NFL Week 3 best bets: Sunday fun day?
After two weeks of tightly-lined matchups in which very few teams were favored by more than a touchdown, Week 3 sees some massively lopsided spreads. With little interest in guessing whether the Cardinals can score on the Cowboys or if the Bears can stop the Chiefs, and with the two games we'll get to Monday, our options are limited for Sunday.
Best bets ATS
We've already discussed the five underdogs with a shot to win outright relative to their price, and as always, they're worth a look against the spread.
However, there are more plays worth making this week.
Mike Vrabel scored two ATS wins in his coveted spot as an underdog in the first two games this season. However, this line has toggled between Browns -3 (-115) and -3.5 (+100). Cleveland can mitigate losing Nick Chubb with Jerome Ford, who showed out Monday. But it's the Browns' defense that'll have Ryan Tannehill shook. This game will be ugly. But in the end, the Browns win by at least a touchdown, even if they barely get to 20 points.
The Chargers' 0-2 record could just as easily be reversed, at which point they'd likely be favored here. The offense has clicked well enough, and unlike the Vikings, the Bolts haven't turned the ball over. The line is moving away from L.A., potentially due to the increasing likelihood that Austin Ekeler won't play Sunday. Still, the Chargers should be able to run the ball as necessary against Minnesota with Joshua Kelley. The Eagles gashed the Vikings last week when Minnesota tried to funnel Philadelphia's offense to the inside.
The Chargers defense is far too talented to give up the big plays they've allowed. And with the Vikings' struggles to run the ball, Kirk Cousins should be under pressure yet again.
The Packers are one of four teams to get their first home game of the season in Week 3. After reaching as high as -2, a disappointing injury report has resulted in this line drifting back toward pick'em. However, the injuries to the Packers' offensive line didn't hurt them against a much-improved Falcons' front. Matt Lafleur has schemed to keep Jordan Love upright, as he's been sacked just twice and hasn't thrown an interception. Aaron Jones is back at practice, and his hamstring injury should feel better on the Lambeau Field turf, while Christian Watson also hopes to return.
Since 2003, the Patriots have been the third-best team in the NFL against the spread as a road favorite at 57.9%. An 0-2 club getting this much credit might be off-putting, but we'll bet that losses to the Eagles and Dolphins - a game in which New England had the ball with a chance to win late - won't look all that bad at the end of the season.
As intimidating as the Jets' defense appears, their turnover numbers are built on some loose play from Josh Allen. In this offense-centric era of the NFL, I can't back a team in a virtual pick'em on defense alone, and that's just where we're at with the Jets. The Patriots gave up big rushing totals last week because they preferred that to the Dolphins' quick strikes. With deference to Garrett Wilson's long touchdown last week, Zach Wilson won't scare Bill Belichick, and he'll tighten the defense back up.
This game opened at pick'em, but the Raiders have taken money for their first home game Sunday night. With the spread now -2.5, that's about as far as I'll go in backing them. But this sets up nicely for Las Vegas with the Steelers coming off a Monday night home win in which they needed two defensive touchdowns to beat Cleveland.
The Raiders have played defense with an eye on bending while keeping possessions to a minimum. How many turns do the Steelers need to score more than one touchdown on offense? The 49ers and Browns have a better defense, but it's hard to imagine the Steelers' run game becomes a weapon. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's run defense left something to be desired without Cameron Heyward.
Moneyline upset of the week
Our defined parameter for this section is underdogs paying at least +150.
Of our four qualifying underdogs in the round-robin parlay, the Commanders are the best bet to actually come through. The vibes are high in Washington with a 2-0 record and fresh ownership, but rejuvenated crowd noise will help give their defensive line a jump on the Bills' offense. Full credit to the Bills for stretching a lead over the Raiders, but the Commanders showed in Denver that they're up for a 60-minute fight.
Best 6-point teaser
Ravens -2 / Rams +8.5
We're already on the Ravens in survivor contests, and as unnerving as that pick is each week, the Colts could have Gardner Minshew playing behind an offensive line without Ryan Kelly or Quenton Nelson or both. Pulling the line down under a field goal is the prudent way to back your opinion of a Baltimore win.
Speaking of quarterback injury issues, teasing the Rams up over a full touchdown is a good deal, whether Joe Burrow is available Monday night or not. It'll be a great buy if Jake Browning gets the call and the line adjusts accordingly.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.