NFL Week 3 early lines and thoughts

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 17, 2023 09:31 PM


Taking a look at the NFL Week 3 schedule

Two weeks nearly down, 16 more to go. After Unders ruled the roost in Week 1, we saw a whole bunch of Overs in Week 2. The only games of the Sunday slate to stay under were between the Chiefs and Jaguars, which had the highest total on the board and the only one in the 50s, and the primetime tilt between the Dolphins and Patriots (or at least it was trending that way when I published). 

Quarterback play around the league was better overall, but we also saw teams make adjustments and find some success running the ball. We also had some big comebacks and a little more second-half aggression from coaches. We also saw turnovers that led to short fields and scores. There was something for everyone on Sunday, but points were the big story.

With two data points for every team except for the four playing Monday Night Football (Saints vs. Panthers ; Browns vs. Steelers), we have a lot to chew on with the early lines for Week 3.

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Here are some Week 3 thoughts:

(odds as of 9/17, 7:30 p.m. PT)

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-10, 45)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Giants made some franchise history on Sunday by completing a 24-point comeback, the team’s biggest in the Super Bowl era. The 49ers had a tough game against a division foe, and ultimately failed to cover as more than a touchdown favorite, but won the box score convincingly with 6.8 yards per play to 4.9 yards per play.

San Francisco’s defense was out there for 78 plays, while the 49ers offense was only out there for 54 plays. The Niners still had five red-zone trips and scored 30 points. It will be a tough turnaround for the Giants, but they are staying out west after playing the Cardinals, so they won’t have to worry about the quick turnaround and a long flight from New York City to the Bay Area. 

Over the last 34 Thursday Night Football games with a spread of at least -10, the favorite is 23-10-1 ATS and 31-3 SU. The game is also 22-11-1 to the Under with those parameters. It has happened 10 times since the 2018 season and the favorite is 10-0 SU and 7-3 ATS, with a total of 5-4-1 to the Over.

Los Angeles Chargers (-1, 51.5) at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Hug your loved ones really tight because something will happen in this game that creates a black hole in the cosmos and we all get sucked into it. The Chargers became the first team ever in the Super Bowl era to score 50+ points with zero turnovers in the first two weeks of the season and be 0-2.

The Vikings have lost two one-score games as regression has hit like a tidal wave after going 9-0 in those games last season. Lookahead lines had the Chargers either -1.5 or -2.5 against the Vikings, who are on extra rest and extra prep after playing on Thursday in Week 2. One of these teams will find a way to lose. It’s tough to tell which one and this is a brutal game to try and bet in my estimation.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9, 45.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Getting manhandled by the Colts seems bad for business, but let’s focus on the favorite here instead of the underdog. Jacksonville played a good Chiefs team and only put up nine points. The offense has looked extremely disjointed to this point, which is a surprise when most of us figured that the team would take a leap on that side of the ball under second-year head coach Doug Pederson.

In fact, it has been just the opposite, as the Jags had just 5.0 yards per play against the Colts in a 31-21 win and then 4.2 YPP against the Chiefs. Kansas City only scored 17 points, but had over six yards per play. Jacksonville is just 7-for-25 on third down to this point. Even though the Texans have looked very inept through two games, putting some cosmetic touches on the Colts result against a prevent defense in the fourth quarter, asking the Jaguars to win by double digits seems like a big request.

Buffalo Bills (-6.5, 45.5) at Washington Commanders

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

The Bills quickly erased what was an ugly performance on Monday Night Football against the Jets in Week 1 and responded with a pretty thorough beating of the Raiders. Now they’ll head back out on the road to take on the 2-0 Commanders, who have won two games by six combined points. The result could’ve been very different if the Commanders had been called for pass interference on the game-tying two-point conversion attempt, but they survived and advanced to Week 3.

Will the two average performances catch up with the Commanders here against one of the league’s stronger squads? It’s a hefty number on the road for a Bills team that just laid 8.5 at home against the Raiders. Given the flipped home-field advantage, this line does imply that the Raiders would be favored on a neutral field against Washington. I’m not sure a lot of people would say that at present, but I guess we’ll see where this line goes.

Early line I like for Week 3:

Los Angeles Rams (+6.5, 46.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Rams make the long trip to Cincinnati for Monday Night Football, but this looks like a pretty big price given the state of the Bengals offense. Cincinnati’s offense was better than it was in Week 1 with much better throwing conditions, but the Bengals still managed just 4.9 yards per play. Joe Mixon and the running game hasn’t really gotten going through two weeks and Joe Burrow admitted to re-aggravating his calf injury late in the loss to the Ravens.

The Bengals have only scored 20 offensive points through two games. The Rams have done well in the absence of Cooper Kupp and Sean McVay seems to have gotten his groove back. Plus, there is a lot of familiarity between Zac Taylor and McVay, as Taylor worked for him in 2017-18.

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