Including my over/under picks, I was a sweet 8-3-1 in the Thursday and early games this week, so my 9-7-2 finish is a bit disappointing. Still, I’m 15-16-2 overall in the young season, and 4-2 in best picks. Week 3 looks less appetizing to me than week 2, partly a product of a bunch of teams tanking last week and partly because even the really bad teams haven’t looked completely 100% all that bad so far. Consequently, no pick is safe, so choose wisely.
Hit the title/read more to check out the picks for the third week of the NFL. . .
(All lines as of 9/20/12 @9:00 a.m. – line credit posted per game)
St. Louis (+7) @Chicago (Sheridan’s)
You might be tempted to take St. Louis here, getting a whole touchdown on the road after they scored a win over the Redskins last week. Don’t be tempted. The Bears also collapse against the Packers, and they’re a much better team than they played last week. The Rams got lucky to pull out a win last week against a Redskins team that suffered major injuries on defense and STILL should have won the game but for a giant bonehead play at the end. I’ll give seven. The Bears will roll here.
Chicago Bears 27 St. Louis Rams 16
San Francisco (+6.5) @Minnesota (Sheridan’s)
I’d put this in best picks if not for the fact that San Francisco is coming off two big wins and might have a bit of a letdown against the hapless Vikings. If that doesn’t happen, the Niners won’t even be tested here.
San Francisco 49ers 24 Minnesota Vikings 10
Detroit (-3) @Tennessee (Top Bet)
The Lions didn’t quit against the Niners, and although Tennessee is a pretty good team for being 0-2, they won’t have any better luck here than they did with the other better teams (New England, San Diego) they’ve had to face this season.
Detroit Lions 24 Tennessee Titans 20
Cincinnati (+3.5) @Washington (MGM Mirage)
I can’t figure the Bengals getting 3.5 points in this game. Washington has lost Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season, so their front seven is decimated. More bad news: they’re likely without CB Josh Wilson this week too. The Redskins defense couldn’t stop Sam Bradford and the Rams last week, so what’s gonna happen when they have to slow down Andy Dalton to AJ Green? Robert Griffin will likely put up good numbers once more, as the Bengals defense is nothing to be scared of, but I figure the Bengals will just outpace the Redskins here.
Cincinnati Bengals 31 Washington Redskins 28
NY Jets (pick ‘em) @Miami (5 Dimes)
The Dolphins had no business winning a game so early in the season, but who knew the Raiders would be that awful? The Jets have their issues, but not enough of them to cost them a game against the Dolphins. Don’t expect Reggie Bush to go off the way he did last week. As an aside, I like the under here a little bit, but I have gotten burned by the Jets on over/under bets in the past so I won’t touch them.
NY Jets 21 Miami Dolphins 16
Kansas City (+10) @New Orleans (5 Dimes)
One of these teams is going to start 0-3, and I just can’t believe it will be the Saints. As bad and disjointed as they’ve looked this year, Kansas City has looked just as bad, and the Chiefs have, even worse, looked completely ineffectual for stretches. I like Drew Brees to win this game, single handedly if necessary. That said, New Orleans hasn’t shown anything to make me want to give double digit points, even at home.
New Orleans Saints 27 Kansas City Chiefs 21
Buffalo (-2.5) @Cleveland (Sheridan’s)
The Bills righted their ship last week, and they need to keep the momentum going against a bad Browns squad. Buffalo has no excuse not to win this game, and, frankly, they need to take advantage of the weaker parts of their schedule because they obviously weren’t ready to knock off the Jets in week one and there are tougher matchups out there on the horizon.
Buffalo Bills 24 Cleveland Browns 19
Jacksonville (+3) @Indianapolis (Sheridan’s)
I wouldn’t touch this game. Andrew Luck had a taste of success last week, but the Colts are still terrible. The Jaguars looked dreadful last week, but playing the vastly superior Texans will do that to you. I have no read on who will win this game, but Jacksonville has historically played the Colts very tough and close, and that was with that other guy at quarterback and a much better team around him too. Give me the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Indianapolis Colts 17
Philadelphia (-3.5) @Arizona (Sheridan’s)
The Eagles beat the Ravens. But just by one. The Eagles ONLY beat the Browns by one. Logic says they’ll beat the Cardinals by one also. I don’t love either side here: both defenses deserve respect, and there’s little question that the Eagles offense is far more explosive, but we haven’t seen it yet, and turnovers will eventually kill Philadelphia if they continue committing them.
Philadelphia Eagles 21 Arizona Cardinals 20
Atlanta (+3) @San Diego (Las Vegas Hilton)
The Chargers have quietly played very good football this season, and Philip Rivers looks like a new man. Atlanta is coming off a Monday Night game and has to travel to the west coast. The Falcons are a much better home team, and the Chargers are good enough to take advantage if Atlanta isn’t sharp.
San Diego Chargers 28 Atlanta Falcons 23
Houston (-1) @Denver (Legends)
No way in hell I’m betting against the Texans. I know they’ve played far easier competition up until now, but they’ve looked terrific, and I’m still not sure what the Broncos ARE this season. I don’t think Peyton and his friends will have much success against the Houston defense, however, and although Denver has been stout against the ground game this year, Houston almost never gets shut down in the running game. I like the under here as well but as a matter of principle I think it’s crazy to take the under in any game that has Peyton Manning in it.
Houston Texans 24 Denver Broncos 21
New England (+3) @Baltimore (Las Vegas Hilton)
Playing as an underdog after a loss, Tom Brady usually wins by more than 10 points. He won’t do that here – the Ravens are too good and are looking for revenge for last year’s AFC Championship loss, but I think New England just finds a way to win this game. I don’t like either side here – in some respects making a pick in this game is an insult to the fact that it’s just flat out gonna be a great game that you should watch and enjoy.
New England Patriots 26 Baltimore Ravens 24
Green Bay (-3) @Seattle (Las Vegas Hilton)
This game looks like a sucker bet. You get the Packers against Seattle and only have to give 3? Maybe it is a sucker bet. I won’t pick against Aaron Rodgers in this spot, but I don’t like the game at all and the small spread only scares me more.
Green Bay Packers 28 Seattle Seahawks 24
BEST PICKS THIS WEEK
Katniss says, “Take the Steelers once the line drops to 3.”
Tampa Bay (+9) @Dallas (5 Dimes)
I can’t believe the lack of respect Tampa Bay is getting here. This is a team that knocked off Cam Newton and the Panthers and came within a quarter of doing the same thing to Eli Manning and the Giants. What in the world has anyone seen from the Cowboys, this year or over the last 5, to suggest that they’re going to lay a blowout on a ready team like the Bucs. Dallas had better win – God help them if they don’t – but the Bucs will keep it reasonably close.
Dallas Cowboys 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
Pittsburgh (-3.5) @Oakland (Sheridan’s)
By many measures, no one has been worse than the Oakland Raiders this season. Their offense is non-existent. They commit stupid penalties right and left. The entire team is an undisciplined mess, and it showed last week in Miami when they got shamed by one of the NFL’s worst teams. I know Oakland is home this week while Pittsburgh has to travel, but that hardly seems to matter. The Steelers will not look past this team, they want to go into their bye with a winning record, and the Steelers are just too good for Oakland. Only giving 3.5 is a gift.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31 Oakland Raiders 21
Philadelphia @Arizona o/u 44 (Top Bet)
You’re always running a risk when you go under in a game where one of the offenses – the Eagles – has a lot of explosive players who can put up points in a hurry. But Arizona held the Patriots’ offense down, and the Eagles have been committing turnovers right and left. I also don’t expect the Cardinals to do much with the opportunities the Eagles hand them, so under 44 is the play here.
Philadelphia Eagles 21 Arizona Cardinals 20