Week 3 NFL Picks

(Home team in CAPS)

PATRIOTS (-1) over Texans

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Jacoby Brissett was atrocious and it didn’t even matter. This one almost felt dirty. (Keyword: almost.)

BILLS (+4) over Cardinals

I absolutely hate this spot for Arizona. The Bills are on 10-days rest and returning home to face a Cardinals offense traveling from West to East for an early kick-off. Buffalo’s defense should be inspired following former OC Greg Roman’s (a.k.a. the fall guy) recent firing. This line also opened as Bills +2.5 back in April, but posted as Bills +6.5 overnight Sunday. It’s obviously shrunk since.

TITANS (Pick) over Raiders

The Raiders are clearly a young and upcoming team with postseason aspirations, but 2016 is already proving to be a dreadful year for them. Not only do they have to continue overcoming 1pm starts on the road in four of their next six games (Week 3 included), their defense has allowed 1,035 total yards so far, an NFL record for the most yards allowed through two games. Marcus Mariota should shine in this spot.

GIANTS (-3.5) over Washington

This line has decreased from -4.5 to -3.5 since it initially opened, but I still think the Giants should be favored by at least five points. Josh Norman will finally be unchained and allowed to shadow Odell Beckham, but that’s been overblown in this particular matchup. Washington’s weakness remains in the middle of the field where they’ve allowed slot receivers (Eli Rogers and Cole Beasley) to combine for 11 catches, 134 yards, and one touchdown through the first two weeks. Have yourself a day, Sterling Shepard.

DOLPHINS (-10) over Browns

Cody Kessler is starting in a professional football game.

JAGUARS (+1) over Ravens

Joe Flacco was pacing for a career-high 661 passing attempts before tearing his ACL in 2015. He’s now on pace for 624, also a career-high. Although that likely means another terrific performance in fantasy, Baltimore hasn’t done enough to warrant being favored on the road. That the Jags are nearly a pick following their dud last week tells you all you need to know about what Vegas thinks of them in Week 3.

PACKERS (-7) over Lions

Green Bay opened the season with back-to-back road games. That’s only notable because of Aaron Rodgers’ vast home/road splits last season. The Packers’ perennial all-world quarterback averaged 265.3 passing yards at Lambeau but only 212.4 yards on the road. Detroit’s offensive pace this season (sixth-highest, including 55 no-huddle plays) should allow the Packers and Rodgers to “get right” in a shootout at home.

Broncos (+3.5) over BENGALS

The Broncos defense suffocated Cam Newton and Andrew Luck in Weeks 1 and 2, limiting the two to a combined 391 passing yards, two scores, and three turnovers. That’s awful news for Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ offense, who currently lead the league with a 75 percent passing rate. What’s more is that Denver’s offensive strength aligns perfectly with Cincinnati’s weakness: the Bengals have allowed the most rushing yards through the first two weeks of the year.

PANTHERS (-7) over Vikings

Minnesota will be fine without Adrian Peterson longterm. When he was suspended for 15 games in 2014, Jerick McKinnon averaged 10.2 carries over 11 games, finishing with an average 4.76 yards per attempt. Matt Asiata handled all the red zone work in that time, averaging 2.47 carries inside the 20-yard line over 15 games. As for the Vikings’ short term outlook, note that Carolina’s defense has allowed only two backs (Rashad Jennings and C.J. Anderson) to eclipse 100-yards rushing in its last 14 games.

BUCCANEERS (-5) over Rams

The Bucs’ secondary will be one to target in fantasy as the season progresses. So far, their defense has allowed Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer to finish as the QB6 and QB5 in Weeks 1 and 2. Fortunately for them, their weakness is one that Los Angeles and, more specifically, Case Keenum can’t possibly exploit. The Rams have yet to engineer a scoring drive and have amassed only nine points through the first two weeks of the season.

SEAHAWKS (-9.5) over 49ers

Seattle’s offense and, more specifically, offensive line have looked abysmal so far. Having said that, San Francisco has run the most no-huddle plays on offense (90) through the first two weeks of the season. Even if their overall production results in mediocrity, the Seahawks are going to have numerous opportunities to cover here.

CHIEFS (-3) over Jets

The Jets have allowed eight completions of 25-plus yards and six runs of 10-plus. As great as New York’s front-seven has been, Alex Smith should create offense with ease. It doesn’t hurt for an ailing Chiefs defense that Brandon Marshall is questionable at best (though it’s likely he’ll play through injury).

COLTS (-2.5) over Chargers

The Colts’ defense ranks bottom-seven in passing and rushing yards allowed. They also haven’t had Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, and Trent Cole available at the same time. Assuming Davis returns and shadows Travis Benjamin immediately (something that has yet to be confirmed), Indianapolis’ offense should find a way to outscore the Chargers at home.

Steelers (-3.5) over EAGLES

The Eagles have produced a +34 point differential through the first two weeks, but their schedule thus far must be taken into account. For example, Philadelphia currently ranks 13th in Football Outsiders’ DAVE statistic despite running away from their opponents in Weeks 1 (Cleveland) and 2 (at Chicago). Ross Cockrell has quietly been a bright spot in Pittsburgh’s secondary so far and should have no issues containing Jordan Matthews.

Bears (+7.5) over COWBOYS

Since the Cowboys initially moved into AT&T Stadium in 2009, they’re 20-37-1 ATS. The market also caused this line to go off the rails. Dallas, for instance, opened as four-point home favorites before Jay Cutler was ruled out. Once that news broke, the line went as far as to budge off a key number (-7). Basically, I refuse to believe that Cutler is worth 3.5 points. I do, however, expect the Cowboys to produce numerous explosive plays in a game decided by less than a touchdown.

SAINTS (-3) over Falcons

Mark Ingram has scored five touchdowns in his last three games against Atlanta. I realize he’s received only 21 carries so far (nine in Week 2), but New Orleans can’t possibly continue passing in 67 percent of their offensive plays. I expect this game to go Under (53.5), although a spectacular outing for Matt Ryan is inevitable.

This Week: 1-0

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 22-10, 68.7 percent

 

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