Week 3 of the NFL’s preseason is the one that closest replicates regular-season play as teams generally will play starters at least the full first half and sometimes longer. Here’s a look at the top game that I recommend — there were no NFL odds posted yet but I can speculate.
Let’s Take a Look at the Top Preseason Week 3 Betting Pick
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers (Friday, August 26th)
The Cats will likely open as 3-point favorites on NFL lines in this potential Super Bowl preview. The Patriots nearly faced Carolina in Super Bowl 50 back in February but couldn’t convert a late 2-point conversion in the AFC Championship Game in Denver. Will Tom Brady play in this game? Probably not. He was supposed to start last week’s game vs. the Bears but sliced his thumb while messing using scissors on his cleats pre-game. What, the Patriots don’t have locker-room guys to help with that? Brady also didn’t practice with the team on Sunday or Monday. That wasn’t for injury reasons. Jimmy Garoppolo, who is set to begin the regular season as New England’s starting quarterback while Brady serves his four-game Deflategate suspension, started both preseason games and played quite well. In Thursday’s 23-22 win over Chicago, Garoppolo played the entire first half and one series in the second half, finishing 16 of 21 for 181 yards.
One guy the Patriots won’t have for this game or for a while is running back Dion Lewis. He reportedly is sidelined indefinitely and will need another surgery to the knee that he injured last November. On July 28, he was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list. Lewis might be able to return this season, however. Lewis was a key cog for the Patriots early last season, totaling 234 yards on 49 rushing attempts with two touchdowns, while adding 38 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.
Lewis had participated in the Patriots’ final spring practice in June and said at the time, “At the beginning it was a little scary, but every day I get stronger. I feel better every day, but still have a long way to go.”
Third-year player James White elevates to the top of the team’s “passing back” depth chart in Lewis’ absence. So undoubtedly he was a popular pickup in your fantasy football league over the weekend.
It’s not clear if two other Patriots will play here, either. WR Julian Edelman was held out vs. Chicago ahe continues to take it easy after having a minor procedure this spring on his surgically repaired left foot. TE Rob Gronkowski, also sat out for the second consecutive game after leaving the first practice of last week early with an undisclosed issue.
Carolina lost its preseason opener to Baltimore but then won at Tennessee 26-16 over the weekend — thus this will be Carolina’s first home preseason game. Against the Titans, Cam Newton threw for 162 yards and led scoring drives on two of his four series Saturday. Newton went 8 of 12 before leaving midway through the second quarter. He opened the game by leading a 93-yard drive that included a 61-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr. The Panthers played without injured Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen and it’s not clear if he will play here.
These teams have met the past two preseasons with New England winning both, 17-16 last season and 30-7 in 2014. Brady did play last year and had two picks but did lead a scoring drive. He exited at halftime, finishing 7 of 13 for 84 yards. Gronkowski and Edelman missed that game too. Newton finished 17 of 28 for 160 yards and a touchdown.