If you read my Thursday Night Football preview, then you’ll know that I was pretty accurate in my read for that one and wound up getting two of my three picks right, staying undefeated on Thursdays.
I found the Browns to be a pretty easy pick in this one, mainly because they have the best rushing attack in the NFL right now and the Steelers’ run defense isn’t good. Plus, Pittsburgh’s offense has been anemic, so I didn’t trust them to put up enough points. Both things rang very true on Thursday Night.
Pittsburgh held a 14-13 lead at the half, but it could have been 17-14 if not for a missed FG by the Steelers’ Chris Boswell and a missed extra point from Cleveland’s Cade York. At the end of my preview article, I pointed out both kickers and said to keep an eye on the special teams. It didn’t end up being the deciding factor, but it did matter.
The Steelers will be under increasing pressure from the fans and the media to make a move at QB even though Mitch Trubisky played his best game of the season going 20/32 for 207 yards and rushing for a TD. However, the offense was still only able to muster 17 points (20 had they made the FG). They have some talented receivers on the team but they get next to nothing in terms of vertical separation and even their one deep completion came on a miraculous grab by rookie George Pickens. That’s why their yards per completion and yards per attempt are near the very bottom of the league. They will have to find a way to run the ball in order to keep defenses honest, but they don’t seem interested in using Najee Harris that much.
On paper, Jacoby Brissett didn’t look much better than Trubisky going 21/31 for 220 yards. However, the games aren’t played on paper and Brissett looked like a superstar QB by comparison. He threw a pair of touchdowns, one each, to TE David Njoku and new WR Amari Cooper, finding both of them regularly. The key to that success started on the ground where Cleveland ran for 171 yards as a team. That will keep a defense honest and open up the passing game. It’s something Pittsburgh may have just learned the hard way.
(+130) Houston Texans 0-0-1 @ (-155) Chicago Bears 1-1 (-2.5, O/U 38.5)
This isn’t a game that gets the blood pumping. The Bears looked completely underwhelming in their Week 2 loss to the Packers where Justin Fields attempted just 10 passes. I thought their playcalling was bad under Nagy, but yikes. However, David Montgomery keeps the Bears’ run game consistent and they have played stiffer competition. The Texans couldn’t even score a TD vs the Broncos, and while I see this one being low-scoring, that’s not going to cut it. I’ll take the Bears because I gotta take someone.
Pick: CHI | ATS: CHI -2.5 | O/U: Under 38.5
(-130) Las Vegas Raiders 0-2 @ (+110) Tennessee Titans 0-2 (+2, O/U 45.5)
Yes, the Raiders shit the bed at home in Week 2 when they blew a 16-point 4th-quarter lead. And yes, they also squandered an opportunity to win in overtime. But at least they have shown some signs of life. The Titans look horrible. Drawing a juggernaut Bills team in Week didn’t do them any favors, but they blew a 4th quarter lead at home themselves in Week 1. Their offense is a shell of its former self and their defense is nowhere near the group that got them to the #1 seed in the AFC last season. They may not be the worst team in the league, but they are at the bottom of my power rankings. After blowing the win last week, the Raiders’ season hopes are hanging in the balance and Kyler Murray won’t be out there to confound them this time.
Pick: LVR | ATS: LVR -2 | O/U: Under 45.5
(-240) Kansas City Chiefs 2-0 @ (+196) Indianapolis Colts 0-1-1 (+5.5, O/U 50.5)
The Colts barely have a pulse at this point after being shut out by the Jags in Week 2. They always have trouble in Jacksonville but, still, that’s embarrassing. The Chiefs gutted out an impressive win after struggling at home against the Chargers in Week 2 and have been off for 10 days. I’m surprised to see the Chiefs only favored by 5.5 points. Even with Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce both in line to play this time, even if the Colts play their best game of the season, I don’t think it will be enough unless KC beats themselves.
Pick: KC | ATS: KC -5.5 | O/U: Under 50.5
(-220) Buffalo Bills 2-0 @ (+180) Miami Dolphins 2-0 (+4.5, O/U 53)
Things have gone from bad to worse on the injury front for the Bills after dismantling the Titans in Week 2. Dane Jackson avoided a serious neck injury but Pro Bowl S Micah Hyde was placed on the season-ending IR Saturday morning with a neck injury. Neither of those guys will play and it appears their other Pro Bowl S Jordan Poyer is going to miss the game as well with a foot injury. Plus two integral pieces of their interior D-line are out in Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver. Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox, and Mitch Morse are all questionable as well so if there were ever a time for the Fins to get a win back in this rivalry, finally, this would be it. Miami roared back to beat Baltimore in the 4th quarter last week by feasting on their depleted secondary, so it makes sense to see the line move in their direction. In looking at all the chatter between the two fanbases, it’s important to remember that when you disrespect your opponent, you disrespect yourself. Sixty percent of the Bills’ starting secondary is out. It’s foolish to think that it’s not going to matter. However, there are good players who know the system stepping in and the Bills still have Josh Allen at the helm! That gives me confidence.
Pick: BUF | ATS: BUF -4.5 | O/U: Over 53
(+210) Detroit Lions 1-1 @ (-260) Minnesota Vikings 1-1 (-6, O/U 52.5)
I find it strange that the Vikings are such heavy favorites here. The last few years would suggest they are the better team, but this season suggests the opposite. Minnesota looked exceedingly mediocre in their primetime loss to the Eagles. Detroit lost to the Eags too, but at least they put up a fight and they were smashing Washington too. Minny got some juice from beating a depleted Packers team and maybe the injuries to the Lions have swung things towards the Vikes. Star RB D’Andre Swift, TE T.J. Hockenson, and C Frank Ragnow, and emerging star DE Aiden Hutchinson are all questionable but this is a big division game and they’ll play if they can. Harrison Smith is OUT for the Vikes and that could be a problem against a strong passing game. The Lions do give up some points but I have to look at common opponents and they also hung 35 on a PHI team that completely shut down the Vikings. I’ll go with DET to cover and maybe even win outright.
Pick: DET | ATS: DET +6 | O/U: Over 52.5
(-155) Baltimore Ravens 1-1 @ (+130) New England Patriots 1-1 (+2.5, O/U 44)
The Ravens are another team that certainly has their Week 2 defeat fresh in mind. They know they let that one get away and John Harbaugh is too good of a coach to let them forget about it. The Pats have been unimpressive in their two games and I see them being at a talent disadvantage. They should have the edge in the running back department but the Ravens are also supposedly getting J.K. Dobbins back and have the best player on the field and a major rushing threat in Lamar Jackson. I like seeing the spread small here and while the Pats could keep it close, I like Baltimore.
Pick: BAL | ATS: BAL -2.5 | O/U: Over 44
(-250) Cincinnati Bengals 0-2 @ (+205) New York Jets 1-1 (-6.5, O/U 45)
It’s been a rough couple of games for the Bengals, but they get a much more favorable matchup vs the Jets. New York hasn’t gotten after the QB all that well, especially in comparison to teams like PIT and DAL and they give up more yards through the air and on the ground than the Bengals. Cincy also gives up fewer points and this is their season on the line, so I expect them to bounce back and get their first win. Joe Flacco has been playing well and really highlighting the WR group the Jets have put together, so I hope it’s a shootout, but I don’t think so.
Pick: CIN | ATS: CIN -6.5 | O/U: Over 45
(-292) Philadelphia Eagles 2-0 @ (+235) WSH Commanders 1-1 (+6.5, O/U 47.5)
Carson Wentz has his revenge game vs the Eagles, but so far the revenge games haven’t gone so well for QBs facing their old teams this season. Philly looks like the team to beat in the NFC right now and they shut down Minnesota in Week 2. Washington struggled to get their ground game going in Detroit and only managed to make a game of it once the Lions had already dominated them. It will be tough for them to run against a stout PHI defense, as Dalvin Cook found out the hard way. Without a run game, it becomes tough to establish the pass, and watching Darius Slay lock up Justin Jefferson makes it tough to think the Commanders will be able to have a ton of success in the air.
Pick: PHI | ATS: PHI -6.5 | O/U: Over 47.5
(-140) New Orleans Saints 1-1 @ (+118) Carolina Panthers 0-2 (+2.5, O/U 41)
The Baker Mayfield experiment isn’t going so well in Carolina. After losing his revenge game vs the Browns, they dropped another close one on the road to the Giants. It says something that both of those games were close and there were opportunities, but I think it’s also safe to say that he’s underperforming. The Saints hung in there with the top defensive unit in the league and Tom Brady last week, even leading 3-0 at the half, but you can’t stop TB12 forever. Even in Alvin Kamara doesn’t play, I like the Saints’ overall weapon sets much better than Carolina’s. Even if Christian McCaffrey looked like his pre-injury self, it’s basically him and D.J. Moore. I know Jameis Winston has struggled with Carolina (5-6 career) including a 26-7 loss just about a year ago in which he threw 2 picks. However, Michael Thomas is back, Jarvis Landry joined up, and Chris Olave is just waiting to break out.
Pick: NO | ATS: NO -2.5 | O/U: Over 41
(+143) Jacksonville Jaguars 1-1 @ (-170) Los Angeles Chargers 1-1 (-3, O/U 42.5)
This whole game hinges on whether or not Justin Herbert plays. He earned a lot of respect by gutting it out after fracturing some rib cartilage vs the Chiefs in Week 2. Since it was a Thursday game, he’s had some extra time but he sat out Friday’s practice and is still described as iffy. Even if he plays, there’s a reasonable chance he doesn’t go the distance. It’s not just him either, Keenan Allen is dealing with a hamstring injury, and their C Corey Linsley is doubtful along with free agent acquisition CB J.C. Jackson. The Jags are pretty healthy and starting to find out who they are. If Herbert doesn’t show signs of the injury, the Bolts probably win but I would rather take a stab at Jax here.
Pick: JAX | ATS: JAX +3 | O/U: Over 42.5
(-190) Los Angeles Rams 1-1 @ (+158) Arizona Cardinals 1-1 (+3.5, O/U 48.5)
While the Cards were the beneficiaries of a blown 4th quarter lead, the Rams were in the middle of blowing on themselves and needed an exceptional play from Jalen Ramsey to hang on and win. These teams know one another well and this is the 4th time they will play in 2022. Last time out it was an embarrassing playoff defeat for the Cards in LA. I’m sure they have been waiting for this one but Christian Kirk left town, Rondale Moore is out, D-Hop is suspended, and James Connor is on the wrong side of questionable. The Rams aren’t 100% either, placing Van Jefferson on the IR and having CB David Long Jr. and C Brian Allen both out. Stafford has already thrown 5 picks through two games but this is a good defense to start warming up against.
Pick: LAR | ATS: AZ +3.5 | O/U: Over 48.5
(-105) Atlanta Falcons 0-2 @ (-115) Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (-1, O/U 42)
I’m surprised to see the Hawks favored here, even if only by a point. They haven’t scored an offensive point since halftime against Denver in Week 1. Granted they played a couple of good defenses, but still. That kind of offensive output isn’t going to get you far. Playing an Atlanta team who is giving up 29 points per game might be the recipe but, generally speaking, the Atlanta defense has been better. So has their offense and they’ve been competitive against some solid defenses. Seattle’s biggest issue is they want to be a running team and they haven’t been able to do that. If they continue to struggle there, they won’t be winning much. Atlanta has burned me in the past, but I like my chances with them here.
Pick: ATL | ATS: ATL +1 | O/U: Under 42
(+100) Green Bay Packers 1-1 @ (-120) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-0 (-1, O/U 42)
It’s really too bad these teams are playing in Week 3. Neither is close to 100% and it feels like it’s being thrown away this early. Mike Evans is suspended, Chris Godwin is Out, Russell Gage, Julio Jones, and Breshad Perriman are all questionable. Things are so dire that the Bucs went out and signed Cole Beasley and activated him within a few days. If Bease hits, he’s actually a great fit for this offense. The Packers just lost Sammy Watkins to IR after he had a nice breakout performance for them and Randall Cobb, Christian Watson, David Bakhtiari, and Mercedes Lewis are all questionable. Tampa has the superior defense, and they’re scoring more per game despite their issues. It really could go either way on the injuries, but I know this Bucs team knows how to rattle Rodgers.
Pick: TB| ATS: TB -1 | O/U: Under 42
(-125) San Francisco 49ers 1-1 @ (+105) Denver Broncos 1-1 (+1.5, O/U 44)
Russell Wilson has a knack for beating the 49ers, but that was as part of the Seahawks. His results in Denver have been underwhelming thus far and his last game against Houston was pretty bad. They got the W, but he didn’t play well. Jimmy G is back at the helm for the Niners and that gives them stability. I have to take common opponents seriously and both these teams played Seattle. While San Francisco dominated them, Denver lost Wilson’s “revenge game” and only scored 16. Both these teams have good defenses but I’d give a slight edge to the 49ers. San Francisco knows who they are and remember going to the NFC title game. Until I see more from Denver, I will probably not be leaning on them.
Pick: SF | ATS: SF -1.5 | O/U: Under 44
(-105) Dallas Cowboys 1-1 @ (-115) New York Giants 2-0 (-1, O/U 39)
Week 3 comes to an end with a classic NFC East showdown between the Cowboys and the Giants. New York has gotten off to a surprisingly strong start but wins over bad Titans and Panthers teams don’t really impress me that much. They are good wins for a franchise working towards something, but it doesn’t make them a good team. Not yet anyway. This game gives them a chance to make a better case though. Dallas predictably lost to Tampa in Week 1 and lost Dak Prescott in the process, but they rallied around Cooper Rush in Week 2 and the defense helped lead them past the Bengals. That is what the game comes down to for me. The DAL defense vs the new Brian Daboll Giants’ offense. There are some key injuries to both teams on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys will have a good shot if they can shut down Saquon and the run game.
Pick: DAL | ATS: DAL +1 | O/U: Under 39
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