Every Monday, during the NFL season, I’ll be comparing game spreads to my own power ratings and giving my perspective on whether I think the betting lines are accurate or not.
Paying attention to the NFL market is one of the single most important aspects of successful wagering. With all the variance and volatility of pro football, placing a bet on the most advantageous side of a number is often the only difference between a winning or losing ticket. Learn to keep a close eye on line movement, and look forward to our Betting the NFL with Ryan Reynolds and Chris Farley podcast, where we break down each game and investigate these lines twice a week.
All lines are consensus numbers across the U.S. Sportsbooks as of Monday morning.
Early lines that stick out as great early bets are highlighted in red.
Not all Week 3 lines are out just yet, so we’ll discuss the ones that are out as of the morning of September 19th.
Steelers at Browns (-3.5), Total: 39.5
Right out of the gate, we have a line that sharply disagrees with my own. I have the Browns as a 2-point favorite in the Thursday night contest. I know what you’re thinking; that doesn’t feel like a huge disparity. But 1.5 points of line value is a big difference in sports betting, especially when it goes over a key number like 3. The total is incredibly low for a reason; the underdog frequently has value in games where we expect fewer points.
Nick Chubb has been sensational in two games for Cleveland (228 yards, 3 TDs). Nevertheless, the Browns’ offense overall is rather underwhelming. They moved the ball on the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets defenses, but Pittsburgh’s defense is built a little differently. Plus, it’s a divisional game. This feels like a close battle between teams with better defenses than offenses. Taking the Steelers now isn’t a bad idea.
Saints at Panthers (+3), Total: 41
I have this line at Saints -4, so I have a slight lean on New Orleans, but it’s nothing to necessarily jump on now. It’s a divisional game, so this could be closer than advertised. But it’s hard for me to picture the Panthers garnering much offense against a defense that’s gaining steam in New Orleans. I also lean towards an under. We keep seeing slow starts by NFL offenses, which will change eventually. But for now, it’s amounting to many unders (70% ATS, to be exact).
Chiefs at Colts (+7), Total: 47
According to my updated power ratings, the Chiefs are 10 points better than the Colts, but Indianapolis is officially in desperation mode, and this game is at Lucas Oil Stadium. If there’s any game the Colts should get up for, it’s against a perennial Super Bowl contender like Kansas City. The Colts’ offense will probably start producing at least a little better soon, but this contest presents a daunting challenge. Indianapolis’ defense hasn’t looked refined yet. They’ve allowed 632 yards and 44 points to two offenses that are not elite. I have a slight lean to the over here for that reason.
Bills at Dolphins (+4.5), Total: 51
The Bills are the Super Bowl favorite for a reason, but sportsbooks are giving them a little too much credit in this one. I have the Dolphins as 2.5-point underdogs at home, suggesting Miami is actually 4 points worse than the Bills. Home-field advantage is a real thing, though, and the Dolphins are built to perform well as an ATS team this season. The explosion of offense against the Ravens is a prime example, and I don’t think it was a fluke. Mike McDaniel has his offense well-prepared and unpredictable. This feels like another close divisional game – the value is on Miami early.
Lions at Vikings (-7), Total: 53.5
The total in this contest is high, and we agree with where it sits. I still think the over could easily hit. The Lions’ defense often bends and breaks, and Minnesota’s offense looked fantastic in their opener. However, Minnesota’s offense looked very pedestrian in Week 2, but my power ratings have Minnesota as 4.5-point favorites at home. Ergo, there’s obvious value on Detroit. Seven points is a ton in NFL betting, and Detroit showed the grit they proclaim to have in an impressive offensive showcase against Washington. If you like the Lions, I’d grab this line now.
Ravens at Patriots (+3), Total: 43
Two teams coming off emotional games in Week 2 clash in Week 3. I have the Ravens as 3.5-point favorites on the road, so there’s no severe discrepancy here. The NFL is a week-to-week league, so one has to assume the Ravens will come out with fire and fury after they blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to the Dolphins at home in Week 2. The Patriots might be overly confident after beating a poor offense in Pittsburgh. Slight lean on the Ravens, for now.
Bengals at Jets (+4.5), Total: 43
My line is Bengals -4, so we’re close to where the sportsbooks have this. Cincinnati shockingly lost again in Week 2, which only escalates the level of concern they must have as an organization. Last year, the Bengals represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. This year, they’re trending towards a last-place finish in the AFC North. The Jets snagged their first win of the season behind a gutsy performance from Joe Flacco, who improved his career record to 18-3 against Cleveland. But when teams like the Jets win, it’s probably a good idea to play off of them the following week. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bengals blew out the Jets and finally made the statement they’re looking for, but I have no strong leans here.
Eagles at Commanders (+4), Total: 50.5
I show slight value on the Commanders here; my line is Eagles -3. Philadelphia thoroughly dispatched the Vikings on Monday Night Football, and they’re an ultra-talented roster who should win consistently in the trenches against the Commanders. This is still a divisional game, and Washington will hone in on the many mistakes and weaknesses they showed in Week 2 against Detroit. This is a tough one to call early in the week– we’ll do more investigating and utilize Ryan Reynolds’ matchup articles to see if there are any angles to expose.
Jaguars at Chargers (-7), Total: 48
I show value on the Jaguars in this battle. I have Jacksonville as only 4.5-point underdogs, but we also don’t know how healthy Justin Herbert will be in Week 3. That’s a massive factor in this game, obviously, but the fact the Chargers are coming off a loss and Jacksonville just upset the Colts at home makes me pause on placing a bet. This is a classic setup for a blowout. Regardless of how improved the Jaguars might be this season, and they played very well Sunday, the Chargers have a far more talented roster and showed it off on Thursday Night Football. We’ll wait to see what happens with Herbert.
Falcons at Seahawks (-2), Total: 42
This is a snoozer, and it probably is for you too. I also have the Seahawks as 2-point favorites, so no lean or take here. I imagine this won’t be a game I’ll want to wager on this weekend. These are two teams with weak talent who fight hard, but they’re also highly volatile and tough to trust. Look out for more details about this game later in the week.
49ers at Broncos (EVEN), Total: 43
I have the 49ers as 3.5 points better than the Broncos; that’s some serious line disparity. Initially, this line came out as Denver -3, which was truly shocking. Jimmy Garroppolo returned as San Francisco’s quarterback after Trey Lance was carted off the field Sunday, and he made the best of it. The Niners dominated the Seahawks at home, efficiently moving their offense to gain margin throughout the game. San Francisco’s defense was back in form, too, permitting only 216 total yards Sunday.
The Broncos deserve to be favored against many teams when they’re playing in Denver, but they’ve looked clumsy so far. Denver gained 116 more yards than Houston on Sunday, but they also committed a whopping 13 penalties for 100 yards and turned the ball over at the start of the second half. Nathaniel Hackett is learning on the job, and so far, his lack of prowess as a team leader amounts to more flaws than a flourish. For that reason alone, against a more buttoned-up 49ers team, has me liking (and betting) on the away team.
Cowboys at Giants (-3), Total: 39.5
This total is low, and we agree with where it sits – the Giants’ offense may be improving, but they still don’t score many points. Sunday, the Cowboys looked much better against the Bengals, earning their first win behind 235 passing yards from backup quarterback Cooper Rush. Even better for Dallas, they got their run game going in a few situations where they really needed it. I have no stark line disagreement here, but it’s bound to be a closely fought war between two storied divisional rivals. The underdog has automatic value in most of those instances.