With two winning weeks in the books to start the season, it's time to keep rolling in Week 3! Aptly, this week's plays primarily center around the significance of getting in on the right side of 3, as key a number as any when it comes to NFL point spreads.
Since 2002, the most common margin of victory has been a field goal, with more than 15 percent of all games being decided by three points, according to SportingCharts. In close games, taking at least a field goal on underdogs - and laying less on favorites - can have a significant impact on a bettor's bottom line in the long run.
Baltimore -2.5 vs. Cincinnati
After a major letdown in Oakland, the Ravens are desperate to break into the win column in their home opener.
The Bengals are in a letdown spot of their own this week, sitting pretty at 2-0 and fresh off a win over the Chargers to avenge a humiliating playoff loss last time they met. While they've looked like Super Bowl contenders thus far, Andy Dalton's presence puts a damper on Cincinnati's hopes in big games like this pivotal AFC North showdown.
Miami -2.5 vs. Buffalo
This matchup parallels Cincinnati-Baltimore in a few ways, with a team expected to contend coming off a loss to a perennial doormat and seeking a win against a division rival in its home opener. For the Dolphins, last week's letdown in Jacksonville should have them poised to rebound.
The Bills may struggle after opening the season with monster efforts against the Colts and hated Patriots. With this being Buffalo's first road game, upper-80s temperatures in the cards, and high Florida humidity being forecast, Rex Ryan and the Bills could find themselves of their element.
St. Louis (Money Line) vs. Pittsburgh
Yes, the Steelers get Le'Veon Bell back. Yes, they destroyed the 49ers last week. And yes, the Rams just lost to the Redskins. But getting the Rams to win outright after they were 2.5-point favorites on last week's lookahead line smells like an opportunity to capitalize on an overreaction by the market.
Pittsburgh thrived in an outstanding spot last week, avoiding an 0-2 hole after a week and a half to rest up for the home opener against a San Francisco team on a short week, traveling across the country, and thrilled to be 1-0.
St. Louis predictably struggled in a terrible spot, reeling from the physical toll of having just played more than four quarters against Seattle and the emotional high of somehow beating the Seahawks - likely to go down as the Rams' biggest win of 2015.
This week it's St. Louis in the superior spot. The Steelers are 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 games outside the Eastern Time Zone and face a lookahead to the quick turnaround of Thursday Night Football against the rival Ravens. The Rams, meanwhile, return home with redemption on their minds.
Detroit +3.5 vs. Denver
This line seems to ignore the Lions' home-field advantage altogether. If not for the Broncos' 2-0 record, which ranks among the more miraculous numbers in the NFL through two weeks, the point spread would be right around pick 'em in Detroit.
Denver needed a critical end zone drop by Steve Smith Sr. and five Chiefs turnovers to squeak out wins in Weeks 1 and 2. Furthermore, a quick eyeball test shows Peyton Manning's decline is even more real than his pedestrian stats through two games would suggest.
The Lions always play better on Ford Field's fast turf and that should continue as they pursue a badly needed first win in their home opener. The writing is on the wall.
Pick of the Week: Philadelphia +3 at New York Jets
The Eagles were 3.5-point favorites in last week's advanced line, so it's time to zig when everyone else has zagged. Following the masses on line moves like this is not a profitable endeavor. In Week 1, the 49ers went from 4-point favorites to 2.5-point underdogs then proceeded to blow out the Vikings. Last week, the Browns fell from -4 to +1.5 before throttling the Titans. This reiterates oddsmakers are rarely that far off with their opening numbers.
As solid as the Jets have looked through two weeks, getting 10 turnovers in a two-game stretch will make any team appear as if it's playing in a different stratosphere.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, can only play better. Situationally, they enter the game with an edge as the hungrier team, facing an opponent on a high after a step-up win and on a short week.
While the Eagles have tripped themselves up thus far, they'll have to pick themselves up sooner or later. It could be sooner than many are betting.
Week 3 Record: 1-4
Season Record: 5-6
Picks of the Week: 1-0