NFL Underdogs: Week 3 pointspread picks and predictions

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Parents love to force the things they love on their kids, and loyalty to sports teams is one of the greatest violations of free will. 

For me, I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fans purely out of adolescent spite. My dad was a New York Giants fans and after watching the Cowboys kick the snot out of the Giants one sleepy Sunday afternoon, I decided that was my team – for life.

And I give my kids the same flexibility with their fandom. Cheer for whoever you want… but know this: whenever your team plays my team, get ready for a wave of ridicule and trash talk that would make Gary Payton blush.

My oldest boy has erred on the side of caution. While he has plenty of favorite players from assorted NFL teams, he’s a Cowboys fan, like me. He’s also a Lakers and Penguins fans as well. Smart kid.

My youngest just turned four, so he doesn’t know any better. Sure, he has a Dak Prescott jersey but he’s more excited to wear “The Star” like Daddy. But he’ll get the same leeway (and warning) when he’s ready to pledge allegiance to a team.

Then there’s my daughter. At nearly six years of age, she’s been a card-carrying Miami Dolphins fan since she first laid eyes on those beautiful aqua green and coral orange jerseys. And when she found out that team was named the Dolphins, well that sealed it.

But despite our teams clashing in Week 3 of the NFL season, and my deadpanned promise to rain down holy terror on anyone who appose America’s Team under my roof, I just don’t have the heart to rip into the Fins in front of her. Not the way this team is playing. Not like this.

Miami heads to Jerry’s World this Sunday catching 22 points from the Cowboys after getting smashed 59-10 by Baltimore in Week 1 and absolutely… well I can’t even come up with a word for that 43-0 loss at home to New England last Sunday.

While I’m confident Dallas will prevail, I don’t think it covers this massive pointspread. By now, you’ve likely seen the track record for 20-plus point chalk. But, if not here’s a reminder: eight NFL teams have given 20 or more points since 1984 and not a single one has covered that sizable spread. It’s a fun trend but doesn’t mean squat when looking at this specific game.

What I am taking into account is that the Cowboys have looked very good against some very bad teams (New York and Washington) and have a big trip to New Orleans (Brees or not) in Week 4. Head coach Jason Garrett needs that win over the Saints to help secure his job in Arlington and finally put an end to the secret love affair with former OC and current New Orleans head coach Sean Payton (the “one that got away” signed an extension with the Saints in Week 2).

The Cowboys are already planning their second-half strategy for Week 3, with talk of sitting starters once they’re up big on the scoreboard. Dallas is already missing a couple reasons for this early-season success, with leading receiver Michael Gallup out (knee) and safety Xavier Woods sidelined with an ankle injury, and seems to be treating this matchup with Miami like a mini bye week.

Dallas – fat and happy off two cupcake wins – will trim the playbook and give plenty of touches to rookie RB Tony Pollard (a sneaky DFS grab if you’re into that sort of thing), winning this game with comfort but not getting over the three-touchdown hump.

And I’ll get to cheer alongside my little girl, rooting for the Dolphins to suck just a little less.

PREDICTION: Miami +22

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BUFFALO BILLS (-6, 43.5)

Speaking of teams looking better than they are, the Buffalo Bills also used a win over the hapless Giants to puff up their opening two weeks of football.

Buffalo took New York by siege like The Duke, squeaking by the Jets in Week 1 and roughing up the G-Men and the decrepit shell of Eli Manning last Sunday (and yes, I picked New York in that game). The Bills are home in Orchard Park for their New Era Field debut in Week 3, facing a Bengals team that I think is still undervalued.

I successfully bet Cincinnati and the points against the Seahawks in Week 1 loss and stayed away from them at home versus San Francisco in Week 2, expecting a bit of a letdown (I did not expect that big of a letdown). However, the Bengals are back on the road where they do their best work. Cincy is a stellar 12-5 ATS as a visitor since 2017 and this line has jumped two full points from +4 to +6.

The Bills won’t be able to run over the Bengals defense like San Francisco did, especially with RB Devin Singletary questionable with a hamstring injury, and I like Cincinnati’s up-tempo offense to wear out this Buffalo stop unit that has yet to be truely tested in 2019.

Plus, Bills Mafia has a soft spot for Andy Dalton. So…

PREDICTION: Cincinnati +6

HOUSTON TEXANS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-3.5, 49)

I pinpointed the total for this game in my “Bet Now/Bet Later” article early in the week, predicting a drop in the number before buyback on the Over would come Thursday. The Over/Under fell from 49 to 47.5 before money bought back a higher-scoring finish and returned the total to 49 points.

A shootout favors the Texans in this game. Houston has one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, headlined by DeAndre Hopkins, who had a quiet day against a very good Jacksonville defense last week. Houston’s high-flying targets won’t see that same level of coverage against the Chargers, who are running thin in the secondary.

Los Angeles has already lost its two starting safeties and despite slowing down Detroit to 13 points in a Week 2 road loss, have some issues on defense. A once-feared pass rush has just two sacks on the season and failed to record one against a shaky Lions offensive line. If you give Deshaun Watson time, he will tear you apart.

Some places are already moving to Bolts -3, so we’re snapping up the extra half point hook with Houston and expecting another tight finish for Los Angeles.

PREDICTION: Houston +3.5

Week 2: 2-1
Season to date: 5-1

VanVleet picks up where he left off in the playoffs, and the NBA bets you need to make Tuesday

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Opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season is here with the defending champion Toronto Raptors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. The late matchup pairs the top two choices to win it all, according to the NBA betting odds, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. 

If you’re betting on the NBA openers, we have the best bets and prop predictions for Tuesday’s two games.

BIG CHANGES IN THE BIG EASY

The Pelicans sport one of the most overhauled rosters in the NBA after trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and draft picks. New Orleans then selected Zion Williamson first overall in the draft, but unfortunately, his debut will have to wait as he is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury. Some more big pickups include Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick.

Although Redick is playing for a new squad this year, while with Philadelphia he had success versus the Raptors in the playoffs, shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 15 or more points in four of those seven postseason games. With an increased role on the Pelicans and some good shooting numbers, back Over his points total of 16.5 on PointsBet.

NO HANGOVER HERE

The Raptors kick their season off playing a double-header with the first game at home to the Pelicans. The 2018-2019 season saw the Raptors set franchise records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point shots made. A regression is expected with Toronto losing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but still finds itself a 7-point favorite in the season opener.

With the Championship banner being hoisted, rings handed out, and the Raptors looking to start the schedule strong, look for them to take care of business and cover at home as 7-point favorites.

RIGHT SAID FRED

With Toronto PG Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery on his finger in the offseason, don’t be surprised to see big numbers out of Fred VanVleet in the first few games of the schedule.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 27.5 minutes with 11 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Although this is a revamped Pelicans roster with many new faces, New Orleans struggled to defend opposing point guards last year, allowing 23.3 points per game and the league’s highest assists per game average at 9.1 to that position. If he carries over his postseason play, VanVleet will be a major player and offensive contributor for the defending champs. Take Over his assists total of 4.5.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

The Lakers start their second season with LeBron James at the helm but has more support behind him with guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. The Clippers were also busy in the offseason, adding MVP talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

George will not be playing in the opening game (out until November while recovering from shoulder surgery), which plays a major role in shaping this spread, which sees the Purple and Gold as short “home” favorites in the war for the Staples Center.

LeBron and the Lakers have a lot to prove after a terrible finish to 2018-19 and we like them to cover as 2.5-points favorites Tuesday.

DOWN TO DEFENSE

With both Leonard and Patrick Beverly on the floor, the Clippers will be a difficult team to score on. With George out of action and this L.A. offense not firing on all cylinders, the Clippers certainly have the defense to keep things close.

The Lakers have plenty of scoring options but miss out on the services of Kyle Kuzma (18.7 ppg in 2018-19), who will be sitting out in the opening game with a foot injury. While it’s Game 1 of an 82-game season, this Los Angeles rivalry could have playoff intensity right out of the gate. We like a lower-scoring game and the Under 225.5 points Tuesday night. 

Lakers vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: Davis will dominate down low on opening night

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The 2019-2020 NBA season starts off with a bang tonight as two revamped teams with some of the best players in the world take to the court in Los Angeles as the Lakers face the Clippers. 

Expectations are sky-high for both teams after the Lakers added Anthony Davis as a running mate for Lebron James, while the Clippers are led by last year’s NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. These rivals will be highly motivated to begin the season with a win and stake an early claim as the best team in the league.

We break down the odds for the Battle of L.A. and give you five of our best bets and predictions.

QUICK HITTER

The biggest move the Lakers made in the offseason was obviously the addition of Anthony Davis. But he’s not the only new face with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley all in line to receive significant minutes in their rotation.

The Clippers have also gone through a makeover adding Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Maurice Harkless. While George won’t play until at least mid-November after undergoing shoulder surgery, the other two should log major minutes.

Playing together in practice and the preseason is no substitute for the actual defensive intensity of an NBA game. So expect both offenses to take some time to gell and back the Under on the 1Q total.

PICK: First Quarter Under 58 (-115)

FIRST HALF BET

The first quarter might see from offensive jitters from both teams but they should begin to settle down after 12 minutes. Lebron James, in particular, should have little problem facilitating the offense while the underrated additions of Green and Cook should improve their three-point efficiency which was among the worst in the league last year.

On defense, they match up well with the Clippers with Lebron able to switch onto Leonard while Bradley can give Lou Williams fits. Rajon Rondo is listed as questionable with a calf injury but if he’s good to go that will be yet another Lakers defender that can pressure opposing ball-handlers.

The Lakers also have a height advantage which should help them win the battle on the boards and get more second chances. Bet on the Lakers to cover the short first-half spread.

PICK: First Half Lakers -1.5 (-120)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Davis looks like a great fit in the Lakers offense next to Lebron. The Brow can run the pick and roll, attack down low and hit jumpers when he needs to. He gets to face a Clippers team that was among the worst at defending inside last season, giving up 50.7 points per game in the paint. Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green will have a major mismatch on their hands against the Lakers star.

Last year Davis combined for 41.8 points, rebounds and assists per game but that includes a stretch towards the end of the season where New Orleans severely limited his minutes. Before the All-Star break, he combined for 45.2 points, rebounds, and assists per contest. Take the Over on his PRA total tonight.

PICK: Anthony Davis – Points, Rebounds and Assists Over 41.5 (-115)

 

FULL GAME TOTAL

The O/U for this game opened at 227 on Saturday and has already dropped to 224 and for good reason. The Clippers should be terrific at defending on the perimeter with Patrick Beverly and Leonard while the Lakers will miss Kyle Kuzma’s production on the offensive end of the floor. Kuzma averaged 18.7 ppg last season but the forward is still recovering from a foot injury.

The Lakers should be much improved at defending the rim with Davis and Howard, which will force Leonard and Lou Williams to carry the offensive load.

The Lakers added plenty of experience and size in the offseason. That might be a formula for winning but also means that they added older players and guys that prefer to set up in the half-court rather than running the floor all game. Expect them to play at a slower pace than last season and take the Under 224.

PICK: Under 224 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

As we enter this new era of “Super-Duos” in the NBA the Clippers could find themselves at a disadvantage without one half of their duo. Leonard will do his part on both ends of the floor but the Clippers will need a heroic display from Lou Williams and improved defensive play from their big men if they want to hang with the Lakeshow.

The Clips won’t have an answer for AD and Lebron will come out as healthy and as motivated as he’s been in years. As the season goes on, expect Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start resting his superstars, but he has said that there won’t be any minutes restrictions for Lebron or Davis at the start of the year. Count on the Lakers viewing this as a statement game and back them to pull off the win while covering.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (-105)