NFL Week 3 picks, predictions & best bets from NFL expert Jared Smith: Selling high on the Eagles

Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles

Welcome to Week 3!

Last week’s column nailed the best bet on the Niners and the over in Detroit, but not much else went right. All 3 of our teaser legs lost and the over fell short on Monday as Kirk Cousins imploded once again in primetime. But on the bright side, we’re 2-0 with our “best bets” this season and I will look to keep that streak going this week.

Onward we go with our oddsmaker pal Casey Degnon from Westgate in the saddle offering his expertise as we highlight some of the most important trends and key matchups to watch this week. As always, please check my portfolio at the bottom of the column for the official plays.

Week 3 market update: Games with key injuries that could impact the lines on Sunday

Jaguars at Chargers: Chargers -7 (-110)

After opening Jags +9.5 earlier this summer, we have seen this line frozen on the key number of 7 all week long as we await word on the status of QB Justin Herbert, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday. If Herbert plays, Degnon expects a half point to a full point of movement toward the Chargers but also anticipates some respected money on Jacksonville, as well — which will prevent it from being a significant move.

I laid 7 with the Chargers earlier in the week with the expectation that Herbert would play and I could either buy back at 7.5 on gameday or keep my position. Please check Twitter or my betting spreadsheet this weekend for updates on that position.

*Update: On Friday there was a leak that Herbert would miss this game, so I ate the juice and came back on Jags +7 at South Point. Not an ideal move, but I wasn’t going to be stuck holding a Chargers -7 ticket that will be a lemon by Sunday. If you haven’t bet this game yet, I would stay away. 

Be sure to check out our full Jacksonville Jaguars vs Los Angeles Chargers predictions

Chiefs at Colts: Colts +6 (-110)

Both QBs are healthy in this one, but Indy expects to get WRs Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce back from injury. LB Shaquille Leonard is also trending toward playing. Those are massive additions for a Colts team that melted in the Jacksonville sun last week.

That news plus some sharp money entering the market on the Colts has kept this line beneath the key number of 7. This is also the home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium and a tough matchup for the Chiefs’ defense, which allowed a 52% success rate on run plays against the Chargers last week — great news for Jonathan Taylor.

I took 6 with Indy, and I think it will probably get to 5 or 5.5 by Sunday as those 3 key players for the Colts are confirmed in the lineup.

Be sure to check out our full Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts predictions

Talking Totals: Rev your engines in the Motor City, pace problems in muggy Miami

Lions at Vikings: Over 51.5 (-110)

We hit on the Lions over last week and I’m going back to the well, as I have been very impressed with their offense so far this season — especially Jared Goff, who is ranked top 10 in air yards thrown (a category in which he has historically struggled). Detroit will also get back starting center Frank Ragnow, bolstering an already deep offensive line and run game.

I expect a bounce-back from Kirk Cousins against this Lions defense, which plays more man coverage than any other team in the league. That’s great news for Cousins, who was 1st in EPA per play against man in 2020 and 2nd last season.

Bills at Dolphins: 1st half Under 26 (-110)

Temps are expected to nearly touch 90 on Sunday in South Beach with 80% humidity, and the Dolphins have elected to wear home whites, which will force the Bills to wear the darker blue uniforms, making the heat slightly more difficult to bear. Buffalo also has 1.5 fewer days to prepare due to their Monday night game and a half-day built in for travel.

It’s hard to predict exactly which side of the ball the heat might affect more, but I think it’s fair to say the overall pace of the game will be somewhat sluggish. According to Degnon, the sharps “planted their flag” with under bets at 54 and 53.5 — so don’t expect this total to increase much over the weekend. Most unders I bet this season will be in the first half with the goal of eliminating any late-game variance.

Don’t miss our 14-team millionaire NFL money line parlay (+271381 odds!)

Teaser Time: Moving 2 short ‘dogs through 2 key numbers

Broncos +1.5 to 7.5 vs 49ers

There’s no denying how disjointed Denver has looked in its first two games, which is why this line flipped from the Broncos as short favorites last week to now short underdogs this week. That gives us a perfect opportunity to tease the home team through both key numbers in a relatively low-total game.

Despite some red-zone issues and questionable decision making by rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the Broncos have played well this season. Denver is 3rd in the league in net yards per play, which means it is doing a good job moving the ball and preventing the opponent from moving it. The Broncos are also top 10 in EPA per play on both sides of the ball.

Russell Wilson has plenty of familiarity against this Niners defense over the years, and I hope Hackett starts to settle down in his third game at the helm. The altitude could also be a factor here, especially early in the season when teams are not in midseason cardiovascular shape.

Packers +2 to +8 at Bucs

It’s hard to believe a game that features Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers under center has a total barely above 40, but the reality is these two teams are much further ahead on the defensive side of the ball at this stage of the season.

That being said, Tampa Bay’s usually stout rush defense has been a bit leaky through the first 2 games — allowing 51.4% of runs to be successful — the 3rd-worst mark in the NFL. That plays right into the strength of the Packers’ offense, which features the 4th-highest success rate on the ground through the first 2 weeks.

NFL Week 3 Best Bet: Commanders +7 (-110)

I was quick to pounce on this number on Tuesday morning when the market reopened following the Eagles’ MNF win over the Vikings, but I would still feel comfortable betting this at the current odds of 6.5. Degnon agrees the market has gotten stretched a bit based on the first 2 weeks, especially considering SuperBook opened Eagles -1 back in June. The smart money also believes Washington is the right side, as all the 7s were gobbled up very early in the week.

Jalen Hurts will be the center of attention for Jack Del Rio’s defense, but the young QB is 0-4 ATS in road divisional games and 4-7 ATS overall away from home — which is something to monitor as his career moves forward. It’s also a revenge game for Carson Wentz, who has likely had this game circled on his calendar since being traded back to the division in which his career started. Say what you want about Wentz’s erratic play, but he is grading out as an above-average passer through 2 weeks and looks comfortable in Scott Turner’s offense.

The Philly offense and Hurts’ legs could absolutely wreck this handicap for us, but I think the Eagles’ defense — which has the worst tackling grade in the NFL so far according to PFF — is susceptible to a backdoor cover. However, based on the Super Bowl buzz around Broad Street this week, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the Eagles lose this game outright.

Be sure to check out our full Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Commanders predictions

NFL Week 3 portfolio

Commanders +7 -110 (risk 1.5u at Circa) *Best bet*
Chargers -7 -110 (risk 1.5u at South Point)
Colts +6 -110 (risk 1.5u at South Point)
Lions/Vikings o51.5 -110 (risk 1.5u at Westgate)
Dolphins/Bills first half u26 -110 (risk 1.5u at Westgate)
6-point teaser -120: Packers +8, Broncos +7.5 (risk 1.5u at Caesars)
*Jaguars +7 -110 (risk 1.5u at South Point)

2022 NFL best bets record: 2-0, +2.75u (61.17% ROI)

Best Bet Result P/L
Week 1 Bucs/Cowboys u51 -110 Win +1.36u
Week 2 49ers -8.5 -108 Win +1.39u

2022 NFL column record: 5-3, +1.62u (7.92% ROI)

Week 1 +3.36u
Week 2 -1.75u

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