We’re all set to get going with the Week 3 odds for NFL this week at Bang the Book, as there are a plethora of games that we are going to be focusing in on that are going to have some huge impacts on the entire season.
There have only been 10 times in the last 18 years in the NFL that we have had a game with a point spread as high as the one that we are going to be seeing in the clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Everything here is going against Jacksonville. It has the inferior team. It doesn’t have its starting quarterback. It may or may not have its best running back. It doesn’t have its top wide receiver. Its tight end is up in the air. It has scored a total of seven offensive points all year and has only been across the 50-yard line a few times on the season. And oh yes, it has to battle the toughest home field advantage in the league in its second West Coast trip in as many weeks. The Seahawks are favored by a whopping 20, and it’s tough to say that it isn’t deserved. The last time that these two teams met in Seattle came four years ago, the beating was on. It was 41-0 Seattle, and it’s tough to think anything but the fact that the Seahawks are a lot better and the Jaguars are a lot worse than both teams were at that point.
Of course, that’s not the only insane number that is beyond two touchdowns on the NFL odds this week. The Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football are giving 14.5 to the Oakland Raiders. Again this is a situation where we have a team that is clearly superior and is clearly just blowing teams out of the water left and right taking on a team that many think is amongst the worst in the league. QB Terrelle Pryor has at least kept the Raiders competitive through two games, but he’s going to have a heck of a time trying to keep that going at Mile High. Oakland though, has covered six of the last seven in this series, and it could be in line for at least a cover against a huge point spread.
That’s not the end of the madness for big time favorites, though. The New Orleans Saints are laying nine to the Arizona Cardinals, while the San Francisco 49ers are -10.5 at home against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fortunately, over the course of the rest of the week, the majority of the point spreads are relatively close. In fact, there are nine games that feature odds of -3 or lower one way or the other, and that’s clearly going to mean there will be some close calls this week.
We’ll start at the top, where the Philadelphia Eagles are laying a field goal at home against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. These two teams are interesting dichotomies of each other. The Eagles try to run as fast as they can. The Chiefs try to slow things down. The Eagles have scored at least 30 points in both of their games. The Chiefs have just 45 points in total in two games. The Eagles have surrendered at least 27 points in each of their games. The Chiefs have given up 18 points in total in two games. Two ‘overs’ for Philly. Two ‘unders’ for Kansas City. Alas, thanks to the Chip Kelly effect, the ‘total’ in this game is the highest of the week at 50.5. It’s the only game in the 50s this week, which is surprising after another relatively high scoring week of football.
The lowest ‘total’ of the week is in another one of these games that feature a close point spread. The New York Jets are favored by a point at home against the Buffalo Bills in a battle of the two rookie starting quarterbacks in the NFL. QB Geno Smith and QB EJ Manuel have both had very similar starts to their seasons, as they both have a close loss in a game that could have been won against the Patriots, and they both have a come-from-behind victory at home under their belt as well. This is the first time that Manuel has gone on the road, and that could make this one unpredictable. The ‘total’ is just 39.5.
Perhaps the most important of all of the very close point spreads this weekend is the Houston Texans against the Baltimore Ravens. These two teams met in the playoffs two years ago, and they have both been amongst the AFC’s final four standing in each of the last two seasons. LB Ray Lewis is going to be inducted in the team’s Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium, and it should be an emotional game as the return of S Ed Reed to the city that drafted him and loved him for years and years. The Texans have had to come from behind in each of the first two weeks of the season to move to 2-0, and they are one of the two teams that are 2-0 SU and 0-2 ATS. Houston has never won a game in Baltimore though, and it is going to have its work cut out for it even though it is -1 in this game.
Quickly scrolling through the rest of the games with close point spreads… The Carolina Panthers are -1 at home in a battle of 0-2 teams against the New York Giants. No team made the playoffs last season when starting at 0-2, and less than 10% of all teams that start at 0-2 end up making the postseason. That number decreases dramatically for teams that are 0-3, which is where the loser of this one will end up being. The upstart Tennessee Titans are -3 at home against the San Diego Chargers. The Washington Redskins are giving a point to the Detroit Lions. The Green Bay Packers are -1 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in another battle of perennial playoff contenders. The Miami Dolphins are -1 in their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Finally on Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are already 0-2 and are having tombstones constructed for their season, are +2 at home against the Chicago Bears.
That’s not nearly all, though. The Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns are both 0-2, and they are facing off in Minneapolis in a battle of two of the best running backs in the league. RB Trent Richardson is +6 on the road against RB Adrian Peterson.
The Dallas Cowboys are -4 at home against the St. Louis Rams, who have played tough ball already this season. Meanwhile, the seemingly offensively dysfunctional New England Patriots are hosting the completely dysfunctional Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a rematch of a game that we saw early in the preseason in Foxboro. This is the third straight game that the Pats are favored by a touchdown or more, and this -7 spread is suspect at best for a team that hasn’t scored more than 23 points in a game yet this season.
The average point spread this week is just 5.2 points per game. The average ‘total’ is set at 45.1. Thirteen of the 16 teams at home this week are favored, but with so many point spreads that are so close, it is anyone’s guess as to whether that is going to remain the case by the time kickoff rolls around for each of these battles.
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.