Through the first two weeks of the new NFL season the oddsmakers have nailed the betting odds for the total line with 17 games going "over" the closing line and 15 games staying "under". Through the first two weeks of my top picks on the total line, it has been rough going to say the least with a 0-3 slide last week after going just 1-2 in Week 1.
I decided to go back to the drawing board to dig deeper into the pertinent stats, facts and betting trends for all of the matchups on this Sunday's slate in an effort to get back to my winning ways. The following are my top three picks for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL regular season based on betting odds by 5Dimes.
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Sunday, Sept. 27
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. FOX)
Total Line: 45
The 0-2 Saints were in trouble even with Drew Brees under center, but with him dealing with a rotator cuff issue it's hard to see New Orleans turning things around this week on the road against Carolina. If Brees cannot go, look for Luke McCown to get the start at quarterback, which only adds more downward pressure on an offense that has averaged only 19 points in its first two games.
Carolina will look to go to 3-0 after grinding out wins against Jacksonville and Houston in its first two games. The familiar formula of running the ball behind Jonathan Stewart, and occasionally Cam Newton, remains in place, and the Panthers' defense has gotten the job done by allowing less than 300 yards of offense while shutting down both the pass and the run.
The total line for this game opened at 44, and despite the uncertainty with Brees it has actually climbed a bit to 45. Even if he was healthy, I would go with the under in this matchup given New Orleans' past struggles on the road. Carolina's defense has been solid across the board, and the simple fact that the total has stayed under in 10 of the last 12 meetings at Bank of America Stadium points me in that direction again.
Game Pick: UNDER
Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams (1 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 47.5
The Steelers are 1-1 after coming up short against New England in a 28-21 loss and pinning 43 points on San Francisco in last week's lopsided win. The playmakers on this team have gotten off to fast starts, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 720 yards and four touchdowns while Antonio Brown racked up 328 receiving yards on 18 catches. Throw in the fact that running back Le'Veon Bell returns to the lineup this week, and I really like Pittsburgh's chances to put some serious points on the board against the Rams.
St. Louis is one of those teams that we are still trying to figure out. The Rams appeared to be the real deal in a thrilling 34-31 overtime win against Seattle, but they fizzled out in last Sunday's 24-10 loss to Washington. I look for a middle-of-the-road performance this Sunday. And while St. Louis may not score enough points to win this game, I still like its chances to keep things relatively close.
The opening total line of 48 has come down a bit to 47.5, which suits me just fine. The one thing that Pittsburgh has proven in its 1-1 start is that it still has one of the more dynamic offenses in the league that is designed to put points on the board. The total has gone over in six of the Rams last eight home games, and with the Steelers coming to town it's going over again this Sunday.
Game Pick: OVER
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (4:25 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 43.5
The Bills put up 27 points against Indianapolis, and they scored 32 points in a shootout loss against New England on their home field. However, this offense should be tested just a bit more this week in its first game of the year on the road. Buffalo's running game has been effective with the addition of LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, but this offense sputtered for most of last week's game until staging a fourth-quarter rally.
Miami grinded out a 17-10 win against Washington to start the season followed by a disappointing 23-20 loss to Jacksonville last Sunday. The one constant in both games is that the Dolphins are still going to have to rely heavily on their defense to win games. Ryan Tannehill continues to develop into a solid quarterback in this league, but this is not the type of offense that is going to run up 30 points on anyone.
This AFC East tilt opened with a total line of 43.5, and it has held steady as the week wore on. Buffalo has been able to score some points so far, but this is another game that I see as being a four-quarter grinder with the Bills turning to their running game and the Dolphins turning to their defense to stop it. The total has stayed under in four of the last five meetings in Miami, and it is staying under again this Sunday.
Game Pick: UNDER
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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