NFL Week 3 teasers: Low totals proving to be the best vehicle for value
We dug a winner out of the dirt with our best two-team teaser last week. However, other than the expected low-scoring Patriots-Steelers and Panthers-Giants games, it's been a tough scene. Touchdown underdogs have been winning outright, and an unusual amount of 2.5-point favorites have won by a significant margin. Hopefully, the math will turn as probabilities suggest it will.
Some games don't have a teaser-worthy point spread. For example, the Browns are 4.5-point favorites at home to the Steelers on Thursday. Teasing Cleveland would see the spread go through zero, which is wasting valuable price points around the improbable chance of a tie. Teasing Pittsburgh up to +10.5 would be appealing as it'd get the key numbers up to around a touchdown, but you're already winning on 3- and 4-point margins at a -110 price. Getting +6, +7, or +8 over a long sample size isn't worth the price hike.
You can see how the pricing significantly jumps once you move across the key number of 3, showing the importance of capturing that number in NFL betting. But more importantly, the Chargers' alternative spread (-1) is priced at -315, which is obviously a much larger price to pay than getting LAC -1 with our teaser leg at -270.
To get a good deal on the Chargers (-1), we must pair them with another line and win both to cash the ticket. Fortunately, we can choose that other leg from our weekly "teaser basket" using what we know about key numbers.
Let's look at the mathematically optimal plays available for Week 3:
There are a handful of dangerous situations present when a team is favored by less than a touchdown, especially when the Chiefs, Bills, and Eagles were projected to be shorter favorites just over a week ago. Meanwhile, the Chargers have Justin Herbert's rib cage to worry about, and the Vikings had two dramatic matchups against the Lions just last season.
In the "tease up" department, Week 3 provides an opportunity with games featuring short spreads of under a field goal and low totals. The total for Titans-Raiders is 45.5, which is a high-octane matchup compared to the total of 42 for Falcons-Seahawks and Packers-Buccaneers. On Monday Night Football, the Cowboys-Giants total is 39.
In each case, the goal will be to get +2/+2.5 to tease those underdogs up to at least eight points. Even though they didn't affect teasers, we saw two instances last week where +7 isn't quite as key as it used to be. The Falcons rightly went for a two-point conversion to get within eight points of the Rams, which is something more and more teams are doing. Also, the Browns' missed extra point cost them a game outright and the cover on -6.5. That's something that wouldn't have happened back when that kick was a mere chip shot.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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