NFL Week 3 betting market report: How bettors perceived all 32 teams
The betting public cleaned up on the NFL this weekend. Favorites and popular underdogs came through with few exceptions, often in blowouts, but are the Dolphins, Bills, and Eagles really a collective 98 points better than the Broncos, Commanders, and Buccaneers? Of course not - even if they were on Sunday and Monday night.
We'll see next week whether those blowouts accentuate a burgeoning divide between the haves and have-nots in the NFL. For now, we can only assess what the market thought of all 32 teams before the games kicked off.
How ratings work
Every week, we'll look at what the betting market thinks of each team based on the closing lines from that week's games. The "rating" column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers' rating to create a point spread, with the specific number being the percentage chance that the team beats an average opponent on a neutral field. Ratings aren't rankings. The closing line is considered a better reflection of a team's value than one 60-minute game.
The range column is my evaluation of what each team is capable of. It's our job as handicappers to determine where within its range a team will play based on things like the situation, on-field matchups, and roster/injury issues. The earlier it is in the season, the wider range a team may have.
Market ratings and our range
Key ratings adjustments
The Chiefs might actually be 31 points better than the Bears. That statement's somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but Kansas City's Week 2 win in Jacksonville did nudge it up a tick to join the 49ers atop the league's market ratings.
The Cowboys got a big boost for smoking the Jets, but it's funny how it works sometimes: Significant adjustments often cause a team to be favored by a point or two too much, and then the team loses against the (inflated) spread. That wasn't the case in Arizona, where the Cardinals beat Dallas convincingly and the spread never came into play. Expect the Cowboys' rating to fall back to where it was to start the season.
Speaking of adjustments, that sound you heard last week was the Bengals' rating plummeting after a second loss and concern about Joe Burrow's health. As a result, Cincinnati was just a three-point favorite at home to the Rams. Put another way, the point spread suggested a preseason Super Bowl contender was barely better than a team projected to win six games. Of course, unless you bought the Bengals low at under a field goal, you suffered a backdoor push - despite recognizing that Cincinnati's rating had overcorrected below our range floor, even taking a hobbled Burrow into account.
The betting market did not like the Chargers blowing another game in Week 2, dropping their rating enough to make them underdogs while visiting the 0-2 Vikings. Los Angeles won, but that game couldn't have been more of a coin flip, and it's hard to argue that adjustment was wrong going forward.
The easiest way to understand how these market ratings have changed from last week is to consider whether a team lost its most recent game or has significant injury issues. But there are exceptions. Although the Steelers won Monday night of Week 2 versus the Browns, the Raiders took money moving Week 3's Sunday night game from Pittsburgh -1 to Las Vegas -3, and it wasn't because the market was attracted to the Raiders' blowout loss in Buffalo.
Nothing that happened Sunday slowed the Jets' and Bears' race to the bottom. It's only a matter of time before they pass the Texans and Cardinals, who are unequivocally not the worst teams in the NFL. If Houston and Arizona continue to be rated as such, make subsequent bets accordingly.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.