Week 3 Predictions

Posted: 09/27/2015 by levcohen in Football

This is probably the worst slate of games we’ve had so far in the NFL season, and it isn’t really close. As evidenced by the three double-digit spreads (the first three of the season), there look to be a few blowouts in the horizon, and the only game between 2-0 teams comes between a lucky Falcons squad and a banged-up Cowboys team. The game of the week is probably Ravens-Bengals, both because it is a divisional rivalry and because the Ravens are at risk of falling to 0-3 for the first time in their history. That’s certainly the headline 1:00 game, and none of the later games really intrigue me, although Chiefs-Packers could turn into a heck of a Monday Night Football game if Kansas City’s defense shows up. Anyway, I think the theme of this week might be a return to normalcy; after we saw upsets galore last week, the favorites should turn it back around today.

*= upset pick

Atlanta Falcons (2-0, 2-0 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0, 1-1):
Spread: Falcons favored by 1
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: With Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys would probably be five or six point favorites in this game and the total would be over 50. But both studs are out, which means Dallas has to turn to Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys are going to have to get their running game going if they want to have any semblance of an offense against an improved Falcons defense, and I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I am sure that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are going to show up, which is enough to make me pick the Falcons to surprisingly move to 3-0. Falcons win 23-16.
Falcons cover
Under

Indianapolis Colts (0-2, 0-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-1, 1-1):
Spread: Colts favored by 3.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: Taking a bunch of road favorites isn’t usually a good idea, but I’m picking two right off the bat here. I don’t really think Tennessee has a great homefield advantage, and now is when Andrew Luck and the Colts are going to get things going. Colts win 31-17.
Colts cover
Over

Oakland Raiders (1-1, 1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1, 1-1):*
Spread: Browns favored by 3.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: You know how I said taking road teams isn’t the best idea? Well, that doesn’t apply when the home team is starting Josh McCown at quarterback. Now, I’m already 0-2 on picking the Raiders, but I do believe in their offense. Everything I said about them when I picked them to beat Cincinnati in week one now applies after they hung 37 points on the Ravens. Raiders win 27-20.
Raiders cover
Over

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0, 2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-2, 0-2):
Spread: Ravens favored by 2.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: The Ravens are 0-2 and just lost to the Raiders. I’m not panicking, but that’s not a great start. On the other hand, they are traditionally great at home and get their first home game of the season here. Meanwhile, the Bengals are usually poor on the road and need this game far less than Baltimore does. Add the fact that I think the Ravens are the better team and this becomes an easy pick. Ravens win 27-14.
Ravens cover
Under

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, 1-1) at New England Patriots (2-0, 1-1):- Lock
Spread: Patriots favored by 14
Over/under: 49
My prediction: I don’t normally like taking 14 point favorites, but the Patriots are different in that they actively try to run up the score. The Jaguars don’t stand a chance. Hence the lock. Patriots win 37-14.
Patriots cover
Over

New Orleans Saints (0-2, 0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0, 2-0):
Spread: Panthers favored by 10
Over/under: 43
My prediction: I don’t like the Saints minus Drew Brees. At all. They’re probably the worst team in football. I also don’t think the Panthers are good enough to be a 10 point home favorite against anyone, so I reluctantly have to take the points and Luke McCown (somehow, there’s a McCown who’s worse than Josh). Panthers win 24-17.
Saints cover
Under

Philadelphia Eagles (0-2, 0-2) at New York Jets (2-0, 2-0):
Spread: Jets favored by 1.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: The Eagles are the biggest enigma in the NFL. They’ve played three terrible halves and one great one, and while at times they look like the Super Bowl contender they were made out to be, they usually look like a team that deserves to be 0-2. While I’m still optimistic about their long-term future, I can’t pick them against a Jets team that’s rolling right now. Jets win 23-20.
Jets cover
Under

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, 1-1) at Houston Texans (0-2, 0-2):
Spread: Texans favored by 6.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: I actually think these teams are very even, and thought for a while about picking the Bucs in an upset. But I still have some confidence in Houston’s defense, which is the only one of the four units in this game I trust. The Texans are going to have a tough time scoring again without Arian Foster, but their defense will lead them to a win in a close game. Texans win 20-17.
Buccaneers cover
Under

San Diego Chargers (1-1, 1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1, 1-1):
Spread: Vikings favored by 1
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: The Vikings are one of the teams I’ve hitched my wagon to this season, and I’m going to continue to do that here. I expect Adrian Peterson to run rampant against the Chargers again after putting up an NFL-record 297 yards on the ground the last time he played San Diego. The Chargers should still be a decent team, but not a good enough one to beat a solid Vikings team on the road. Vikings win 23-17.
Vikings cover
Under

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, 2-0) at St. Louis Rams (1-1, 1-1):*
Spread: Steelers favored by 1
Over/under: 49
My prediction: I know I locked the Rams up last week and watched them lose to the Redskins. But I’m still pretty confident in their prospects this season, and this is a very good matchup for them. Their offense should get going against Pittsburgh’s poor defense, while their front seven could stifle Le’Veon Bell in his return to action and pressure Big Ben into making at least a few mistakes. Rams win 26-20.
Rams cover
Under

San Francisco 49ers (1-1, 1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0, 2-0):
Spread: Cardinals favored by 6.5
Over/under: 45
My prediction: This is a classic “public pumps the spread up too high because one team is playing over their heads” game. The Cardinals have been the best team in football this year, and people have noticed, which helps explain why the line is inching towards seven and 74% of wagerers are still betting on the Cards. And you know what? I don’t care. I really like this Arizona team, and I’m pessimistic about the 49ers, so I’m going to take the Cardinals while acknowledging that the spread is too high. Cardinals win 34-21.
Cardinals cover
Over

Buffalo Bills (1-1, 1-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-1, 1-1):*
Spread: Dolphins favored by 2
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: This is a total coin-flip game. The Bills look like the better team so far this season, as they have a positive point differential despite opening the season against Indianapolis and New England. Tyrod Taylor isn’t a great quarterback, but he’s serviceable, and he should be helped by a slowly improving LeSean McCoy, who’s coming off of a hamstring injury, and a defense that should get better now that it’s not facing Andrew Luck or Tom Brady. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have looked very unconvincing so far this season, barely beating the Redskins before falling to the Jaguars. I’ll take the team I trust more, and that’s Buffalo. Bills win 23-13.
Bills cover
Under

Chicago Bears (0-2, 0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2, 0-2):
Spread: Seahawks favored by 14.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: The Bears were already in for a rough game here, but now they are without quarterback Jay Cutler and top pass catcher Alshon Jeffery. What are the odds that they even hit double digits in Seattle with Jimmy Clausen at their quarterback? The Seahawks are a very flawed team right now, though, which makes me nervous to pick them given that they are favored by so much. Still, Jimmy Clausen. In Seattle. Seahawks win 26-7.
Seahawks cover
Under

Denver Broncos (2-0, 2-0) at Detroit Lions (0-2, 0-2):
Spread: Broncos favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: I don’t think it’s too soon to call this a must-win game for the Lions, who are already two games behind the dominant Packers. Unfortunately, banged-up quarterback Matthew Stafford has to compete against the best defense in football. The Broncos have allowed just 487 yards across two games, and they also have seven sacks and two defensive touchdowns while getting consistent pressure on both Joe Flacco and Alex Smith. I could see another implosion from Stafford in prime time, while this could be the breakout week for Denver’s offense. Broncos win 27-20.
Broncos cover
Over

Kansas City Chiefs (1-1, 1-1) at Green Bay Packers (2-0, 2-0):
Spread: Packers favored by 6.5
Over/under: 49
My prediction: As I hinted at before, I think this could be a lot closer than people expect. The Chiefs are a good team, and they have some of the elements necessary to keep a game with the Packers close. But this is Lambeau Field, Aaron Rodgers, and Monday Night Football. No way I’m picking the Chiefs. Packers win 28-24.
Chiefs cover
Over

Upset picks:
Bills over Dolphins
Rams over Steelers
Raiders over Browns

Lock of the week:
Patriots over Jaguars

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