Sunday, September 22, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 3

Season Record: 22-11

That KC win makes me 3-0 on Thursdays, and if I can toot my own horn even more, I’d day I was pretty accurate with how it would play out.  The entire trifecta didn’t dominate, but Justin Houston totaled a whopping 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 TFL, and 2 passes defended.  Wow!  Also, Shady did get his, and Dog Killer did in fact have multiple turnovers.  The Chiefs did slow the game and feature Charles and Smith on the ground (31 combined carries for 124 yards). 

I went 12-4 last week, and two of those losses were upset picks that I whiffed on completely (Rams @ Falcons and Giants v. Broncos).  11 of last week’s games were decided by 8 points or less, and I think you’ll see that become a trend as we continue through the season.  Here are this week’s picks:

Bucs @ Patriots
New England is fortunate to be 2-0 at this point and don’t come close to resembling the team I think they’ll be at the end of the year.  Tom Brady and his receivers are having communication issues, leading to a 36 combined points through two games.  They scored 34 in last year’s season opener at TennesseeTampa Bay is an unlucky 0-2.  After literally giving the Jets the opening week win, they crumbled in crunch time and surrendered a late game winner to the Saints.  I’m leery of the Patriots, especially against this Bucs defense, but I simply can’t count on the Bucs to win tough games as long as Josh Freeman continues to look this poor under center.  The Bucs’ defense does their job, but the Patriots win a close one late. 

Packers @ Bengals
Even considering that the home team Bengals have the better defense, I can’t see Andy Dalton matching scores with Aaron Rodgers.  Dalton should be able to make more plays against Green Bay than he did against Chicago on MNF, but I don’t think it will be enough.  Rodgers rolled through the Redskins last night and could have lit them up even more if the game wasn’t so far out of hand.  I like Cincinnati’s pass defense, but the Packers have too many options.  Rodgers will throw 4 TDs.  Expect a final total in the 60s. 

Rams @ Cowboys
I’m hoping to get a better picture of how good the Cowboys are in this game.  The helped-by-turnovers win against the Giants and the coming-up-short-late loss in KC have me conflicted.  They still can’t run the ball or protect Romo and fall short when it counts.  The Rams got behind early at Atlanta but showed a lot of fight until the final whistle.  The main question I have with them is whether or not they can score when it counts, and that should be the key in this one.  I’m rolling with Romo to put up enough points at home to earn a hard fought, close victory. 

Chargers @ Titans
This one could be interesting.  The Chargers are off a big win at Philly, and the Titans nearly toppled the Texans on the road.  Philip Rivers is off to a hot start, throwing 7 TDs through the first two games, but he’s facing a Tennessee defense that virtually shutout Pittsburgh and picked off Matt Schaub twice (one for a pick 6).  I still don’t have any confidence in Jake Locker.  We all know this is now a passing league, but through two games, Chris Johnson has as many rushing attempts as Locker has passing attempts.  Philly moved the ball on San Diego, and so did the Texans once they woke up in that opener.  I think the Titans get another solid defensive performance and just enough points out of the offense to win by 3 or less. 

Browns @ Vikings
Following the trade of Trent Richardson to Indianapolis, the Browns signed Willis McGahee to be their primary ball carrier.  Oh, and Brian Hoyer is starting at QB this week too.  The football gods could throw a wrench in this one, but everything says the Vikings should win.  The Browns have struggled to generate any offense through two games and now run up against a Vikings team seething to get a win in their home opener.  Expect at least 30 carries by MVPeterson in this one. 

Cardinals @ Saints
New Orleans is off to a hot 2-0 start after beating division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay in weeks one and two.  They better not look past the visiting Cardinals in this one, because Carson Palmer has 575 yards through two games as the leader of an offense capable of putting up points of their own.  I don’t think they’ll pull off the upset, but New Orleans’ defense better not get off to a slow start.  Another close one.  Saints by 6. 

Lions @ Redskins
Wow Washington’s a mess.  Will their defense show up for the first time in three games?  Will RGIII finally start using his legs?  If the Redskins want to turn this season around before it gets out of hand, they’ve got to win this one.  They’ll then have Oakland on deck before a week 5 bye.  Detroit’s defense can still be scored on, so Washington should have plenty of chances to get that first win as long as their own defense doesn’t pull another no-show.  Calvin Johnson totals 200 yards receiving in a losing effort. 

Giants @ Panthers
Speaking of 0-2, this matchup features two more teams off to disappointing starts.  A week after giveaway day in Dallas, the Giants were thoroughly embarrassed at home against the Broncos.  Week 3 is too early for “must win” games, but another loss puts both of these teams in a really bad spot.  The Panthers would head into their bye winless with two road games to follow, while the Giants would be in the basement of their division with the Chiefs, Eagles, and Bears next on the schedule.  I think the key in this one will be the Giants passing game against the beat up and not very talented Panther secondary.  David Wilson and the running game will again struggle against an improved Panthers front seven, but Victor Cruz finds the endzone twice.  Giants win by 10. 

Texans @ Ravens
These teams were headed in vastly different directions at the end of last season, and although the Texans are the undefeated of these two squads after two weeks, I think I feel better about the Ravens.  Houston needed a lot of help from San Diego to win the first game and needed OT last week to beat TennesseeBaltimore hasn’t been pretty either, losing at Denver and struggling to outlast Cleveland, and as I type this they’re likely to be without Ray Rice.  I’m counting on the champs to pull one out with Marlon Brown catching the decisive TD.   

Falcons @ Dolphins
This is the most intriguing game of the week in my opinion.  You’ve got the respected Falcons heading south to face the 2-0 Dolphins.  Miami’s offseason expenditures are paying off so far, and they appear to be catching the Falcons at the right time.  Atlanta is banged up pretty good already.  Steven Jackson is out with a thigh injury, Roddy White is walking wounded, and Jeremy Trueblood starts at RT with Lamar Holmes moving to LT, making them worse at two spots up front.  Defensively, they lost Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann for the year last week, and Asante Samuel is questionable.  This would be a HUGE statement win for the Dolphins, and I think they’ll definitely be the more focused team Sunday.  If the Dolphins can keep Tony Gonzalez from beating them in the middle of the field, I like Ryan Tannehill’s chances of making enough plays against a reeling defense.  Miami moves to 3-0. 

Bills @ Jets
This is a tough one to pick.  I like the Jets front seven, but the Bills look to be jelling much better as a team in the early going.  It should be a slow one out of the gates, but I’m going to count on EJ Manuel carrying that momentum over from last week’s comeback win and make it two in a row.  Buffalo gets their first win at the Jets since ’09. 

Colts @ 49ers
I didn’t give Indy much of a chance to win this one before the Richardson trade, and while, I expect his acquisition to pay dividends this year, tomorrow won’t be one of those days.  Maybe the final score will be closer than the experts think, but I don’t see Jim Harbaugh’s squad dropping two in a row.  A loss here would be a bad bad bad bad thing.  Niners by 20. 

Jaguars @ Seahawks
I don’t talk point spreads much, but 18 points in a professional football game?!?!  The Jaguars own the title of worst team in the league so far, and facing the Seahawks isn’t going to help them shake that moniker.  Seattle faces tougher resistance in a Saturday walk through.  Seattle by 24. 

Bears @ Steelers
Pittsburgh has looked awful so far this year, and the Bears are on the upswing at 2-0.  The Bears are the pick right?  As bad as the Steelers have played, Chicago is a couple of plays from being winless themselves.  The Steelers can get right back on track by defending home field and winning at Minnesota before their week five bye.  I’m sure that’s their focus.  The Bears on the other hand have a division road game next week against the Lions.  I’ve seen this set up too often before.  The house is on the Bears, but the Steelers get the win.  Markus Wheaton scores his first TD as a pro, and the Steelers win a surprisingly high-scoring, entertaining Sunday capper. 

Raiders @ Broncos
If the Broncos could spank the Ravens and Giants that badly, how do you think the Raiders are going to fare?  If I’m not channel surfing by 10:30 I’ll be shocked.  Peyton and company move to 3-0 with a decisive win. 

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