Advice to Ignore: NFL Week 3 PicksPosted: September 25, 2015
We are not gamblers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. Some of these choices have actual thought put into them. More of these choices were made with gut, intuition, and a little thing called grit.
Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.
[Home team in caps. All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus.]
Pittsburgh (-1.5) vs. ST. LOUIS
Derek: It’s the Super Bowl XIV rematch we’ve all been waiting for! And I love the Rams in this one. They’ve already shown through the first two games that it’s going to be business as usual for them. Which means, when they feel disrespected while playing a superior opponent at home, they’re a solid bet. But, after they get a big win and actually start to get respect, they suck. Look at last year. Just when people think of taking them seriously, like when they beat Seattle, or Denver, or San Francisco on the road, or Oakland and Washington by a combined score of 76-0, they lost a winnable game.
The 2015 Rams opened the season beating Seattle, spent the week absorbing pats on the back, and got thrashed by the Redskins. Now they’re back in “no one respects us” mode with a public favorite coming to town. Plus, according to ESPN PickCenter, 85% of bets are on the Steelers. Friends, one way or another, the house always wins.
Will: As someone who hates the Steelers, those couple paragraphs got me fully torqued. And I want like hell to agree, but I’m worried that the Steelers might be really good. Roethlisberger is at least at good at throwing footballs as he is evading assault charges. Antonio Brown looks like the best receiver in the game, period. And now they’re getting back Le’Veon Bell? They’re gonna score 100 points a game. They’re a little soft inside and hardly world beaters on defense, but I think they can outscore damn near anyone. I’m picking Pittsburgh.
(Oh man I hope I’m wrong. Go Rams.)
MINNESOTA (-2.5) vs. San Diego
Derek: I feel like these are two teams we’ve still learned nothing about, what with the differences they showed between Week 1 and Week 2. Minnesota looked great at home, and the Chargers didn’t look so great on the road. I reckon I’ll take the Vikings.
Will: I guess I’ll take the Vikings. I made this face when I saw this game:
HOUSTON (-6.5) vs. Tampa Bay
Derek: Too bad we’re picking these games on Friday, because I’d really like to see the inactives list first. It already sounds like Arian Foster is a no-go. Now DeAndre Hopkins has a surprise concussion and maybe he won’t play either. As easy as Marcus Mariota made it look against Tampa in Week 1, I can’t get behind an offense that stars Ryan Mallett, Chris Polk, Nate Washington, and Cecil Shorts. I may change my mind before Sunday, but right now I’m leaning toward Tampa.
Will: It looks like Hopkins is out, which means that offense is indeed gonna be that offense. I expect J.J. Watt to make Jameis Winston’s life hell and for the Texans to win, but not by a touchdown. Tampa. This is immediately the leader for Worst Pick of the Week.
NEW YORK JETS (-2) vs. Philadelphia
Derek: Oh, how the mighty hath fallen. After almost universal preseason acclaim, the Eagles are 0-2 and have looked pretty bad doing it. Now they’re underdogs against the Jets. What a world.
While I don’t want to succumb to recency bias, the Eagles just haven’t shown any life. The Jets showed what they can do to a poor offensive line on Monday night, and the Colts have more talent on offense than the Eagles do. Gotta go with the Jets.
Will: The Eagles might suck! Or if they don’t suck, I’ll at least say that Sam Bradford looks a terrible choice for Chip Kelly’s offense. The quarterback has to run, right? Or at least be a threat to run? Bradford carrying out his run fakes is the most adorable thing in football. Who’s gonna worry about a guy 1) coming off an ACL injury and 2) with 244 career rushing yards? Then again, Nick Foles can’t run and he tore it up for a while there. Maybe the Eagles just suck. J-E-T-S.
CAROLINA (-3) vs. New Orleans
Derek: It’s tough to pick this game without knowing if Drew Brees will play. But, my theory of picking against the Saints when I would normally pick them and vice versa worked out well last week. But then, they were pretty bad against Arizona in Week 1, too. Maybe the Saints are just bad. And even if Brees does play, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be 100%. I’ll take Carolina.
(Update: Brees is out. Obviously, my pick is unchanged. One day I’ll tell my grandchildren about Week 3 of 2015, when there was a rare Double McCown.)
Will: I ride for all McCowns this week. Geaux Saints.
NEW ENGLAND (-13.5) vs. Jacksonville
Derek: The first of our two games with double-digit point spreads! The Patriots are tempting because of the belief that they’re going to run up the score whenever they get the chance. But 13.5 points is just too much, especially since I doubt the Patriots will be able to get as emotionally prepared for this game as they were for their last two games. I’m sure the Patriots will win, but the Jags cover.
Will: I was thinking about this game earlier today, before I knew what the spread was. And before I saw it, I decided that I’d take the Pats no matter what. I just think they’re going to kick ass this year, at least until someone important gets hurt, and I think they’re going to make it a point to whomp the Jags. Part of this is that I just don’t like Blake Bortles’ name. Either one of ’em.
BALTIMORE (-2.5) vs. Cincinnati
Derek: Haven’t the Bengals looked a little too good so far? Andy Dalton hasn’t even thrown an interception! He has to catch up sooner or later, so he’s due for a four interception game. Maybe he won’t be that bad, but the Ravens have one of the best home records in the league. With their backs against the wall, I like the Ravens.
Will: Ravens. All the way Ravens. This has DALTON GAME written all over it.
CLEVELAND (-3.5) vs. Oakland
Derek: The unceremonious benching of JFF takes most of the national interest out of the Hope Springs Eternal Bowl. That extra half point makes me a little nervous, but I don’t trust the Raiders traveling for a 10 a.m. PT game. I’ll take Cleveland, but I don’t feel good about it.
Will: You should feel good about it. You should feel great about it. Starting Johnny is Bruce Wayne. Bench Johnny is Batman. We may not see him right away, but when that time comes and we need a hero — after Josh McCown’s latest headfirst dive, perhaps? — he’s gonna show up and save the goddamn day. Don’t even know if that makes sense. Doesn’t even matter. Browns by 75.
Indianapolis (-3) vs. TENNESSEE
Derek: This has to be the time we see the Colts step up, right? I pegged the Packers as a potential season-from-hell team, but it may be the Colts. They’ve got some front office dysfunction, and I see a new Nick Saban rumor every week. I just can’t believe the Colts start the season 0-3. Plus, Andrew Luck typically demolishes divisional foes. If the Titans’ blitzes disrupt Luck as badly as the Bills and Jets did, it might be time to stick a fork in the Colts and the Pagano era. I don’t think they’re done just yet. I’ll take the Colts.
Will: It’s either “Andrew Luck is back!” or “Marcus Mariota is for real!” come Monday. I’ll take the kid at home, if only because I think Luck’s commercials and appearances have overexposed him a bit. Titans take it.
Atlanta (-1) vs. DALLAS
Derek: Finally, another home underdog! I was thinking of picking Dallas, but then I remembered that would require backing Brandon Weeden. No thanks. Give me Atlanta.
Will: Week 3: In Which We Gain Appreciation For Tony Romo. Falcons all day.
ARIZONA (-6.5) vs. San Francisco
Derek: I think the Week 2 49ers are the 49ers we’re going to see most of the year. The Cardinal offense is similar to the Steelers in that they like to chuck it deep. As you may have seen, the 49ers didn’t handle it too well. Granted, the deck was stacked against the 49ers due to traveling across the country on a short week for a 10 a.m. PT game, but the Niners just don’t have that much talent. Also, the Cardinals’ defense is way better than the Steelers’, and Colin Kaepernick and co. looked lost against them. The spread gives me pause, but I still like the Cards.
Will: I’m so happy Larry Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns last week. He seems like the best guy, and I was worried that we’d effectively seen the last of him after three sub-thousand yard seasons. Welcome back, Larry. I think the Niners suck, but I don’t trust Arizona to win by a touchdown. San Francisco covers.
SEATTLE (-14.5) vs. Chicago
Derek: I’m practically salivating. As I said in the recap, the Seahawks are angry, and it’s their home opener. That was before I knew Kam Chancellor would be back. It looks like both Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery will miss the game. I’m not sure what the spread would have to be for me to take Chicago, but it’s more than 14.5. Go Hawks.
Will: I like the Bears to muck it up just enough to lose by exactly two touchdowns.
MIAMI (-3) vs. Buffalo
Derek: I was hoping Buffalo would be favored so I could take Miami. Alas, this is much more difficult. I suppose I have to take the points. I think the Tyrod Taylor bandwagon is a little out of hand. He’s had two starts at home against poor defenses. I could see him imploding here, especially since some teams can’t handle early season games in Miami because of the heat. But I don’t like the Dolphins enough to lay three points. They haven’t looked great, and they were playing Washington and Jacksonville. Yeesh.
Will: I’m kinda going the other way — really like the Bills here. Taylor is precisely the reason I’ve been hesitant to back them thus far, but screw it, I like him; plus, they just have a lot of good, fast players on that offense. This is probably a good time to mention that I couldn’t name three Miami Dolphins right now.
Denver (-3) vs. DETROIT
Derek: This one’s difficult. Peyton Manning ended up looking okay in the box score last Thursday, but he looked pretty terrible in the game. He should have thrown three or four more interceptions. But the Broncos’ defense should feast on Stafford in this one. Broncos cover.
Will: Lions win and Peyton Manning’s neck is revealed to be held together with uncooked instant ramen.
GREEN BAY (-6.5) vs. Kansas City
Derek: The spread is a little high, but I can’t go against the Packers in Lambeau on Monday Night Football. It’s possible there could be a letdown coming off the big win last week, but Rodgers is healthy and playing well. If the Packers get an early lead, there’s pretty much no way the Chiefs are capable of catching up. I’ll take the Packers.
Will: Yeah, don’t overthink this one. Go Pack go.