Ross Williams picks out his best bets for Week 3 of the NFL season, with focus on four teams in the handicap market.
2pts Kansas City Chiefs (-5) to beat the Indianapolis Colts at 10/11 (General)
2pts Las Vegas Raiders (-2) to beat the Tennessee Titans at 10/11 (General)
2pts Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) to beat the Washington Commanders at Evens (General)
2pts Baltimore Ravens (-3) to beat the New England Patriots at 11/10 (SBK)
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I’m generally wary of teams on a bounce-back week, and the Colts require the mother-of-all bounce-backs after a humiliating divisional defeat to the Jaguars on Sunday, but the spread on the Colts/Chiefs contest is just too delicious to pass up.
Gus Bradley is the new defensive co-coordinator in Indianapolis and, sadly for the Colts, his track record against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs is nothing short of pitiful.
His Raiders unit surpassed expectations last season on a playoff run, but that didn’t stop them shipping 89 points to the Chiefs across their two match-ups in 2021.
All told, in seven games against Mahomes, Bradley defences have conceded an average of 33.3 points per game.
Bradley loves to play single-high coverage and it’s unlikely he’ll go against his coveted strategy this Sunday. This could make for another painful afternoon of viewing for Colts fans.
Trevor Lawrence found plenty of success against the Colts last week – getting Christian Kirk well involved in the action – and with all due respect to Trevor, Patrick Mahomes is a whole different animal.
The prospect of going over the top and hitting his speedsters all day long will be music to the ears of the former NFL MVP.
If the Colts try and defend against Mahomes as expected, the chances of success are very slim indeed.
And to top it off, the Chiefs played on Thursday night last week, so they’ve had ten days to prepare for this match-up.
The Colts will get troops back for this one, and they simply can’t be as bad as they were offensively against the Jags, so I do expect an uptick from Matt Ryan, Jonathan Taylor and co.
However, Kansas City have been performing well on the defensive side of the ball as of late, conceding 22.5 points per game on average, and it’s hard to see Mahomes not scoring at least 30 points on this Indianapolis defence.
It’s currently sitting at a very generous figure of five points, but whatever the spread winds up being on Sunday, the Chiefs are the pick.
The Ravens were stunned by Miami in week two and therefore go into this one off a loss, but I think that game told us more about the Dolphins’ credentials than the Ravens’ fragilities.
It was a superhuman effort from Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and six-touchdown Tua Tagovailoa to get Miami over the line in the 42-38 blockbuster and, quite simply, the New England Patriots have nowhere near that calibre of firepower.
Bill Belichick’s Patriots have averaged just 12 points in their first two games of the season, whereas Baltimore have started very strongly on the offensive side of the ball.
The Ravens have put up 62 points so far, their young crop of receivers are stepping up to the plate and – whisper it – Lamar Jackson is showing the kind of form that once earned him an unanimous MVP nod.
In the Miami defeat, Jackson threw for 300 yards, ran for over 100 yards and accounted for four touchdowns.
In other words, the quarterback is on fire and he really should have too much for a Patriots team that has screamed mediocrity thus far.
The handicap is tight due to the Ravens’ historic record in New England, but don’t let that scare you into believing there’s something you don’t know.
This is not the Patriots of old, and I believe Baltimore are cooking up something pretty special. Let’s not overthink this one.
The Titans were the #1 seed in the AFC last season, but the NFL is a cruel mistress and things are looking an awful lot bleaker in Nashville nowadays.
Due to the strength of the American Football Conference, this may be 2022’s first must-win game on the schedule.
Tennessee and Vegas are both 0-2, and they won’t need reminding how difficult it is to make the playoffs following three straight losses to start the season.
For context, only six teams have managed the feat since 1981. In short, the loser of this game may as well start booking holidays for January.
Tennessee are the home side, but they’re not favoured in the match-up and I think it’s for good reason.
Derrick Henry is Derrick Henry, but it’s becoming clearer by the week that if you can stack the box and swallow up Henry’s carries, there’s not a whole lot of production elsewhere.
Rookie receiver Treylon Burks has started well, but he’s ultimately entering his third game as a professional and can’t be expected to single-handedly lead the Titans to victory.
The Titans are also coming off a short week thanks to their heavy 41-7 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Monday night and, to make matters worse, Tennessee (already) have ten players on the injured reserve list.
They’re beat up, physically exhausted after Buffalo’s man-handling of them on Monday and lacking ideas on the offensive front, so you have to like Las Vegas’ chances of making amends for what happened last Sunday.
The Raiders fittingly committed a cardinal sin against Arizona, dropping a 20-point lead at home before Kyler Murray led his side to the overtime victory.
It was a brutal loss, but I can take heart from the fact that the Raiders got themselves into that dominant lead in the first place.
Vegas have faced a tough task in the opening fortnight, facing the Chargers and the Cardinals, and both of those teams represent a far tougher task than what will face Josh McDaniels’ outfit on Sunday.
The run game has been an area of concern for the Raiders, but that’s a problem they can address later. The Titans were awful against the pass on Monday night – haplessly giving up over 300 yards – and that will have Derek Carr and Davante Adams salivating.
The philosophy will be to beat Tennessee over the top and the Titans simply don’t have the talent on their secondary unit to deal with one of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history.
It’s a near-perfect match-up for Vegas as they look to get back on track and, with the spread as low as two points, it’s easy to like their chances of covering.
At this point, it’s insanity to trust Carson Wentz in a big game.
The Washington quarterback faces his former team on Sunday and will be tasked with taking down one of the league’s most-impressive performers so far.
I just don’t see him delivering.
The Eagles do have some holes on defence which Wentz will try to exploit, but the unit on the whole was strong enough to contain the Minnesota Vikings to just seven points on Monday night and if that’s a sign of things to come, it’s inevitable that they’ll force their former draft pick into making some of his characteristic – almost trademarked – mistakes.
Although undoubtedly talented, Wentz is a turnover machine when things don’t go all his own way, and this looks set to be one of those nights.
If you’ll pardon the pun, the Eagles have been flying on offence so far and you have to say that Jalen Hurts is looking every inch the superstar.
The quarterback may only have one passing touchdown so far, but he’s ran in three as part of the game’s most lethal rushing attack. He’s leading the Eagles offence with aplomb, and contributing over 350 crucial all-purpose yards per game.
Nobody has found the answer to stopping Philadelphia’s dynamic ground game thus far – which is contributing almost 190 yards per game by itself – and that is terrible news for Washington.
Even if Wentz can get going on offence, I struggle to see how the Commanders can keep up with their divisional rivals over the course of 60 minutes.
Washington rank bottom-five in the NFL against the run so the likes of Hurts and Miles Sanders should have another field day if they stick to script.
Plus, Washington have been pretty shabby against the deep ball too this season, having given up five passing touchdowns already.
This paves the way for A.J. Brown to explode, as Philadelphia attack Washington’s weaknesses on two fronts. The former Titans WR has been well involved so far, racking up 15 catches across two games, and he’ll feel a maiden touchdown for his new team is long overdue.
You’d expect the Eagles to touch 30 points in this game, so it will be up to Washington’s offence to respond. But I just don’t think they can keep within a single touchdown of their rivals.
A faultless performance from Wentz is their only hope and I will repeat, it’s insanity to trust him in a big game.
Odds correct at 1600 BST (16/09/22)
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