Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 3 best bets

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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email
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Man vs Machine

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Man vs Machine. This NFL season, I’ll be making my five best NFL bets each week. Our Pickswise supercomputer will make its best five bets, and then we’ll compare. May the best man (or machine) win.

Our computer model gives probabilities and projections for the main NFL betting markets (spread, total & money line), best bets for spread, total, money line, and same game parlays. It also features prop bet probabilities for first and anytime touchdown scorer, plus individual player projections for passing, rushing, receiving yards, and touchdowns for betting and fantasy use.

Our computer has been absolutely crushing it, and it went a perfect 5-0 last week.

For more information on how the supercomputer works and how it generates picks, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now let’s look at the picks:

My 5 best bets

Colts +5.5 over Titans

Even with Carson Wentz’s ankles less than 100 percent, this line is too high. Tennessee’s defense has been an abject disaster, as they’ve given up at least 30 points in each of the first two weeks. Everyone is ready to bury Indianapolis, but they just had a really tough draw by opening against the Seahawks and Rams. DeForest Buckner should be able to help slow down Derrick Henry.

Saints +3 over Patriots

A week ago, this line would’ve been a pick ’em. Just because the Saints lost a game to the Panthers, oddsmakers have overreacted. New England wants to hide Mac Jones and let Damien Harris carry their offense, but that won’t work against a stout New Orleans run defense. The Saints are also starting to get a lot healthier in the secondary.

Falcons +3 over Giants

Daniel Jones laying a field goal? Yeah, right. Quietly, Atlanta didn’t look too bad in their loss to the Buccaneers last week. They actually out-gained Tampa Bay. The final score there doesn’t tell the full story, as the Falcons had the ball down only three in the fourth quarter. Atlanta’s O-line will look a lot better now that they don’t have to face the defensive fronts of Philadelphia or Tampa.

Dolphins +3.5 over Raiders

Speaking of overreactions, everyone is overcompensating for the loss of Tua Tagovailoa. There’s really not much of a downgrade from Tagovailoa to Jacoby Brissett, if there is one at all. Now is the time to sell high on the Raiders following their upset win over the Steelers. I think that had more to do with Pittsburgh being just plain bad than anything else.

Vikings +1.5 over Seahawks

The Vikings are 0-2, but they just as easily could be 2-0. In Week 1 they lost a heartbreaker after a controversial call in overtime, and in Week 2 they lost another heartbreaker when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal in the game’s final seconds. They’re due for some positive regression, and it should come here in their first home game of the season.

Computer picks

Jaguars +8 over Cardinals, Washington +7 over Bills, Bengals +3 over Steelers, Falcons +3 over Giants, Eagles +3.5 over Cowboys.

The computer and I agree on the Falcons. Our model is also going with the Jaguars, Washington, Bengals, and Eagles. I’d lean toward all of their tendencies as well, although they aren’t my favorite plays.

I’m 5-5, while the computer is a near-flawless 9-1. Let’s see if I can even things up on what should be another fun Sunday…

2021 Season Results

Pickswise Expert (5-5)
Pickswise Computer (9-1)

Don’t forget to check out our free picks on the side and total for every NFL game. You can also view all of our computer picks here.

How are the pre-game win probabilities calculated?
The Pickswise supercomputer creates pre-game probabilities using machine learning techniques as inputs to a Monte Carlo approach. This means we simulate a sporting event 10,000 times, catering for the deep range of outcomes and probabilities within a given event. We first predict the performance of each individual player based on hundreds of algorithmic variabilities, which we use to run our event simulations.

Why do the win probabilities and predictions change over time?
The probabilities are dynamic in nature and get updated as new information becomes available. This includes but is not limited to team news, weather conditions, and moves in the betting market.

What does a ‘value bet’ mean?
A value bet is where we’ve identified that the probability of the event occurring is more likely than the listed sportsbook odds. Taking these bets gives you an increased chance of being a successful gambler.

How is the change in win probability calculated during a live game?
Live win probability is a statistical metric that projects the team’s likelihood of winning at any given point by simulating the remainder of the game. Based on the performance of historical teams in the same situation and the current state of the game, the model updates in real-time following every major event during the game.

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