What do these NFL squads have to do to earn some respect around here?
Apparently, starting 3-0, winning by 24 or containing Aaron Rodgers doesn't cut it these days. A few teams should feel great about their playoff chances this season, but they're narrowly favored against clubs trying to tread water.
All three teams should probably win by at least a touchdown this week, but the spreads suggest closer contests lurk.
Maybe everyone will learn for next week.
Note: All spreads are courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns
The Cincinnati Bengals just beat the Green Bay Packers by four. They can probably top the Cleveland Browns by five or six.
A week after scorching the Washington Redskins for 480 passing yards and four touchdowns, Aaron Rodgers managed just 244 yards, a touchdown and two picks against Cincinnati. The Bengals defense also scooped up two fumbles and returned one for a school, infuriating all fantasy owners who benched them against the Packers.
Brian Hoyer threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns last week, but that doesn't make him Rodgers. The former third-stringer also tossed three interceptions against a defense that ranks 28th in passing yards allowed.
One win does not eliminate all of Cleveland's concerns. Hoyer is still a major uncertainty going against Leon Hall and Terence Newman, so the Bengals should assemble enough offensive points to cover this slim spread.
Prediction: Bengals 17, Browns 6
Kansas City Chiefs (-4) vs. New York Giants
So, did anybody setting this spread watch the New York Giants play last Sunday?
It was bad. Not in a "every team has its bad days" way but in a "this team is in major trouble" way.
The offense totaled 150 yards, extending its rushing woes with another measly 39 yards from David Wilson. Eli Manning was sacked seven times while completing just 12 passes, none of which went Hakeem Nicks' way.
Don't think the defense is off the hook. The once-fiery defensive line that guided the Giants to two championships now has three sacks through as many games. Constantly getting left off the hook, Carolina converted eight of its 14 third downs.
That's against a team that entered its matchup 0-2.
Now, the Giants play the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs, who are riding the hot hand with Justin Houston's seven sacks and the league's fifth-best passing defense. They also host the Giants in a stadium that is as loud as any other.
The Chiefs would look posed to cover even as double-digit favorites.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Giants 17
Dallas Cowboys (-2) at San Diego Chargers
The Dallas Cowboys are going to win the NFC East whether they like it or not.
America's (dysfunctional) team is now the most stable of the division's four squads by a mile, putting them on a smooth path to the playoffs if they can just win nine (maybe even eight) games.
And they're just a one-point loss away from starting the season at 3-0. They played the Chiefs to a virtual stalemate, winning the yards battle 318-313 but falling just short where it counts. Is that any reason to punish them?
Tony Romo's 771 passing yards aren't the prettiest sight to behold as other signal-callers push 1,000, but he has remained resoundingly efficient, completing 72.2 percent of his passes. The San Diego Chargers have allowed a league-worst 1,022 passing yards on 9.0 yards per attempt, so expect Romo to break through with some bigger plays.
Rated 13th in total yards allowed and eighth in points, the Dallas defense is also quietly getting the job done. Finally allowed to fall out of the spotlight, the Cowboys are operating soundly.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Chargers 20