NFL Week 3 best bets: Breaking down Chargers-Chiefs and another intriguing matchup

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Los Angeles, CA - September 19: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Jalen Guyton, center, runs past Dallas Cowboy.
Chargers wide receiver Jalen Guyton, center, runs past Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons during the fourth quarter of the Chargers' loss Sunday. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

It used to be that the biggest overreactions in the betting market were between Week 1 and Week 2. Sportsbooks have adopted a little bit more patient of an approach nowadays and some of the more influential groups of bettors have done the same. As a result, we’re now seeing bigger overreactions between Week 2 and Week 3.

One game can be a fluke. A second data point that stands out, especially in a negative way, feels like a much stronger indicator of a team’s current standing. That means that we should be able to find some lines this week that look pretty enticing based on what has transpired through two weeks of the 2021 NFL season.

Here are a couple of those games that stand out with the early lines for Week 3:

Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills (-9, 47)

Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke looks to pass against the New York Giants.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke looks to pass against the New York Giants on Thursday. (Terrance Williams / Associated Press)

Some of the hardest teams to figure out in the NFL are those that played one good game and one bad game in the first two weeks of the season. Bettors and oddsmakers know that the Buffalo Bills will be a very good team when all is said and done, but the Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh looked bad at the time and looked even worse after the Steelers lost to the Raiders on Sunday.

Washington has already had some adversity and should be 0-2, as the Football Team got a second crack at a game-winning field goal on "Thursday Night Football" against the Giants after an offsides penalty. The first kick was no good. The second one went through the uprights and kept WFT from being winless heading into this Buffalo game.

With a total of 47 here that appears to be going down, the nine points are very attractive on the Washington side. Buffalo rolled over a Miami team that hasn’t played well in the first two weeks and that victory caused the lookahead line of -7 to track up to as high as -9.5 in the market.

Taylor Heinicke had some problems early but wound up going 34 of 46 for 336 yards with a couple of touchdowns and one interception last week. As long as he avoids turnovers, the Football Team should be in this game and that defense should start to get better as we move forward.

The Bills are coming off a thoroughly impressive win but still gained only 4.9 yards per play, and Josh Allen was erratic, completing just 17 of 33 passes. The Bills are still working through some things and this is a big ask to cover almost double digits against a team many felt was the favorite to win the NFC East.

Pick: Washington Football Team +9

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5, 55.5)

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler looks for a hole to punch through the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler looks for a hole to punch through the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line during Sunday's loss at SoFi Stadium. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Had Clyde-Edwards Helaire not fumbled, we would be talking about a 2-0 Kansas City team with wins over Cleveland and Baltimore, thought to be two of the four best teams in the AFC, along with the Chiefs and the Bills. The Chiefs have to settle for 1-1 with the comeback win over the Browns and that gut-wrenching loss to the Ravens.

The Chargers have a grand opportunity this week, not only to cover the spread, but to win the game outright. Kansas City is still winning games, but with another failed attempt at covering a spread on "Sunday Night Football," the Chiefs are just 2-12 ATS in their last 14 games. This is a team that seems incapable of winning by margin. Although the NFL itself is a bottom-line, black-and-white business focused on straight up wins and losses, the gambling markets are focused on a lot more than that.

The Chargers squandered countless opportunities against the Cowboys. The Chargers were 1 for 4 in the red zone, had two turnovers in plus territory, including one in the end zone, and had a penalty take a touchdown off the board. Those things happen with a young coach and a young quarterback, but there were a lot of positives to take from the Dallas loss.

Through two weeks, and the last half of the 2020 season, including the playoffs, we’ve seen no indication that the Chiefs can win by margin. We may even be seeing signs that the league is starting to adjust to Kansas City. If nothing else, coaches are coaching more aggressively against the Chiefs to try to keep up and fortune favors the bold.

The Chiefs will be a popular teaser leg down to -0.5 or PK, but the Chargers should be popular at +6.5 and the upset shouldn’t be a surprise if it happens.

Pick: Los Angeles Chargers +6.5

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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