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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

2018 NFL Sunday Week 3: Trends and Picks

Our framework started strong this season, amassing a combined ATS and totals betting record of 6-2, good for close to 4 units of profit. Unfortunately, our travel schedule kept us from publishing our week 2 picks. But if we had been around last week, we would have recommended a focus on contrarianism, as our friends at SportsInsights have observed that week 2 has historically been the best time of the year to fade the public. Consistent with this generalization, NFL teams with the backing of a minority percentage of spread bets went 12-4 against-the-spread in week 2.

While we can not rewind time and provide advance notice of last week's winners-to-be, we can offer the consoling observation that the extreme profitability related to fading the public in the second week of NFL action tends to bleed over into the next series of games. Thus, the strategy of going against the grain of public opinion is expected to work again in week 3.

Our feature ATS plays for the third installment of NFL action are picks generated by our primary, power rankings composite, framework that are unpopular among public bettors. We also include one totals play, generated by our computer simulation work and supported by historical tendencies.


Featured Week 3 Games:​

  • New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

  • Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins

  • Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals


New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons -1.5 -102

We give the Falcons a 4-5 point edge at home this afternoon, in spite of their injury-riddled state. At present, only 45% of spread bets tracked by The Action Network support the home team to cover. Further, an anemic 30% of dollars wagered ATS favor Atlanta. This lopsided action has pressured the line down from 3 to the current level. Our work suggests this move through a key level is an overreaction. As such, we are comfortable laying the modest chalk to side with the Falcons.

Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins +3 -125 / +2 -104

Our power rankings composite grades this game as somewhere between even to a 2-point advantage to the Skins. So again, we are inclined to back the home team. Interestingly here, Washington has attracted only 42% of spread bets, but a majority 63% of dollars bet ATS are taking the points with the home boys. This split implies we are on the smart money side of this wager.

We also note Alex Smith's tendency to 'play up'. Per The Action Network, against good defenses (i.e. teams that average at least 21 points per game), Smith is 47-33 ATS (59%).

Moreover, the Packers have not been stellar on the road in recent years. According to Pro Football Reference, since 2015, Green Bay is a meager 7-6 ATS as regular season away favorites, including a 2-4 ATS stretch in their last half dozen from this position...and Aaron Rodgers is dinged up for this Sunday's action, against the 4th best best pass defense in the game by Football Outsiders' DVOA.

Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals +5.5 -104 AND o39 -108

The Cards mustered 6 points in their week 1 home opener, and were blanked last week at the Rams. As a result, only 26% of spread bettors (and 36% of spread dollars) are taking the flier on Arizona to beat the number in week 3. However, per The Action Network, since 2003, NFL teams managing fewer than 10 points in back-to-back outings have actually been a solid bet, registering a 57-35-1 (62%) record ATS. Additionally, also from The Action Network, since 2003, teams coming off 30+ point blowout losses are 108-80-8 ATS (57.4%) in their next game.

As our power rankings composite sees the Cards as somewhere between 4 point underdogs and 1 point favorites, we are happy to receive a half dozen with the home dogs today.

Also of note, this game will mark the first time an NFL team led by Bears' wonder-boy QB, Mitchell Trubisky, will have been favored to win on the road. We think it is no coincidence that expectations for the young, up-and-comer rose this dramatically on the heels of a highly publicized win on Monday Night Football (that game ranks 5th for the season by number of bets laid, as tracked by The Action Network). We can not help but think that the market might be a little too euphoric at present over Trubisky.

Separately, our computer simulation work calls for a combined final total in the 40-41 range, suggesting value on the OVER. While the Cardinals were utterly overmatched last week, we remind our readers that the Rams boast the 3rd best passing defense in the League. And while Arizona will face another elite defense this week, we also note that an immobile Aaron Rodgers cooked the Bears' D and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the back half of week 2's contest.

Inline with our disposition toward the OVER, since the Jags and Panthers joined the NFL in 1995, there have been 102 week 3 games with a closing betting total below 40. The OVER is 61-39-2 (61%) from this spot. Further, games played in domes have also exhibited a modest bias in favor of the OVER, as the impact of inclement weather on on-field performance is nullified.

Happy betting!!

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