Week 3 is always one of the more difficult gambling weekends of the NFL season. For the teams that played two completely opposite games (Buffalo, New England, Chicago, etc), how do you gauge which is the real team; week one or two? However, if you pick smartly you can find a team that Vegas has seriously under/over-valued. As always, home team in caps and all spreads from bet365.net.
BEARS (-9) over Rams
The Jay Cutler backlash is still ongoing, and the Rams offense looked more than competent versus Washington last week, but I still like the Bears at home. Few people had the Bears outside the playoff picture, and I think they hop on a couple early Sam Bradford mistakes and this one ends early.
Bears 31, Rams 20
Niners (-7) over VIKINGS
One of the few constants out of the first two weeks is that the San Francisco 49ers are physically overwhelming. Jim Harbaugh has his defense playing incredible football, and Alex Smith looks like more than a game manager. The Niners will stay undefeated with an easy double digit victory.
Niners 27, Vikings 14
Bucs (+9.5) over COWBOYS
Josh Freeman looked much improved versus the Giants last weekend, while the Cowboys got absolutely railroaded by the 12th man and the Seattle Seahawks. Doug Martin has established Tampa’s running game, and whether or not you like his tactics Bucs coach Greg Schiano has his defense running all over the place. Cowboys win, Bucs cover.
Cowboys 24, Bucs 20
Lions (-3.5) over TITANS
After being bottled up by the Niners last Sunday night, look for Calvin Johnson to have a big weekend in Tennessee. What impresses me most about the Lions is that there were many opportunities for them to quit last weekend, but the defense dug in and kept them in the game. Jim Schwartz wins in his homecoming.
Lions 31,Titans 13
DOLPHINS (+2.5) over Jets
This game seems like a complete stay-away. Both the Jets and Dolphins have played two different games, and it’s too early to really know which performance is more likely to repeat itself. Mark Sanchez was atrocious in a loss to the Steelers last weekend, and I have the Dolphins capitalizing on his mistakes and forcing the Jets defense to remain honest, but I have enough sense to not put any money in the hands of Ryan Tannehill.
Dolphins 16, Jets 14
Bills (-2.5) over BROWNS
Who is the real Brandon Weedon? Weedon’s first two starts varied from good to Cutler-esque, but the same can be said about his opponents. CJ Spiller is a stud for Buffalo at running back: it seems that with every touch of the ball he has a chance to score. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can limit his mistakes Buffalo should ride easy to their second straight victory.
Bills 21, Browns 10
Chiefs (+10) over SAINTS
The New Orleans Saints are 0-2, without a head coach, and are still laying ten points against the Chiefs at home. This already feels like a lost season for the Saints, who are essentially playing the first must-win of the season (if such things exist in September). The Chiefs were just torched by the Bills, but I think the noise around New Orleans is too much to overcome. Chiefs cover but Saints win in underwhelming style.
Saints 23, Chiefs 20
Jags (+3) over COLTS
Look for Maurice Jones-Drew to have a big game as the Jaguars get their first chance against one of the bottom feeders of the league. Blaine Gabbert hasn’t looked terrible in his first two starts of the year, and Indianapolis simply doesn’t have the personnel to stay competitive as the season rolls along.
Jags 17, Colts 14
REDSKINS (-2.5) over Bengals
RG3’s first home game, so the crowd will be rocking. Andy Dalton is good but not great, and the Bengals let the Browns hang around before pulling away late last week. The Redskins look to rebound after a tough loss last weekend, and I have them winning in a blowout.
Redskins 34, Bengals 14
Falcons (+3) over CHARGERS
The fact that the Falcons are getting points seems ludicrous to me. Matt Ryan has put up huge numbers his first two games, and the defense looked terrific against Peyton Manning last Monday in Atlanta. The Chargers are playing well, but Atlanta looks to be a top tier team, and they prove that by beating the Chargers big in San Diego.
Falcons 38, Chargers 24
CARDS (+3) over Eagles
The Eagles are 2-0, true, but they have turned the ball over nine times in those victories (and were helped by way of a phantom offensive pass interference penalty that negated a Ravens touchdown). The Cardinals, meanwhile, boast one of the more impressive defenses of the league, and are riding high after beating the Patriots. Kevin Kolb isn’t making critical mistakes, Michael Vick is. I have the Cardinals in a slugfest.
Cardinals 20, Eagles 17
Steelers (-3.5) over RAIDERS
The Steelers head west after looking dominant against the Jets in Pittsburgh, the Raiders are returning home after getting embarrassed by the Dolphins. I fail to see how this is only a 3.5 point spread, as it seems pretty clear the Steelers are in a different tier than the Raiders.
Steelers 27, Raiders 17
Texans (PICK) over BRONCOS
Houston brings its vaunted defense into Mile High against a Peyton Manning who looked undeniably old against the Falcons Monday Night in Atlanta. If you’re a Broncos fan you can talk yourself into the fact that after the half Manning seemed to be himself again, but Houston’s weapons on both sides of the ball will be too much for a quick Bronco recover, who are in the midst of a brutal schedule.
Texans 30, Broncos 20
Patriots (+2.5) over RAVENS
Both teams are looking to rebound from winnable losses. Aaron Hernandez is out for the Patriots, who now shift into a more conventional offense. Stevan Ridley is a legitimate threat at running back, and if Brady can get time he should be able to get the ball into the hands of Welker and Gronkowski. Joe Flacco plays good but not great against an improved New England defense and the Patriots pick up the win.
Pats 28, Ravens 24
SEAHAWKS (+3) over Packers
The Seahawks were physically dominant against the Cowboys last week, and if you look at Green Bay’s most recent losses (the Niners in Week 1 and the Giants last season) a physical style of play seems to be the recipe for success. Russell Wilson plays with a composure not befitting a rookie quarterback, and with the Seahawks back in a primetime game look for the 12th man to be rocking in Seattle.
Seahawks 23, Packers 21