Lions @ Vikings
Predicted Line: Vikings by 12
Actual Line: Vikings by 10.5
This will be a lot like the Eagles game from week 2, where the Detroit defense is hapless and gives up 30+ points in a hurry. But unlike last week, they won’t have the home crowd behind them, and they won’t cover the spread with an unlikely comeback.
Matchups to love if you’re a Vikings fan:
-Jared Allen against Jeff Backus.
-Adrian Peterson against Detroit’s sad excuse for a linebacking corps.
-Brett Favre and the fast receivers against Detroit’s god-awful secondary who can’t cover anybody.
Throw in the fact that this is a desperate must-win game for Minnesota and you have the makings of a massacre. Nothing else to say about this one …
49ers @ Chiefs
Predicted Line: 49ers by 1.5
Actual Line: 49ers by 1.5
Here’s the question: can you imagine a scenario in which Kansas City, led by Matt Cassel and a defense that ranked 30th overall last season, will begin the season 3-0, while San Francisco, a team with Frank Gore and Patrick Willis, would be 0-3?
I just don’t think so. San Fran has a better quarterback, a better coach, a better running game, and a better defense. True, Alex Smith has been brutal to start the season (passer rating of 64.9) but Matt Cassel has been even worse (55.8). And Smith has infinitely more weapons to work with.
KC is a Home Dog. But sometimes you can’t outsmart your own common sense. Gotta go with San Fran in a must win.
Bills @ Patriots
Predicted Line: Pats by 14
Actual Line: Pats by 13
New England doesn’t look like the run-up-the-score bullies from 2007, and might actually be content to run the ball and run the clock once they’re up early. Why risk an injury?
Buffalo’s obviously not going to win this game (Pats have won 18 of the past 19 meetings), but something about the 13 point line makes me nervous. I’ll say Pats win by 10. Maybe Lee Evans will have a deep pass to keep it close.
Falcons @ Saints
Predicted Line: Saints by 7.5
Actual Line: Saints by 6
Granted, it’s tough to play in the Superdome and New Orleans is the better team. But remember during the offseason how I talked about the declining Saints’ defense and how that could ultimately hurt them? Well, they haven’t played a good quarterback yet this season (sorry, Brett Favre) and now they get the up-and-coming Matt Ryan fresh off a 41 point outburst.
I think Brees and Ryan will have quite the shootout and the Saints will come out on top, but I like Atlanta’s chances to keep it close and lose by a field goal.
Titans @ Giants
Predicted Line: Giants by 1
Actual Line: Giants by 3
I’m tempted to make this the Upset of the Week, but I don’t have enough confidence in Vince Young.
Chris Johnson is going to have a monster bounce-back week against a defense that’s a little shell-shocked. He should easily eclipse 100 yards and get the streak rolling again.
To date, the Titans actually lead the NFL in defense (granted, one of their games was against Oakland), and they lead the AFC with 8 sacks. New York’s offensive line looked horrendous on Sunday night. This could be another miserable game for Eli Manning.
Steelers @ Buccaneers
Predicted Line: Pittsburgh by 4.5
Actual Line: Pittsburgh by 2.5
90% of the action in Vegas is on the Steelers, and no duh. What were they thinking with this line? It should be more like 8. I was intentionally guessing low with 4.5. How can Pittsburgh not beat Tampa by at least a field goal? Ridiculous.
This is a no-brainer for my Lock of the Week.
I don’t care who Pittsburgh’s quarterback is. The defense will hold Tampa to less than 200 yards of offense. This is easy money. I wish I lived near a casino.
Bengals @ Panthers
Predicted Line: Cincinnati by 2
Actual Line: Cincinnati by 3.5
Okay Panthers, you can’t lose two in a row at home, right? Right??
I mean, this is a must-win if you want to stay in the playoff race. You’ve got two 1,000-yard rushers and a great offensive line and one of the league’s best downfield receivers. How can you go 0-3?
Wait … Jimmy Claussen is starting? Oh geez.
Browns @ Ravens
Predicted Line: Baltimore by 9
Actual Line: Baltimore by 10.5
Baltimore is going to have to score more than 10 points to cover by 10.5, and so far this season they’ve yet to do so. Their defense has been outstanding, but the offense is not doing a dang thing.
This is the week they’ll turn it on and look like true Super Bowl contenders.
The first two matchups were brutal: at New York Jets, then at Cincinnati. Anquan Boldin was matched up against Revis and then Leon Hall, both elite cover corners. This week … he gets Sheldon Brown.
Cleveland, at 0-2, has nothing to play for. They know their season is over. They’re in a brutal division and started 0-2 against Tampa and KC. Their quarterback is hurt. Fans are already looking ahead to the draft. Now they’re going on the road to face a team that has them outmatched at every position except kick returner.
This WILL be a blowout. I’m calling it my Lock of the Week Part 2.
Cowboys @ Texans
Predicted Line: Houston by 3.5
Actual Line: Houston by 3
Pick: Geez, I don’t know. This is the Stupid Game of the Week, where no matter what I pick, the opposite will happen. I guess I’ll take Dallas since I want Houston to win.
This is a crucial must-win for the Cowboys, but also for the Texans to stay atop the Colts and keep pushing towards the playoffs. Huge game for both teams. Really.
Both teams are immensely talented. Neither team will be able to stop the other’s passing attack. Neither team has the offensive line to block elite pass rushers (Mario Williams on Houston, DeMarcus Ware on Dallas). Both teams can run the ball if they want.
Houston has the obvious coaching advantage. And the home-field advantage. But I think Dallas is the pick because of sheer desperation.
Redskins @ Rams
Predicted Line: Washington by 5
Actual Line: Washington by 3.5
Once again I was very tempted to make this the Upset of the Week, but the line is too low and I don’t hate Washington that much. I do think Sam Bradford has played about as well as he could considering his situation, but this is not a good matchup.
But wait … could this be a trap game for the Redskins, who have Philly, Green Bay, and Indy the next 3 weeks? Donovan might get caught thinking ahead to the biggest game of his life, AT Philadelphia, next week.
St. Louis is still in the playoff picture, as strange as that sounds. The NFC West is perhaps the worst division in the history of sports, especially now that frontrunner San Fran is 0-2. Doesn’t it seem like once every season Steven Jackson takes over and single-handedly wins it for the Rams? Couldn’t this be the week against the Haynesworth-less Skins?
Wait, I’m talking myself into the Rams again. The pick has to be Washington with a line this low. Common sense.
Eagles @ Jaguars
Predicted Line: Philly by 2.5
Actual Line: Philly by 3.5
Looks like Kevin Kolb will be the quarterback for Philly, which I think is smart. Especially for this game. Jacksonville has the personnel to get after Vick and keep him from scrambling (Kampman, Morrison, Harvey). The strength of this team is the front 7 on defense. Not the secondary. Which means Kolb might have a solid game in his return. I certainly think that Kolb is a better quarterback than Vick. Then again, I also think Vick should be in a mental hospital for 5-10 years, because people who torture animals for fun clearly have issues. Isn’t that the number one indicator of serial killers?
So far this season, Mo-Jo Drew has been mostly ineffective and doesn’t even have the excuse that he played against great defenses. It’s been turnovers and sacks that have killed Jacksonville’s offense. But as we saw on Sunday, Philly doesn’t have much of a defense, as they let Jahvid Best rip them to shreds.
I like Jacksonville for a few reasons. Firstly, they’re underdogs at home. Secondly, Philly just isn’t very good. And thirdly, the Jags know they’ve got Indy next week so it’s vitally important to get a win in this game. Since 2004, Jacksonville is 9-2 in games prior to games against the Colts.
Jags over Philly, straight-up. That’s my Upset of the Week.
Colts @ Broncos
Predicted Line: Indy by 8.5
Actual Line: Indy by 6
Don’t overthink it. Peyton Manning against Kyle Orton. Easy.
Raiders @ Cardinals
Predicted Line: Cards by 5
Actual Line: Cards by 4
Remarkably, one of these teams will be 2-1.
I think it’ll be Oakland for one primary reason: the matchup between Nnamdi Asomugha and Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitz is by far Arizona’s best player, and Asomugha will most likely eliminate him from the game. Take Fitz out of the offense and Arizona just won’t move the ball. Oakland probably won’t do much either offensively, but after giving up 41 points last week this Arizona defense sure looks vulnerable.
Wait, did I just pick Bruce Gradkowski to cover a 4 point spread on the road? Ugh…
Chargers @ Seahawks
Predicted Line: San Diego by 4.5
Actual Line: San Diego by 5.5
Yeah, I know, stupid pick. San Diego has an potent passing offense and Seattle has a crap secondary. This should be an easy blowout.
But come on. Seattle’s a Home Dog by 6 points? Last time they were at home they shellacked San Francisco. And last time San Diego was on the road, they lost to Kansas City. I do think the Chargers will win, most likely, but 5.5 seems a little high. Especially considering the Bolts’ lack of a running game, the injury to Ryan Matthews, and the two holdouts at LT and WR which continue to plague the offense.
Jets @ Dolphins
Predicted Line: Miami by 2
Actual Line: Miami by 2
Pick: NY Jets
Revis is out. Jenkins is out. The highly touted Jets defense suddenly doesn’t look so unbeatable. Brandon Marshall should have quite a day and the Fins should be able to run the ball. So why pick the Jets?
Because I hate them, and if I pick against them, they’ll win, and it’ll be a double loss for me. Plus, Mark Sanchez looked great last week and Miami is due for a loss.
Packers @ Bears
Predicted Line: Green Bay by 5
Actual Line: Green Bay by 3
Pick: Green Bay
I was prepared to take Green Bay if the line was as high as 12.
It’s simple: Chicago’s secondary stinks, and Aaron Rodgers is fantastically good.
On the other side, Chicago’s offensive line stinks, and the Packers defensive line is very, very good. This will be a blowout and get the “Fire Lovie Smith” talk back on track. Four INTs for Cutler. Four TDs for Rodgers.
Before I get to the fantasy stuff, did you notice that there were a whopping 8 home underdogs this week? Last week there were only five - and four of those five beat the spread. The only one who didn't? Washington, in OT. So that means of these eight home dogs - KC, BUF, TB, CAR, STL, JAX, DEN, SEA and CHI - at least six will cover and three will win outright.
Fantasy Picks – Studs and Duds
Matt Ryan (6) and Kyle Orton (8) will be trying to keep pace with the high-scoring Saints and Colts.
Joe Flacco (2) and Brett Favre (7) will take advantage of easy matchups.
Jay Cutler is the only QB that will be starting in most leagues and will put up crap numbers.
Big games for Ray Rice (4) and obviously Adrian Peterson (1), as well as Jones-Drew (6) and Mendenhall (7). Justin Forsett (14) is the sleeper this week.
Stay away from last week's darlings Jahvid Best and LeSean McCoy. Neither is doing anything this week.
Bernard Berrian (19) and Percy Harvin (13) against the Lions. Huge game for Anquan Boldin (3). Keep rolling with Santana Moss (15). And I like Mike Sims-Walker (12) this week too.
Definitely Larry Fitzgerald. I'd bench him no matter who is on your bench. Also consider sitting your Bears and your Steve Smiths. And I wouldn't be playing Crabtree until he proves he's the #1 receiver in San Fran.
Shiancoe (4) is a must play. I'd start Todd Heap (7) too.
Jason Witten. I'd actually drop him and get someone else. Hurry and get Hernandez from New England before he's gone.
Vikings, Ravens and Steelers are no-brainers. Also start the Patriots and maybe the Cardinals if you feel lucky.
I'd leave New Orleans on the bench, and the Giants, and San Fran, and probably the Jets unless Revis is playing.
That's it ... GOOOOO LIONS.