I have to admit guys, I’m a liar. When I wrote my picks article last week, I stated that I had “supreme confidence” for the Week 3 slate, which slowly dwindled the more I looked at the picks. I picked too many big lines and too many favorites at home, and it came back to bite me. Going 7-9 (down to 25-23 on the season) isn’t disastrous, but I have to do better. WE ALL have to do better.
This week’s roster of games lacks the monster lines seen previously, so a lot of games picked will mostly be outright winners. I think (and hope) that I’m starting to get a better feel for these teams as well.
So without any further ado, let’s try not and get embarrassed!
(Betting lines via Caesars Sportsbook; last updated September #24th)
TEAMS WITH A BYE: San Francisco 49ers (3-0) & New York Jets (0-3)
TENNESSEE TITANS (1-2) vs. ATLANTA FALCONS (1-2) [-4.0]
If I was being held at gunpoint and I had to bet either of these teams money to win and cover the spread, well…
Both teams have been maddeningly inconsistent for very different reasons. I love the Tennessee defense, but once they’re down by seven it’s basically game over. Atlanta has all the talent in the world, but their offense has been to inconsistent and their front seven has been underwhelming for the most part. All of that aside, the Falcons are home and should be playing with a heavy heart after Keanu Neal’s devastating torn Achilles’ injury. Not to mention a more high-powered offense with Ryan and Julio Jones, I’ll take the birds.
THE PICK: Falcons (-4.0)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3-0) [-7.0] vs. BUFFALO BILLS (3-0)
The steepest challenge New England faces this season, Buffalo is somehow undefeated so far during the short season. Sean McDermott has his defense playing at an elite level, especially in the secondary. They haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of opponents (Jets, Giants, Bengals), but Buffalo is getting the job done nonetheless. The Patriots have been dominant to say the least. They had their “worst” performance against the Jets, giving up 14 points. I also think I’ll take my odds with Tom Brady over Josh Allen.
THE PICK: Patriots (-7.0)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0) [-6.5] vs. DETROIT LIONS (2-0-1)
Who would’ve thought this game would be a must-watch? The Lions have been one of the biggest surprises in the league, balancing great offense with their defense playing at a high-level also. Unfortunately, they may be without two of their top defenders in defensive tackle Mike Daniels and star cornerback Darius Slay. Slay would be a monstorus loss, as Detroit needs all the fire-power they need against Patrick Mahomes. Oh yeah, that Mahomes guy? He’s currently eviscerating the NFL. Until I see otherwise, I’ll take the Chiefs.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-6.5)
OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-2) vs. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-1) [-6.5]
So far, it looks like the Colts and the Texans will be duking it out for the AFC South title. I’d give Indy the slight edge so far, but even then they have looked very average. Their defense is ranked #20th in the league, but they’ve been able to offset that poor start thanks to an offense that is very well-balanced. As for the Raiders, they’ve looked pretty awful excluding their Week 1 victory over Denver. Derek Carr hasn’t been a train-wreck, and rookie Josh Jacobs looks like a good one at running back, but the defense has been an abomination. Coming off back-to-back shellackings courtesy of Kansas City and Minnesota, expect Jon Gruden and his men to keep playing catch up this week also.
THE PICK: Colts (-6.5)
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-2) [-15.5] vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-3)
I hate keeping these short, but come on. I know the Chargers are 1-2, but field goals screwed them in Week 2 and they played Houston close before blowing it at the end. This is still a good football team, and despite Josh Rosen providing more optimism for Miami, he doesn’t do enough to compensate for the rest of their wretched roster.
THE PICK: Chargers (-15.5)
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-3) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS (1-2) [-3.0]
I don’t expect either of these teams to compete for a playoff spot, but this matchup is noteworthy for two reasons. 1) We might finally see Dwayne Haskins and 2) Another blow-out loss for Washington might cost Jay Gruden his job. You can blame injuries (once again) on the Redskins’ poor start, but the fact of the matter is that this team doesn’t have a lick of identity. Case Keenum got clobbered by the Bears defense Monday night, and their running game sans Derrius Guice has been an absolute disaster. As for the Giants, it’ll be tough for Daniel Jones to replicate his insane NFL debut, but he has a chance to be close with the way this defense is playing. Saquon’s absence is huge, but a more fresh, innovative offense led by Pat Shurmur should be able to put up points.
THE PICK: Giants (-3.0)
CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-2) vs. BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-1) [-6.5]
A battle between the two top teams in the AFC North, this game could have big playoff implications in the future. Baltimore has looked much more impressive this season than Cleveland, only losing to arguably the best team in their conference. The Browns are coming off a tough loss to the Rams thanks to the stubbornness of their coach (read my takeaway article), and Baker has looked spotty to say the least. While I expect this Ravens’ front seven to blitz often, the Browns defense is nothing to sniff it either. Throw in the fact that with their upcoming schedule this is most likely a must-win situation for them, and it’s a divisional game, I do expect it closer than the line states.
THE PICK: Browns (+6.5)
CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-2) vs. HOUSTON TEXANS (2-1) [-4.0]
Here we have a matchup between two teams coming off of very important victories. The Panthers, behind Kyle Allen’s sensational performance, dismantled Arizona and Houston came back to defeat the Chargers in Los Angeles. Allen gave the Panthers’ season life, showcasing an incredible arm that got the most out it’s speedy receiving core. The Texans offensive line has actually played better in recent weeks, and despite the departure of Jadeveon Clowney, they are still pressuring the quarterback at a high-level. In matchups as close as this one, I have to lean towards the veteran quarterback once more. Deshaun Watson is just that good.
THE PICK: Texans (-4.0)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1-2) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-0) [-9.5]
How does Sean McVay do it? His franchise quarterback is struggling, his star running back has an arthritic knee, his offensive line is inconsistent, and so on. It’s because McVay is so good at putting his players in the most optimal positions to succeed. Knowing what personnel to run, where to throw, and having Wade Phillips as an elite defensive coordinator, the Rams are still the cream of the crop in the NFC. Tampa Bay put forth a good effort against the Giants until choking away the game at the end, thanks to their well-known secondary and kicking woes showing up.
Psst… I got bad news for you Bucs fans. If Daniel Jones did THAT against you guys, Jared Goff is going to have his breakout game of the year.
THE PICK: Rams (-9.5)
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-1) [-5.5] vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS (0-2-1)
I’ve said in the past that being overly confident in a road favorite, especially in a divisional game, can blow up in your face. On the contrary, this line is crazy low right now. Seattle giving five points is absurd. I understand they lost to a Saints teams without Drew Brees at home last week, but they didn’t get killed. Plus, Russell Wilson is still #elite, completing over 70% of his passes with zero interceptions so far. Toss in this rabid defensive line eating the Cardinals’ turnstiles- I mean, offensive line – alive, I think Seattle rolls to victory easily.
THE PICK: Seahawks (-5.5)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-1) vs. CHICAGO BEARS (2-1) [-2.0]
I feel like every NFC North game this season is going to be a treat to watch. It’s such a tight division where all of the games are going to matter, regardless of how early it is in the season, and this is one of them. The Vikings, outside of losing to Green Bay in Week 2, have looked superb. Dalvin Cook has developed into an elite player, and the defense is still one of the best in the league. While Minny has a great defense, the Bears are on their own level. This is going to be a close one, but I trust Mitchell Trubisky, despite an improved performance against Washington, to make a few mistakes that could sway this game.
THE PICK: Vikings (+2.0)
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-2) vs. DENVER BRONCOS (0-3) [-3.0]
Ladies and gentleman, you’re stinker of the week!
The only thing that keeps this game from being completely unwatchable is Gardner Minshew. That man is majestic. On a serious note, both teams are going to be relying on their defense to carry them to victories. So far, the Jaguars have played exceptional defense and should have no problem shutting down Joe Flacco. I also trust the speed of Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark to burn this Denver secondary that, outside of Chris Harris Jr., has played lackadaisical at times.
THE PICK: Jaguars (+3.0)
DALLAS COWBOYS (3-0) [-2.5] vs. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-1)
I can’t think of another game so far this year that I have struggled with so much. The Cowboys have looked excellent this season, but they have also faced the bottom-feeders of the league and are in New Orleans this week. The Saints are at a disadvantage at the QB position, but they still have a fantastic roster and one of the best coaches in the sport. At the end of the day, I trust Das more than Teddy in this spot, although either result won’t surprise me. God, I’m still torn.
THE PICK: Cowboys (-2.5)
CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-3) vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-3) [-4.0]
There are only three fanbases that should care about this game: Bengals and Steelers fans (for obvious reasons), and also Miami Dolphins fans. Miami owns the Steelers’ first round draft pick in 2020 following the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, and if the season ended today, Miami would hold the #3 and #4 picks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, I believe the Steelers’ will stifle Joe Mixon and rest of the Bengals’ running game en route to their first game of the season. A small victory for Pittsburgh, in what has been a long season so far.
THE PICK: Steelers (-4.0)