NFL best bets for Week 3 from Steve Makinen


NFL Week 3 Best Bets

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Tennessee at Cleveland

Matchup Analysis

There seems to be a ton of respect for Cleveland this season as I have found them to be overpriced in each of the first three games. Am I wrong or are those setting the prices wrong? I think this will be a good game to provide an answer to that question. The betting public at DraftKings is actually behind the Titans here, as of press time, at a rate over 70% for both handle and bet volume.

Typically, I would say that’s a dealbreaker for me, but in 2022, that was actually the only situation in which majority bettors won consistently: When the majority handle and number of bets were on road underdogs for an ATS wager, these majority groups actually produced winning records, 26-25 ATS (51%) & 34-32 ATS (51.5%) respectively. I called it “going against the grain.” The Titans have started the year in familiar fashion, playing gritty football, owning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and getting two covers as underdogs already.

Let’s take Tennessee +3.5 or anything at +3 or more

Denver at Miami

Matchup Analysis

It’s said not to step on the tracks when the train is coming through, and this Miami offense looks like it has left the station. That said, the Broncos’ offense looked much improved last week, and they seem to be a team that figures to have much better success in the underdog role than as favorites.

If you saw the article I did on new coaches in the NFL, it was clear that the group I labeled “re-tread” coaches struggled horribly in the favorite role but had respectable performances as underdogs. Speaking of which, the dogs are on a run of 7-0-1 ATS in this head-to-head series, including five outright wins during that span.

At 0-2 SU and ATS, this is a desperate game for head coach Sean Payton’s team. He’s too good of a coach not to have his team ready to compete here. I expect Miami to get Denver’s best effort. Also love the fact that 80% of the handle and bet volume was on the host Dolphins as of Friday.

Take Denver +6.5, and anything +5.5 or more

Atlanta at Detroit

Matchup Analysis

I spoke on the Bet Chicago VSiN podcast with Dave Ross about how the Lions seem to have taken on a little different persona from last season. A little slower, a little more balanced offensively, and a definite attention to detail on defense. I thought the new mindset was on full display in the season-opening win at KC.

That said, the 37-31 loss a week ago was a flashback to darker days prior. That game also seems to have drawn in bettors to the Over for this contest versus Atlanta. In fact, over 70% of both handle and bet volume think this one will fly past the 46.5 number set.

The Falcons are not an Over type of team. They heavily favor the run and a shorter, more efficient passing game. There’s no way they want to get into a shootout with Detroit. These teams have seen 10 of the last 13 series head-to-head contests go Under the total as well, including 6-1 in Detroit. With this game taking on more importance in the NFC standings, I look for both teams to play it closer to the vest.

Take ATL-DET UNDER 46.5 or anything +/- 1 point



Carolina at Seattle

Matchup Analysis

The announcement that Carolina QB Bryce Young would not be playing on Sunday had an unusual effect on the point spread for the Panthers’ game versus the Seahawks. It caused the Panthers to become even bigger underdogs. Is this valid? Is there really a drop-off from Young to backup Andy Dalton in the grand scheme?

Carolina scored just 13.5 PPG and passed for just 133 YPG in the first two outings of Young’s career. It has clearly not been an offense in sync. If any of you have been following the rookie QB trends we post weekly in the VSiN NFL Analytics Report, you’d know that the first few games of a rookie QB’s first season are usually rough. In my opinion, this might actually be a fortunate break for head coach Frank Reich’s team.

I think this has the chance to give the passing game a boost, and they’ll need it to keep up with Seattle. Carolina is also one of a handful of teams that qualifies for this interesting system this week: Teams that start out 0-2 SU in the NFL are 23-23 SU but 33-13 ATS (71.7%) against 1-1 teams in Week 3 since 2010. I expect the Panthers, a franchise typically good as an underdog, to compete well in Seattle.

Take Carolina +5.5 or anything +/- 1 point

Dallas at Arizona

Matchup Analysis

I called my feature NFL article this week on VSiN “Beware of Week 3 NFL Traps.” This has historically been a week where things that looked too good to be true turn out to be so, and vice versa. Week 3 has a way of evening the scales.

In the case of the Cowboys, they look unbeatable after two games and their defense has been dominant. However, that leads us into what has been a strong system play: The league’s best defensive teams after two weeks, or those allowing 14 PPG or less so far, are 25-20 SU but just 14-30-1 ATS (31.8%) in Week 3 since 2005 when favored by 3 points or more.

It’s also pretty clear that after two games, the Cardinals are far more competitive than anyone gave them credit for. Two very tough losses so far but a 2-0 ATS record. Now they find themselves as massive home underdogs to the Cowboys, whom they are on a 6-1 ATS run against. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s team got some tough news this week too, losing CB Diggs for the season. That only complicates beating this huge number.

Take Arizona as the +12.5-point dog +/- 1 point

Chicago at Kansas City

Matchup Analysis

The sky is falling in Chicago. Not only are the Bears 0-2 and supposedly future star QB Justin Fields not living up to the billing, but supposedly there was some kind of FBI raid in the building this week involving a member of the coaching staff.

The Bears literally have everything going against them as they prepare to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs on the road. Oh, and of course, over 70% of the money at DraftKings as of Friday was on Kansas City. To me, this represents the perfect storm in the NFL. Un-bet-able team being faded big time by the betting public.

Take a look at this very strong Week 3 system in play here: Winless teams in the NFL are 18-32-1 SU but 34-17 ATS (66.7%) in Week 3 when playing as underdogs of +3.5 points or more since 2010. On top of that, the Chiefs behind QB Patrick Mahomes have struggled in covering big numbers, as they are 23-1 SU but 9-14-1 ATS (39.1%) in his last 18 games as a favorite of more than 7 points. I know it looks tough to stomach, but Chicago has enough pride and talent to stay in this contest.

Take Chicago (+12.5) as anything in double-digits


For more system matches and key trends, check out the Week 3 NFL Analytics Report.

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As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.