Another week where I was sub .500 overall but came through ahead with my Best Picks. Let’s face it, with the new restricted preseason practice schedules you’re basically looking at an inferior product for the first month of the NFL season until teams start clicking. You’re also looking, throughout the season, at how injuries affect certain teams. Anyone can guess that Dallas’ offense will suffer without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but it’s trickier to guess the impact when it’s a non-star player. Hey the Titans are missing their nickel corner. Hey the Ravens 3rd down back isn’t 100% this week. Hey the Chiefs are starting a backup at right tackle. Will these things influence the outcomes of games or can the teams adjust?
While week 3 offers all of those considerations, it also challenges us to separate the teams from unexpectedly hot or cold starts with what their actual level of ability is. Yes, you’ll be doing this for the first month. As always, trends help. Especially divisional trends. Sometimes, you may not have much more than that to go on.
Last Week’s Picks: 8-10 Best: 3-2
Season Totals: 15-20-1 Best: 6-3
Pittsburgh (-1) @St. Louis (CarbonSports.ag)
This is a big sandwich game for the Steelers, who are coming off a big win against the 49ers but have to play their arch rival Baltimore in just a few days on Thursday night. The Rams, meanwhile, are smarting after blowing a game against Washington when they’re the better team. The Rams defense will be the toughest the Steelers have faced, but that offense is more than a little scary. Nevertheless, I’m taking St. Louis here. Pittsburgh has not performed well historically as a road favorite and I think the Rams’ defense gets some redemption in this game.
St. Louis Rams 26 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
San Diego (+2.5) @Minnesota (Westgate Superbook)
I’m pretty torn on this game. The Vikings have looked good, but I don’t know that they’re good enough to knock off the Chargers, who have quietly looked quite good. This is a game I would stay away from, but as a fantasy tip, consider Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon, who has looked really good to date and will be facing a Vikings defense whose strength is not stopping the run.
San Diego Chargers 21 Minnesota Vikings 20
Tampa Bay (+7) @Houston (5Dimes)
I think the Texans are solid enough to secure their first win over a Tampa Bay team that figures to be largely uneven all season and will not be favored very often, if at all. That said, I don’t trust Houston to cover a touchdown, and overall I see this one as a low scoring, slow moving affair. I’m happy taking the points.
Houston Texans 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
Tampa Bay @Houston o/u 41 (Westgate Superbook)
Houston has a fairly weak offense and a pretty good defense, while Tampa is not particularly good at anything,. This game looks like an under waiting to happen.
Houston Texans 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
Philadelphia (+2.5) @NY Jets (Wynn Las Vegas)
Am I being a total homer if I say I just can’t see the Eagles starting 0-3? Or am I being rational, pointing out that the Jets beat a Cleveland team that isn’t very good and beat a Colts team that screwed up its offseason by not bolstering its line. Screwed up the offseason by not bolstering the o-line? Uh-oh, the Eagles are in trouble. Nevertheless, the Eagles have never lost to the Jets in nine meetings. This Jets team isn’t that good and this Eagles team CAN’T BE that bad. Can they?
Philadelphia Eagles 22 New York Jets 17
New Orleans (+3) @Carolina (5Dimes)
Drew Brees is supposed to play in this game, but even if he does, he’s clearly not 100%, which is a big part of why the Saints couldn’t knock off Tampa Bay at home last week. The Panthers are no juggernaut, but they play defense, and they have a largely underrated quarterback in Cam Newton who specializes in making a lot out of a little. This is not the Saints’ year.
Carolina Panthers 24 New Orleans Saints 17
Jacksonville (+14.5) @New England (5Dimes)
New England is in a look past situation here, coming off a pretty big win against a tough divisional rival. Jacksonville, meanwhile, is feeling good coming off a win against Miami and, let’s face it, no one on the PLANET is looking for them to win this game. If they lose by 10 or less, everyone will say they did great. With that kind of no-pressure feel, and with the Patriots hardly feeling pressed to go all-out to have to win this game, I like the Jaguars to cover the big number. This is also a good spot trend-wise, as New England has traditionally failed to cover the spread once it goes over 10 points.
New England Patriots 28 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Cincinnati (+2.5) @Baltimore (Pinnacle)
Rooting interests aside, I think this is the game football fans would most want to see this week. It’s a big time rivalry, and it’s going to be a war. If the Ravens lose this one, their season is over. You think the Bengals would like to end Baltimore’s season? They’d LOVE it. But I think Baltimore comes out and takes cares of business this week. At less than 3, this is a game where I think they can and cover the points.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Oakland (+3) @Cleveland (MGM Mirage)
My heart is saying take the Raiders, who I truly believe are a team on the rise, but my head is saying take the Browns, who have a proven defense and get Josh McCown back at quarterback. The Raiders defense hasn’t impressed despite having some really excellent individual players. I still like Oakland, but not enough to pull off a road upset.
Cleveland Browns 24 Oakland Raiders 20
Atlanta (-1) @Dallas (MGM Mirage)
I really want to take Dallas in this game. I love their o-line, and their defense is playing inspired football right now, but on the other side you have Matt Ryan and a receiving corps that is one of the best in football. I want to take Dallas, but I’m not going to until I see how the Brandon Weeden version of the Cowboys handle their business.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Dallas Cowboys 21
San Francisco (+7) @Arizona (5Dimes)
A touchdown spread in a divisional rivalry matchup like this one? I think this might be a bit of an overreaction to how good the Cardinals have looked so far and how bad the Niners looked last week against a Pittsburgh offense that is running on rocket fuel this season. I like the Cardinals to win but not to cover a number this big.
Arizona Cardinals 23 San Francisco 49ers 20
Chicago (+14.5) @Seattle (Westgate Superbook)
The Seahawks get Kam Chancellor back, they play their first home game, they are flat out desperate for a victory at 0-2, and the Bears are starting Jimmy Clausen at QB. This spread is too high, but it could be 30 and I still wouldn’t take Chicago. I’ll gamble that Seattle scores at least 7 points off of defense alone and finds it fairly easy to move the chains against a soft Bears defense. As for the other side of the ball, you may not even want to watch how ugly that is.
Seattle Seahawks 28 Chicago Bears 10
Kansas City (+6.5) @Green Bay (Westgate Superbook)
I think this is one of the toughest games of the week to pick. On the one hand, I like the Chiefs matchups with Green Bay so much that I could actually see them winning this game outright. On the other hand, how stupid do you have to be to pick against Aaron Rodgers at home. I’m taking the Packers, but my advice on this game is to enjoy it by watching it, not betting on it.
Green Bay Packers 31 Kansas City Chiefs 22
Philadelphia @New York o/u 46.5 (CG Technology)
The Jets have played two so-so defensive units and they have hardly run it up. The Eagles stop unit is actually pretty good, and I don’t see the Jets breaking 20 in this game. Flip side: the Jets defense is quite good, and they are very capable of making life tough on an Eagles offense that already has it tough. This game SCREAMS for the under. Can you believe it’s 46.5 points?
Philadelphia Eagles 22 New York Jets 17
Indianapolis (-3) @Tennessee (Westgate Superbook)
I know I told you last week that the Colts were a mortal lock to cover, but that was against a Jets team with a good defense and with a spread over a touchdown. Now the Colts are a mere 3 point favorites against a weak team in Tennessee? Unless you think Indianapolis is going winless this season, they got this.
Indianapolis Colts 27 Tennessee Titans 20
Buffalo (+3) @Miami (Westgate Superbook)
The Dolphins are one of the worst home favorites in the NFL against the spread. They just have no firepower on offense so even when they win it is a constant tug of war type matchup. They’re taking on a Bills team that is going to be anxious for redemption and, truth be told, played a pretty good offensive game considering they had to try to keep up with Tom Brady and friends. Defensively, the Bills will look a lot more like the week 1 team that demolished Indianapolis than the week 2 team that got outsmarted by Bill Belichick. I like the Bills to win outright.
Buffalo Bills 24 Miami Dolphins 23
Denver (-3) @Detroit (Westgate Superbook)
Call this a bit of a hunch. Peyton Manning looked resurgent last week, and Manning is the kind of quarterback who will get hot over a sizable stretch of games, not up one week and down the next. Detroit, meanwhile, specializes in wasting good performances, making mistakes, and finding new ways to lose. Unlike other 0-2 teams who I’ve characterized as desperate for a win, I think Detroit’s 0-2 start actually makes it even more likely that they will NOT get the ship righted this week. They’ll wait until they’re in a big deep hole before suddenly playing great for a little stretch so their fans can be extra disappointed.
Denver Broncos 24 Detroit Lions 17
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