NFL Week 3: Oddsmakers Dare Bettors To Pick Jets To Cover Vs. Colts, Plus Bengals And Bears Bets

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Week 3 can be a minefield for NFL bettors. Teams that have stumbled to 0-2 records out of the gate know that falling to 0-3 likely means kissing their hopes for a winning season goodbye, so they typically bring their best effort and overperform against oddsmakers’ point spreads. Meanwhile, squads whose 2-0 records might have more to do with early season randomness than true excellence are ripe for a reality check.

Everything can feel like a trap game, and this Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and Cincinnati Bengals —the three “local” NFL teams for Indiana sports gamblers — will present the gamut of Week 3 pitfalls.

In October, Indiana will mark one year since the state launched legal online sports wagering, and even though mobile gambling was recently implemented in neighboring Illinois, the Hoosier State continues to attract Bears fans from Chicago and Bengals fans from Cincinnati, who shop for the most favorable odds among the nine online sportsbooks currently operating in Indiana.

Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets

This spread just keeps growing. The 1-1 Colts opened as 7-point favorites over the 0-2 Jets, and since then action on Indianapolis has driven the line all the way up to 11 or 11.5 at major online sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetRivers, and BetMGM, among others. By game time on Sunday, the Colts might as well be favored by two touchdowns. Below is a breakdown of odds at six books operating in Indiana.

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 DraftKingsFanDuelBetRiversBetMGMPointsBetUniBet
Colts Spread-11.5
(-112)
-11
(+100)
-11.5
(-112)
-11
(-110)
-11.5
(-110)
-11.5
(-112)
Jets Spread+11.5
(-109)
+11
(-120)
+11.5
(-109)
+11
(-110)
+11.5
(-110)
+11.5
(-109)
Colts Moneyline-480-500-480-526-580-530
Jets Moneyline+390+385+390+420+420+380
Total Points Over/Under43.544 43.543.54443.5

Even if the Colts-Jets line doesn’t reach 14 points by the weekend, there’s little doubt that some sharp bettors will play the historical odds and bet the 0-2 team to cover that mammoth double-digit spread, no matter how miserable the Jets, who lost 27-17 to the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 and fell 31-13 to the San Francisco 49ers last week, have looked this season.

But sometimes, a team is as bad as it looks, and even if most teams who’ve landed in similar situations over the years have found ways to bounce back, this one just keeps bombing out. These Jets could be one of those teams, especially against a Colts squad that appeared to right the ship in its Week 2 win over the Minnesota Vikings and may be looking to build confidence and momentum for the rest of the season by stomping on the lowly Jets.

Still, betting the Colts -11.5 and then watching the Jets cover with a garbage time touchdown might be enough to drive some gamblers mad. To avoid that, the sanity-preserving move could be to combine a fairly safe Colts moneyline bet into a parlay.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

OK, so 0-2 teams tend to perform well against the spread in Week 3, but what about two 0-2 teams going head-to-head? Welcome to Cincy at Philadelphia, the rare 2020 game where the Eagles’ home field advantage is arguably aided by the COVID-19–mandated lack of fans, since the inevitable boos from Philly’s crowd might have rattled the Eagles and allowed the Bengals to steal the game.

Instead, we have two woesome teams looking to pick up their first win of the season, with sportsbooks making the Eagles a 4.5- to 5-point favorite. That makes sense, given Cincinnati’s defensive struggles and anemic offensive line, but it’s hard to square with the fact that Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz has been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this year, and it hasn’t even been particularly close. At Football Outsiders, Wentz’s defense-adjusted yards above replacement of -349 is worse than any other quarterback tracked by the advanced stats site in the past decade.

Peruse the smorsgasbord of odds for Bengals-Eagles below, but it might be wise to stay away from those lines and wait for sportsbooks to release player props. Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has shown impressive flashes running the ball when pressure has forced him out of the pocket, and the Eagles defensive line may have him running for dear life — and in the process, beating the line on his rushing yards.

 DraftKingsFanDuelBetRiversBetMGMPointsBetUniBet
Bengals Spread+5
(-115)
+4.5
(-110)
+5
(-115)
+4.5
(-110)
+4.5
(-110)
+5
(-115)
Eagles Spread-5
(-106)
-4.5
(-110)
-5
(-106)
-4.5
(-110)
-4.5
(-110)
-5
(-106)
Bengals Moneyline+180+184+180+190+175+180
Eagles Moneyline-210-220-210-222-220-225
Total Points Over/Under4646.54646.546.546

Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons

The 2-0 Bears are three-point underdogs heading into Sunday’s game at 0-2 Atlanta. That likely tells you everything you need to know about how much bookmakers respect Chicago’s undefeated start, which has inspired several NFL analysts to describe the  Bears as one of the weakest 2-0 teams in recent memory.

 DraftKingsFanDuelBetRiversBetMGMPointsBetUniBet
Bears Spread+3
(-106)
+3
(+100)
+3
(-106)
+3
(-110)
+3
(+100)
+3
(-106)
Falcons Spread-3
(-115)
-3
(-120)
-3
(-115)
-3
(-110)
-3
(-120)
-3
(-115)
Bears Moneyline+143+154+143+150+150+140
Falcons Moneyline-165-184-165-175-180-167
Total Points Over/Under47.54747.547.547.547.5

For Chicago, this is the trap game. For the Falcons, it’s a must-win after competitive losses to Seattle and Dallas, two teams expected to compete for the NFC Championship. For bettors, Atlanta might make sense as another moneyline parlay option.

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Rafe Bartholomew

Rafe has worked as an editor and writer at Harper's Magazine, Grantland, Eater, and The Athletic. He is a co-author of the New York Times Bestselling book Basketball: A Love Story and the author of two other books, Pacific Rims and Two and Two.

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