Back to the Futures: Best NFL futures bets, odds & predictions following the Week 3 NFL action from betting expert Jared Smith

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Washington Commanders during the second quarter at FedExField.

Up and down we go on the NFL gambling rollercoaster. Week 3 brought plenty of upsets and surprises, but the most consistent thing we’ve seen thus is inconsistency and parity.

Now that we’re in-season, the goal of this column each week is to sift through the risers and fallers and identify value opportunities in the market by implementing a “dollar cost averaging” strategy. That might sound complicated, but it’s basically just making small investments throughout the season which should reduce the impact of volatility on our portfolio over the long haul.

Just like prior columns, we will be graced with the analysis and insight of Zachary Lucas, the head oddsmaker at TwinSpires. Any official wagers I make will be clearly stated and added to the official portfolio at the bottom and as always you can track all futures bets in real time on my spreadsheet.

Stock up: Philadelphia Eagles

A team that won and their odds are still in a reasonable range to buy

The Eagles are one of just 3 teams in the NFL ranked top 10 in EPA/play on both offense and defense after three weeks with the Bills and Jaguars being the other two. The defense was the unit I doubted after grading out poorly through the first 2 games, but they played a lot better against a bad Washington team this week. I only see improvement with that side of the ball going forward as Philadelphia plays just one game against a top 10 EPA/play offense for the rest of the season – the Jags this week.

“Look at their schedule, it’s virtually a cakewalk the rest of the year,” added Lucas. “Always nice to have the team with home-field throughout the playoffs.”

I think it’s fair to say the Eagles are the best team in the NFC right now, especially with the Packers, Rams and Bucs all looking weaker than expected. Their easy schedule also means I don’t see any prolonged slumps throughout the season, barring injury of course, which means now might be the best price we get on the Birds. See below for details on how I’m betting them.

Sell high: Minnesota Vikings & Indianapolis Colts

A team that won but we’re not convinced they’re for real just yet

It’s unfathomable to me how Kirk Cousins is grading out bottom 10 in most efficiency categories after three weeks considering the weapons he has around him and an offensive guru Kevin O’Connell calling plays. Matt Ryan and the Colts have the worst EPA/play of any offense in the league after three weeks despite having the reigning rushing champ in the backfield. Analytical madness.

“Do you really want to trust Cousins and Ryan when the game is on the line? Both teams are very inconsistent with a lot of holes,” added Lucas.

It doesn’t get any easier for either team in the short term. Minnesota has to face a pissed-off Saints defense in London this week that just got beat up by Baker Mayfield, and the Colts play 3 divisional opponents over the next four weeks with a trip to Denver sandwiched in between. Best to avoid both of these teams in the futures market for now.

Buy low: San Francisco 49ers

A team that lost but we are still high on overall, thus creating more value in the market long-term

The Niners almost escaped altitude with a win over the Broncos on Sunday night, but it opened up an opportunity for us to buy them at a reasonable price this week before a showcase game against the Rams.

“Division is wide open there,” added Lucas. “I like their defense and if Jimmy can make a few throws they’re looking at 2-1 or even 3-0 if they didn’t collapse against the Bears in the 2nd half. Shanahan is a top 3 coach in the league in my opinion.”

San Francisco is a short-favorite in Sunday’s matchup that will go a long way in deciding who has the early inside track in the NFC West race. I’ll trust the market here and say the Niners win that game, setting up a slingshot opportunity with their odds to win the division. That means San Fran also gets added to our portfolio this week. For more details see below.

Free fall: Las Vegas Raiders

A team that lost in such a catastrophic way that it’s hard to see them recovering in the short-term

There are plenty of teams grading out worse than Vegas through the first three weeks, but they’re still the only one with an 0-3 record. We expected the offensive line to be shaky and the defense to be below average, but the fact that Derek Carr is not grading out as a top 10 quarterback and the offense is hovering just above average is alarming.

“McDaniels is an embarrassment,” added Lucas. “Their defense can’t stop a nosebleed and Carr isn’t good enough to always be in a shootout.”

The teams that have beaten the Raiders are 0-6 in their other games, getting outscored by 16.2 points per game, which makes it hard to take them seriously against anyone at the moment. That being said, they are favored at home against the Broncos this week, a game I think has teaser value for Denver. More on that later this week in our best bets column.

This Week’s Portfolio:

Eagles to win NFC +370 (risk 0.5u at Boyd)
49ers to win NFC West +180 (risk 0.5u at Caesars)

Season Portfolio:






May 3rd

Jets o5.5 wins


2.5 units


May 18th

Eagles o8.5 wins


3.0 units


Aug 18th

Trevor Lawrence u14.5 INTs


3.0 units


Aug 28th

Jets u5.5 wins


1.88 units


Sept 13th

Bengals to win AFC North


0.5 unit


Sept 13th

Vikings to win NFC North


0.5 unit


Sept 27th

Eagles to win NFC


0.5 unit


Sept 27th

49ers to win NFC West


0.5 unit


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