NFL Week 3: Best Bets ATS

09 / 23 / 2021 By Ally Mielnicki

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Week 2 picked up right where an exciting Week 1 left off as the Giants and the Redskins battled back and forth last Thursday night. It appeared the Giants behind QB Daniel Jones would pull off an upset, despite leaving several valuable points on the board, but an offsides penalty cost them the game.


Elsewhere, the Ravens avoided a dreaded 0-2 start by defeating the Chiefs at home on Sunday Night Football, rallying from behind to win 36-35, and the Packers bounced back from their horrible 38-3 loss in Week 1 to defeat the Lions on Monday Night.


So which teams are most likely to cover this weekend? Here are our picks for this week’s best bets against the spread.


Chiefs -6 over Chargers


In the final two minutes of Sunday night’s road game against the Ravens, it looked like Patrick Mahomes was once again about to work his magic and lead the Chiefs to a comeback victory, needing only a field goal to win the game. However, though the Chiefs were in field goal range, they opted to burn as much clock as possible and took the ball out of Mahomes’ hands and placed it in those of RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That decision to play it safe on the ground backfired as the second-year back fumbled the ball, enabling the Ravens to take over and run out the clock.


One of my favorite bets is always to back an MVP QB coming off of a loss, especially a close one at that. Back in front of their home crowd against a division rival, the Chiefs will want to put the previous week’s loss behind them and prove once again why they are the reigning AFC Champs two years in a row. 


The Chargers made their 2021 home debut last week in front of a packed crowd at SoFi Stadium but came up short as they lost to the Cowboys 20-17. Now, having to travel to Kansas City and play in front of a raucous crowd at Arrowhead, the Chargers will have to find a way to keep up with the Chiefs’ potent offense. QB Justin Herbert has the offensive weapons he needs in WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, along with RB Austin Ekeler’s playmaking abilities. Still, it might not be enough to counter Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce.


Even though it is a matchup between two divisional foes, expect Kansas City to go up early on Los Angeles and not look behind. After needing a comeback against the Browns in Week 1 and losing on the road to the Ravens last week, Mahomes and co. should be able to right the ship and win comfortably. Lay the points.


Bengals +3 over Steelers


Pittsburgh covering at home against Oakland was one of my top plays last weekend. However, once T.J. Watt went down for the Steelers, the defense never recovered. Pittsburgh would ultimately suffer an embarrassing 26-17 defeat in their home opener, despite the Raiders playing on a short week and coming off an emotional OT win in Week 1. 


The Bengals fell behind early against the Bears in Week 2 but managed to pull within a field goal before losing 20-17 on the road. It wasn’t the finest of days for second-year QB Joe Burrow as he made three costly interceptions. However, Pittsburgh’s defense proved without Watt, it isn’t nearly as intimidating as they allowed Derek Carr to play like an MVP. 


The Steelers Week 1 victory against the Bills looks less impressive and more like a fluke given that Buffalo demolished the Dolphins in Miami 35-0. Unlike the Bills, the Steelers took a step back in Week 2 and still had difficulty scoring when they needed to. Big Ben isn’t the same QB as a few years ago, and it is starting to show. 

Heinz Field may be one of the tougher stadiums to win at, especially against a Pittsburgh team looking to silence their critics after a loss, but in this divisional matchup, I expect the score to stay close through the 60 minutes. In the end, a field goal or less may decide the victor. Therefore, I’m going to take the points with the underdog in this contest. Give me the Bengals.


Saints +3 over Patriots


The Patriots’ offense didn’t need much to win comfortably against the lowly Jets, thanks to Zach Wilson. The 2nd overall draft pick tossed 4 interceptions in the contest, leading to easy scores by New England. Rookie QB Mac Jones completed 22 of 30 passes for 186 and zero TDs, and the Patriots were able to pull away with an uncompetitive 25-6 victory. 


The Saints, on the other hand, looked nothing like the team that dismantled the Packers 38-3 in Week 1. Instead, New Orleans fell behind Sam Darnold and the Panthers early and struggled to get the chains moving on offense, ultimately losing 26-7. Jameis Winston returned to his inconsistent form, completing only 11 of 21 passes for 111 yards and 2 interceptions.


Last week, the Panthers covering and winning outright was one of my top 5 best bets, and they didn’t let me down. The public was quick to jump on the Saints after the Packers failed to play in Week 1. Now, the public, being the fairweather bettors many tend to be, are pounding the Patriots – all because they defeated perhaps the worst team in the NFL. 


Sean Payton is a Super Bowl-winning coach and will be better prepared to coach his team against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. New Orleans would be favored despite playing in Foxboro if this matchup occurred in Week 2 instead of Week 3. Take advantage of the value oddsmakers give the Saints, and don’t be surprised if New Orleans wins outright. Fade the public and take the Saints.


Buccaneers -1.5 over Rams


At 2-0, both teams will be aiming to remain undefeated in a must-see afternoon duel in Los Angeles. Tom Brady and the Bucs have appeared to pick up right where they left off coming off their Super Bowl this past February, and the Rams have put on an offensive show with newly acquired QB Matt Stafford for the first two weeks of the season.


The Bucs kicked off the NFL season, coming from behind to defeat Dallas in Week 1, and efficiently took care of the division-rival Falcons at home the following week. The Rams lit up Sunday Night Football in Week 1 with an impressive defeat of the Bears and followed that up by winning on the road in Indianapolis this past weekend.


Both teams have the firepower on offense to ensure this matchup will be a high-scoring affair. The Rams, however, hold the edge on defense, especially behind perennial Pro-Bowlers Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Still, the defense has not seen an offense as potent as the Bucs in their first two games. With an arsenal that includes wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, along with TE Rob Gronkowski, Brady will have plenty of weapons to throw to at his discretion. Add to the fact that the Bucs have one of the top offensive lines in the league, and Brady should have no trouble finding an open man.


In a game that will likely come down to the last possession, the question is do you trust Stafford or Brady to pull off the two-minute drills most effectively and secure their team’s victory. We’ve seen it time after time again with Brady in both New England and Tampa Bay, and there’s no reason to think this will be any different. Take the road team to cover.


Packers +3.5 over 49ers


I’ve been saying one of my most trusted betting strategies for the NFL is to always bet against the winner of the Monday Night Football game. However, there are exceptions, and this game is one of them.


On Monday, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had no difficulty silencing their critics as they dispatched the Lions in Lambeau 35-17. RB Aaron Jones led Green Bay, scoring 4 TDs (1 rush, 3 pass) while Rodgers was near perfect, completing 22 of 27 passes and 4 TDs himself. It was a statement game for the Packers after their embarrassing 38-3 loss Week 1 to the Saints in Jacksonville.


Now, Rodgers and co. will have another game to prove naysayers wrong when they take on the 49ers on Sunday Night Football. You know the 2020 NFC Championship loss to San Francisco is still fresh in Rodgers and the Packers’ minds, and they will look to this matchup as vengeance for a game they were not competitive in from start to finish. The 49ers have suffered vital injuries both on offense and defense the first two weeks of the season and have squeaked by lesser opponents in the Lions and Eagles.


I expect the Packers to win this game outright, but it doesn’t hurt to take the 3.5 points if this game comes down to a last-minute field goal —side with the road team in primetime. 


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