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Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS)
It was a week too late to bring up the angle of fading teams before a Thursday Night Football (TNF) appearance as it didn't produce a win in Week 2.
But it's still 2-2 ATS on the year and it's Jacksonville and Cincinnati on deck in Week 4. Both teams are catching points in Week 3 with Jacksonville a home underdog versus Arizona and the Bengals on the road to face Pittsburgh.
Can't imagine there will be significant support early in the week for the Jags or Bengals, so if you are looking to keep on fading the pre-TNF teams, likely best to do it early this week.
The first tidbit for this week is in a similar boat as it had been rolling until a 2-4 ATS record in Week 3 last year took some air out of it's sails.
But with a few teams already qualifying for this role as an ugly road underdog, bettors that prefer to wait until a little later in the week to get down are likely going to catch a few more points with at least a few of these teams.
Week 3 road teams that are 0-2 ATS to start the year are 17-8 ATS in Week 3 the past five seasons, was 15-4 ATS before going 2-4 ATS in 2020
Washington Football Team
Talk about finding a reason to be on some pretty bad looking teams in Week 3, this angle that took it on the chin last year (2-4 ATS) has the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, and Washington Football team as qualified teams to play on this week in Week 3.
They are three of the five NFL teams that have yet to cover a point spread this season, but with Kansas City and Jacksonville both playing at home this week, it's these three rough looking underdogs that you've got to try and make a case for.
The idea behind backing these teams is that the point spread is almost always going to be slightly inflated against these squads because they've got quite a bit working against them (on the road, yet to cover a spread). Most of the time these teams have also had at least one ugly loss in the opening two weeks as well, they could be winless in the SU market, and when put all of those things together, it's a role most aren't even remotely interested in wanting to back.
So point-spreads shift the other way to make it that much more expensive to fade these teams. The end result is that these 0-2 ATS teams could be getting a point or two more than they probably should be and it's helped them produce such a great Week 3 ATS record over the years. With Washington, Atlanta, and the New York Jets in this role this year, it doesn't take much to land on the side of the coin that suggests maybe these point spreads are a little too far against these three teams. Washington (+9) is playing at Buffalo this week, while the Falcons (+3) vs the Giants, and the Jets (+11.5) are in Denver.
Two weeks of Jets games so far have not been pretty, and after the four interceptions rookie quarterback Zach Wilson threw in Week 2, making a case for getting behind this team is tough. But the qualifier about those four interceptions is they did come against Belichick and his defenses have feasted on rookie QB's from the outset.
Wilson threw one INT vs Carolina in Week 1 as he needed about a half in an NFL uniform to feel somewhat comfortable, and he did manage to throw for two TD's against that Carolina defense as well. That same unit that held down Week 1 offensive darling in New Orleans QB Jameis Winston to just a single garbage time TD on Sunday.
Asking a QB Teddy Bridgewater-led Denver offense to cover a double-digit point spread at home is another tough question in itself, but the challenge doesn't get any easier for Wilson going against that Broncos defense. It's almost the perfect example of a potential play here where it really is the concept of this run (17-8 ATS) vs what your eyes have told you about how bad the Jets have been so far.
Washington and Atlanta ATS (and even ML for high risk tolerance) are the far better plays this week for this role though, as I would not be surprised to see either of them leave Week 3 with a SU win as well.
Atlanta's the more likely team to do so given the much smaller point spread, as visiting the 0-2 NY Giants shouldn't be nearly the test Washington has facing a preseason Super Bowl contender in the Buffalo Bills. However, if the argument is that these 0-2 ATS road teams are ones that tend to be catching more points than they probably should, Washington's the team that is more in line with that idea, and they get extra rest to boot.
Atlanta's facing the only other team with extra rest (NYG) heading into Week 3, complicating that situation even more, with Washington's opponent – Buffalo – coming off a shutout win on Sunday and arguably now looking much better than they possibly are, at least defensively, off that result.
So taking the points with Washington and Atlanta is something I've done this week, with a little more stake on the Washington side of things given the bigger point spread and slightly more favorable role (extra rest).
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Non-Conference games are 3-7 O/U (30%) this season
AFC vs. NFC Games for Week 3
Carolina vs. Houston
Washington vs. Buffalo
Arizona vs. Jacksonville
Baltimore vs. Detroit
Chicago vs. Cleveland
New Orleans vs. New England
NFL games have watched the 'under' go 17-15 this season even wtih prime-time games being a perfect 6-0 to the 'over' through two full weeks. It tells you that Sunday's have been for 'under' players so far (9-17 O/U Sunday afternoon games), and a big part of that flip has to be these non-conference affairs.
For years these were great 'over' plays as the thinking was a lack of familiarity and a lack of hatred for the opponent generally leads to tough days on defense for teams. They are either getting burned/fooled and/or aren't as focused in prep for the game or on the field on Sunday and it led to points each way.
That just hasn't been the case this year though, as five of those seven 'unders' non-conference have seen have finished with 40 or fewer points. Non-conference games are averaging 44.3 points per game so far, and it seems at least early on, the numbers have made an adjustment.
Out of the six AFC-NFC clashes that are scheduled for Week 3, four of them currently have totals within a FG of that 44.3 points/game average. The TNF clash between Carolina and Houston is sitting at 43.5, with Washington/Buffalo at 45.5, Chicago/Cleveland at 46.5, and New Orleans/New England at 42 all playing on Sunday.
Non-conference games finished 31-33 O/U overall a season ago, so it's not like these games being lower scoring is out of the blue, but sometimes a lack of familiarity can lead to doubt in trusting what teams believe they can run offensively too and that plays a part in these lower scoring results.
We do have two games that have current totals that are much higher than that 44.3 points per game average average and it's the Ravens/Lions game that may be the better option to look low on.
The Baltimore/Detroit total is around 49.5 currently as it's two teams off very different results in prime time. Baltimore needed a 2 nd half surge to just barely get by the Chiefs in a great game, while the Lions got blanked in the 2 nd half on MNF to turn a 17-14 halftime lead into a 35-17 loss that didn't even see Detroit cover the +11.5.
How each team reacts off those results is going to be interesting, as Detroit's defensive numbers aren't good, but it's a completely different task shutting down this run-heavy Ravens attack compared to them getting beat in the passing game like they have for the most part in the first two weeks.
You know Baltimore's going to continue to rely on that running game and that doesn't necessarily hurt an 'under' look here, especially when this defense could feel like they are playing a high school team after playing Mahomes. If this number continues to creep upwards during the week, the 'under' is going to be added.
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