While I went only 1-2 in last week's column, it did offer a meaningful learning experience in the one pick I got correct. When we published this column on Thursday, I was able to get the Seahawks team total at 29.5 and took the over. If you waited until Sunday to make the same play, the total had risen to 30.5.
Seattle lost to Tennessee 33-30 in overtime thanks largely to a missed extra point that allowed the Titans to tie the game without needing a two-point conversion. The margin of error when betting an NFL game is that thin, so it's important to get your bets in when you have the advantage.
Of course, it also helps when you make the correct picks, so I'll keep both of those things in mind as I share my three favorite plays for Week 3.
If I have an awful rush defense, the last team I want to see coming to town is the Baltimore Ravens. That's where the Lions find themselves in this spot, as the Ravens bring Lamar Jackson and an offense averaging an NFL-best 5.87 yards per carry to Ford Field. Detroit's rush defense hasn't been bad from a yards-per-carry angle, but as far as success rate against the run is concerned, Detroit's rate of 57.7% ranks 24th in the league.
That's why I think the Ravens will win this game, but I'm hesitant to take them to cover a spread of more than a touchdown on the road. The better value is on the total, as I see the Ravens scoring at least 30 points on Sunday. I also see a scenario in which the Lions can move the ball against a Baltimore defense that has allowed five passing touchdowns through two weeks. Baltimore is struggling to generate pressure on opposing QBs early in the season, and if given time, Jared Goff can move the ball.
Prediction: Ravens 34, Lions 24
I'm just not ready to trust Mac Jones as a favorite yet. The Patriots failed to cover as favorites against Miami in Week 1, and while they did cover as favorites against the Jets last week, it's the Jets. Zach Wilson throwing four interceptions had a lot to do with it. To this point, Jones has been nothing but a game manager. He's thrown one touchdown and has not turned the ball over. His 6.77 yards per attempt ranks 24th in the NFL, and while that's ahead of Jameis Winston (6.17), it's not good enough to convince me to rely on the Patriots ever pulling away in this game.
Sure, Winston can throw four interceptions with the best of them himself, but I have confidence in Sean Payton to put together a game plan to keep the Saints in this game against a Patriots offense that does not scare me. I don't hate the under here, either, but I much prefer getting a field goal with New Orleans.
Prediction: Patriots 21, Saints 20
A big part of life is doing things you don't necessarily want to do, and this pick is life. No, I'm not excited to be out here taking the Falcons. Atlanta could prove to be the worst team in the NFC, if not the entire league. But even if that's the case, are they that much worse than this Giants team? Yes, Daniel Jones has shown some flashes of competence to begin 2021, but there's always a turnover right around the corner.
Much like Mac Jones, I'm not willing to trust Daniel Jones as a favorite, nor should I be. Daniel Jones has been favored six times as a starter during his NFL career, and he's 2-4 ATS. Both covers have come against Washington. Plus, while Atlanta's defense ranks 27th in the NFL in points allowed per drive at 2.91, the Giants have been slightly worse, allowing 3.0 points per drive. This will be one of those games that neither team deserves to win, and in cases like these, I love the underdog.
Prediction: Giants 24, Falcons 23
Which picks can you make with confidence this week, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $7,900.
2021 NFL jerseys now available
The new NFL season is here! Win or lose, you can shop jerseys, shirts, hats, and much more to support your favorite team. Shop here and show your colors.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.