Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

This line is about right, favoring the Vikings by 9 points at home over the Raiders, but I like the Raiders a little bit because they are in a way better spot. Not only are they likely to be well rested, after starting the season with back-to-back home games (teams are 46-35 ATS since 1989 in week 3 after back-to-back home games), but the Vikings could overlook them a little bit with a much more important game on deck against the Bears. I wish we were getting more points with the Raiders so they’d be worth a bet, but they should be the right side this week.

Minnesota Vikings 24 Oakland Raiders 17

Pick against the spread: Oakland +9

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)

Earlier this week, when it was starting to look like Cam Newton would miss this game with injury, I was considering putting a bet on the Panthers. The Panthers have gotten off to a disappointing 0-2 start and Newton not being 100% is the biggest reason why. The Panthers defense has played well, allowing just a 32.82% first down rate against a pair of offenses in the Rams and Buccaneers that have plenty of weapons. The offense is what’s been holding back this team and it’s not as if Newton isn’t getting help from his playmakers.

Lead back Christian McCaffrey is averaging 4.71 yards per carry on the ground and Newton’s receivers have been getting open, but Newton leads the league with a 34.2% uncatchable pass rate and has negative rushing yardage on the season. Considering the Panthers have lost their first 2 games by a combined 9 points, the Panthers could easily be 2-0 right now if they had competent quarterback play. Backup Kyle Allen is one of the least proven backups in the league, but it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade over what Newton has been through 2 games. 

Unfortunately, we aren’t getting the line I thought we would with the Panthers, as they are just 2-point underdogs in Arizona. They’ll also be without key defensive lineman Kawaan Short. The Panthers are still strong upfront with Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy, but losing Short will still hurt both their run defense and their interior pass rush. With an unproven backup under center and no Kawaan Short, it’s hard to confidently bet on the Panthers on the road in a game they basically have to win in order to cover, even against a mediocre Cardinals team. There’s some value with the money line at +110, as I think there’s a better than 50% chance the Panthers win, but I’d need a full field goal to bet the spread.

Carolina Panthers 19 Arizona Cardinals 17 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Carolina +2

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

This line favors the hometown Chargers by 3 points, suggesting two things: that these two teams are about equal and that the Chargers have a standard homefield advantage. I don’t think either of those are true. For one, the Chargers rarely draw home fans in Los Angeles and are just 6-9-1 ATS at home (as opposed to 12-5-2 ATS on the road) since moving there. The Texans aren’t known for having a national fanbase, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the crowd was primarily Texan fans this week. 

On top of that, I have the Texans a couple points better in my roster rankings. Even after they lost on the road in Detroit last week (and almost lost at home to the Colts week 1), the public seems to be underestimating the impact of all of the Chargers’ absences. Not having Melvin Gordon hasn’t hurt, but they’ve felt the absence of left tackle Russell Okung on the offensive line and Derwin James in the secondary. They also lost tight end Hunter Henry indefinitely last week and now are without safety Adrian Phillips, who was replacing James. Given the Chargers’ current injury situation and their lack of homefield advantage, I have this line calculated at even, so the Texans are worth a bet if you can get the full field goal. 

Houston Texans 24 Los Angeles Chargers 23 Upset Pick +145

Pick against the spread: Houston +3

Confidence: Medium

New York Jets at New England Patriots: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

New York Jets (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)

This is one of two lines over 21 points this week (Dallas/Miami), after that had happened just five times in the last 30 years. The Patriots were the favorite in three of those five games, with all three instances coming during their undefeated regular season in 2007. The Patriots didn’t cover in any of those games though and, in fact, all five teams to be favored by 21+ points in the past 30 years failed to cover, winning the games with an average margin of victory of “only” 12.6 points. Unlike Dallas/Miami, which features a Miami team that is all-time bad and not giving 100% effort, this should be a more competitive game. 

The Jets are starting a third string quarterback and have several key absences on defense, but they still have a more talented roster around the quarterback than they have had in recent years. I have them 5 points better in my roster rankings than the Dolphins and that might even be overrating the Dolphins if they aren’t giving their best effort. Unlike the Dolphins, who are seemingly mailing in the season for a coaching staff and front office that doesn’t care about winning, the Jets may view this as their Super Bowl and they definitely will want to avoid going into their week 4 bye at 0-3, with quarterback Sam Darnold likely to return after the bye. 

The Jets should be well rested after starting the season with two home games (teams are 46-35 ATS since 1989 in week 3 after back-to-back home games), while the Patriots might be looking forward a little bit to a seemingly more important divisional battle in Buffalo next week. We’re not getting much line value with the Jets (I have this line calculated at New England -20),so I wouldn’t recommend betting on them, but this game could easily be closer than most people are expecting.

New England Patriots 27 New York Jets 10

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +21.5

Confidence: Low

Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (0-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0)

The Cowboys are favored by a whopping 23 points in this game. Prior to this week, there have only been 5 instances of a team being favored by 21+ points in the past 30 years. None of the previous five teams covered (they all won, but with an average margin of points of “just” 12.6 points) and the Cowboys don’t seem to fit in with the other teams that have been favored by this many points in the past three decades. Three of those teams were the 2007 regular season undefeated Patriots and the other two teams were the 2013 Broncos (who were undefeated at the time and went on to make the Super Bowl) and the 1993 49ers (who had won 28 of their last 33 regular season games). 

All of that being said, I’m not taking Miami this week and I would need a really good reason to take them at any point this year. This line is more about the Dolphins than who they are facing and this is highly unlikely to be the final time the Dolphins are underdogs of 21+ this season. I have this line calculated at Dallas -21.5, but beyond 21 it’s hard to consider a couple points in either direction line value and it’s possible my roster rankings don’t capture how awful the Dolphins are right now. 

The few good players that the Dolphins do have don’t seem to be trying hard because the coaching staff and front office transparently don’t care about winning this season. Neither the winless 2008 Lions or the winless 2017 Browns ever lost by more than 40 points and the Dolphins have already done so twice in two weeks. Switching quarterbacks to Josh Rosen is unlikely to provide the spark they need and he could easily end up being a downgrade over a proven veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Cowboys are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I would never bet on a team favored by this many points because they could easily take their foot off the gas in the second half and allow a backdoor cover. 

Dallas Cowboys 34 Miami Dolphins 10

Pick against the spread: Dallas -23

Confidence: None

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)

Earlier this week, I thought I would be betting on the Bengals in this one because the Bills are in an awful spot this week. They return home after playing their first two games of the season on the road, a situation teams typically struggle in (28-52 ATS in week 3 home openers since 1989). They could easily be tired from starting the year with back-to-back road games and not give their best effort at home against an 0-2 team. On top of that, they have to turn around and play one of their biggest games of the season next week, with the New England Patriots coming to town. The early line for that game has the Patriots favored by 6.5 points and teams are just 47-85 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 5+. On top of that, favorites of 6+ are just 33-62 ATS since 2008 before being underdogs of 6+ the following week. The Bengals seem unlikely to get the Bills’ best effort this week in this situation.

That being said, the Bengals could still have a lot of trouble covering the spread in this game because they are so banged up right now. I was expecting they might be healthier this week, but wide receiver AJ Green and left tackle Cordy Glenn remain out indefinitely and they will also be without a pair of key players, Ryan Glasgow and Carl Lawson, on the defensive line and their 3rd cornerback BW Webb with injury. In their current injury situation, the Bengals are one of the worst teams in the league and, even though the Bills aren’t a great team, I still have them favored by a full touchdown in this game. The bad spot really hurts their chances of covering, so I’m still taking the Bengals for pick ‘em purposes, but even if the Bills don’t play their best it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win by at least a touchdown. 

Buffalo Bills 20 Cincinnati Bengals 16

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +6

Confidence: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-0)

The Steelers have gotten off to a disastrous start to the season. They got blown out in New England week 1 in a game they were likely viewing as a measuring stick for their season and then last week they lost starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the year with an injury in a game they likely would have won if Roethlisberger had been healthy. Now they are 0-2 and are looking at 14 games with a backup quarterback under center. The 49ers, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 with a blowout victory in Cincinnati last week. As a result, this line has shifted significantly in the past week, from Pittsburgh -1 a week ago to Pittsburgh +7 this week.

One thing that seems to have gotten lost in all of this is that the 49ers had a significant injury loss in the past week as well, losing left tackle Joe Staley indefinitely. Staley isn’t as important to the 49ers as Roethlisberger is to the Steelers, but he’s easily their best offensive lineman and he’s arguably their best offensive player. On top of that, while the Steelers can turn to Mason Rudolph, a 2018 3rd round pick and a potential long-term successor for Roethlisberger, the 49ers will have to start 6th round rookie Justin Skule on the blindside. The Steelers still have a solid defense and a strong pass rush, so they could create a lot of problems for the 49ers’ offense in this game. 

Without Staley, I have this line calculated at San Francisco -4, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers at +7. Even without Roethlisberger, the Steelers might be the toughest opponent the 49ers have faced thus far this season, after opening the season with the Buccaneers and Bengals. The 49ers were able to win both of those games on the road, but returning home might not be much of a boost for them this week, as teams are just 28-52 ATS since 1989 in week 3 home openers. The 49ers could be tired after traveling twice to start the season and, now back at home, they could overlook a team starting its backup quarterback. There isn’t a great Pick of the Week option this week, but the Steelers are my favorite play this week if you can get the full touchdown.

San Francisco 49ers 20 Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +7

Confidence: Pick of the Week