NFL Week 3 betting takeaways: Where oddsmakers rate the teams

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When the pandemic shut down sports for months in 2020, some people cultivated yeast for bread-making. I tried to learn about the stock market, and I noticed finance media sounded a lot like sports media. Knowing the similarities between investing in companies and investing in teams, we're using this space to assign theoretical stock prices to teams.

If you think a company is underpriced, you buy its stock. If you think its value has peaked, you sell. That's the mindset we're trying to have for betting the NFL, and recognizing how teams are mispriced has been a very valuable - and profitable - tool.

How ratings work

We look at the betting market's assessment of each team based on the closing lines from the previous week's games and then we estimate what each club is capable of going forward. The "rating" column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers' rating to create a point spread before their most recent game. The number itself represents the percentage chance that a team beats an average opponent on a neutral field.

The range column is my evaluation of each team's potential after seeing them play this past week. Obviously, clubs don't perform at the same level every week - the players are human, after all. They play within a range. It's our job as handicappers to predict how they'll perform based on things like the situation, on-field matchups, and roster/injury issues. The earlier it is in the season, the wider a team's range may be.

Rating before Week 3 kickoff

Bills 80 60-85
Chiefs 72 60-85
49ers 67 45-75
Packers 65 55-70
Buccaneers 65 60-80
Eagles 65 40-75
Rams 64 55-75
Chargers 62 55-85
Ravens 61 50-75
Bengals 58 50-75
Dolphins 57 40-70
Vikings 56 45-75
Broncos 54 50-75
Saints 54 40-70
Raiders 54 40-65
Patriots 48 40-60
Colts 47 45-65
Browns 47 40-70
Cardinals 46 30-60
Cowboys 44 30-70
Lions 43 20-50
Panthers 41 30-50
Giants 41 25-55
Titans 40 40-60
Commanders 40 30-50
Jaguars 39 20-50
Steelers 38 35-60
Bears 37 20-45
Falcons 35 20-50
Texans 33 20-40
Jets 33 20-40
Seahawks 30 20-40

Notable Week 3 results

The Bills were rated highly before their destruction of the Titans. They crushed them, and then they got rated even higher. That's tough to sustain, and it created value in Miami last week. Meanwhile, Tennessee's virtual stock price went way down, creating value on them last week.

The gap between Buffalo and the next-best team should tighten this week, but who should be second? Another win and cover by the Eagles should get them closer to the top. The Buccaneers went from -3 on open to -1 on close against Green Bay, indicating a rating drop due to a rough injury report. The same goes for the Chargers. Los Angeles had more issues than just Justin Herbert's ribcage and only saw its prospects get dimmer after losing Rashawn Slater and Joey Bosa for the season. Look for their rating to fall next week after the closing numbers come in for their matchup with the Texans on Sunday.

The 49ers' rating went up after they beat the Seahawks and got George Kittle back, plus there was perhaps some more short-term confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo than Trey Lance. Sunday night suggests that might have been misplaced. Meanwhile, a week of Nathaniel Hackett mockery pulled down the Broncos' rating, but they didn't do much to disprove the theory that they're slightly above average.

The Vikings' fall seems large, but it's really an admission that they got too much credit for their Week 1 win over Green Bay. Similarly, the Steelers rose going into Thursday Night Football, which might have been an acknowledgment of an overreaction to their loss of T.J. Watt before their Week 2 game against the Patriots. Both Minnesota and Pittsburgh are probably rated fairly now.

The Colts were as high as 7-point underdogs last week, but the market realized that was far too low. The Browns' loss to the Jets had people selling before they beat Pittsburgh, showing that Cleveland might be the toughest team to rate on a weekly basis.

For every team that plummets too far, like the Cowboys into Week 2 and the Titans into Week 3, there's a team like the Commanders, who fell down the ratings after losing to Detroit and did nothing to change that Sunday against the Eagles.

Oddsmakers tried to move the Lions up before Week 2 against the Commanders, but the market bet Washington. One dominant Detroit win later, the market relented, agreeing with oddsmakers' initial rating of the Lions.

The Falcons continue to rise as the scrappy underdog we predicted they'd be in the preseason, while the Seahawks nestle into the last spot. As expected, the Cowboys moved way up after beating the Bengals. A win against the Giants indicates the low 40s seem like a good spot for Dallas with Cooper Rush at quarterback.

Lastly, you'll note a gap around 50, which is more an indication of the up-and-down nature of weekly ratings than anything else. That area is probably tighter than last week's closing lines indicate.

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.

NFL Week 3 betting takeaways: Where oddsmakers rate the teams
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