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Week 3 NFL Picks for Pick 'em Contests: Expert tips, advice for football pools

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Week 3 NFL Picks for Pick 'em Contests: Expert tips, advice for football pools 1

Last week, we exploited some overreactions from the NFL’s opening week, as value picks like the Colts and Browns bounced back despite being unpopular with the public in pick ’em pools. The four reasonably priced and value favorite picks we recommended yielded three wins, compared to the public only getting an average of 2.56 picks right. As it’s still the early season, Week 3 continues to provide contrarian NFL pick opportunities as the public reacts to the latest upset or notable performance, especially in prime-time games.

This analysis is brought to you by TeamRankings, the only site that provides customized picks that maximize your edge in football pools. Check out their Football Pick ’em PicksNFL Survivor Pool Picks, and NFL Betting Picks.

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Week 3 NFL Picks Advice: Tips for Pick ’em Pools

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How we identify Week 3 value picks

Good NFL game predictions are only part of the story when it comes to winning a football pool. You also need to consider how you expect your opponents to pick each game. After all, you can only rise in your pool standings if you score points that your opponents miss. So in order to distance yourself from the competition, you need to do two things:

  • Always look for unpopular picks that might be worth an educated gamble
  • Make sure to avoid trendy upset picks that aren’t worth the risk.

This approach to making picks is a big reason why since 2014, an average of 72 percent our subscribers have reported winning a prize in a football pick ’em contest.

Without further ado, let’s get to the Week 3 picks.

Note: Win odds and estimated pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.

WEEK 3 FANTASY PPR RANKINGS:
QuarterbackRunning back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Big Favorites At Reasonable Prices

The picks below might not be significantly underrated by the public, but compared to other favorites this week, they are a relative bargain in terms of pick popularity. Think twice about picking against them — there are smarter upset pick opportunities on the board.

New England Patriots (vs. Las Vegas)

The Raiders are coming off a big win in their home opener over the Saints in prime time, while the Patriots lost to Seattle by the slimmest of margins (a Cam Newton goal-line stuff by the Seattle defense on the very last play of the game) the previous night. Prime-time game results can provide the fuel for a value pick opportunity the next week if the public reacts strongly, and this game fits the bill.

New England has win odds of 71 percent in this matchup as a six-point favorite. In the four other games in which a team is favored by between six and seven points this week, the public is taking the favorite over 90 percent of the time, but the Patriots only have 76-percent pick popularity.

Put another way, the public is picking a Raiders upset more than twice as often as other similar longshots this week. Trendy upset picks like Las Vegas mean less reward for still taking on a lot of risk, and that’s a situation you want to avoid.

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Buffalo Bills (vs. Los Angeles Rams)

The Bills and Rams face off in a showdown of 2-0 teams. With the game in Buffalo, the Bills opened as a two-point favorite and have 60-percent win odds, according to our projections. The public is picking them at a similar rate, taking the Bills 60 percent of the time.

The Rams have gotten off to an impressive start and convincingly beat the Eagles on the road as a popular public choice last week. Bills QB Josh Allen, though, has also been playing well through two weeks, leading the Bills to 58 points against the Jets and Dolphins.

To be clear, Buffalo isn’t a huge favorite, and the Rams pulling off their third upset in a row would not be a shocker. However, compared to other favorites, you’re getting a relatively decent reward here for keeping the odds to win in your favor.

Value Favorites

Week 3 features several favorites that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chance to win. These types of teams are as close to no-brainer picks as you can get in NFL pick ’em contests since you can take the team that’s expected to win yet still “fade the public” (in relative terms, at least) at the same time.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Kansas City)

The Monday Night showdown in Week 3 looks like a preview of the AFC Championship game, and the winner will have the upper hand in playoff tiebreakers. The public understandably loves the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who have now won 11 straight games including the postseason.

The Ravens are no slouches themselves, though, following up last year’s 14-2 record with a 2-0 start where they outscored the Browns and Texans by 49 combined points. Kansas City struggled to give Patrick Mahomes time in the pocket against the Chargers last week, and he completed less than 60 percent of his passes and averaged fewer than 6.5 yards per attempt in a comeback win.

Baltimore gets this game at home, which helps make it a favorite of 3.5 points in the betting markets with roughly 63-percent win odds. (So far, there hasn’t been any noticeable difference in homefield advantage in 2020 compared to other seasons.) Meanwhile, the public is only picking the Ravens 59 percent of the time, providing a little sweetener for sticking with the favorite here.

New Orleans Saints (vs. Green Bay)

The recency bias bells are ringing for this matchup. The Saints are coming off a road loss at Las Vegas on Monday Night. The Packers have been a public darling through the first two weeks and now go on the road after blowing out the Lions.

The Saints are still the three-point favorite in this one, though, with right around 60-percent win odds, yet the public is giving a slight lean to the Packers, with Green Bay drawing 57 percent of early picks. That means you can get the favorite at a slight underdog or toss-up price.

There was plenty of talk of Drew Brees looking his age against the Raiders, but it would be unwise to completely discount a team like New Orleans based on one early game result. The Saints went 6-0 when Brees was out injured last year and still have plenty of weapons.

Value Gamble

If you’re going to make a gamble on an underdog, you need to make sure that the potential reward if you get it right — that is, how much your odds to win your pool will increase — is big. Take a bunch of extra risk to make a super trendy upset pick, and the joke is on you.

The pick below is definitely not appropriate for all pools. If you’re in a smaller, season-long pool, it’s probably not worth the risk. However, it should be seriously considered for single-week contests or if you only care about weekly prizes.

Miami Dolphins (at Jacksonville Jaguars)

Remember back when everyone thought the Jaguars were the worst team in football, and they were the most popular team to pick against in survivor pools? That was two whole weeks ago.

Granted, Jacksonville has shown signs of life early on, winning a close game against the Colts in a serious upset and losing a close one against the Titans last week, but with Jacksonville only a three-point favorite over Miami, a whopping 86 percent of the public is on the Jaguars. (Contrast that popularity with New Orleans and Baltimore, who are favored by similar margins yet drawing just 40-60 percent of the public’s picks.) So, a very realistic Dolphins upset would provide a boost over the vast majority of your opponents.

Plus, with the game happening on Thursday night, players in weekly prize contests who can still change their picks for Sunday games would get the opportunity to make future adjustments based on whether this initial gamble comes through.

If you want a slightly less risky upset pick and can stomach banking on a Vikings bounce-back after last week, Minnesota gets Tennessee at home as only a 2.5-point underdog yet is drawing just 28 percent of the public’s picks so far.

Football Picks From TeamRankings:
Pick ’em Pool Picks | Survivor Pool Picks | NFL Betting Picks  

Get all of our Week 3 picks for your pool!

We are not saying that you should make all of the picks mentioned in this article — the upset picks especially. The best Week 3 picks for your NFL pool depend on a number of strategy factors particular to your pool. (To learn more, check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick ’em pools.)

What we are saying is that the teams mentioned in this post provide some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 3 picks from your pool opponents, by taking on little or no additional risk. We also call out matchups where picking an upset is probably a terrible idea.

Once you know the best value pick opportunities of Week 3, you can typically increase your odds to win your pick’em pool by taking a calculated risk or two (or more).

If you’re in a confidence pool, for example, it may be wise to bump up the number of confidence points you assign to a value pick like New Orleans or Buffalo. In a non-confidence pool, the process is more about deciding whether the risk of making one or more upset picks is worth it in Week 3, especially with many weeks still to play. 

There are a lot of decisions to make, which is why we built technology to do all the data gathering and analysis needed to make the best calls. Our Football Pick ’em Picks is the only product that gives you the tools and data you need to maximize your edge.

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