NFL Week 3 Betting Preview & Picks

Sep 21, 2018
NFL Week 3 Betting Preview & Picks

By halftime of the Thursday night game, one thing crossed my mind that I'm sure many could relate to:

Why the hell did I lay points with the Browns?

One of the key reasons why I picked Cleveland, however, is because the Jets were playing their third game in 11 days. Even if the game was close at halftime, I was banking on New York running out of gas in the second half. Home teams also typically benefit from playing on Thursday night because the road team gets even less time to recover and prepare. It was science.

But it was still the Browns. And now No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield was being thrust into action. And I’m laying points...with Cleveland, of all teams.

It worked out. For at least one night, Mayfield justified Cleveland’s decision to take him with the first overall pick ahead of, among others, Jets’ signal-caller Sam Darnold. Despite playing in his first regular season game, Mayfield was quick with his decisions, fired lasers to receivers (when they weren't dropping passes) and played with more (good) recklessness than the conservative Tyrod Taylor, who left the game due to a concussion.

Best of all, thanks to the Browns’ game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Cleveland covered the three points. It was a good start to Week 3 and a great start to the season, as I’m not 9–3 with my picks for

Here’s what I like for Sunday:

467 New Orleans Saints at 468 Atlanta Falcons

  • Point Spread: Falcons -3
  • O/U: 53.5
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday

Line Movement

The Falcons opened as 4-point home favorites but the line was bet down to the important number of 3 at most online and Vegas sports books. The total also dropped from the original number, moving from 54.5 down to 53.5.

Public Betting

The Falcons are drawing most of the betting tickets, but not by much (51 percent). Meanwhile, the Saints are attracting 87 percent of the money wagered on this game, which could be an indication of sharp players jumping on the underdog. As for the total, 69 percent of the betting tickets and 89 [percent of the money is on the over.

Key Injuries

Saints guard Andrus Peat (ankle), tackle Terron Armstead (knee), and receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) were limited in practice earlier this week but are expected to play. Linebacker Manti Te’o, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, and receiver Tommylee Lewis did not practice, however, and could miss Sunday’s matchup in Atlanta.

For the Falcons, linebacker Deion Jones, safety Keanu Neal, running back Devonta Freeman and guard Andy Levitre are all out (Neal, Jones and Levitre are all on injured reserve). Pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley and defensive end Derrick Shelby are both dealing with groin injuries but McKinley returned to practice on Friday and should play Sunday.


The home team is 9–4 against the spread in the last 13 meetings between these two teams but the underdog has cashed in seven of the last nine meetings. The under is also 7–2 in the last nine games between the Saints and Falcons in Atlanta and is 7-3-1 in the last 11 games played in this series overall.


The Saints burned bettors in the first two weeks of the season, losing outright as a 10-point home favorite versus the Bucs and then failed to cover as a 9.5-point home fave last week in a narrow win over the Browns. That said, now is a perfect time to hop on New Orleans’ ATS bandwagon.

The Falcons put together a gritty performance versus the Panthers last Sunday but they’re one of the most banged-up teams in the league right now. Losing Jones and Neal were bad enough, but if McKinley and Shelby are hobbled then the Falcons’ pass rush would be limited to stud Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley, who hasn’t come close to making the same impact as he did two years ago when he led the league in sacks.

I expect Drew Brees and Sean Payton to attack the middle of Dan Quinn’s defense, which is where former LSU product Duke Riley is now stationed. Riley struggled last week subbing for Jones and now he has the unenviable task of setting up a defense that will face Brees, Michael Thomas and the dynamic Alvin Kamara. Good luck, Duke.

The jury is still out on New Orleans defense, which rebounded from an ugly Week 1 performance versus the Bucs, but benefitted playing a Browns offense that has struggled. That said, Matt Ryan struggled against the Saints last year and Julio Jones grew frustrated trying to create separation versus New Orleans’ young cornerbacks, specifically Marshon Lattimore.

If the Falcons were healthy, there would be value in the home team laying only a field goal. But given the current state of Atlanta’s defense, I love the Saints catching the points. They feel undervalued here.

Pick: Saints +3

479 San Francisco 49ers at 480 Kansas City Chiefs

  • Spread: Chiefs -6.5
  • O/U: 55
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday

Line Movement

The Chiefs opened as a 4.5-point home favorite in this matchup but the line has climbed to 6.5 at most sportsbooks. The total has also climbed, jumping from 52.5 up to 55.

Public Betting

Bettors are jumping on the opportunity to back the 2–0 Chiefs, who also covered the point spread in their victories, and as underdogs no less. As of Friday morning, 66 percent of the betting tickets are on the Chiefs and 51 percent of the money wagered on this matchup is also on Kansas City.

Key Injuries

The 49ers have a couple of defensive backs banged-up, including cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) who are questionable. Right guard Joshua Garnett (foot) and receiver Marquise Goodwin (quad) could also miss the game for San Francisco as well.

As for the Chiefs, safety Eric Berry (heel) is out. Defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) and linebacker Ben Niemann (hamstring) could be as well. Bad news for the Niners: KC’s offense is fully healthy.


The home team is 5–1 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams. The Niners have covered the spread in seven of their last 10 road games dating back to last season while the Chiefs are a perfect 6–0 against the number in their last six games played in September.


Far be it for me to fade the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs but one thing I look for in both pro and college is taking an underdog in a potential shootout. Oddsmakers can’t set the total high enough in Chiefs games and with the over/under sitting at 55, there’s no question this is going to be a shootout on Sunday.

If we can agree that this matchup will offer points galore, we can also agree that defense will be optional. Why lay nearly a touchdown on the favorite when the favorite will be hemorrhaging points as well?

For as great as Patrick Mahomes and Co. has looked in the first two weeks, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Chiefs defense is a sieve. While Andy Reid owns the best offense in the NFL, his defense also ranks dead last in DVOA, worse than the 49ers, who are receiving points.

Jimmy Garoppolo is off to a slow start but he also faced the Vikings stout defense in Week 1. Despite losing Jerrick McKinnon to injury before the season, Matt Breida and Alfred Morris have picked up the slack in the running game and we know Kyle Shanahan can scheme a good passing attack. I have no reservations about San Francisco scoring this weekend at Arrowhead, especially against this defense. I’m taking the points.

Pick: 49ers +7 (buy the hook or wait for the line to jump to a touchdown)

485 Dallas Cowboys at 486 Seattle Seahawks

  • Spread: Seahawks -1
  • O/U: 41
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday

Line Movement

The Seahawks opened as a field-goal favorite but after losing to the Bears on Monday night, the line dropped to 1. The total also dropped, moving from 44.5 down to 41.

Public Betting

While only 51 percent of the betting tickets are on the Seahawks, 70 percent of the money is on Seattle. The majority of the tickets (64 percent) and money (66 percent) are also on the under.

Key Injuries

The Cowboys should have Cole Beasley (ankle) after he practiced on Thursday. Sean Lee (hamstring), Datone Jones (knee), Xavier Woods (hamstring) and defensive end Randy Gregory (concussion) should all play as well. That said, center Travis Frederick (illness) remains out.

Good news for the Seahawks: Bobby Wagner (groin) is expected to return after missing Monday night’s game against the Bears. KJ Wright (knee), however, is still out and Doug Baldwin (knee) will miss another game as well.


The underdog is 5–0 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams while the Cowboys are 7–3 against the number in their last 10 games against the Seahawks. Dallas also hasn’t been afraid of playing in Seattle either, as the ‘Boys are 4–1 at the betting window in their last five road games versus the Seahawks.


The Seahawks offense looks ugly. Brian Schottenheimer was hired as the team’s new offensive coordinator, in part, to fix the running game, but he has been as predictable in his play-calling as he was with the Rams and Jets earlier in this career. It’s fine to commit to the running game but being predictable on early downs only puts your quarterback in a bad spot. That’s what has happened to Russell Wilson, who once again is running for his life behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines.

That said, I do like the Seahawks in this spot. Wilson had to face Von Miller in Week 1 and Khalil Mack in Week 2. While the Cowboys have played well defensively the first two weeks of the season, they don’t have one of the best pass-rushers in the league like Denver and Chicago. Wilson will still be running for his life but he’s going to make plays.

Don’t underestimate the return of Wagner to Seattle’s defense, either. The Seahawks are a shell of their former selves defensively but Wagner still makes a significant difference. While the Cowboys looked much better last Sunday night against the Giants than they did in Carolina Week 1, their offense lacks weapons on the perimeter and not having Frederick anchoring their line is problematic.

Pete Carroll doesn’t have the roster that he did over the past four years but he still has Wilson and Seattle remains one of the best home-field environments in the NFL. The ‘Hawks are also desperate after starting the year 0–2, so I’m laying the point.

Pick: Seahawks -1

Season Records

  • Week 1: 5–0
  • Week 2: 3–2
  • Week 3: 1–0
  • Overall: 9–2

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images.

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