The third Sunday of the 2018 season is officially a wrap. The Cleveland Browns unlocked the Bud Light refrigerators on Thursday with their first win, the San Francisco 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to what is believed to be a torn ACL, and we had a huge upset destroy Survivor pools.
Week 3 comes to a close on Monday with another dose of Fitzmagic. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host Ben Roethlisberger and the drama-filled Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. Jameis Winston returns from suspension in Week 4, so this might be our last chance at the magic.
Every week will bring its share of wild games, unexpected results, and plenty of money changing hands. Sports gambling is not new, but the Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to legalize it opens the door for a huge expansion. And so, it’s time to keep an eye on the important news, the gut-wrenching news, the quirky news, and how we can best help you make a few bucks each week. Welcome to The Vig!
Survivor pools are destroyed
When we think of NFL gambling, we think of picks against the spread, point totals and futures. But Survivor pools are growing in popularity as a way for people to win some money. In the pool, you pick a team each week to win straight up. Once you use a team, you can not use them again during the season. If the team you pick wins, you stay alive; if they lose you’re out (unless it’s double elimination).
This week, the most popular pick in virtually every pool by a wide margin was the Minnesota Vikings. They were as much as a 17 point favorite against the atrocious Buffalo Bills. Only, somebody forgot to tell the Bills. They took a 27-0 lead in the first half, and cruised to a 27-6 victory behind a solid effort from Josh Allen.
The second and fifth most popular picks in Week 3 were the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots. Jacksonville lost 9-6 to the Tennessee Titans, while New England lost 26-10 to the Detroit Lions. Those two losses combined with the Vikings loss, might have resulted in nearly 75 percent of various pool entrants taking an L in Week 3.
Day of the dog
Beyond just Survivor pools, it was a wild day for underdogs. Along with the Bills, Titans, and Lions, the Saints, Giants, and Washington all won outright. Additionally, the Cardinals and Colts pulled out covers. Favorites led the way in Week 1, but underdogs have stepped up the past two weeks.
Jimmy Garoppolo injures his knee
The 49ers quarterback suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the fear is a torn ACL, but it will be confirmed on Monday via an MRI. C.J. Beathard took over for one play, and will be the starter as long as Garoppolo is sidelined.
The injury is as big as they come for the 49ers. The folks at BetDSI have said if the torn ACL is confirmed, they will drop the 49ers Super Bowl odds from 30/1 to 70/1. Prior to the weekend, the 49ers were a 4.5-point underdog to the Los Angeles Chargers in the Week 4 lookahead line. On Sunday evening, the line officially opened at Chargers -9.5, and is up to 10.5 at several sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. BetDSI believes Garoppolo is worth five to six points to the spread, depending on the opponent.
How ‘bout them Browns? Part 2
What a week for Cleveland and its football team! The Browns claimed their first straight up win since 2016, resulting in the opening of Bud Light coolers! The Browns are now 1-1-1, but if you are the betting sort, they are 3-0 against the spread. An unbeaten ATS record doesn’t get a team to the playoffs, but it can win bettors money.
The Browns head west to face the Oakland Raiders, who are struggling to get anything going. The line opened as a pick ‘em, but has quickly moved to Raiders -2.5. Will we see an overreaction the other way as the week progresses now that the Browns are the talk of the town?
Rookie quarterbacks galore
Speaking of the Browns, they got Week 3 going with the mid-game debut of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. Tyrod Taylor couldn’t get anything going on Thursday, and after he got hurt, Mayfield replaced him. Cleveland seemed dead in the water, but Mayfield then completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards, and even caught a pass for a two-point conversion. Cleveland has every reason to finally be excited.
Three days later, we saw another first-round pick make his debut. The Arizona Cardinals started Sam Bradford on Sunday, but after a late fumble for his third turnover of the game, the Cardinals switched to Josh Rosen. He completed 4 of 7 passes for 36 yards and threw an interception, but given the healthy swap, one has to think Arizona will be rolling with the rookie moving forward.
Rosen’s debut potentially gives us four rookies starting in Week 4. The Cardinals (Rosen) host Seattle, the Browns (Mayfield) travel to Oakland, the Jets (Sam Darnold) travel to Jacksonville, and the Bills (Josh Allen) travel to Green Bay. As a betting man, I’m intrigued by the Bills-Packers line. The lookahead line this past Thursday was Packers -14.5. Following the Vikings stunning upset of Minnesota and the Packers ugly loss in Washington, the line is between 10.5 and 12 points at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. I have a feeling it will keep rising, but if you can get the Packers at 10.5, jump on it.
Bad beat of the week
We almost had a crazy cover in the Bears-Cardinals matchup in Glendale, Arizona. The Bears were a 5.5-point favorite, but struggled all day long. Their defense kept them alive however, and they took a 16-14 lead with 4:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After a Cardinals interception and a Bears punt, Arizona had the ball on their 20 with 43 seconds remaining. On second and 1, Josh Rosen was picked off on a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald. Safety Eddie Jackson intercepted the pass and ran it to the house for what would have been six points and the cover. However, Khalil Mack made possibly his first mistake in three weeks with the Bears, jumping offsides and negating the interception and score.
If you had the Cardinals covering, you lucked out. If you had the Bears cover, you probably threw your remote against the wall.
Divisional and win total futures bets don’t pay off until the end of the season, but you can feel pretty good if you bet on the Los Angeles Rams to win the NFC West. The Rams handled their business at home against the Chargers. The 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a potential torn ACL, which would seem to remove them from the picture. The Seahawks won their first game to improve to 1-2, but find themselves in the midst of Earl Thomas drama, a shaky offensive line, and a rebuilding defense. And of course, the Cardinals just moved to a rookie quarterback and lack much talent depth.
Save your Rams divisional ticket, because they could lock it up by the beginning of December.
Monday Night Football pick
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1): The big question is whether or not the Fitzmagic can continue. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his 2-0 Bucs host a scuffling 0-1-1 Steelers squad. Ben Roethlisberger has struggled on the road, and the Bucs defense is getting healthier at the right time. Add in the Antonio Brown drama and Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence, and the distractions are piling up for Pittsburgh. But honestly, it probably all comes down to what you think of Fitzmagic against a garbage Steelers defense. At some point he has to come back to earth, but this is a great matchup for him. I’ll say the magic continues with a win and the cover.
Looking ahead to Week 4
The first lines for Week 4 have arrived by way of OddsShark, and change is already afoot as this is published. The 49ers-Chargers line was briefly delayed at some sportsbooks given Garoppolo’s potentially torn ACL, but most have released a line. The lookahead line on that game was Chargers -4.5, and we have already seen a six point swing in light of Garoppolo’s injury.
That game and the Bills-Packers are the early front-runners for biggest line of the week. The lookahead line in Green Bay was 14.5, but the Bills stunning upset of Minnesota coupled with Green Bay’s loss in Washington has resulted in a big adjustment. This could be ripe for betting the sizable favorite.
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Rams (-7)
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans (+3)
Buffalo Bills @ Green Bay Packers (-10.5)
Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears (-2.5)
New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-9)
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons (-5.5)
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (+3)
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders (-2)
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Chargers (-10.5)
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (+3)
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (+4.5)