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Early NFL Parlay and Best Bets: Week 3

by September 20, 2021

Well, we were this close to hitting last week. The Titans covered, the Rams won, so the Cardinals just had to win by an extra two points for us to have cashed. Oh well. We’re back to it again this week with a pair of ATS picks I like even more than last week’s options.

The underlying thesis of this article series is that it’s best to bet early. You should do so because sportsbooks will adjust their lines after sharp bettors place their initial wagers. Once they’ve done so, you’re not just playing against the house — you’re also playing against some of the smartest minds in the game. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s what professional gambler (and Jeopardy! champion) James Holzhauer has to say on the matter:

“When you bet right after the opening number is posted, you essentially gamble that you’re smarter than the handful of sportsbook employees who set the line. When you bet 10 minutes before the game starts, you hope in vain that you know something all the world’s sharp bettors don’t.” You can read the rest of his comments here in The Athletic.

Ultimately, I recommend that you read this article as a guide to two things: first, a smart parlay for the weekend’s action; second, a list of smart straight bets to target individually. Aside from the parlay, I’ll label my favorite picks each week and advise you on the proper unit size for each play.

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Parlay YTD: 0-2-0 (-2u)
Straight Bets YTD: 2-2-0 (-0.96u)
All NFL Bets YTD: 9-4-0 (+2.69u)

Leg #1. Chiefs -6.5 | -110 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: 1u

Patrick Mahomes is 5-2 after a loss in his professional career. The combined point differential for those games is a whopping +93. The Chiefs won each of those five matchups by at least a touchdown, which, as you may notice, is precisely where this spread currently sits.

On the other side of the field, Justin Herbert has a solid 1-1 record against Kansas City thus far. He forced them to overtime in his first-ever NFL start and beat them in a meaningless Week 17 game. However, this is his first true matchup against Patrick Mahomes. Remember, Tyrod Taylor was supposed to start against the Chiefs in Week 2 last year, so Kansas City had game-planned for a very different matchup.

It’s always hard to justify betting on the Chiefs against the spread. They are 0-2 ATS this season and went 8-11 ATS (including the playoffs) last season. That said, Kansas City is coming off a loss, and they wouldn’t be this cheap if Clyde Edwards-Helaire hadn’t thrown away a win against Baltimore by fumbling.

The advanced statistics make a decent argument for the Chiefs here. As of Week 2, the Chiefs ranked second in FootballOutsiders’ DAVE (DVOA Adjusted for Volatility Early) metric; the Chargers ranked just 24th. Justin Herbert has taken a step back in his sophomore campaign, too. He is tied for the third-most interceptions thrown (3) and has only scored two touchdowns. The Chargers may fall in this week’s DAVE rankings as a result.

Los Angeles also just lost their starting right tackle, Bryan Bulaga, to injured reserve. They replaced him with ex-XFL stud Storm Norton against the Cowboys, and it did not work out well. According to ProFootballFocus, Norton allowed ten pressures on Herbert. Kansas City’s defensive line didn’t do much against Baltimore in Week 2, but I expect them to bounce back a bit here.

Leg #2. Packers +4 | -110 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: 1u

Is Aaron Rodgers washed up? I write this article before Monday Night Football each week, so we’re yet to see what he does to the Lions. However, I advise that you take the long view. Rodgers has thrown for 133 yards or fewer in just four of his starts (not counting those in which he got hurt — or the Matt Flynn game). He hadn’t thrown a multi-pick game since Week 6 of last year, and before that, since Week 14 of 2017.

No one pronounced Rodgers dead after Tampa Bay stifled him in Florida last year, so why is anyone calling curtains on him after the Saints did the same thing?

Rodgers and the Packers stomped the 49ers by a 17-point margin last year. Sure, they were up against Nick Mullens, but how much better is Jimmy Garoppolo? Kyle Shanahan doesn’t seem to trust him as anything more than a game manager. When it comes to DAVE, San Francisco and Green Bay rank seventh and eighth, respectively. As such, this game should be closer to a pick’em.

Take the Packers plus the points before the line moves after Monday night.

Leg #3. Browns ML | -380 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: N/A

The Browns have looked solid thus far. They have a rushing attack that can grind out the clock and a fantastic offensive line to block for them. Their defense hasn’t been perfect, but they should get the job done against the Bears, especially if rookie Justin Fields ends up starting. Of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks taken this year, only one, Mac Jones, has won as a starter — and that win came against fellow rookie Zach Wilson. Look for Cleveland to grind out a win over Chicago.

Total Odds: +360 at DK Sportsbook

Parlay Bet Size: 1u

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

NFL, Picks