Each NFL season is different. Sports bettors take comfort in the same weekly cadence but spend each day analyzing what makes that specific week distinct. This Sunday gives us some situational spots that we don't typically see in the NFL. Atypical rest advantages, displaced teams coming home, and a lopsided matchup that the books can't line high enough. On-field performance is only part of the handicap when finding winners this NFL weekend. Let's evaluate the subtle variables that can make all the difference when betting on these distinct matchups.
Carolina (+4.5) at Dallas
Nobody said the NFL schedule was fair. Dallas is coming off an emotional win against a divisional rival and taking on a 3-0 Panthers team in a short week. This presents a rare scheduling situation where Carolina has a strong rest advantage. Carolina gets nine days to prepare coming off a Thursday night game compared to Dallas' five. The spread is a little inflated after the public watched the Cowboys blow out Philadelphia 41-21 on national television. The Eagles just closed as 3.5-point underdogs at Dallas. Do we think the Panthers are one point worse than Philly?
Carolina has been cashing in for its backers, going 3-0 ATS and trouncing the Saints 26-7 in their only game as underdogs. It comes down to Dallas' offense vs. Carolina's defense, as both units rank first in success rate. Matt Rhule's team was 3-1 ATS with the rest advantage in 2020, so I'm banking on Sam Darnold being fresh enough to keep this game within the number.
NY Giants (+7.5) at New Orleans
Home sweet home. The Saints are finally playing in front of a home crowd after being displaced in Week 1. Expect the SuperDome to be loud and rowdy, but how much home-field advantage should we attribute to New Orleans? The days of using three points are long gone, but do the circumstances warrant an increase from the typical 1.75 to 2 points?
Home teams are dead even at 24-24 through Week 3 and only 20-28 ATS.
I'm not going to value home field any more than two points for a Saints team that is 11-15 ATS as a home favorite the last three years. While the Saint's offense is very efficient, they lack the firepower to get me comfortable as a big favorite. They are 30th in explosive pass plays, and the Giants are top eight in overall team efficiency in the second half of games. New York is a desperate team at 0-3 and will keep this one close.
Buffalo (-17) at Houston
The Bills are justifiably massive favorites against a Houston team that only mustered nine points in rookie quarterback Davis Mills' debut. Buffalo has the weapons to pile on the points against a Houston defense that is 25th in passing success rate allowed. They also have a history of doing so.
In the last two weeks, Josh Allen's offense has exploded on defenses, outscoring opponents 88-21. Last season, Buffalo covered the spread at a 63.2% rate (second best in the NFL) and was tied for the league lead for average margin of cover (4.6 points). Not only do Bills backers get paid, but Josh Allen makes sure they don't have to sweat it out.
Coach Sean McDermott's defense is top five against the rush and top 10 in adjusted sack rate. Facing a ferocious pass rush without a running game is a nightmare for a rookie quarterback. You will go broke making a habit of laying 17 points in NFL games, but this is a unique situation where the favorite is the right side.