A look at the best NFL bets for Week 3:
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-3)
I’m not necessarily buying into the Panthers after wins over the Jaguars and Texans, but I am definitely selling on the Saints. New Orleans looked lethargic against a lousy Buccaneers squad at home last week, and now it'll have to take its show on the road where it is 1-5 ATS vs. division opponents in its last six contests. Drew Brees was looked at by Dr. James Andrews during the week, and while he found nothing that required surgery, Brees is definitely less than 100 percent. I don’t want a balky Brees (or Saints backup Luke McCown) going against the stalwart Panthers defensive unit, which has allowed the fifth-fewest YPG in the league despite facing the most plays from scrimmage in two games. Cam Newton, who has looked good to start the 2015 season, should be able to march his offense down the field at will against the perennially putrid Saints stoppers.
The pick: Panthers -3
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3.5)
It was cool to see the Raiders grab a win as big home underdogs last week, but they’re in for a dose of reality as they travel to the “Dawg Pound” this Sunday. Josh McCown is getting the nod at QB for the Browns despite Johnny Manziel’s great game against the Titans last week, but it doesn’t really matter who’s starting because the Raiders are bringing their NFL-worst defense to town. Oakland is a dreadful 1-19 in its last 20 road games, and the last time the Raiders were underdogs of fewer than six points on the road was December of 2013, when they lost to the Jets. The Browns look like the bargain of the week.
The pick: Cleveland -3.5
RELATED: NFL Power Rankings ahead of Week 3
Denver Broncos (-2.5) at Detroit Lions
The Broncos’ opportunistic defense has been instrumental in Denver’s 2-0 start, but Peyton Manning has not been as bad this season as people will have you believe. The main reason for Manning’s shaky beginning has been the pressure applied by the aggressive Ravens and Chiefs defenses. But Manning’s two-minute drill in Kansas City in Week 2 (where the Chiefs failed to get to Manning in the pocket) demonstrated that Peyton is far from done. Meanwhile, the Lions have looked listless in two road losses to the Chargers and Vikings, and although Detroit has been much better at home the last few years, their defense that was one of the best in the league in 2014 is now amongst the dregs of the NFL. They have allowed the third-highest YPG in 2015, thanks chiefly to the departures of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line. Matt Stafford (who is listed as questionable with a bruised rib) is 3-32 lifetime when he faces a team with a winning record, so it’s hard to have confidence in the Lions protecting their house in primetime. Expect Denver to make a statement with a convincing win in the Motor City.
The pick: Denver -3
Best of the rest (picks in bold)
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans (-6.5)
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-13.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-2.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) at St. Louis Rams
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) at Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-3)
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-14.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers (-6.5)