Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL Picks, Week 3

I'd talk about last night's game, but really, what is there to say except someone should check Lovie Smith's alarm, because his season is now 3 weeks old and I'm not sure he's woken up yet. As always, home team in CAPS.

San Diego (+2.5) over BUFFALO 
My head is telling me to pick Buffalo. Telling me that I'm underrating the Bills because of my biases coming into the season (in fairness, when was the last time the Bills did anything but underwhelm?) But my gut can't get the picture of Philip Rivers carving up the Seattle defense out of my mind. I don't love the Chargers on a long road trip to Buffalo, but I say Rivers puts up enough points that EJ Manuel has to play catchup, and that's where this Bills offense falls apart.

Dallas (-1) over ST. LOUIS
The Rams intimidating front seven does have a weakness: it can be run on. Dallas seems surprisingly (but correctly) committed to the run, so this should be a case of strength meets weakness, leading to a Dallas road win.

PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Washington
Now that RG3 is hurt, stories are popping up everywhere regarding "Kirk Cousins is actually a better fit" and "Cousins will be Jay Gruden's new Andy Dalton". I want to see Cousins do it against an NFL team not from Jacksonville first. Plus, Andy Dalton tends to be pretty erratic on the road.

Houston (-2) over NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants offense looked much better in week 2 than it did in week 1, but then again, that's not saying much. I don't like backing shaky Eli Manning (even at home) against JJ Watt and the Houston defense.

NEW ORLEANS (-10) over Minnesota
The Saints come home with two weeks worth of frustrating losses hanging over their heads to face a Vikings team with no Adrian Peterson and Matt Cassel starting at quarterback. Saints win big. Maybe not as big as Atlanta did last night, but big.

CINCINNATI (-7) over Tennessee
Cincinnati has won their last 10 regular season home games (that playoff game against San Diego last January is a pretty large asterisk), making the opposing quarterback look pretty bad (except for Andrew Luck, though his team still lost) in 9 of those games. Jake Locker is no Andrew Luck, and I don't see the Titans pressuring Andy Dalton into a significant amount of mistakes.

CLEVELAND (+1.5) over Baltimore 
John Harbaugh is 9-1 versus Cleveland as Baltimore head coach. He's also on a 1-game losing streak to the Browns. Basically, if the Saints can't pull away from Cleveland, I don't buy the Ravens will either. And if the Browns can hang around, I think they can take the game in the end.

Green Bay (+2.5) over DETROIT 
Both of these teams bring top offenses and incomplete defenses to the table. Detroit's defense doesn't include a functioning secondary, while Green Bay's is very lacking up front. The thing is, Detroit isn't that well equipped to take advantage of Green Bay's weakness, as their power running game is nothing like either Seattle's or the Jets' versions.

Indianapolis (-7) over JACKSONVILLE
Indianapolis doesn't have a pass rush, but I'm not sure you need one to get to Jacksonville's quarterback. The Jaguars gave up 10 sacks to the Redskins last week. 10! Really! Add in Jacksonville's seeming inability to covers receivers downfield against either Philly or Washington, and, well, the Colts should put up lots of points.

Oakland (+14) over NEW ENGLAND
I'm not sure what to make of the New England offense. First they got clobbered and shut out in the second half of the Miami game, and then, despite downing the Vikings 30-7, they didn't break 300 yards of offense. We've been able to count on Brady and the offense hardly skipping a beat almost no matter what happens, especially against lesser teams, but is that true this year? I said before the season started that New England's defense would be the unit to carry this team back to the AFC Championship game (and beyond), but I didn't see an offensive drop-off this severe. Basically, if the Pats can strike early, this game will turn into a runaway by halftime. But can this offense strike early and often? I'm going to say no. Whether it's a backdoor cover, or just a closer game than any fans ever thought, I have Oakland hanging around just inside the spread.

San Francisco (-3) over ARIZONA
Carson Palmer can't grip a football right now because of a nerve issue in his arm or shoulder. This means Drew Stanton will most likely be the quarterback to face the 49ers. I don't like that matchup. Kaepernick makes a couple more plays (quite possibly with his legs) to help the 49ers win a close one.

SEATTLE (-5) over Denver
Seattle covers single-digit spreads at home.

Kansas City (+4) over MIAMI
Upset special as I don't see the Dolphins able to establish their running game without Knowshon Moreno. Or, to put it more bluntly, I don't see Miami establishing the run game with the always-disappointing Lamar Miller as the feature back. Without the run game, Miami's pass attack won't get untracked which will allow Alex Smith to win a field goal fest, something like 19-13.

CAROLINA (-3) over Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh hasn't given me much hope that they can attack a good defense. They also haven't given me much hope that they can stop much of anything on defense themselves.

Chicago (+3) over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets secondary is awful. Brandon Marshall should be a little healthier than last week (and last week he caught 3 touchdowns...go for 5 this week Brandon!) and the Jets secondary is terrible. As long as Cutler doesn't go full captain turnover, da Bears win this one.

This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 8-8 (.500)
2014 Season: 14-18 (.438)

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