Handicapping the NFL: Week 3
Week 3 starts Thursday night in Charlotte, NC when the Giants visit the Panthers in "Some Kind of Bank" Stadium. Honestly, it doesn't seem like people even keep track anymore.
There are some interesting lines this week and if you need help (or just want to read this to hold you over until I put out my Week 3 fantasy football start/sit column), I'm here to guide you.
You don't have to take my advice, but if you want to win, then at least listen to what I have to say. Here it goes.
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers (-1)
The Pick: New York (+1)
Yes, I'm aware that the Giants are without both Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. I'm also aware that any Giants running back is completely interchangeable and that Eli Manning will still have little problem getting the ball down the field without Nicks.
Also, the Giants have been a better road team than just about anybody in the NFL. I'm not convinced that the Panthers are the real deal and that the Saints were just reeling after being upset at home and having to travel to Carolina.
Many people are expecting a shootout (Vegas has their over/under at 51), but this has the makings of a 20-17 game with the Giants coming out on top.
St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears (-7.5)
The Pick: St. Louis (+7.5)
I don't know how a team that has looked as tough as St. Louis can come play against a Chicago team that looks as stable as The Tower of Pisa and still be more than a touchdown underdog.
Jeff Fisher's Rams have been sneaky good this year and seem more than able to move the ball while the defense looks much improved, and their special teams has been one of the best in this young season.
Jay Cutler's ego is already shot after just two weeks while the Rams are flying high after a close loss in Detroit and a home win against Washington. I'm extremely close to telling people to take the Rams in a moneyline, but for now, I believe that they will be able to cover.
There will be some points on the board and some lines have the Rams as much as a nine point dog. I'm going to say this game ends 27-24 in the Bears' favor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys (-9)
The Pick: Tampa Bay (+9)
I like this game a lot. Tampa Bay has looked good so far this season and seemed to have a second win last week against New York before giving up the lead late.
As for Dallas, it's strange how good they looked against the Giants and then came out flatter than a pancake against the Seahawks. Dallas should bounce back, but not to the extent that they beat Tampa by more than one possession.
If this season is anything like last season, then you should take Tampa now while you can still get the points before they cool off and a spread like this seems like it should be more.
My final prediction for this game is a 33-31 Dallas win. That's more than enough to cover the spread.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings (+7)
If you haven't figured it out yet, the 49ers are pretty good. I had to do a double take when I saw the spread as San Fran has already beaten the two best teams in the NFC North handily, and now move on to the worst of the division.
The only productive part of the Vikings offense (Adrian Peterson, obviously) will be going against the Niners biggest strength in their run defense. This seems almost too easy, and perhaps Vegas knows something we don't. That shouldn't deter you though, as the Niners should win this game in a walk.
Final Prediction has San Fran taking it 24-7.
Detroit Lions @ Tennessee Titans (+3.5)
The Pick: Detroit -3.5
Thus far, the Titans have not impressed me in the slightest. The fact that they are only a 3.5 point underdog against the Lions is a little surprising. Detroit always seems to have road struggles, but they should be able to rebound from a loss against one of the toughest teams (San Francisco) quite nicely.
It won't be a runaway, but the Lions should do more than enough to cover this small spread. The Titans are going to have one heck of a time just trying to slow down the Lions offense and don't have the firepower to keep up. They will fade in the second half and the outcome should be a 30-21 win for Detroit.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Washington Redskins (-3)
The Pick: Bengals +3
I don't like this game at all for a multitude of reasons. First off, I'm a Redskins writer so ignore everything I say about them in terms of betting lines. If they are coming off of a loss (which they are right now), I wouldn't expect them to cover the spread if they were +35 against Kansas City. On the other hand, if they were coming off of a win, I would have no problem taking them at -20 against San Francisco. That's just the way it works for me, though.
This has the makings of push all over it. If the Redskins win, it won't be a romp (but I wish it would be). The Bengals have enough firepower to beat up on a desolated Redskins defense and we'll see if Robert Griffin III can keep up.
It pains me to say it, especially in RG3's home debut, but I see the Bengals taking this one 28-24.
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (+2.5)
The Pick: New York (-2.5)
This spread should probably be larger, but people seem to overreact when the better team is coming off of a loss while the weaker team is coming off a win. The Jets loss was on the road against Pittsburgh, while the Dolphins win was at home against Jacksonville. Don't read too much into those games.
The Jets shouldn't have trouble covering the spread as long as they can keep Reggie Bush, who suddenly seems like a legitimate running back, at bay.
By the way, if this game is on your local station and you don't have RedZone or Sunday Ticket, I feel sorry for you. This one will be a snoozer that the Jets take 17-10.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints (-8)
The Pick: New Orleans (-8)
New Orleans is 0-2 and their defense has looked absolutely lost so far, but they still have Drew Brees. However, it appears that the Chiefs may be the worst team in the NFL. They've gotten destroyed twice, including last week by Buffalo.
Nothing says bounce back like playing at home against the Chiefs.
Anything Ryan Fitzpatrick can do, Brees can do better.
The Saints are the pick in this game and should win by more than two possessions. If you like one-sided contests, this one may be for you as I can see a 33-14 win for New Orleans in the future.
The Rest of the Games
Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns (-3)
The Pick: Buffalo
If Cleveland can win this game, it's not going to be by more than three points. They just don't have it in them quite yet.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (-3)
The Pick: Indianapolis
The Jaguars are a force to be reckoned with. At least they would be if they were in the NCAA.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals (+3.5)
The Pick: Arizona
Arizona has hide a knack for keeping it close this year. They may not play a game that's decided by more than three points this season. And that's a good thing if they're the underdog.
Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers (-3)
The Pick: Atlanta
The Falcons still aren't getting any love, but the Chargers haven't done much to impress in my opinion. I feel a Falcons win in this game, even going across the country in a short week.
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos (+2)
The Pick: Denver
Denver's at home and there's not a snowball's chance that Peyton Manning is going to throw three interceptions in the first quarter again. Ever.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Oakland Raiders (+4)
The Pick: Pittsburgh
The Steelers should win this game by a touchdown or more. It's much easier for an Eastern team to go West than the other way around. Especially when the game is at 4:00pm for all of us here in the East.
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
The Pick: New England
Tom Brady is going to be pretty motivated (very upset) after losing to Arizona. The Ravens will be the unfortunate recipient of a huge rebound game for the Pats.
Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks (-3)
The Pick: Green Bay
Seattle destroyed Dallas at home, but Green Bay is being very underrated after losing their first game to the 49ers, who are being sorely underestimated. Green Bay wins by 10.