NFL Week Three arrives with its own level of good and bad vibes. Some teams are undefeated and appear to be on a hot streak. But other teams are in big trouble.
And underdogs are not as under as one might think. Case in point, Monday Night Football ended with the Las Vegas Raiders toppling Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, 34-24.
Here are the Football Five observations from Week Two as Week Three of the NFL approaches.
1. Don’t bet on the Jets or Giants
The New York Giants and New York Jets are in big trouble.
The Jets were routed by a depleted San Francisco 49ers team Sunday. And the Giants, despite covering against the Chicago Bears, also fell to 0-2 and may lose their lone marquee player, Saquon Barkley, for the season.
Bettors wonder if they can trust these teams. And rightly so. NFL Week Three odds do not favor either team.
The Giants are underdogs against the still-injury-riddled 49ers this week and must play as if their season rides on it. The Jets are a big road underdog against an average team, the Indianapolis Colts. The defensive breakdowns on their run game were disheartening in last Sunday’s loss.
Because of a scheduling quirk, the 49ers play at MetLife Stadium, home to the Giants and Jets, for two straight weeks. If they beat the Giants, they will have two more wins there than the home teams combined.
Watch the injuries report: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo now has a chance to play.
2. Rookie QBs Burrow, Herbert play with veteran poise
Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are exceeding expectations.
Each was a first-round draft selection in April and plays with veteran poise. Burrow tossed three touchdowns and helped the Cincinnati Bengals get a late cover last week against the Cleveland Browns.
The Bengals are 2-0 versus the number and get nearly a touchdown in visiting the also-winless Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Bengals are in a good betting spot, being expected to play hard but lose.
Cincinnati could become this year’s version of the Miami Dolphins. Miami covered nine of its last 12 efforts last year behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who got them to keep games close.
He gave Dolphins backers yet another back-door cover with a late TD against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, even as Miami lost 31-28.
Herbert, meanwhile, had a tremendous feel of the game after becoming a surprise starter Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. He noticed plays quickly, got the ball right out of his hands and had veteran awareness.
He nearly engineered an upset of the defending Super Bowl champions and has another chance this weekend against the visiting Carolina Panthers.
Betting notes: The Chargers were a horrible home favorite last year and will be favored here. But they are in a new stadium, which has a new feel and identity, even without fans. Carolina also will be without its one star, Christian McCaffrey, who has a high-ankle sprain.
3. A mortal lock is still, well, mortal
It’s gut-check time for the Atlanta Falcons, a field-goal favorite against the visiting Chicago Bears in NFL Week Three.
Atlanta is 0-2 after blowing a 15-point lead in the final five minutes against the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s 40-39 loss. The Falcons were ultimately victimized by an onside kick that started left and suddenly darted right.
Dallas recovered, marched down the field and scored the winning field goal.
How will the Falcons respond after so much air coming out of their balloon? The Falcons did not commit a turnover and still lost.
You never want this stat: The Elias Sports Bureau research indicates no team ever scored 39 points without a turnover and lost, going back to 1933. Teams that did were 440-0. Now it’s 440-1.
One BetMGM Sportsbook bettor feels worse than anyone. The player wagered $35,000 to win $1,050 in-game when the Falcons led by 15 late in the contest.
The odds of the Cowboys winning were more than 3,000 to 1. It was a mortal lock. But even mortal locks can be, well, mortal.
That’s a good lesson for bettors of all levels. There’s no need to be bold with a small upside and large downside.
4. Cowboys have a chance in NFL Week 3
How will the Cowboys respond to this gift?
They will try, in gambling parlance, to parlay it against the host Seattle Seahawks, also the masters of last-play magic on Sunday.
Seattle gave 4.5 points to the New England Patriots at New Jersey online sportsbooks Sunday night. The Seahawks stopped New England quarterback Cam Newton at the one-yard line on the final play, winning by five.
The game, a half-point cover, and probably six figures of betting money all rode on one play.
5. Cardinals and Raiders: These birds can fly
The Arizona Cardinals are for real. Two wins and two covers are an early indicator of a breakout season.
The Cardinals host the Detroit Lions and should get to 3-0. If that happens, they won’t surprise anyone this year.
The Raiders are for real, too. They toppled the New Orleans Saints 34-24 on Monday Night Football to go 2-0 before heading to New England this week as an underdog.
They were 4-12 last year, and the general New Jersey online sportsbook over-under for their season win total is 7.5. “Over” bettors are salivating.
The Cardinals and Raiders are two refreshing stories.
Extra points part 1: Broncos needed a backup QB
The Denver Broncos looked better with backup Jeff Driskel at quarterback than with Drew Lock, injured in the second quarter of Pittsburgh’s 26-21 triumph.
Denver, 0-2 on the scoreboard but 2-0 against the spread, gets nearly a touchdown from Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in NFL Week Three.
Extra points part 2: One play can change betting outcomes
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a field goal to cover against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but the Broncos ran out of timeouts and Pittsburgh knelt on the ball at the Denver 7-yard line as time expired.
Had there been time for one more play, Pittsburgh could have kicked a covering field goal. The Steelers give 5.5 to the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Tampa Bay led Carolina 24-17 as a nine-point favorite Sunday and prepared to run out the clock. But because the Panthers had a timeout, Tampa Bay had to run a real play.
And Leonard Fournette busted it for a 46-yard touchdown with under two minutes left. A dagger for Carolina bettors, who had this one cashed.
Giants backers survived a field goal that missed by inches in the final three minutes against the Bears. It mattered to G-Men bettors taking them at +4.5 as the Giants covered by half of a point.