Week 3 NFL Picks: Will the Cowboys start 3-0? Texans 0-3?

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Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

It seems as if I normally struggle early in the season for an idea on how to lead off this column. I mean we can’t really write about trends because the campaign is way too new, and we can’t even begin to crown any team or even dismiss one’s chances after just two weeks. (Unless you’re talking about the Arizona Cardinals because they really suck. But more on that later in the column.)

So I went back to last year to see what I wrote after Week 2, and whaddya know? The same (stuff) that happened to me in 2022 happened again this past weekend. We’re talking about bad beats. Like stupid beats. Like beats that you laugh at when it happens to your evil big brother. Like “You have got to be (word we can’t type) kidding me!” kind of beats.

Yep, apparently I don’t have a whole lot of luck in the second week of the season. Guess you can’t be too upset when your best bets are 8 out of 10 to start the season. I would digress further, but I know degenerates only to look forward and not backward. So with that, let’s put it in the rearview mirror and get back above .500 overall.

Ready to take another ride around the Week 3 NFL carousel? Here we go.

NOTES: All spreads, money lines and over/under totals (as of Tuesday evening) are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Home team is listed in CAPS.

WEEK 3 BEST BETS

1. Teaser, Buffalo -0.5 over WASHINGTON and BALTIMORE -2 over Indianapolis / Both games Sunday at noon

Teaser explanation: At most books, a bettor can parlay two teams in a “teaser” and get 6 points of cushion for each bet. However, it costs -120 to play and – like a parlay – both legs must hit to cash the ticket.

Let’s start with Buffalo, as this might be one of the “free teaser legs” of the season. If you’re looking for the biggest mirage 2-0 teams in the NFL, one could consider either Washington or Atlanta – both of whom were very lucky last week. (More on the Falcons later.)

I still have the Bills in my top five in the NFL, and had they held on and won the incredibly weird Week 1 Monday Night Football game, this line might be Bills -7.5 or -8.

Meanwhile, the Commanders haven’t really done anything particularly well, with rankings of 19 in total offense and 10 in defense, and that’s against two subpar 0-2 teams in Arizona and Denver. This could get ugly, and with the teaser Buffalo only has to win? Sign me up.

For the other leg in Baltimore …This most certainly a matchup many NFL enthusiasts were interested in seeing Lamar Jackson against the “new Lamar Jackson,” but as of this typing, it appears doubtful Anthony Richardson will be able to play after sustaining a concussion last week in Houston.

As far as predicting the game, not only do I think Richardson’s status is a non-factor, but the Colts may be better off with Gardner Minshew at QB. That’s because Baltimore’s defense already has shown it is stout against the run, allowing an average of 69 yards on the ground in their first two games.

The Ravens are looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2016, which was 2 years before Jackson was drafted. Meanwhile, Indianapolis is hoping to beat Baltimore for the first time in 10 seasons when Andrew Luck led the Colts to a 20-13 win. The time before that? It was Peyton Manning in an AFC championship season of 2009.

Score: Colts (-8) 28, Colts 9 (Total: Under 44.5)

Score: Bills (-6.5) 31, Commanders 14 (Total: Over 44.5)

2. Carolina (+5.5) over SEATTLE / Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

Anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows how much I love betting against my Aunt Mabel. (A collective “Who is she?” from the newbies.)

Well, she’s the nice old lady who makes all her relatives fruitcakes for Christmas with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while saying, “I hope you enjoy these, my hawts.” And then immediately after you take the fruitcake, she hops on over to the casino to play the same picks as every other nice old lady, Drunk Joe and 20-somethings who have no jobs and nothing else to do but watch ESPN all day.

Oh, and when she’s finished making her bets, she’ll take the rest of her Social Security money and play the penny slots until she has to play 3 lines instead of 15 on her last pull because she’s out of credits.

We love Aunt Mabel here because when she makes a bet, going the other way can make for a nice profit – especially when we get close to the holidays and we have built up our bankrolls. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to buy her something really nice. I’ll just make sure she can’t pawn it.

As far as the game itself, for those who remember, my friend Zach Ewing won $100,000 last year in his Survivor Pool when all the other dummies took Seattle in this same spot. It’s too early for anyone to be winning Survivor, but the fact is the Seahawks just aren’t that good, and this 31st-ranked defense should help Bryce Young have the best day (by far) to start his career.

(And if you want to put a few gumdrops on the Panthers ML at +210, we’re not gonna say you shouldn’t.)

Score: Panthers 30, Seahawks 26 (Total: Over 42)

3. Philadelphia (-5) over TAMPA BAY / Monday at 6:15 p.m.

Um, what? The defending NFC champions are only 5-point favorites against Baker Mayfield and the VERY overachieving Bucs?

While Tampa Bay’s strength is stopping the run, they haven’t even kind of played an offensive line like this one in their first two games this season. That and teams have been able to pass on them.

Jalen Hurts likely is having visions of Ferris wheels and carnivals waiting to go up against this limited pass defense. If you have AJ Brown or Devonta Smith and you’re down a dozen or fewer heading into Monday night, go ahead and call your opponent to let him or her know it’s over.

Score: Eagles 33, Bucs 17 (Total: Over 46)

OTHER PICKS

Sunday at noon

JACKSONVILLE 23, Houston (+9.5) 18: All I think about when I see these two playing one another is how much money I won for a few years, as I kept betting on the Texans while Drunk Joe would say “This has GOT to be the time the Jaguars break the streak.”

It finally happened on New Year’s Day nearly 10 months ago. Jacksonville destroyed the Texans, who were doing everything they could to screw up getting that No. 1 pick (and eventually succeeded), and the nine-game losing skid to Houston was over.

Will it restart? I am not ready to go that far, but I have told you I ain’t buying what the Jags are selling, and I think this could be an ugly game no one watches outside of Duuu-val and southeast Texas (and maybe a few Red Zone channel glances). (Under 41)

Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

Dallas 20, ARIZONA (+12) 10: Alert! Alert! If you had too much for lunch, especially if it was a couple of turkey sandwiches with all that tryptophan (more on that in a couple of months), you easily could snooze right through this one.

The Cowboys are coming off a couple of monster defensive performances, and very well could take these Cardinals for granted. One couldn’t blame them if they did but don’t be surprised if this is a lackluster performance.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals couldn’t close the deal last week against the Giants, and as a result, it could be a long time before they legitimately have another shot at winning with games on the road. (The next four weeks include games at San Francisco, Los Angeles (Rams) and Seattle with a home game against Cincinnati squeezed in.)

Maybe they’ll win in November at Houston? Or maybe we can just pencil them in for the first pick of the draft. Hell, even if they win that one, they have the Texans’ first-rounder, too. (Under 43.5)

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