NFL Week 3 Picks: Predictions for Bengals vs Jets, Rams vs Cardinals, Packers vs Buccaneers
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sean McVay.
- With Week 3 on the horizon, Brandon Anderson has gone through all 16 games for bettors.
- Check out whether he's waiting, passing or betting each game below.
NFL Week 2 is Overreaction Week, but Week 3 is Kitchen Sink Week.
Five teams are 0-2 and their seasons are already on the brink with a third consecutive loss spelling doom. That's five desperate squads sure to pull out every stop — everything but the kitchen sink — to find a win in Week 3.
If we bet against one of these winless teams, we better be absolutely certain. This year's 0-2 teams include three that just made the AFC playoffs — the Bengals, Titans, and Raiders, along with the Panthers and Falcons. There's also the Colts and Texanssitting at 0-1-1.
Since 2010, winless teams are 45-29-1 against the spread (ATS) when not facing another winless team in Week 3. That's a 60.8% cover rate with an 18% return on investment (ROI). They're also an impressive 31-44 straight-up (SU) over that stretch with an 8.8% ROI.
History says it's profitable to bet on these Kitchen Sink teams — and if there's one you really like, don't be afraid to play the moneyline as well.
There's also a winning Week 3 trend for teams who start 0-2 ATS. Those teams are 71-55-1 ATS (56.3%) when facing an opponent who's not also 0-2 ATS. This season that includes the Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Rams and Patriots.
We still have only two weeks of data, which isn't enough to do too much with DVOA, EPA and other advanced metrics. That means we'll still lean heavily on preseason reads, so you may want to refer back to my offense, defense, quarterback, coaching and offensive line rankings for context.
Like usual, we're making picks for every game, but you don't actually have to bet them all. Picks are sorted by confidence level: Bet, Lean, Pass or Wait.
Let's make some Week 3 picks — and beware of those Kitchen Sink teams.
We need to wait for news on Justin Herbert's health regarding the rib cartilage fracture he suffered against the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.
This line already dropped from Chargers -10 last week to -7, but the drop from Herbert to Chase Daniel is worth seven points per our Sean Koerner.
That probably makes this current line is a hedge in the middle. If Herbert is out, this should drop near a field goal. If he's a full go, it could push back toward double digits.
THE PICK: Wait for Herbert injury news
This line absolutely stinks.
It was Ravens -3 before the weekend, Ravens -3 after the games,and it's still Ravens -3 at every single book and hasn't budged all week. I smell something fishy.
The trends like the Patriots here. I like the matchup better for Baltimore. But I'm going to wait out this number and see if we get a move off the key number.
THE PICK: Wait for the line to move off the key number
It's wild that Miami is 2-0 and still the Bills have been so totally dominant that this line has moved two points toward Buffalo from the preseason lookahead. The rising line likely puts some value on the Phins, though the Bills have destroyed Miami in recent years.
With a line stuck in no man's land, let's wait to see where this one lands. If the Buffalo hype fades some, there could be value on the Bills. If it goes the other direction, Miami hits a key number or two.
THE PICK: Wait for the line to move in either direction
This game could have big implications … for the No. 1 draft pick.
These are the two worst rosters in the league. I ranked both Houston and Chicago in the bottom three on offense and on defense. Unless you're invested in a Lovie Smith revenge game, there's just no reason to put your hard-earned money at risk with teams this bad.
We'll side with the road underdog trends and a possible (0-1-1) Kitchen Sink spot.
THE PICK: Texans +3 (pass)
Second verse, same as the first.
Atlanta and Seattle look more bad than terrible, but that doesn't mean we need our money tied up on either one.
The Falcons are 2-0 ATS and look like a feisty cover team. Unfortunately, they're not giving enough points to be worth much here. Still, the trends favor the road dogs so we'll take the Kitchen Sink team and the points.
THE PICK: Falcons +2 (pass)
A rare double Kitchen Sink game, but that doesn't help us much. For my money, these are two of the least predictable, coin-flippiest teams in the league.
Neither one is as bad as 0-2 makes it look, and each of them should have won a game already. This is a mostly even matchup and that's how it was priced before the Monday night blowout pushed the line away from Tennessee.
The Titans are 0-2 ATS, and teams 0-2 both straight up and ATS are 49-32-1 ATS (61%). The trends also fade Derek Carr as a favorite and West Coast teams traveling east for an early start.
With the line move, it's Titans or pass.
THE PICK: Titans +2.5 (pass)
Another big Monday night line move, from Eagles -4 to -6.5 overnight after an impressive win. The Eagles look like the real deal, and I would've loved them at -4, but the value is long gone now.
Philly has won eight of 10 against Washington, and the Commanders have been terrible in the first half and could get buried early like the Vikings did. The Commanders didn't even achieve a single first down before trailing the Lions 22-0. Still, Carson Wentz leads the league in passing TDs and ranks second in yards, and this is his first game against his old team.
I like the Eagles way more, but division dogs of over six points are 80-55-2 ATS (59%) the first five weeks of the season, including 18-9 ATS (67%) at home — and this line has moved way too far in Philadelphia's direction.
THE PICK: Commanders +7 (pass)
Detroit won the last meeting on the final play of the game, but the Vikings had won nine in a row before that. Unfortunately we need covers, not wins, and these teams have played three straight two-point games.
The best play on this game is the over — or at least it was. I wrote about Lions overs earlier this week, and that was before Minnesota's defense laid an egg. The Vikings rank 30th in Defensive DVOA, while the Lions offense looks like the real deal. Unfortunately, this over has risen from 50.5 Sunday night to 53.5 so much of the value has dissipated.
This line looks sharp. If it rises another point, the Lions hit some nice division underdog trends. A point the other direction might be enough for Minnesota's passing attack against an awful secondary. Here we'll pass.
THE PICK: Lions +6 (pass)
Hope you enjoyed a couple fun Thursday Night Football matchups, because it's gonna get down and dirty going forward.
This total opened at 40.5 when I recommended the under on The Lookahead. It started dropping immediately, and it's not hard to see why.
On one side are two talented, well-coached defenses. On the other: Mitchell Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett. Advantage, defense — even more so with a forecast of 20-to-30 mph winds and a chance of rain.
Bad weather should favor the Browns with their great rushing attack and Pittsburgh is typically pass-heavy, but this is a super high line for a total this low. Since 2018, underdogs in games with a total under 42 are 89-56-4 ATS, covering 61% of the time, and that jumps to 81% when this total hits 37 or lower.
This is yet another rah-rah Mike Tomlin underdog spot, and it's a spot to fade Kevin Stefanski, who is 7-15 ATS as a favorite and 1-11 ATS in the division. The matchup favors Cleveland, but the trends push heavily toward the Steelers.
I lean Pittsburgh +5, but there's a better bet, and that's the under. Feast your eyes on this long list of trends pointing toward the under:
- Mike Tomlin road unders: 70-50-1 (58%)
- Kevin Stefanski unders with totals below 44: 6-2 (75%)
- Mitch Trubisky unders with totals below 43: 16-5 (76%)
- September unders since 2014 with totals 37 to 40: 15-8 (65%)
- Thursday night unders with totals 40 or below: 20-6-2 (77%)
- Thursday night unders with totals 37 to 40: 18-3-1 (86%)
- Primetime unders so far this season: 6-1 (86%)
The matchups and trends point heavily toward the under, and the bad weather only exacerbates things. Grab it before it drops further.
THE PICK: Lean Steelers +5, and bet the under 38.5
There's little question the Saints defense is the most talented unit on the field, but Carolina actually ranks ahead of New Orleans in DVOA on offense, defense and special teams so far. They also fit the trend we just discussed as an underdog in a low-scoring game.
More importantly, the Panthers are also one of our Kitchen Sink teams — both SU and ATS. Kitchen Sink teams are 14-6-1 ATS (70%) in division games since 2010. They're also 30-17 ATS (64%) coming off a loss by seven or fewer points, and teams that hit the 0-2 double are 49-32-1 ATS (61%).
This isn't just a Kitchen Sink game for this Panthers season. We're rapidly reaching last-chance saloon for Matt Rhule, Baker Mayfield and everyone else involved here. Bet on desperation.
THE PICK: Lean Panthers +3, and bet if the line rises any further
Do you believe in the Colts? If you believe at all, this looks like a great spot to back them.
It's the home opener for a winless team coming off an ugly shutout loss to a division rival. All of those things typically scream "Buy low!" and suggest value on the number.
I'm not buying it. The trends aren't as strong as you think.
Teams coming off a shutout are better ATS if they were an underdog in that game, teams after a blowout ATS loss are better on the road and teams in a Week 3 home opener are just 19-34-2 ATS (36%). And at 0-1-1, the Colts may not technically qualify for our Kitchen Sink trends either.
More importantly, I'm just not buying the Colts, or this matchup.
Indianapolis has allowed 0.34 EPA per pass play on early downs, second worst in the league, and the Chiefs are the pass-heaviest team with the best QB. Patrick Mahomes shredded Gus Bradley's vanilla defense last year when he was with the Raiders, and now Bradley leads this Colts D.
The Colts also ranked 31st in Offensive DVOA. And lest you forget, Indy racked up these bad ratings against Houston and Jacksonville.
The Colts are also banged up while the Chiefs come off extra rest, which means more prep time for Andy Reid. Maybe there's a world where Jonathan Taylor runs 30 times and keeps Mahomes on the sidelines.
I just don't think it's the world we live in this season.
THE PICK: Lean Chiefs -6.5
Sunday Night Football brings us two teams staring down the barrel of a very different season than the one they envisioned a few weeks ago.
The 49ers are missing Trey Lance and Elijah Mitchell and are stuck running Jimmy Garoppolo back with a worse roster. The Broncos have gotten very little offense from Russell Wilson and Co., while Nathaniel Hackett has made a barrage of mistakes that indicate he might not be ready for this job.
San Francisco's defense has been outstanding, and that smells like trouble given how hard things have been for Denver's impotent offense. Wilson has been terrific as an underdog and at home in primetime, but is this still the same guy we've become accustomed to? He can barely move, and he has to take some fault for all this disorganization too. Garoppolo did just fine last week, but Wilson's offense is struggling.
I loved the 49ers as underdogs when the lines opened open, but apparently so did everyone else. The money flipped the line, but I still like them.
You may not like Jimmy G, but the numbers do: Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan as anything shorter than three-point favorites are 13-3 ATS.
THE PICK: Lean 49ers -1
The Giants are 2-0, but forgive me for not throwing them a playoff party just yet.
New York barely beat two 0-2 teams and was probably the inferior team in both. The Giants are the worst team on Monday night, too, even with Dak Prescott out, as well as this Dallas defense is playing.
The books know the Giants are fraudulent, and they're telling us with this short line. When 2-0 teams are favored by less than four, they're an ugly 14-21-1 ATS (40%). That matches a similar trend with short home favorites on Monday night just 12-22-1 ATS (35%) — and Dallas is another underdog in a game with a low total.
You might just play the total instead, though, at 39.5 and dropping. It's another primetime under (86% this year) and a low September total (65% under with a total 37 to 40). Daniel Jones has also trended under at home, with 15 unders in 20 starts (75%). Jones is 2-5 ATS as a favorite and 8-12 ATS at home.
Back the trends and ride the under or Dallas — or both if you prefer at +280.
THE PICK: Lean Cowboys +2.5 and under 39.5
It's been an ugly start after losing twice outright as a touchdown favorite to start the year. Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse.
The Super Bowl loser curse has hit hard. Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase lead an offense that ranks dead last in DVOA and have been outdueled by Mitch Trubisky and Cooper Rush. Woof.
I'm not out just yet. Cincinnati's loss to Dallas is an obvious buy-low spot, and the Jets are an easy sell high after their wild comeback against the Browns.
Robert Saleh is still just 6-12 ATS as an underdog and 3-8 ATS (27%) as a one-score dog, and New York was getting blown out in consecutive games before those final frenzied minutes. Week 2's results are buying us tremendous value on both sides of this line, one I think should be over a touchdown.
Remember, Kitchen Sink teams cover 61% of the time, and those that made the playoffs are 11-6 ATS, covering by 5.1 PPG. Teams 0-2 ATS and coming off a one-score loss have covered 64% of the time. You know what's a perfect antidote for a struggling offense? A Jets defense that ranks last in Defensive DVOA.
Cincinnati's offensive line has been problematic, but that's a much bigger problem against T.J. Watt and Micah Parsons than New York's anemic pass rush. The Jets may actually have the bigger blocking issue with their injuries, and rookie corner Sauce Gardner's health is also a question.
Don't bail on the Bengals right as the value returns. Cincinnati has covered in 16 of its last 17 wins. This is a get-right spot.
THE PICK: Bet Bengals -4.5
Here's another spot where a shocking comeback presents clear value.
Arizona played like trash in seven of eight quarters before Kyler Murray pulled multiple rabbits out of his hat and stole a win. But the Cards are still struggling mightily on the line and on defense as expected.
Arizona ranks second to last in defensive DVOA, and the offense has failed to do much without DeAndre Hopkins when Murray isn't doing it all himself.
The Rams looked better building a 28-3 lead over Atlanta only to surrender that cushion late, and that's buying us some value. L.A. has far more talent on both sides of the ball. Both teams pass aplenty, and that's advantage Rams against a bad Cardinals secondary.
Los Angeles has also dominated Arizona.
Sean McVay is 5-1-1 ATS and 6-1 SU against Kliff Kingsbury. Those six wins were by an average of 14.2 PPG — each one by at least a touchdown — and even the two that were that "close" weren't competitive. This is a massive coaching mismatch, and Kingsbury has been awful against great coaches, especially McVay.
THE PICK: Bet Rams -3.5
Our Sunday afternoon Game of the Week looks like a doozy — but health could derail a great matchup, and it should dictate this play.
Tampa Bay is ravaged by injuries.
The Bucs literally have two healthy starters on offense, and one of them is 45 years old. Mike Evans is suspended, Chris Godwin is a doubt and Julio Jones and Russell Gage are playing hurt. So is Leonard Fournette. Oh, and the offensive line is a disaster missing two interior linemen with both star tackles as injury question marks.
The Bucs were down to their third-string left tackle on Sunday, and this offense has not been good, despite the 2-0 start. They averaged only 4.0 yards per play against the Saints and Tom Brady has just 402 yards all season. I wrote on Monday about Tampa's struggling offense — and how Green Bay found its exact winning formula in a Week 2 win.
The Packers are not flawless. Their receivers aren't great, and the defense can be run on. But even Green Bay's receivers are better than what's left in Tampa, and a decimated Bucs line couldn't get the run game going. Green Bay, on the other hand, looked much better with its own line getting healthier.
There's a narrative that Brady's Bucs have Aaron Rodgers' number, but I'm not sure it's relevant. The Bucs did beat the Packers twice their Super Bowl season, but one of those games was close late and Green Bay led the other one 10-0 before a pick-six derailed everything. Most importantly, neither of these teams resemble the squads that played two years ago.
The books are telling us just how worried we should be about the Bucs. Tampa Bay is undefeated and playing at home, yet the Bucs re-opened Sunday as just 3.5-point favorites — and the line is moving toward Green Bay.
When 2-0 teams are favored by less than four, they're 14-21-1 ATS (60%). Matt LaFleur is 9-3 ATS (75%) as an underdog, too.
Honestly, neither of those numbers may be relevant by game day. This line is moving rapidly, and the Packers could end up favored by kickoff once the injury report comes out, so don't wait around.
This line was Packers +2.5 when I recorded the pick in the app Tuesday but dropped to +2, then +1.5 on Wednesday morning. Every point matters between great teams, so be sure to monitor our NFL odds page throughout the week.
The analysis is simple in the end — bet on the healthier team.
THE PICK: Bet Packers +1.5