NFL Betting Predictions: Week 3 Opening Line Report and Picks
I'm sure most of you sprint to your computers every Monday mid-afternoon during football season to check out my NFL Weekly Opening Line Report. Unfortunately, last week wasn't an option thanks to Hurricane Irma. If Hurricane Maria also hits my area, I'm definitely moving. But that's a story for another day.
Not a heck of a lot happened in Week 2, in my opinion. Pretty much everyone who was supposed to win did. Denver beating visiting Dallas wasn't a shock, but the margin of definitely victory was. The Bucs and Dolphins showed no rust after having their Week 1 game moved to Week 11 because of Irma. We knew the Bears, 49ers, Jets and Browns were going to stink this year, and they predictably are a combined 0-8.
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Most likely, the most important injury of Week 2 was suffered by Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen. He was knocked out of Sunday's 9-3 win over Buffalo with a broken right foot. As of now, it's not clear exactly where the fracture is in that foot. It greatly depends on the location in a timeline for Olsen. It could be something like 4-6 weeks or it could be the season.
I don't think there's any question that Olsen is the Panthers' second-most important offensive player after Cam Newton. On how many teams can you call a tight end that after the quarterback? Maybe New England (Rob Gronkowski) and Kansas City (Travis Kelce)? Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons last year. Over that three-year span, Olsen has 284 catches for 3,185 yards and 16 touchdowns. He works downfield more than most tight ends and has led the position in average depth of target each of the past two years.
Olsen's likely replacement, Ed Dickson, has only 37 catches for 370 yards and four TDs since joining the Panthers as a free agent from Baltimore in 2014. It's too bad for Carolina as it looks more like the 2015 team so far (Cam Newton doesn't quite yet) than the 2016 club that flopped. The Panthers are 6-point favorites this week vs. the defensively sorry Saints.
Here are some Week 3 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Rams-49ers, as much as I'd like to avoid previewing that one), my in-depth Sunday matchup (probably Seahawks-Titans) or the Monday night game (Cowboys-Cardinals) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Ravens "at" Jaguars (+4, 40.5): This is a 9:30 a.m. kickoff from Wembley Stadium in London. There's no national TV but you can stream it via Verizon. Of course, Jacksonville is "London's team" in a way as the Jags give up a home game annually to play overseas. Team owner Shad Khan also owns former English Premier League side Fulham (now in Football League Championship). I happen to believe this team does move there at some point. The Jags really frustrate me. Every time I let them pull me back in regarding thinking they have playoff capability, they ruin it. Jacksonville looked great Week 1 in Houston but was manhandled for the most part in Sunday's 37-16 home loss to Tennessee. Blake Bortles was awful, throwing for 223 yards and two picks while losing a fumble. He had only 11 completions and 89 yards passing through three quarters. Leonard Fournette was quiet with 40 yards on 14 carries, although he did score. Baltimore looks good at 2-0 but lost one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL in Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (Pro Football Focus named him the best overall in 2016) to a season-ending ankle injury in the Week 2 win over Cleveland. Yanda didn't allow a sack or quarterback hit in 2016. The Ravens will replace him with Tony Bergstrom, who was acquired in a trade from the Cardinals less than three weeks ago. The Pick: Jacksonville and love the 'under.'
Browns at Colts (+1, 40.5): I would have bet you almost anything that we wouldn't have seen Cleveland as a road favorite this season. The Browns last were in 2014 at Jacksonville and lost 24-6 at -4. It's not like Cleveland has shown anything to deserve being favored. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer looks overwhelmed. He was picked off three times and lost a fumble in Sunday's loss in Baltimore while completing only 48.4 percent of his passes. His running game doesn't exist. And second-year receiver Corey Coleman left vs. Baltimore with what is likely to be a broken hand. Coleman suffered a broken hand in Week 2 last season as well. The Colts, though, are just as sorry as the Browns when they don't have Andrew Luck. Not sure I've seen a team botch its quarterback situation this badly like Indy has. I'm presuming Luck won't play again this week (you won't see him before October) and that it will be Jacoby Brissett under center for the second straight week. He was so-so in a 16-13 OT home loss to the Cardinals, completing 20 of 37 for 216 yards and one crucial interception (in OT) as the Colts blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. It's the fourth straight year that Indianapolis is 0-2. Coach Chuck Pagano's not making it the full season. The Pick: Indianapolis and under (this might end 3-2).
Raiders at Redskins (+3.5, 53.5): Sunday night game. That total is easily the highest on the board. Oakland does lead the NFL with 71 points, although that's obviously inflated a bit by running up 45 on the putrid Jets on Sunday. Derek Carr is playing like an MVP candidate again, completing more than 70 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and no picks. He threw three TD passes to Michael Crabtree vs. New York and the Raiders rushed for 180 yards. Their offensive line might have replaced the Cowboys' as the best in the NFL. Believe it or not, it's the first time in 15 years that Oakland is 2-0. It went to the Super Bowl back then. Meanwhile, Skins QB Kirk Cousins is off to a bit of a slow start, but he has faced pretty good defenses in the Rams and Eagles. In Sunday's victory at the Rams, he wasn't needed too much as Washington rushed for 229 yards and two scores. However, No. 1 back Rob Kelley left with a rib injury and the worry is that it's fractured. Thus rookie Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson will be big-time pickups in the various fantasy leagues this week. The Pick: Oakland and under that big number.
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