Houston Texans (-1) at New England Patriots
Embarrassing that I picked the Texans. Now I’m 16-17 on the season. Ouch.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5)
The Broncos will be missing DeMarcus Ware and their starting tight end. It’s also the first road start for Broncos QB Trevor Siemian. The Bengals are a very good team that can’t afford to get further behind Pittsburgh in the standings. Add that all up, and you get Cincinnati winning by more than a field goal.
Pick: Broncos 17 Bengals 23
Oakland Raiders (-1) at Tennessee Titans
The Raiders may start rookie Karl Joseph, and while he can’t be any worse than current starter Keith McGill, I don’t think God could even save this Raider defense. The Titans may be without their starting tight end, Delanie Walker. However, you can bet that Tennessee will still strongly incorporate their tight ends into their game plan, as I believe any NFL tight end can have success against the Oakland linebackers. Regardless, the Oakland offense should be able to keep the team in the game. Like their last meeting, this game will go down to the wire. I have faith in Derek Carr pulling this one out in the end.
Pick: Raiders 27 Titans 24
Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills
The Bills are really hurting in their defensive front seven, so I expect the Cardinals to give the ball to their star running back, David Johnson, early and often. Overall, I can see the Cardinals coming out flat, as it’s a 10 AM Pacific Time start and they’re playing a Bills team they know they should beat. If Bills receiver Sammy Watkins wasn’t injured, and if starting left tackle Cordy Glenn also wasn’t injured, I’d pick Buffalo. However, that’s not the case, and right now with all these injuries, the Bills are probably one of the worst teams in the league.
Pick: Cardinals 24 Bills 14
Baltimore Ravens (-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars
If you were to run around before the season started and proclaim that Mike Wallace would account for all of the Ravens touchdowns after 2 weeks, you’d have been committed to an asylum. In all seriousness, he has been a good signing for the Ravens so far, and this week he gets to take advantage of a Jaguars secondary that has injuries to CB Prince Amukamara and S Tashaun Gipson. They may play, but the Ravens are expecting Elvis Dumervil back themselves. The Jaguars offensive line has been awful, and I expect the Ravens pass rush to get going in this game. After their showing last week, I can’t convince myself to pick the Jaguars, but I do expect a better performance and a close game.
Pick: Ravens 21 Jaguars 17
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins (-9.5)
The poor Browns are on their third QB in 3 weeks, and this week, his name is Cody Kessler. With no Corey Coleman for the Browns, they will be relying heavily on their run game, which had success against the Ravens last week. The Browns should also have success stopping the Miami rushing attack, but unfortunately, they will have difficulties generating any sort of pass rush. This will allow Miami’s talented receivers to get open the whole game. This is quite a high spread, and I can’t say I have that much faith in the Dolphins to cover it. Miami employs a very horrible corner in Byron Maxwell, but I don’t believe that Kessler will be able to take advantage of that weakness, not even for a back door cover.
Pick: Browns 13 Dolphins 23
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-3)
The Giants two victories have come by a combined 4 points. They could very easily be 0-2, and they had trouble scoring on an awful New Orleans defense last week. Giants receiver Odell Beckham may also make this game more about himself than about the team, but if you ask a Giants fan, I’m sure they’d say the same thing about Josh Norman. Either way, the talks of “turmoil” amongst the Redskins is probably more about the media creating drama rather than reporting the truth. No one is going to be happy about an 0-2 start. The Redskins have not had any trouble moving the ball down the field. I think Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense limit the turnovers in this game and come out with a W.
Pick: Redskins 24 Giants 23
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-7)
Sure, Aaron Rodgers just played against the best defense in the NFL, but he had quite possibly the worst game of his career last week against the Vikings. The Lions defense isn’t as good obviously, but there are still some issues. Fat Ed Lacy only has 111 yards on the season, and Jordy Nelson doesn’t look the same in his return from injury. The Packers will also be missing Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett on defense. The Lions have some injuries of their own, most notably to linebacker DeAndre Levy, DE Ezekiel Ansah, and RB Ameer Abdullah. The Packers also have a strong run defense so far, so Matthew Stafford will have to beat them through the air. He’s playing very well so far, and the Lions only lost by one point last week. I think the Lions keep it close here.
Pick: Lions 20 Packers 24
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-7)
I think this large spread is an overreaction to the Adrian Peterson injury. Sam Bradford showed that he is more than capable of leading the Vikings on scoring drives last week. I do not think he will be as effective this week, but the Vikings have been dominating on defense so far. The Panthers don’t have the best offensive line, so I expect Cam Newton to see a lot of pressure in his face. Neither team will run the ball very well, as both teams are using their backup running backs. I trust Cam at home more than Bradford, but the Vikings defense keeps this close enough for a cover.
Pick: Vikings 17 Panthers 23
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-10)
The 49ers weren’t able to cover a 14 point spread last week, allowing 46 points to the Panthers. That won’t change this week. Yes, the Dolphins were able to cover in Seattle, but the 49ers aren’t as good as the Dolphins. They don’t have the pass rush to take advantage of an awful Seattle offensive line. I also think the 49ers will have major issues scoring against a Seattle defense that’s only allowed 19 points on the year.
Pick: 49ers 6 Seahawks 17
LA Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5)
In case you were wondering, the featured image is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who just lost his job because of a DUI.
Last week was the most important game of the Rams season. They ended up winning, so I have to wonder if the Rams team from Monday night 2 weeks ago will show up for this game. This is a long flight, and while they have a late start, they are playing a Bucs team looking to rebound from last week’s 7-40 destruction at the hands of the Cardinals. If I had to guess, I’d say the Rams have put their Monday night debacle behind them. They should be able to pressure Winston into some picks, as he is the league leader in that category. They should be able to get Todd Gurley going (finally). They should be able to score a touchdown for the first time this season. I’ll take the Rams and hope their inevitable stinker comes in the future.
Pick: Rams 17 Bucs 16
That…team from Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
It’s still hard to judge how good the Eagles are, but they are certainly much better than I thought. The Steelers are playing well on defense, especially against the run, so it will be up to Carson Wentz to move the ball through the air, as the Eagles are struggling on the ground (3.5 yards per carry). Whether their running game gets going or not, the Steelers have only 1 sack on the year.
Meanwhile, the Eagles will have a hard time covering Pittsburgh’s receivers, and the Steelers offensive line has only given up 2 sacks on the year, so it will be tough to get pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. I think all of this evens out and we see a close game, meaning I should take the Eagles.
Pick: Steelers 20 Eagles 19
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
The Chiefs will get Jamaal Charles back in this game, but they have had production at the running back position anyway. Besides, the Jets always are very good against the run, and the Chiefs will be missing some starting linemen. KC is also still missing Justin Houston, so I expect another good game from Ryan Fitzpatrick, as he should have enough time to find his receivers. I think the Jets have a good chance of winning this game.
Pick: Jets 21 Chiefs 17
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)
The Colts may get #1 corner Vontae Davis back in this game, but even with him back in the lineup, their defense still has major issues. As we saw last week against the Jaguars, Philip Rivers is going to be fine without his best receiver, Keenan Allen. The Chargers don’t have nearly the pass rush the Broncos have, but they still have 3 very good corners who should make life difficult for Andrew Luck, who will be missing his #2 receiver, Donte Moncrief. I don’t think the Colts will have much success stopping Philip Rivers and I don’t see them scoring enough against a decent Chargers defense.
Pick: Chargers 31 Colts 28
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)
Like the Rams 2 weeks ago, the Bears are trying to bounce back from a humiliating Monday night performance. They get another rookie QB this week in Dak Prescott. Rookie or not, the Bears have too many injuries in their defense to put up much resistance. Cancelling that out, however, is that the Cowboys also have a depleted defense, thanks to some suspensions and injuries of their own. Both teams should be able to move the ball, and it will come down to which team makes more mistakes. I certainly don’t think the Bears will win, but even with Brian Hoyer at QB for Chicago, the poor Dallas defense will keep the Bears within a touchdown of the Cowboys.
Pick: Cowboys 23 Bears 20
Monday Night: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
Both defenses are pretty bad, both quarterbacks are playing very well, and, of course, both teams don’t like each other. This sets up for a high scoring game that I’m sure will be very entertaining. I’m picking the Saints because they are at home to what will be a very energetic crowd (10th anniversary since their first post-Katrina game). Also, you just know that there is no way Drew Brees lets his team fall to 0-3.
Pick: Falcons 30 Saints 34