Week 3 was my personal best of the season in this young year.
I went 4-1 with my top five picks and 1-1 with my other two. There was a lot of injury news last week, which led to line movement on several games. I decided Sunday morning to pivot off the Chiefs and Browns, and go with the Jets and Chargers in the contest in which I pick seven sides.
That being said, it’s vital not to lock into a pick too early in the week and instead let the line movement between now and Sunday morning dictate some of your selections. The biggest advantage in my picks contest is that I’m able to choose games that have stale lines, so waiting as long as possible to make a selection is a smart strategy.
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.
After loving the Week 3 slate, I’m having trouble finding five games that I like (as of Thursday morning). This is going to be another week where I wait until late Saturday or early Sunday to finalize my card.
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 Stadium’s Periscope or Stadium’s Twitter.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Vikings (+1.5) over Bears: The simple handicap for this game is the Vikings are a better team and they are an underdog. That’s why this line moved quickly from Bears -3 to under a field goal early on Tuesday. The biggest factor in this game for me is revenge — the Bears defeated the Vikings twice last season, including ending Minnesota’s playoff hopes in Week 17 when Chicago had very little to play for. This is a game the Vikings will be focused in, and they have a defense that can expose Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Sides I’ll likely use
Buccaneers (+9.5) over Rams: The Bucs are coming off a brutal loss to the Giants where they squandered an 18-point lead at halftime and missed a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds that would’ve won the game. Coming off that loss, I think there is line value on Tampa Bay because this line would be much lower if they didn’t lose in such an embarrassing fashion. I also hate this scheduling spot for the Rams as they just played a primetime game on Sunday night against the Browns and have to travel to the rival Seahawks for a Thursday night matchup next week. I’m higher on the Buccaneers than most, and I really like them to bounce back with an offense that can keep up with the Rams.
Picks I’m considering
Panthers (+4.5) over Texans: I was impressed with Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, who led the Panthers to a 38-20 win in place of Cam Newton. While the game was against the Cardinals, who are allowing big numbers to opposing quarterbacks, Allen is a former five-star recruit who has more pedigree than the average backup NFL quarterback. I expect for the Panthers’ d-line to set the tone against the Texans’ offensive line.
Browns (+6.5) over Ravens: The Browns have been overvalued all year, but I think they’re being correctly priced now after a poor showing last Sunday night. As for the Ravens, they made the scoreboard look respectable against the Chiefs, only losing by five points, but they trailed by 17 points going into the fourth quarter before scoring late in the game. Baltimore’s only two wins are against the Dolphins and Cardinals, who are two of the worst teams in the NFL. The one thing holding me back from taking the Browns confidently is their banged-up secondary. I’ll keep an eye on the injury status for cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams before making the final call on this game.
Redskins (+3) over Giants: This is a borderline sixth or seventh pick for me because I don’t have much trust in the Redskins, but I’d consider them in this spot. The Giants are clearly better with Daniel Jones replacing Eli Manning, but I don’t think the contest line is factoring Saquon Barkley’s injury enough. Not many running backs impact the point spread in the NFL, but Barkley is definitely one of them. I can see Jones having a letdown game after rallying his team in his first start and the Redskins keeping it close if they can protect the football.
Colts (-6.5) over Raiders: The line feels a little light here, but it looks like some Colts injuries have kept it under a touchdown. Along with their lack of talent, the Raiders are playing their second-straight road game after getting drubbed by the Vikings last week. Oakland plays in London next week, so the travel schedule is something to worry about for the Raiders. The Colts also have a huge game on deck against the Chiefs next Sunday night, so they might be looking ahead to the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs.
Bills (+7) over Patriots: If I ended up on the Bills, it would be a contrarian play in a contest because I don’t think many people will be betting against the Pats. I have no interest in fading the Patriots, but I can see the Bills keeping this close in a low-scoring game.
Broncos (-3) over Jaguars: The Broncos are a very strong home team in September, and I’m not buying the Gardner Minshew hype after his strong performance last Thursday night. This line is trending towards Broncos -3.5 with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey likely out, so that could be enough to get me on the Broncos laying a field goal in my contest.
Saints (+2.5) over Cowboys: The Saints enter this game as a home underdog in a primetime game. Just out of principle, I have to use the Saints in this spot because I initially predicted that the line would be a pick ’em. Even if you aren’t sold on Saints backup QB Teddy Bridgewater challenging the undefeated ‘Boys, the line value is too much to pass up. I’m hoping this line gets to Cowboys -3 so I can make a wager on the Saints.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Eagles at Packers (-4): The math says the Eagles are the play here since the Pack’s offense is 28th in yards per play at 4.8. Green Bay also leads the league in turnover differential (+6), which is a pace that isn’t sustainable. However, the injured Eagles having to travel to Lambeau Field for Thursday Night Football makes me want to hold off.
Chiefs (-6.5) at Lions: I can see this game being the biggest split between professional bettors and the public with the pros siding with Detroit and the public continuing to ride the Kansas City train. I can make a case for both teams, so I’m going to pass.
Titans at Falcons (-4): I was high on the Falcons before the season, so I’m disappointed that they’re 1-2, including a loss to the Andrew Luck-less Colts. I can see the Falcons bouncing back at home, but I believe the Titans, coming off their dud in Jacksonville last Thursday night, will put up a strong fight behind their extra time to prepare.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Chargers (-15.5) at Dolphins: The case can be made for the Dolphins, but every Miami game is going to be in this section until I see them cover a game.
Seahawks (-5.5) at Cardinals: I agree with the line move getting the Seahawks up from -3 to -5.5, but I wouldn’t take them at this adjusted number.
Bengals at Steelers (-3.5): I’ve picked both teams in my contest and have bet on each of them in all three of their games this season. BUT I won’t be tempted on touching either side in this Monday Night Football matchup.
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