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