NFL Week 3 Winners
Not exactly the start we were looking for last night, but a wise man once said, "you can't go 5-1 during a week if you don't lose one game." Losing always sucks, but it seems to sting worse when it's the first one out of the gate for a new week. The Jaguars definitely did not perform in line with their observed data thus far in 2020, but that's the way the cookie crumbles in the NFL. Hitting 60% winners over the long run is not an easy task and the reality is sometimes teams lay an egg...that's what happened last night.
We knew going into this year that there would be some new nuance to the early season contests. The goal of our work is the same as it's always been, relay our research to the world to hopefully make betting on football and other sports more fun and a little more profitable. Last night, there wasn't anything different we had to evaluate if you compared it to a Week 3 game from any previous season...sometimes teams don't show up and you end up placing a positive expected value play that turns into a big fat loser.
The week and season are both still very young and there is plenty of value for us to scoop up. Every surprising win creates a move in public sentiment that can then quickly go too far too fast and we are sitting there in the shadows waiting to pounce...
With that in mind, let's turn our attention to our NFL predictions for Week 3 of the season. We have 5 GreenZone games left and it's going to be an absolutely electric 1 o'clock slate for us!
[6.6 Units] The Washington Football Team (+7) at Cleveland Browns
6.6 Units – WSH +6.5 or more
3.3 Units – WSH +6
No Action – WSH +5.5 or less
The Washington Football Team's defense is loaded with young studs. They are currently #1 in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA through two games, despite playing the potent Cardinals' offense on the road last week. In a time where passing dictates the success of most offenses from week-to-week, the Washingtons have been far and away the most stingy in 2020. They have Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Troy Apke, etc. in the secondary, but the front-7 is what's driving their success on that side of the ball. They are #1 in the league with 11 sacks... that's 5.5/game!, which is not surprising given they have Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathtan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, and Ryan Kerrigan all getting after it.
The Browns got a fairly impressive primetime win against the Bengals last week and everyone loves to love the offensive weapons at their disposal. Our models do like the Browns to win the game outright, but 7-points is a lot in this league. With the Washingtons giving the Browns offensive line fits and probably forcing some turnovers or short fields for Haskins and crew, the game should come in closer to a field goal.
[6.6 Units] Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) at home with Tennessee Titans
6.6 Units – MIN +2.5 or more
3.3 Units – MIN +2
No Action – MIN +1.5 or less
It's been an ugly start to the year for the Vikes, but they are hungry home dog and are a long way from packing it in. Sure, they got beat up pretty good last week at Indy, but there is no cure like some home cooking to get a great defense back on track. This is a matchup league and we like the Mike Zimmer defense to find it's footing against the predictable Titans scheme. The problem most teams run into against the Titans is they impose their will on the opposition. Spreading the Vikings out and flinging it around ala Aaron Rodgers has historically been a much better way to succeed against the hard-nosed defense. Our models have Minnesota as slight home favorites, so we will take the free points and a favorable matchup without thinking twice.
[6.6 Units] Las Vegas Raiders (+6.5) at New England Patriots
6.6 Units – LV +6.5 or more
3.3 Units – LV +6
No Action – LV +5.5 or less
Betting against the Patriots a week after a loss hasn't been a great formula for making money the last.. ohh, I don't know, 25 years. Furthering the concern we have is that teams winning primetime games are typically overvalued by the public the following week. Beating the Saints on Monday Night Football is about as big time as it gets.
Those are just our cowardly fears bubbling up to the surface, though...and that's not what drives our decision-making process at this shop! The Patriots obviously lost Tommy Brady, but they also led the league with 8 guys opting out before the season started. Guys like Marcus Cannon, Patrick Chung, Dont'a Hightower... key starters. Yes, Cam Slam Newton is going to pound the rock and keep them in games, but no, this is not a dominate Patriots team like in years' past.
As crazy of a combo as Mayock and Gruden are, it looks like they've built a legitimate roster that can compete with anybody in the league. Nobody was doubting the Saints or Drew Brees when they manhandled the Bucs in Week 1, but the Raiders somehow aren't getting near as much credit as you'd expect for that great game last week. We are going to ignore long-term history and focus on the current data... viva Las Vegas, babayy.
[6.6 Units] Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at home with Cincinnati Bengals
6.6 Units – PHI -5.5 or less
3.3 Units – PHI -6
No Action – PHI -6.5 or more
The sky is falling in Philadelphia and Doug Pederson has got to go.... NOT SO FAST, my friends! An 0-2 start to the season is never ideal, but there are a lot of instances where teams recover and easily win their division. The Eagles are licking their dogmask chops watching film of this Bengals swiss cheese offensive line. Burrow played like a fucking man against the Browns last week, but by our unofficial stats he took about 40 big hits. Even on bubble screens he was getting up off the ground adjusting his chinstrap after the play...that's not a great recipe heading into Philly. If you don't think Jim Schwartz is dialing up the sauce to a 14 out of 10 against the rookie, you've been living under a rock for the last decade. Our models have this slightly over a touchdown, but we think a laugher may be in store.
[6.6 Units] Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) at home against Houston Texans
6.6 Units – PIT -4 or less
3.3 Units – PIT -4.5
No Action – PIT -5 or more
We don't know who the Houston Texans pissed off at the league office, but judging by their schedule to open up the season, they are very clearly in the doghouse. They have played respectable against the Chiefs and Ravens, but things aren't getting any easier for them heading to Pittsburgh this weekend. Houston is dead last in the league in adjusted sack rate against their offense and that's with Deshaun Watson giving them every opportunity to get out of bad situations. The Steelers have basically only drafted linebackers and edge for the last 30-years and this defense looks primed to once again cause havoc all year.
On the flip side, the Texans defense is relatively toothless compared to some of the squads they've put out there in the recent past. The Steelers offensive line should be able to have their way and control the line of scrimmage. If a team can control the LOS on both sides of the ball, it's going to end up in a win, more times than not. As long as this is a clean game without a bunch of turnovers or weird special teams plays, the Steelers should coast to the cover.