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Betting Against the Spread: NFL Week 3 Picks and Odds

Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan

It's Week 3 of the NFL season and it's desperation time for the 0-2 teams. According to Showtime's "Inside the NFL," only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs despite starting 0-3. Some of these winless teams were expected to be this bad while the Redskins, Dolphins and Saints are a bit of a surprise. I maintain that we still don't completely know what is expected from these teams, but it's why we watch every weekend. 

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Record: 3-3 (1-2 last week)

Houston Texans (2-0) at New England Patriots (2-0)

Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8:25 p.m. ET

For just the third time in the last three years, New England is a home underdog and the Patriots are hoping to move to 3-0 in that situation. Things look bleak for them with Jimmy Garoppolo injured and Jacoby Brissett taking over under center. The Patriots' offense would really benefit from Rob Gronkowski playing, but his status is up in the air. No matter what, they have the edge with Bill Belichick as head coach. Houston has its first road game of the season after beating Chicago and Kansas City. The Texans played great defense, holding both teams to fewer than 300 yards of total offense. Still, the Texans have had their issues with New England. They have lost six of the last seven meetings, including three straight in New England. The key to this matchup is how the Pats try to corral Brock Osweiler and the Texans' passing attack. I'll admit that I'm a lemming and will take New England whenever it’s an underdog. SELECTION: Patriots +1.5

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. ET

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The Bengals have their first home game of the season as Denver hits the road for the first time. Cincy's offense hopes that a hobbled Andy Dalton is healthy enough to play on Sunday. Dalton has had to do more with the Bengals averaging just 51.5 yards per game on the ground. They may find it more difficult against Denver, which has played great defense so far this season. Trevor Siemian gets his first road test of his career and it's going to be a tough one against a Bengals team that is allowing just 219 yards per game through the air. This is the last contest Cincinnati’s defense will be without Vontaze Burfict, who is suspended for the first three games. Cincy has played 22 unders in its last 35 games. I think this one is about ball control and field position. SELECTION: Under 41

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-2)

Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. ET

Arizona travels east to take on Buffalo on Sunday. The Bills have had extra time to stew after a tough home loss to the Jets that resulted in the firing of their offensive coordinator. The numbers have been underwhelming for them this season as LeSean McCoy isn't getting much help from the passing game. Still, I think this is a good situation against Arizona, which is on the road for the first time. The Cardinals beat up on Tampa Bay last time out, forcing five turnovers. The Cards have struggled to get the run game going but Carson Palmer has had some success. The Bills' secondary had a rough time against the Jets, but I believe Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby can and will play better. Arizona has failed to cover in 14 of its last 23 games against the AFC East. Buffalo has covered in five straight games after two or more losses in a row. SELECTION: Buffalo +4.5

NFL Power Rankings: Bills

Notes:

— There is something that doesn't smell right about all the money coming in on Miami. The Dolphins are so inconsistent going from nearly beating the Seahawks in Seattle to playing awful in New England to orchestrating a frenzied comeback and nearly upsetting the Pats. There's nothing good about the Browns, including rookie QB Cody Kessler, but this is a Fins team that has covered in just 13 of its last 34 games overall, including five of the last 15 at home. It seems too easy to take the Dolphins.

— Carson Wentz leaves JV football to take on the varsity level Pittsburgh Steelers. The rookie has passed his tests so far, beating the Browns and Bears, but now on a short week he gets one of the best teams in the league. Pittsburgh's secondary is its weak link, but the front seven will blitz and put pressure on Wentz. Philly has mediocre weapons so any sort of success offensively will be a surprise. On the opposite side, you've got another strong front seven in the Eagles that will be trying to slow down Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. It seems to me that the Steelers are a good play in this one, but maybe Wentz makes things interesting this on Sunday.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.