Every Friday during the NFL season, theScore's sports-betting writers will release their best bets for the week. Each writer has been given an imaginary $1,000 bankroll to manage throughout the campaign. If you decide to follow any of the picks, please gamble responsibly.
Odds courtesy of theScoreBet.
Season Record: 2-1, +$45
Line: Bills -6
The Bills enter this game 2-0 while the Bengals are 0-2 after last week's ugly 24-point home loss to the 49ers. So, the Bills should win this game easily, right? Not so fast.
Cincy did lay an egg in Week 2, but the team gives us some value with this line. Buffalo's two wins came over the Jets and Giants - teams that are a combined 0-4. The Bengals' two losses, meanwhile, came against teams with a combined 4-0 record in the Seahawks and 49ers. And now the offensively challenged Bills are nearly a touchdown favorite? That's an overreaction to last week's results.
The Bills aren't used to long winning streaks. They're 3-13 straight up and 4-12 against the spread in the contests following their last 16 two-game runs. The Bengals, on the other hand, have been profitable in this spot, going 8-2 ATS in their last 10 outings as road underdogs. There's too much value for me not to pounce on this line. Don't be surprised if Cincinnati wins this game outright.
Pick: Bengals +6 ($75)
Season record: 3-3, -$35
One of our editors joked I had a good bounce-back week following a superb 0-3 start. Aren't my intentions obvious? I always try to lose as much as possible as early as possible so my limits go up, only to lay the hammer down the rest of the season. I doubt I lose another game, to be honest.
Now, about this Ravens-Chiefs game, the first I bookmarked last Sunday. I was all for anything under 55, so this was the first game I locked in for Week 3. There isn't a bad matchup for Patrick Mahomes in the entire league. Whether it's the Ravens' defense or the Dolphins' defense, the only way Mahomes and the Chiefs fail to scheme receivers open is if they forget to set their alarms. I, for one, do not fear Baltimore's defense.
The nail in the coffin for taking the total here is Lamar Jackson. This new offensive approach of taking shots deep is the optimal way to exploit Kansas City's defense, and Jackson is currently the league leader in average completed air yards at 8.7 through two weeks. Hollywood Brown and the Ravens' 31 tight ends have been huge in creating explosive plays so far. Baltimore's faced a couple of porous defenses, but the Chiefs' secondary shouldn't intimidate Jackson. Expect an incredible pace and a bunch of chunk plays.
Pick: Over 52 ($30)
I watched the Cardinals pretty closely last week. They're fun. They aren't good, bless their hearts, but they're exciting to watch. What Arizona's offense lacks in efficiency, it'll make up for with ridiculous pace; the Cardinals run no-huddle more than 50% of the time as Kliff Kingsbury tries to morph them into Texas Tech.
Kyler Murray had a tough go in his first start but fared pretty well on the road at Baltimore. Back at home for his third start and getting more comfortable, he faces a Panthers defense that's allowing 9.0 air yards per attempt. Whether it's Cam Newton or Kyle Allen at quarterback - imagine saying this two seasons ago - I'll fade the Cardinals' defense any chance I get with totals in the mid-40s.
Pick: Over 45.5 ($30)
Line: Vikings -8.5
I don't enjoy laying close to double digits in the NFL market, but this is a good spot to back Minnesota. Quarterback Kirk Cousins finally gets to play a bad team, so shouldn't we see the good version of him in Week 3? His numbers aren't great, but he's still getting the most time in the pocket of any quarterback in the league. He should have a field day whenever he's not feeding Dalvin Cook, who already has 265 yards and three scores on the ground.
The problem with backing Oakland in this spot is that the offense has to score points. Last time I checked, that's how you win and cover games. But there are no real threats at the skill positions outside of Tyrell Williams, who should have his hands full with Xavier Rhodes. Minnesota had a couple of tests early against Atlanta and Green Bay, but this is a severe step down in class.
Pick: Vikings -8.5 ($30)
Season Record: 1-2, -$92
Line: Vikings -8.5
The fact Minnesota isn't 2-0 will be eating away at Mike Zimmer and his team all week. After a pathetic first 16 minutes, the Vikings outscored the Packers 16-0 and outgained them 367-164 - only to find themselves a head-scratching, fist-through-the-wall Kirk Cousins interception away from a huge divisional win at Lambeau Field. Cook did his part, but Zimmer will be furious with what was assuredly one of Cousins' worst games in purple and yellow. It speaks volumes about this Vikings team that even with Cousins completing 43.75% of his passes, Minnesota should have upset the Packers.
Zimmer, ever the disciplinarian, will be on his offense all week, putting extra emphasis on getting the passing game into a rhythm. That's unfortunate for the Raiders, who will be on the receiving end of a get-right spot for the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis. The Vikings will pound the ball again with Cook but also ramp it up through the air to get Cousins back into a groove. And you have to pity Derek Carr against this Minnesota defense, especially with Josh Jacobs battling an illness and an injury.
The Vikings are 22-6-3 ATS (78.6%) as home favorites under Zimmer, and 10-2-2 as favorites of six or more points during his tenure. The Raiders just don't have the talent on either side of the ball to match them. It could get ugly at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Pick: Vikings -8.5 ($80)
Season record: 2-4, -$136
Instead of playing an unappetizing slate of side action this week, I'm all-in on the under in the Dallas-Miami game, for which oddsmakers have nudged the total from 47 to 47.5 despite the Dolphins' glaring inability to score touchdowns. Miami's plan to start Josh Rosen will likely turn a conservative offense into a frozen one, while the Cowboys can run to their hearts' content with a sizable lead.
In the last 30 years, games with a 21-plus-point favorite are 3-2 to the under, and the two overs featured the '07 Patriots and '13 Broncos in contests with totals eclipsing 50. There won't be enough juice in this game to reward an over ticket.
Pick: Under 47.5 ($75)