Welcome to the Week 3 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games per week that I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 2. Follow that up with a leap into a trio of interesting scenarios for Week 3.
Recapping Week 2
Week 2 winners: Colts + 5/ Lions +5
Week 2 losers: Lions money line +180/Giants +3/Giants money line +132
Season record to date:
Week 3 NFL Sports Betting Picks
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers came through comfortably against the spread versus the Cowboys at home in Week 1. They’re in a good position once more in Week 3, facing a depleted Bengals squad. Joe Mixon, who’d lived up to his preseason hype during the first two regular-season games for Cincinnati, is on the shelf for a couple of weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. The second-year back had been filling important rushing and receiving roles early. His absence leaves Giovani Bernard to take on lead-back duties with only rookie Mark Walton and re-tread Thomas Rawls behind him.
Meanwhile, the Panthers had a few positives stemming from their road loss to the division-rival Falcons in Week 2. One was an eye-popping performance by Christian McCaffrey. He stepped up in Greg Olsen’s absence to snag a whopping 14 receptions for 102 yards. Notably, the Bengals are tied with the Falcons for the fourth-most receptions allowed to running backs (18) over the first two games. Thus, McCaffrey could be in for another long and productive day as an outlet receiver.
Moreover, Cam Newton broke out for a 335-yard, three-touchdown day in which he displayed a strong rapport with Devin Funchess (7-77) and veteran Jarius Wright (5-62-1) in addition to McCaffrey. Cincinnati comes in having allowed the third-most passing yards per game over the first pair of contests (332.0). That’s along with the fifth-most receptions to receivers (33). Funchess’ big frame (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) should especially play well against a pair of corners in Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III that he outweighs by at least 20 pounds apiece.
The Panthers’ defense has been relatively stingy versus wide receivers thus far (25 receptions and only one touchdown allowed through two contests), even limiting Julio Jones to five receptions (on nine targets) for 64 yards in Week 2 on the fast track of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It’s a particularly encouraging trend when considering the Bengals’ talented trio of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross. Carolina has also been solid versus tight ends (nine receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD). In that area, Shaq Thompson has done a good job thus far at strong-side linebacker.
By the Numbers: Carolina was 4-1 against the spread last season after a loss and 3-1 versus the number in non-conference games with an average margin of victory of 10.2 points. Conversely, the Bengals were only 2-2 in such scenarios. They sported an ugly -11.8 points as their overall margin in those contests.
The Final Word: The Bengals have surprised early, but they’re down a key piece in Mixon. His absence will free up the Panthers’ defense to focus more on stopping the potent passing attack. Carolina’s home-field advantage should help them cover a manageable three-point spread.
The Pick: Panthers -2.5, Panthers money line (-162)
New York Giants at Houston Texans
The Giants suffered a somewhat stupefying road loss to a lackluster Dallas squad in Week 2. New York is now 0-2 overall on the season. Their offense — which has too many talented pieces to continue struggling like it has for much longer — has been stymied by a pair of stingy defensive units in the Jaguars and Cowboys. However, the level of competition thankfully goes down this week against a Texans team that allowed 23.5 points per game thus far, as well as 111.0 rushing yards per contest. Moreover, the latter number has been generated by the two relatively nondescript ground attacks from the Patriots and Titans.
Tennessee essentially ignored its tight end position against Houston last week. But New England torched the Texans defense with Rob Gronkowski in Week 1 to the tune of seven receptions (on eight targets) for 123 yards and a touchdown. New York has the talent to apply similar pressure. Evan Engram, for one, has the speed to get down the seam and already comes in with nine receptions on 12 targets against the aforementioned pair of tough defenses through the first two weeks.
Then, at receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard should eat their fair share versus a cornerback duo consisting of 34-year-old Johnathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin. The latter has yet to log an interception in 50 career games. In the New York backfield, Saquon Barkley has already proven to be a dynamic presence through both the ground and air. That could well spell trouble for Houston, especially if Jadeveon Clowney misses a second straight contest with a back injury.
On the defensive side, the Giants seemingly have the secondary to help limit the lethal receiver combo of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. They’ll check in having yielded the second-fewest passing yards per game (164.0) through two contests. Those numbers are almost certainly artificially low considering the pedestrian Cowboys passing attack they faced in Week 2. Still, pieces like Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins lend credence to the notion they should be a solid unit overall.
Where New York will have to tighten up is in their run defense versus quarterbacks. They’ve already allowed an NFC-high 87 rushing yards to Blake Bortles and Dak Prescott over the first two weeks. Now, they face an even more dangerous player in Deshaun Watson.
By the Numbers: The Texans come in 0-2 against the spread thus far this season, and they were just 3-5 versus the number in 2017, including 2-3 as home favorites. Meanwhile, the G-Men were 4-3 as road dogs in 2017 and a stellar 3-1 against the spread in non-conference matchups.
The Final Word: These two teams feature some dynamic passing game weapons. New York, though, has enough firepower to cover a spread that seems inflated versus a fellow 0-2 squad in Houston.
The Pick: Giants +6
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams
Given the way the Rams have looked over the first two games, even a healthy seven-point spread seems fairly generous of the oddsmakers. Granted, the Chargers did have a good track record versus the number as road underdogs and in non-conference games in 2017. But their new cross-town rivals have the look and personnel of a Super Bowl-caliber unit.
The Rams have cruised to victories over the Raiders and Cardinals. Although the Chargers bring more firepower than those clubs, the home squad certainly has the secondary to help limit their weapons. Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters have been lights out at the cornerback position thus far. And LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson are doing a fine job at safety as the last line of defense. Accordingly, the Rams have allowed just 393 passing yards through two games. They’ve picked off four passes while not yet surrendering a touchdown.
But they’re far from a one-trick pony. With a defensive front that features Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, the Rams are allowing under 4.0 yards per carry (3.9) and just 74.5 rushing yards per game overall. Those numbers don’t necessarily bode well for the Chargers’ hopes of establishing a balanced offensive attack. If Phillip Rivers is forced to turn to the air as often as he did in Week 1 against the Chiefs, the chances of the Rams’ ball-hawking secondary snaring at least a couple of his passes is significantly high.
The Chargers’ overall numbers on defense look fine. But they did allow rookie Josh Allen to put up a solid line against them (18-for-33, 245 yards) in Week 2 after yielding four touchdown passes to Patrick Mahomes in Week 1. Jared Goff has more experience than either, as well as an impressive cache of weapons in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and naturally, Todd Gurley. The ongoing absence of Joey Bosa should only help Gurley’s chances of putting together yet another impressive effort.
By the Numbers: The Rams are 2-0 against the spread over the first two weeks, with an average margin of victory of 27.0 points. They were also 3-1 against the spread in non-conference games last season, boasting an average margin of victory of 19.2 points in those contests.
The Final Word: The Rams are a team with the talent to potentially win any game on their schedule by double-digit points. By contrast, the Chargers are a good-but-not-great squad. The NFC’s simply better LA team should be able to pull away in the second half.
The Pick: Rams -7, Rams money line (-280)