There is something smelly in town. Could it be the New Orleans secondary? What about the Los Angeles offense? The Cleveland Browns quarterback situation? How about the entire Raiders’ defense? No. It is none of this. Instead, what reeks of pure disgusting and moldy cheese is my picks. 17-15? Yikes. Well, the first two weeks are in the books and we are beginning to get a better picture on who is going to be good this season and who will not be. From here on out we are shooting for 70% or better! Here are my Week 3 picks.
Last Week 8-8
Thursday, September 22nd, 8:25 e.t.
Houston Texans (2-0) @ New England Patriots (2-0)
The Jacob Brisket era has begun in New England. Jacoby Brissett will be making his first start against a Houston defense that has allowed only 26 points on the season. The Patriots probably have the most giddy feeling of any team in the league this season as they are 2-0 without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. They could lose these next two games and be fine when Brady returns in Week 5. This is a good thing too because I see them losing this game to Houston. As tempting as it is to pick the Pats here, we will have to go with the Texans. New England will be wearing some very odd jerseys due to the color rush gimmick. Fans are going to see highlights from this game and remember it as the game of the ugly jerseys and the one that they lost to the Texans at home in the waning minutes. Houston actually has the longest regular season winning streak of any team in the league. They will move to six games in a row with a narrow win on the road.
Houston 24, New England 20
Sunday, September 25th, 1:00 e.t.
Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Titans may be a sneaky smart pick for an upset this week, but it will not happen. As you could probably tell from reading the opening narrative to this article, the Raiders’ defense ain’t so hot right now. They have are the 32nd ranked defense in the league and haven’t so much as slowed down Matt Ryan or Drew Brees. Luckily the team faces Marcus Mariota this week, a second year QB who hasn’t had a solid start to his season. Oakland will actually get some pressure this game and force some errant passes, so long as the Titans don’t stubbornly spoon-feed the Raiders a heavy dosage of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry with mild success that is. Ken Wisenhunt’s smashmouth football strategy hasn’t really gotten going yet and in today’s league trying to force it is like jamming a hot dog into a cheerio hole. That probably sounded dirtier than it should have.
Oakland 26, Tennessee 17
Cleveland Browns (0-2) @ Miami Dolphins (0-2)
What a barnburner this one is! Cody Kessler will be getting the nod for the Brownies on the road. This, for Cleveland, is amazingly the fifth straight regular season game where they will be starting a new quarterback under center. Charlie Whitehurst will be holding down the fort from the sidelines in case Kessler doesn’t get the job done. For Miami, the Dolphins looked good week one against the Seahawks on the road but were absolutely shredded last week by Jimmy Garoppolo in a quarter and a half. The defense got it going once he was hurt but it was a little too late as the game was too far out of hand. I have a feeling that the Miami defense will feast on the rookie quarterback at home and force a lot of bad passes. If they can contain Corey Coleman, there shouldn’t be any issues down there. The Browns did the best they could to jam every highlight of their season that they could into the first quarter last week versus Baltimore. Mission succeeded, but now you gotta hit the road against a team that is desperate for a win in the early season. Here comes a car crash.
Miami 31, Cleveland 6
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Every week in the NFL there seem to be eight easy games to call, a couple of upsets, and about four or five contests that could go either way. This is one of those four or five. As they say, a sheep deciding between two bales of hay will starve to death. You just gotta pick one. I’m going to go with the Jags, very begrudgingly. Part of me wants to believe that Jacksonville is a team on the rise, but until I see them win a game at home like this, I’m going to hesitate on picking them. They gave Green Bay a nice fight in Week 1, but then were shoved aside like a plate of broccoli at the kid’s table in San Diego last Sunday. This should be a competitive game, but the Ravens did need to make a big comeback on the road in Cleveland. If they had won that game convincingly, I’d have no issues picking them because we would all think they are back to form, but small wins over the Bills and Browns isn’t enough to get me excited. Will the Jacksonville offense wake up? This pick is me betting on them doing just that.
Jacksonville 30, Baltimore 20
Arizona Cardinals (1-1) @ Buffalo Bills (0-2)
The Cardinals broke out the belt against Tampa Bay and they are swinging for the fences as they hit the road against Buffalo. The Bills defense is injury riddled and letting up big plays this season. When you are facing off with a Bruce Arians coached team that loves taking shots, this is a horrible combination. John Brown and Michael Floyd were invisible last week but should return here against a team that allowed two 100-yard receivers a week ago (and almost a third) along with a 100-yard rusher. All signs point towards a blowout, but I doubt that Arizona is going to give the Bills a wedgie and take their lunch money. This is probably going to be a close game that sees quite a few defensive plays being made on both sides of the ball. In the end, I just can’t afford to throw caution to the wind and start picking teams like Buffalo to beat NFC powerhouses. We aren’t trying for another 8-8 week.
Arizona 22, Buffalo 20
Minnesota Vikings (2-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-1)
This is a good game. Having it played in the 1:00 window and then having the Bears and Cowboys play Sunday night is sort of like enjoying your ice cream cake dessert before your lumpy meat loaf dinner. Anywho, the Vikings are coming off of an impressive win over the Packers. Sam Bradford looked great in his debut with the team and Stefon Diggs looks like he is trying to make the leap to an elite-level wide receiver. Trying to join him in that journey is Kelvin Benjamin who already has three touchdowns on the year. i’ll be picking Carolina for this game as they have way too much talent and look like one of the best teams in the league again, but it wasn’t without a thought. Yes, Adrian Peterson will be missing several games due to a torn meniscus, but he wasn’t running roughshod on defenses this year anyhow. Actually, the Vikings defense is what has carried this team, and asking them to slow down the Panthers on the road is not going to be easy. Carolina takes the (ice cream) cake here.
Carolina 35, Minnesota 21
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Here’s another game that is leaving me wondering why we get stuck with the Bears/Cowboys on Sunday night instead of a gem. The Denver defense has been as good as it was last season while the offense remains the same. There doesn’t seem to be any falloff after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler over the offseason. The Broncos are a good team. The Bengals can say that they are too, even though they lost a week ago to Pittsburgh. The defense did do a nice job shutting down Antonio Brown however. They also draw the Broncos on the road here. This will be their first game away from home and I expect that to play a huge role in this one. It is also Cincy’s home opener in the 1:00 window. The Bengals don’t normally lose these types of games and I don’t expect them to this week. I see the Denver defense falling off a bit against a good offensive team. Give me the home team here.
Cincinnati 27, Denver 13
Detroit Lions (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1)
The Packers season is almost identical to the Bengals season so far this year in the sense that they gutted out a tough road win in Week 1 and then lost on the road to a very good team last Sunday. Now they will open the home schedule against a team that has had their number at Lambeau over the past… season. Of course, we all remember how much trouble the Lions had winning in Wisconsin prior to their stunning 18-16 win a season ago in the (at the time not so) frozen tundra. This Green Bay offense has to get going soon, right? They are going to be moving the ball against a Detroit defense that barely did enough to win Week 1 versus Indy and let a middling sophomore quarterback lead a comeback drive in the final minute against them this past week. Sure, Matthew Stafford has looked good at times, but he is Matthew Stafford. This dude really struggles when playing winning teams. And although Green Bay does not have a winning record at this point in the season, it is safe to say they have a winning team. The Packers should take care of business at home and I think we are going to see a dramatic spike in their offense playing in front of a more friendly crowd.
Green Bay 34, Detroit 24
Washington Redskins (0-2) @ New York Giants (2-0)
Do we still like Kirk Cousins after the first two weeks of the season? I can’t say I do as they guy is still yet to win against a team with a winning record. The Giants are 2-0 and are winning games that they would have lost last season. Sure, they didn’t score an offensive touchdown against the New Orleans Saints but they did still win the game. That is what it all comes down to: finding a way to win. The ‘Skins look like they are taking a step backward this season and they do not tend to play very well on the road against the Giants. Kirk Cousins is very generous with the ball when he does play New York as he begins to rain interceptions like it were party confetti. Of course, you can bet that if Washington did win the game, we would see Cousins yelling at reporters yet again.
^A great face to put on the $1 bill by the way. At the end of the day, I don’t think that the Redskins have the caliber of team to run with the Giants if their offense gets hot. This is a game that New York does want to win because they will be hitting a brutal stretch following this contest.
New York 27, Washington 15
Sunday, September 25th, 4:05 e.t.
Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
The Buccaneers flat out got stomped by the Cardinals a week ago and will try to bounce back against a Rams team that has scored a total of nine points in two games. That should put them at 0-2, but as it is, LA is 1-1. Tampa Bay doesn’t have to be perfect on offense to win this game. All they have to do is slow down Todd Gurley aka the entire Rams offense. They have not looked too bad against two of the fantasy football darlings so far this season in the run game (Devonta Freeman and David Johnson). Of course, Johnson did have almost 100 yards receiving against Tampa in Arizona last week, and that is something that would be concerning if the Rams could actually throw the ball. Since they really can’t, I have no problem in selecting the Buccaneers at home this week.
Tampa Bay 20, St. Louis 9
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Well I’ll be diddly darn damned. The 49ers can actually play a little offense this season. Unfortunately they still got run out of the gym by the Panthers a week ago, but they have shown some semblance of hope on that side of the ball for the first time in a bit. The Seahawks however have scored just 15 points all season long. You would think they are the worst offense in the league, but of course we know that Russell Wilson is hurting right now. The good news for these guys is that their defense has surrendered only 19 points on the year. This is a unit that really slammed the doors on Chip Kelly’s offense the last time they played in Week 14 in ’14 against Philadelphia. I expect them to follow that blueprint and come out on top with a victory. It’s only a matter of time before we start yearning to see Colin Kaepernick run Chip Kelly’s offense. Okay, okay, that might just be wishful thinking on my part.
Seattle 21, San Francisco 10
Sunday, September 25th, 4:25 e.t.
San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
This truly is a quarterback duel. You got Philip Rivers and those guys versus Andrew Luck and these guys. Rivers and Luck don’t have a lot of help in their games and will have to rely on their own talent to win some close contests this season. At least Philip has a rejuvenated Melvin Gordon to lean on. This San Diego offense is using a cane to get around these days as they have gone consecutive weeks with losing a valuable offensive weapon, first with Keenan Allen and next with Danny Woodhead. Philip Rivers is ironman though, so we expect him to play through anything. Andrew Luck is waiting on Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton to wake up and smell some coffee. He has not looked bad this season, but has literally had to do everything for the Colts. Normally this is a bad sign, but I think that Indy comes out with a win this week. The Chargers are just too banged up and the Colts are the more desperate team, I think. They really cannot afford to fall to 0-3 with Houston getting out to a quick start.
Indianapolis 35, San Diego 26
New York Jets (1-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)
Just how good are the Chiefs? They beat a San Diego team at home in Week 1, but it took them overtime and a major comeback to do it. They lost pretty badly to Houston last week without even scoring a touchdown. The offense has looked inconstant and the defense hasn’t been making plays. The opposite can be said about the Jets. They have been putting heat on the opposing quarterbacks and defenses with sacks and big passing plays. New York looks like it is a far better team at this point that do the Chiefs. I was going to pick Kansas City given Andy Reid’s success against this franchise, but I just can’t. The Jets are about to hit a make-or-break stretch early in the season, and this is a team that I expect to be in the running late in the year. They simply have to win games like this and right now is a good time to draw the Chiefs since they are still trying to find an identity on offense and are reeling a bit out of the gates. They will turn it around soon, but are also quite vulnerable right at this very moment.
New York 31, Kansas City 19
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
In yet another good game on the Week 3 docket, we get the battle of Pennsylvania when the Steelers take on the Iggles. A lot is going to be learned of this Philly team and Carson Wentz this week. He has looked superb in starts against weak secondaries. Jim Schwartz’s defense has looked awesome, but it was, again, against the Browns and Bears. Now they have to cope with the Steelers who boast what is undoubtedly the best offense in football. The Eagles are prone to giving up big plays and that does not bode well for them here. Antonio Brown is itching to go off after being held in check by the Bengals and I fully expect him to in this game. Carson Wentz is obviously the story for the Eagles but I don’t know if there are enough playmakers on the offense for him to be able to go blow for blow with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. This would be an attractive option for a trap game as far as Pittsburgh is concerned, and I do think Philly will be relevant this year, but the Steelers are too hot to pick against right now since they do look like the best team in football early on.
Pittsburgh 28, Philadelphia 21
Sunday, September 25th, 8:30 e.t.
Chicago Bears (0-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
There is something wrong here. How are we stuck with this game when there are many other brilliant contests taking place throughout the week? All the Sunday Night Football games have been good this season, and this one likely will be also. Dak Prescott has still not turned the ball over on the season and he is facing off against a Chicago unit that has been hit harder with the injury bug than any other team in the NFC. You would think they were the Packers in that respect. Dak should have a nice game, especially if the other rookie Ezekiel Elliot finally gets things going. This is a perfect time for the Dallas offensive line to get right too since they are facing off against the inferior Bears D-line. Let’s not forget about Brian Hoyer though. He is certainly an entertaining guy to watch, sometimes for the wrong reasons. It is the bald guy in the backup QB bowl who will be heaving it down field to Alshon Jeffery. Unfortunately there won’t be enough jump balls to be had and I do see Dallas coming out with a win. The Bears may struggle to score points all year and the Cowboys have a better roster up and down at virtually every position. Hard to pick against a team in this situation.
Dallas 20, Chicago 14
Monday, September 26th, 8:30 e.t.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-2)
The Monday night games have been snoozers so far this season, but that should change this week. Atlanta’s offense looks very good and they are going against a secondary that would make you believe that the Saints are trotting just nine defenders out on the field on given plays. That said, the New Orleans offense is definitely capable of putting up points if Drew Brees can be kept upright. Luckily for them, the Falcons have a serious lack of a pass rush and there is a good chance that ole #9 picks them apart at home. It is so hard to pick against the Saints on Monday nights as well since they seemingly always do well in these types of games. America should see a shootout in this contest, but then again that is what was said about last week’s game between the Saints and the Giants. Just goes to show how crazy this league can be. I will be going with N’orleans here for the sheer fact that I think that Brees can cut right through this Atlanta defense and find some serious match-up problems.
New Orleans 38, Atlanta 31
Week 3 Bonus Predictions
Sure Bet of the Week (2-0): Miami over Cleveland
Upset of the Week: New York Jets over Kansas City
Offensive Player of the Week: Drew Brees, QB Saints
Defensive Player of the Week: Kwon Alexander, LB Buccaneers
Rookie of the Week: Ezekiel Elliot, RB Cowboys
Best Quarterback: Drew Brees
Best Running Back: Eddie Lacy, RB Packers