Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift
(32) tries to jump over the tackle of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Stephens (21) in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

NFL Best Bets, Oct. 3

Patrick Werkmeister

Following a rough outing in last week’s ‘Best Bets’ in the NFL, these picks are much more calculated and are primed for a better performance. This slate is set up nicely to make some big bucks off of overvalued teams and there are plenty of them. Whether it is a mismatch between teams or a point spread that doesn’t correlate with the expected result, there are some juicy plays to pick from. It’s been a hot week for these picks across all sports, so tail or hedge accordingly. Here is where I’m putting my money for this Sunday.

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Lions (+3) @ Bears
From Soldier Field in Chicago, head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions seek their first win of the season over coach Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears. The line for this game opened with the Bears as large six-point favorites, but after Justin Fields’ performance last week, the current line is Chicago -3. In their last 11 games as a favorite, the Bears are a shoddy 3-8 ATS. Last week, Chicago was embarrassed by the Browns where QB Justin Fields put up the worst statistical performance by a quarterback in history. Although he was put into an awful position by coach Nagy, there’s not much this squad can do differently to improve their chances of winning. They will have a tough time covering as a favorite vs a team as good ATS as the Lions. The entire NFL world was shocked to see Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit a record-long 66-yard field goal to barely beat Detroit 19-17. However, Detroit secured the moral victory in their noble effort against this far superior team. They have been productive in each of their games, led by the one-two punch of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. If not for that impossible kick, the Lions would have an outstanding victory on their resume and this line would be a lot different. Take Detroit plus the points, or the ML for extra value.

Panthers @ Cowboys (-4)
In this cross-divisional NFC matchup, the Dallas Cowboys host the Carolina Panthers. The opening line had Dallas as five-point home favorites but has since been bet down to -4. Dallas coasted in their rout over the Eagles on MNF where they dominated 41-21. Their offense looked fluid as ever where Zeke ran over defenders on his way to a two-touchdown performance. Although Carolina’s defense ranks first in the NFL in total yards allowed per game and second in total points allowed per game, they will have their hands full against this electric Cowboys offense. With victories over teams like the Jets and Texans, the Panthers have not been convincing enough so far to keep it close with the high-powered Cowboys. Led by the volatile Sam Darnold at QB, Carolina will also have to find a way to be productive without their star work-horse Christian McCaffrey. With Dallas’ significant advantage on offense, expect the Boys to get the win and cover.

Cardinals (+4.5) @ Rams
For this featured matinee contest, the Arizona Cardinals travel to SoFi Stadium to play the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams opened as five and a half-point favorite and have moved down to -4.5. Los Angeles looked very impressive in their win against Tampa Bay last week. Coach Sean McVay and QB Matthew Stafford seem to be on a mission this season where Stafford again shined with nearly 350 yards passing and four TDs. However, they are definitely set up for a letdown now that they’re riding high after their victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Their task on defense this week won’t be any easier with the Cardinals currently averaging 34.3 points per game. While the Rams have had the Cardinals number the past few seasons, coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have shown some serious improvements and they will be more prepared for them this year. Take Arizona plus the points to finally get over the hump.

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