NFL Week 3 best bets: Kyler Murray leads Cardinals to first win over Panthers, Vikings rebound vs. Raiders

If the beginning of the season is all about stacking wins before finding a groove as the calendar flips from autumn to winter (something Will Brinson and I have repeatedly said on the Pick Six Podcast), well, I just might be screwed then. It's been a difficult start to the season for yours truly. I have not been stacking wins. I am nowhere close to finding my groove. I'm terribly afraid that winter already came for House Wagner-McGough -- which doesn't quite have the same ring to it as House Frey.

But at least I'm making progress. In Week 1, my five best bets went 0-5. In Week 2, I went 1-4.  

See? Progress. 

I'll save you the excuses, but just know that I'm still mad at Derek Carr for throwing an end zone interception, at the officials for wiping away an unbelievable Patrick Mahomes touchdown with a holding penalty, and at Mahomes for fumbling in the red zone, which prevented the Chiefs-Raiders game from hitting the over. Put it this way: If you would've told me the Raiders would score 10 points on their first two possession and the Chiefs would score 28 points in the second quarter alone, there's no way in hell I would've thought the over could fail to hit. But after the Chiefs and Raiders combined for 38 points in the second half, no more points were had by either side.

Cue the sad music. Luckily, I only listen to sad music, so I've already got one cued up.

That said, I don't think it's time to ... ahem .... Turn Out the Lights on my weekly five best bets. Since Week 1 of last year, I've posted a 50-44-1 record with my five weekly best best, which isn't at all half bad when you factor in just how terrible the last two weeks have gone. The best way for me to put is, I'm like the underperforming 0-2 team that is in desperate need of a win in Week 3 to have a prayer at making the playoffs. Believe me when I say I'm praying to all the gods -- the old and the new -- for a win this week. 

Which brings me to my five best bets for Week 3.

Last week: 1-4
This year: 1-9

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Game of Thrones via Giphy

All odds via SportsLine

Pete Prisco and R.J. White joined Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to break down all the games, hand out best bets and build a winning parlay for Week 3. Listen below and be sure to subscribe:

1. Vikings -8.5 vs. Raiders

Kirk Cousins has a problem. He can't beat good teams, with a loss to the Packers in Week 2 serving as yet another example. He played so poorly that even he admitted it's performances like that that could result in his departure from Minnesota (not until the remainder of his fully guaranteed contract expires, of course). The good news is that the Raiders are not a good football team and the Vikings are hosting the Raiders on Sunday. And what is Cousins good at? He's good at beating bad football teams.

On the road, I think the Raiders are just too outmatched in this one -- so much so that I don't even think Cousins needs to play great for the Vikings to win by 10 or so points. This Vikings defense, which brought back mostly everyone important after ranking fourth in DVOA a season ago, should be able to handle Derek Carr and a Raiders offense that, despite hot starts against both Denver and Kansas City, is averaging only 17 points per game. Carr typically crumbles under pressure and the Vikings have the defensive front to bother him.

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2. Seahawks -4.5 vs. Saints

My editor, R.J. White, mentioned this in his Week 3 preview regarding the Saints being only 4.5 point underdogs on the road in Seattle without Drew Brees and with Teddy Bridgewater, writing: "There's a wide range of outcomes to the Bridgewater era in New Orleans, and the market is clearly pricing to the more positive of those scenarios."

I think the Seahawks should be favored by more than 4.5 points. In Bridgewater's limited action with the Saints since he joined them last season, he hasn't fared well, completing 58.5 percent of his passes, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, throwing one touchdown and one pick, and posting a 71.5 passer rating. Once upon a time, Bridgewater was a young, blossoming quarterback. But since that tragic injury, we haven't seen him look like that quarterback -- albeit, in a very small sample size.

I'm not writing off Bridgewater. I just think this is too difficult of a game to trust him in. Even though the Seahawks haven't looked great so far, winning both of their games by a combined three points, the advanced stats like them. They're seventh in DVOA. The Saints are 25th.

Seattle is a challenging environment for any team. It's going to be especially challenging for a team starting a backup quarterback.

3. Ravens at Chiefs Over 52.5

In quite easily the best game of the week, I'm expecting an explosion of points. 

To this point, the Chiefs are averaging 34 points per game while ranking second in offensive DVOA. To this point, the Ravens are averaging 41 points per game while ranking third in offensive DVOA. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are both completing over 71% of their passes, averaging more than 10.5 yards per attempt, and have combined for 14 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. In short, both of these offenses are incredible.

My only concern is that the Ravens will revert back to their run-heavy offense from a year ago and burn too much time off the clock with long drives instead of letting Jackson air it out the way he has through the first two weeks of the season. But as the Chiefs proved in Week 2, when they dropped 28 points on the Raiders in one quarter, they can rack up points in a hurry. 

At -6.5, I don't love the Chiefs in this game. The Ravens look like one of the best teams in football and it's worth noting they nearly beat the Chiefs in Kansas City a year ago, but Mahomes went full Mahomes over them to convert a huge fourth down and send the game to overtime, where the Chiefs would eventually win.

I expect a close, high-scoring game. 

4. Broncos at Packers Under 43

It's kinda flying under the radar because the Packers are 2-0 with two huge wins over division rivals, but the new-look offense under Matt LaFleur has not been good. The Packers are 23rd in offensive DVOA and are averaging only 15.5 points per game (only five teams have scored fewer points) while Aaron Rodgers ranks 14th in DYAR, 15th in DVOA, and 24th in QBR. What the Packers have -- so far at least -- is a good defense, which has allowed 19 total points in two games while slotting in at third in defensive DVOA

Meanwhile, this should come as no huge surprise, but the Broncos do not have a good offense. They've scored 30 points so far this season (which makes them one of the five teams that have scored fewer points than the Packers). This should come as no huge surprise as well, but the Broncos still have a good defense under new coach Vic Fangio. They've allowed only 40 points this season.

And that's why I'm taking the under.  

5. Cardinals -2.5 vs. Panthers

The way I look at this game is that if Cam Newton (foot) doesn't play, the Cardinals should be able to win by at least a field goal against Kyle Allen -- mainly because they'll be playing against Kyle Allen at home. If Newton does play, I still think the Cardinals will win by a field goal or more. As last week's prime-time display against the Buccaneers demonstrated, Newton can't be entirely healthy after he underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason. And if he is entirely healthy and if this is his new normal, then Newton might not ever be the same quarterback again. Now, he's suddenly dealing with a sprained foot too. 

And the Cardinals ... the Cardinals haven't been half bad under new coach Kliff Kingsbury and new quarterback Kyler Murray. After tying the Lions in Week 1, the Cardinals hung in there against the Ravens, losing by only six points. Murray already looks like a star in the making. If Newton plays, I still think the Cardinals will have the better of the two quarterbacks (right now, at least).

So, I'm taking the Cardinals knowing that there's a chance that Newton doesn't even play and that even if Newton plays, the Cardinals have a decent chance of winning this game because Newton doesn't look like himself yet. And if Newton doesn't play, this one could be a blowout. 

I rest my case.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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