’ debut and Jameis Winston’s wide range of week-to-week performances.

While I agree the Bucs should be right around 6-point favorites, it’s a line that has a wider range of outcomes than most, which is why taking the dog on the moneyline here makes the most sense. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Buccaneers Pass-Catchers vs. Giants Secondary

Through the first two games, the Buccaneers have hardly looked like a typical Bruce Arians-coached team. According to TJ Hernandez of 4for4, Tampa Bay has the fourth-lowest passing rate in game-neutral situations through two games. That will change on Sunday against New York.

The last time we saw the Giants on the road, they allowed 405 passing yards and four touchdowns to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. The Giants rank 30th in Football Outsiders‘ total defense DVOA and 31st in pass defense DVOA.

The Buccaneers have made the most of things despite poor quarterback play from Winston (201 passing yards per game, two touchdowns, three interceptions), and poor production from receiver Mike Evans (six receptions, 89 total yards) and tight end O.J. Howard (four receptions, 32 total yards).

The highlight so far has been the outstanding play of third-year breakout candidate Chris Godwin, who has totaled 11 receptions, 174 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Fantasy-Start-Sit-Buccaneers-Panthers-Thursday Night Football-Koerner
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin

The woeful Giants secondary faces their toughest challenge against a Tampa Bay offense that will try to desperately try to get Evans and Howard going. This week should provide Howard his best opportunity against a Giants team that allowed 81 receptions, 959 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season to opposing tight ends.

The Giants want to avoid a high-scoring shootout with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones making his first NFL start. However, the 47.5-point over/under is the one of the higher totals on the board in Week 3. With Tampa Bay featuring plodder Peyton Barber as their lead running back, it’s hard to envision a run-heavy game plan for the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay will look to ignite its passing attack at home in Week 3, putting the spotlight on a Giants secondary that is again at a disadvantage. Mike Randle

Expert Picks

Randle: Bucs -6.5

There are too many things in the Buccaneers favor in this matchup.

Evans is fully healthy and should draw less attention given the early-season numbers that Godwin is posting. Evans has finished with over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first five seasons, and is due for positive regression on his 89 total receiving yards this season.

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has the Tampa Bay defense playing at a surprisingly efficient level. Through two games, the Buccaneers rank first overall in run defense DVOA.

Most importantly? Jones is making his first NFL start on the road with a decimated receiving corps and may be without his starting left guard.

This sets up as a great opportunity for the Tampa Bay offense to get right and the Bucs are coming off extra rest.

The Giants are trending in the opposite direction, heading on the road with a rookie quarterback and taking on the best run defense through the first two weeks of the season.

I’m taking Tampa Bay -6.5 and would feel comfortable taking this line up to 7.5.

Stuckey: Why I’m Using the Bucs in 6-point Teasers

I’d also add that Tampa’s 3-4 defense under Bowles looks much improved, especially in the interior with Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea. The Bucs are allowing 2.7 yards per rush, which ranks third in the NFL, and that bodes well for them on Sunday since the Giants offense right now is basically all focused on Saquon Barkley.

This new-look Tampa defense looks up to the task, and I don’t think Jones and his underwhelming group of receivers can exploit the Bucs’ weakness on defense: Their secondary.

Teasing the Bucs down to -0.5 crosses them through 6, 4 and 3, so they’re definitely an option to consider for teaser players.


Saints at Seahawks Betting Odds

  • Odds: Seahawks -4
  • Total: 45
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Saints came into the season as a Super Bowl hopeful, but now New Orleans will have its hands full just to stay afloat in the NFC South after losing Drew Brees for the next six weeks.

Even though they are missing Brees, the Saints have seen the line move in their direction. After opening as an 4.5-point underdog, New Orleans has shortened to +4, despite 73% of the bets coming in on Seattle.

Let’s dig into our analysts’ breakdown of this matchup, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a pick.

Saints-Seahawks Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Seahawks

The Seahawks win this one by default after the Saints will lose Brees (thumb) for an extended period of time. They’re also dealing with other offensive injuries as Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) hasn’t practiced after getting injury last week, and they placed WR Keith Kirkwood (hamstring) on injured reserve.

Seattle was looking shaky with four missed practices on Wednesday, but that number has been cut to two after Thursday’s report came in. CB Neiko Thorpe (hamstring) and OL Ethan Pocic (neck) have yet to get in a practice this week. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Seahawks -4.5
  • Projected Total: 45.5

The Saints have a very capable backup in Teddy Bridgewater, who should be able to manage games enough that they should be able to rely on their strong running game and defense to keep them in games. But without Brees, they go from Super Bowl contender to a league-average team.

This line opened a bit too high with the Seahawks as 6-point favorites, but the market has since corrected closer to my projected line. I think the public is clearly on the Seahawks while the sharps appear to be on the Saints.

The Seahawks are 2-0 with a point differential of only +3! (They beat the Bengals by one and Steelers by two.) Having that type of “luck” in close games is how teams can quickly be overrated by the public.

I still think this number is pretty good, but if the Seahawks start 3-0, they could be a good team to fade in Week 4 at Arizona. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Russell Wilson vs. Teddy Bridgewater

The 31-year-old Wilson has thrown more than 2,000 more passes in his career than the 27-year-old Bridgewater, and each pass Wilson uncorks has gained nearly a full yard per attempt more than Bridgewater’s (7.9 vs. 7.1), on average — and that jumps to well over a full yard if you instead go by Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (8.2 vs. 6.6), which adjusts raw yardage totals for touchdowns and interceptions.

Russell Wilson-best Ball
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson

Bridgewater throws 1.26 TDs for every pick; Wilson, 3.19. Bridgewater is 8-9 in his career on the road; Wilson is 45-12 at home. This “mismatch” will come into play because both of these teams have struggled in coverage — Seattle ranks 25th and New Orleans, 26th, in Pro Football Focus’ team defensive coverage grades — but the home team much better positioned to exploit it thanks to their veteran star QB. — Chris Raybon

Expert Pick

Raybon: Seahawks Moneyline (-215)

The Saints got some some sharp action at +4.5, and maybe they can keep it close, but again, Bridgewater is 8-9 in his career on the road while Wilson is 45-12 at home.

Wilson is also the much more efficient passer of the two quarterbacks, so I would be highly surprised if the Saints pull off the upset — which might explain why there is more money than bets on Seattle moneyline while the opposite is true about the spread (according to our live public betting data as of writing).


Texans at Chargers Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chargers -3
  • Total: 48.5
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Both of these teams are coming off close, low-scoring games. So where’s the value on the spread and over/under?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds as well as against-the-spread and total picks.

Texans-Chargers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Texans

DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) was limited on Wednesday, but was upgraded to full on Thursday. (The Texans limiting him early in the week is nothing new.)

Keenan Allen (knee) has gotten in back-to-back limited practices, so there’s likely nothing to worry about here either. However, mid-week additions are never good, and the Chargers added C Mike Pouncey (shoulder) on Thursday after he missed practice with a shoulder injury. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chargers -4
  • Projected Total: 46.5

The Chargers could be one of the few favorites sharps are going to back in Week 3.

An opening number of -3.5 is always a good way to tell what side sharps are on. If it quickly gets bet down to -3, the sharps are on the dog and wanted to lock such a key number at +3.5. If the line hovers around 3.5 or starts to trend toward -4, it’s a sign the sharps are more in line with the favorite.

So with the line sticking around -3.5 despite 64% of tickets and 83% of money being on the Texans as of writing (see live public betting data here), all signs point to the sharps on the Chargers, which lines up with my expected line of -4. Look for pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa to wreak havoc on Deshaun Watson, who has been sacked a league-high 10 times. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Defensive Lines

These two teams are very similar.

On offense, you have two plus-quarterbacks with top-tier No. 1 wide receivers trying to work behind poor offensive lines. (They each are also down their starting backs heading into the season.) And on the other side of the ball, you have two elite defensive lines that can wreak havoc in opposing backfields.

Yes, the Texans signed Laremy Tunsil, but they’re still ranked 32nd in adjusted sack rate. And without Russell Okung, the Chargers might have the worst set of pass-blocking offensive tackles in the NFL.

I expect both defensive lines to own the trenches on both sides of the ball. With the new emphasis on holding — we’ve seen a significant spike with a 65% per-game increase so far this season compared to 2018 — Bosa and Ingram should eat for the Chargers while Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt should torment Philip Rivers.

Fantasy-Defense-Rankings-Week 1-2019
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa

That will leave it up to which quarterback can make more plays down field.

And if you look at the matchups on the outside, I actually fancy the Chargers a little more, primarily due to Allen. The Texans’ secondary remains a liability and I don’t think they have anybody that can check Allen (and presumably now a healthier Mike Williams).

Yes, the Chargers’ secondary has been depleted with the loss of star safety Derwin James (and now his backup Adrian Phillips) and cornerback Trevor Williams, but they still have two stellar cover corners in Casey Hayward and Desmond King in the slot. Brandon Facyson is the weak link and could get picked on by Watson with Will Fuller or Kenny Stills. But overall, I think Rivers can make a few more plays.

Still, the margins are thin, and the Chargers don’t have much of a home-field advantage. So I don’t see a ton of value on the spread.

I actually prefer the under (but not much lower than 48). Both defensive fronts could control this game, which will lead to more than a handful of drive-killing and big-play-mitigating holding calls. Stuckey

Expert Picks

Chris Raybon: Texans +3

I’m gonna disagree with Stuckey — I do see value on this spread.

The Texans are coming off an ugly performance in which they barely squeaked out a win at home against a rookie QB, while the Chargers fumbled and kicked and threw a close game away against Detroit on the road.

Easy bounce-back spot for the Chargers, right?

I’m not so sure.

Bosa and Ingram will surely wreak their fair share of havoc. But the Chargers’ depleted secondary combined with the Texans’ addition of Tunsil and their healthy top-four wide receiving corps featuring Hopkins, Fuller, Stills (the No. 1 rated WR by Pro Football Focus through two weeks!) and Keke Coutee — plus Watson’s ability to escape pressure and deliver on the run — the Texans should give the Chargers problems.

The Chargers’ ongoing kicking issues make them absolutely liable to not cover, if not lose this game outright.

They’re at home, but so what? It hasn’t been an advantage for them in the Anthony Lynn era, as their 40.0% cover rate in their own building is tied for the sixth-lowest since he took over in 2017. Oh, and by the way, Watson is 6-2 against the spread as a road underdog — the line tends to sell him short in these situations, and it’s been the most profitable spot to back the Texans (Watson is 7-8-1 ATS in all other situations).

Another trend working in Houston’s favor? Road underdogs are 115-93-6 ATS since 2003 when both teams failed to cover in the prior week, including 58-40-2 when +4 or less (per Bet Labs).

I got this at +3.5, but big bets have pushed this line to +3. I would still bet it there, but would consider the Texans’ moneyline if the line goes to +2.5 or lower.

Will-Fuller-DeAndre-Hopkins-Deshaun-Hopkins
Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson

John Ewing: Over 48.5

Thanks to a goal-line fumble and two missed field goals, the Chargers scored just 10 points in their Week 2 loss to Detroit. The Texans also struggled to get their offense going last week — the 13 points they scored were tied for the fewest in a game that Watson has started.

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles and Houston each went under their totals, so it’s natural that bettors would want to wager on this under. And nearly 60% of bettors are banking on these teams to combine for fewer than 48 points. But history says the over has value.

Since 2003, the over is 480-437-12 (52.3%) in games when both teams went under the previous week.

Oddsmakers know recreational gamblers tend to chase results. If both teams went under in their past game, the bookmakers will shade the total to the under anticipating public money.

This strategy works the best early in the season, when we can take advantage of bettors putting too much emphasis on a small sample of team performances.


Steelers at 49ers Betting Odds

  • Odds: 49ers -6.5
  • Total: 43
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The 2019 season has not got off to a hot start for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only are they 0-2, but they lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an elbow injury.

Now the Steelers will look to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph to lead them out of an early-season hole, but the job won’t be easy this weekend as they opened as 7-point underdogs in San Francisco.

The 49ers have had quite a different start to the campaign, going 2-0 on the back of terrific quarterback play from Jimmy Garoppolo. At the time of publication, San Francisco has attracted 56% of the bets but the line has moved from -7 to -6.5.

Can Rudolph lead the Steelers to their first cover of the season? Our analysts break down this game, complete with a pick.

Steelers-49ers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Both are banged up

The Steelers lost Roethlisberger (elbow) for the season and CB Joe Haden (shoulder) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. However, Haden didn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday in Week 2 either, but then practiced in full on Friday, so it’s possible the Steelers are following a similar protocol this week.

The 49ers are still lacking depth at receiver with Jalen Hurd (back) and Trent Taylor (foot) still missing practices. Tevin Coleman (ankle) isn’t expected back, and they could be without pass-rusher Dee Ford (quad), who hasn’t practiced this week. Ford has generated four quarterback pressures, one sack and two hurries through two games. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: 49ers -7
  • Projected Total: 45.5

This is a fascinating week from a handicapping perspective as we have multiple future Hall of Fame quarterbacks either out with injury or benched. Big Ben is the only one who has suffered a season-ending injury, so it’ll be Rudolph’s team in Pittsburgh.

It’s a huge loss for the Steelers, whose power rating has taken a big hit.

On the other side of the ball we have a 2-0 49ers team that I still think have one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL in Kyle Shanahan. He’s almost always being dealt a bad hand, yet seems to make the most of it.

The Niners’ luck is starting to turn for the best as they get to face the Steelers for Rudolph’s first start and should absolutely be favored by 6.5 points, which is where the market has settled.  Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Mason Rudolph

We now have a 10-start sample for Garoppolo with the 49ers. The results: 8.6 yards per attempt and an 8-2 record. When Jimmy G has not started under Shanahan, the 49ers are 4-20 and their QBs have averaged 7.4 yards per attempt.

I happen to think Rudolph can be a solid NFL QB and keep this offense on schedule — Big Ben’s accuracy and decision-making had become a concern — but as it stands, Rudolph is in career start No. 1 going against a defense which, despite the negative perception it gained after last year’s dismal showing, ranks No. 2 in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA and No. 3 in Pro Football Focus’ team coverage grades.

If you’re a ‘90s hip hop head, you’ll know what I mean when I say that while Mase may one day be a bad boy, Jimmy G is The Notorious B.I.G right now. — Chris Raybon

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: 49ers -6.5

This is not an easy way for Rudolph to get his feet wet as an NFL starter.

The Oklahoma State product will face a San Francisco defense that has allowed 34 points and tallied seven sacks in its first two games. The Niners rush defense, which ranks seventh in DVOA, should have the edge over Pittsburgh’s suspect ground game, especially if James Conner can’t go.

Establishing the run will be critical to help give Rudolph some breathing room, but that is easier said than done.

Garoppolo should be able to take advantage of the Pittsburgh secondary which ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA.

The Steelers have a chance to pull the upset. They just need Rudolph to play well, Conner’s knee to hold up and their secondary to slow down Shanahan’s offense.

That’s too many question marks.

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