I've never had two pushes on best bets, but that's what happened in Week 2. In fact, both came as backdoor pushes. Thankfully they weren't backdoor covers. The Minnesota Vikings lost by exactly six points to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Carolina Panthers had a garbage-time touchdown to lose by exactly three points to the New Orleans Saints.
This week is different because we have some big favorites. No team has been a double-digit favorite this season, but we have three this week (four if you include a 9.5-point spread we will talk about later on). Also, keep an eye on road teams. They are 19-13 straight up, and 19-10-3 against the spread this season.
Here's a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart.
All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Top five picks ATS record: 3-5-2
Overall ATS record: 14-16-2
Straight up record: 16-16
2022 Overall ATS record: 135-129-8
2022 Straight up record: 177-92-3
New England Patriots (-2.5) at New York Jets
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
The Patriots are one of the better 0-2 teams in the NFL, and they need this matchup with the Jets. You see, New England has won 14 straight games against the Jets, and is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings. With the number this low, I'll take Mac Jones and the Patriots to rebound.
New York has averaged 10.9 points per game during this 14-game losing streak, while Zach Wilson has thrown two touchdowns compared to seven interceptions in his four starts vs. Bill Belichick. It's true that the Jets have a solid roster all-around, but the offensive line has struggled. If the Patriots can shut down the Jets' run game like the Dallas Cowboys did in Week 2, they should emerge victorious.
If the Patriots lose this game, it would be the first time since Belichick's first season as New England's head coach that the Pats started 0-3.
The pick: Patriots -2.5
Projected score: Patriots 17-13
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
Call this a gut feeling. Per BR betting, the Jaguars have never covered as a home favorite in the Trevor Lawrence era. They should be favored against the winless Texans, but not nearly double digits. Lawrence is 1-3 vs. Houston in his young career, and was favored in all three of those losses. The Jags' Week 17 win in Houston last year snapped a NINE-GAME losing streak to the Texans. Nine games! Plus, the Texans are 5-0 in their last five road divisional games.
Houston has lost both of its first two games this year by double digits, but C.J. Stroud impressed me last week vs. the Indianapolis Colts. He completed 30 of 47 passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns, and is slingin' the rock at a borderline historic rate. He ranks top five in most passing attempts (91), completions (58) and passing yards (626) through two career games since 1970 (all most among players with 0 INT). Houston can keep it close.
The pick: Texans +9
Projected score: Jaguars 24-16
Who wins Jaguars vs. Texans in Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season, and which side of the spread holds all the value? Check out how SportsLine's projection model is leaning for the AFC South showdown.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-6)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
I'm having a hard time figuring out the Seahawks. They were upset by the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 at home, but then marched into a raucous Ford Field without their two starting offensive tackles and upset the Detroit Lions in overtime. I haven't had a hard time figuring out the Panthers, however. That offense has struggled.
Bryce Young is a rookie who has played just two NFL games, and he hasn't shown what he's capable of as a quarterback just yet. So why not try to make some money off that as he travels to the West Coast to play in a hostile environment? Young has averaged the third-fewest yards per attempt (4.2) by any quarterback in their first two career games in NFL history, and the offense is tied for last in scoring (27 total points). Plus, this Panthers defense is down Jaycee Horn and now Shaq Thompson
The pick: Seahawks -6
Projected score: Seahawks 26-16
Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
Bears general manager Ryan Poles probably had the worst 38th birthday of all time. First, his quarterback, Justin Fields, somewhat for Chicago's early-season struggles (as he should), then, defensive coordinator Alan Williams officially resigned, which led to wild speculation on social media. This team doesn't appear to be on the same page right now, and this weekend, the Bears have to travel to Kansas City to take on the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Now, Fields and Co. could regroup and come out fighting, or, things could get worse under Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy. I think Sunday is going to be more of a celebration for Chiefs fans as they welcome the returns of Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, who both missed the season opener.
On the subject of Fields, he definitely has an internal clock issue and is not throwing to open wide receivers. But on top of that, his offensive line hasn't been consistent and left tackle Braxton Jones just got placed on injured reserve. I think the biggest problem, however, is how Fields is being used.
His average pass length has been cut in half from last season (9.1 to 4.5). Fields is averaging 2.0 designed rushes per game (4.9 last season), 19% of his passing attempts have had 10+ air yards (38% last season), 8% of his passing attempts have come outside the pocket (26% last season) and 11% of passing attempts have come off of play action (34% last season). Fields isn't polished and certainly has some work to do, but in my opinion, saying he's the problem is a lazy take. Either way, I don't want to back the Bears right now.
The pick: Chiefs -12.5
Projected score: Chiefs 34-21
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET (ABC, fubo)
This is the lone matchup between two undefeated teams this week, and the first meeting between these two squads since Jalen Hurts lost to Tom Brady in the 2021 wild card round. You could make a case there's a bit of a revenge-game factor here.
The Bucs' 2-0 start is impressive, but the Vikings and Bears haven't exactly been world-beaters early on. The Eagles are the best opponent they have faced thus far -- even though Philly hasn't exactly played A+ ball. However, that in itself should have Eagles fans optimistic about the rest of the season.
Maybe bettors are anticipating a very close matchup, but keep in mind that the Buccaneers are 2-12 ATS in prime-time games since 2020. That's the worst record in the NFL in that span.
The pick: Eagles -5
Projected score: Eagles 24-17
Other Week 3 picks
49ers (-10) 30-18 over Giants
Dolphins (-6.5) 30-23 over Broncos
Ravens (-7.5) 26-17 over Colts
Bills 24-21 over Commanders (+6.5)
Chargers (PICK) 28-27 over Vikings
Packers (-2) 23-20 over Saints
Titans (+3.5) 13-10 over Browns
Falcons (+3) 29-23 over Lions
Cowboys (-12) 30-14 over Cardinals
Steelers (+2.5) 26-21 over Raiders
Rams (+2.5) 25-20 over Bengals
SportsLine's projection model is up more than $7,000 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception. The model enters Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season on an incredible 164-117 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates to the 2017 season.