Week 2 of my NFL picks started slow with a pair of losses in the two early afternoon games. Then the bounces broke my way with the Broncos and Falcons covering as short home favorites, and the Browns covering in an obvious selection because the line was set at 2.5 before Sam Darnold was ruled out.
My picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
Looks like there are a lot of solid contest options this week. My thoughts on the Week 3 slate are below.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line. I will tweet from @natejacobson1 when I have a change in opinion on a game. I will also discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show starts an hour before college football games kickoff on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on the Stadium Periscope channel or the Stadium Twitter account.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Bengals (+6) over Bills: For the third straight week I’m going to take the Bengals. In this case, it’s more of a play against the Buffalo Bills rather than wanting to bet on Cincinnati. The Bills have started the season 2-0, but asking them to cover a point spread like this is too much to ask in their home opener. The road wins to start the season were against the Jets and Giants in the same stadium, and both New York teams are rated in the bottom tier of the NFL. Buffalo is now overvalued in my opinion and Cincinnati will bounce back after a tough showing against San Francisco in Week 2.
Saints (+4) over Seahawks: There were two major quarterback injuries in Week 2 that impacted the Week 3 odds and this is one of them. Drew Brees injured his thumb against the Rams and will be sidelined six weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. Teddy Bridgewater struggled in relief, but he’s an experienced NFL quarterback that will have more success with a full week to practice with the starting offense. I like backing NFL teams the game after they lose a key player to injury because usually the players elevate their play for at least one week. I would expect a spirited effort from New Orleans against a Seattle team that I still don’t believe in.
Sides I’ll likely use
Broncos (+7.5) over Packers: This is a great situational spot to fade the Packers. They beat two divisional foes in the Bears and Vikings, and next week they host a Super Bowl contender in the Eagles on Thursday night. I can see Green Bay overlooking an out-of-conference opponent who’s still searching for their first win. Another factor I like with the Broncos is Head Coach Vic Fangio’s familiarity with scheming against Aaron Rodgers after spending the last four seasons as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator. Green Bay started the season 2-0, but their offense is averaging 4.3 yards per play, which is 30th in the NFL after two weeks. The Packers offense can’t be trusted to cover over a touchdown point spread.
Steelers (+6.5) over 49ers: The other game with a dramatic point spread change was this one after Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out for the season. Mason Rudolph is his replacement, and he threw for 112 yards and two touchdowns during the second half of Week 2 against the Seahawks. This is another situation where I think the Steelers will rise to the occasion and play a spirited game in Roethlisberger’s absence. The Steelers traded their 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick so the organization still has faith that the team can compete this season. I would’ve preferred if this line was +7, but it certainly would fall into my top five picks at this contest number.
Picks I’m considering
Lions (+6) over Eagles: The Lions could be a sneaky undervalued team playing in a competitive division. I’m not sold on Matt Patricia as a head coach, but Matthew Stafford is a solid quarterback when healthy. The Eagles have a cluster of injuries at wide receiver and Carson Wentz appears to still be shaking off the rust from the injury that ended his 2018 season. The line has moved in Detroit’s favor because of the injuries, so even though it’s not the best number, I would lean toward Detroit.
Chiefs (-6.5) over Ravens: I can see the public gravitating towards the Ravens here after their dismantling of the Dolphins and getting past the Cardinals last week. Football fans and fantasy players are in love with Lamar Jackson with good reason. However, fantasy is different from betting and the reality is the Ravens played the two teams with the lowest regular season win totals entering the season. Baltimore really has to step up in class in this game and I can only look towards Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in their home opener.
Chargers (-3) over Texans: The Chargers are coming off an unlucky loss and should have a huge matchup advantage with their defensive line against Houston’s suspect offensive line. The Texans are a team I want to continue to sell after beating Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars only 13-12 at home last week. I’m always unsure about laying points with the Chargers in their MLS-sized home stadium, but that’s where I lean as of now.
Browns (+3) over Rams: I went against the Rams in Week 1 on the road and I’m going to do the same here. Jared Goff and the Rams offense is much better at home than away and this is a massive game for the Browns on a Sunday night. Cleveland hasn’t looked good to start the season, but their play has been factored into this number. I can only consider the Browns at this number because I believe they will show improvement on offense and play well on defense.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Falcons at Colts (-1.5): I think this line is exactly what it should be. The Falcons are a slightly better team but the Colts have the home-field advantage. It’s a stay-away in the contest, but I would suggest teasing the Falcons to +7.5 if you can.
Raiders at Vikings (-8.5): The team to pair the Falcons with in a teaser is the Vikings at -2.5 or less. The Vikings will win this game, but I’m not sure if they will cover a number like this coming off the loss to the Packers and a massive division game against the Bears in Week 4.
Giants at Buccaneers (-6.5): I would’ve considered the Buccaneers in this game, but the Giants wisely are benching Eli Manning for Daniel Jones. I’m going to stay away because I don’t trust Jameis Winston giving so many points.
Bears (-4) at Redskins: The Bears are 29th in yards per play, as their offense has labored through the first two games. However, I want no part of the Redskins after losses to the Eagles and Cowboys.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Titans (-1.5) at Jaguars: I don’t like taking Thursday night games in contests to begin with and don’t think I would have an opinion if this game was played on a Sunday afternoon.
Jets at Patriots (-22.5): Out of principal I can’t bet on a three-touchdown favorite in the NFL. But the Jets are currently on my “do not bet” list.
Dolphins at Cowboys (-21.5): See above.
Panthers (-3) at Cardinals: I could elevate this game if Cam Newton doesn’t play and the line moves drastically.
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