Last week I turned it up on the spread! Talk about a turn around. Listen, the first week is always hard to predict winners of the spreads because you haven’t seen the teams go live for 4 whole quarters. I was a numbing 7-9 in week one but 9-7 on the over/under calls. With the over/unders, you generally have an idea of the offenses or the weekly matchups that have potential to score in the over, same for the defenses in the under. Here’s the funny thing. I made a bet against my GB -8 pick and hit. At the last second I decided that -8 was too high and that Geno was going to keep it close, so I took the Jets and they nearly won the thing if it hadn’t been for the fake or not so fake timeout call. So for this blogs record sake, it was a 10-6, 63% winners week, but in my head, I really went 11-5, 69% winners.
This week, I’m off to a hot start. Atlanta crushed Tampa Bay and scored in the over by themselves, real Peyton Manning/Denver Broncos like. Atlanta was just relentless on both sides of the ball and like I said, the Buccs would have to get first downs and sustain long drives to keep it close. They just go out and do what they’ve been doing, turning the ball over (even after causing a turnover) and not getting those crucial first downs. Their first, first down was near the end of the first half! Pitiful! To boot, McCown gets hurt, then Mike Glennon comes in and shows him up a bit. The Buccs paid McCown a ton of cash and gave him the starting job immediately after signing. This is also the same coach who kept Rex Grossman at the helm of his offense, which wasn’t great, during their Super Bowl year. Well the only thing I got wrong was the final score really, I thought the Buccs would wake up for a divisional game and score more than they did.
Anyways, on to Week 3’s Sunday picks and predictions:
San Diego Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bills -2.5. O/U: 45.5:
Both the Bills and Chargers had big wins at home last week. The Chargers beat up on the visiting Seahawks who, like I said, are not the same team on the road and could have trouble scoring more than 2 TD’s. Well they did score 3 of them but their usually stout defense allowed 30! Rivers to Gates seemed to be the “it thing” of the night, they hooked up through the air 3 times for 6. By the way, what is it with the West Coast and their TE’s? 2 have already had 3 TD games, (Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates). Give Buffalo credit, they made the most of their field position most of the game. They started at their own 40 or better 6 times (resulted in 4 FG’s/missed FG/Punt), at or above their own 30 or better 8 times (5 FG’s/missed FG/2 Punts) and in Miami territory 5 times (3 FG’s/missed FG/Punt)! They were able to move the ball well but not good enough for TD’s (4 drives of 40 yards or more). The Bills defense was just as good, only allowing 3 drives for Miami’s offense to go 60 yards or more resulting in allowing 10 points and getting a INT (2nd/3rd/4th best Miami drives were 29/28/14 yards). The Chargers allowed 3 scoring drives and shut the Seahawks down on the other 7 drives. What the Chargers do well is sucking up time on offense. They had 3 drives over 5 minutes totaling 19:33 (over a whole quarter on 3 drives)! The total time of possession shook out like this: SEA 17:45, SD 42:15, what ball hogs! The Chargers also turned 6 of 10 drives into points, which they also had a 1 play drive that was just a knee to end the first half (so really, 6 of 9). That’s a heck of a game for the Chargers. They’ll do much of the same to the Bills, keeping their offense on the field, tiring out that Bills D. Take the Chargers to win with the points +2.5 and in the Over. Chargers 28-21.
Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cowboys -2.5. O/U: 44:
This shouldn’t take long. The Rams are a mess and even with legendary coach Jeff Fisher. Listen, Jeff Fisher can’t get on the field and throw the ball for them and play the game for the team the way he expects them to perform. You may be saying, why are you dogging them, they are 1-1. They beat the Buccs last week. Did you see the Buccs Thursday? They are channeling their inner 1980’s self. Without a viable QB, the Rams have no leadership on the field. Austin Davis looked strong in last weeks game going 22-29 for 235 yards. The key for him was not INT’s! The ‘Boys looked to get back on track last week and their defense looked good for a second straight week. The offense held on to the ball more than 2/3’s of the game. Romo didn’t pass a whole lot but kept his game efficient. The run game really looked good racking up 220 yards on 40 touches with Murray leading the way with 167 yards on 29 carries. Look for a route in this one. The ‘Boys will win with the points -2.5 and in the Over. Cowboys 31-14.
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Eagles -6. O/U: 51:
Welcome back to Philly Desean! Well may not be so welcome since he is now with division rival Washington. Yeah, RGIII is hurt but Kirk Cousins is a viable backup and has proven his worth which is why the Redskins haven’t really shopped him in trades. Cousins looked great at time while filling in the last 2 years but also looked like a backup during other times. Last week he was able to complete 67% of his passes, 250 yards and 2 TD’s. Desean will definitely get the Redskins pumped in his return (even though he is still questionable) so look for the Redskins to start quick since the Eagles don’t show up until the 2nd half. This will be a tougher game than normal for the Eagles and not due to the D-Jack hype but because the Redskins have one of the best pass rushing defenses in the league! After all, they did sack Chad Henne 10 times (combination of bad line play and Henne holding the ball too long). Lately Foles has been holding the ball longer than he should and making some bad decisions on where to throw the ball (2 picks already in 2 games, 2 picks all of last year in 13 games). Philly has had a better offensive line in recent years so this will be a nice test for them and played very well last week. Eyes will be on Sproles out of the backfield with his amazing game last week but it won’t be that type of game for him this week. I like the Eagles winning this game but take the Redskins for the points +6 and to score in the Over. Eagles 31-27.
Houston Texans vs. New York Giants,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Texans -1. O/U: 41.5:
Eli Manning’s woes continue and Tom Coughlin is turning 50 shades of red I haven’t seen before. The Giants offense have scored a 28 points (28th in the NFL) and 269 offensive yards (30th). That’s just pitiful! Especially for a team that has won 2 Super Bowls since 2007 (2011 the other). Just 3 years removed from a Super Bowl and this is the product they put out? Anyways, they did do some good things last week, time of possession was 5 minutes higher than the Cardinals, a good amount of first downs (24), more yards and 2-3 in the red zone. Where they failed was turnovers (4), 9 penalties for 70 yards, and only averaging 3 yards per carry. The Texans are going to give them a tough go but a win can be achieved. Houston won against a Oakland Raiders team that is sinking already this season. They took advantage of the non existent running game and pressured rookie QB Carr into throwing 2 picks. Fitzpatrick was accurate, completing 14/19 (74%) passes for just 139 yards and 2 TD’s and Arian Foster showed flashes of old rushing 28 times for 138 yards for almost 5 yards per carry and a score. Most of Fosters’ carries were between the tackles however, and is now questionable for this week 3 game. So with Foster Q’d for Sunday and Fitzpatrick not able to drive the ball down the field to support the possible lack of rushing game, expect the Giants to get their first win this year. Take the Giants to win with the points +1 and in the Under, since the Texans will have a hard time scoring if Foster is limited or missing Sunday. Giants 21-17.
Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -10. O/U: 49.5:
It’s amazing that the Sharpes only value a guy like Adrian Peterson at a value of 1-1.5 points per game. The guy averages just over 12 TD’s per season rushing, 13 if you add in his receiving stats. That’s 91 TD’s in 104 games, how does he only account for just 1 to 1.5 points? Anyways, he’s out, probably for a while so in comes back up Matt Asiata, who in AP’s absence last week rushed 13 times for just 36 yards (2.8 yards per carry) but caught 5 passes for 48 yards (9.6 yards per catch) and a score. It will be interesting to see how the holes in the Saints defense (which allowed a Browns team to score 26 points on them) are corrected for the Vikings. Yes the Saints are 0-2 but they were both lost by a field goal or less. They have done all the right things on offense, it’s just that the defense needs to start to step up and stop teams (last in the league in passing yards allowed, 21st in rushing yards allowed). Just because AP isn’t in, doesn’t mean they can be lax on the defensive side of the ball because Matt Cassel could still shred defenses with his arm if even though he looked like a rookie last week by throwing 4 picks! But seeing the stat line for the Vikes rushing game, the 4 picks from Cassel and the 6 sacks he took, it looks like the Saints will dominate in this one. Take the Saints to win, with the points and in the Over. I think it may look like the Falcons/Buccs game Thursday. Saints 38-14.
Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bengals -7. O/U: 43.5
The Bengals have come out firing on all cylinders. Last week they made the Falcons and Matt Ryan look small in comparison due to the turnovers they created. Not only did the Bengals move the ball through the air (Daulton 15/23 65% 252 yards and 1 TD) but the RB tandem of Bernard and Hill combined for 42 carries and 164 yards and 2 TD’s. Getting 3 picks against Ryan is no easy task but the defense stepped up and look for them to be ball hawking against the Titans this week. The Titans had an opportunity to continue to bash the reeling Cowboys but failed to do so getting walloped themselves. Locker didn’t look that great throwing 2 picks to just 1 TD and the ground game couldn’t get close to 100 yards. Romo didn’t even have a great day throwing so there shouldn’t have been a reason to not stay close in the game. But there was. They couldn’t sustain their drives. The Titans just had 13 first downs on 11 drives but only 3 were over 50 yards (FG, TD, Turnover on downs). 5 of their drives had less than 10 yards gained! To be successful, you have to sustain drives and score off of the longer ones, plus have 20+ first downs. The fact they only had 13 shows they were handled by the ‘Boys’ defense. Well, since they couldn’t get it done at home against Dallas, expect the Bengals to blow them out in Cincy. Take the Bengals to win with the points -7, and in the Over. Bengals 38-14.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens –1.5. O/U: 41.5:
Baltimore has owned this series the last few years winning 9 of the last 10. In those 10 games, Baltimore has only covered 6 of them and 8 of the games finished in the under. Hoyer didn’t play the last game between the two but Ray Rice really didn’t either (11 carries/17 yards, 3 catches/21 yards). Hoyer and the air game still don’t look like a threat but that running game they have sure does pack a punch (6th in the league with average rushing yards per game). The Browns defense was supposed to be the side of the ball that would be consistent but they are 30th in the league allowing pass yards (299.5/game) and 26th in rushing(150.5/game). The Ravens played a week and a half ago, Thursday Night against another divisional foe, the Steelers. The Ravens showed some life even after a short week due to the Thursday game. Whether it be that the Ravens catching the Steelers off guard or rallied in the locker room in wake of the Ray Rice issues, they had some time to recoup and got the job done. Flacco was on point (not many yards though), and the run game did what it needed to do. The Ravens set the game plan up to a perfect winning measure by getting 25 first downs and had over 10 minutes more than the Steelers in time of procession. The NFC North usually have low scoring games against each other, don’t go against my advise here! Take the Ravens to win with the points -1.5 and the Under. Ravens 20-14.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Lions –2. O/U: 52.5:
The inconsistent Lions showed their ugly faces last week, bitten by the turnover bug in Carolina. Green Bay got close win at home last week against the Jets, thanks in part by the “phantom” timeout call. The Packers have owned this series, winning 8 of the last 10, Detroit however won handedly last game which was in Detroit. Flynn was in for the injured Rodgers who threw a pick and was sacked 7 times! That will not be the case Sunday. Rodgers is back and ready to claim the top of the NFC North. Both offenses will be high flying. Detroit is a more consistent team and usually play well at home. The Packers have big road game win potential with a healthy squad. Nelson had an amazing game last week racking up a career-best 209 yards on 9 catches and 1 TD. Look for much of the same there between Rodgers and Nelson, as Nelson has been the go-to guy with 9 catches in the first 2 games for 292 and 1 TD. Lacy is off to a slow start to his sophomore year in the league, and it might continue against the Lions fierce run defense (2nd best total yards allowed, 255/game and rushing yards allowed, 57.5/game). Green Bay’s defense is still forming as the pass defense has stepped up this year (6th 178.5/game) but the 2nd worst rush defense (31st 176.5/game) but they are going against the 28th worst rushing offense (73/game) but the 4th best pass offense (297/game). This will be a high scoring game at Ford field but take the Packers with the +2 points to win in the Over. Packers 38-31.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Colts -7. O/U: 45:
Last week was a horrible week for the Jags and their offense. The only real stat line that grabs your eyes is the sack line. Henne was sacked 10 times last week, which tied a franchise record for the Redskins. The times of Henne’s 10 sacks: 3.85, 2.22, 3.10, 2.88, 3.35, 3.01, 2.54, 2.47, 2.50 and 2.75 seconds. So the line wasn’t entirely at fault but we also don’t have the coaches game tape to see some coverages down the field. From what I saw, Henne was at fault for a good 4-5 of them just by holding the ball too long (average release time for NFL QB should be in the area of 2.75-3 seconds). Now there were blown blocks, blitzes not picked up and some coverage sacks. For a pocket passer, you can’t just get rid of the football, that’s how picks are created, nervous QB’s. Because of the dominance by the defense of the Redskins, the Jags only amassed 8 (3-13 on 3rd downs) first downs and only 20 minutes of possession and an extremely lousy 148 total yards on offense. The plus, just 1 turnover (INT). The Colts took over the entire first half of last weeks game against the Eagles and looked to have a win in the bag, leading 17-6 at half. Then the wheels fell off and they ended up losing 30-27 going 0-2 to start the season. The Colts did everything right statistically to win the game, 25 first downs, 36 minutes of possession time (13 minutes more than the Eagles) and committed 7 less penalties than the Eagles. The turnovers are what hurt the Colts in the 2nd half, here are their 2nd half drives (# plays/# yards/outcome): 3/8/Punt, 10/62/FG, 1/1/Fumble, 12/80/TD, 8/41/INT, 3/5/Punt. They had 5 drives in the first half: 3/1/Punt, 9/72/TD, 11/44/FG, 3/0/Punt, 10/58/TD. The key, no turnovers. Take the Colts in this one to win with the points -7 and in the Under, since the Jags defense has the potential to play well in the secondary but the offense is lacking scores due to issues on the line and a very young and inexperienced WR core. Colts 28-16
Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -14. O/U: 46.5:
Where should I start with this one, I mean the Patriots are giving up 14 points! The Raiders last week against a Texans team that shouldn’t put up 30 points especially since they only gave up just 139 yards through the air. It was the ground game that killed them, giving up 188 yards on the ground which gave Houston the possession win (a whopping 38:36), the 4 turnovers and the fact that Houston started 4 drives in Oakland territory (which lead to 2 FG’s, TD, and a Blocked FG). Take those points off the board, Oakland would’ve had a closer game than the score indicated and Derrick Carr played better this week but not by a whole lot (27/42 64%, 263 yards, 1TD/2INT), not to mention that he was over half of the rushing game (4 carries for 58 yards). The Raiders’ running game is in shambles. MJD is nursing his hand after undergoing an operation to fix a broken bone in his hand after week 1. He is questionable for week 3 but I would expect him to miss the game. DMC only gained an average of 3 yards per carry, which isn’t great but they were playing from behind so the passing game was thrown into full gear most of the game. The Pats are coming off a great week from a Adrian Petersonless Vikings and took advantage, blowing them out 30-7. The crazy stat is that the Pats only had 142 yards through the air. The tandem of Ridley/Vereen played well, combining for 31 carries for 141 yards and a score (Ridley was 25/101/1 TD). They didn’t have to pass as they started from their 39 or better on 5 of 11 drives and took a 24-7 lead into the half. Expect Derrick Carr to play well this week even against the 4th best passing defense (166/game) but also expect Brady to have a great game against the 27th worst pass defense (184/game). The points are hard to get over on this one so take the Pats to win but Oakland for the points +14 in the Over. Pats 31-21.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals,
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cardinals +3. O/U: 42.
The 49ers have owned the Cards in the last 10 games, winning 9 of the last 10 games, covering the spread in 8 of them. Jim Harbaugh does not have 2 bad weeks in a row and his team dictates that on the field. They are 8-4 in games following a loss in the regular season and have covered the spread 9 of those 12 games, since 2011! That is an unreal stat. Here’s another, they are 17-7 on the road while covering 17 of those point spreads (covered a loss, did not cover one of the wins). 2 of the 7 none covered spreads were in Seattle (go figure). But still, those are numbers to bet your mortgage on! Granted, Kaepernick has a sore back but it shouldn’t play that much of a factor. The Cardinals on the other hand are the latest team to have a player connect with a domestic dispute case, Jonathan Dwyer (what’s up with these running backs lately?). Last week the Cards beat up on the woefully horrible New York Giants and Drew Stanton showed his inexperience. He was just 14/29 (48% completion percentage) for just under 170 yards. They will be without him and Carson Palmer (shoulder) on Sunday and will have Andre Ellington in the lineup after suffering a foot injury last week. The test will be for the 49ers against one of the better defenses in the league. I like the 49ers in this one simply because they are one of if not the best road team in the NFL. Take the 49ers to win with the points -3 in the Under. 49ers 28-10
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks,
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Seahawks -4.5. O/U: 48:
There really isn’t much to say here. The Seahawks are 16-1 in their last 17 home games. If you think the Broncos had a hard time on neutral site last meeting, wait until you see them in Seattle. The only neat thing you may see, unless Richard Sherman says so, is Peyton Manning climbing into the 500 TD club which Brett Favre is the only exclusive member so far. Lots of new faces on defense but it hasn’t changed much, they are the 28th worst D but 10th best allowing rushing yards. These two teams haven’t changed much since the Supper Bowl except location. Keep the past in mind, Peyton looked frustrated, uncomfortable and uneasy in the game you should be most prepared for. Another stat to keep in mind, he Broncos have won their 2 games this year but have lost their only 2 spreads so far. Last week they were just kept off of the field in the second half due to the Chiefs sucking up almost 18 minutes of possession! That doesn’t speak to much of that new defense they have been promoting. You just don’t mess with a home streak like this, and no, I don’t care that Wes Welker might be back this week. Yes I know, the biggest game of the week and the least amount of analysis but hey, these numbers are sick and you can’t go against them. Take the Seahawks to win with the points -4.5 and in the over. Seahawks 30-24
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins,
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Dolphins -3.5. O/U: 42.5:
Miami and Buffalo was supposed to be a pick’em game in some eyes. The Bills were only favored by 1 and still crushed the Fins. Where is the blame placed? The special teams didn’t have a great day, which accounted for the Bills scoring 10 points in a matter of 2 minutes and 2 seconds (blocked Punt in Miami territory and a kickoff return TD)! Miami also shot themselves in the foot by not having a drive over 30 yards in the first half (plays/yards: 4/14, 5/14, 4/-8, 4/10, 3/3, 6/29). That just reeks of a mediocre offense but they came out firing with back to back scoring drives of 64 yards both for a FG and TD but slipped back to the first half numbers only to have a60 last drive end in a INT. This is a team that beat the Patriots by 13 in week 1! A little Jekell and Hyde scares me for any type of long range success. The Chiefs are having a bit of an 0-2 crisis of their own. They are in the bottom half in the league with everything (18th pass off 212.5/game, 22nd rush off 100/game, 19th pass defense 240/game, 23rd rush defense 125/game). Those are terrible numbers. They got blown out by the Titans in week one and put a rally of some sorts on the Broncos last week in that loss. The good news was that the offense was clicking and Alex Smith still had a decent game and ended up with more yards than Peyton. The offense strung together a possession time of 36:14, 12 and a half full minutes over Denver (and Denver usually takes forever to drive the ball down the field with the Omaha King)! That was thanks in large part to 28, yes count them, 28 first downs! The Chiefs ran about twice the amount of plays and kept Peyton off the field for most of the second half (which is probably why the Broncos only scored 24) with drives of 10 and almost 8 minutes in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Unfortunately they missed a FG on the 10 minute drive. Holding the ball on 2 drives that is more than 1 quarter of play is amazing and if done again, they must get more points off of for that to be a feature of their game they can build on. I think they test that theory again this week and pummel an offensively weak Miami team due to Knowshon Moreno being out. The weather is going to be a high of about 83 with chance of thunderstorms before 8 pm so don’t expect the heat to play a factor for the Chiefs as it did for the Patriots. Take the Chiefs to win with the points +3.5 but in the Under. Chiefs 21-17.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers,
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Panthers -3.5. O/U: 42:
The Steelers are reeling after a rough start with 2 divisional games, almost losing to the Browns and dealing with a punishing ground game last week in a loss to the Ravens. They are ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed (174/game). Now it’s time to play against a team that is 25th (87.5/game) in the league in rushing. Surprisingly, Big Ben and the passing game are 5th (289/game) in the league, which will have a nice test going against the 12th (207.5/game) best pass defense. In order for the Steelers to have success this week, they have to limit the turnovers, in which they had 3 last week. They also lost the possession battle due to the turnovers by 10 minutes and committed 5 more penalties for 40 more yards. The Steelers had only 3 drives over 40 yards (64, 73, 72) and only scored once on the drives with just a FG, fumbling and throwing an INT on the others. The Panthers are off to a nice 2-0 start thanks to a week 1 fill in win by Derek Anderson and a blowout win against a high powered Lions offense last week that was just shut down. One of the keys were the turnovers the Panthers caused (3). The Lions had back to back possessions in the 4th quarter where they threw an INT and fumbled that the Panthers turned into a TD and FG on that next possession. Cam had a good first game of the season, 22/34 (65%) for 281 yards and TD, and ran 4 times for 19 yards (4.8/average per carry). This is going to be a tough game for both teams and the score will indicate that. I like the Panthers to win this one but take the Steelers for the points +3.5 in the Under. Panthers 19-17.
Check back tomorrow for my Monday Night pick and prediction. Good luck all!