Leans & analysis Wk 3
Leans & analysis

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Posted at 3:15 PM EST and are subject to change.

NFL Week 3

What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is also the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criteria we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday. We’re intent on providing our We’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on Friday but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST

Sunday, September 25

1:00 PM EST. Baltimore @ New England +2½

1:00 PM EST. The chants of MVP are already coming from the peanut gallery, as are the calls for the Ravens to do right by Lamar Jackson and pay him before his asking price becomes too high. Just three weeks ago, those same talking heads were praising the Baltimore brass for having a steady hand with Lamar and seeing how this season went before committing to him. When the winds of change blow through a studio, they blow hard, boy.

What about the Ravens monumental Week 2 fourth quarter collapse you ask? Well, Lamar had nothing to do with that, of course, and that’s even more reason to pay the man a truck load of cash. That’s the narrative being spewed anyway. The reality is the Ravens’ offense couldn’t move the ball five yards after the Dolphins tidal wave overcame them. Quarterback’s that want hundreds of millions of dollars are supposed to not only hold onto double-digit fourth quarter leads, but they are also expected to win close games on their home turf.

Any market gains the Patriots may have made after a modest 17-14 Week 2 victory over the Steelers was surely flushed down the crapper after Pittsburgh took the piss out of the win in its pathetic display on Thursday Night Football. Prime time games have great influence and the entire football world just watched the Steelers get slapped down by the Jacoby Brissett-led Browns. No disrespect to Jacoby, dude just isn’t Otto Graham, ya know?

Now to the nuts of this game. The Patriots are a pooch at home. Need we say more? Not only are they a pooch but they are a +2½-point pooch, a very dog friendly number. Through two weeks, the Patriots offense has looked like crap, with many pundits questioning Bill Belichick’s player selections and the style of offense he is trying to run with them. Perhaps the Pats are not as talented as year’s past, but they have the same grumpy assed, hoodie wearing G.O.A.T. coach in charge. We cannot predict the outcome of this game, but we can trust that the Patriots will be over prepared for this game. B.B. will not let Lamar Jackson beat him. If not the “MVP,” then who? Recommendation: New England +2½

Kansas City @ Indianapolis +5½

1:00 PM EST. There was perhaps no team more pathetic in Week 2 than the Colts 24-0 shutout in Jacksonville as a three point favorite at close. That embarrassing defeat came on the heels of another disappointing result, a 20-20 tie in Houston where the Colts were a seven-point favorite. Of the “contenders” that were pegged to make some noise in 2022, Indianapolis’ stock is tanking the most. The Colts are a hot mess and it's no secret, This is not privileged information.

The mighty Chiefs need little introduction here. Kansas City whacked the Cardinals in Week 1, 44-21 for an easy win and cover. Most of Arizona's points were scored in garbage time. On TNF in Week 2, the Chiefs beat the rival Chargers 27-24. They weren't at their best that night but they still found a way to beat a quality football team. When they played a garbage squad in Week 1, they destroyed, just like they are supposed to destroy the garbage team they'll see this week.

They say perception is reality. That couldn’t be more true in the market. The perception of the Colts is that they are a dead horse and should be treated as such. That means a trip out behind the barn before being loaded up and shipped to the glue factory. We’re not going to try and sugarcoat the Colts early season woes, as that would be an exercise in futility. When expectations are not met, it doesn’t take long for one to lose favor. Now that the Colts name might as well be “Mr. Ed,” it’s time to giddy up.

Vegas has already reported that the liability on the Chiefs will be massive. We see Buffalo being priced the same in Miami as K.C. is in Indianapolis. How can that be? If Buffalo is -5½ in Miami, shouldn't Kansas City be 20½ in Indianapolis? We're not going to argue X's and O's. There is nothing hideen or otherwise that suggests the Colts can keep up with Kansas City. Nothing. We can speculate and dig for something until we're blue in the face to find a reason to get behind the Colts here. Trust us friends, we can't find anything and neither can you.

So here's the scoop....either the oddsmakers made a massive mistake in posting the Chiefs as a short favorite or they set a trap and made the Chiefs the sucker bet of the season. It is almost impossible to bet Indy but knowing what we know and knwoing the type of money that is involved here (who the fuck is not teasing K.C. down to nothing), we have to side with the latter that this is a sucker bet. You've been warned. Recommendation: Indianapolis +5½

Buffalo @ Miami +6

1:00 PM EST. Y’all, the Bills might be for real. Legit contenders. The best team in the NFL. These are all things we’ve heard this week after the Bills demolished the Titans on Monday Night Football. That’s now two straight weeks that Buffalo has looked like world beaters. In Week 1, the Bills destroyed the Super Bowl champs in Los Angeles on the Thursday to open the season. That game was watched by millions. So was the waffling they laid on the AFC’s #1 seed from last season on Monday night. That’s two dominant wins, both in prime time, against what looks to be stiff competition based on last year’s results. Is there a team in the NFL that is riding higher right now than 2-0 Buffalo?

The Bills have been dominant on both sides of the ball. So much so that it matters not what the Dolphins did the first two weeks. Buffalo is first in scoring, third in yards per game, second in total defense, second in points allowed and first in many other categories that we won’t bore you with. We could keep going. The Bills have nine sacks in two weeks which ranks them second in pressure at 41.6%. If all of that wasn’t enough, the Bills have dominated the Dolphins to the tune of seven straight wins in this series. The market loves a winner, and the Bills have been paying out like a broken slot machine after cashing tickets in six of their last eight games going back to last season.

ESPN and every other big outlet has been singing the praises of the Bills since they crushed Tennessee on Monday night just a few days ago. They absolutely crushed the 10-point spread with ease. With back-to-back blowout victories in prime time, no NFL has had more exposure or accolades thrown their way. Josh Allen looks unstoppable. The Bills score at will. The list of things that the Bills do great doesn’t stop. Everyone wants to be a part of Bills Mafia and everyone is rooting for the small market Bills to keep dominating. For two weeks running, all that has been pounded into our heads by the media is Bills, Bills, Bills and more Bills.

We’re not anti-Bills. We love the Bills as much as our Canadian friends but unlike them, we do not have any emotional investment in any team. The Buffalo Bills are the flavor of the month x 1000 and to get behind them this week means paying a massive premium to do so. Buffalo may win and they may cover but that’s not for us to predict. We are 100% taking back inflated points with Miami so if you do not want to bet against Buffalo, the other option is to lay off the game. Betting Buffalo is not an option to us. Recommendation: Miami +6

Minnesota -6 @ Detroit

1:00 PM EST. The Lions gained momentum in the market off their Hard Knocks appearance with head coach Dan Campbell gaining much favor for his straight ahead, hard nosed approach. His players will run through the wall for him. When one gets to know the players and the coaches on that level, one forms a personal bond with them. On the surface, it might not seem like much, but it’s really a human experiment we are going to try and gain an edge with.

In addition to being likeable, the Lions have strutted to the pay window in back-to-back games to start the season. In Week 1, Detroit was a six point pooch at home to the Eagles. If one just looked at the box score, one would see a tidy cover in the 38-35 final. If one digs a little deeper, one sees the Eagles were up by double-digits on three different occasions, including a 17-point edge going to the fourth quarter. Philadelphia would then surrender two majors in the final 15 minutes to let the Leos in the backdoor. Even with Philly letting up in the fourth, the Lions were still out everything’d. Yards, first downs and time of possession included. Last week, the Lions ran up a big lead before giving much of it back to Washington in the fourth quarter, but they still covered as a home favorite.

Under Campbell, the Lions have earned a reputation as a team that covers the number. Those lazy handicappers who love useless trends will spout this line, “Detroit has covered nine of its last 11 games! Now send me $20, ya schlubs!” When we hear bullshit trends like that, we run to the window to take advantage. We have a trend, too. Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, who is the best receiver in the NFL, hands down, has at least 80 yards and/or a TD in 15 of his last 18 games. How do you like them apples?

When a team gets embarrassed on Monday Night Football, it’s going to resonate. When a team is set to head to London for the latest league cash grab extravaganza, there is a propensity in the market to fade that team in a “lookahead” spot. The Vikings find themselves in both of those situations this week. To further poo poo Minnesota’s curb appeal, the Vikes and Lions have played three straight two-point games in this series going back two seasons.

At first glance, it might not look appealing to spot a full touchdown with the Vikings in a spot like this, but it is because of that MNF shellacking, the future trip overseas and it’s recent stumbles versus the Lions that we are able to take advantage of spotting a number that is much smaller than it should be. Recommendation: Minnesota -6

Cincinnati -6 @ N.Y. Jets

1:00 PM EST. Forget the Super Bowl hangover. The Bengals have started this season like they are still drunk at the bar. How bad is it? Historically bad. Cincinnati is the first AFC champion in over 20 years (1999) to start the year 0-2. The talking heads are all over this fact. When a team starts 0-2, they have less than a 10% chance to make the playoffs the next time out. The pundits are also dunking on a Bengals offensive line that was supposed to be improved, but has allowed Joe Burrow to be sacked 13 times. Burrow has also been intercepted four times and has a 73.1% quarterback rating. Oh, the Bengals also host Thursday Night Football next week, further complicating matters here in Week 3. We bring all this negativity up because we plan to capitalize on the Bengals dipping stock price.

One only needs to look to last season to see how far the Bengals have fallen in the market. In Week 8 of 2021, the Bengals took a trip to the swamp to tackle the Jets. At that time, the Bengals were the hottest team in the league. Cincy was -11½ in that game. 11½! How the mighty have fallen, eh? Now the Bengals are nearly half that number. Has Cincinnati done enough to warrant a drop like that? Have the Jets done enough to deserve this kind of respect?

Let’s get to Gang Green, a team we often find ourselves on because they are usually tremendously undervalued. That’s not the case here. After backing the Jets in the first two weeks, it’s time to switch gears. That history making win last week in Cleveland was as wild as they come. The Jets were the first team in over 2000 games to turn around a 13-point deficit in the last two minutes to squeak out a victory. For some perspective of how unlikely that comeback was, the Jets had been outgained in the fourth quarter by the Browns 136-8.

There has been an overreaction to that improbable upset, as the Jets now go from a 6½-point pooch to Jacoby Brissett and the Browns to taking back a similar number against a team that just went to the Super Bowl. That can’t be. Furthermore, Cincinnati was a 7½-point favorite in Dallas just last week and now they are less against Joe Flacco and the Jets? Da f**k is dat? Bengals just might be the bargain favorite of the week. Recommendation: Cincinnati -6

New Orleans @ Carolina +3

1:00 PM EST. The Saints are favored here because why? We’ll tell you why. It’s because they are the Saints and have been relevant for two decades while Carolina was relevant for about a minute over that same span. In other words, New Orleans has pedigree while the Panthers have none. The books have the data that lets them know which teams are getting bet and which are not. We promise you that for every bet on Carolina over the past 20 years, 10 or more bets have come in on the Saints. Market perception plays a big role in oddsmakers setting a line that will “balance the books”. This is another great example of a team being falsely favored.

Truth be told, the Saints are awful. They lost 20-10 to the Buccaneers but their only touchdown came with three minutes left to play in garbage time. The only people on earth who think Jameis Winston is worth the trouble is the Saints front office. His resume consists of stealing crab legs, groping an Uber driver and throwing three picks a game on a good day. He also tried to discredit the Uber driver by having friend Ronald Darby lie about being in the car with him and then used that lie to paint Kate, the Uber driver, as “confused.” Jameis blurted out some bullshit about having a son and “learning” from his mistakes, as if rampaging through South Florida and grabbing at every nearby woman and crustacean is some kind of long-term class in personal betterment. You could staff an entire Amazon headquarters with the people who have apologized for Jameis Winston. And you know what the worst part is? On any given play, he’s liable to sprint 30 yards backward and then fumble the ball up his own ass. So, please tell us or explain to us why the Saints are favored on the road? In case you forgot, Sean Payton and Drew Brees are both gone.

Trust us, we’re not crazy about Baker Mayfield or the Panthers. They, too, are 0-2 but at least they could easily be 2-0. Our focus here once again is market perception because it counts. In that regard, Carolina has dropped nine games in a row. The market cares most about winning and losing and not about the breaks, excuses or bad calls. The market sees a W or an L and that’s all that matters. Back to the Panthers and Baker Mayfield. For one, Mayfield had some expectations prior to Week 1 and Week 2. Now that expectations have been tempered, he can get back to being the average QB that he’ll always be. More importantly, the Panthers defense looks good. Overall, Carolina still has talent and playmakers, including a healthy Christian McCaffrey and we cannot think of one tangible reason why the Saints are favored here. Oh, and in case you need it, Jameis Winston is coming back from a knee injury and is playing with four fractures in his back. Again, we ask, why exactly are the Saints favored here? Recommendation: Carolina +3

Jacksonville +7 @ L.A. Chargers

4:05 PM EST. One really has to be considered the dregs for a shutout to have little to no impact on one’s market standing. Maybe it’s the opponent, with the Chargers looking good thus far and having a much higher power ranking, but the Jaguars blanking of the Colts last week was no fluke. For some perspective about what we are talking about, we read a prominent industry publication that analyzed this game. That rag did not even mention Duval pitching a shutout. Instead, it made fun of Jacksonville being 6-30 in its last 36 games. Like that f**king matters. Actually, it does matter. It matters to us because it is meaningless crap like that which allows us to take back inflated points on a team with hardly any market cred.

The Jags were legit last week, and while we don’t want to overreact to one game, we can’t not bring it up in light of others totally ignoring them. That defense limited the league’s top running back to just 54 yards and it made Matt Ryan, a seasoned veteran on what is supposed to be a championship contender look like a rookie. If anybody other than Jacksonville did as Jags did last week, the pundits and pick sellers would be slobbering all over them. Hell, the Jets are getting love this week and all they did was barely win a ball game. That disrespect, which is reflected in this number, is going to resonate with a Doug Pederson coached team coming off its first win with him at the helm.

The Chargers always have market appeal because they are always good (but erratic) and because Justin Herbert is widely regarded as one of the league’s best. The Bolts had a great showing against the mighty Chiefs in a stand alone prime time game, as well as being 2-0 against the spread, which of course, matters the most. However, there are many uncertainties coming out of Chargers camp despite the extra rest.

Most notable is quarterback Justin Herbert, who is banged up with a rib injury. Dude is going to play, but how effective he will be or if he even finishes the game remains to be seen. Rib injuries for a quarterback are not given the same publicity as a shoulder, arm, hand or thumb, but they are brutal, affecting one’s breathing and one’s ability to move any extremities. To further that underestimated negative, two of Herbert's offensive lineman are also hurt. We can’t read minds, but we know how we’d feel about that lack of protection if we were Herbert with sore ribs (gulp).

We love the Chargers as an underdog because you cannot give this team points and expect to be ahead over an extended period of time. They have proven over and over again just how live they are as an underdog. However, in the role of the favorite, especially in this range, the Chargers cannot be trusted. They are Lucy yanking the ball off the ground just before Charlie Brown kicks it.

Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown every September or October for over 50 years has become the gamblers collectively-acknowledged paradigm for the uneasy tension between trust and betrayal, hope and despair. To the gambler or fan, it was the moment of failure that mattered—not the metaphor. No single act better encapsulated a gambler or fan’s feeling of powerlessness, as they felt Charlie Brown’s frustration and disappointment with every bone in their body. As the years go by, the Chargers seemingly compulsive need to torment its poor fans begins to gnaw. One can’t help but wonder what forces drive the Chargers to unrepentantly torture their fans and backers in this fashion year after year? We have no idea what’s going to happen in this game and neither does anyone else. What we do know, however, is that as sure as anything, Lucy is going to pull that ball away from Chuck again this year. That’s the Chargers. Do not trust this team to cover a number like this. Aside from that, the points are inflated. Recommendation: Jacksonville +7

L.A. Rams -3½ @ Arizona

4:25 PM EST. This is a play on the opening number of 3½, which we identify as a “favorite” friendly number. Why? It’s because the “hook” on a key number like three is going to look really appealing. Often, that “hook” will be even more enticing in a division game. When one considers the results of last week’s game, that “hook” is going to look like low hanging fruit.

Let’s begin with Arizona. The Cardinals were getting manhandled for three quarters in Las Vegas. The Red Birds were down 20-0 at halftime and 23-7 headed to the final frame. What happened next has been a theme this season, as the Raiders let their foot off the gas and allowed the Cards to rally. Two touchdowns later, including a Kyler Murray scamper with zeros on the clock and we had a tie ball game that was headed to overtime. Both offenses were putrid in OT, but the Cardinals were able to return a Vegas fumble 59 yards for the game winning major.

In a results based business, the Cards are going to get credit for that comeback win, but were not going to be quite so generous. Aside from that fourth quarter in Vegas, with the Raiders in prevent mode, the Cardinals have been wholly pathetic. In Week 1, the Cards were steamrolled by the Chiefs at home. Arizona has failed to cover in six straight home games going back to last season. It has also cashed just one ticket (last week) in its last six games overall. In case you forgot, the Cardinals were in a total free fall to end 2021, going just 1-5 to end the year. The Cards were a mess then and they are a mess now.

While we are revisiting the past, the Cardinals have not won this game in their barn since 2014. Y’all the Rams were still in St. Louis eight years ago. Back to modern day, where the Rams are not performing to their championship pedigree. L.A. was embarrassed by the Bills on a Thursday night to open the season, and last week, the Rams nearly blew a double digit fourth quarter lead to the Falcons. The Rams are now 0-2 against the spread this season. That presents us with an opportunity to buy in on L.A. at a bargain. Recommendation: L.A. Rams -3½

Atlanta @ Seattle -1

4:25 PM EST. Week-to-week overreactions are something to monitor, as they are freshest in the minds of the market and therefore often carry the most weight. To that point, does anyone remember Seattle beating Denver in Week 1? Is that win even worth a drizzling s**t after the Broncos almost lost at home to woeful Houston last Sunday? In Week 2, Seattle went to San Francisco with some hype around their defense, which was ready to eat up Trey Lance. What happened was most ironic, as Lance went down and Jimmy Garoppolo was summoned from the bench. The result—the Seahawks were dropped like a bad habit, 27-7.

There are plenty of reasons to be sour on Seattle. Head coach Pete Carroll is on the hot seat. So is Geno Smith, who had big shoes to fill after Carroll ran Russell Wilson out of town. Seattle has played eight quarters of football this season and the offense hasn't scored in six quarters. That ineptness is going to have an impact. To be fair to Smith and Carroll, Wilson hasn’t looked any better in Denver, but that’s a story for another write-up. Regardless, there is a stink coming out of Seattle that the market wants no part of. That’s the kind of stench we often embrace because when everyone is jumping off, that’s almost always the right time to jump on.

What about the Falcons? The Dirty Birds have covered two straight games despite not posting a win in the standings. In this market, trips to the pay window are what matters the most. It might look good for those invested in the new look Falcons, but tread lightly here. Atlanta gave up a big lead to the Saints in Week 1 to lose a game it should have won. Last week in L.A. the Falcons walked away with what looks like a respectable 31-27 loss to the champs. However, Atlanta was getting frog-stomped until the final few minutes when in-game variance struck. A blocked Rams punt for a major and a safety touch later, the Falcons were in a position to win a game it was never in.

When there is a sample size this small, teams that are paying out become the most trustworthy. This game is on that level. The Falcons were a 2½-point pooch at open, but are now just a one point favorite. We would be shocked if the Falcons are not favored in this game by kickoff. Even if they aren't, the Seahawks cannot be a hair better than a coinflip on their home turf against an unproven invader that is riding a “hot streak” at the tables. Recommendation: Seattle -1

Green Bay +2 @ Tampa Bay

4:25 PM EST. Pretty interesting that the 1-1 Packers are taking back a mere two points against the 2-0 Goats Buccaneers. Green Bay got its first win of the season Sunday night, beating the Bears 27-10 at Lambeau Field. Was it a great performance? Not really, as the Bears have little street cred. Furthermore, the Packers were destroyed in Week 1 by the Vikes, who were destroyed by Phuiladelphia on Monday night. That’s a key piece of info because, according to Vegas, Minnesota was heavily bet this past week. HEAVILY. Point is, Green Bay getting frog-stomped by Minnesota and then beating the Bears is not exactly a flawless résumé.

Tampa’s résumé isn’t great either but it is still 2-0 and its defense will be featured and discussed a million times over this coming week, mainly about how good they are. That’s nice, it really is but let’s have a look at that. They played Dallas in Week 1, a week in which anything can happen and besides, Dallas’ offense hasn’t looked good in about 20 weeks. In Week 2, the Bucs stopped Jameis Winston and the Saints. Big deal. The Saints have not been able to move five yards in seven of eight quarters thus far this year.

What you are not going to hear much about is that the Bucs have scored just two offensive touchdowns in their two games, a 5-yard Brady touchdown pass to Mike Evans in Week 1 against Dallas and a 28-yarder to Breshad Perriman on Sunday. Brady is 36-for-61 (59%) for 402 yards over two games. Furthermore, Tampa had a 5-1 turnover ratio against the Saints last week and yet that score was 6-3 going to the fourth quarter. Yeah, Tampa’s offense is banged up and yeah, they’ll be without Mike Evans this week but rarely is their an overreactionto Brady being without a key receiver. The overreaction here is that the Bucs are 2-0 with two easy victories while the Packers are 1-1 with a poor résumé. The overreaction here, just like it is almost every week, is Brady winning again but we’ll repeat, he’s 45 and he should be home with the kids. Green Bay may not have the same receivers as years gone by but the Packers have places they can go for answers. They've won 13 games each of the past three years and there are a lot worse bets than taking Rodgers to find a way to beat the Goats. Line says Green Bay and so do we. Recommendation: Green Bay +2

Our Pick

Leans & analysis (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)

Pittsburgh +127 over Indianapolis