Next week, we’re back to just one NFL game on Monday night. Sad.
But we have another Monday night doubleheader this week, with a couple of compelling matchups:
The Buccaneers are easily the biggest surprise among the undefeated teams. There wasn’t much faith in Baker Mayfield or the post-Tom Brady Bucs, but they went on the road and beat the Minnesota Vikings in the opener, then came home and beat the Chicago Bears. Mayfield has played well. Everyone seemed to forget that the Buccaneers still have some very good players like Mike Evans.
But there’s a key part of their 2-0 start: Minnesota and Chicago. Tampa Bay’s two opponents are a combined 0-6. The Bears might be the worst team in football. The Vikings aren’t close to being the worst team in the NFL but they’re still winless. It’s hard to know if the Buccaneers are legit.
We’ll find out Monday night. The Eagles haven’t played great yet but they’re still 2-0 and a clear Super Bowl contender. They’ve had some extra rest after playing on Thursday night in Week 2. If the Buccaneers can cover on Monday night, it will say something about their legitimacy. This is a big step up in competition for the Bucs.
The big question is Joe Burrow. Will he play with a calf injury and if he does, can he be effective? If the Bengals were 2-0, it might be an easy decision to sit Burrow on Monday night. But at 0-2, it’s a much more difficult decision. Burrow is considered a game-time decision. That also makes it difficult on both sides of the betting window. How do oddsmakers set a fair line, and how do bettors approach it?
The line is going to move when news comes down of Burrow’s availability. If the Bengals have to go to Jake Browning, the Rams will probably shift to the favorite. He’s 27 years old and has thrown one career NFL pass. If Burrow plays, nobody knows if he can be effective. Still, if you like the Bengals and believe Burrow plays, bet them now. The Bengals have been bad on offense through two weeks. Meanwhile, the Rams have been much better than expected in a 1-1 start. The most intrigue for this game will happen 90 minutes before kickoff, when the Bengals have to submit their list of inactives.
Here’s the rest of the sports betting slate for Monday:
What about some Monday night props?
It seems like a “squeaky wheel” game for A.J. Brown. Brown hasn’t done much this season and wasn’t happy on the sideline in Week 2. Usually when a star receiver complains he gets plenty of chances in the next game. I’ll take the over 68.5 yards and +135 anytime touchdown at BetMGM. The Eagles are going to target him often.
It’s hard to take any Bengals props due to Joe Burrow’s uncertain status, but Puka Nacua’s reception total of 5.5 at BetMGM is interesting. He has 25 receptions on 35 targets through two games. Why would Matthew Stafford stop targeting him on Monday night? It almost seems to easy to take the over, but I’ll buy in.
Only 4 MLB games
It’s a quiet day in baseball as MLB starts the final week of the regular season. There are only four games, but there is a key Houston Astros-Seattle Mariners game. The Texas Rangers have opened up a 2.5-game lead in the AL West, which means the Astros and Mariners are battling for a wild-card spot at the moment. The Astros are in the third and final spot. The Mariners are a half-game behind the Astros. It’s a great pitching matchup on Monday with Justin Verlander facing Luis Castillo. The Mariners are -120 in a massive game for both teams. I like the Mariners at home with Castillo.
What are the best bets?
I like the Eagles a lot. It seems square to take a road favorite of more than a field goal in prime time, but I need to see the Buccaneers prove themselves against a quality opponent. The Eagles haven’t been great yet but part of that is expectations are so high, it’s tough to match them. Philly is just fine and I think they win by a touchdown or more.
I’ll take the Bengals in the second game, though there’s obviously some concern. There will be a lot of urgency for a team plenty of people picked to win a Super Bowl, no matter who is playing quarterback. If they’re 0-3 coming out of this game, just making the playoffs will be a question. I don’t know how they’ll pull out this win but I just have a hard time believing Cincinnati will be 0-3 to start the season.