New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

New York Jets (1-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

One of my favorite things to do as a bettor is go against significant week-to-week line movements. This game has a significant one, as the Chiefs were favored by 4 points on the early line, but the line has since dropped to 3, as a result of the Jets’ upset victory in the road in Buffalo last week. That might not seem like a huge movement, as it’s only one point, but about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so that point matters. The line movement is also a bit of an overreaction, as the Bills are not a good opponent, so the Jets’ road win isn’t that noteworthy. It’s definitely not noteworthy enough to warrant a significant line movement.

This line now suggests these two teams are even. That’s not far off, but I think the Chiefs are a little bit better going into this game, especially with Brandon Marshall on a snap count for the Jets, due to a knee injury. I had the Chiefs ranked a little bit higher coming into the season than the Jets and I haven’t seen anything through 2 games to suggest I was wrong about either of these teams. I don’t have a strong lean either way, but I’m taking the Chiefs. This could easily be a field goal push though.

Kansas City Chiefs 20 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -3

Confidence: None

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Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Both of these two teams were high on my underrated list going into the season. The Titans have so far exceeded expectations, not just winning last week on the road in Detroit, but also moving the chains at a higher rate than their opponent in both games. They enter this contest 13th in rate of moving the chains differential (RMCD). Their loss was at home to the Vikings by 9, but the Titans actually outplayed Minnesota for most of the game, outside of two offensive plays that ended up going for defensive touchdowns the other way. That was the difference in the game, but return touchdowns allowed tend to be more fluky plays rather than something that’s a long-term problem.

Meanwhile, the Raiders haven’t had a terrible start to the season, but aren’t playing like I expected. A solid defense last season, which added a significant amount of talent in the off-season, the Raiders’ defense has been the worst in the league through 2 games this season. Their offense has carried them, as they rank 1st in rate of moving the chains so far, but this is not a team I expected to be in a lot of shootouts. Their opponents in the first two games (New Orleans and Atlanta) are teams I expected to be in a lot of shootouts though, so it’s very likely the Raiders defense looks significantly better going forward, while their offense falls back down to earth. I don’t expect them to get in a shootout with the Titans, who aren’t built for shootouts either.

Whether or not the Raiders are good enough to be the #2 seed in the AFC, as I had them before the season, remains to be seen and this game in Tennessee is tougher than people realize, because the Titans are not a bad team. They only won 3 games last season, but that was largely because of injuries (particularly to quarterback Marcus Mariota) and close losses. They added a lot of talent this off-season, both rookies through the draft and veterans through trades and free agency, and are at least an average football team. This week, they get Derrick Morgan back from injury, though talented tight end Delanie Walker is highly questionable. As long as this line is under a field goal, I’m taking the Raiders to beat a quality opponent on the road, but I’m not confident enough to put anything on it.

Oakland Raiders 19 Tennessee Titans 16

Pick against the spread: Oakland -1

Confidence: Low

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Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2)

One of my favorite things to do as a bettor is go against significant week-to-week line movements. This game has a significant one, as the Saints were favored by 4 points on the early line, but the line has since dropped to 3, as a result of Atlanta’s upset victory in the road in Oakland last week. That might not seem like a huge movement, as it’s only one point, but about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so that point matters. The Saints are also in a better spot than the Falcons, as the Falcons have to turn around and host the Panthers on a short week next week, after this Monday Night contest. Teams are 51-93 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 4, as tough upcoming home games like that tend to be a distraction.

Despite that, I’m actually going with the Falcons here, though for a no confidence play. This line suggests these two teams are even, but that’s only true if both of them are healthy. The Saints are already missing their two starting cornerbacks (Delvin Breaux and PJ WIlliams) for an extended period of time and are giving significant snaps to a pair of undrafted rookie cornerbacks (Ken Crawley and De’vante Harris). On top of that, they’re still without rookie first round pick Sheldon Rankins, one of their best defensive lineman. On the offensive side of things, left tackle Terron Armstead, one of the best in the league, is expected to miss this one. The Falcons, meanwhile, are relatively healthy, so they’re the pick here as long as we’re getting the full field goal with them.

New Orleans Saints 26 Atlanta Falcons 24

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +3

Confidence: None

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Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (2-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-1)

The Vikings are 2-0, but actually have allowed their opponents to move the chains at a higher rate than they have in both games. Their 2-0 record is largely the result of a +5 turnover margin and a +2 return touchdown margin, two things that tend to be very tough to rely on every week. They’re just 29th in rate of moving the chains differential, despite their record. Sam Bradford seems to have picked up the offense quickly, but he’s a limited passer, without much in the way of weapons aside from Stefon Diggs, and with a below average offensive line in front of him, especially with Matt Kalil going on injured reserve. Running back Adrian Peterson is also going on injured reserve and, even though he wasn’t running well and even though Jerick McKinnon is a very talented backup, Peterson obviously will be missed. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Xavier Rhodes is expected to return and make his season debut, but defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd remains out.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are still one of the best teams in the NFL and could easily be 2-0 if not for a Graham Gano missed field goal week 1 in Denver. They’re also in a much better spot, with an easy game on deck (Atlanta), while the Vikings are coming off of a huge home upset victory over the Packers. Teams are 81-58 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 4+ (which the Panthers likely will be next week), while teams are just 49-75 ATS off of a win as home underdogs since 2012. There’s not enough for me to take the Panthers with an sort of confidence this week though, as this line is all the way up to 7, after being at 5.5 last week on the early line, but they’re the pick in pick ‘em pools.

Carolina Panthers 24 Minnesota Vikings 16

Pick against the spread: Carolina -7

Confidence: None

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San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

The Seahawks’ offense has struggled mightily through the first two games of the season, producing just one touchdown and moving the chains at a 63.93% rate. Only Minnesota, Houston, and Los Angeles are moving the chains at a lower rate than the Seahawks. The Seahawks’ defense remains strong, but this line is 9.5 points so their offense is going to need to perform significantly better for the Seahawks at cover as favorites. So why has their offense been so uncharacteristically bad? Well, they have probably the best receiving corps of any Seahawks team in the Russell Wilson era, but they also have probably the worst offensive line in the NFL and haven’t been able to establish the run like they’re used to. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, has dealt with an ankle sprain that has limited his running ability through 2 games and likely has also limited him as a passer.

Wilson getting healthy would go a long way towards fixing this offense and he figures to be at least somewhat healthier this week. This offense would also be helped by Christine Michael taking the running back job and running with it. He’s only out-carried Thomas Rawls 25-19 through 2 games, but has averaged 5.04 yards per carry to 1.32 yards per carry for Rawls, who is not all the way back from the broken leg that ended his season in 2015. Rawls is not expected to play this week after a setback, so Michael could have a strong game against the 49ers, which would obviously be huge. However, their offensive line is going to remain a problem all season and the 49ers have a promising young defense that has played well thus far this season.

The 49ers are also in a good spot in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 131-95 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 106-64 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation.  This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 226-229 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 325-444 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.79 points per game. I couldn’t put any money on them, but the 49ers should be the right side.

Seattle Seahawks 17 San Francisco 49ers 9

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +9.5

Confidence: Low

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Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0)

This is one I wish I locked in earlier this week, when the Redskins were 4.5 point underdogs. Massive sharp bets have dropped this line to 3.5 or even 3 in some places, so we’ve lost all line value with the Redskins. Unless you can get the key number of 4 or better, this game isn’t worth betting, but the Redskins should be the right side as long as the line is at least a field goal. The Redskins are in a pair of good spots this week, as 0-2 teams that made the playoffs the previous season cover about 2/3rds of the time week 3. On top of that, teams that have back-to-back home games to open their season are 42-30 ATS week 3 on the road, as they’ve had to travel less than their opponents. The Redskins should be able to keep this game close and have a chance to win straight up, but this line isn’t high enough for this to be anything more than a low confidence pick.

New York Giants 23 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Washington +3.5

Confidence: Low

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Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 3 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

These two teams have had opposite starts to the season schedule wise. While the Broncos were home for their first 2 games, the Cincinnati opened the season on the road against the Jets and Steelers. That hurts Cincinnati’s chances here in this week 3 matchup, as they’ve had to travel much more than their opponents. Teams are 24-46 ATS since 1989 in a week 3 home opener, while teams that start the season with back-to-back home games are 42-30 ATS in their first road game of the season week 3. Combining the two, teams are just 3-10 ATS a week 3 home opener if their opponent opened the season with back-to-back home games.

On top of that, the Bengals have to turn around and play a Thursday Night game in 4 days after this game, with the Miami Dolphins coming to town. Favorites are just 50-71 ATS before Thursday Night Football, since 2008, as upcoming short weeks like that tend to be a distraction for teams. Despite all of this and the fact that close to 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less, the Bengals are favored by 3.5 points here against a team that’s at least comparable in talent to them, if not better. It’s worth putting money on 3.5 because this could easily be a field goal game, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos won straight up here.

Cincinnati Bengals 17 Denver Broncos 16

Pick against the spread: Denver +3.5

Confidence: Medium

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