Eli’s Week 3 NFL Best Bets: 2 Spread Picks Include Broncos
As NFL Week 3 odds near kick-off, this article serves as a guide to price discovery from behind the counter while handicapping point spreads, moneyline odds, and totals across NFL betting sites. We’ve seen our fair share of surprising results over the first couple of weeks, but it’s just a two-game sample size. Therefore, there were a pair of adjustments to look-ahead lines that stood out after comparing them to my numbers. Let’s delve into my Week 3 NFL best bets.
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Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins
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Some bettors may be unaware of the term price discovery. As bets begin to pile up on the opening line, it initiates the process of just that. Generally speaking, sportsbooks assume that bettors, especially sharp ones, are aiming to make positive expected value (+EV) wagers.
Early action from this crop of gamblers is used to modify the odds. Sportsbooks could also decide to follow operators that represent “market makers,” adjusting their prices because a polarizing competitor shifted theirs. Then again, the action they are receiving — coupled with their own liability tolerance — is even enough to move the odds themselves.
In this case, Miami was a 3.5-point favorite on the look-ahead line before it rose to over the last two weeks. Does that alteration warrant a bet, or has each team’s market rating been tweaked properly?
Is Mr. Unlimited Back?
There’s no doubting the Broncos’ defensive concerns, yet Russell Wilson isn’t the issue. After tallying an atrocious 2022 campaign, Wilson currently sits at No. 3 in completion percentage over expected (CPOE), No. 6 in EPA per dropback, and No. 9 in yards per attempt (YPA).
Moreover, Denver’s offense ranks No. 1 in points per drive — across the NFL. The knock on Wilson is that he’s among the league leaders in sacks taken, but it’s been a common variable throughout his career. While the sample size is small, Broncos coaches Sean Payton and Joe Lombardi appear to have recouped Wilson’s efficiency. Enter the Dolphins, which find themselves near the middle of the pack in EPA per dropback allowed.
Although that standing seems fine on paper, Miami’s exploitable corners (without a healthy Jalen Ramsey) recently benefited from facing the Patriots’ limited passing offense. For context, Mac Jones & Co. finished in the second percentile of explosive play rate in Week 2. Given that Justin Herbert took advantage of the Dolphins’ secondary in their season opener, expect a similar performance from Wilson, Payton, and a talented group of receivers.
Granted, Vic Fangio’s defense boasts an above-average blitz rate. On the surface, it’s a slightly problematic variable against a quarterback who welcomes pressure at times. However, the Broncos’ offensive line owns a top-10 pass block win rate (PBWR), conveying the rate at which linemen sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer. As long as Wilson isn’t pinned to a negative game script in the early goings, he’s set up for another sound afternoon.
Dolphins’ Significant Injury
Following that portion of the handicap, a bet on over would seem in play. Not only is Tua Tagovailoa the frontrunner among NFL MVP odds at some shops, but Miami also ranks No. 1 in EPA per dropback. Outside of corner Patrick Surtain II, Denver possesses one of the league’s worst secondaries.
Nevertheless, Jaylen Waddle’s status in concussion protocol clouds this betting angle. Even with Tyreek Hill’s presence accounted for, Waddle has accumulated the second-highest yards after catch (YAC) above expectation. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel has demonstrated his prowess for scheming average receivers open, yet Waddle’s absence would still force the underwhelming Braxton Berrios into a larger role.
This game represents a prime buy-low, sell-high spot with the 0-2 Broncos and the undefeated Dolphins, especially if Waddle sits out. As most expect at this point, I’ve bet Broncos +6.5 (-110) for the first of my NFL best bets.
- Editor’s note: This breakdown was written before Friday’s injury report, regarding Waddle (questionable) and Denver safety Justin Simmons (out).
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland browns
Tennessee’s upset victory over the Chargers helped swing the spread in the other direction, too. Is it a market overreaction?
Which Watson Shows Up?
There’s certainly a drop-off from Chubb to Jerome Ford at tailback. That said, the weight of Chubb’s injury isn’t nearly as impactful against the Titans’ elite run defense. For Cleveland’s to accrue success, Deshaun Watson must rectify his sluggish start against their vulnerable secondary. Keep in mind that Tennessee ranks No. 25 in EPA per dropback allowed, and its coverage was also its biggest liability a season ago.
The return of safety Amani Hooker (concussion) and corner Kristan Fulton (hamstring) doesn’t move the needle in the complete opposite direction. Even though Watson’s EPA+CPOE Composite ranks only ahead of Justin Fields and Zach Wilson, I’m willing to bet against the notion that he won’t rebound. Watson’s three miscues were the difference in Pittsburgh, yet negative turnover luck isn’t predictive of future outcomes.
Ultimately, he deserves a bit more time in this scheme before determining whether his skillset has completely diminished.
Banking On A Dominant Defense
Through two games, Cleveland has yielded the lowest offensive success rate (25.0%) across the NFL. That is a historic clip, considering few offenses produce a success rate of 27.0% or less in a single game. It’s a credit to a refined pass rush, secondary, and Browns first-year defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
This time, Cleveland is up against an offense that’s failed to establish much consistency in either facet. Plus, Ryan Tannehill’s EPA+CPOE Composite, ranking No. 25 among qualified QBs, doesn’t contain anywhere near the potential upside of Watson at 35 years old. Should the Titans fall behind, Myles Garrett and the Browns’ stout defensive front will wreak havoc on Tannehill and a susceptible offensive line — highlighted by left guard Peter Skoronski (abdomen) getting shelved.
Overall, Cleveland remains a top-10 team in my power ratings without Chubb. I’m sticking with those projections for the second of my NFL best bets. If you couldn’t grab Browns -3 (-110), which you’ll find in TheLines.com’s free sports betting Discord, I’d bet it with some juice at the key number of a field goal. Head to the #roles server in our channel if you’re interested in receiving push notifications whenever I place a wager.
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