Betting News & Analysis

NFL Week 3: Top ATS picks

Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) talk before a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

• BET Rams -3.5 vs. Cardinals (-110 BetMGM): Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury has an ATS career record of 9-16 in home games.

BET Bucs -1 vs. Packers (-110 BetMGM): Take the Bucs as a short favorite in their home opener.

• LEAN Patriots +3 vs. Ravens (-115 BetMGM)Bill Belichick owns an all-time ATS record of 15-4 as a home underdog.

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Estimated reading time: 5 min

There's arguably no sport more difficult, nor exciting, to bet on than NFL football. Information is both scarce in utility, and abundant in opinion. Markets are so finely tuned and so heavily wagered that there are few opportunities to gain an edge over the oddsmakers.

Enter: a model capable of making ATS picks with long-term success.

A majority of the most profitable NFL bettors use some kind of projection tool to help guide their wagers. Such a tool will be provided to the reader today, and for the rest of the NFL regular season. It is important to note that these projections are not a gospel, but merely a compass toward identifying an edge in a razor-thin market that is betting NFL spreads.

Week 3 Best Bets (Last week: 3-1):

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) vs. Green Bay Packers

Model Line — Buccaneers (-3) 

• Hampered Heavyweights: Nearly the entirety of the Packers receiving corps were DNPs at practice this week, and Bucs top WR Mike Evans won’t be playing because of his role in a Week 2 brawl with New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore. Such on-field absences will hinder both teams offensively, but will likely have much more detriment to Green Bay’s ability to win this game than it will Tampa Bay’s. 

• Bucs Defensive Prowess: The Buccaneers currently have the No. 1 rated defense in terms of EPA, and the No. 2 rated defense according to FootballOutsiders DVOA metric. Tampa Bay’s defense has the makings of a historic unit, and its defensive prowess has yet to be fully recognized in the public-eye. 

• A Stat that Means Nothing: For those looking to cite coincidental statistics — QB Aaron Rodgers has a 1-3 career record when playing in Tampa Bay, with an average passer rating below 70 and a TD-INT ratio of 5:8

• Summing Thoughts: Rodgers has vocalized the necessity of increased reps with his young receivers, and such a hindrance to that unit will make it difficult to find an offensive rhythm versus a stout Tampa defense. 

Take the Bucs as a short favorite in their home opener.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) @ Arizona Cardinals

Model Line — Rams (-4.5)

• Home-Field Disadvantage: Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury has an ATS record of 9-16 in home games since beginning his tenure in 2019. His outright record is even worse. In an era of diminishing Home Field Advantage, the Cardinals have been the epitome of its decline. 

• Roughshod Rams: Including last season's playoff route, Rams HC Sean McVay owns a 10-1 all-time record against the Cardinals. Expect the reigning champs to continue this trend versus a blitz-heavy Cardinals defense currently rated last in EPA / Play.

• Summing Thoughts:  Los Angeles should find an offensive rhythm early, and make life hell for opposing QB Kyler Murray. The Cardinals’ Week 2 comeback in Las Vegas was both astonishing and improbable, but it should not be interpreted as an indication of forthcoming success.

Seattle Seahawks (-1) v. Atlanta Falcons

Model Line — Seahawks (-6.5)

• One Big Caveat: The model-line is likely skewed by a stale Seahawks’ Home-Field Advantage metric, as the degree to which QB Russell Wilson’s permanent absence affects Seattle’s advantage is yet to be fully realized. Regardless, the crowd was raucous in the team's home opener, and there is no reason to expect any difference in a Week 3 game crucial to any far-fetched playoff hopes in Seattle.

• West-Coast Falcons: The Falcons are playing their second consecutive game on the west coast, but they've managed to circumvent the usual travel disadvantage. Atlanta elected to stay on the west coast following its Week 2 loss to the Rams, utilizing the University of Washington’s practice facilities in preparation for Seattle. Nevertheless, a week spent on the west coast ascribes a unique disadvantage for the Falcons in this matchup. 

• Summing Thoughts: While -6.5 may be ambitious, the Seahawks deserve to be a favorite in this game. Their Week 1 victory over Denver was impressive, and gave credence to the belief that their HFA was not tied to having an elite signal caller. 

Week 3 Model Leans

New England Patriots (+2.5) v. Baltimore Ravens

Model Line — Patriots (-3)

This is a historically profitable spot to back the Patriots. Bill Belichick owns an all-time ATS record of 15-4 as a home underdog, and the apprehension in making this a best bet can be attributed to the Patriots’ convoluted offense.

Denver Broncos v. San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)

Model Line — 49ers -3

The 49ers' duo of HC Kyle Shanahan and starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo own an ATS record of 19-9 on the road, and the Broncos offense has noticeably struggled thus versus less than stellar defensive units. 

How PFF contributor Tommy Jurgens' Projections Work:

A myriad of both objective, and subjective ratings are employed in a logistic regression model to determine the likelihood that each team will win the game outright. By this determined win-probability, a spread is assigned to each game and compared to the consensus line.

This model has successfully identified the outright victor at a greater than 67% rate, and has chosen the closing line ATS winner at an efficiency near 53% since 2006.

One can find all of the projected picks for Week 3 here.

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