NFL Week 3 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 3 featuring Bills vs. Commanders, Saints vs. Packers, Falcons vs. Lions, Texans vs. Jaguars, Patriots vs. Jets, and Chargers vs. Vikings.
NFL Week 3 Best Bets (9/24/23)
Week 3 of the NFL season is upon us, and the slate of games on Sunday offers plenty of betting opportunities. In this article, our football staff covers our favorite bets from the Week 3 slate. Check out our YouTube channel where we provide game picks and player prop content for all of the primetime NFL games, as well. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 4-4 (-0.4 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 2-1 (+0.9 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 4-3 (+0.8 units)
Buffalo Bills at Washington Commanders
It’s funny how the public narrative around a team can shift so closely. After the Bills lost to the Jets on Monday Night Football in shocking fashion, people were demanding heads on spikes. Does Josh Allen actually suck? Is Buffalo a real contender? These were the conversations being had. Of course, we bet the Bills on the heels of that facade.
Buffalo laid the smack down on the Raiders at home and everything was restored in the world. However, like I wrote about last week, the Raiders never had the ability to play defense like the Jets did. Allen was pressured on just 23.1% of his dropbacks compared to 42% in Week 1 against New York.
What makes the Jets special is they can get consistent pressure without blitzing – their defensive line is one of the best in the NFL. The Commanders might not be on par with that, but they’re a lot closer than most people realize with Chase Young now healthy. He joins Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Da’Ron Payne in a tremendous group.
The Commanders faced Denver’s much improved offensive line last week that ranks top ten in pass block win rate. They pressured Russell Wilson on 52.4% of his dropbacks while only blitzing at a 23.8% rate per PFF. If they can replicate those numbers against Josh Allen, it could be a tough day for the Buffalo offense.
The Commanders’ offense is much improved this season with new offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy calling the shots, and while Sam Howell is raw, he made some highlight-reel throws against Denver in the team’s comeback from a 21-3 deficit. Washington has weapons all over the field that Howell can connect with in this high-paced offense.
There’s an intangible momentum surrounding this Washington season. Dan Snyder selling the franchise lifted a black cloud from over the team, and I have a lot of respect for this coaching staff. Commanders fans have more excitement right now than they have in a very long time, and I expect the crowd to reflect that on Sunday.
Keep an eye on the weather here as there’s a 50% chance of precipitation and 13 mph winds in the forecast – any adverse conditions would likely favor the home dog. Regardless, I like Washington to keep this closer than most people are expecting.
Best Bet: Commanders +6.5
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
Packers fans are rightfully thrilled about the exciting first two games for new starting quarterback Jordan Love, but I see a quarterback due for regression. Love leads the league with an incredibly unsustainable 11.5% touchdown rate. For reference, Patrick Mahomes led the league with a 6.3% touchdown rate last season.
The underlying metrics show a quarterback playing way over his skis. 19.2% of Love’s throws have been inaccurate, the highest rate in the league per TruMedia. He leads the NFL in adjusted EPA per play but his -8.6% completion percentage over expectation ranks dead last. He’s quite simply been inaccurate.
I believe that regression hits starting this week. The Saints rank fourth in passing EPA allowed and have allowed a league low 7.2 QBR on throws 10+ yards downfield. Marshon Lattimore leads the NFL in PFF coverage grades and is on his way to another All Pro season while Tyrann Mathieu remains excellent in coverage.
The Packers aren’t healthy right now with Aaron Jones and Christian Watson, their two best skill players, out last week. Even if Watson plays, he’ll be swarmed by Lattimore here. Green Bay was also missing left tackle David Bakhtiari and guard Elgton Jenkins last week, and neither practiced as of Wednesday.
The Saints have allowed 20 or fewer points in ten straight games, their longest streak as a franchise, and I struggle to see why Jordan Love and this Packers team would snap that streak. Bet on regression to hit Love this week and the Packers to finish under 21.5 points.
Best Bet: Packers Team Total Under 21.5
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
I’m in full agreement with Kody on the Texans ATS in this game, which he does an awesome job of breaking down below. However, I also love the over in this game, and it’s my favorite full game total on the board in Week 3. Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, who was the former 49ers’ passing game coordinator, has implemented a fast-paced, pass-heavy offense in Houston – the Texans rank top six in neutral pace and pass play rate.
C.J. Stroud hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been excellent when throwing from a clean pocket – he drops from 2nd in EPA per dropback from a clean pocket to 32nd when under pressure per TruMedia. The Jaguars rank just 31st in pass rush win rate and star left tackle Laremy Tunsil should be back this week for Houston. Jacksonville struggled to defend the deep ball last year, allowing the second-highest passer rating on 20+ yard throws, and Stroud has no problem going vertical.
Jacksonville’s offense hasn’t fully clicked yet this season as they surprisingly have the second-worst offensive EPA thus far. They’ve converted on just 6 of their 24 third downs, and that 25% rate is by far the worst in the league. However, Houston will be without starting defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr., Jalen Pitre, and Tavierre Thomas this week, so Trevor Lawrence and friends have an opportunity for more success through the air.
I bet the Texans’ over last week and it soared over the total. It seems that books haven’t adjusted for the newfound offensive efficiency in Houston, and I’ll look to continue to take advantage while these totals are set relatively low. This is a tremendous buy-low spot for the Jacksonville offense, and in addition to the Texans +10, I’m taking the over here.
Best Bet: Over 44 points
Kody Malstrom’s Best Bets
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
It was as disastrous as it could get for the Detroit Lions in week two as they deal with numerous injuries on both sides of the ball. As of writing, CJ Gardner-Johnson and James Houston have been put on IR, David Montgomery is expected to miss a few weeks, and Amon-Ra St Brown is listed as questionable with turf toe.
Taylor Decker and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are also listed as questionable, serving as two anchors to a stout offensive line.
The loss of starting production may be too great for the Lions to deal with in the short term, especially against a well rounded Falcons squad that is built to exploit the Lions defensive weakness.
Defense is once again the Lions main weakness, especially with stopping the run as they have been routinely bowled over. They now have to face a Falcons unit built on rush success as they feature two capable running backs in Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.
You can make an argument that Desmond Ridder is this unit’s only weakness, masking his inability to throw at a consistent rate with a heavy dose of the run and quick outs to get their playmakers in space. Fortunately for the Falcons, they should have no issue with masking his inefficiencies as their ground game will be more than enough for the Falcons to move the ball down the field with ease.
On the other end, the Lions offensive production heavily relies on the status of their injured offensive line as this top ranked unit opens up their pass attack. Giving Jared Goff ample time in the pocket helps hide his inability to throw under pressure, now potentially having to find that same success with their back ups.
The Falcons are also a sneaky good defensive unit, ranking above average in Def EPA. They boast talent at all three levels of the defense, being more than capable of disrupting the Lions high powered offense and then dominating the time of possession on their end.
This line opened at an outrageous +5.5 and I would take this down all the way to +3. Potentially sprinkle some moneyline as the Falcons are in a good position to secure the outright win.
Best Bet: Falcons +3.5
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
For a team with sleeper Super Bowl aspirations, the Jacksonville Jaguars have severely underwhelmed. This is in large part to their sharp decline in offensive production, dropping in Off EPA after making strides in that department last year.
Their cause for their regression is geared towards their offensive line, a unit that ranks well below average in PFF grading. With minimal blocking, Trevor Lawrence has had a hard time letting plays develop while in a collapsing pocket. This has forced the ball out of his hands at a quicker rate, throwing into clogged passing windows while his receivers work to create separation.
The ground game has also suffered from the offensive line woes, failing to create high quality gaps for the running backs to exploit. By suffering from constant push back, the ground game has struggled to reach the second level and set the rest of the offense up with favorable field position.
While the addition of Calvin Ridley was expected to bolster the pass attack, his presence means nothing if the offensive line can’t hold up long enough for him to exploit the gaps in coverage.
The Jags now face an improved Houston front seven who are more than capable of generating a pass rush. Expect more of the same in terms of offensive struggles as Will Anderson and company crashes the pocket and forces Lawrence into scrambling situations.
On the other end, CJ Stroud has taken massive strides with his efficiency as he ramps up the down field throws. This is in large part to Tank Dell getting more of a target share, feasting on opposing second levels as he screens across the middle. Nico Collins has also stepped up in a big way, carving out a role as a reliable go-to target.
Scarier yet, the Texans have actually found success as a one dimensional offense as their ground game has yet to get it going. An oddity as Dameon Pierce is a force in the backfield but has struggled two games into the season. His attempts have been limited early on but he may see his number get called often in this contest. It’s vital for him to force the Jags defense into a stacked box so CJ Stroud can continue to exploit the gaps on the outside.
With the ability to collapse the Jags offensive progression, take the Texans at no lower than +7.5 in what may be a potential upset alert.
Best Bet: Texans +10
Will Schwartz’s Best Bets
I’d like to take just a moment to note that I absolutely love the Miami Dolphins’ matchup with the Denver Broncos, and I love the football number of -6.5 even more. The impending monsoon in the Miami area makes me hesitant to fully advise that wager, but if that clears up please consider bringing the hammer down on that bet.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
I just want to start this off by saying that I try to never bet on my favorite teams, I don’t love road favorites, and I never play trends- but this is a special case, for a number of reasons. I can’t overstate how unlikely it is that the New England Patriots lose to the New York Jets this week, and with the perfect football number of -2.5 just hanging right there, this absolutely has to be the play of the week.
The Patriots have not lost a game to the Jets since December 27, 2015, a streak that spans 14 meetings. The Jets shouldn’t have even won in 2015, as the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime and inexplicably chose to kick the ball; New York’s last regulation win over New England was way back in the 2010-11 playoffs under the duo of Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan. In the time since that game, the best player on that Jets team, Darelle Revis, has left the team, won a Super Bowl- as a Patriot no less- come back, left again, retired, and become a Hall of Famer.
The reason I’m harping on the history, even though I don’t love trends and even just last year is in the past, is that in these division rivalries, the history matters. These are ghosts that the Jets have to face twice a season, and a very real mental block that plays out on the field over and over. We’ve seen better Jets teams play worse Patriots teams, and it’s rarely mattered; the result has always been the same.
Of course, we aren’t going to dig blindly into even the strongest trend, and this would have been a very different handicap if Aaron Rodgers was still running the show. The issue for the Jets is that he’s not, and it’s Zach Wilson once more, who has some personal demons to battle in terms of past failures against the Patriots. Wilson performed admirably in rallying the team back from a deficit against the Bills in the wake of Rodgers’s horrific injury, but he’s ranked as the fourth-worst passer in PFF’s grading system, with four turnover worthy plays compared to just one big time throw.
The Patriots are also in a better position than many may have expected, including myself. The defense looks sharp with a diverse pass rush and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez performing well, and Mac Jones looks like a totally different quarterback after shedding Matt Patricia in favor of Bill O’Brien. As Wayne mentioned on our Sunday slate show, it’s just not appropriate to bet on Zach Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett against Bill Belichick, so we’re going to do just the opposite and invest in the Pats in this “rivalry” matchup.
Best Bet: Patriots -2.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
A year after going an astounding 11-0 in one-score games en route to a 13-4 regular season, the Minnesota Vikings have been immediately thrashed by regression and come crashing down to Earth with an 0-2 start, including of course two one-score losses. The Vikes have actually looked better in a lot of ways this season, with Kirk Cousins playing some of his best ball and the defense doing the best they can while being consistently given short fields due to turnovers, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
In past analysis of the Vikings, we’ve discussed how fluky it is to win just about every one-score game, but a trend that is usually usually more indicative of something real is losing just about every one-score game. Over a big enough sample size, that tells you that there’s something inherently wrong with the way a coach is handling games, and nobody is a better example of this concept than the Chargers’ Brandon Staley, unquestionably the single worst head coach in the NFL now that Nathaniel Hackett is back to being a coordinator.
Dating back to last season, Staley’s Chargers are 0-4 in their past four games, despite averaging 29 points, scoring first in each, and holding fourth-quarter leads in the past three, including a playoff loss in which they led the Jaguars 27-0. Staley, theoretically a defensive mastermind, has fielded a completely unplayable defense, and has likely lost the locker room after his repeated game-management failures, including not only his work last year, but some inexplicable late-game moves to cost the Chargers a playoff spot in the 2021 season finale.
Analytics tell us that fumbles are the flukiest possible event in the sport of football, and even flukier is the rate at which you lose them. Well, so far the Vikings are tied for the league lead with six fumbles, and are alone in having lost all six thus far. There’s absolutely no chance that continues, and after losing consecutive one-score games, it’s worth wondering if slightly better fumble luck might have the team 2-0, and thus perceived quite differently by the public and books.
Simply put, the Vikings going 11-0 in tight games last year was unsustainable to a degree, but it shows us that they can close games- better than Staley, at the very least. Considering that the entire concept here is that this game will be extremely close, I wouldn’t take a single point on the spread for Minnesota, so this is going to be a moneyline play on what is a very evenly-placed line anyways.
Best Bet: Vikings ML (-115)