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Expert NFL Week 3 Picks Against The Spread

As we head to Week 3 of the 2011 NFL season, there are more questions than answers about who the playoff contenders might be. The Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills are 2-0, the Colts and the Chiefs are 0-2 and Cam Newton is on pace to throw for over 6800 yards this season. This is the week everyone tends to overreact… So the theme for my Week 3 betting picks ties right into that.

Play of the Week – 3-Team 6-point NFL Teaser

For anyone who has followed my picks over the years, you’re probably aware I bet at least one teaser most weeks of the season. These are generally math based plays that require little write up other than pointing you to my article on teaser betting strategy. Well for NFL week 3, it’s refreshing to see there are three teaser legs available where the bets both make 100% sense and are also mathematically correct.

New England Patriots -7.5 @ Buffalo Bills (September 25, 2011 – NFL Week 3)

Almost all publishers of 2011 preseason power rankings had the Buffalo Bills as one of the bottom six teams in the league. Fast forward to the present and they’re at home with a 2-0 record and all geared up to face the division powerhouse New England Patriots. Due to the impressive style in which the Bills have won this season (a 41-7 blowout in Kansas City, and a come from behind victory 38-35 over Oakland) many NFL bloggers are ready to declare them playoff contenders.

Let’s however keep this in perspective. The Buffalo Bills were a bottom six team in just about everyone’s preseason power rankings. Their 41-7 victory over the Chiefs was impressive, but considering the Chiefs got blown out 48-3 the next week at the hands of the Lions this is minimized a little. We hear about how great the Bills defensive stats have been compared to the Patriots, but we’re just two weeks into the season and circumstances have both teams stats inflated.

With this game I strongly advise not letting the first two weeks of the season factor too heavily into your analysis. With the Bills 2-0, the Patriots will not underestimate them as they have in the past. This should be a high scoring game either way, which slightly devalues the teaser. However just look at the moneyline at www.betonline.com where the odds are Patriots -380 Bills +320. Based on the moneyline odds and everything I know about NFL handicapping, teasing the Patriots to -1.5 is well advised and +EV.

Atlanta Falcons +2 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (September 25, 2011 – NFL Week 3)

Let me start by saying this game falls into basic teaser strategy and historically road underdogs of +1.5 to +2.5 have covered at an amazing clip. The reason I love this game in a teaser, other than the math making sense, the Tampa Buccaneers average the lowest margin of victory in games they win. Whenever they happened to be favored by -1.5 to -2.5 it near always makes complete sense to tease their opponent. The other factor with this game is I feel the odds are off due to injuries. Matt Ryan and Roddy White were both limited during Wednesday’s practice, where several defensive players are sidelined as well. This is all factored into the betting line, but there’s always slight overreaction mid-week when star QBs are injured. Yes, we could potentially get burned in this game, should the odds move to +3 or +3.5 and we’re in with our money bad. However, at the time we’re making this bet based on all known information I highly feel this is +EV. The times we’ll get burned are going to be less than the times we come out ahead when the market stabilizes closer to game time.

Miami Dolphins +2.5 @ Cleveland Browns (September 25, 2011 – NFL Week 3)

This is a case of two mediocre teams on the middle to lower end of the preseason power rankings. Neither has gotten off to all that great of a start but the Miami Dolphins are in worse shape at 0-2 and playing in perhaps the league’s toughest division. The Browns are at 1-1 and with the Steelers and Ravens chances to split, combined with their weak schedule a playoff run – although unlikely – is still not out of question. Thing is – no NFL team quits week #3 – NONE! While advantage on season chances might go to the Browns, from a betting perspective everything else SCREAMS Dolphins. Check the tout sites and blogs and you’ll see a LOT of faith is being put into the Browns pass defense, based on just two games. In those games they faced Andy Dalton / Bruce Gradkowski (Bengals) and Terry Collins (Manning-less Colts). The major factor here is people put too much stock into the week prior results. I’m taking this picks for much the same reason I took the Saints over the Bears last week.

My 6 Point Teaser Bet = Patriots -1.5, Falcons +8 and Dolphins +8.5
1 unit to win 1.8 units

Three Additional September 25, 2011 – NFL Week 3 Wagers

The theme of “what you saw last week doesn’t matter” carries into three of my other picks for this Sunday’s Week 3 games. I’ll give you the picks with a brief write up for each…

Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 (-120)

Yes, the Jags have their third starting QB in a few weeks’ time period and are starting a rookie who missed minicamp due to the lockout. However, this is what Coach Jack Del Rio feels gives their team the best chance to win. Keep in mind this same Del Rio who has been in the NFL near constantly since 1985, first as a player and since 2003 as the Jaguars coach. If he’s making this call, I trust it. Meanwhile even though the Panthers are 0-2, Rookie QB Cam Newton has been featured on the home page of Yahoo! Sports all week, and everyone is writing his praises. The NFL has 32 teams; the preseason power rankings had the Panthers ranked #32. The market is going to be hot on the Panthers here due to the Jags starting a no NFL experience QB, and the Panthers getting all the attention. If the line is off it will be in the Jags favor – which is I’m taking the Jags +3.5 -120 for 1.2u to win 1.0u – a bet I placed moments before writing this at www.betonline.com.

San Francisco 49ers +3 (-120)

This one is quite simple, the 49ers are about as an average of as you can get football team, where their opponent the Cincinnati Bengals are the youngest team in the league, and were considered to be in the race for the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft. These guys have however played great, I’ll give them that. But a line of +3 suggests if these teams played on a neutral field the game would be about 50/50. I don’t buy that one bit – and don’t agree it should be the case. The 49ers might have some issue, but they were also very close to starting 2-0 on the season if it wasn’t for a heroic comeback late last week by Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. 49ers are an average team with some experienced players, where the Bengals are very young and inexperienced. I like the 49ers to pull this one off outright, but in what should be a closely contested game I’ll take the +3 -120 @ www.betonline.com.

Detroit Lions -3 (-115)

When the Detroit Lions Regular Season win total opened this preseason at o6.5 -130 I hammered it moving the line to o7.0 -120 and then watched it get bet all the way to o8.5 +105. When 5Dimes opened odds on whether teams would make the playoffs or not, I maxed bet NO for the Minnesota Vikings at -320. So yes – while this pick goes against the trend in my other week 3 picks – in reality it is the same. I’m sticking with my preseason handicapping where I had the Lions capped as an 8 win team this season and the Vikings as a 5 win team. I don’t see much reason anything has changed and I fully expect the Lions to move to 3-0 for the first time since the 1980 season. My bet: Lions -3 -115.

That’s four picks for 2011 NFL Week 3, and I’m hoping for a 3-1 win rate, to put everyone following 2 games over .500 for the betting season. Good luck on these and other wagers this week.