Week 3 NFL best bets and predictions
Each week, I'll be looking through Sunday's NFL games to try and feed my readers three winners. And that continues with the three best bets I have for the Week 3 slate, which includes a pick on a meeting between the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings that should be thrilling for fans that like to watch explosive offenses. The same also goes for the matchup between the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. Keep reading to find out what I have and make sure you also check out what my talented VSiN colleagues are playing. Those plays are available here, but you can also check out the Pro Picks page.
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The Texans are 0-2 both straight-up and against the spread, but their Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was more competitive than you’d think. And an 11-point Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts saw Houston playing much better in the second half than it did in the first — with an injury to Anthony Richardson helping a bit there. But the reality is that it isn’t all bad on the Texans front. And I think the team has what it takes to hang around against the Jaguars on the road. Especially with a spread this large.
Houston head coach DeMeco Ryans has proven throughout his short coaching career that he knows how to get to opposing offenses. And this Jacksonville offense looked completely lost in last week’s meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Jaguars scored only nine points in that game, and the team had only 271 total yards in that one. Jacksonville was also unable to capitalize on three Kansas City turnovers, which was perhaps the most alarming part of the game. That leads me to believe that the Jaguars aren’t going to go out and light up the Texans. Quite frankly, it was three Colts turnovers in Week 1 that helped Jacksonville score 31 points in a 31-21 win. So, we haven’t quite seen the explosive offense that we expected with this team heading into the year. It could very well be coming soon, but why should it be expected here?
The Texans have also been a lot better throwing the football than we thought they’d be heading into the year. C.J. Stroud has thrown for 626 yards with two touchdowns and no picks through two weeks. Sure, the rookie quarterback back has made some mistakes, but he has also made some big-time throws. And he has established a nice connection with wideout Nico Collins, who looks like he is on his way to a breakout season in Houston. Overall, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Stroud will put up some good numbers in this game, helping Houston’s offense go toe to toe with Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville.
At some point in the game, it’s fair to expect that the Jaguars will separate themselves. But they can win this game by a touchdown and the Texans would still cover. You have to love that in a divisional game. And Jacksonville is just 2-4 ATS when playing as a favorite under head coach Doug Pederson. And the team is also 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS as a home favorite in that span.
Bet: Texans +9 (-110 - Play to +7.5)
While everybody is acting like the sky is falling in Minnesota, I remain higher on the team than most. I just don’t think a lot has changed from last year, when the Vikings went 13-4 on the season. I know that Minnesota had a lot of luck in close games, so people saw a regression coming. But I still think this is a team that should flirt with a 9-8 record with this roster. And I expect a bounce-back performance after last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last week’s performance by the Vikings defense was miserable, with the team allowing D’Andre Swift to rush for 175 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. But it does need to be noted that Philadelphia has PFF’s highest rated offensive line. Los Angeles’ line is also good, but it’s closer a top-10 unit than a truly elite one. That should make a big difference here, especially with Austin Ekeler banged up and Minnesota having had an extra couple of days of rest and practice to sort through its issues — that's the benefit of playing the Thursday game. But the real reason I love the Vikings in this game is that I don’t believe the Chargers defense can stop them.
This season, Kirk Cousins has thrown for 708 yards with six touchdowns and only one pick. He’s playing some tremendous football right now, and I think he’ll turn in a huge game against Los Angeles here. Minnesota has so many weapons with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and TJ Hockenson all being tough covers for opposing defenses. And the Chargers’ secondary has been one of the worst ones in football this year. With that in mind, I see this game being a legitimate shootout. But I trust Minnesota defensive coordinator Brian Flores and his defense to get a few extra stops when it matters most.
It's also hard to ignore that this Chargers team just isn’t trustworthy in close games. They’re just 8-11 ATS in games with lines of +3 to -3 under head coach Brandon Staley. So, while you can point to the Vikings’ good luck in close games over the years, there’s something to be said about the team’s comfortability in tight contests. And Minnesota isn’t exactly an easy place to win. The Vikings are 8-3 in home games under head coach Kevin O’Connell, and that includes an 8-2 record as home favorites.
Bet: Vikings -1 (-105 - Play to -2.5)
Denver is coming off a 35-33 loss to the Washington Commanders, and the team’s defense likely won’t be much better against this elite Miami offense. The Dolphins only scored 24 points against the Patriots last week, but it felt like they should have scored more than that. And Miami had just scored 36 points in a Week 1 win over Los Angeles, with Tua Tagovailoa throwing for 466 yards in that game. This is the most explosive passing offense in football right now, as Tagovailoa is getting the ball out quickly and the Dolphins seemingly always have people open. That said, it’s hard to envision Miami not hanging a big number on Denver. And I believe the Broncos offense will also have a ton of success against the Dolphins.
Denver hasn’t yet put together a full four quarters of football, but Russell Wilson has looked sharp for at least a half in both losses. Wilson should now be able to throw on a Miami secondary that is extremely beatable, especially with this being the second game in a row that he has had Jerry Jeudy in the lineup. This Broncos passing game will only improve moving forward, but this is a prime matchup and I think Wilson will throw for at least another 250 yards with two or three touchdowns here.
Overall, this just feels like a game that should be incredibly high scoring. There’s a reason the number keeps getting higher and higher, and that’s because sharp money sees this as a potential shootout. Not only would I play the Over here, but this is a good game to target for player props.
WARNING: The weather could be bad with the storms coming through. If things are very ugly on Sunday, I'd suggest sitting this one out. But if it's just raining, with little wind, I'd still play the Over.
Bet: Over 47.5 (-110 - Play to 48.5)
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