Let the good times roll, baby. That’s how I’m feeling after another winning week against the spread as we prepare to put a bow on Week 2 and head into Week 3 of the NFL season.
However, Week 3 does present some challenges.
Injuries are beginning to pile up league wide and Week 2 was a battle of attrition for many teams. The Patriots (Jimmy Garoppolo), Vikings (Adrian Peterson), Chargers (Danny Woodhead), Panthers (Jonathan Stewart) and Jets (Brandon Marshall) all won, but in the process suffered potentially problematic injuries to key cogs on their teams.
None of the injuries mentioned above outside of Danny Woodhead’s torn ACL are believed to be season-ending and some of those guys (Marshall and Peterson) may even suit up in Week 3. But the fact remains that these are situations that bear mentioning and monitoring as we pick our Week 3 games.
By the way, those are just the teams that ended up with a ‘W’ this past week. Lest we forget teams like the Browns that have now lost two starting QBs, meaning this poor fan below has to find even more room on their jersey.
Never has the “next man up” mentality rung truer or been more prevalent than in Cleveland, Ohio. So God speed, Cleveland fans/Cody Kessler.
And with that, let’s do our weekly look back at how we did in Week 2 and take a look at the season as a whole thus far.
** Means I’m pretty proud of that early season record and am absolutely trying to humbly brag about it.
ATS (Against The Spread) Record – 10-6 (Season record – 19-13)
Straight Up Record – 9-7 (Season record – 16-16)
** No Way We Can Lose – Locks Of The Week – 3-1 (Season record (7-2)
I’d also like to mention that if it weren’t for the Dolphins’ atrocious start, their ferocious comeback may have succeeded and made me 4-0 in my locks of the week.
I guess you could also argue that if Jimmy Garoppolo stayed healthy it would’ve been a blowout, but that’s not the point.
Point is we’re runnin’ hot, so let’s keep it going and roll into Week 3.
Same as last week, these picks will be divided up into the following categories:
No way we can lose – locks of the week: As you can guess, these will be the stone-cold locks of the week. The games that I’m so confident about that I’d put my life’s savings on them if I had a life’s savings to wager.
Feeling pretty… pretty good: Not quite willing to bet the farm on this batch, but as Mr. Larry David would say, I’m feeling pretty… pretty good about these games.
Heads or tails: These are your true toss ups: they can go one way or another and you should pick with caution even after heeding my expert advice.
Let’s get started, with our Thursday Night Football game as usual.
All spreads courtesy of CBSSports.com, as of 9/20
(2-0) Houston Texans @ (2-0) New England Patriots (+2.5) – Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Patriots
Level of confidence – Feeling pretty… pretty good
I’ve got to be honest — As long as Bill Belichick’s the coach and they’re playing at Gillette Stadium, you could trot Rosie O’Donnell out there to start for the Patriots at QB and I’d have a hard time picking against them.
They’re that good.
And now you’re telling me that they’re underdogs? At home?
Like, they can lose by two points (which they won’t) and I still win my bet?
Garoppolo, Brissett, O’Donnell, Clinton… I don’t care. Pats all the way on Thursday night.
(Note: Patriots fans, please take this as the compliment it is and not as some weird, backhanded knock on Tom Brady. Don’t make me regret praising you guys and your evil empire.)
No Way We Can Lose – Locks Of The Week
(1-1) Arizona Cardinals @ (0-2) Buffalo Bills (+4) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Cardinals
Unfortunately, folks, I believe this could very well be the last time we see a Rex Ryan press conference for quite a while.
Yup, I think the Cardinals win this one in such a fashion that Ryan might be the first coach of the NFL season to be shown the door.
The Bills haven’t shown much of an ability to do much of anything well and the Cardinals are going to be on them early and often.
I’ll tell you one thing: we’ll see if the guys in Buffalo want Rex to be their coach the rest of the way. If they come out swinging and show some life, the answer is yes, but quite frankly, I don’t see it happening.
This one’s a lock for the Cards.
(2-0) Baltimore Ravens @ (0-2) Jacksonville Jaguars (+1) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Jaguars
The Ravens are 2-0 and deserve credit for that. However, this line sure feels like Vegas is moving off of the Jaguars – the preseason darlings of many, including myself – way too soon.
The Ravens have squeaked out wins against an awful Browns team and what might actually be a comparably bad Buffalo Bills team by five and six points, respectively, and didn’t look all that impressive in doing so.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars played the Packers real tough at home in Week 1 before getting clobbered by the Chargers on the road last week.
The key to this decision is determining which team you think the Jags are. The Week 1, or Week 2 version.
I say Week 1. Jags win by a TD-plus.
(1-1) San Francisco 49ers @ (1-1) Seattle Seahawks (-9.5) – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Seahawks
Ok, so the spread is a little high for my liking, but the Seahawks are going to win this one big.
Their defense has been stellar this year and they’re No. 1 in the league in yards allowed per game over the next closest team (Baltimore Ravens) by nearly 30 yards, allowing just 248.5 yards per game so far.
On top of that, they’re one of the best teams in the league against the run, meaning it’s on Blaine Gabbert’s shoulders to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink field.
Seattle’s offense has been anemic, but that ain’t gonna happen.
Hawks by two TDs.
(1-1) Los Angeles Rams @ (1-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5) – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
ATS – Rams (LOCK)
Straight Up – Rams
Back in this section for the second straight week – your 2016 Los Angeles Rams.
Here’s what I hate about the Rams: They’ve scored a total of nine points this year in two games and it doesn’t appear they’ve given much serious thought to starting the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft in Jared Goff any time soon.
Side Note: Tell me with a straight face that the Rams organization from the top down isn’t watching Carson Wentz in Philly right now and shaking their heads in dismay.
Either way, the Rams are the play here. I like Todd Gurley to get his game on track and I love the Rams to cover the spread in a game that likely stays close and doesn’t break the 40 total points threshold.
(1-1) Oakland Raiders @ (1-1) Tennessee Titans (-1.5) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Raiders
There’s no way to sugar coat it — The Raiders’ defense is brutal. They’ve allowed over 500 yards to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons in consecutive weeks and are a gutsy-as-hell Jack Del Rio two-point conversion call away from potentially being o-2.
But don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet.
Remember, the Saints and the Falcons are two of the better offenses in the NFL.
The Titans are not.
The Raiders’ defense will get back on track in this one and the offense will continue to do what it does best en route to a Raiders victory.
(0-2) Chicago Bears @ (1-1) Dallas Cowboys (-5) – Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Cowboys
I don’t think the Bears are as bad as they looked at times against the Eagles on Monday night, but heading to Dallas potentially without Jay Cutler and Danny Trevathan is a scary prospect.
More importantly, the way the Eagles ran the ball against the Bears bodes horribly for Chicago in this one.
I think we see Ezekiel Elliott go absolutely berserk and the Cowboys win by a TD-plus.
Feeling Pretty… Pretty Good
(2-0) Denver Broncos @ (1-1) Cincinnati Bengals (-3) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Bengals
The field goal going to the Broncos is scary here, but I like the Bengals to get the job done and cover at home. The Broncos’ defense is vicious, but the Bengals have played a vicious defense and come out on top already when they saw the Jets in Week 1 and that was on the road.
Two straight home games to open the year were a godsend for a Broncos team starting Trevor Siemian for the first NFL game of his career, but now Siemian will have to deliver on the road.
He’s been solid, but not stellar, and I think he struggles here against the Bengals who will do enough offensively to get the win and cover the spread.
(0-2) Cleveland Browns @ (0-2) Miami Dolphins (-10) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Dolphins
It didn’t look like it in the first half last week, but the Dolphins are actually pretty decent. They played the Seahawks tight right until the end and they gave the Patriots a run for their money late with what was nearly a stunning comeback.
The Dolphins are starving for a win and the Browns are chum in the water.
Poor, poor Cody Kessler.
Dolphins get the resounding win and drop the Browns to 0-3.
(0-2) Washington Redskins @ (2-0) New York Giants (-4.5) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Redskins
Straight Up – Giants
Turmoil is brewing in Washington for the Redskins and winning a road game at MetLife stadium against the arch-rival Giants would sure go a long way towards quelling the concerns of Redskins fans and players alike.
So, can the ‘Skins pull one out in East Rutherford?
The Redskins haven’t beaten the Giants on the road since 2011 and that’ll remain the case once all is said and done on Sunday afternoon.
In fact, they haven’t even really come that close to beating the Giants in that span. In their last three visits to the area, the ‘Skins have lost by at least 11 points each time.
But it’s a new year so the question, as it always is, is how many points will Big Blue beat them by?
Considering the Redskins’ season is essentially on the line I’m going to go with not many. But the Giants still get the job done at home and all but doom the Redskins’ chances of repeating as NFC East champs.
(2-0) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (2-0) Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5) – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS – Eagles
Straight Up – Steelers
Too. Many. Points.
Look… I’m not ready to anoint Carson Wentz the savior of Philadelphia football, or pronounce the Eagles as NFC East contenders after two games, but the fact is that this team is clicking under Doug Pederson right now in ways most didn’t see coming this early in the year.
Their defense looks formidable, their offense suits Wentz and receivers Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor beautifully and Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner have become the backfield triumvirate everyone in Philly dreamed they’d be with DeMarco Murray last season.
The Steelers look like world-beaters in the early going this year, but that doesn’t mean they come into Philly and drub a this upstart Eagles team.
I like the Eagles to keep it close against the presumptive AFC favorites.
(1-1) Atlanta Falcons @ (0-2) New Orleans Saints (-3) – Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Saints
The Saints have come painfully close to securing their first win of the year in both of their last two games and desperately need a ‘W’ this week.
The Falcons on the other hand out-dueled the Raiders and picked up a big win at home and have to be feeling good heading into New Orleans.
But that’s where their positive vibes will end.
Because Drew Brees absolutely owns primetime AND the Superdome. Matt Ryan, meanwhile, does not.
Saints put one in the win column here by at least a field goal.
Heads Or Tails
(1-1) Detroit Lions @ (1-1) Green Bay Packers (-7.5) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Straight Up – Packers
ATS – Lions
The Vikings may have given the NFL the perfect formula with which to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but unfortunately for the Lions – and really, most NFL teams – they lack the necessary ingredients to do so.
Especially considering a key component was the fact that the Vikings were home and opening up their brand new stadium, which undoubtedly gave them an extra jolt vs. their biggest rivals.
I think the Packers will recover and hang some points on the Lions for certain, but I don’t think Matt Stafford goes quietly.
The Lions won at Lambeau in November of last year and Stafford has had big games there before (See: 2012, 45-41 Packers victory).
That’s why I’m expecting a fair amount of offensive fireworks and a one-touchdown game.
(2-0) Minnesota Vikings @ (1-1) Carolina Panthers (-7) – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
ATS – Vikings
Straight Up – Panthers
The Vikings proved a whole lot to America by beating the Packers at home on Sunday night in primetime.
They’re a well-coached, hard-nosed team that won’t use injuries as an excuse and that will continue without Adrian Peterson as it did without Teddy Bridgewater.
Still, the Panthers at home is a tall order for a healthy Vikings squad.
They’ll keep it tight, but I have to give the Panthers the nod in this one.
(1-1) San Diego Chargers @ (0-2) Indianapolis Colts (-3) – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS/Straight Up – Chargers
‘Defense’ has proven to be elusive for both of these teams in their first two matchups of the year as both units have given up over 800 yards in their first two games combined.
The Colts rank 29th in yards allowed, while the Chargers poll slightly better at 23rd.
Both, I might add, are pretty awful when it comes to their respective passing defenses
Not ideal against guys named Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck.
So the question really is, which one of these inept units finds a way to make a stop at a key juncture of the game?
Answer: I have no idea, but when in doubt, I know I’m going with the points. I like the Chargers here, even with all of the turmoil they’ve been through injury wise in the first two weeks of the year.
(1-1) New York Jets @ (1-1) Kansas City Chiefs (-3) – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
ATS – Jets
Straight Up – Chiefs
This is one of the rare cases where I agree with the spread completely. This one’s a toss up and the Chiefs get the three-point edge thanks to home-field advantage.
However, Arrowhead is no ordinary home field. It’s a major advantage for the Chiefs and it’s what I think ultimately is the deciding factor here between two very similar teams.
Chiefs win, but Jets keep it close.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for a championship for any of his other three teams.