After a week that saw us get brutalized as much as the rest of the NFL betting population last week, NFL’s Week 3 provides an opportunity for us to get back on track. To recap how bad last week was for everybody: the 10 most popular team picks in the Vegas Super Contest went a total of 2-8. Pretty much no one had a good week. However, there is plenty to like this week, at least on paper.
As always, remember that we’re ballin’ on a budget, so we have $20 to spend and we’re hoping to spend it wisely on five more games this week. We’re chasing our losses from last week, but that won’t be the case for long. This week, instead of going with three spreads and two over/unders, we’re going with four spreads and just one over/under. Without further adieu, away we go …
Ballin’ on a budget week 3 picks
That extra half point is a fickle beast and I debated including this pick in the Week 3 column for that exact reason. With this game being in Washington, there are plenty of scenarios we could see play out where the Packers win by a single field goal and we lose this bet. However, after a frustrating game against the Vikings that they should have won, the Packers should be out for blood in their first road game of the year.
Aaron Rodgers may be on one leg, but he’s better than nearly every other quarterback in the league even with that being the case. Washington showed against the Colts that they are potentially inept on offense without any go-to playmakers. Alex Smith isn’t likely to turn the ball over, but the offense is also more likely to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, which is reason enough to take Green Bay even money at -3.5 instead of -3. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.
Don’t get me wrong, the Vikings will win this game handily, but 17.5 points in the NFL is a ton. You’re telling me Minnesota has to win by at least three scores to cover the spread. Is that possible? Of course. Is it likely? I don’t think so. Buffalo gets to play indoors and on turf and while they’re facing one of the best defenses in the league, they should be able to move the ball enough, if LeSean McCoy is healthy, to stay within 17 points.
At this point, it appears the Bills and Cardinals are the two worst teams in the league. Most would probably rank the Vikings as one of the best. On any given Sunday, though, I’m not giving the best team in football 17.5 points on the worst team in football. Minnesota could cover, but this line seems like an overreaction to the Bills’ comically bad start. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.61.
This is a real test for Seattle and it might define the rest of Pete Carroll’s tenure with the Seahawks. They sit at 0-2 after losing to two average teams in the Broncos and Bears. Both those games were on the road, though, and they finally get some home cooking in Week 3. This is a huge deal as Seattle traditionally has been an elite home team and an average road team. Over the last four seasons, the Seahawks are a combined 23-9 at home and 18-15-1 on the road.
Dallas is riding high off a 20-13 win over the Giants, whose offensive line looked terrible on Sunday Night Football. Nothing happened in that game to convince me that Dak Prescott is any better than an average quarterback, so he’s not single-handedly going to torch Seattle. Ezekiel Elliott might. The Seahawks’ biggest problem is they don’t have the number of playmakers on that defense that they used to and the offense is banged up. In the end, this game is do or die for Seattle. While they may not make the playoffs this season, they will keep some hope alive by turning away the visiting Cowboys Sunday. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.73.
With this bet being even money, there’s great value here. Carolina is back at home and in the last few years, we haven’t really seen the Bengals sustain any type of success. Cincinnati has not won three games in a row since it won its first eight games of the 2015 season. We know they will be without starting running back, Joe Mixon, which is a huge deal. Giovanni Bernard is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, but he’s simply not the same playmaker, every-down back Mixon is.
Carolina showed flashes on offense against the Falcons and being back in a comfortable home environment should help them. They know the NFC South is going to be as tough as always to win and a victory at home this week is vital. Getting that field goal advantage on the line is great, because it allows you some breathing room to earn a push if they do win by just three. The bet: $5 for total payout of $10.
You might look at this and scratch your head as the Chiefs just played in a game against the Steelers that reached 79 total points last week. Meanwhile, the 49ers reached a total of exactly 57 in their 30-27 win over the Lions on Sunday. San Francisco’s defense is nothing to write home about, but they have an extra week of film on rookie QB Patrick Mahomes that may take him down a notch. Kansas City’s defense is also pretty stout; they gave up a ton of points to the Steelers, because Pittsburgh was playing catch up and K.C. was playing bend-don’t-break defense.
You’d expect this game to be close, although through two games, I’m still not sure how good either of these two teams is. The Chiefs are at home, so you probably give them the nod in the game, but this has the feel of a 24-17 game, which leaves us 16 points beneath the under with plenty of wiggle room in case the game is a little more offensive than anticipated. This looks like the biggest lock of the week. The bet: $6 for total payout of $11.45.
Bonus picks: A couple other picks I like this week, but am not confident enough in to officially include in the column are: Colts +6.5 at Eagles (-110) and Jets-Browns over 39.5 (-110). Indy has looked good through two games and are visiting an Eagles team coming off a road loss to the Buccaneers. Carson Wentz is back under center for Philly, but how effective will he be? That’s a legitimate question mark and enough to make you consider taking the Colts as almost a touchdown dog. If that line moves up to +7 jump all over it.
In the Jets-Browns game, there’s plenty of reason not to bet. Reason No. 1 would be that you have to watch the game. After that, though, there’s actually plenty of reason to bet this over. Let’s say we anticipate a close game: 23-20 or 27-20 is entirely within the realm of possibility. Each of those types of scores would get us our over. We do run the risk that one of these offenses lays a complete egg, but with an over/under so low, it’s hard to resist taking the over. Plus, that will give you something to root for in an otherwise forgettable Thursday Night game.
Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.