NFL Picks Week 3: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Picks
It's almost always good news in this business to go 11-5 or 12-4.
Except when you're "The Oracle" of Bleacher Report's NFL team, that is. I've posted a 23-9 record over two weeks that'll look good in a pick'em pool. But between those nine losses and a Week 3 slate that looks packed with toss-ups, I'm up watching even more film at night.
You should see my notepad; I have a bead on these teams by now. I know which ones deploy vanilla coverages or run the same 15 offensive plays. I've separated the tough teams from the ones that can't pick up a 3rd-and-1.
Some teams would love only four losses. Me? Last week is last week, and this week can always be better.
Texans at Patriots
Forgive me for sounding like a broken record.
It just takes about a quarter for Brock Osweiler to warm up and play quarterback. So I'm still not sold on him as Houston's end-the-search franchise guy.
You won't be either after this Thursday night game. New England will throw eight different kinds of looks at Osweiler in its front seven. He doesn't have the vision to deliver accurate throws and beat the one-on-one coverage New England will use. Even with a third-string quarterback under center, I think the Patriots pull this one out.
Ravens at Jaguars
Here's hoping Dean Pees learned his lesson last weekend.
The Ravens defensive coordinator left his corners stranded versus faster receivers on the road against the Browns. With Allen Robinson on the docket this week, help should be on the way—especially after what Robinson did to this unit just one season ago.
In a close game, I'll take Joe Flacco to find Mike Wallace deep instead of Blake Bortles finding a trio of Ravens defensive backs.
Redskins at Giants
Here's the matchup you've all been waiting for: Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Bashaud Breeland!
Sarcasm aside, I've been leading the charge against Washington's leave-'em-on-their-side scheme. If Josh Norman doesn't shade Beckham in this game, why'd he even come to town?
We might need to look at the New York corners instead. They go four deep and are perfectly arranged to neutralize the strength of Washington—its receivers.
Lions at Packers
I'll say it until I'm blue in the face.
Detroit's offensive creativity might make Aaron Rodgers jealous. It'll roll out tough receivers, a few running backs who can catch and a tight end who's becoming a focal point and leave Lambeau with a win.
Browns at Dolphins
Plain and simple: I'm not picking any team Cody Kessler has a chance to start for.
I knocked this guy at USC. Then I knocked him throughout the draft process. You'll see why if he starts. The Miami secondary is terrible, but Kessler won't know how to read it. His arm? Average at best.
On the other end, Ryan Tannehill started heating up in the second half last week. It's about time; that offense has enough weapons to make him look good. His mojo carries over into a game that might get ugly in a hurry.
Vikings at Panthers
Pump the brakes on Sam Bradford 2.0, everyone.
It's just his second start in Minnesota. He might not have his old college teammate back for a while. And we've seen what happens when he's asked to carry an offense behind a less than average offensive line.
No Jonathan Stewart? No problem. Cam Newton is basically the lead back in the Carolina offense, and he'll force an aggressive Vikings defense to keep contain. I don't think it can.
Cardinals at Bills
Finally! An easy pick in Week 3.
The Buffalo defense can get all the extra days it wants to prepare. It'll still be the scheme that fails when the Cardinals offense comes to town.
Think about it: Bruce Arians' club loves to air it out early and often. When it does so this week, it'll find Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby and maybe a safety in coverage. That's it. Carson Palmer could easily go for 400 yards.
Raiders at Titans
This is what rock bottom looks like if you're the Silver and Black defense.
Can it rebound from a historically bad start? I doubt it. Ex-linebacker coaches are tutoring defensive backs in the Seattle style. Jack Del Rio is calling signals again. Don't get me started on Sean Smith. It's a total mess.
Oakland can't stop the run. It can't stop the pass. Marcus Mariota does both well, and that three-headed rushing attack with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry will finally get it done.
Broncos at Bengals
It isn't fun to be a Bengals offensive lineman these days.
Over two weeks, they've had to block the Jets and Steelers. This week? Just a showdown with the defending Super Bowl champions and their NFL-best blitz package. Not fair.
That's how Denver wins a typical Denver game. It'll play defense like everyone wants it to play offense—aggressively, with intent to score. Trevor Siemian doesn't wow anyone, but he holds on to the football.
49ers at Seahawks
New from the makers of Seahawks-Rams...it's 49ers-Seahawks!
This game has the same feel as last weekend's 9-3 NFC West barnburner. If you want to see scoring, turn on RedZone.
I like Russell Wilson on one good leg better than I like Blaine Gabbert on two. And despite the Seahawks' roster deficiencies, the noise at CenturyLink is tough to overcome. Seattle, by a little.
Rams at Buccaneers
Los Angeles might want to cut its victory parade short from last weekend's dud versus Seattle.
It's flying all the way to Tampa Bay this weekend. And when it lands, it'll find a royally pissed-off Buccaneers team that's not a big fan of NFC West teams right now.
It's not a good matchup for the Rams. Jameis Winston will take out the frustrations from a five-turnover game, and L.A. doesn't have the defensive backfield to stop him.
Jets at Chiefs
Not sure which team I prefer.
I could pick the one that plays tough, gritty defense. That has a quarterback who plays it safe for the most part and an offensive line that likes to bully people around.
Or...I could pick the other team that does all those things, too.
Here's the closest call of the weekend: Give me the Chiefs by a slim margin, thanks to a motivating Week 2 loss and the noise advantage at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chargers at Colts
Philip Rivers might actually face a team this weekend that's more banged-up than his own.
The results could be ugly for Indy. He'll make smart reads and distribute quickly—a hallmark of Ken Whisenhunt's offenses. The Colts defense doesn't have the pass rush to disrupt Rivers or enough healthy defensive backs to stop his throws.
It'll force Andrew Luck into a familiar throw-it-from-behind position. This time, he'll need to outplay three great corners in white, yellow and blue: Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward.
Steelers at Eagles
I've seen a few quarterbacks on the wrong end of a disguised Steelers blitz.
They're no fun—particularly for an NFL rookie who has only seen the Browns and Bears thus far in his pro career.
The Steelers are smarter and faster in every aspect. Just watch their offense execute against the Philly defense. There's not a cornerback on that team who can read Antonio Brown coming out of a break—especially Jalen Mills. The defender will give Jim Schwartz a headache all afternoon.
Bears at Cowboys
Swapping Jay Cutler for Alshon Jeffery stings.
So does losing Eddie Goldman, the Bears' run-plugging defensive tackle. He might've been the only player able to stop a dominant Dallas line from imposing its will.
As it stands, plan on plenty of Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris. They'll attack the hole left by Goldman and the one behind him vacated by an injured Danny Trevathan.
Every throw Dak Prescott attempts should come off play action; the Bears have no choice but to respect the run. That's when he'll connect with Dez Bryant and seal this one.
Falcons at Saints
Emotions running high.
In the Superdome.
On Monday Night Football.
I'm going with the best 53. That's Atlanta.
Matt Ryan hasn't been great, but his offense has made its fair share of big plays. I like the Falcons to make more if the Saints defensive backfield takes another game in from the trainer's table.
Mohamed Sanu will have his pick of routes underneath. Ryan's arm isn't great, but he can still throw the ball 10 to 15 yards with ease.