NFL Week 3 Recap: 7 Betting Takeaways for the Bengals, Jaguars, More

NFL Week 3 Recap: 7 Betting Takeaways for the Bengals, Jaguars, More article feature image

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence.

The NFL never ceases to surprise, and Week 3 was no exception.

The Bills and Chiefs were upset, the Dolphins and Eagles moved to 3-0, the Raiders are 0-3 and the Jaguars trounced a presumed playoff opponent for the second consecutive week with a 38-10 beatdown of the Chargers.

Not every score tells the whole story, and it can be hard to focus on the most important takeaways. Here are seven main takeaways you need to know from Sunday's games and how to bet them going forward.

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1. Buffalo is just fine and should've absolutely won that game.

How did the Bills lose this game?!

Buffalo ran an insane 90 plays compared to just 39 for Miami. The Bills racked up 497 yards of offense to just 212 for the Dolphins. Buffalo more than doubled Miami in first downs (31 to 15) and time of possession.

NFL teams are 2-106 over the last 16 years when being outgained by at least 275 yards like the Dolphins were on Sunday, per Ben Volin. Outside of a pair of late 32- and 45-yard passes to Jaylen Waddle, Buffalo allowed only 135 yards to Miami — and that's a defense missing five starters, including four in the secondary.

Buffalo absolutely should have won this game. Of course, they didn't! Credit Miami for finding a way. But we should be upgrading — not downgrading — Buffalo futures after a showing like this.

So why did the Bills lose? Buffalo lost a strip sack inside the 10 that gave Miami an easy TD. The Bills missed a field goal at the end of a 20-play drive and didn't score after a 17-play drive. They were also a second or two away from a long field goal attempt at the end of each half.

And don't forget the Butt Punt, which might have actually been lucky for Miami. If that punt ricochets forward five yards instead of backwards, the Bills are a couple plays from taking the lead. Instead, Thomas Morestead's free kick punt buried Buffalo deep.

If you were looking for a buy point on Buffalo futures, you just found it.

It's also time to fade Miami, at least in the immediate future. That Dolphins defense looked absolutely fried after 90 plays against Josh Allen in the scorching Miami heat. They simply could not get off the field and had the same problem against Lamar Jackson a week ago.

Now Miami gets a short week before flying to Cincinnati for a Thursday night game with an exhausted, heat-stricken defense — and a quarterback that may or may not be healthy, by the way.

TAKEAWAY: Fade Miami Thursday night against the Bengals (-3) and use this buy-low spot to invest in Buffalo futures.

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2. The Colts won the game but didn't save their season.

Something really unusual happened on Sunday — Andy Reid lost a game because of special teams.

Reid's teams have dominated special teams for decades, so it was shocking to see Kansas City give away a game in that phase. The Chiefs missed an extra point and a field goal, and also failed to convert on a fake field goal — all tied, of course, to the missing Harrison Butker. They also muffed a punt on the opening drive that gave the Colts the ball at the four for an easy TD.

Add it up and that's 14 points the Chiefs gifted the Colts via special teams. Indianapolis didn't win this game. Kansas City lost it.

It would be easy to look at Matt Ryan's line — 27-for-37 for 222 yards, two TDs, no interceptions — and think the veteran had a nice effort in a must-win game. Those numbers don't show how washed Ryan looked at times. He was sacked five times and fumbled twice, finishing with -0.05 EPA per play. It's looking increasingly possible the Colts moved on from Carson Wentz and actually downgraded at quarterback somehow.

It doesn't help that the offensive line is mostly just offensive. No team has more invested in its line, but it's just not good. The run game isn't what it was a year ago, and Ryan is getting sacked in part because he has no protection. The Colts had only 259 yards of offense with an ugly 3.8 yards per play.

Somehow, the Colts are still division favorites — they even have a minus in front of the number! They're also favored by more than a field goal against the Titans this week. If Sunday is any indication, it's time to look for ways to fade Indianapolis going forward.

This was an ugly performance in a must-win Kitchen Sink spot in a home opener. The Colts didn't save their season; they only delayed their funeral.

TAKEAWAY: Look for ways to fade Indianapolis, starting with Tennessee +3.5 Sunday and considering the Jags or Titans in the division.

3. The Raiders live in the red zone. They just suck there.

If you only watched NFL RedZone on Sunday, you didn't see much of the Raiders-Titans game until late when Las Vegas had the ball for like 15 minutes of real time, trying to punch in a tying score. The Raiders ran eight plays in the red zone late, finally scoring a TD, but failed on a two-point conversion as the Titans held on to win by two.

It turns out that sequence was basically a summary of Las Vegas's entire game and season thus far.

The Raiders had nine drives Sunday and reached the red zone in six of them. They were terrible in the game's biggest spots: 1-for-12 on third down and 2-of-6 in the red zone.

The Raiders ran 25 plays once they reached the red zone; they netted 53 yards on those plays and also had an interception, fumble, pair of false starts and that game-sealing two-point conversion fail.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the offense is consistently reaching the red zone. In fact, Vegas has reached the red zone on 44.8% of its drives for the season, leading the NFL per @LordReebs. If your offense gets into scoring position on almost half its drives, you're doing a lot of things right!

The Raiders are the only 0-3 team in football, but they are far from the NFL's worst. They've lost all three games by one score, and history says one-score losses tend to be coin-flippy and even out over time.

Derek Carr's offense is moving the ball. The wins will come, and this Raiders team is undervalued right now because of that goose egg in the wins column. It's too late to bet on Raiders futures at 0-3, but we should definitely look to back an undervalued squad in the weeks ahead.

TAKEAWAY: Back an undervalued Raiders team, perhaps starting as one-point favorites at home against the struggling Broncos.

4. The Bengals looked like the Bengals again.

Last year, Cincinnati was one of the league's run-heaviest teams. The run game wasn't efficient, but Zac Taylor consistently overcommitted to it.

When the team finally abandoned ship and leaned on the pass, the Bengals took off and made a run all the way to the Super Bowl. Cincinnati jumped from 19th to seventh in pass frequency from Week 14 forward, and its playoff offense would've ranked fourth over the whole season.

So the Bengals learned their lesson, gave the ball to Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase and lived happily ever after … right?


This year's Bengals have acted like they missed the final two months of the 2021 season and went right back to a run-heavy attack that went nowhere fast en route to a pair of losses as touchdown favorites to open the season.

But on Sunday, it looked like Zac Taylor got the memo. The Bengals threw the ball on 10 of 11 plays the opening drive and scored a TD. They threw on 17 of their first 21 plays, grabbing a pair of TDs and scoring on four of five early drives. Their only stop was a Chase fumble.

This is what worked for the Bengals last year — give Burrow the ball and let it rip. Cincinnati only needed two games to learn its lesson this year.

TAKEAWAY: The Bengals offense is passing again, another reason to like Cincinnati -3 at home Thursday night against an exhausted Miami defense.

5. The Bucs still don't look like the Bucs.

Tampa Bay's offense looked miserable again on Sunday.

Believe it or not, the Bucs have yet to score a first-half touchdown. In fact, they've scored only three TDs total, just one per game.

Tom Brady led the league in passing yards and TDs last year, but is averaging just 224 yards per game this year with three scores. He had just 0.02 EPA per play Sunday, and the Bucs offense was a terrible -0.19 EPA per play and couldn't run the ball to save their life. The sad part is this might have actually been Tampa Bay's best offensive game of the season.

No, this doesn't mean Brady has finally turned into a pumpkin. It's mostly just a reminder that football is a team game and that this offense is simply missing too many bodies.

The receiver room is decimated by injuries, and the offensive line is missing two interior linemen for the season and struggling to find answers for injured LT Donovan Smith. There are no holes to run into, no open receivers for Brady to hit.

It's ugly, but it should get better. The line will gel and the offense's health arrow can really only trend up. Hidden behind the terrible offense has been one of the league's best defenses, keeping the Bucs competitive.

The bad news for Tampa Bay is that the Chiefs come to town Sunday night. The good news is that a brutal opening schedule gets much easier from there with the Falcons, Steelers and Panthers next, so the sky isn't falling yet.

TAKEAWAY: Don't trust — or bet on — the Bucs offense until proven otherwise by health and results.

6. Jacksonville's win was every bit as dominant as it looked.

The Jaguars might be the real deal.

Jacksonville won 38-10 on Sunday, snapping an 18-game road losing streak in style. And unlike other games where the final score can lie, this was every bit as dominant as it appeared.

The Jaguars pass rush was ferocious. Josh Allen — the other one — has been outstanding, and No. 1 pick Travon Walker has shown serious flashes early. First-round LB Devin Lloyd has intercepted a pass and recorded three passes defended in back-to-back weeks and is now one of the favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The offense was even better. Trevor Lawrence had himself a day — 28-for-39 for 262 yards and three TDs — with several highlight throws. The advanced metrics were even better at 0.39 EPA per play, and the sophomore QB now ranks top five in both EPA and EPA + CPOE, per RBSDM.

Lawrence looked like a future star, and the future might not be far away. Everyone had the Colts and Chargers in the playoffs heading into the season, and Jacksonville just beat both of them back-to-back by a combined score of 62-10. The Jaguars are 2-1 and would be 3-0 if not for a late meltdown against Washington in the opener.

It's time to take the Jaguars seriously. If you're holding on to a +800 worst-to-first division winner ticket from before the season, congratulations. If not, you may need to consider how to invest in Jacksonville futures.

You can still get a good number on Jags division odds or Doug Pederson at Coach of the Year, and it's clear we should take this team seriously week to week.

TAKEAWAY: Jacksonville is for real, and it's time to invest if you haven't yet.

7. The Chargers are staring down the barrel of a lost season.

Sunday's game told us more about Jacksonville than Los Angeles, but that's only because the Chargers looked nothing like the team expected to be on the field this season.

The injury report for this team is dreadful yet again, and it already looks like things are quickly beginning to mount against them.

You know about Justin Herbert already. He's the franchise and a possible future MVP. He gutted it out Sunday, but clearly didn't look himself. He's not healthy and might not be the rest of the season.

But it's not just Herbert. The Chargers lost stud LT Rashawn Slater (torn biceps) for the season Sunday and are already without star C Corey Linsley (knee). They also saw Joey Bosa go down with a groin injury and were without free agent acquisition J.C. Jackson (ankle) after he rushed back too quickly for Week 2. Keenan Allen (hamstring) was out again, too.

If you made a list of the most important Chargers, that's six of them already injured three weeks into the season, most with ailments that don't look like they're going away anytime soon.

This was supposed to be a historically great AFC West, but the division went 0-3 Sunday against the AFC South, a division so pathetic it couldn't even win a single Week 1 game — despite the fact that two of its teams played each other.

L.A.'s next four games come against the Texans, Browns, Broncos, and Seahawks before a much needed week off. Maybe this team can piece things together just enough to survive until the bye. But you shouldn't invest another dime into Chargers futures until we see some good injury news.

TAKEAWAY: Stay far away from Chargers futures until the health turns a corner.

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