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Week 3 Lookahead Picks: Getting Value on Steelers vs Browns, Bengals vs Jets Before Sunday

Week 3 Lookahead Picks: Getting Value on Steelers vs Browns, Bengals vs Jets Before Sunday article feature image
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow.

Welcome back to The Lookahead.

Each week, starting on Friday, we’re trying to make some money on next week’s games before this week’s have even happened — and we’re off to a heck of a start!

While everyone else was busy betting Week 1 last weekend, we got ahead of the game with a pair of Week 2 picks. We grabbed Chiefs -2.5 and Raiders -2.5 before the key number, and boy we were right. Kansas City closed at -4, which means everyone who bet the Chiefs spread after Sunday lost, but Lookahead bettors safely cashed our -2.5 tickets. The Raiders are now -6 entering Friday.

Bettors pay big money to get this sort of line movement and closing line value (CLV), and it’s a winning long-term plan to gobble up free line value, even if these particular bets don’t work out. So get these bets in before Sunday’s games and let’s see if we can keep the CLV flowing.

If you’re looking for Week 2 picks, I’ve got you covered there too with picks for every game. Today is all about playing the number and getting ahead of a line move.

Let’s get to it.

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Steelers at Browns (-2.5)

Did you enjoy that amazing Chiefs and Chargers game last night? Good, because we’re back to the usual Thursday night slog next week.

Mitch Trubisky! Jacoby Brissett! It’s Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime!

Woof. This could be ugly, one of those 16-13 or 13-12 type bloodbaths where no one really wins and we all lose for watching — unless we win money.

Neither of these teams brings much to the table offensively with their QBs limiting them so much, but there’s plenty of defense to be found. Pittsburgh is loaded even without T.J. Watt. Cam Heyward is a future Hall of Famer, Alex Highsmith leads the league with three sacks, and Minkah Fitzpatrick saved the game in Week 1. Cleveland is stacked too, with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney providing the pass rush and a terrific secondary behind them.

This game is all defense and no offense, and it could be ugly. The total is already sitting at 40.5, and that thing is only going in one direction — down.

Just look at this week’s lines. The Steelers’ total opened at 42.5 against New England but has been bet down to 39.5. The Browns’ total opened at 42 against the Jets and that one’s down to 39.5 too. We already know these teams are good at defending and not so much at scoring.

That’s the direction this total will move too, especially with a short week and the usual trend of Thursday unders. Unders went 11-5 last season and already started out 2-0. Offense is sloppy on a short week, especially early in the season, and these defenses will have the advantage.

Since 2010, Thursday games with a total at 40 or below are 15-5 to the under, hitting the under 75% of the time by 8.6 PPG. Those 20 games include one 54, a pair of 44s, and every other game at 40 or below — a winning under for us. That’s the trend I’m playing, or pre-playing in this instance, since we’re anticipating the total to drop a few points and give us free value.

Let’s get dirty.

THE PICK: Under 40.5

Bengals (-6) at Jets

When you’re playing The Lookahead, it’s often about looking at results you expect this weekend and anticipating how the public will react and push betting lines the following week.

The Jets head to Cleveland as 6.5-point underdogs to the aforementioned Brissett, if that gives you any indication of public perception. It’s not New York’s fault Zach Wilson is injured, but Joe Flacco slinging 59 passes like he did in Week 1 is not a winning formula, not a decade ago and certainly not in 2022.

The Jets had only three points until the final minutes last Sunday, and with the line rising this week and New York on the road, it could be a second straight ugly loss.

Meanwhile, the Bengals got an absolute gift when a tricky Dallas road turned into a walkover with the Dak Prescott injury. The Bengals were available at +2.5 on Sunday morning before Prescott broke his thumb and the line flipped. They got bet as high as -8.5 this week after all the Dallas injury news.

Cincinnati moved the ball with ease against Pittsburgh and would’ve won easily if not for five turnovers, so this weekend is an obvious get-right spot for the defending AFC champs.

The script sets up for a blowout Bengals win and another ugly Jets loss. If things trend that way, this Week 3 line likely flips past the key number. At six points, this is also a potential teaser play — another reason the line will likely rise as the game gets closer and bets come in, for teaser protection.

The Bengals lost in disappointing fashion to the Steelers in Week 1, but nothing fixes things quite like lucking into Cooper Rush and Joe Flacco on back-to-back weeks. Get ahead of this one and grab the Bengals now.

THE PICK: Bengals -6

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