NFL Week 3 picks: Panthers and Patriots cover, and more of Will Brinson's best bets

What a wild week coming up for the NFL. The league has been on blast for a fortnight over "bad football" and "unexciting games." Those complaints have merit, because professional football hasn't been fun to watch in the early going this year. Now, do you think that football will stink forever? Or do you think that something crazy might happen where we get nine road dogs in a single week and a little bit of insanity happening?

Home dogs are just 5-4 against the spread this year so far, but this feels like a week for home teams getting points. The Bills +3 against a vastly superior Broncos team is just too fishy. The Steelers -7 at the Bears looks too obvious. So we're going to dabble with some home dogs this week in order to try and get right when it comes to making our best bets of the week. Not all dogs, though, as a couple of big favorites make the list as well. 

Not a great start for me this season, but we improved in Week 2 over Week 1, so that's something. 

Panthers -5.5 vs. Saints

The money is actually on the Saints here, which is very surprising. The Panthers are, quite obviously, a superior team. And the Saints might be desperate, but this is a bad matchup for Drew Brees and Co. Playing against Carolina means a trip to Charlotte, which means a trip outside of the comfort of the dome, which should slow down the New Orleans offense.

The Saints have secretly not protected well for Drew Brees because of injuries on the offensive line. The Panthers' strength is getting pressure up the middle and, not so secretly, Carolina might very well have the best defense in football.

Cam Newton was a couple of red-zone completions away from blowing out the Bills last week, and the Saints are allowing 88 percent of passes 15 yards or more to be completed. Newton is about to have a breakout game, and the same is true with Kelvin Benjamin. Panthers roll big in this one.

Eagles -5.5 vs. Giants

Same sort of setup here: The Eagles' strength plays directly into the Giants' weakness, as Philly's front seven might be the best in the NFL. With Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan rolling, the Eagles have a pile of pass rushers to send. The Giants' offensive line is a disaster right now, and with a short week coming, it's hard to imagine them figuring out a way to fix everything.

The Eagles' secondary is a concern, and Odell Beckham might get his in this game. The Giants might have a little something-something for Carson Wentz as well, and without a stout running game, it's hard to imagine Philly just grinding this out. But they can create enough chunk plays to put up points and let the defense tee off. The Eagles should be 2-0 ATS right now. 

Patriots -13.5 vs. Texans

There is plenty of chatter out there about the struggles of rookie quarterbacks against Bill Belichick in Foxborough. They are winless there, because Belichick is a hooded dark lord who can mind-control young quarterbacks. (Or he's just a defensive guru capable of building a game plan that will frustrate young signal-callers. Either way.)

The real story here is that there are 10 first-year quarterbacks (including Carson Palmer, who sat his rookie season) who have played against Belichick in New England and all of them are winless. But the key is the average margin of victory for the Patriots: 17.2 points per game against those quarterbacks. Yes, please. 

Chargers +3 vs. Chiefs

There are way too many people who like the Chargers in this spot, which shouldn't be surprising. The Chargers have been good this year but are 0-2 thanks to bad clock management and dumb mistakes at the end of games. The Chiefs are 2-0 thanks to being a really good football team.

The public is probably all over the Chiefs; all three of the Team Oddshark members of the Pick Six Podcast (subscribe here for picks goodness!) are taking the Chargers in the SuperContest. It's the Kiss of Death (copyright Pete Prisco) and it will probably either end in a push when the Chargers miss a tying field goal with the clock expiring or in a loss when the Chargers throw a pick-six late while leading by two. The line is just crazy overvalued in the direction of Kansas City. L.A. should win.

Cardinals +3 vs. Cowboys

Hey look! I managed to sneak both of my crappy Super Bowl picks into my Week 3 best bets. What could possibly go wrong?

The Cardinals are still missing David Johnson, which is a nightmare. But the Cowboys are missing a lot on defense and this matchup, which is a Monday night primetime team getting points at home, should feature Arizona protecting Carson Palmer and the old man pushing the ball down the field. J.J. Nelson flashed last week and Larry Fitzgerald likes to play on the big stage.

The Broncos provided a blueprint for the Cardinals to beat the Cowboys, but it doesn't matter if they don't execute. Arizona can limit Ezekiel Elliott by stacking the box and cutting the field in half with Patrick Peterson on Dez Bryant, forcing Dak Prescott to work in half the space with only Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. The athletic secondary/linebackers of Arizona can cover those quick-moving targets. Cardinals win this one outright.

  • Last week best bets: 2-3
  • Best bets season: 3-7
  • Last week overall: 7-8
  • Season overall: 16-15
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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