We’re only two weeks into the 2020 NFL season, but we’re already starting to learn some preseason narratives might have been a bit off the mark.
A handful of perceived playoff outsiders are looking like legitimate postseason contenders early in the campaign. Conversely, a few teams tabbed as virtual locks for playing in January haven’t looked particularly sharp out of the gate.
With this in mind, here are three underdogs to consider betting on Sunday. Lines are provided by consensus data.
(+2) Los Angels Rams at Buffalo Bills
Most before the start of the season picked the Bills to win the AFC East in 2020, and Buffalo has lived up to expectations thus far.
The Bills sit at 2-0 entering Week 3, and Josh Allen is well on his way to taking his game to the next level. The third-year quarterback already has seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) on the young season to go along with 729 passing yards.
We probably shouldn’t go too crazy over Buffalo’s hot start, though. The Bills beat up on the lowly New York Jets in Week 1 and narrowly earned a win over the below-average Miami Dolphins last Sunday. There are no easy matchups in the NFL, but one could argue Week 3 will present Buffalo’s first true test of the season.
The Rams, much like the Bills, are a hard-nosed bunch with great coaching. LA limited the high-powered Dallas Cowboys to 17 points in its season opener before notching an 18-point win in Philadelphia over the Eagles. Despite losing both Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks over the offseason, Jared Goff and Co. have looked in sync on offense.
The Bills won’t have much margin for error against the Rams like they did against their AFC East rivals. We like LA to come out on top.
(+6) Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots
Don’t look now, but the Raiders might have one of the better offenses in the NFL.
Las Vegas hung 34 points in both of if its first two games of the season, including against a respectable New Orleans Saints defense. The Silver and Black will be tough for the Patriots to game plan for, as Jon Gruden and Co. have displayed an effective blend of ground game and attack through the air.
The Raiders’ feature RB, Josh Jacobs, is on track to becoming one of the league’s best dual-threat backs, and he has the benefit of running behind one of the league’s premier offensive lines. This unit shouldn’t have too much trouble against a New England front seven that’s showcased a fairly weak rush defense through two games.
Not to mention, the Patriots’ secondary hasn’t lived up to its elite billing in 2020 thus far. The group was torched in Week 2, letting up five passing touchdowns to the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, Russell Wilson obviously is better than Derek Carr, but the latter is no slouch and has plenty of weapons to work with. The best of the bunch is tight end Darren Waller, who garnered very high praise from Bill Belichick earlier int he week.
This one has a chance to turn into a shootout, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Raiders pick up a road victory.
(+3) Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
The latest edition of “Monday Night Football” made it clear one player can make a world of difference.
The Saints’ typically high-flying offense took a big step back against the Raiders with Michael Thomas sidelined due to an ankle injury. Drew Brees threw for 312 yards, but 95 of those went to Alvin Kamara, who had his way with Las Vegas from the get-go. It’s tough to imagine Kamara will be able to carve up a fairly strong Packers defense.
On the flip side, Green Bay has shined on offense. Aaron Rodgers has been playing at the top of his game, throwing for 604 yards with six touchdowns over two games. The Pack still managed to light it up in Week 2 despite Davante Adams only accounting for 36 receiving yards. Rodgers’ supporting cast obviously isn’t elite, but it appears that won’t slow down one of football’s top signal-callers.
We’re riding with the road team in this one. It looks like Father Time is starting to catch up to Brees, and even if Thomas manages to give it a go, he likely won’t be at 100 percent. Rogers, meanwhile, looks highly motivated, and the Packers as a team likely will be eager to make a statement against one of the leading preseason Super Bowl LV favorites.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images