NFL Expert Picks: 18 Favorite Bets for Week 3

NFL Expert Picks: 18 Favorite Bets for Week 3 article feature image

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chargers running back Melvin Gordon

  • The Action Network's NFL experts give their favorite bets for Week 3 of the 2018 season, including ones for Sunday and Monday night.
  • Hope you're ready to sell high on a few overvalued teams. Plus, get over/under betting angles on multiple matchups.

Everybody keeps talking about the first Browns win in 635 days and rightfully so, but do not forget that Cleveland also covered the spread in the process. Good teams win, and great (err, non-winless) teams cover.

After Baker Mayfield delivered in his debut on Thursday Night Football, a few other quarterback questions highlight the Week 3 card:

  • Can Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Mahomes stay red hot?
  • How will Carson Wentz look in his return to Philly?
  • Will Marcus Mariota play against the Jaguars?

You will see some of those questions touched upon as you read through our staff’s favorite Week 3 NFL bets, which include picks for both Sunday and Monday Night Football. Let’s get to it.

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Sean Koerner: 49ers +6.5 (at Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Make no mistake, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the real deal. However, as I discuss in my Week 3 Tiers column, he’s certainly going to regress from a Madden Create-a-player with 99 at every attribute down to a top-tier QB.

In order for the Chiefs to remain undefeated, Mahomes and the offense will need to keep up the pace considering their defense is in rough shape and likely without Eric Berry again this week.

On the other side of the ball, Jimmy G and the 49ers offense is no pushover. They are more than capable of trading TDs with the Chiefs offense.

They will also welcome back LB Reuben Foster — who returns from a two-game suspension. Foster’s presence will only help San Fran’s chances of keeping the KC offense in check.

I’d wait until the Chiefs hype potentially drives this number all the way up to a key number in +7 and attack then.

John Ewing: 49ers +6.5 (at Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Mahomes is on pace to throw for 80 touchdowns, and the Chiefs are leading the league in scoring. That pace simply won’t last, and if everything isn’t clicking on offense, I have no confidence in a defense that is allowing 32.5 points per game.

Plus, after KC’s impressive wins over the Chargers and Steelers, the oddsmakers have told us that they will inflate the Chiefs’ lines going forward. Our simulations back that statement up as The Action Network model lists KC as only a 4.5-point favorite in Week 3.

Finally, I’m a sucker for a good trend. Kansas City started the season by winning and covering in back-to-back road games. Bettors might expect the good times to continue with the Chiefs playing their home opener in Week 3.

However, according to Bet Labs, teams that began the season with consecutive road games have gone 9-26-2 (26%) ATS in Week 3 home openers, since 2003. Home-field advantage is often overvalued.

Sell high on the Chiefs and side with the Niners value.

Collin Wilson: 49ers +6.5 (at Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Fading the Chiefs has to pay off at some point, correct? The Chiefs enter 2-0 ATS after an impressive non-stop scoring victory in Pittsburgh, while San Francisco carries an 0-2 ATS record after having to hold on for dear life against the Lions.

This pick would seem as contrarian as possible, but a few metrics from Football Outsiders lead me to believe the 49ers defense actually has a shot to contain the Chiefs’ explosive offense.

Additionally, despite the perception discrepancy, these two teams have a very similar net yards per play over the first two weeks:

  • Chiefs: +0.5
  • 49ers: +0.3

This line should sit around 4, not 7.

Chad Millman: Bengals +3 (at Panthers)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

Collin just mentioned yards per play, which is the most important stat when it comes to betting on football. It’s the best indicator there is of how a team is performing; it’s immune from fluke plays, turnovers and garbage-time scores.

Right now, the Bengals rank in the top 10 in ypp on offense and defense. In Week 1, they beat a Colts team on the road that is a bit better than people expected, especially on defense. They then followed that up with a dominant win over the Ravens in Week 2.

Their rush D is especially good, allowing just 3.2 ypp. You can’t say that’s a fluke when this defensive line has consistently been great the past few years.

The Panthers defense was exposed last week by Matt Ryan, especially in the secondary where Carolina starts a rookie in Donte Jackson and a 37-year-old safety in Mike Adams.

The Panthers did run up some numbers on offense, but Cam threw the ball 45 times while trying to come back late. He will have to do that again this week because Christian McCaffrey will not be able to run through the Bengals defensive front.

Take the points with a Bengals team that should benefit from a few extra days of preparation and rest.

Geoff Schwartz: Texans-Giants Under 42

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Like I have in past weeks, I’m pulling from my weekly Trench Report for my favorite Week 3 bet. Considering the matchups on the interior on both sides of the ball, I think points will be at a premium in Houston.

Scott Miller: Saints +3 (at Falcons)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

This would be a fair line … if the Falcons still had the roster they started the season with. But they don’t. They lost two of their best defensive players in LB Deion Jones and S Keanu Neal in Week 1, and we saw that make an immediate difference last week against the Panthers, who torched Atlanta through the air.

McCaffrey had 14 (!!!) catches in that game. It’s frightening to think what Alvin Kamara is gonna do to this Falcons defense. Early season struggles are nothing new for the Saints, so I’m not too worried about them looking sluggish in the first two weeks.

Expect New Orleans to be ready to rock for this key divisional matchup.

Stuckey:  Saints +3 (at Falcons)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

While I also agree on the 49ers (patiently waiting for +7), I also completely concur with Scott. The recent injuries on defense should catch up to the Falcons, as Drew Brees should pick them apart down the seam.

Peter Jennings:  Redskins +3 (vs. Packers)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

The Packers just aren’t the same team on the road (2-5 ATS last seven), especially since Aaron Rodgers is not 100% healthy. I expect Alex Smith and the Redskins offense to bounce back in Week 3 after a disappointing home loss last week.

Don’t sleep on the loss of Green Bay’s top corner Kevin King, either. Considering I make the line Redskins +2.5, I will absolutely take them at a key number of +3.

Danny Donahue: Raiders +3 (at Dolphins)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

If you asked me before the season which side of this game I’d be betting, I would have undoubtedly said I’d be fading Gruden’s Raiders and taking a contrarian Dolphins side.

But of course the Dolphins had to go screw everything up by winning their first two games. And now I find myself fading an overvalued, undefeated Dolphins team that’s getting the majority of bets.

A couple trends to note:

  1. The Raiders are on the second of back-to-back games as a road dog. When a team loses the first of those two games, it has actually gone 146-103-5 (59%) ATS since 2003 in the second game when the public likes the other side.
  2. The Dolphins are off to 2-0 start, but non-playoff teams (from the previous year) shouldn’t necessarily be trusted after a hot start. In the first half of the season, when the public backs a non-playoff favorite with a winning record, that team has gone 147-189-9 (44%) ATS since ‘03.


Ken Barkley: Bears-Cardinals Over 38

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

Pure contrarianism. Rarely, if ever, do you see a total under 42-43 for a game in a dome, but we actually have two this week (Bills-Vikings is the other).

One of my favorite angles in the NFL is when there’s an expectation of a low-scoring game that has absolutely nothing to do with the weather. Basically, when bad offenses play each other in ideal conditions, the game is usually not lined correctly from a scoring standpoint, and the over hits at a very high percentage.

Yes, the Cardinals looked inept last week, but the Rams are also the best team in football. The Bears defense looked good Monday night, but Rodgers shredded it on one leg a week earlier.

A lot of respect (and disrespect) is being given to specific units after a small number of games. I will take the over at such a low number.

PJ Walsh: Cardinals +6 (vs. Bears)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

Much like Ken above, I like contrarian value in the Bears-Cardinals game, but I’m focusing on the spread. The Bears just won in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football, prompting a major overreaction from oddsmakers adjusting for the inevitable wave of Chicago action coming from recreational bettors.

Westgate’s lookahead line was Bears -2.5 last week, and now we can grab the Cardinals at +6?

Yes, the Cards got blown out, 34-0, by the Rams in Week 2, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to betting value. Just like the Raiders and Lions — who both covered last week — teams off losses of 20 or more points are 403-338-17 (54.4%) ATS in their following game.

Teams coming off 30-point blowouts are even better at 108-80-8 (57.4%) ATS. Give me the Cardinals and a free 3.5 points of line value through key numbers.

Ian Hartitz: Cardinals +6 (vs. Bears)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

The Cardinals have been outscored, 58-6, after 120 minutes of football. Meanwhile, the Bears would be 2-0 if No. 1 cornerback Kyle Fuller could’ve held on to an errant Rodgers pass during the final drive of the Chicago’s season-opening collapse in Green Bay.

Still, home dogs of six or more points are 187-162-6 ATS (53.6%) since 2003 (per our BetLabs tools). Khalil Mack and company will make things difficult for the Cardinals’ mediocre offensive line, but I’ll take the points against Mitchell Trubisky and a Bears offense that has surpassed 24 points just twice in their last 18 games.

Chicago also hits the road after a short week, having just played on Monday night.

Travis Reed:  Cardinals +6 (vs. Bears)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

Let me jump aboard the Arizona train as well. The Rams are currently the best team in football and they are going to destroy a lot of teams this season. We already saw in Week 2 that the Raiders had value after they failed to cover in a loss to the Rams in Week 1.

I think we’re seeing that same scenario play out in Week 3. Give me the 6-point home dog against a quarterback I don’t believe in just yet.

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Matt LaMarca: Chargers +7 (at Rams)

4:05 p.m. ET on CBS

The Rams have obviously looked great through two weeks, but are we sure that they deserve to be touchdown favorites here? Their two victories came against a Cardinals squad that barely resembles an NFL team and a Raiders team that hasn’t looked much better.

This will mark the first true test of the season for the Rams, who I think are favored by a few too many points here. Philip Rivers is 11-2 ATS when opening as an underdog of seven or more points, making him the most profitable QB in the NFL in that spot.

Trust Rivers to get inside this inflated number.


Matthew Freedman: Patriots -6.5 (at Detroit)

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

I was the donkey who bet on the Patriots last week — so I’m doubling down this week.

Detroit’s defense ranks 27th against the pass and 29th against the rush in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, and if there’s a man alive who should exploit Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s defense, it’s his former boss, Bill Belichick.

The Patriots have been a historically profitable team for investors in general, especially after a loss — going 36-11-0 ATS (76.6%) since 2003 for a 51.7% return on investment and covering by an average margin of 8.44 points.

But, really, ask yourself this question: Is there any chance that quarterback Tom Brady (who should have all day to throw) won’t will this team to a victory of at least seven points after losing to the Jaguars last week?

Chris Raybon: Patriots -6.5 (at Detroit)

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Tom Brady is 18-3 ATS on the road coming off a loss since 2003. Sample too small/specific for you? Road favorites vs. home teams on two or more game losing streaks have gone 104-76-7 (57.8%) ATS over that span.

Brady and Patricia know each other from the Lions head coach’s time as defensive coordinator with New England, but Patricia’s defense is tied for 31st in points allowed per game, so the fact that they’ve seen each other every day in practice for the past six years looks like a strong “advantage Brady.”


Evan Abrams: Steelers -1 (at Bucs)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

It’s a tough week to choose a favorite bet, but I ultimately picked the Steelers out of Pittsburgh -1, Washington +3, LA Chargers +7 and New York-Houston over 41.5. Pittsburgh should benefit more from the extra day of rest since it has some injury concerns.

The Steelers should have no issue moving the ball against a Tampa Bay defense that’s allowing 6.6 yards per play (third-most in the NFL). (Last year, the Bucs allowed a league-high 6.0 yards/play.)

Through two weeks, opposing QBs have not really tested Tampa’s vulnerable secondary — with Drew Brees and Nick Foles combining to go only 3 for 6 with 92 yards and one TD on attempts at least 20 yards downfield.

No QB has dropped back to pass more than Big Ben this season (110) and only 25.5% of his passes came under pressure (sixth-lowest mark this season). He should have all day to throw on Monday night against a Bucs team near the bottom of the league in sack percentage this season.

Ben and Mike Tomlin are 58.5% ATS after a straight-up (SU) loss, including 63.6% ATS on the road and 64.7% ATS in prime time. Side with the Steelers on Monday Night.

Mark Gallant:  Steelers -1 (at Bucs)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

All right, time for FitzMagic to end. To my surprise, the public is actually buying in on the QB who has been the butt of jokes for years — more than 60% of spread bettors have taken the Bucs.

Meanwhile, the Steelers, who have as much internal drama as a 7th Heaven episode, are just 1-point favorites against a team that was expected to be one of the worst in the league. When a postseason team from the previous season starts 0-2 ATS like Pittsburgh has, it has covered 64% of the time in Week 3 since 2003.

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