We're coming off a 3-2 week in this column with relatively easy covers for the Bills, Colts and Chiefs, and we did even better on all SportsLine picks, which are now on a 14-5 (+927) run after covering with the 49ers on Thursday. Week 2 is typically overreaction time in the NFL, but we didn't see too many spreads move far off their lookahead lines when major injuries weren't a factor. One that did was Bears-Buccaneers, in which the market was proved right for the move, but overreactions in Seahawks-Lions and Browns-Steelers proved worth fading.
Now it's on to a Week 3 featuring five games with spreads above a touchdown. One of those favorites already covered on Thursday, and we'll have two more double-digit favorites during the late afternoon window on Sunday. Both feature lines that have inflated from the lookahead number. In Cowboys-Cardinals, that inflation comes despite Arizona covering as underdogs in each of the first two weeks while the Cowboys offense has yet to be tested. In Bears-Chiefs, that inflation comes despite the Chiefs offense not looking in form just yet, and with Kansas City just 6-10 against the spread as more than 10-point favorites since 2018. I'm avoiding the favorite in both of those games, and you can see below whether either underdog made by five best bets for Week 3.
I've been SportsLine's No. 1 NFL against-the-spread expert over the last six years, going 535-450-30 against the spread to put me up more than 35 units on those picks at SportsLine since 2017. I've also delivered a 56.5% hit rate on my Vegas contest picks over the last eight seasons, which is exactly what you're getting below. And that run includes two finishes in the money, including finishing 18th out of 2,748 entries back in 2017.
If you're a SportsLine subscriber, you can get all my picks, which in a typical NFL week number can near double digits, at the same time as I make them by downloading the app and signing up for alerts on my expert page. That's crucial, as you might not have access to the same lines from the Las Vegas contests, which don't move after they're posted mid-week. This week, while I don't like backing either of the double-digit favorites, I am jumping on one of the other favorites of more than a touchdown: the Jacksonville Jaguars -9 vs. the Houston Texans.
The Jaguars could not get going at home against the Chiefs last week, but that was to be expected with their offensive line issues and with Kansas City looking like it has one of the best defenses in the league. After a solid performance by the Texans defense in Week 1, they completely fell apart in Week 2 at home against the Colts, letting Anthony Richardson score two quick TDs before Gardner Minshew moved the ball at will after Richardson was removed with an injury. One of Houston's two injured safeties may be back this week, but they also will now be without two of their top corners in Derek Stingley Jr. and Tavierre Thomas, which should let Trevor Lawrence get whatever he wants in the passing game this week.
The Texans offense has put up some surprisingly good numbers, including 384 passing yards with two TDs and no interceptions from a banged-up C.J. Stroud last week behind a decimated offensive line. That line isn't going to be much healthier this week, if at all, and it's important to note that the bulk of Stroud's production this year has come in garbage time. The Texans were down 14 points less than six minutes into Sunday's game and only spent about 10 minutes after that down less than 10 points. Week 1 was better with the Ravens only up 7-6 at halftime, but the Ravens went up nine on their first second-half drive and never looked back. If the Jaguars are actually as good as the market expected heading into the year, they should be up big in the second half against a severely injured Houston team.
Get the rest of my Vegas contest picks below, along with my large-format survivor pool play for Week 3.
So which teams should you back in Week 3? And which underdogs could win outright?... Join SportsLine right now to see who you should back in Week 3, all from the expert who has crushed the world's most prestigious handicapping tournament!
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