The NFL’s year of the underdog continues. In Week 2, underdogs went a solid 9-7 against the spread. It wasn’t quite as strong as their 12-4 record in Week 1, but it still brings their total record on the year to 21-11. So, 65.6 percent of the time, underdogs have covered this year.
Will that trend continue to last? Probably not. There should be regression to the mean at some point.
That said, there are still plenty of quality underdogs for NFL bettors to trust. Bettors just have to understand the trends and matchups that benefit these teams; they also should look at the betting odds to see which teams are undervalued and which teams are overvalued after two weeks of NFL action.
IYER: Contenders and pretenders after two weeks of the 2021 NFL season
The first two weeks of the NFL season have given bettors a lot more knowledge about the 2021 NFL season, but the NFL can shift rapidly from week to week. Need an example? How about the Saints and Packers. In Week 1, the Saints won by 35 and held Green Bay to just three points. In Week 2, the Packers beat the Lions by 18 while the Saints were manhandled by the Panthers defense and held to seven points in a loss.
Injuries also continue to shift the NFL landscape. Countless players went down during the bloodbath that was Week 2, and now four teams are dealing with quarterback concerns. Tyrod Taylor won’t play for the Texans on “Thursday Night Football” while Carson Wentz (Colts), Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) and Andy Dalton (knee) are all questionable at best this week. That could have an impact on their teams as they look to cover.
The injuries could also cause some late-week line moves. So, if you like how a line looks now, it may be best to bet it early and to ensure it doesn’t skyrocket if any QB is declared out.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News’ picks straight up and against the spread for Week 3.
WEEK 3 NFL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
NFL odds for Week 3
Below are the latest Week 3 NFL odds, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Last updated: Wednesday, Sept. 22
NFL point spreads Week 3
|Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans||CAR -7.5|
|Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars||ARI -7.5|
|Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans||TEN -5.5|
|Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions||BAL -9.5|
|Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills||BUF -8.5|
|New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots||NE -3|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs||KC -6.5|
|Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns||CLE -7.5|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT -4.5|
|Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants||NYG -3|
|Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders||LV -3.5|
|New York Jets at Denver Broncos||DEN -10.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams||TB -1.5|
|Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings||SEA -1.5|
|Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers||SF -3.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys||DAL -3.5|
NFL money lines Week 3
|Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans||CAR -375|
|Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars||ARI -350|
|Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans||TEN -250|
|Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions||BAL -430|
|Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills||BUF -405|
|New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots||NE -156|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs||KC -300|
|Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns||CLE -360|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT -240|
|Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants||NYG -158|
|Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders||LV -200|
|New York Jets at Denver Broncos||DEN -650|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams||TB -118|
|Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings||SEA -124|
|Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers||SF -198|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys||DAL -215|
NFL over-unders Week 3
|Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans||43.5|
|Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars||52|
|Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans||48.5|
|Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions||49.5|
|Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills||46.5|
|New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots||43.5|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs||55.5|
|Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns||46.5|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers||44.5|
|Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants||48.5|
|Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders||45.5|
|New York Jets at Denver Broncos||41.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams||55.5|
|Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings||55.5|
|Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers||48.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys||51.5|
NFL POWER RANKINGS: New team climbs to No. 2 spot
NFL best bets for Week 3
Chargers (+6.5) at Chiefs
The Chiefs are still viewed as the favorite to win the AFC, but they have hit a couple of bumps in the road to start the season. Notably, their defense has been bad, and that’s something of which the Chargers can take advantage.
Kansas City has allowed an NFL-high 469 total yards per game. Their 202 rushing yards allowed per game also tops the NFL, though that number is skewed a bit by having played Lamar Jackson and Nick Chubb.
It’s true that the Chiefs have played formidable offenses in Weeks 1 and 2. The Browns and the Ravens both possess weapons on the ground and solid groups of pass-catchers, but the Chargers boast a similarly strong offense led by Justin Herbert.
Herbert threw for 337 yards in his first game and 338 yards in his second. He has had a couple of turnovers but largely, he has helped the Chargers’ offense to keep humming. With Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook and Austin Ekeler in tow, he has a lot of weapons that he can use to pick apart Kansas City’s defense.
It’s also worth noting that recent Chargers vs. Chiefs games have been close. Four of the last five games have been decided by seven points or fewer. Los Angeles just always seems to find a way to stay in games against Kansas City.
As such, we like the Chargers here to cover. They may not win outright, but getting 6.5 points with an offense this good is a risk worth taking. We’ll also be positioned to earn a potential backdoor cover if the Chiefs are leading by two possessions late, so this seems like a solid value.
NFL MVP ODDS: Tom Brady in a three-man race, per latest Vegas odds
Titans (-5.5) vs. Colts
The Colts are in dire straits at the quarterback position. Carson Wentz is dealing with two sprained ankles and may not be ready to play Sunday. If he can’t go, Jacob Eason will likely start with Brett Hundley serving as the backup. Neither inspires much hope, even against a porous Tennessee defense.
The Titans lack talent on defense and have allowed the third-most points per game in the NFL this season (34). However, they should have more success against Eason, who has only thrown five career passes of which one was intercepted, or Wentz on two bad ankles.
On the surface, 5.5 points may seem like a lot for the Titans considering that the Colts hung with the Rams last week. That said, recent Colts vs. Titans games haven’t really been close, as the winner has outscored the loser by an average of 12.9 points over the last 10 games. And only two of those games in total were decided by less than a touchdown.
This all makes the Titans look like an appealing bet, especially since they may be able to tire out the Colts’ defense by using Derrick Henry. If they can do that, they should have a chance to win by double digits. Betting on them to win by less than a touchdown is a good value.
Broncos (-10.5) vs. Jets
The Broncos are a team to trust once again. The main reason for trusting Denver this time is not because of Teddy Bridgewater’s sterling 37-13-1 record against the spread. It’s all about Vic Fangio against rookie quarterbacks.
Fangio might not quite be Bill Belichick-level against rookies, but he has logged a 19-9 record against them since becoming a defensive coordinator in 1995. The includes wins over Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Justin Herbert.
You don’t have to look far for an even more recent sample either. Denver beat Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars in Week 2 and covered a six-point spread. They won by 10 points.
Fangio’s defenses have allowed 33 touchdowns while recording 26 interceptions in 28 games against rookie quarterbacks. Zach Wilson just faced Belichick and the Patriots and threw four interceptions while scoring six points. He may find it difficult to move the ball once again.
Trusting the Broncos to cover a 10.5-point spread may not sound exciting in theory, but the Broncos should have defensive success against Wilson much like the Patriots did. And since the Broncos have better offensive weapons than the Patriots, they should be able to win this one by double digits. The only thing we should have to worry about is a potential backdoor cover.