NFL Odds: Week 3 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
by Alan Matthews - 9/23/2016
The site gives an "over/under" of 1.5 for the eight teams that started 0-2 making the playoffs, with the under a big -250 favorite. And I'd go under there as I'm not sure any will except maybe the Colts or Jaguars. Enough said. Meanwhile, the total is 6.5 of the eight teams that started 2-0 to make the postseason, with the under a big -300 favorite. I'm a bit surprised this prop was still up Friday after 2-0 teams Houston and New England met on Thursday night. And I'll admit I fell into the trap of focusing just on the quarterbacks in that game, favoring Houston because the Patriots were starting third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett. I really have to stop doubting Bill Belichick as the Patriots destroyed the Texans 27-0. The Pats didn't win because of Brissett, who was 11-for-19 for 103 yards with a 27-yard rushing score, but didn't lose because of him, and that's good coaching. I obviously overestimated that Houston offense, which did squat.
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The Patriots are locks for the playoffs now at 3-0 and with Tom Brady back in Week 5. I still think Houston makes it. Ditto on Denver in the AFC West. The AFC North has Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and for sure yes on the Steelers barring a Ben Roethlisberger injury. No on the Ravens. The NFC East is the other division with two unbeaten teams. The Giants will win the East and get in, while the Eagles are a nice story but won't make the playoffs.
As for the Vikings. I can't remember a team being more devastated by injuries. Of course, QB Teddy Bridgewater was lost a couple of weeks before the regular season when his knee exploded even though Bridgewater wasn't touched. On Monday, I wrote that Adrian Peterson had a torn meniscus and was likely to miss a game or two but that it was possible to play through it. Except that Peterson chose to have surgery, which probably ends his season. I honestly think how the Vikings treated Peterson during that whole child abuse thing and suspension played a role here. Peterson feels no loyalty to that team. So why play on an injured knee and risk further injury? Take your cash and worry about next season (in which I don't think he's a Viking). Minnesota also lost left tackle Matt Kalil for the year. And defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd had arthroscopic surgery on his knee this week and will miss multiple games. Minnesota visits Carolina on Sunday -- apparently the game will be played in Charlotte despite all the civil unrest in the city -- and despite all the Vikings injuries, the line actually has dropped from Panthers -7.5 to -7.
The biggest line shift of the week has been Miami going from -7 to -10 in the Dolphins' home opener against Cleveland, but I touched on that game Monday. Bovada offers some props on Browns rookie QB Cody Kessler's statistics in his first NFL start so check those out.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 3.
Cardinals at Bills (+3.5, 47): Buffalo is the biggest home dog on the board, and Arizona is taking the biggest lean at most sportsbooks. It's the Bills' first game since firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promoting Anthony Lynn in a clear desperation move by Rex Ryan. Bovada asks if he will be fired before Week 17, with yes at even money and no at -140. If you follow my stories, you will know I predicted Ryan to be the first coach fired this season. One reason I think Ryan dumped Roman? Because Roman could have replaced Ryan as head coach -- he was a finalist originally with Ryan. If Buffalo gets stomped here, Ryan might not be on the sideline next week in New England, which is another likely loss. The Bills will again be without left tackle Cordy Glenn in Week 3 and top receiver Sammy Watkins is in question with a foot injury. If you watched last Thursday's Jets-Bills game, you could tell he's not right. The Cardinals are pretty healthy in what could be a major trap game for them with the early start and facing a desperate team.
Raiders at Titans (-2, 46.5): This line opened at pick'em. Here's something you don't see often -- Tennessee as a home favorite against a team other than Jacksonville. Be aware that the Titans have failed to cover their past six as a home favorite. Even though it's a cross-country trip and a 10 a.m. Pacific time start, this is one of those games the Raiders need to win if they are a legitimate playoff contender this season, as I expected them to be. Especially with a trip to Baltimore next week -- will the Raiders stay on the East Coast somewhere this week? Oakland cornerback David Amerson, who has the team's only interception this season, has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and will play. Last season in a 24-21 win over the Titans, Amerson had the game of his career as he set a Raiders record with six passes defensed, and also secured an interception and two tackles.
Bears at Cowboys (-7, 44.5): This is the Sunday night game. If you are inclined to give the points here, as I am, I'd do so now because this line has moved to 7.5 at some sportsbooks. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a thumb injury, although he reportedly is bugging the coaching staff to let him play. I doubt that happens if you watched him in Monday night's loss to Philadelphia. If Cutler is healthy enough to play, then he has no excuses for a terrible fumble and interception vs. the Eagles. It will almost surely be Brian Hoyer under center. But will Hoyer have No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery? The Bears didn't pursue a long-term contract with Jeffery this offseason because the guy is always banged up. So the team slapped the franchise tag on him. He's hurt again, dealing with a knee injury and questionable for Sunday. I give the Bears little chance of winning here regardless but almost none with if their only playmaker is out. In addition, a handful of defensive starters are out, led by nose tackle Eddie Goldman and linebackers Lamarr Houston (done for year) and Danny Trevathan. Bovada offers a prop on this game regarding how many times Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will fumble. He put it on the ground twice in a span of four carries during the final six minutes last week in Washington and lost one. Coach Jason Garrett benched Elliott and Alfred Morris scored the winning touchdown. Elliott is given an O/U of 0.5 fumbles, with the under a -200 favorite. That's the smart play. Elliott, incidentally, is now the +240 second-favorite for Rookie of the Year behind Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (+150).
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