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Week Three Picks

September 20th, 2018

Enough with the ties already, NFL. This is not soccer. Or hockey. No one wants to see this nonsense. Bring back the full-length overtime period. Extend it if you have to. Just have these teams play until one of them wins.

Or maybe I should welcome ties. At least with those games, I can pretend my picks were half right. And that’s something I could have used more of in week two.

I wrapped up last week 9-6-1 straight up, 7-9 against the spread. For the season, that gets me to 19-11-2 (.625) and 15-16-1 (.484) respectively.

Let’s see how much worse it can get in week three. Here’s what not to expect.

NY Jets (+3) at Cleveland
Ugh. The Jets are not a good football team. But neither are the Browns, who haven’t won a game since Christmas Eve of 2016. I know the short week favors the home team and all that, but I just can’t bring myself to pick Cleveland. Can’t. Jets by a point.

New Orleans (+3) at Atlanta
The home team rebounded from a tough road loss to the defending champs in the season opener with a win over another tough opponent at home in week two. The road team rebounded from a humiliating week one home loss with a narrow week two win at home over the Browns. If I need to have faith in one of these squads at this point, I’m going with the Falcons. Atlanta by six.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Kansas City
If the 49ers want Jimmy Garoppolo to lead them to a Super Bowl, they may want to invest some time in figuring out how to keep him on his feet. I can’t remember the last successful team that exposed its quarterback to a 72-sack season. Chiefs by four.

Oakland (+3) at Miami
I’m still not buying into the idea that the Dolphins are a good football team. But I’m totally in on the idea that the Raiders are a bad one. Miami by a touchdown.

Buffalo (+16.5) at Minnesota
Bills quarterbacks have taken a combined 11 sacks this season. Josh Allen has been on the pancaked end of eight of those. That translates, for Allen, to an absolutely brutal sack percentage of 14.3.

sack percentage tweet

The Vikings defense, meanwhile, has recorded seven sacks thus far this season. That’s an 8.5% sack rate, roughly once every 12 times an opposing quarterback has dropped back. This, in case you were wondering, is not a promising combination of factors for Buffalo. I’m still not giving three scores, though. Vikings by 14.

Indianapolis (+6.5) at Philadelphia
You have to figure Carson Wentz is going to need a bit of time to shake off the rust, right? So let’s figure maybe the Eagles win this one by just four.

Cincinnati (+3) at Carolina
The Bengals can’t win every game they play 34-23. Maybe this week they’ll lose by that score. Panthers by 11.

Denver (+5.5) at Baltimore
Sure, 2-0 is a nice start to a season. But a pair of narrow home wins over mediocre and bad opponents doesn’t ultimately mean that much. I’m not sure the Ravens are a great team, but they’re the best the Broncos will have faced this season. And I expect it to show. Baltimore by six.

NY Giants (+6) at Houston
I guess I’ll go with the unproven home team over the unproven road team. Texans by a field goal.

Tennessee (+7.5) at Jacksonville
The Titans’ only hope here is that the Jaguars are in for a letdown game after their big week two Super Bowl victory. I don’t think it’ll be enough. Jacksonville by five.

Green Bay (-3) at Washington
I suspect the Packers could win this one even if Aaron Rodgers had to play on crutches. Green Bay by four.

LA Chargers (+7) at LA Rams
The Chargers should prove a tad harder to stop than the Raiders and Cardinals. Which, of course, is to say absolutely nothing. Rams by six.

Chicago (-6) at Arizona
We all knew the Cardinals were going to be bad this season. But I don’t think many of us realized they were going to be this bad. Bears by 10.

Dallas (+1.5) at Seattle
Neither of these teams has been able to protect its quarterback so far this season. But at least the Cowboys have shown some ability to get to opponents’ QBs. Dallas by three.

New England (-6.5) at Detroit
You can’t expect new addition Josh Gordon to be a factor for the Patriots this week even if he’s active. The Patriots’ run game, on the other hand, will be going up against a Lions D that surrendered 169 and 190 rushing yards to the Jets and 49ers respectively. That, you know, seems like an opportunity. New England by 13.

Pittsburgh (-1) at Tampa Bay
I’m not sure the Buccaneers are for real. But I’m starting to believe that the Steelers are a real mess. Tampa Bay by four.

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