Two of the NFL’s 10 undefeated teams entering the week meet in our first MNF matchup, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Philadelphia Eagles. In the later game, the Cincinnati Bengals look to rebound from another 0-2 start (their fourth in five seasons under head coach Zac Taylor) when the 1-1 Los Angeles Rams come to town.
Monday Night Football best bets: Week 3
- Chris Godwin anytime touchdown vs. Eagles (+225 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Eagles winning margin 1-6 points vs. Buccaneers (+290 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
- Matthew Stafford Under 1.5 passing touchdowns vs. Bengals (-110 via BetMGM, DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
- Tyler Higbee Under 3.5 receptions vs. Bengals (+135 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Monday Night Football predictions: Eagles vs. Buccaneers
Chris Godwin anytime touchdown scorer vs. Eagles (+225 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Buccaneers' offense has been exceeding expectations through the first two weeks, thanks in part to quarterback Baker Mayfield, whom PFF has graded as the third-best passer. Mayfield has seemingly established an instant connection with receiver Mike Evans, who now ranks fifth in NFL history with eight games of at least 170 receiving yards and a touchdown after Week 2. So we're buying low on Chris Godwin, as the Eagles will likely focus a lot of defensive attention on Evans.
The Eagles have allowed a league high seven passing touchdowns in 2023, and they're tied for the fourth-most plays of 15-plus yards allowed in the passing game (15). The secondary is a banged-up bunch after James Bradberry missed Week 2, and Avante Maddox is on the injured reserve. So while Evans has garnered a 28% target share and 47% of the team’s air yards, he'll likely draw shadow coverage from Philadelphia’s best cornerback Darius Slay. That makes Godwin a great red-zone target in this game.
Our Rod Villagomez offers more insight on this game with his Eagles vs. Buccaneers player props.
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Eagles winning margin 1-6 points vs. Buccaneers (+290 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
Philadelphia has won its first two games by five and six points, so this would be a nice payout if the team grinds out another close victory. We like the Buccaneers to cover and are in agreement with the line movement from -6 down as low as -4.5 currently. However, the Eagles should still win outright, as Jalen Hurts is 19-1 in his last 20 regular-season starts. Tampa Bay is 8-3 against the spread with a rest disadvantage since 2020 (Philadelphia is on longer rest after playing last Thursday) and has covered four of its previous five such games.
This pick aligns with our main Eagles vs. Buccaneers prediction, which takes a safer approach.
Monday Night Football predictions: Rams vs. Bengals
Matthew Stafford Under 1.5 passing touchdowns (-110 via BetMGM, DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has established a quick bond with wide receiver Puka Nacua, who became the first wide receiver in NFL history with 100-plus receiving yards and 10-plus catches in his first game.
However, that connection hasn't propelled Stafford’s passing touchdown potential, as he's recorded one passing touchdown or fewer in nine of 11 games since the start of 2022.
The spread for this matchup keeps dropping, which suggests it's more likely Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow sits out (he's currently day-to-day with a calf injury). If Burrow is out for Monday, this three-star play will become a more confident four-star wager, as the Rams would surely be more conservative and not need to throw as much if Jake Browning is the opposing signal-caller.
However, we're playing the trends for now with this three-star play, even though Stafford is facing a Bengals defense with the fourth-lowest pressure rate and is allowing the third-highest aDOT, according to Matthew Berry of NBC Sports.
All of our best live betting sites are in unison with this total of 1.5 passing touchdowns. But BetMGM and DraftKings are the only places where the line isn't juiced to the Under (it's as high as -130 at FanDuel).
Rod Villagomez is expecting Stafford to keep leaning on rookie wideout Puka Nacua with his Rams vs. Bengals player props.
Tyler Higbee Under 3.5 receptions vs. Bengals (+135 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tyler Higbee has run 83 routes through the first two weeks, the third-most among tight ends. He played 91% of the snaps and caught all three of his targets in Week 1, and followed that up with an 88% route involvement rate in Week 2. But there are only so many balls to go around in the Rams' passing game, and 51 of Stafford’s 58 completions have gone to wide receivers or running backs.
The Rams are all in on running back Kyren Williams now that Cam Akers isn't with the team, and Williams finished with 28 fantasy points in Week 2 (second among running backs). Williams has logged two touchdowns in each of the Rams' first two games of 2023. We should see Los Angeles rely even more on its running game, as the Bengals are allowing 192 rushing yards per game. That approach will especially be in place if they only need to outduel an offense with Jake Browning.
We would have made this a five-star play if the line remained at 4.5, which is where it started earlier in the week. But the +135 odds at bet365 are still enticing and lead to a great value compared to Caesars’ price of +110.
Read more on this matchup in my Rams vs. Bengals predictions for Monday night.
NFL best bets made 9/24/2023 at 8:34 a.m. ET.
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