It wasn’t a resounding success, but a 9-7 record in Week 2 has my picks trending back in the right direction. With a slate of boring-looking games this week, let’s hope these picks churn out more winners, because as viewers, we’re all losing right now.
Here are my picks for the Week 3 of this young season. And after having a read through, check out our reviews of the top-five sportsbooks, where you’ll find everything you need to know to make the best bet for you.
Week 3 ATS Picks
Thursday, September 21
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Why Thursday Night Football? Why?! If you thought last week’s Bengals-Texans battle was an ugly, terrible, low-scoring affair, you’re most football fans. So surely, you’ll have no use for the sequel “Rams-49ers: Same Stink; Fewer Fans.” If you do feel the need to bet this game — which is about the only thing that will make it watchable — go with L.A. Todd Gurley looks to have his game back; the defense has potential game-changers in Aaron Donald and Trumaine Johnson; plus the Rams have scored a touchdown in 2017.
Pick: Rams (-2.5)
Sunday, September 24
[London Game] Baltimore Ravens (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles has won his last two starts in Wembley. If he likes London so much, maybe the team can leave him there after the game, because Baltimore’s D is going to throttle this Jacksonville offense. When the Jags fell behind big to Tennessee in Week 2, they had to put away their run game and revert back to the passing attack that has sunk them for the last three seasons. Baltimore has jumped out to big halftime leads in each of their first two games, while the defense already has 10 takeaways on the year. Expect that number to jump even higher against the ever-generous Bortles.
Pick: Ravens (-4)
Denver Broncos (-3) at Buffalo Bills
The scrappy Bills nearly pulled out the win in Carolina (9-3), but their last gasp drive fell short. They won’t have a shot at a game-winning drive if they only put up three points this weekend, though, not against MVP favorite Trevor Siemian. Jokes aside, the Denver offense is shockingly effective, while the Buffalo offense is shockingly reliant on LeSean McCoy. The Broncos had Ezekiel Elliott praying for his suspension to come into effect, and McCoy may be in for a similar day.
Pick: Broncos (-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) at Chicago Bears
How many times have we seen the Steelers outright lose this game? Pittsburgh rolls into the house of a severely over-matched opponent looking unstoppable on both sides of the ball then … bam! A bunch of turnovers, a Big Ben injury, or just an avalanche of stupid plays, and they get blown out by a bad team. It happened in Philly and Miami last season, and I have an eerie feeling it could happen here too. The Bears D will get help stopping Le’Veon Bell from the awful Soldier Field turf, and a Mike Glennon desperate to keep his job will have to push the ball downfield, or cede control of the offense. (If you’re convinced the Steelers will roll here, though, then I’d suggest taking John Fox as first coach fired. An ass-whooping here followed by a short-week trip to Lambeau is a resignation letter more blatant than burning “fire me” into Virginia McCaskey’s lawn.)
Pick: Bears (+7.5)
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-6)
The Saints D couldn’t stop bad breath in a mouthwash factory, but there’s no way anyone who’s watched the Panthers offense play the last two weeks can feel comfortable picking the team to cover such a big spread, especially now that tight end Greg Olsen is out with a broken foot.
Pick: Saints (+6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
No line will be available for this game until Sam Bradford’s status becomes clear(er), but the drop off to Case Keenum should be worth about five points. Regardless of whether it’s Tampa -2 or +3, the Buccaneers’ encouraging start to the season makes them tough to ignore here. Offensively, they were productive on the ground and through the air against Chicago, and defensively, they showed they will come out and punch you in the mouth. Minnesota will be in tough regardless of who’s under center.
Cleveland Browns (-1) at Indianapolis Colts
At least the NFL can say they didn’t put the worst game on Thursday Night. Any time you have two poop-tastic teams like this going head-to-head, siding with the points is a solid strategy, especially when the Browns are the road favorite. Without doing any research, I’m guessing that hasn’t happened since the Bush administration (the first one). The Colts weren’t a complete trainwreck under Jacoby Brissett last week, losing 16-13 to Arizona in OT, while Cleveland’s most successful drives were led by backup QB Kevin Hogan after DeShone Kizer suffered a migraine.
Pick: Colts (+1)
Miami Dolphins (-6) at New York Jets
Miami wasn’t dominant after a Week 1 bye like Tampa, but they played mistake-free football, which is typically not something you associate with Jay Cutler teams. Whether they can keep that up this week is irrelevant. You can make upwards of 20 mistakes and still beat the Jets.
Picks: Dolphins (-6)
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-13)
Injuries have the New England Patriots looking vulnerable at home for their Week 3 showdown with the Texans, just like last season. But Vegas isn’t making the mistake of doubting the Pats again, giving Tom Brady and his cast of JV receivers the biggest spread of the week. While Bill Belichick has never had trouble finding success with the “next man up,” it’s worth noting that Houston’s D gave a healthy New England offense a heap of trouble last postseason. Having removed the Brock Osweiler factor (which contributes at least six points to the opposition), the Texans can cover in this spot.
Pick: Texans (+13)
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Detroit Lions
The best game of the one o’clock window should be an absolute track meet between two of the NFC’s three remaining unbeaten squads. On the turf of Mercedes Benz Stadium, the Falcons offense looked like the explosive unit we saw all last year, while the Lions have had excellent outings against strong Cardinals and Giants defenses. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to gauge the performance of Detroit’s defense just yet. One of the worst units last year, the Lions managed to stop Carson Palmer and Eli Manning in Weeks 1 and 2, holding Arizona and New York to just 26 points combined; based off how those QBs have looked in this short season, Detroit got a big assist from father time. Against an in-his-prime Matt Ryan, the Lions won’t have the same success.
Pick: Falcons (-3)
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)
It’s Week 2, and already I’m waving the white flag on New York’s offense. They can’t block, either in the pass or run game. When Eli Manning does get a window to throw, he’s regularly missing receivers. Even when he’s on target, his wideouts are dropping balls. The Eagles look like the only team in the NFC East without a glaring flaw at the moment, and a win here goes a long way to taking a stranglehold in the division.
Pick: Eagles (-5)
Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Every problem that was just listed with the Giants also applies to Seattle. Russell Wilson can make plays with his legs, but a Super Bowl-caliber offense can’t rely on that alone. Before the season, this game looked like an opportunity for the Titans to make a big statement. Now that statement has been reduced to, “we’re capable of scoring more than 15 points.”
Pick: Titans (-2.5)
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Los Angeles Chargers
This line looks a little low. I thought any average home team was usually favored by three? Kansas City once again looks like one of the AFC’s best teams, while the Chargers look like a franchise that broke a truckload of mirrors over a gypsy’s back. For Younghoe Koo’s sake, I hope that the Chiefs just demolish Los Angeles this weekend. Recent history would suggest that’s how it will play out, with Kansas City winning six-straight against the Bolts, including the last five by four or more points.
Pick: Chiefs (-3)
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers (-9)
The Packers, who headed to Atlanta down their two starting tackles, left Sunday night’s game hurting even more, losing Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Mike Daniels during their Week 2 loss. The Bengals could be catching a huge break here, although based on their play so far, they’ll still fumble away that opportunity. Cincinnati has yet to score a touchdown, has had no success running the ball, and is sporting a -5 turnover differential. Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor now takes over the reigns of the offense from ousted OC Ken Zampese. It can’t get much worse, and Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis need a strong effort here to turn down the heat under their respective seats. So, despite all evidence to the contrary, I think the Bengals will keep this game competitive.
Pick: Bengals (+9)
Oakland Raiders (-3) at Washington
The rare Super Bowl XVIII rematch takes center stage this week, and it should be an interesting test for both teams. Washington took the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands last week and placed their trust in the run game to great effect. They rolled up 229 rushing yards on the Rams, and despite losing “Fat” Rob Kelley, it’s a strategy they can replicate against Oakland, as Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson picked up where Fat Rob left off.
Running the ball is the best way to limit the impact of Khalil Mack on defense. However, Washington may not be able to keep pace with the Raiders’ quick-strike offense unless they let Cousins sling it. Oakland has looked like one of the league’s best through two weeks, so I’ll side with them here, especially given Washington’s bad track record in primetime games.
Pick: Raiders (-3)
Monday, September 25
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
In the Cards first home game of the season, will we hear chants for Drew Stanton? Arizona barely escaped lowly Indianapolis with a win, and although Carson Palmer was credited with a fourth-quarter comeback, he was also the main reason they found themselves in a hole. Dallas was dealt a ton of injuries to its secondary against Denver, and I still have no confidence that Palmer can take advantage. Take the Cowboys to put forth a strong bounce-back effort.
Pick: Cowboys (-3)