Week 3 of the NFL preseason wraps up Sunday night with a pair of nationally televised games. We've got the home side in both our football picks, but not everyone agrees.
Every sport has its own unique fingerprint. Football gives you the opportunity to jump on the NFL odds well before the games in question are being played – even months in advance, when it comes to Week 1 of the regular season. You've probably heard it 1,000 times, but we'll say it once more: The early bird gets the worm. Sharp bettors typically pounce on these lines shortly after they're published, while they're still soft.
In theory, that is. Given how quickly and how often NFL players are getting injured these days, is the extra variance worth getting in early? We don't have the answer here at the home office, but we're looking. Meanwhile, we've got a pair of NFL picks to revisit for Sunday's Week 3 preseason games.
Houston at New Orleans (4:00 p.m. ET, FOX)
Way, way back in the mystical time known as “Tuesday,” we recommended the Saints as 3-point home favorites. Yes, they've honked both their preseason games this year, but head coach Sean Payton is still 19-14-2 ATS in exhibition play, and New Orleans is expected to have a number of previously injured players back in the lineup.
We said at the time that Houston had largely avoided the injury bug. Whoops: Starting LT Duane Brown will miss Sunday's game after having a cast put on his right wrist/hand – coach Bill O'Brien didn't specify what the injury was, but said it wasn't too serious and didn't require surgery. O'Brien is also expected to use his starters sparingly, including DE J.J. Watt and DT Vince Wilfork. We like the Saints and their upgraded offensive line even more now, despite the extra chalk; our consensus reports still show two-thirds of bettors on the Big Easy at press time.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Saints –3 (–130) at GTBets
Arizona at Oakland (8:00 p.m. ET, NBC)
In this case, our original pick doesn't mesh with the betting public. We were happy enough to take the Raiders as 1-point home faves, given their quarterback depth (Derek Carr, Christian Ponder, Matt McGloin) compared to Arizona's (Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas), and Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio's 21-15-2 ATS record in exhibition play. Seems reasonable. The early consensus, on the other hand, was all Cardinals before narrowing to 56 percent at press time.
For a change, both these teams managed to make it through the week relatively unscathed. Each team will be down one rookie on Sunday: TE Clive Walford (hamstring) for Oakland and NT Xavier Williams (elbow) for Arizona. Neither of these injuries should move the needle that much. Del Rio has confirmed he'll lean heavily on his starters for Week 3; Bruce Arians will be without a number of previously injured players, like WR Michael Floyd (hand) and LG Mike Iupati (knee), while others will be game-time decisions. We'll stick with our plan, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Raiders PK (–105) at Pinnacle