With another doubleheader this Monday night, Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season will feature four prime-time games again:
- On Thursday night, the 49ers will look to cruise to a 3-0 start against the Giants.
- On Sunday night, the Steelers will press their luck in Vegas to score some points on offense against the Raiders.
- On Monday night, the Eagles travel to Tampa Bay for a surprising battle of 2-0 teams while the Bengals hope to avoid 0-3 in a Super Bowl rematch with Sean McVay’s Rams.
- Steelers-Raiders Under 43 (-110) at BetRivers (check our BetRivers Review)
- Eagles-Buccaneers Both Score 1+ Touchdown in Each Half (+170) at Caesars Sportsbook (check our Caesars Sportsbook Review)
- Rams Over 20.5 Points (+115) at Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)
- Deebo Samuel Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+106) at Caesars Sportsbook
The Baker Mayfield Redemption Season
With low expectations, the Buccaneers are already exceeding them with a 2-0 start. But they will face a tougher test this time in the defending NFC champions from Philadelphia, who are also 2-0 without even playing anywhere near their best football.
The Eagles are a 5-point road favorite with a total of 46 points. But we like a game prop that involves both teams scoring a touchdown in each half.
Monday, September 25, 2023 – 07:15 PM EDT at Raymond James Stadium
Mayfield’s Hot Start
The biggest argument against Tampa Bay this year was Baker Mayfield replacing the retired Tom Brady. Even if Brady was at his worst last season, the experience and ability to find easy plays and avoid turnovers felt like it would be a big downgrade for Tampa Bay. They would also lose that edge in close games as Brady was indeed the LOAT (Luckiest of All Time).
But at least in games against the Vikings and Bears, Mayfield has controlled his turnovers and hit the big plays this offense lacked last year with a 45-year-old quarterback who refused to hold the ball and take any more hits. Mike Evans is having a rebirth season at age 30 as he already has 237 yards and 2 touchdowns with Baker.
Tampa Bay having 0 turnovers is surprising and won’t hold up much longer, but this is why new offensive coordinator Dave Canales deserves a ton of credit if the Buccaneers keep this success going. He was the quarterbacks coach in Seattle last year when Geno Smith had his breakout year deep into his career. If Canales can do the same for Mayfield this year, add his name to the next head coach hiring cycle.
The Buccaneers have scored 20 points in back-to-back games, something they did just once last season.
Philadelphia’s Slow Start
The Eagles are 2-0 but neither performance has exactly been impressive. We are seeing teams move the ball much easier against the defense, and Jalen Hurts has not looked MVP-caliber with the passing game like we saw last year.
But the running game is still elite after new back D’Andre Swift had the game of his life with 175 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings, a defense the Buccaneers generated little on the ground against. Hurts is also still the deadliest short-yardage runner in the game with that improved quarterback sneak in Philadelphia.
The result is the Eagles have still hung 25 and 34 points in their games despite ranking 29th in passing yards. Hurts and his receivers should get it going eventually, and DeVonta Smith still had a couple of bombs against the Vikings last week. It’s not broken like some passing games around the league (see Bengals), but it does look a bit out of sync.
However, if Justin Fields can throw for over 100 yards to D.J. Moore and score touchdowns in both halves against this defense, we trust the Eagles will have ample scoring opportunities too.
The game prop of both teams scoring a touchdown in each half has hit in 3-of-4 games played this year for these teams. The only time it did not work was the Eagles’ ugly finish after taking a quick 16-0 lead in the rain in New England in Week 1.
But we expect a good back-and-forth game here with a fair amount of scoring. The Eagles and Buccaneers should both score at least 20 points, which is another prop with good value. But we think you should go the extra step and take the touchdown prop and enjoy the show Monday night. This is not last year’s Tampa Bay offense anymore.
NFL Pick: Both Teams to Score 1+ Touchdown in Each Half (+170) at Caesars Sportsbook
Trusting Puka Over Pukey Cincinnati Offense
The Rams and Bengals met in the Super Bowl in the 2021 season, but they look very different going into this Week 3 matchup. The Rams have replaced Cooper Kupp with rookie Puka Nacua’s historic start, and the Bengals are dead last in the NFL in yards. They also may not have Joe Burrow available for this virtual must-win game with a 0-2 record.
For now, the Bengals are a 2-point home favorite with a total of 43 points, but we are focusing on the Rams’ ability to score.
Monday, September 25, 2023 – 08:15 PM EDT at Paycor Stadium
Rams Look Good on Offense Again
Matthew Stafford went into the 2022 season with a concerning elbow injury that we should have paid more attention to. His offensive line was weakened, Cooper Kupp was his only reliable receiver left, and the Rams were destroyed up front by elite defensive teams like the Bills, Cowboys, and 49ers.
The season ended in misery as the Rams finished 5-12, and none of Stafford, Kupp, and Aaron Donald were able to finish the season due to injuries.
But Stafford and Donald are healthy, and despite missing Kupp, they have a new weapon in 5th-round rookie wideout Puka Nacua. He just rewrote the rookie record books against the 49ers’ tough defense. Nacua’s 15 catches were the most ever by a rookie in a game. His 25 catches through 2 games are the most ever to begin a career, and by a good margin (the old record was 19). He is the only player to go over 100 yards and 10 catches in both of his first 2 games.
He may lack the polish and bigger-play ability of Kupp, but he has been an outstanding substitute for this offense. Stafford also looks better protected and has been slinging it well, though he did struggle with a couple of interceptions against the 49ers. Still, he scored 23 points in that game after dropping 30 on the Seahawks on the road in Week 1.
Not only has Nacua been great, but Tutu Atwell has also been very productive and looks better than ever this season. The running game is averaging a minuscule 2.9 yards per carry, but the Rams stick with it and set up plenty of good looks with play-action as you’d expect from a Sean McVay offense.
The Rams feel like a reliable offense again and scoring 21 is well within their wheelhouse.
Bengals Failing to Impress on Defense
Whether the Bengals start Joe Burrow on a bad calf or go with the inexperienced Jake Browning, we are fading that side of the ball in this one. The Bengals need to rely on defense right now, but that unit is not able to do enough to win games.
The Browns had a limited passing game with Deshaun Watson in Week 1, but they still found a way to score 24 points despite 2 turnovers. The Ravens did even better with an efficient 27 points as Lamar Jackson played a great game from the pocket.
The Bengals only have 3 sacks despite playing Watson and Jackson, mobile quarterbacks who can take bad sacks at times. They let go of several defensive backs from last year, including both starting safeties (Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell). Maybe Puka does not get another 10 catches, but let’s not forget that Stafford is successful with tunnel vision to one receiver in a way no other quarterback can really compare to. Both 1,900-yard receiving seasons in NFL history by Cooper Kupp and Calvin Johnson came with Stafford at quarterback. He will find his guy and throw it to him without fear.
Cincinnati hunkering down on defense and stopping the Rams to win a game and avoid 0-3 is certainly a realistic storyline for this game. But for all we know, it could be Jake Browning with Aaron Donald in his face on Monday night. That sounds like turnover opportunities for this defense.
But what sold me on the Rams is the way they scored 23 points on the tough 49ers defense and even left some plays out there as they only had 6 points after halftime. We’ll trust Stafford and his new weapons to deliver at least 21 points against the team they scored 23 on in Super Bowl 56.
But if you did want a sneaky hedge pick on the last game of Week 3, try Bengals winning 23-20 as the correct score, the inverse of Super Bowl 56’s final.
NFL Pick: Rams Over 20.5 Points (+115) at Bet365
The Search for Points in Las Vegas
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a league-low 24 first downs this season. The Raiders are tied with the Panthers and Bengals with a league-low 27 points scored. Neither offense is lighting it up, and these teams played a 13-10 game last December.
The Raiders are a 2.5-point home favorite with a total of 43 points. We are looking at the under here.
Sunday, September 24, 2023 – 08:20 PM EDT at Allegiant Stadium
The Steelers Making Everyone Doubt the Preseason
Sure enough, it happened. The Steelers went from a flawless preseason for the starting offense (5 touchdowns on 5 drives) to averaging an NFL-worst 0.80 points per drive through Week 2. If not for the defense returning a pair of touchdowns on Monday night against Cleveland, the Steelers would have 19 points right now.
The problems start with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but there is also a lot of blame to go to Kenny Pickett, who is no longer a rookie. The throws are not decisive or very accurate this season. The offensive line has also regressed and cannot block well in the passing or running game.
George Pickens is still a beast and proved it Monday night with a 71-yard touchdown on his way to over 120 yards, but the Steelers have little else to hang their hat on with offensively right now.
The Raiders Stumble in Buffalo
The Raiders have fewer points than the Steelers, but they average more than double as many points per drive (1.69) as Pittsburgh does. That is what happens when you remove turnovers returned for touchdowns and consider the number of drives. In Week 1 against Denver, the Raiders only had 6 possessions, so the 17 points they scored were actually very efficient.
But the game got away from the Raiders quickly in Buffalo last week. Jimmy Garoppolo had a pair of interceptions, including one where Matt Milano just stole the ball from running back Josh Jacobs, who is averaging a ridiculously low 1.6 yards per carry this season.
Despite Josh McDaniels’ past success against Pittsburgh’s defense with New England, this game should look closer to last year’s 13-10 finish with better weather in Nevada. Trust T.J. Watt and company to put the clamps on Garoppolo and Jacobs to prevent them from having a huge scoring night.
Trust Pickett and Canada to turn in a 38th straight game without 400 yards of offense, and the Steelers also have the longest streak in the NFL (27 games) without scoring more than 30 points.
The under is the pick in this one.
NFL Pick: Under 43 (-110) at BetRivers
Deebo Smashes New York
The week starts with a real mismatch as the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants this Thursday. The 49ers have dropped 30 points in both games as Brock Purdy continues to look like the real deal. Meanwhile, the Giants were outscored 60-0 to start 2023 before rallying for a 21-point comeback win in Arizona.
The 49ers are a 10-point home favorite with a total of 44.5 points.
Thursday, September 21, 2023 – 08:15 PM EDT at Levi’s Stadium
No Brandon Aiyuk?
This is the kind of game the 49ers go into wondering how much they’ll win by rather than if they’ll win. The Giants were struggling with Arizona’s weak offense for most of the game on Sunday. How will they handle arguably the most talented unit in the league right now?
Something that could help is if wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is out with a shoulder injury he suffered against the Rams in Week 2. Aiyuk is the best traditional receiver on this team and was developing a great connection with Purdy. Deebo Samuel is more of a dual-threat and YAC player, and George Kittle has been very quiet at tight end so far.
But if Aiyuk is indeed out on a short week, Deebo becomes the play here to score. Not only can he catch a touchdown, but he can run for one as he did last week on a play that looked like a pass initially. He is just too hard to tackle by one player.
Christian McCaffrey scoring is so obvious that you only get +215 odds if you pick him to score multiple touchdowns in this game. Maybe you should do that too, but Deebo is the value play on a night the 49ers could need him more with Aiyuk either out or nowhere near 100% on a short week.
NFL Pick: Deebo Samuel Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+106) at Caesars Sportsbook