Week 3 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of the game at Bank of America Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Image Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

Let’s review my best bets for NFL Week 3.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (OVER 50), Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

The Packers rank last in sack and pressure rate this year and are without DL Za’Darius Smith (IR) in this game. Jimmy Garopplo has been sacked on the lowest percentage of dropbacks in football, just 3.3%. Against Green Bay, Shanahan’s offenses have scored 33, 44, 30, 37, 37 and 17 points.

While the 49ers defense is top 10 thus far in both fewest yards allowed per pass and and lowest completion rate, Aaron Rodgers is much better than the QBs they’ve faced (Jared Goff and Jalen Hurts). Last year, against an admittedly injury-depleted San Francisco defense, Rodgers went 25-for-31 with four TD strikes. San Francisco is also without LB Dre Greenlaw and CB Jason Verett.

Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills (OVER 45), Sunday 1 p.m. ET

The Washington defense has regressed compared with 2020. In Week 1, their vaunted defensive line managed just five QB hits on 49 Justin Herbert dropbacks. Then in Week 2, Daniel Jones torched them for 7.8 yards per pass attempt and 95 yards rushing. Washington has allowed opponents to score on 61.1% of their possessions, the highest rate in the league. That’s nearly double their 2020 rate.

On offense, though, new QB Taylor Heineke is tops in Pro Football Focus’ big-time throw rate and fewest turnover-worthy play rate (0.7%). With Heinicke, Washington’s situation-neutral pace quickened to 27% no-huddle snaps (from 8%) and the WFT ran 20 more plays than in Week 1. Of the six drives on which it scored points, five included no-huddle plays.

Josh Allen is playing like 2019 Allen, struggling against pressure and on downfield throws. He’s been pressured on 40.2% of his dropbacks (seventh highest). But Buffalo is still throwing often, and the WFT is not covering well, ranking third worst in PFF’s coverage grade. Like Jones, Allen can really hurt the Redskins running on dropbacks, or even by design.

Atlanta Falcons (plus-3) at New York Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

The Giants have not generated any pressure against enemy passers and allowed fringe QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke a combined 62-of-80 passing (77.5%), 600 yards (7.5 YPA) and a 4:1 TD-to-INT ratio. The New York defense is also not stopping the run, allowing Denver and Washington a combined line of 42-225-2 (5.36 YPC).

The Giants have not been able to generate a running game themselves, beyond Jones. They’re averaging a league-low 1.8 yards per first down rushing attempt. Jones has accounted for 54.7% of the Giants’ rushing yards, the only quarterback over 50%. Big off-season addition at wide receiver Kenny Golladay is not 100% and the Giants are also dealing with injuries on their offensive line.

This is a pure power ratings play. These teams are equal on a neutral field by my metrics and home-field advantage is not worth the three points that it’s perceived to be worth. So the Giants should be favored by two and not three and one point going from two to three is actually a considerable edge.