Ross Williams previews the pick of the Week 3 NFL action, with a couple of recommended bets for Monday night's games.
2pts Bijan Robinson to score a touchdown at evens (Sky Bet)
2pts Indianapolis Colts (+7.5) to beat Baltimore Ravens at evens (Sky Bet)
2pts Travis Kelce (Chiefs) 100+ receiving yards and a touchdown at 15/4 (Bet365 Bet Builder)
2pts Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) to beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers at evens (Sky Bet)
2pts Kyren Williams (Rams) to score a touchdown at evens (Sky Bet)
Tampa Bay roll into Monday night on a high, having won their opening two match-ups. On paper, it’s been a brilliant start for the Bucs, but I do suspect their momentum will falter when they host the Eagles.
A three-point win over a haphazard Vikings team and a victory over the downright terrible Chicago Bears isn’t quite as impressive as their 2-0 record suggests, but it’s been enough to keep the handicap below five points and it’s opened up a real value opportunity.
Philadephia have been below their best, but they ultimately match up well against Tampa and there are few areas where a valid argument can be made for a Buccaneer over their counterpart in green.
Baker Mayfield is a steady enough quarterback, but not in the realm of Jalen Hurts and that alone makes a strong case for the Eagles winning this one fairly comfortably.
Tampa have overachieved so far despite possessing the league’s least-effective rushing attack. Philadelphia have one of the NFL’s premier rush-defences, so that really does beg the question whether the Buccaneers will be able to move the ball at all on the ground.
If the answer is no, the entire scoring responsibility of the team is on Mayfield. He has two excellent receivers at his disposal in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but they’ll be well covered by Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Then, consider the strength of the Eagles’ pass-rush, which should consistently get in the face of the Bucs’ quarterback.
All told, it’s a massive task for Mayfield and I haven’t seen enough from him to believe he can keep up with an Eagles’ offence that has consistently posted around 29 points per game for the past two seasons.
The final game of the week throws up a relatively simple proposition at around even money.
The Bengals have been well off the pace in the opening two weeks and there’s no guarantee that Joe Burrow will even take to the field on Monday night following an injury set-back.
This brings the Rams well into the contest. Los Angeles have been productive offensively and they’ve had plenty of time with the ball. In fact, only Mac Jones has thrown more passes than Matt Stafford’s 93 so far this season.
It’s been considerably brighter than anything we saw from LA last season and we can expect more of the same with Cincinnati in all kinds of trouble at the moment.
A particular fault of the Bengals’ play so far has been their rush defence. They’ve conceded a massive 384 yards to running backs through two games – the second-worst tally in the NFL – and that is music to the ears of Kyren Williams.
The Rams’ running back has three touchdowns in his opening pair of games and he picked up 20 touches last week, while being on the field for well over 90% of LA’s offensive snaps.
With Cam Akers now officially traded to the Vikings, it’s clear that Williams’ usage isn’t going to change any time soon, so his price to find the end-zone once more makes obvious appeal.
There’s a battle of first-round running backs in Sunday’s early slate of games, with Jahmyr Gibbs of the Lions and Atlanta’s Bijan Robinson going head-to-head.
Truthfully, I like the chances of both finding the endzone, but it’s Robinson’s price that catches my eye the most.
The rookie is a human highlight-reel. He was advertised as a superstar-in-waiting when he was drafted out of the University of Texas and, two games in, he’s living up to the hype and then some.
He has 180 rushing yards so far, second only to Christian McCaffrey, and his average yardage per carry (6.2) puts him above all of the NFL’s top-ten statistical rushers.
Plus, just for added style points, he possesses one of the meanest side-steps the league has ever seen.
Seeing as he’s averaging 90 rushing yards per game, his yardage over/under total of 69.5 is extremely tempting and probably worth a play, but I also fancy Robinson’s chances of getting into the end-zone against a Lions defence that has given up 57 points through two games.
Only four teams in the NFL have conceded more than Detroit and it’s nothing new. Dan Campbell has clearly made improvements to the Lions since arriving in the Motor City, but they consistently ship masses of points and find themselves behind the eight-ball.
Robinson doesn’t have a rushing touchdown thus far, with Tyler Allegier picking up a decent share of the red-zone action, but Bijan’s usage isn’t exclusively on the ground.
The 21-year-old has an excellent set of hands and he’s been utilised plenty through the air. He’s been targeted eleven times already in the Falcons’ passing game and he’s caught ten of those passes for 75 yards. One of those passes resulted in his maiden NFL touchdown in week one.
For context, that’s more targets and receptions than any of Atlanta’s actual receivers. Robinson’s the most potent weapon the Falcons have at their disposal, so I expect him to score on the NFL’s 28th-ranked defence.
The Colts pulled off an impressive win in week two, despite the early loss of star rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, and they have the capacity to at least run the Ravens close in Baltimore.
Predicting an Indianapolis win would be a little too bold, but with 7.5 points on offer with the handicap, there seems to be some value in this one.
After years of inconsistency at the quarterback position, the Colts smartly hired a back-up with some pedigree in the off-season and they didn’t have to wait long to reap the benefits.
Gardner Minshew will never be NFL MVP, but he’s won games at the highest level and has plenty of experience to draw upon. After entering the field last Sunday, Minshew completed 19 of his 23 passes and fired a touchdown ball to Kylen Granson. It was a precise and error-free display that got the Colts comfortably over the line.
Their task is considerably tougher this weekend on paper, after a strong start to Baltimore’s campaign, but there are significant injuries for the Ravens to contend with.
Baltimore are set to be without four starters on offence, including key offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, and three on the defensive side of the ball. The absences of cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams should allow the Colts to move the ball down the field a little more easily and there is a feeling that Indianapolis may not have to score too many points to stay in the contest.
Although Lamar Jackson will likely have some joy against the Colts’ corners in the passing game, Indy have been lights-out on the defensive line so far. They’ve racked up eight sacks already and they head into week three with the best rushing defence in the NFL. They’re giving up less than three yards per carry this season and a repeat performance will significantly reduce Baltimore’s effectiveness.
The Ravens will likely take the win as the class of Jackson will be too much. But expect this one to go to the fourth quarter with the Colts in the hunt and – all being well – within a touchdown.
Travis Kelce was back in action on Sunday and we can only expect improvement from here.
The Chiefs tight-end grabbed his customary touchdown despite a relatively low-key performance by his standards, but that was to be expected following his return from injury.
He’ll be raring to go on Sunday evening, now back to something like full fitness, and he couldn’t ask for a better match-up.
The Chicago Bears have looked pretty terrible in the opening weeks of the season. The 0-2 side haven’t seen the improvements they hoped for from Justin Fields and, defensively, they’ve struggled.
Only the Giants have conceded more points than Chicago so far and to make matters astronomically worse, they are now without a defensive coordinator due to Alan Williams’ sudden resignation in the week.
It’s a recipe for a monster Travis Kelce game, as Kansas City look to get their offence back on track after a slow start.
Kelce has 42 100-yard games on his record and in over 50% of those, he caught a ball in the endzone.
Rustiness meant that he only caught four of his nine targets last week, but I expect that figure to rise substantially and it’s a great sign that Mahomes trusted Kelce’s fitness enough to throw the ball his way nine times on his season debut.
The 2023 Chiefs have been slow-starting, but they’ll arrive on Sunday and I expect Kelce to be a big part of it.
Posted at 1600 BST on 23/09/23
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