NFL Betting Guide: Week 3
Do you think you know a lot about NFL football? Try regularly picking five games against the spread.
Even with all the information, advanced stats, and people attempting, elite sports bettors are lucky to get about 53% to 54% of -110 (even probability) bets correctly. It's essentially flipping a coin.
That being said, people try -- myself included. There are plenty of contests, media personalities, and other casual games at work or with friends that pick five games each week against the spread to see how they fare.
Using NFL odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, here are my five picks against the spread and a couple of totals I like this week. Play or fade as you please.
Week 2 Recap
Last Week: 3-2
Year-to-Date Record: 6-4-0 (60.0%)
With an identical record, Week 2 felt much better than Week 1.
Unfortunately, a close game in New Orleans fell apart late after a brawl. The Broncos also didn't have quite enough offense to cover 10 points in their low-scoring win at home. The tempo of those games felt like what was handicapped, though, and that's always the goal.
Pick #1: Vikings (-5.5) vs. Lions
This is my favorite line of the week.
The Vikings were blown out because Kirk Cousins just can't seem to get it together in primetime. Now, mixed into the 1 p.m. slate, we might see the guy that posted the fourth-best Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in Week 1 against a good Green Bay secondary.
Over 70% of bets and cash are on the visiting Lions to cover in this one. They are at peak value with the public after keeping it tight with Philadelphia, scoring plenty of points, and Amon-Ra St. Brown looking closer to Calvin Johnson than Dyami Brown. St. Brown will be the first to let you know that.
However, Detroit's still not stopping anything on defense. They've surrendered 0.19 Offensive NEP per play, which is second-worst in the league to Arizona. Against two of the better offenses in the league, Minnesota's unit (0.08) has shown much better in that category.
The Lions averaged -0.01 Offensive NEP on the road last year compared to 0.04 at home. I think their offense takes a slight step back away from Ford Field again.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Vikings 31-20
Pick #2: Commanders (+6.5) vs. Eagles
Here's this week's "WTF" line.
Road divisional games are a different story. In each of their past six meetings, Washington and Philadelphia have played to a margin of 10 points or fewer. This is truly the best offensive version of the Commies we've seen in that time, too.
Carson Wentz is having himself a season, as well. Wentz (0.21) isn't far behind Hurts (0.30) in Passing NEP per drop back, and he's importantly only turned it over three times.
Jonathan Allen and Kamren Curl are back at practice in full capacity entering this one, and I'm reading tea leaves here. Philadelphia is getting 80% of bets and 85% of the handle at FanDuel Sportsbook, and this line at -114 is moving towards Washington.
The sharp side here is Washington to keep it tight at home, and don't be shocked if another huge upset occurs Sunday like we've seen all season.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Eagles 24-23
Pick #3: Jaguars (+7) at Chargers
This is your classic "Pros vs. Joes" game.
Justin Herbert is banged up entering this one, and per the report, Keenan Allen isn't a certainty to return, either. The Jags made the internet chuckle yesterday by noting their injury report was completely empty. That matters in a spread this large.
The Bolts are numberFire's 10th-best offense and 7th-best defense, and that was expected given their lofty win total this year. However, Jacksonville is 11th on offense, and they're remarkably 3rd on defense. Travon Walker and Josh Allen have been game-wreckers for the Cats thus far.
The seven-point number here is crucial since it would open a touchdown-wide margin late for a push. I like that proposition, but don't rule out this confident Jaguars team starting fast in a game that comes down to the wire.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Chargers 24-21
This feels awful, but this is a play on history.
Since 2006, just four teams have covered by at least 20 points in their first two games. All four lost against the spread in Week 3.
I'd have loved to get this line north of seven, which would have almost certainly been the case had the Dolphins not completed their comeback in Baltimore. Still, there isn't a more overvalued team in the NFL than Buffalo, who should be a public darling until they stop bludgeoning foes.
That could very well be the case here. The Bills, on a short week, are traveling to a warm Miami climate, and the Dolphins are the second-best offense in the NFL in numberFire's nERD rankings. That keeps the backdoor wide open in this one.
The Bills also have the highest pass rate over expectation in the league because they still can't run the ball at a high level.
73% of bets and 79% of the money are on Buffalo in this space, yet this line shrunk to 5.5 points on Thursday. The sharp money is on the Fins, and we are, too.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Bills 26-24
Nathaniel Hackett's presence is the only reason I'm not all-in on the Broncos in this spot.
Denver leads the league in penalties and timeouts taken before the two-minute warning -- including one last week wasted for a missing punt returner.
This opened with Denver as a 2.5-point favorite, but it's since been bet here. The 49ers have a tangible, week-to-week upgrade in Jimmy Garoppolo over the inconsistent Trey Lance, but Garappolo still isn't Russell Wilson.
The Ponies are actually moving the ball extremely well. They're 13th in the NFL in Offensive NEP per play (0.08), which is remarkable considering their unsightly red-zone offense thus far has given away expected points in bunches.
At home and somewhat desperate, Denver is getting just 29% of bets in this space. I think it's a massive overreaction to the public getting torched by the Broncos in two high-profile spots.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Broncos 23-20
Totals of the Week
Pick #1: Packers at Buccaneers (Under 41.5)
I still love the under for these two offenses that are in total chaos meeting two ferocious defenses. Specifically, Tampa Bay has the best Defensive NEP per play (0.23) in the NFL following their stops in New Orleans and Dallas. Their 32% pressure rate is also the seventh-best mark in the league.
As for Green Bay, they actually lead the league in pressure rate (35%) so far. Tampa is numberFire's top-rated defense, but the Packers are still a respectable 14th. It'll help the Bucs' injury report looks like their offensive depth chart, and Mike Evans is suspended.
These teams are 4-0 cashing unders in 2022 thus far, but the public is back for more pain. While 66% of total tickets are on the over, the under has gotten 53% of the handle. Sharps are on the under, and I agree given the stellar defensive talent and poor offensive showings we've seen from these two so far.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Buccaneers 19-13
Pick #2: Falcons at Seahawks (Over 41.5)
At the same number, I like these rebuilding squads to smash the over.
Considering these two squads have faced four solid defensive units (New Orleans, Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco) to begin the year, their yards per play marks aren't too bad. Atlanta is 18th, and Seattle is 24th. Grading on the curve of expecting them to be at the very bottom, that's not too shabby.
Now, there are concerns that make this a fair total. These two squads are bottom-eight teams in situation-neutral pace. Still, Atlanta's contests have averaged 55.0 points per game thus far, and Seattle's sits at 33.5.
It's one team slowing things down in a neutral environment, but I like the Falcons to win this game, and the Seahawks leap to the 12th-fastest team in seconds per play when trailing. I'll take a swipe that Atlanta can get an early lead to open this game up.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Falcons 24-21