NFL Week 3 betting storylines: Which 0-2 teams can keep their season alive?
The great thing about an 18-week NFL regular season (other than four months of watching football) is the endless storylines every week. Let's get right to one of them, the all-important tale of wins and losses.
Which 0-2 teams can bounce back?
Some are expected - the Panthers, Texans, Cardinals, and Bears are still rebuilding. The Broncos, Patriots, and even the Vikings are middling teams. The Chargers' and Bengals' 0-2 starts, however, are somewhat shocking - and perhaps concerning.
It's not uncommon to revive a 0-2 start - the Bengals did it just last year en route to the AFC title game. But if a team starts 0-3, the eulogies are written less than a quarter into the season. Since 1979, just six teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.
So which of the nine winless teams has the best chance to turn the ship around?
The Chargers and Vikings play each other in a must-win game for both teams (more on that later).
While the Bengals looked better in a three-point Week 2 loss to an elite Ravens squad, they still have a ways to go to mirror last year's team. Heading into week three, they're two-point favorites against the Rams. Cincinnati fans may have marked this game as a win before the season began, but with the Bengals' offensive struggles and Joe Burrow's potential lingering injury, that's not the case anymore.
The Rams have also been a pleasant surprise this season. Matthew Stafford looks healthy and the offense is successfully moving the ball.
The Bears and Cardinals are playing the Chiefs and Cowboys, respectively, so it'd be a miracle if either bottom-tier team escaped with a win as a double-digit underdog. The Panthers are 5.5-point underdogs at the Seahawks, and the Texans are 9.5-point underdogs at the Jaguars.
The Cardinals are +150 to be the last winless team, while the Texans sit at +250 and the Bears are +350.
The Patriots are three-point favorites at the Jets, who have more questions than answers across the roster right now. New England has been competitive against two contending teams in Miami and Philadelphia.
The Sean Payton era is not off to a hot start in Denver. The Broncos are 0-2 after disappointing losses to the Raiders and Commanders. It won't get any easier this week when the Broncos travel to the 2-0 Dolphins as 6.5-point underdogs. It'll only get messier before Payton ascends the Rocky Mountains in Denver.
Which 2-0 teams are most vulnerable?
There are eight undefeated teams in the NFL - 49ers, Falcons, Dolphins, Commanders, Ravens, Saints, Cowboys, Eagles, and Buccaneers. The only two playing each other are the Eagles and Bucs, with the former listed as a five-point road favorite.
The unbeaten club will surely dwindle by the end of the weekend. Other than the Bucs, the Saints (@ Packers -2), Commanders (vs. Bills -6.5), and Falcons (@ Lions -3.5) are underdogs.
All three, along with the Eagles, should still be undefeated next week. Philadelphia has the best odds to be the last undefeated team at +200 with a favorable schedule coming up. The 49ers are next at +250, then the Cowboys at +350. The Ravens are +500 while the Dolphins are +550.
The Bucs, Dolphins, Cowboys, and Ravens are the only 2-0 teams both outright and against the spread.
What's at stake in the Chargers @ Vikings matchup
The loser of this game is in for a rough rest of the season - which will likely result in drastic organizational changes. Both teams were favored in their divisional playoff matchup last season and suffered heartbreaking losses.
The Vikings' regression was more predictable. They finished 11-0 in one-score games last season, an almost improbable mark that was elevated thanks to some luck. With a good-but-not-great quarterback, it's too early to call the Vikings frauds, but they are certainly nothing above average.
If this campaign turns into a lost one - and it looks like it will - Minnesota has to answer some serious questions this offseason.
The Chargers blew a 27-point lead to the Jaguars in the playoffs last in 2022-23 and haven't won a game since. The Justin Herbert-led offense is not the problem, as they've combined for 58 points through two games this season - both losses.
Head coach Brandon Staley's seat is as hot as anyone's in the NFL and, if they lose Sunday, it could become scorching.
It's a pick 'em game, meaning neither team is favored and oddsmakers expect a close, high-scoring affair - like most of the Chargers' games. The over/under is set at 54.5, which is the highest of the weekend by far.
Oddsmakers predict that the two quarterbacks will air the ball out early and often. Herbert's passing yards are set at 282.5 and Kirk Cousins' are at 291.5, and each is heavily favored to throw over 1.5 touchdowns.
Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @soshtry for more betting coverage.
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