For The Win: Week 3

NFL picks against the Las Vegas lines.

Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my second season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?

As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.

With two weeks of action behind us, we have a bit more perspective to contextualize teams’ performances. More exposures lead to more insights, which lead to more efficient lines from Vegas. It has been a hot start personally, going 20-12 overall and 6-2 with the best bets, but it will be tough to maintain that consistency. The best advice is sometimes to simply not wager on a particular game or lean more towards the total. Week 3 is another tantalizing slate, so let us begin.

Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com

(Thursday Night) MIAMI at JACKSONVILLE (-3) (Over/Under 45)

Brian Flores faces an uphill battle to avoid a dreadful 0-3 start when his feisty but unspectacular Dolphins team gets a front seat for the Minshew Show in primetime. While the Bills and Patriots, Miami’s conquerors over the first two weeks, are good opponents, there are exploitable areas for even an upstart team like Jacksonville to target. All is not lost for the Dolphins, especially after a loss to Buffalo that will give them plenty of encouragement; Ryan Fitzpatrick sharpened up, Mike Gesicki looked every bit the big target he was drafted to be and the running back by committee approach wasn’t a disaster. Defensively, however, there are major issues that will be difficult to resolve over four days of preparation.

The tipped pass interception that sunk the Jaguars on Sunday was just one of those plays, a bounce of a ball that could easily have gone the other way, culminating in a heroic Gardner Minshew touchdown pass to win it. Keep in mind the Jags were 11-point underdogs in Tennessee, a line that is even more absurd in retrospect. There is a real spirit to Doug Marrone’s men, a group that will not go down without a fight. Rookie runner James Robinson continues to show well, while the pocket presence and creativity of Minshew is quite something to behold. Like their opponent this week, their defense is not at the races. The total, therefore, looks a little on the low side for a game that could be back and forth. The three-point line basically tells us Vegas thinks these teams are dead even on a neutral field. A tricky one to call, but the home team usually has an edge on a short week.

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