A Ja’Marr Chase touchdown away from 5/5 last week, we’re back with five more best bets for Week 3 of the NFL season.
Buffalo Bills @ Washington Commanders
Josh Allen bounced back from a horror Week 1 to play a leading role in the Buffalo Bills trashing the Las Vegas Raiders last week. Connecting on 31 of his 37 pass attempts, Allen piled up 274 yards and finished with three touchdowns. We only have a sample size of two for this season but it’s safe to assume Allen and the Bills are closer to the Week 2 version than they are Week 1.
Should they continue to play anywhere close to that level, the Bills should comfortably handle the Washington Commanders. While Washington managed to beat the Denver Broncos they did so from behind and with the Broncos gifting them opportunities through their lack of discipline. They’re unlikely to get the same opportunities in this one. Sam Howell had a good day to win his third game as a starting quarterback in as many attempts, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Bills are a different beast. This is a measuring stick game for the new-look Commanders and one that might bring them back down to earth a touch.
When the Bills win – and they’re expected to here as $1.36 favourites – they tend to win big. Of the 57 games Allen has won as a starting quarterback for the Bills, they’ve won 43 of them by seven points or more.
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are 2-0 and Lamar Jackson is looking relatively good within a new-look offence, yet they’re not being talked about too much as Super Bowl LVII contenders despite their $10 price. They’re banged up. Baltimore beat the Texans and a banged-up Bengals, so they’re without the statement win right now. Still, they’re getting better every week while the Colts will be without Jonathan Taylor and, probably, Anthony Richardson. A Richardson for Gardner Minshew swap isn’t a massive difference like-for-like, but cohesion matters.
So does the Ravens’ defence…
The Ravens defense has allowed one TD in its last 5 home games, dating back to last season:
Panthers: 0 TD (3 points)
Broncos: 0 TD (9 points)
Falcons: 0 TD (9 points)
Steelers: 1 TD (16 points)
Texans: 0 TD (9 points)
Ravens play host to the Colts on Sunday.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 21, 2023
The Ravens are without JK Dobbins for the season and Odell Beckham Jr. is nursing a dodgy ankle. Their offence isn’t close to 100% heading into this one but Zay Flowers continues to get better. He’s on the fifth line of betting to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at $13 following the first two games of his NFL career. With Jackson looking to improve further as he adjusts to the new offence, the Ravens should have enough points in them against a Colts team difficult to trust in this spot.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
Bill Belichick has a week to plot against Zach Wilson…
One is proven in his craft and among the best coaches in NFL history. The other is a quarterback that has never looked comfortable in the league and last week, looked exactly like the player most expected. It wasn’t good. He threw three interceptions and was just 12-27 for 170 yards on the day.
Now, Belichick can craft his defence to dominate a quarterback who hasn’t connected on a throw of 20+ yards across his two games this season. A quarterback that has thrown seven interceptions against New England in the past.
The Patriots are 0-2 but have done well in keeping the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 to under 25 points. They’ve done that after giving up early scores and needing to claw their way back into the game, too. They’re unlikely to run the Jets off the park regardless, but they have enough defensively to pick up their first win of the NFL season. Another win here would make it 15 in a row over the Jets dating back to 2015.
Denver Broncos @ Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are a popular team in the NFL at the moment. They’re enjoyable to watch and one many are prepared to get behind given how long it has been since they were last relevant in the Super Bowl conversation (currently $13). What that often means, though, is you can find value in the other side.
When the other side is Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos as they are right now but with the reputation they carry from last season, sign me up.
Wilson has quietly put together a nice start to the season. The Broncos have scored 49 points throughout the opening two weeks and Wilson has been the catalyst. He’s third in touchdowns (3), fourth in passer rating (108.5), seventh in adjusted EPA/play (.22) and 10th in yards per attempt (7.3). Wilson may no longer be elite, but he is performing well at the moment.
The #Broncos offense ranks:
• 1st in points per possession
• 1st in TD drive %
• 7th in total DVOA
• 7th in Success Rate
• 8th in EPA per play
Russell Wilson ranks:
• 2nd in TD passes
• 3rd in CPOE
• 4th in QB rating
• 6th in EPA per play
• 10th in Success Rate
— Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) September 21, 2023
Historically, he bounces back from these spots. Per Evan Abrams at the Action Network, Wilson is 14-4-1 against the spread when coming into a game on a two-game or more straight-up losing streak. Drew Brees, coached by Sean Payton, is the only quarterback with a better record over the last 20 years.
Miami is the better team and deserving favourites, but these two look closer than the line suggests. Wilson can keep Devner close if the defence holds up their end of the bargain.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Minnesota Vikings
Both teams have underperformed to be 0-2 to start the 2023 NFL season. Neither inspires a lot of confidence heading into this one. I like the Vikings, though.
They’ve not been that far off in their first two games. While they grossly overperformed expectations to be 11-0 in close games last season, the record is regressing back to the mean. But that isn’t to say they’re regressing as a group. This is still a good team, Kurt Cousins is still a good quarterback, and he’s throwing to the best wide receiver in football. If they can cut down on the turnovers and provide Cousins and Justin Jefferson with enough chances to link up, they have enough points in them to win at home here.
The Chargers, on the other hand, may again be without Austin Ekeler and struggled last week. Defensively, they’ve allowed 438.5 yards per game – the most in the NFL by a distance. With the reigning Offensive Player of the Year in Jefferson who already has 309 yards on 20 receptions to his name in front of them, it’s any wonder how the Chargers hope to contain him.
Minnesota aren’t angels without the ball themselves. There is a reason the total for this one has blown out to 54.5 already. Still, they’re the eighth-ranked passing defence in the league and if the Chargers don’t have Ekeler to rely on in the running game, they’ll struggle to get up the field at times.