NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions & Previews for Every Week 3 Game
Getty Images. Pictured: Dak Prescott, Tom Brady
- Looking for odds, picks, predictions and previews for Sunday's late afternoon games?
- Our staff breaks down all five games kicking off in the 4 p.m. ET window, complete with their bets.
Happy NFL Sunday!
To help you prep for the main slate of 1 and 4 p.m. ET kickoffs, our staff has previewed all 13 games below, featuring odds and picks for each matchup.
Week 3 NFL Odds, Picks & Predictions
Click on a matchup to skip to that preview and pick.
Written by BJ Cunningham
Two 0-2 teams meet at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to see which can avoid going 0-3. It’s only Week 3, but it feels like a must-win for both teams if they want to make the playoffs.
I think it’s safe to say the city of Philadelphia is starting to turn on Carson Wentz. He’s struggled through his first two games and losing to the Bengals would send the city into a state of panic. Philadelphia has been more successful running the ball this season, so its path to victory may involve taking the ball out of his hands.
Even though the results haven’t been there, Joe Burrow has looked promising in his first two starts. However, he doesn’t have a capable offensive line or the pieces around him right now to make the Bengals into a playoff team.
Despite the backdoor cover last Thursday, Cincinnati was dominated by the Browns (4.0 vs. 7.5 yards per play) and will have a tougher test in Philadelphia.
Even though Burrow threw for 316 yards against the Browns, he wasn’t efficient, averaging only 5.2 yards per attempt. He still looks like he’s going to be one the best future quarterbacks, but right now Cincinnati is in rebuilding mode. What the Bengals need to do now is put a capable offensive line in front of him — they had the third-worst offensive line of 2019 according to Pro Football Focus and there are still a lot of question marks in 2020.
Having Joe Mixon in the backfield makes up for a lot of the issues. However, he is having trouble getting going this season, with only 3.3 yards per carry. He’s averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry the past two seasons, so things are likely to improve, especially with a better quarterback under center.
Cincinnati has a solid group of receivers, but its success is going to be dependent on A.J. Green. The star wideout missed almost half of last season due to injury, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best in the NFL. Adding Tee Higgins in the draft provided Burrow with another solid target, but he’ll have a tough test as Philly’s defensive line will be in the backfield all game.
The Cincinnati line is anchored by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, who have been two of the best linemen in the game. However, the Bengals will be without Atkins for a second consecutive game due to shoulder injury. And outside of Atkins and Dunlap, Cincinnati doesn’t have any other above-average linemen, so Philly should be able to run effectively in the game.
Cincinnati had the worst-graded linebacking group over the last two years (according to PFF). The Bengals didn’t make any significant improvements in the offseason, so it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to improve, especially after that terrible performance against Cleveland.
The Bengals’ secondary added a few pieces after ranking 15th in defensive passing success last season. However, they allowed Baker Mayfield to light them up for 9.5 yards per attempt on only 23 attempts last week. And while Wentz has struggled so far, he should have a good opportunity against this secondary after what we saw last Thursday night.
The Eagles offense has sputtered through the first two weeks of the season only gaining 4.6 yards per play.
Philly’s running backs had the benefit of playing behind one the best run-blocking offensive lines last season. That’s continued into 2020 as the Eagles have run the ball for 4.1 yards per carry and have ranked fifth in rushing success through the first two weeks.
The Eagles’ issues offensively are in the passing game.
Wentz has been incredibly inefficient, throwing for only 5.7 yards per attempt. The offensive line didn’t do him any favors in Week 1, but kept a clean pocket for him in Week 2 by not allowing any sacks and only five pressures. Wentz should have no excuse if the offensive line can hold up against a weak Cincinnati defensive line.
Philadelphia’s defensive line is one of the best in football. Not only does the unit have a ton of talent, but it also has a ton of depth. However, Fletcher Cox is questionable, so it will be a big blow to Philly if he can’t play.
The Eagles ranked fourth in terms of rushing success allowed and third in stuff rate last season per Football Outsiders. And they showed out against both Washington and Los Angeles, allowing only 3.6 yards per rush attempt. Now, the Eagles will have a great opportunity to wreak havoc in the backfield against PFF’s 31st-ranked offensive line heading into 2020.
The Eagles went through a number of changes over the offseason, mainly in their secondary. They traded for Darius Slay and let Ronald Darby walk in free agency. Slay is an upgrade from Darby and should improve a secondary that ranked 10th in passing success rate last season.
Philly got torched by Jared Goff last week, allowing 9.9 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. However, the Eagles should have better success against Burrow and the Bengals’ below-average group of receivers.
The difference in this game is going to be in the trenches — the Eagles’ defensive line has a fantastic matchup and should able to force the Bengals to become one dimensional.
On the other side of the ball, Philly should be able to keep their strong running attack going, especially with Atkins out for Cincy.
I have the Eagles projected at -7.97, so there’s some value in backing them on Sunday. However, I would only play that line up to -6.
PICK: Eagles -4.5 (up to -6)
Written by Stuckey
The undefeated Raiders will travel to Foxborough to take on the .500 Patriots.
I just needed to say that out loud because it still doesn’t sound right. But it’s true. The Raiders opened their season with a road win against the Panthers then backed it up with another victory against the Saints as they unveiled their new stadium in Las Vegas.
On the other hand, the Patriots came up one yard short in Seattle to drop to 1-1 on the young season. Let’s take a closer look at this AFC matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders rely on their very efficient offense to carry their weight. They feature an elite running back in Josh Jacobs (questionable), a superstar tight end in Darren Waller (questionable) and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. That’s a very good foundation for an offense to go along with a veteran quarterback in Derek Carr.
The wide receivers are very young, but Vegas seems to have found something with Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. And although Ruggs has been ruled out for Sunday, this offense can keep up with most teams in the NFL.
Conversely, the defense is one of the worst in the league. The Raiders struggle in two key areas: Getting to the quarterback and covering wide receivers. That’s a nightmare combination in today’s NFL as their extremely young corners aren’t getting any help.
First-round draft pick Damon Arnette has really struggled at corner in his first two games and even got benched on Monday night. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther also doesn’t get creative enough with his scheme to make up for the clear deficiencies of this unit.
In terms of Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, the Raiders finished 31st on defense and ninth on offense last season. This season? The defense ranks 30th and the offense 10th. It’s just what this team is.
Check out our new NFL PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.
New England Patriots
Coming into the season, I had major questions about the Patriots from health concerns surrounding new quarterback Cam Newton, an underwhelming group of wide receivers, a rebuilt defensive front and a number of key losses due to COVID-19 opt outs.
I ultimately didn’t play the under on the Patriots’ season win total out of respect for Bill Belichick, and that appears to have been a smart decision. The Patriots have looked very good so far this season, especially on offense. There are no health concerns with Newton after three surgeries in three years.
This offense should put up plenty of points in 2020.
The defense will likely take a step back due to turnover regression, personnel losses and stiffer competition, but it’s still a solid group, especially on the back end.
This is a great matchup for the Patriots. They should be able to bully their way up and down the field with the run game against a soft Raiders defense. And when Newton wants to throw it, he should have all day to do so against the weak Vegas secondary.
Julian Edelman should have a huge day in the slot in a mismatch against Lamarcus Joyner. And Newton, who leads the NFL in completion percentage on throws 10 or more yards down field, should hit a few deep shots
New England should have no issues moving the ball, controlling the clock and putting up points.
The other side of the ball presents a tougher challenge for the Patriots, but I assume Belichick will take away the Raiders’ biggest strengths as he does each week. That means all of the focus will go toward stopping Jacobs and Waller if they both suit up.
The rebuilt New England front seven will get its first real test against a rock solid offensive line this season, but Las Vegas does have some concerning injuries up front. Plus, I expect Belichick to load the box and bracket Waller, forcing Carr to win by throwing to his receivers.
The Patriots are one of the few teams that have enough coverage talent to leave their corners on islands in order to defend both Jacobs and Waller aggressively.
I’m sure Vegas will have some success moving the ball, but New England will force enough punts and field goals to win this game by at least a touchdown.
What a beautiful situational spot to fade the Raiders, who improved to 2-0 with an emotional upset victory on Monday night. Now, on a short week, they must travel across the country for an early kick against a Patriots team coming off of a loss at Seattle.
Even if you ignore the early start and cross-country trip, the short week especially hurts the Raiders with the overall coaching mismatch in this one. It’s also just generally tougher for the inferior team to head out on the road with one less day of preparation.
Since 2003, road underdogs of six or more points in this spot have gone 16-27-1 (37.2%) against the spread (ATS).
Plus, it’s the perfect setup to bet a bitter Belichick, who owns a ridiculous 34-13 (72.3%) ATS mark for a cool 43.6% Return on Investment (ROI) after a straight-up loss since 2003. He’s covered those games by a silly 5.73 points on average.
Imagine not betting on bitter bill the week after a loss. This man has already watched film of every Darren Waller snap since middle school three times in slow motion. pic.twitter.com/ok5CqxhlWe
— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) September 23, 2020
You also might imagine Belichick has exceeded oddsmakers’ expectations more times than not in Foxborough. He’s 79-52-6 (60.3%) ATS at home — covering by 3.37 points on average.
In both scenarios, he’s been the most profitable coach to back of the 128 coaches in our Bet Labs database since 2003.
I wouldn’t bet this game if I based the decision solely on my raw power ratings. However, after adjusting for the matchup and spot, I saw enough value to bet the Patriots -6 (-110).
I’d play anything under seven and actually used the Patriots as my survivor pick in an ideal matchup and situational spot for New England.
The injury to center David Andrews does concern me some. He’s great in the middle of that offensive line and the re-shuffling could cause some issues. That said, the injury report looks much worse for the Raiders, who will be without their starting left guard and right tackle in addition to Ruggs. And Waller and Jacobs are listed as questionable, but I do expect both to suit up.
PICK: Patriots -6
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Patriots score a point]
Written by Mike Randle
In one of only two battles between 2-0 teams this week, the Rams make a return trip out east to face the Bills. Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay is 5-0 against the spread in 1 p.m. games on the East Coast, but will two consecutive cross-country trips end that undefeated streak?
I think so. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are off to a surprising 2-0 start after entering the season with a projected 8.5 season win total. They had an impressive win at home against the Cowboys in Week 1, followed by a 37-19 blowout on the road against the Eagles.
Now the Rams must again travel back to the East Coast to face an undefeated Bills team.
One of the biggest surprises has been the Rams’ defense, which is led by first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Their pass defense is stout with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but they’ve experienced a drop-off in run defense efficiency — the Rams rank just 27th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA through two weeks.
Ramsey will face his toughest test of the season in new Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The former Minnesota wideout leads the NFL in receiving yards (239) and completed air yards (195).
The Rams’ pass rush has been masked against teams with injury-riddled offensive lines. The Bills’ offensive line is fully healthy and will provide the most difficult test for a Rams pass rush that ranks in the bottom-three in the NFL.
On offense, McVay has used well-designed short passes to mask a poor Los Angeles offensive line. The Bills have the highest pass-rush win rate (per ESPN) at 66%, which is even better than Pittsburgh.
As far as significant injuries, rookie running back Cam Akers (ribs) is out.
For Buffalo, quarterback Josh Allen has gotten off to an MVP-level start. He leads all quarterbacks in passing yards (729) and ranks second in fantasy points per game (31.3). Allen provides a difficult matchup for any defense, averaging 37.5 rushing yards per game as well.
The Bills have always had a strong defense under head coach Sean McDermott, but their offense has taken a big step forward in 2020. While the Rams enter this game fifth in the league with a 435.5 yards per game average, Buffalo actually ranks third with 464 yards per game.
On defense, the Bills will welcome the return of linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, both of whom were injured in a Week 1 win over the Jets. Their absences played a critical role in the offensive explosion of Miami tight end Mike Gesicki, who hauled in eight passes for 130 yards, and a touchdown.
Now the Bills will focus on limiting Rams tight end Tyler Higbee, who caught three touchdown passes in Week 2. Buffalo also features a fantastic cornerback in Tre’Davious White, who ranks 12th in Pro Football Focus‘ coverage ratings.
Diggs is playing at a career-elite level, and McDermott deploys the wide receiver throughout the field, which should complicate Ramsey’s coverage. This should also open up targets for both Cole Beasley and John Brown. Beasley has an 82.8% slot rate (seventh among all wideouts) and should find similar opportunities that Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb did against the Rams in Week 1 (six targets, five receptions, 39 receiving yards).
The Rams offense has yet to be tested this season. They’ve faced Dallas and Philadelphia, both of whom rank in the bottom-half of the NFL in pass defense. This has allowed Jared Goff and the passing attack to roll early, which is unlikely to happen against Buffalo’s top-10 pass defense.
The weather will also play a role on Sunday, as there are expected to be 15 mph winds in Buffalo at kickoff. Per Bet Labs, the under is 55% when the wind is 10 mph or higher. As my colleague Chris Raybon mentioned on the Week 3 NFL Betting Preview episode of our podcast, the under is 19-10 (66%) all-time with Allen as Buffalo’s starting quarterback.
I project this as a low-scoring game with Buffalo’s defense disrupting the timing of McVay’s offense. The excessive travel for the Rams, combined with windy conditions, leads me to project the Bills winning a low-scoring game.
I’m backing the Bills -2 and would take it up to -2.5. I’m also taking the under at 47 and would do so down to 46.5.
PICKS: Bills -2; Under 47
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Bills score a point]
Written by Reed Wallach
The San Francisco 49ers spent the past week in the New York metropolitan area after their Week 2 win over the New York Jets, and will return to MetLife Stadium for a Week 3 matchup with the New York Giants.
San Fran’s injury count grew in Week 2 and the team will be down not only star defenders, but also quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and other offensive starters.
The reigning NFC champion’s opponent, the Giants, are also trying to move on from injuries, namely to star running back Saquon Barkley, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 against the Bears.
While the players not suiting up will be the story, there is still a game to be played, and I believe that the Giants may be able to make more adjustments in the wake of the Barkley news against the Niners’ team-wide ailments, and the home team may be a live dog.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers ruled out nine total starters in Week 3.
Both Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas suffered torn ACLs on the same turf San Fran is playing on Sunday. The team will also be without its top two running backs, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, in addition to Jimmy G while George Kittle will miss his second straight game with a knee injury.
San Francisco’s backup quarterback is Nick Mullens, who has experience with Kyle Shanahan after playing in eight games for the 49ers in 2018, going 3-5 while tossing 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Mullens went 3-5 against the spread over that stretch and 0-1 as a favorite. Despite his record against the spread, Mullens was a pleasant surprise for San Francisco, completing 64% of his passes and throwing for over 284 yards per game.
He is capable in the pocket, and while he has not played meaningful time before last Sunday in the second half against the Jets, Shanahan is going to be comfortable with his backup leading the offense.
This is a Giants defense that has done a fine job of limiting passing success this season, especially on early downs. They’ve allowed just a 26% success rate on first down passes through two games, according to SharpFootballStats, which is easily the best mark in the league. This stat is defined by a play on first down that gains 40% or more to the sticks, and the Giants have been adept at dominating first down and putting teams in second-and-long situations.
For the Niners, a leaky offensive line is going to need to push back the Giants’ front seven that has gotten decent pressure in the backfield thus far and put Mullens and third-string running back Jerick McKinnon in short-yard situations.
This game may be defined by which team wins the third down battle.
The Giants are bottom three in the league in getting off the field on third down, allowing a conversion rate of over 54%, while San Fran has not been great at keeping drives alive so far. The banged-up 49ers are converting at a 37% rate, 25th in the NFL so far.
It may not be pretty, but Mullens and Shanahan have spent a lot of time together and Shanahan is still one of the brightest offensive minds in the league. He’s going to scheme a sound game plan for his reserve signal caller, but this offense is going to be severely limited and may be playing from behind the sticks a lot.
New York Giants
Barkley’s injury is a gut punch for a Giants team trying to take a step forward, but I do think schematically this can benefit the club. New York has been trying to get Saquon going behind a poor offensive line that led to stalling drives through the opening two weeks.
Now, it is time to take the training wheels off second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who has shown some signs of growth even if the numbers don’t indicate that. Nearly rallying from down 17, Jones has put together some impressive drives amidst some turnovers. It will take some time, but Jones is getting better week by week.
What the Giants are going to have to focus on is getting Jones some time to throw downfield, his 6.42 yards per pass attempt is down from his rookie year and bottom five in the NFL. Against a backup-laden San Francisco defensive front, Jones may be able to sit back easier and string together completions.
Big Blue will be without Sterling Shepard, who is battling a toe injury, but Jones seems to have real chemistry with second-year wide out Darius Slayton, who has 15 targets in two games. Expect the Giants to lean on Dion Lewis in the passing game as well, using his pass-catching in the backfield to jumpstart drives.
On defense, the Giants have been surprisingly stout.
While the third down defense is still a work in progress, New York is allowing the fourth-fewest total yards so far and have been able to lock down for halves at a time, but still have yet to put it together for a complete game. With a passing game that has limited big plays thus far, and a defense that has gotten some push up front, maybe a barren Niners offense is coming at the right time for New York to put together a complete defensive performance.
I’m going to side with the Giants here.
Something that’s been apparent is that new Giants coach Joe Judge has his team playing inspired ball. Heading into this matchup against a worn down Niners club that is set to play on a field they have made clear they do not feel is particularly safe, I think this is the perfect storm for the Giants to show out.
I was able to get the Giants at 4, and with it sitting at +3.5 now, that is the threshold to where I would bet it. If you want to wait and see how the Giants look without Barkley, I also like them in the second half, where their healthier roster can start to lean on a bruised and battered Niners club — not to mention a potential Judge rally cry at halftime and a similar second-half performance to Week 2 against Chicago.
PICK: Giants +3.5 (if it drops to 3, wait to take Giants 2H)
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Giants score a point]
Written by Raheem Palmer
If there’s a silver lining for the Houston Texans’ disappointing start to their 2020 campaign, it’s that they’re battle tested.
Schedule makers didn’t do the them any favors as they opened the season on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs then followed that up against a Baltimore Ravens squad that went 14-2 last season. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Texans as they head into Heinz Field to play a vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has played lights out so far this season.
With the oddsmakers installing the Steelers as 4-point favorites, will they start 3-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season in 2010, or can the Texans get off the snide with their first win of the season?
Let me explain why I’m behind Pittsburgh.
The Texans have faced a difficult schedule to start the season, but they’ve done themselves no favors with their offseason trade of DeAndre Hopkins. Although the Texans have solid array of weapons in Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee, none of them have quite replaced the production of Hopkins thus far.
At a time when scoring has reached historical levels in the NFL, the Texans are still 28th in points per game (18), 24th in total yards per game (332) and 18th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA despite having a top tier quarterback in Deshaun Watson.
Keeping Watson upright against this Steelers defense will be challenge, as the Texans’ offensive line continues to plague them. They were 27th in adjusted sack rate in 2019, giving up 49 sacks, and they’ve done nothing to improve it since — the Texans are currently dead last in adjusted sack rate and have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL (8).
Houston’s defense hasn’t done much better, either. The Texans are giving up the third-most rushing yards in the league (198 per game) at 5.6 yards per attempt. They’re also 29th in passing success rate (57%).
It’s clear that Houston will need its offense to get going to avoid going 0-3.
The Steelers have quite possibly the best defense in the league as they’re second in defensive DVOA, second in run success rate and sixth in pass success rate.
Against a running quarterback like Watson, generating pressure and keeping him inside of the pocket will be key. That shouldn’t be an issue as Pittsburgh has a clear matchup advantage with its front seven against a struggling Houston offensive line. The Steelers are first in pressure rate (42.6%) and second in sacks with 10, so the Texans should have their hands full on Sunday.
James Connor should be able to make life easier for Ben Roethlisberger this week. Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins combined for 230 rushing yards on 37 attempts against the Texans in Week 2 while Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards on 25 attempts against the Texans in Week 1.
The Steelers are 12th in passing yards (254.5), but they haven’t been particularly explosive. Roethlisberger hasn’t thrown much down the field and is 30th in intended air yards (6.2). With Houston’s run defense, this is a game in which Pittsburgh can play it safe and control the tempo provided the Steelers don’t turn the ball over.
The Steelers had some injury concerns with Pro Bowl wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and All-Pro guard David DeCastro missing practice, but Friday’s reports show they have a clean injury report and should have all hands on deck for Sunday.
According to our Bet Labs data, teams that fail to win and cover Weeks 1 and 2 are 56-36 (60.9%) against the spread in week 3. In an ideal world, that’s a trend I’d look to capitalize on in this spot given the Steelers’ performance against the Giants and Broncos.
This line opened up at Steelers -6 and was immediately bet down to -3.5, movement that I initially agreed with as I thought this would be a good buy low spot for the Texans, but I’m just not seeing it.
The Steelers have a huge mismatch with their front seven vs. the Texans’ offensive line. One philosophy is to avoid bad offensive lines in road games. Although there’s no crowd noise to provide added pressure, the Steelers still have a significant mismatch in this area.
Houston’s defense hasn’t faired much better, particularly against the run. Pittsburgh should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and I expect the the Steelers to run quite often and play it safe in a game in which their defense should dominate.
PICKS: Steelers -4; Under 46
[Bet now at Parx and get a $75 if the Steelers score a touchdown]
Written by Mike Randle
The Vikings have struggled mightily in their two opening losses. They’ve been outscored, 71-45, and now face the undefeated Titans in a critical Week 3 matchup.
Can Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer avoid burying the team’s playoff hopes as a result of an 0-3 start? I like the Vikings’ chances.
The Titans are 2-0 but have narrowly escaped the first two games, defeating the Broncos and Jaguars by a combined five points.
Tennessee also enters this game with major injury concerns.
The Titans are without cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee), while fellow cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (quad), Chris Jackson (hamstring) and Johnathan Joseph (calf/illness) are dealing with injuries.
They allowed Gardner Minshew to throw for 339 yards and three touchdowns in their narrow 33-30 home win last Sunday — the same quarterback who just had two turnovers and no touchdowns in Thursday night’s 31-13 blowout loss at home to winless Miami.
Making the Titans’ pass defense even worse is their 29th ranking in adjusted sack rate (per Football Outsiders).
On offense, the Titans will be without wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee), though they center their offensive success around running back Derrick Henry, who is annually a slow starter in production terms. He’s averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in the month of September over his career, and has averaged fewer than four yards per carry in both games this season.
The Tennessee kicking game inspires little confidence as well. Stephen Gostkowski is just 4-of-6 on extra points and 3-of-6 on field goals. And with only a 3-point spread, missed field goals are critical.
Per The Athletic’s Chad Graff, Minnesota offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was quoted on Thursday saying: “Our average (yards) per carry has been pretty good, we’re just not running it enough.” Expect that statement to translate to running back Dalvin Cook again being the focal point of the offense.
Tennessee’s run defense ranks only 22nd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and allowed 5.2 yards per carry to Melvin Gordon and 6.4 yards per carry to James Robinson. Cook and backup Alexander Mattison should find success on the ground early and often.
The lack of a pass rush should also provide Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins with time to throw, which should open up his connection with wide receiver Adam Thielen. Since Cousins’ arrival in 2018, Thielen has averaged 7.9 targets, 5.6 receptions, 0.7 touchdowns and 17.5 PPR fantasy points per game with Cousins in Minnesota. Thielen is a prime bounceback candidate after following his season-opening performance of six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns with a three-reception, 31-yard performance last week.
The Minnesota passing attack also took a step forward with rookie Justin Jefferson contributing three receptions and 44 receiving yards last week.
The tight end duo of Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. should also take advantage of a Tennessee defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2020. The Titans have allowed a weekly average of seven receptions and 75 yards to the position.
Given the poor play of the Vikings this season, taking them as small underdog is a difficult play to accept. But as an 0-2 home dog playing against an overvalued and lucky Tennessee team, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
The defensive injuries for Tennessee, the absence of Brown and Henry’s early-season struggles make the Vikings a live underdog and moneyline play. Zimmer will get Cook rolling on the ground and the Cousins-Thielen connection will return to form.
I’ll take the Vikings +2.5 but would not feel comfortable taking it any lower.
PICK: Vikings +2.5
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Vikings score a point]
Written by BJ Cunningham
The Washington Football team came back down to earth last weekend, losing to the Arizona Cardinals, 30-15.
Dwayne Haskins struggled to move the ball through air, throwing for only 6.3 yards per attempt. This is a rebuilding year for Washington with a new coach, new president and a lot of new players on the roster, so they are going to go through some growing pains in 2020.
Cleveland, on the other hand, is all in and needs to find success with Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
It’s been 18 years since the Browns made the playoffs and they look poised to compete for a spot after a convincing victory against the Bengals last week. Cleveland has all of the talent on offense to compete with the NFL’s best. The question now is whether they’ll be able to put all of the pieces together under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Washington Football Team
The question marks coming into the season for Washington have not been answered through their first two games. The Football Team is averaging only 4.3 yards per play and only 3.3 yards per carry. With a bunch of no-names in the backfield and a below-average offensive line, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to run the ball on Sunday.
Outside of Devlin Hodges and David Blough, Haskins had the worst passer rating in the league last season. He had only a 46% passing success rate and turned the ball over 11 times in nine games. So far in 2020, Haskins hasn’t seen much improvement.
The new coaching staff is putting their faith in him, but he’ll need to develop quickly or Washington could find itself looking for a new quarterback this offseason.
Washington’s defensive line will no doubt improve in 2020 after the team drafted Chase Young with the second overall pick. Washington finished as one of the worst defenses in 2019, ranking 24th in defensive passing success and 27th in defensive rushing success.
So far they’ve put up a couple decent performances against the run, but they’ll have a tough test against one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.
Washington did add veteran Thomas Davis to the linebacking corps and Ronald Darby to the secondary over the offseason. Their secondary surprisingly ranks second in defensive passing success through the first two weeks. However, they will likely regress as the season goes along.
After a disappointing 2019, it’s now or never for Mayfield to prove that he’s an above-average starter in this league.
The question marks got raised after Week 1, but Mayfield put in a fantastic performance against the Bengals last Thursday night, throwing for 9.5 yards per attempt. The Browns passing attack should also improve with a second year of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry playing together. Cleveland also added tight end Austin Hooper in the offseason, so Mayfield should be able to take the next step in 2020.
If the Browns are going to have success offensively this season, its going to come from their running attack.
Nick Chubb emerged as one of the best running backs in the league last season, running the ball for a ridiculous 5.0 yards per carry. Cleveland improved its offensive line this offseason by signing Jack Conklin from Tennessee and drafting Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th overall pick. Those two additions give the Browns a chance to vault Chubb to the rushing title this season.
The strength of the Cleveland defense is the defensive line.
Before his season ended early due to suspension, Myles Garrett was wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. The former first overall pick had 49 pressures in only 10 games last year. They also have starter Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson back, so their line should be able to wreak havoc on Sunday against Washington’s weak offensive line.
The key for Cleveland’s defense will be the development of Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki at the linebacker position. Both showed promise in 2019, but will have to improve if Cleveland’s defense is going to take the next step forward.
The Browns are young at the cornerback position, but added experience at the safety with Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo. They ranked 19th in defensive passing success last year, but should have a good matchup against Haskins and Washington’s passing attack on Sunday.
The Browns showed what they are capable of against the Bengals last Thursday. I think we’ll see a similar performance on Sunday against another weak defense.
My pick in this game will depend on the injury report, as the Browns have four starters on the defensive side of the ball who are questionable. If all of those guys play, I do think there’s some value in taking the Browns -7.5, because I don’t think Washington to will be able to stop their rushing attack.
If they don’t play, I would stay away from this game.
LEAN: Browns -7.5
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Browns score a point]
Written by Michael Arinze
Two games in, and the Atlanta Falcons’ season is already on the brink. This comes after an 0-2 start that includes a devastating Week 2 loss in which the Falcons blew an early 20-point lead in the first quarter and a 15-point lead in the fourth with 7:57 minutes left in the game.
The Falcons keep inventing new ways to lose games, and last week’s decision to not attempt to field an onside kick until the ball travelled 10 yards was a new low, even for them. Now they find themselves in a precarious position: Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, 88% of the teams that started 0-2 ended up missing the playoffs.
Of course, now that field has expanded to 14 teams this season, and Atlanta will try again this Sunday to pick up its first win of the year as it hosts the 2-0 Bears in what could be a pivotal Week 3 matchup. However, multiple injuries to the Falcons makes it even more difficult to determine which strategy both teams are likely to deploy on Sunday.
The Bears have taken a different route to victory in each of their first two games this season: In their opener against the Lions, they battled back from a 23-6 deficit late in the third quarter to win the game. In Week 2, they had a 17-0 lead over the Giants at halftime and held on for a 17-13 win.
I’m not really sure what to make of the Bears after those two games, especially when you consider that both of their opponents are a combined 0-4.
Football Outsiders has the Bears ranked as sixth in defensive DVOA. Yet if we evaluate the scoring prowess of both of their opponents this season, we find that Detroit is ranked 16th in offensive DVOA while the Giants are ranked 31st.
Offensively, the Bears gained 363 yards in Week 1 and followed that up with 304 yards in Week 2. Mitch Trubisky’s highest passing yards mark was 214 in Week 1. If there ever was a day for Trubisky to gain some confidence throwing the ball, it would be on Sunday against a Falcons defense that is ranked 31st in opponent passing yards per game (372) and 23rd in opponent yards per completion (11.4).
I know the Falcons played two of the better offensive teams in the Seahawks and Cowboys, but over 16 games last season, they still struggled with pass defense as opposing teams gained 11.2 yards per completion through the air.
On the injury front, the Bears come into this game relatively healthy with all available players participating in practice on Friday and only Khalil Mack (knee) and Mario Edwards Jr. (thigh) listed as questionable for Sunday.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have serious injury concerns going into Week 3.
Atlanta was already without defensive back Kendall Sheffield (foot) but now safety Ricardo Allen has been ruled out after he suffered an elbow injury in last week’s game. That’s not a good sign for a team that’s allowed the most points per game (39) this season.
The reality is that Atlanta’s defense has been awful for quite some time. You would have to go back to 2015 to find an Atlanta team that didn’t finish in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game. That 2015 season was also Dan Quinn’s first as head coach, and the defense has been downhill since.
Let’s not forget that Quinn made his bones as a defensive coordinator on the sidelines for the Seahawks when they had one of most feared defenses in all of football.
The Falcons are also dealing with injuries on their defensive line with Dante Fowler Jr. (ankle) and Takkarist McKinley (groin) questionable. Fowler didn’t practice until Friday and he was a limited participant, while McKinley didn’t practice for the entire week.
Atlanta’s biggest injury concern has to do with standout wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury coming into this season and it was troubling enough to keep him from practicing this week. It’s suspected that Jones might even have re-aggravated the injury last week.
However, even if Jones can’t go on Sunday, Matt Ryan will still have some weapons at his disposal with Calvin Ridley taking on a bigger role along with tight end Hayden Hurst. Last week, Ridley actually led Atlanta with 109 receiving yards while Jones had only 24 yards.
Even with Jones limited, the Falcons still managed to score 39 points in the game.
Atlanta will have a decision to make in regards to how it will look to attack the Bears, who haven’t exactly faced world-beaters on offense so far. The Falcons should provide a different test for the Bears, and a big key early on will be the pace of play. Per Football Outsiders, Atlanta is ranked fourth in the league in terms of pace (24.5 sec / play). If Jones is unavailable on Sunday, Atlanta could look to slow the game down so there are fewer possessions, which could mean fewer opportunities to have their defense on the field.
While Jones’ availability could impact the strategy the Falcons deploy in this game, I’m not exactly sure it would be wise for them to turn a strength of theirs into a weakness.
Fewer possessions in this game will likely benefit the Bears as their defense would have to face fewer drives against a good Falcons offense. Given Chicago’s offensive numbers — 22nd in the league in with points per game, 22nd in yards per game (333.5) and 25th in red-zone touchdown percentage (50%) — fewer possessions could allow them to keep close with the Falcons on the scoreboard and maybe have a chance to steal the game with a late possession.
Atlanta should continue to move the ball down the field and take advantage of its 62.5% touchdown percentage in the red zone. But I’m not 100% sure how good this Chicago defense is, and Jones’ questionable status is enough to keep me off the game.
Based on the information at hand, I would lean to the over.
I still like Atlanta’s weapons with Ridley, Hurst, mixed in with a sprinkle of Todd Gurley. And Chicago’s offense should also look better going against this depleted Falcons secondary.
BetMGM has the best number on the board with the over at 46.5 (-110) as of Saturday night. If I were playing this game, I’d play the over up to 47.5, but make sure to shop for the best line with our NFL odds page.
LEAN: Over 46.5
[Bet now at BetMGM and get a $500 INSTANT deposit match]
|Panthers Odds||+6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Chargers Odds||-6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||43.5 [BET NOW]|
|Kickoff||4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday|
Written by Phillip Kall
The Los Angeles Chargers enter Week 3 after going toe-to-toe with reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2.
The surprise start of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert brought some life to the Chargers’ passing attack after a lackluster performance to open the season. And with Tyrod Taylor still ailing from a punctured lung, Herbert will again lead the Chargers, this time against a young Carolina Panthers defense.
Injuries have played their part for the Panthers as well. Star running back Christian McCaffrey was placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. The standout is not only an elite player in the Panthers’ run game but also an elite pass catcher for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when in need of a safety valve.
Missing McCaffrey’s stellar skillset might bring extra challenges, due to the fact the Chargers have an elite pass defense.
The Chargers should look to protect their young quarterback, as they did last week when they handed the ball off 40 times. The Panthers’ best chance at success is to use their talented receivers with McCaffrey sidelined.
That said, this should play right into the Chargers’ strength.
With both teams having reason to question their offensive capabilities this week, it is best to turn to the total for value, and I see that on the under. Let’s dig in a little more to see why.
Without McCaffrey, the Panthers should look to attack through the passing game. While Bridgewater is a top-five passer in terms of yardage, 307 of his 636 passing yards have come in the fourth quarter in what many fans would reference as “garbage time.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Chargers’ strength is in their pass coverage, as they have Pro Bowl level players to rush the passer in coverage. The Chargers have struggled against the run allowing 4.9 yards per carry, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
However, without McCaffrey leading the rushing attack, it will be harder to target the porous run defense.
Ranking 31st in scoring defense last year, the Panthers used every draft pick they had to improve their defense. Four of those picks became starters and not having a normal offseason/preseason to prepare has had its effect, as none of these players have a Pro Football Focus grade higher than 55 — seventh overall pick Derrick Brown has been the most disappointing having a grade of only 29.9.
This will be a chance for the Panthers’ defensive front to step up its play and improve their 4.8 yards per carry allowed mark. The Chargers will be without starting center Mike Pouncey (IR) and guard Trai Turner is marked as questionable, but did not practice Friday.
These injuries will mean Derrick Brown should line up against backups. Hopefully, he’s able to seize this opportunity and show he was worth the seventh overall pick.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ philosophy has been to rely on their talented defense, as they have been trying to grind out games on the ground with a league-leading 83 rushing attempts.
Austin Ekeler and rookie Joshua Kelley have done their best behind an offensive line that ranks fifth worst in yards before contact at 1.8 yards per rush. In a surprise first start, Herbert brought some juice to the Chargers passing attack and threw for 296 yards against what was a top-five pass defense last season.
The improvement in the passing game should help the Chargers sustain drives, but they will most likely rely on the run game in Herbert’s second start.
The Chargers are one of the few teams who can rely on a rushing attack, thanks to its defense. The defensive front, lead by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, has produced the fifth-best pressure rate while blitzing the fewest times in the NFL.
With McCaffrey out of the equation, the Panthers may be looking to rely on their passing attack more than they would like. This should play right into the Chargers’ hands and make things difficult for the Panthers.
The Chargers should be able to control the game, with the Panthers missing McCaffrey and their elite pass defense to stop the aerial attack. With the defense holding controlling the game, the Chargers should be able to stick with their run-first attack and grind out a victory.
The 6.5-point spread is too much either way. However, the total is at 43.5 making the under a strong bet.
PICK: Under 43.5
[Bet the Under at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]
Written by Brandon Anderson
The Jets are not very good. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.
New York has been disastrous. The Jets rank dead last in every power rankings in the universe (including our experts’ betting power ratings), and they deserve to. The Jets have trailed 21-3 in both their games. They’ve scored a whopping 16 points in non-garbage time. It’s ugly.
It was ugly for Indianapolis in Week 1, too, losing to Jacksonville. But the Colts bounced back with a dominant win over the Vikings. Now Indianapolis is the biggest favorite on the board in Week 3. Can the Jets change things up?
New York Jets
Can you play running back or receiver? If so, you might qualify for the Jets lineup this week.
New York is missing Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims and just about any other receiver you’ve heard of. The Jets are also short starting tackle George Fant. Can I interest you in Frank Gore and Chris Hogan? That’s who New York will be relying on this week.
The Jets rank 30th in passing yards, 31st in rushing, 32nd in first downs and 31st in points scored. There are 32 NFL teams, in case you forgot.
The Jets defense isn’t much prettier. They’re not the walking dead, but they lost Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley this offseason, and it’s clear the team won’t be good on that end. New York gave up an 80-yard touchdown on the first play against San Francisco in Week 2 and before that let Josh Allen light them up in Week 1.
The defense overall has been more bad than terrible, especially considering the rough spot their offense has left them in, but they certainly aren’t good.
The Jets are the worst team in the NFL, and right now it’s no contest.
Many people panicked on the Colts after that Jaguars lost, but I doubled down on one of my favorite 2020 sleeper teams. That was a fluke loss for Indianapolis. The Colts nearly doubled the Jaguars in yardage and dominated on both sides of the ball but had four turnovers (two on downs) and went 2-for-5 in the red zone and blew a close game. It happens.
Last week was a much better representation of what this team can be at its best. The Colts totally dominated a very talented Vikings team. They scored 28 unanswered points and allowed Minnesota into the end zone only in garbage time, doubling the Vikings in yardage and first downs and nearly doubling them up on time of possession too.
The Colts have one of the league’s best offensive lines and unleashed rookie Jonathan Taylor last week with Marlon Mack out for the season. Taylor responded with his first 100-yard game and a touchdown.
The Colts defense forced three turnovers and limited the Vikings to just three first downs between a first-drive field goal and that final garbage-time drive.
It was a total, all-encompassing win.
Indianapolis may not have flashy stars, but the Colts are well-coached and have a deep, strong all-around roster. The Jets are no match for this team.
The Colts opened around a touchdown favorite and have seen that line rise all week long. It’s at -11.5 as of Saturday evening, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it push 13 or 14 by kickoff. The Jets are really bad. The Colts are pretty good. There’s little question who will win this game.
Unfortunately, it’s always tough to bet on a margin that high. The implied game right now is Colts 27, Jets 16. Indianapolis could easily dominate this game wire to wire, lead 27-9 late, give up a meaningless touchdown, and blow the cover. Since the Colts don’t have an explosive offense, covering a line this high is pretty risky.
I don’t love the Jets cover, either, for obvious reasons. But there are other ways we can find value on the Colts.
The first is making Indianapolis an anchor in a teaser. At -11.5, a six-point teaser moves us past the key numbers of 10, 7 and 6. Now the Colts only have to win by a touchdown, and that feels like a pretty safe bet. Pairing the Colts with other favorites like the Patriots, Bucs or Browns — who are all around 6- to 7-point favorites — could leave a nice payday.
For just this game, I prefer avoiding the garbage time nonsense and keeping this simple: I’m grabbing Colts -6.5 in the first half.
Indianapolis is a no-nonsense team. The Colts are going to put a bad team away early and lead by a touchdown at the half, and now I don’t have to worry about a backdoor cover. Only five teams had more halftime leads than the Colts the last five years. Indianapolis doesn’t always hold up for 48 minutes, so why bank on it?
I’ll play Colts -6.5 first half to -150 — or at -7 if I must — and I’m definitely throwing them into a couple teasers, too.
PICK: Colts 1H -6.5 (up to -7)
Written by Chris Raybon
The Cowboys and Seahawks are both coming off thrilling wins in Week 2. Should you back Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott in what should be a close, high-scoring affair on Sunday?
Let’s break down why the value is on Dallas as a dog.
Wilson enters Week 3 as the hottest quarterback in football, completing 82.5% of his passes for 9.7 yards per attempt and a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In this spot, you can bet on him looking to attack the left side of the field, where Dallas ranks dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The Cowboys will be without cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Anthony Brown (ribs), which means Wilson gets to pick on rookie Trevon Diggs.
The biggest concern with the Seahawks offense is simply that it’s a near mathematical certainty they won’t be able to sustain their otherworldly efficiency: They’re averaging 36.5 points per game, second-most in the NFL. And a good chunk of their scoring is coming from outside the red zone, as they’re just 21st with six red-zone trips. And on those red-zone trips, they’re an unsustainable 6-for-6.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s defense will wow no one right now, but he has his unit in the top five in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 4-of-9 trips. His unit is also top five in fewest missed tackles (nine).
The Cowboys are capable of forcing Wilson to go up and down the field and getting a stop or two in the red zone, which puts them in great position to come out on top in a shootout.
The Seahawks will be vulnerable to teams like the Cowboys, who can stick with them on the scoreboard. Because for as well as Wilson is playing, the Seahawks are just as capable of giving it all back.
Consider that despite Wilson’s monster start, Seattle barely has an edge over its opponents in net yards per pass attempt (8.4 vs. 8.2). A secondary that looked good on paper took a hit when nickelback Marquise Blair (knee) went on IR this week, while cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) didn’t practice Friday and is questionable.
Seattle has been attacked through the air. The Seahawks have given up 649 air yards, which leads the league by 159. It’s unthinkable that they almost lost last Sunday night to the Patriots given Wilson’s five touchdown passes, and Prescott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Co. will pose more issues than Cam Newton throwing to one good receiver.
Left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) missed practice Friday and is listed as questionable, but the Cowboys posted 40 points on the Falcons without him last weekend and won’t face much of a pass rush in Seattle.
I love the Seahawks’ upside this season and have backed them in each of the first two weeks, but this is a smart spot to fade them.
They’ve been overachieving while the Cowboys haven’t played their best ball, yet have lost by three points and won by one. And if the Seahawks don’t make that goal-line stand on the final play last week, this spread would likely be closer to -3, which is what I make it.
This is the classic type of situation in which bettors tend to overrate Seattle and overlook Dallas. Dating back to 2015, Seattle has covered in just 2-of-8 games at The Link when on the second leg of back-to-back home games, according to our Bet Labs data. And since 2017, they’re 7-12-1 (37%) against the spread as a home favorite, winning by six or more points just 30% of the time.
Prescott, meanwhile, has led the Cowboys to a 12-5 (71%) ATS record as an underdog of more than one point
Especially with glaring issues in pass defense, the Seahawks don’t often post huge margins of victory. They’re 13-5 over the 18 regular-season games they’ve played since the start of last season but only 7-of-18 (38.8%) have resulted in wins by six or more points.
I would play the Cowboys down to +3.5.
PICK: Cowboys +5.5
[Bet now at PointsBet and get $150 if the Cowboys score a point]
Written by Raheem Palmer
What a difference a year makes.
The first three quarters of the Kyler Murray-Kliff Kingsbury Era in Arizona was a complete dud. The Cards trailed the Lions, 24-6, in the duo’s 2019 debut, leaving many to wonder whether the new quarterback and coach could meet the hype and expectations of turning a franchise around. It didn’t take long for Murray and Kingsbury to get on track as the Cardinals pulled off an improbable comeback, rallying from an 18-point deficit to earn a tie.
One year later, the Cardinals and the Lions meet again in Phoenix, giving us a chance to see how far the upstart Cardinals have come.
Oddsmakers installed the home team as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 55.5 points. Is there any betting value in this matchup? I would say yes, but let’s take a closer look at the matchup before making our pick.
The Lions are 30th in scoring defense, giving up 34.5 points per game. Despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia, the defense hasn’t been anything to write home about during the last few seasons.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Lions are the first team in NFL history to blow four straight double-digit leads. During Matt Patricia’s 34-game tenure, the Lions have blown 11 fourth-quarter leads.
Cluster injuries to Detroit’s secondary has plagued a defense that has already struggled to rush the quarterback. Through two games, the Lions are tied for 30th with just two sacks and their 16.7% pressure rate is 26th in the league.
Injuries to Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant has forced 2020 third-overall pick Jeff Okudah into the lineup. Okudah allowed allowed seven catches on 10 targets in coverage for 121 yards in his debut against the Packers last week, garnering him a team-worst 28.6 grade from Pro Football Focus.
The Lions haven’t fared much better stopping the run as they’re giving up 204 rushing yards per game on 6.5 yards per carry.
Fortunately, the Lions have an offense who can score points of their own. Although Detroit has just scored 22 points per game and are 16th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, its offense should get a boost with the expected return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay (questionable).
Golladay has yet to play this season but it’s not difficult to understand how losing a receiver who had 65 catches for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns last season could negatively impact one’s offense. If he’s active on Sunday, it would be a welcome addition against a Cardinals defense that is still relatively unproven.
The Cardinals have one of the fastest offenses in the NFL, moving 24.9 seconds snap to snap for a whopping 75 plays per game. Despite being just 22nd in offensive success rate, 26th in passing success rate and 23rd in offensive DVOA, Arizona is still averaging 27 points and 421 total yards per game.
Simply put, if you’re running more plays than your opponent, you have a good chance at scoring more points.
It also helps when your second-year quarterback Kyler Murray is a threat to throw and run on every snap and is playing like an MVP candidate. He’s thrown for 516 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 158 yards and three scores over the first two games of the season.
DeAndre Hopkins continues to dominate, too, as he’s caught 22 receptions for 219 yards and one touchdown so far this season and he should have no problem with this depleted Lions secondary.
Kenyon Drake could also be in line for a big game against a run defense that’s giving up 6.5 yards per carry and a success rate of 63%, good for 29th in the NFL.
The Cardinals defense is only allowing 17.5 points per game and ranks 26th in yards allowed (341), however it’s clear their defensive performance is misleading.
Arizona opened the season against a banged up 49ers team who lost George Kittle for the second half of the game and played without their starting wide receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. In Week 2, the Cards played an anemic Washington offense that struggled to protect quarterback Dwayne Haskins behind a bad offensive line that Pro Football Focus graded out as having the second-worst pass blocking efficiency in the league.
Matthew Stafford will be the the best quarterback this defense has seen this season. Can Arizona stop him?
Arizona’s offense is set up for a big game against a defense that’s riddled with injuries to the secondary, can’t rush the passer and can’t stop the run. And on the other side of the ball, Stafford and Golladay aren’t slouches and should challenge Arizona’s offense to keep their foot on the gas pedal offensively.
That said, the value in this matchup is on the over.
The NFL is on pace for its highest-scoring season through two weeks. At some point, oddsmakers will adjust totals, which will provide value on unders. But for the time being and in a game like this, they can’t make the total high enough.
Sharp money did hit the screen on the first-half over at 25.5, which is now 27 across the board. If the number drops below 27 I’d recommend a small play on the 1H over as well. Otherwise, just play the full-game total.
PICK: Over 55.5
[Bet the Over at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]
Written by Raheem Palmer
Tom Brady’s dominance throughout his Hall of Fame career speaks for itself.
Six Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVPs, three regular-season MVPs, five-time All Pro, 14 Pro Bowls and a member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, there isn’t much the undisputed “Greatest of All Time” hasn’t done.
There is one thorn in Brady’s side, however. Including the playoffs, Brady has a losing record against the Broncos (8-9). And despite having a 98-46 record on the road throughout his career, he’s just 4-7 at Mile High.
This Sunday, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Denver, where oddsmakers listed them as 5.5-point road favorites over the Broncos with an over/under of 43.
Can Brady overcome his Mile High struggles, or can Jeff Driskel and the Broncos continue to be the one speed bump in Brady’s storybook career?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Although Brady and the offensive additions have gotten all the hype during the offseason, Tampa Bay’s defense the strong point of this team as they’re fourth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. They’re allowing only a 48% success rate through the air and have forced four turnovers this season, tied for second through two weeks.
Against a Broncos offensive line that allowed seven sacks and 19 hits to the quarterback, Tampa’s front seven with Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh should have a field day. Barrett, the NFL’s reigning sack king with 19.5 sacks in 2019, doesn’t have a single sack this season, but we can look forward to that changing this week.
Tampa Bay’s run defense is fourth in rushing yards allowed (169 yards per game) and is coming off a game in which the Bucs held Christian McCaffrey to 59 yards on 18 carries, thus Melvin Gordon should be a non factor this week.
The Buccaneers offense hasn’t been very good as they’re just 18th in offensive success rate (48%), and through two games, it’s clear that they’ve taken a step back since moving from Jameis Winston to Brady. Rome wasn’t built overnight, however, and we can see the Buccaneers slowly starting to jell.
Bruce Arians is starting to adapt his offense towards Brady, all but eliminating deep throws from the offense. Last season, Winston was second in Intended Air Yards with 10.4 (per Pro Football Reference). This season Brady is ranked 21st with 7.4.
Brady threw for 217 yards, one touchdown and one interception in last week’s win over the Panthers. With another week in the system and with the return of Chris Godwin, Brady should fare better against a banged up Denver defense. The run game has been beneficial for Tampa’s offense as well as Leonard Fournette ran for 103 yards on 12 carries last week against the Panthers.
The Broncos finished 2019 winning four of their final five games, heading into the new year poised for rebound as one the best up-and-coming teams in the league. But injuries to QB Drew Lock, OLB Von Miller, WR Courtland Sutton, RB Phillip Lindsay, CB A.J. Bouye, CB Davontae Harris and DE DeMarcus Walker, amongst others, have completely turned any dreams of contending into a nightmare.
As ESPN’s Jeff Legwold pointed out, the Broncos have eight players on injured reserve accounting for $46.8 million, which accounts for 23% of their salary cap.
Nevertheless, the Broncos have been a scrappy team this season as they’re 2-0 against the spread this season, covering games against the Titans and Steelers.
The most important question that we should ask when evaluating this Broncos team is what the drop-off is from Lock to Driskel.
- Lock (7 starts): 123-194 (63.40%); 1,256 yards; 8 TDs; 3 INTs; 89 Rating; 4-3 record
- Driskel (8 starts): 144-245 (58.78%); 1,449 yards; 9 TDs; 6 INTs; 77.7 Rating; 1-7 record
Unfortunately for Denver, there appears to be a solid drop-off between the two quarterbacks.
Despite injuries to Sutton and Lindsay, the cupboard is far from bare as they have offensive talent in Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. Still, this offense wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire before losing their starting quarterback as they were 26th in offensive success rate (45%), with a 21st rank in run success rate (51%) and 29th in pass success rate (41%).
Facing a Tampa Bay defense that’s fourth in defensive DVOA, Denver could struggle to move the ball and score.
With the Broncos’ offense predicted to struggle, they’ll have to win with defense. We’re a long way from the “no fly zone” defense with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris as the Broncos are currently giving up the eighth most passing yards per game at 274 per game. With the absence of Bouye, they’re fighting an uphill battle defending Godwin, Mike Evans and Scotty Miller.
The Buccaneers came into this season as public darlings, but after a loss to New Orleans in Week 1, the market has taken a modest approach toward pricing their games. This is a tremendous spot offering a ton of value for Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are playing a Broncos team loaded with injuries on both sides of the ball, with a back up quarterback and a struggling offensive line. The current market number implies there’s no drop off from Lock to Driskel, but I disagree: Driskel is 1-7 as a starting quarterback and will now have to play without his No. 1 wide receiver against a defense that’s fourth in DVOA and fourth in rushing yards allowed.
The Broncos will want to run the ball, but they won’t be very effective.
Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t been great this season, but against a banged-up defense, I expect the Bucs to score. I like the Buccaneers -5.5. I also think the Bucs make a great two-team teaser leg to combine with Browns -7.5 (down to 1.5).
This is also a great spot to take the Bucs to win the NFC South [bet now at DraftKings]. The defense has already proven itself to be at a championship level. When the offense finally jells, you’ll see this team go on a run.
PICKS: Buccaneers -5.5; Buccaneers +0.5/Browns -1.5; Buccaneers +170 to win the NFC South
NFL Week 3 Sportsbook Promos
- PointsBet: Bet $20, Win $125 if any team you bet scores a point
- States: IL, IN, NJ
- Parx: Bet $25, Win $75 if the Eagles, Steelers, Saints or Ravens score a TD
- States: PA
- William Hill: Bet $5, Win $101 if Chiefs Cover +50
- States: NJ, CO
- PointsBet: Fade Rovell! Bet $20, Win $200 if Colts cover
- States: IL, IN, NJ
- BetMGM: Bet $1 Chiefs-Ravens, Win $2 for each point scored
- States: NJ, CO, IN, WV
- DraftKings: Bet $20, Win $150 if Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson score a TD
- States: IL, NJ, PA, CO, IN, WV
- DraftKings: Bet $1, Win $100 on any Week 3 moneyline
- States: IL, NJ, PA, CO, IN, WV
- FanDuel: Bet $10, Win $150 on the Chiefs or Ravens moneyline
- States: IL, NJ, PA, CO, IN, WV