Can you believe its Week 3 already? I know I can’t, and this NFL season has brought many memories already, good and bad. Last week I wasn’t quite confident in my picks, but I wound up going 9-7 against the spread (18-14 on the year), which was a pleasant surprise. My confidence is exuberant for this upcoming slate, so I’ll probably get screwed over.
So without any further ado, let’s try not to get embarrassed!
(Betting lines via Caesars Sportsbook; last updated September #18th)
CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-2) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (2-0) [-6.0]
How ’bout them Bills? I know I rag on their offense a lot, but Sean McDermott has really coached this defense up well and has put Josh Allen in many scenarios to succeed. The Bengals are 0-2, but I don’t necessarily think they are that awful of a team. I like Zac Taylor’s new offensive scheme that has made Andy Dalton look good, and they have some nice pieces on defense playing well. Personally, I like Buffalo in this spot. Not just because Bills Mafia will be out in full force itching for a 3-0 start, but the interior defensive line led by rookie Ed Oliver should put a lot of pressure on the Red Rocket.
THE PICK: Bills (-6.0)
MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-2) vs. DALLAS COWBOYS (2-0) [-23.0]
Gonna keep this puppy short. Never again will I allow a spread that appears too big to cloud my judgment (see: my idiot decision last week). Miami is awful, Dallas is great and in their stadium. Fin. (get it!?)
THE PICK: Cowboys (-23.0)
DENVER BRONCOS (0-2) vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-0) [-7.5]
A glorious example of a game where I am highly confident in the winner straight up but the spread gives me hesitation. Despite Vic Fangio being familiar with Green Bay’s offense after being the Bears defensive coordinator, I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that I trust Aaron Rodgers and company more than Joe Flacco and company. This game has all the makings of a defensive slugfest, but Green Bay is too good this season to keep it THAT close.
THE PICK: Packers (-7.5)
ATLANTA FALCONS (1-1) vs. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1-1) [-1.5]
Before Week 1 I picked the Falcons to win because I felt Matt Ryan would perform well in the confines of a dome (albeit not his own). That one went over like a lead balloon, and now we are in a similar situation this week when Atlanta travels to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. So what’s the move?…
Not only do I think Matt Ryan can easily out-duel Jacoby Brissett on any field, but I loved the way the Falcons defense played in their win against Philly Sunday night. The Colts will put up a good fight, but the Falcons know with Drew Brees on the mend for over a month that their division is up for grabs. This would be a big win.
THE PICK: Falcons (+1.5)
BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-0) vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-0) [-6.0]
The game of the week, in my opinion, we get to see Lamar Jackson and this speedy Baltimore team against Patrick Mahomes and a speedy team of his own! Both teams won easily last week, but not “walk-in-the-park” easy. The Ravens only won by six against a weak Cardinals team, and the Raiders scored 10 unanswered versus the Chiefs (only to be thoroughly annihilated afterward). I have varying mindsets on this game: if Baltimore wins, it’s going to be close. If Kansas City wins, it’s going to be a blowout. I’m leaning Kansas City because of the Mahomes factor and Kyler Murray dicing up the secondary last week, but the Ravens won’t go down without a fight.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-6.0)
OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-1) vs. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-1) [-9.0]
Oakland and Minnesota battle this week in a rematch of Super Bowl XI. The John Madden-led Raiders thrashed the Vikings 32-14, but it may be the other way around this time around. Oakland has actually played very sound run defense the first two weeks, ranking #5th in the entire league. On the flip side, Dalvin Cook has looked matchup-proof early on as well. Kirk Cousins and the rest of the passing offense haven’t clicked yet this season, but this game is a prime opportunity against an inconsistent secondary. On the Raider side of things, Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams are both dealing with injuries, and you know Derek Carr will be good for at least one turnover against this defense.
THE PICK: Vikings (-9.0)
NEW YORK JETS (0-2) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-0) [-22.0]
Okay, now this is ridiculous. I know the Patriots should easily take care of the Jets, but I also feel like Bill Belichick isn’t going to run up the score and risk injury against a cupcake team like this. Expect a lot of Sony Michel and James White on the ground this game, and even then I feel like New England can win 35-3 without even trying. Sigh.
THE PICK: Jets (+22.0)
DETROIT LIONS (1-0-1) vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-1) [-6.0]
Call me nuts, but I have liked what I’ve seen from Detroit this season. Besides an awful second half in Week 1, their defense has done a great job against the run and their secondary has come up clutch in key spots. Despite my praises for their defense, new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s playcalling has been wishy-washy, to say the least. Add in their biggest strength on D (interior defensive line) will be compromised by the Eagles’ elite offensive line and Carson Wentz at quarterback, Philly should roll to a victory.
THE PICK: Eagles (-6.0)
CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-2) vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS (0-1-1) [-2.5]
Two teams. One tie. No wins. Who comes out on top?
The Cardinals looked really solid against a strong Baltimore team, but the same can’t be said for the Panthers’ effort against Tampa Bay. I was leaning Carolina because of their canyon-sized advantage in the running game with McCaffrey, but news dropped Monday morning that Cam Newton is questionable for the game with a foot injury. You may think I’m hammering Arizona now, but not so fast. I don’t fully trust Kyle Allen to be great Sunday, and I must say I’ve been impressed by Kyler Murray so far, but Riverboat Ron knows his job is on the line if they completely fall apart this season. This is a must-win game for the Panthers and I expect them to play like it.
THE PICK: Panthers (+2.5)
NEW YORK GIANTS (0-2) vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1-1) [-6.5]
With news dropping Tuesday morning of Eli Manning finally riding the pine, fans of the G-Men are obviously excited that they get to see their rookie quarterback in action. Jones looked awesome in the preseason, but this Bucs’ defense isn’t what it used to be. Todd Bowles has these cats playing with a purpose, and nobody will be shocked if Jones doesn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first regular-season game. Jameis Winston, on the other hand, is in a great spot against a New York secondary that has gotten scalded this year.
THE PICK: Buccaneers (-6.5)
HOUSTON TEXANS (1-1) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-1) (-3.0)
This should be a fun little game Sunday afternoon. Anytime Deshaun Watson is playing it’s must see T.V., and Phillip Rivers can still sling the rock a little bit. The Bolts will also be playing with a vengeance this week after recurring kicking woes (covered in my Week 2 recap article) cost them the game. The difference in this game will be the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram pummeling an awful Houston line. Let’s just hope field goals don’t end being the difference for L.A.
THE PICK: Chargers (-3.0)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-2) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (2-0) [-6.5]
Many members of the sports media are writing off Pittsburgh after the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to elbow surgery. To that, I say hold your horses. While the Steelers haven’t had an ideal start to their season, to say the least, they still have one of the best coaches in Mike Tomlin, good skill position players, a fantastic offensive line, and an improving defense. They also acquired safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins, and he’s a player who can make an immediate difference. The 49ers are a good team and should keep this game close, but the black and yellow are going to be playing with some extra motivation this week.
THE PICK: Steelers (+6.5)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-1) vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-0) [-4.0]
The similarities between this game and the Steelers/Niners games are common. One team is missing its stud quarterback, but they have the supporting talent to atone for the loss (New Orleans!). The other team is a playoff-caliber squad in the NFC West (Seattle!). The major difference is, despite Kyle Shanahan’s elite play-calling, I trust Russell Wilson more than Jimmy Garoppolo every day of the week and three times on Sunday. I don’t expect Teddy Bridgewater to make many deep throws this game, leaning on the run game, but Seattle has proven to be elite in that category.
THE PICK: Seahawks (-4.0)
LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-0) [-3.0] vs. CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-1)
This matchup is an opportunity for the Browns to put their early-season struggles in the mirror and insert themselves into the contender race. Do I see that happening? Well, Baker hasn’t look super great to start the year, but the same can be said about Jared Goff. Both teams have superstars on their defensive line to pressure those quarterbacks, plus poor offensive lines to boot. I am very intrigued by the Aaron Donald-Joel Bitonio matchup, and the running game will make a huge difference in this game. At the end of the day, I’ll take the Rams on the road thanks to the experience and play-calling of Sean McVay.
THE PICK: Rams (-3.0)
CHICAGO BEARS (1-1) [-4.0] vs. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-2)
You could make the argument that the both these teams should be 0-2, but the Bears were saved not only by Eddy Piniero’s leg but an egregious roughing the passer call on Bradley Chubb. Nevertheless, Chicago goes into the nation’s capital with a defense that has certainly played to its potential. Mitch Trubisky, on the other hand, looks like he’ll be in the XFL next year. I’m sure the #3rd year QB will pick things up at some point, and a banged-up Washington secondary could be a great start. Case Keenum has been, dare I say, competent so far this year, but this is a big test for the Skins’ O.
THE PICK: Bears (-4.0)