For the first time since 1987, there are two games on an NFL Sunday featuring favorites of at least 20 points. As of Thursday morning, the New England Patriots are 23-point favorites over the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys are 21½-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins. The favorites from 1987 both failed to cover, but it’s looking more like the opposite will happen this year. The Dolphins appear to have no interest in winning, and the New York Jets are on their third starting quarterback in three weeks after Sam Darnold was ruled out due to mononucleosis and then his backup, Trevor Siemian, suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 that will require season-ending surgery.

Here is how we expect the rest of this week’s games to shake out, starting with three prime picks against the consensus point spreads (as of Thursday morning) from multiple sports books in Las Vegas.

Chicago Bears (-4) at Washington Redskins

Pick: Chicago Bears -4

The Bears have the league’s best run defense and the ninth best pass rush this season, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranks Chicago seventh in both categories after adjusting for game situation and opponent.

The Redskins, on the other hand, have a poor defense overall (fifth worst per Football Outsiders, second worst per Pro Football Focus) with a propensity to collapse in the second half. Washington’s second-half point differential (minus-21 points) is the second lowest in the NFL this year behind only the miserable Dolphins (-47).

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers (-6½)

Pick: San Francisco 49ers -6½

One of the key matchups in this game is 49ers tight end George Kittle against Steelers linebacker Devin Bush.

Last season, Pittsburgh yielded 887 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions on the 115 plays opposing quarterbacks targeted tight ends, for a robust 111.8 passer rating-against. Bush, a rookie, has already allowed opposing receivers to catch 11 of 14 targets for 114 yards and two touchdowns, leading to a woeful 140.2 passer rating-against this season.

Kittle, meanwhile, earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his 2018 campaign and should dominate when he faces Bush in coverage.

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-6½)

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -6½

A clash of two MVP-caliber quarterbacks, although buyer-beware on Lamar Jackson’s MVP odds. The Ravens’ quarterback was the AFC offensive player of the week in Week 1 and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes earned the honor in Week 2. They will go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon, with the winner’s team keeping its unblemished record intact.

The victor will most likely be the team that can best neutralize the opposing quarterback, and based on what we have seen so far, that edge should belong with Kansas City. The Chiefs have the league’s fifth best pass rush and 10th best secondary, per Pro Football Focus, two elements that can help keep Jackson under wraps.

Plus, Baltimore’s victories have come at the expense of two of the league’s weakest teams in the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. Let’s see how the Ravens do against a bona fide Super Bowl contender before expectations get too far out of hand.


The three games above represent our best plays of the week because our analysis shows the point spreads are the most divergent from what we expect to happen once the teams take the field. Below are picks for the other games on this week’s schedule. However, trying to pick every single NFL game is something of a fool’s errand. The house wins so often partly because bettors try to make too many plays when the odds aren’t in their favor. Keep that in mind when evaluating the remaining games from the Week 3 slate.

Tennessee Titans (-1½) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Tennessee Titans -1½

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-6)

Pick: Buffalo Bills -6

Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts (-2)

Pick: Atlanta Falcons +2

Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys (-21.5)

Pick: Dallas Cowboys -21.5

Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-8)

Pick: Denver Broncos +8

Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings (-8)

Pick: Minnesota Vikings -8

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-23)

Pick: New England Patriots -23

Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-7)

Pick: Philadelphia Eagles -7

Carolina Panthers (-2½) at Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Arizona Cardinals +2½

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6½)

Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6½

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)

Pick: Los Angeles Chargers -3

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-4½)

Pick: Seattle Seahawks -4½

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Cleveland Browns

Pick: Los Angeles Rams -3

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