Last week was another tough one for some in NFL pick ’em pools, as several teams seemingly went out of their way to lose games. Whether you bet big on an underdog who couldn’t pull off the upset or watched as a favorite lost a winnable game, it’s time to dust yourself off and gear up for your Week 3 NFL picks. Fortunately, the experts from TeamRankings are here to help with advice and strategy tips.
In this post, we highlight five Week 3 picks that can give you an edge in your pick ’em contests or confidence pools. By finding picks that are being underrated by the public, you can employ a value-driven strategy that can yield weekly gains that make the difference between winning and losing by the end of the season.
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Week 3 NFL Pick ’em Pool Picks: Tips, strategy
How We Identify NFL Week 3 Value Picks
This post was written on Tuesday, but if win odds and pick popularity numbers hold, the teams below all provide compelling risk-vs.-reward gambits to differentiate your Week 3 picks from your pool opponents.
Just realize that we’re not necessarily saying you should make all of these picks. In particular, some upset picks may be unnecessarily risky for your pool, even if they are technically undervalued. If you want our game-by-game pick recommendations for all of your specific pools, use our Football Pick ’em Picks product.)
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.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Point Spread: +2.0
Category: Unpopular Toss-Up
The Vikings have lost two heartbreaking games so far this season, dropping an overtime game in Week 1 to Cincinnati, then missing a potential game-winning field goal at Arizona. The public is giving them little chance against Seattle at home even though this one is one of the smallest spreads of Week 2.
You can differentiate your entry from others by taking the highly unpopular Vikings here in a pretty even matchup. It’s a very compelling pick in weekly prize pools where you only have a small number of options for differentiation, though you need to be more selective about the risks you take in season-long pools.
MORE TEAMRANKINGS: Week 3 NFL Survivor pool advice (link coming soon)
Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders
Point Spread: +3.5
Category: Value gamble in weekly prize pools
Recency bias seems to be driving the public here. Miami got crushed at home by Buffalo as QB Tua Tagovailoa left the game early because of a rib injury. Meanwhile, the Raiders have started 2-0 with close wins over the Ravens and Steelers.
As of Tuesday, Tagovailoa is “day-to-day” with the rib injury, and it’s something to monitor before making your final pick. But the Dolphins’ pick popularity is way out of whack given the relative differences between these two teams. The Raiders are coming off a game where the Steelers had three of their top defensive players out (after T.J. Watt left with a second quarter injury) and Derek Carr was able to feast.
Miami is coming off a poor performance that should not be reflective of their overall quality this season. The Dolphins gave up just 314 yards to Buffalo in the defeat, and their offense could have Tagovailoa back and WR Will Fuller V making his Dolphins debut.
Again, it might be a little risky to take Miami in a season-long pool, but the Fins present great risk-versus-reward value in a weekly contest.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers
Point Spread: -3.5
Category: Value Favorite
Enough of the public is backing Green Bay this week to make the 49ers a value play in the favorite role. The Packers are coming off a bigger-than-expected win against Detroit in a prime-time game, but their defense still has some major question marks after two weeks. They also had the benefit of a big fourth-down stop and a 2-0 turnover advantage.
Picking the 49ers should be a base strategy in a variety of pools since they give you a chance to take the favorite while nearly 40 percent of a typical pool is going the opposite way.
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
Point Spread: -7.5
Category: Reasonably Priced Larger Favorite
The Panthers are one of the bigger favorites this week, but the public hasn’t quite caught up to it. Further, QB Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) is going to miss this game and rookie Davis Mills will be starting at quarterback.
According to our models, Carolina has the third-highest win odds this week but only the 10th-highest pick popularity in pick ’em pools. Eight teams are being picked by over 90 percent of the public, and Carolina is not one of them. As a result, you can get some differentiation in confidence pools by slotting Carolina as a very high value confidence point play this week.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Point Spread: +4.0
Category: Value gamble in weekly prize pools
Finally, one more value gamble for the risk-takers. The Eagles have played solid football through the first two games, winning big at Atlanta and playing a tight game with San Francisco.
Dallas is a public darling team, and right now the public is riding high on the Cowboys. However, our research has shown that home field advantage doesn’t seem to be worth much in NFC East rivalry games, and this spot could be riskier for Dallas than a lot of people think. It’s the riskiest play of the five we’ve listed, though, so be cognizant of that fact.
Get All Our Week 3 NFL Picks
Football Pick ’em Picks from TeamRankings is the only product that gives you the picks, tools, and analysis you need to maximize your edge in NFL pick ’em pools. It uses algorithms to identify the calculated risks that give you the best chance to win your straight-up, point spread, or confidence pool.
Game theory is a foundational aspect of winning pick ’em pools. In short, you have to score points that your opponents miss. That means you need to identify unpopular picks that might be worth a calculated gamble, and avoid trendy upset picks not worth the risk. This approach is a big reason why 71 percent of our subscribers report winning a prize in football picks contests.
If you want to learn more about football pick ’em pool strategy, you can also check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick ’em pools.
Good luck in your pools this week!