FA Cup Bets: Take Crystal Palace, Leicester City to Cruise in 3rd Round

FA Cup third round weekend is one of my favorite dates on the soccer calendar.

Teams from the English Premier League and Championship enter the competition in this round made up of 32 games across four days.

The third round comes at the end of a busy holiday stretch in which most teams have played at least three games.

That could leave some teams vulnerable as they rest first-team players against lesser opposition.

The potential lineup changes, form across the top four divisions in England and recent cup success are among the many factors I use to find the best betting options.

There are a few single-game picks that I love. I’m also putting together a four-team underdog round robin for $10 in an attempt to profit off vulnerable favorites.

Away we go.

FA Cup Picks

Crystal Palace (-125) vs. Southampton (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET)

I don’t rate Southampton at all right now.

The Saints lost all three EPL games coming out of the World Cup break and they have a more important game on the horizon in the midweek against Manchester City in the quarterfinals of the League Cup.

Why would Southampton waste any time on Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace when it can have a go at City four days later?

Palace already beat Saints at Selhurst Park in the EPL this season. Patrick Vieira’s team could be one of the dark horses in the FA Cup after making a semifinal run last season.

Gillingham vs. Leicester (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET)

Leicester Team Total Over 2.5 (+110)

Gillingham-Leicester possesses one of the largest disparities between teams in the English soccer pyramid.

Leicester is 13th in the EPL. Gillingham is 24th, dead last, in League Two, which is the fourth division.

The Foxes should rotate their squad, but their squad should still have enough quality to cruise past Gillingham.

Gillingham scored one goal in four games since returning from the World Cup.

Leicester can turn to players like Kelechi Iheanacho to provide a spark in the final third. Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans could also strike from midfield if they start.

The Foxes should overmatch the League Two side with any lineup and they should put a good amount of goals into the back of the net.

Bournemouth vs. Burnley (+170) (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)

I actually think the wrong team is favored here.

Burnley is in prime position to return to the EPL as first-place team in the Championship.

The Clarets have seven wins in their last eight games and they have two elimination-style wins from the League Cup.

Bournemouth enters Saturday on a four-game goalless streak and it may not end against a Burnley side that allowed one opponent to have over one on the expected goals chart in the last six games.

Middlesbrough (+400) vs. Brighton (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)

Middlesbrough is my favorite upset pick of the weekend.

Boro is on a three-game winning streak in which it scored nine goals. The club has been reinvigorated by the arrival of manager Michael Carrick and it has five players with four or more goals, led by Chuba Akpom’s 13.

Brighton is vulnerable because its defense conceded six goals in the last three EPL games. Southampton put up a xG of 1.9 and Everton had a 1.3 xG against the Seagulls in that span.

Brighton has conceded a goal in eight of its last nine games.

Boro has a strong enough attack to threaten a vulnerable Brighton back line and the Championship side could be further motivated to win at home over a Premier League side.

Norwich vs. Blackburn (+300) (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET)

Blackburn is the higher-placed side in the Championship than Norwich.

Blackburn is third in the second flight and it recently beat Norwich 2-0 on the road.

Norwich is in the middle of a four-game winless run that resulted in a managerial change.

The Canaries are in a state of flux and they have not won any of their last five home games in league play.

Blackburn also owns a bit more cup match experience after making a run into the fourth round of the League Cup.

Underdog Round Robin

Middlesbrough (+400) vs. Brighton

Blackburn (+300) at Norwich

Hull City (+450) vs. Fulham

Sheffield Wednesday (+550) vs. Newcastle

Here’s the thought behind the round robin.

Middlesbrough and Blackburn are my two favorite underdogs. I think Hull and Sheffield Wednesday are the best long shots.

Wednesday hosts Newcastle, who may rest some players with the League Cup quarterfinal against Leicester ahead on Tuesday. Wednesday has not lost since October 4 in League One.

Hull City could catch Fulham with too much confidence. Fulham won three straight games out of the break, but it may be inclined to sit players with a brutal four-game stretch in the EPL against Chelsea twice, Newcastle and Tottenham on the horizon. Hull is on a six-game unbeaten run and could catch Fulham off guard at home.

Put $10 in total on this. If two of these sides win, we profit. Three or four winners and we’re popping champagne like we won the FA Cup.

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