Bill Speros for Bookies.com

By Bill Speros | | 8 mins

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect
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Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold once roamed the NFL’s “Island Of Misfit Toys.”

Bridgewater drifted from Minnesota to New Orleans to Carolina, before landing safely above sea level in Denver. Darnold was captured by the Jets out of USC and was stuck in the closest place to purgatory on planet Earth – the Jets locker room. In this past offseason, the Panthers chose Darnold over Bridgewater. The Broncos went with Bridgewater over Drew Lock.

Three weeks into the 2021 season, Bridgewater’s Broncos and Darnold’s Panthers are the only NFL teams that are both 3-0 outright and 3-0 ATS. Bridgewater is now 38-13-1 ATS, while Darnold is 17-24.

The two QBs before the season were on polar-opposite ends of the NFL betting spectrum. Of all the Week 1 starting NFL QBs in 2021, Bridgewater posted the best career record against the spread, and Darnold had the worst.


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Three weeks into the season, Bridgewater, Darnold and Matthew Stafford are the three biggest winners of the QBs who changed teams this offseason. Stafford and the Rams (3-0) easily covered a -1 line at home, routing Tom Brady and the Bucs 34-24. It was the Bucs’ first loss in 300 days.

Several large NFL spreads were set in Week 3 in an effort to hedge against quality. The Panthers were 8-point favorites on the road against the Texans Thursday night. The Broncos carried an 11-point line at home against the Jets. The two favorites won in Week 3 by a combined score of 50-9, crushing their respective lines with comfort.

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Public Strikes Back Thanks To Cards, Bills, Pack

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect 1

Overall in Week 3, the betting public scored its first financial win of the season and began to climb out of its 2021 deficit. Favorites went 6-9 in the first 15 games of the week and are now 17-30 on the season. The biggest liability for several betting sites and betting apps occurred in Jacksonville. The visiting Cardinals swatted the closing 8-point line despite yielding an NFL record 109-yard “kick-six” TD to close the first half. The 31-19 victory likely left fans of sports betting in Arizona thrilled.

At PointsBet, 88% of the spread handle backed the Cardinals. The numbers were similar elsewhere. At DraftKings, players put 92% of the spread handle and 91% of the moneyline handle on the winners. The numbers at FanDuel were 92% and 94% respectively. The matchup also carried the top liability of the day at WynnBET, where the book saw 84.5% of its spread handle on the Cardinals. It clawed some money back as the total fell under 51.5.


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Other big wins for the betting public during the day came courtesy of Buffalo and Cleveland. The Bills (-7) blew out Washington 43-21 and the Browns gave Chicago rookie QB Justin Fields a very rude awakening in his first NFL start. The Browns (-7.5) won 26-6.

PointsBet had 79% of its spread handle on the Bills and 80% on the Browns. The numbers at DraftKings saw 82% of the spread handle on Buffalo and 73% on Cleveland.

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect 2

Another decisive victory for the betting public came Sunday night. Aaron Rodgers needed all of 37 seconds in the final minute to rally the Packers into position for a game-winning field goal that beat the 49ers in Santa Clara 30-28. At DK, 82% of the moneyline handle backed the Pack at +150. WynnBET had a dizzying 96.1% of its moneyline handle laid on Green Bay at +140.

“We are a small winner on the day,” Thomas Gable of the Borgata said Sunday evening. That book, however, held significant liability on the 49ers Sunday night.

In terms of spreads, the books scored their largest financial victories of the day when the Vikings (+2) beat Seattle outright 30-17 (without Dalvin Cook), the Chargers (+7) won outright 30-23 at Kansas City, and the Saints (+2) demolished the Patriots in Foxboro. The Chiefs, for those keeping score, are now 1-12-1 against the spread in their last 14 games. Yet KC carried more than 75% of the spread handle at FanDuel, WynnBET and PointsBet.

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Ravens ML Bettors Get Win Justin Time

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect 3

Justin Tucker’s NFL-record 66-yard field goal gave the Baltimore Ravens a 19-17 victory at Ford Field over the Lions. Detroit (+7.5) raised its record to 2-1 ATS.

The Ravens moneyline carried 85% of the spread money at DraftKings and 72% at FanDuel. It was the most-bet parlay leg at PointsBet.

“Justin Tucker is the bettor's best friend. Tucker's kick was the afternoon's defining moment for results, saving everyone's moneyline parlay bets - the Ravens moneyline was the most heavily parlayed of the day. The kick also reshapes the AFC North market - had Tucker missed, the Ravens would have drifted to +200 for the division, instead they're now +110 and remain a slight favorite over Cleveland,” said PointsBet Director of Trading, Jay Croucher.

The book refunded all pregame moneyline wagers on the Lions (in the form of free bets) due to the historic nature of Tucker’s kick and a missed delay of game call earlier.

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Rookies Take A Beating

NFL Week 3 Betting Recap: Bridgewater, Darnold Keep It Perfect 4

Five rookie quarterbacks started in Week 3. All five lost and none covered. Mac Jones was hit 11 times and threw the first three picks of his NFL career as the Saints (+3) crucified the Patriots 28-13. Fields’ debut as a starter turned into a car wreck courtesy of the Browns defense in a 26-6 loss.

Here’s a breakdown of how each rookie starter fared in Week 3:

TeamQB C/AttYPass TD INT Spread Final
JAXT. Lawrence22/3421912JAX +731-19, ARI
NEMac Jones30/5127013NE -328-13, NO
NYJZach Wilson19/3516002NYJ +1026-0, DEN
CHIJustin Fields6/206800CHI +726-6, CLE
HOUDavis Mills19/2816810HOU +824-9, CAR

The Jaguars have now lost 18 straight games, including the first three starts by Lawrence after taking him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Fields was pressed into service for the Bears after Andy Dalton suffered a knee injury. Mills became the sixth rookie QB to play in 2021 after Texans QB Tyrod Taylor was hurt in Week 2.


Major Week 3 Wagers

There were Big Bets aplenty in Week 3. Here are some notable wins and losses listed by wager and odds :

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Plays Of The Day

One bettor at FanDuel won $88,910 on a 13-leg NFL parlay Sunday.

Meanwhile, another bettor at FanDuel is riding a 12-leg parlay into the Monday night game between the Cowboys and Eagles. What would you do? His $100 wager could turn into $42,754 if the Cowboys win outright – unless he chooses to cash out. As of Monday morning, he was planning to let it ride.


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The line has wavered just a bit. Dallas opened at -4 and has inched to -3.5. The total has settled at 51.5. Most sportsbooks are seeing solid two-way action. At DraftKings, the Cowboys carry 71% of the spread handle while the Eagles have 53% of the moneyline backing at +155.


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At PointsBet, Philly is getting 62% of the spread handle. The same site has 55% of bets on the over while 65% of handle is on the under.

(All odds and handle information is accurate as of time of publication.)

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.