Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (1-0-1) at Washington Redskins (1-1)

The Redskins lost 21-9 at home to the Colts last week, but that game was closer than the final score. The Redskins won the first down battle 20 to 17 and the Colts only had 3 scoring drives, but they were 3 for 3 converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, while the Redskins were 0 for 2 and had to settle for 4 field goal attempts on the day (including a miss). The previous week, the Redskins were dominant in a week 1 road victory over the Arizona Cardinals, picking up 30 first downs and winning the first down rate battle by 14.59% in a 24-6 victory. Overall, they still rank 7th in the NFL in first down rate differential. Much healthier than a year ago, the Redskins are a solid team that should not be taken lightly, even after the result of last week’s game.

The Packers come into Washington as 3 point favorites, following their tie last week against the Minnesota Vikings. If Aaron Rodgers wasn’t dealing with an injury, this line might be appropriate, but he’s not 100% and could get knocked out of the game if he worsens the injury. I have this line calculated at Washington -1, so we’re getting good line value with +3. I don’t want to bet too heavily against Aaron Rodgers, but the Redskins will be a tough test for him on the road, given his injury situation.

Washington Redskins 30 Green Bay Packers 27 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Washington +3

Confidence: Medium

Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Last week, the Colts were 5.5 point underdogs in Washington. They ended up winning that game 21-9, and, as a result, they are now only 6.5 point underdogs in Philadelphia, even though the Eagles are significantly more talented than the Redskins and are getting Carson Wentz back from his ACL tear this week. The Colts outplayed a solid Redskins team last week, but the game was closer than the final score. The Redskins won the first down battle 20 to 17 and the Colts only had 3 scoring drives, but they were 3 for 3 converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, while the Redskins were 0-2 and had to settle for 4 field goal attempts on the day (including a miss).

This line suggests the Colts are only 3.5 points worse than the Eagles, so I think this line is too short. The Colts look better now than they did two weeks ago, with Andrew Luck clearly healthy under center and the emergence of second round rookie linebacker Darius Leonard on defense, but they still have one of the worst rosters outside of the quarterback position in the league, especially with the injuries they currently have: left tackle Anthony Castonzo, defensive tackle Denico Autry, cornerback Quincy Wilson, tight end Jack Doyle, and running back Marlon Mack.

The Eagles aren’t healthy either, with wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mike Wallace, running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan all sidelined, but getting Wentz back could easily push this team back to their 2017 form in a hurry. They weren’t healthy last season either, with Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks injured, both of whom have returned, but they still were the top team in the NFC, which they should compete to be again in 2018. They should beat a mediocre AFC team by more than a touchdown. If Wentz was a little bit more of a sure thing in his first game back, this would be my Pick of the Week, but there’s enough line value here even if Wentz is at less than his best.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -6.5

Confidence: High

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)

The Raiders have started 0-2, while the Dolphins have started 2-0, but I have the Raiders about a point better in my roster rankings. The Dolphins’ wins have come over the Jets and the primarily Blaine Gabbert led Titans, while the Raiders’ losses came against the Rams and Broncos. All 4 games these two teams have played have been competitive, with the one exception on the scoreboard being the Raiders’ loss to the Rams, but that game was close into the 4th quarter before late turnovers.

This line, favoring the Dolphins by 3.5 at home, suggests the opposite, that the Dolphins are a little bit better than the Raiders. That might have been the case before the Dolphins lost guard Josh Sitton, arguably their best offensive lineman, for the season with a shoulder injury. The free agent acquisition made their offensive line look passable for the first time in years in the opener and the Dolphins’ offensive line struggled mightily without him against the Jets.

This is also a much more important game for the Raiders than the Dolphins, so I expect them to be a lot more focused. While the Dolphins are already 2-0 and have arguably their biggest game of the season on deck, a trip to New England to face the Patriots, the Raiders are desperate for a win and don’t have any upcoming distractions, with only a home game against the Browns on deck. Underdogs are 78-44 ATS since 2014 before being favorites (which the Raiders will be next week) when their opponent will next be underdogs (which the Dolphins will be in New England). I wouldn’t take the Raiders at 3 because we’re not getting enough line value, but they’re worth a bet at 3.5. They should be able to keep this one close even if they can’t pull off the upset.

Oakland Raiders 27 Miami Dolphins 26 Upset Pick +145

Pick against the spread: Oakland +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

The Ravens lost in Cincinnati last week, but they remain overrated, favored by 5.5 points this week over the Broncos. The Ravens went 9-7 last season, finished 10th in first down rate, and had the best point differential (+92) of any team that missed the post-season, but they had the they had the benefit of facing 6 backup quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett, Brett Hundley, Matt Moore, Tom Savage, EJ Manuel, Case Keenum), all of whom except Keenum played terribly last season. Outside of games against backup quarterbacks and two games against the Browns, the Ravens went just 2-6 in 2017.

In 2018, the Ravens opened against a below backup caliber quarterback in Nathan Peterman and blew the Bills out 47-3 week 1, but then lost against a more competent opponent last week in Cincinnati. The Ravens return home this week, but the Broncos are a step up in talent from the Bengals. A 5-11 team a year ago, the Broncos stabilized the quarterback position with Case Keenum this off-season and have started 2-0. They haven’t faced that tough of a schedule, getting the Raiders and Seahawks at home, but I don’t think the Ravens are that much tougher, even if this one is on the road.

Already missing top cornerback Jimmy Smith with a suspension, the Ravens could be without arguably their two best defensive players, nose tackle Michael Pierce and middle linebacker CJ Mosley, who are highly questionable after missing practice all week. I have this line calculated at even and I think there’s a really good chance the Broncos at least keep it within the 5.5 points. This is my Pick of the Week.

Denver Broncos 24 Baltimore Ravens 23 Upset Pick +190

Pick against the spread: Denver +5.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

New England Patriots at Detroit Lions: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (1-1) at Detroit Lions (0-2)

The Patriots lost last week in Jacksonville, but they get a much easier game this week in Detroit. The Lions have gone 9-7 in back-to-back seasons, but they have finished with a negative first down rate differential both seasons. They’ve had a productive passing game, but have really struggled to run the ball and play defense. They fired head coach Jim Caldwell and replaced him with Bill Belichick understudy Matt Patricia to bring more toughness, but have gotten off to an 0-2 start and now get by far their toughest game of the season, after starting with the Jets and 49ers. The Lions have not been good against tougher competition in recent years, going just 1-11 against eventual playoff teams since 2016.

Despite their loss last week, the Patriots are still an obvious playoff caliber team, even with their receiving corps in flux with Julian Edelman suspended for the first 4 games. They added Josh Gordon this week and, even if he doesn’t play more than a quarter of the snaps as a decoy, he can impact this game because he shifts coverages. Their defense is not healthy, missing defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung with concussions, but the Lions are far from healthy either, with cornerback Darius Slay, right guard TJ Lang, and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah all highly questionable with injuries. The Patriots have also been great off of a loss in the Belichick era, going 47-24 ATS after a loss since 2000 (37-18 ATS with Tom Brady). I wish the Patriots were healthier, but they should be focused after the loss and they should be able to take care of business and win by more than a touchdown against an inferior team that has not fared well against higher level competition.

New England Patriots 37 Detroit Lions 27

Pick against the spread: New England -6.5

Confidence: Medium

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

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

This line is at 3, suggesting these two teams are about even. A couple weeks ago, that would have been true, but the Falcons have had serious injury losses early in the season, with running back Devonta Freeman, left guard Andy Levitre, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, linebacker Deion Jones, and safety Keanu Neal all going down in the first 2 weeks of the season. With the Falcons’ roster as it currently is, I have the Saints 5 points better than the Falcons, which would make this line around New Orleans -2.

The Saints have gotten off to a slow start, as they’ve failed to cover twice as big home favorites, losing to the Buccaneers week 1 and coming close to losing to the Browns week 2, which is probably why the line is where it is. I’m not that concerned though. Their schedule has been tougher than it originally looked, as the Buccaneers followed up their win with a win over the Saints, while the Browns could easily be 3-0 right now if they had a competent kicking unit.

The Saints have also typically gotten off to slow starts in recent years, going 2-12 ATS and 3-11 straight up in the first 2 weeks of the season since 2012, before going 50-38 ATS the rest of the year (4-2 ATS in week 3). It’s possible some of that slow start could carry over into this game, but I expect them to be completely focused for a big divisional game and they have the talent edge with the Falcons missing several key contributors. I’m not quite confident enough in the Saints for this to be my Pick of the Week this week, but this is too good of a number to pass on.

New Orleans Saints 33 Atlanta Falcons 30 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: New Orleans +3

Confidence: High

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

New York Jets (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)

The Jets got screwed by the schedulers early in the season, as they played a Monday night game week 1 and now have to play a Thursday night game week 3, their 3rd game in 11 days. This scheduling quirk has not happened often, but the track record of teams in that Thursday night game is not good, as they are just 5-8 ATS, finishing an average of 4 points behind the spread, including just 1-5 ATS in the last 6 instances. That record alone doesn’t prove anything, but it makes sense that the Jets would be a little bit more tired than the Browns this week.

Making matters worse, the Jets have to go on the road on a short week. Home teams understandably do better on short weeks than road teams and that’s especially true when you exclude games between familiar division opponents and games where the road team is significantly better than the home team. Non-divisional home favorites are 30-15 ATS on Thursday Night Football (with both teams on short rest) all-time. That’s the case here as the Jets are not a significantly better team than the Browns. I actually have the Browns a point better than the Jets in my rankings, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Browns as 3 point home favorites.

The Browns haven’t technically won a game yet, but they are clearly an improved team over last year, coming within a competent kicking unit of possibly being 2-0 against a pair of 2017 playoff teams. The Jets won big week 1 in Detroit, but finished with just the 7th best first down rate differential at +5.94% that week and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns), all of which tend to be fluky and inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Last week, they lost at home to a mediocre Dolphins team. I think the Browns have a good chance to cover the 3 and finally break into the win column this week.

Cleveland Browns 20 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Cleveland -3

Confidence: Medium

2018 Week 2 NFL Pick Results

Week 2

Total Against the Spread: 10-6

Pick of the Week: 0-1

High Confidence Picks: 1-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 3-1

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 4-3

Low Confidence Picks: 4-0

No Confidence Picks: 2-3

Upset Picks: 1-0

2018

Total Against the Spread: 20-11-1

Pick of the Week: 1-1

High Confidence Picks: 2-2

Medium Confidence Picks: 4-3

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 7-6

Low Confidence Picks: 6-0

No Confidence Picks: 7-5-1

Upset Picks: 3-1-1

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 711-619-37 (53.37%)

Pick of the Week: 52-35-2 (59.55%)

High Confidence Picks: 82-61-6 (57.05%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 203-156-6 (56.44%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 337-252-14 (57.05%)

Low Confidence Picks: 195-183-13 (51.53%)

No Confidence Picks: 179-184-10 (49.33%)

Upset Picks: 110-137-1 (44.56%)