Here are my NFL Week 3 Picks
(12-4 last week, 19-12 for the season)
Bye teams: none
LAR @ SF – It’s early, but so far the 2017 Rams have been fairly impressive. Not Broncos impressive exactly (had to sneak that in there), but impressive all the same. They took care of business at home vs the inept Colts, then lost at home vs the Redskins, have looked solid all around, putting up points in a way they couldn’t last season. Goff has improved, Gurley looks good, the defense has potential, and this team isn’t a pushover in any way. Now, they’re just 1-1, it’s not like they’re on fire, but expectations were low for this team, and they could be on their way to rising above them. I had hopes for San Francisco as well, although I knew perhaps it was too early to hope for much. They’re in the middle of turning the franchise around, they’ve got a lot of work to do, and I think they hired the right guys to do it, it’ll just take some time. But you can’t give them too much slack, the offense should at least be able to score some points, and so far they’ve got 12 after two games. That’s pitiful, there’s no other way to say it, and I’m going to have to see much more from San Fran before I pick them to win a game again.
Bal @ Jax – I happen to think that the Ravens are for real, despite the fact that their competition level so far this season has been absolutely horrid. They got the Bengals and then the Browns; not exactly scary. But the point is that they handled their work, they did they job, they completely dominated lesser teams, exactly the way they should. This at least shows that Baltimore is a team that is taking this season seriously, and although we haven’t seen much yet, I think we can count on them to be in the think of things come playoff time. So far, in two games, their defense has allowed 10 points total. They run the ball, they kick FGs when they need to, they shut down the other team’s offense; sounds like a winning strategy to me. This game, I should mention, is being played in London, where Jacksonville is used to competing, so you can look at it as an away game for both teams, or you can say that the Jaguars have the edge, but either way, I’m not sure it matters. Jax has been OK so far this year, they haven’t embarrassed themselves, but I don’t think they’re up to Baltimore’s level.
Cle @ Ind – Oof, this is going to be some bad football. The Browns are starting a rookie quarterback, are winless, and it’s starting to seem like they haven’t been good since 1962. I don’t know what more can be said about how terribly pathetic they are, like a lost puppy trying to cross the same street every day of its life. Cleveland just can’t turn it around, and it’s almost time for someone to forcibly do it for them. Lend me the organization for a year, I’ll change the uniforms, actually draft some good players, and you can thank me when I hand it back with box seats at the stadium. This season anyway, the Colts aren’t any better, as each year they put all their eggs in their quarterback’s basket with none left for the rest of the team. Luck goes down and it’s like no one else in the locker room or front offices has ever heard about football before. Now, they did make a good move in going with Brissett over Tolzien, that was a no-brainer, so maybe they have a chance to move the ball behind the new guy. But Luck can’t get back soon enough, and until he does this squad is as sad as the Brownies, which is saying something.
NYG @ Phi – Geez, I hate to go on like this, but here’s another terrible team in the Giants, the only difference being that we did not see this coming. Something is definitely wrong in the Big Apple, as the GMen have completely turned around for the worse, looking nothing like what I and many others predicted. They should have one of the best defenses in the league, they should have one of the best receiving corps in the league, they should have one of the best QBs in the league: where the heck did they go?! Odell has been hurt, Marshall can’t catch, Eli is running scared, the ground game isn’t working like it was supposed to, the defense can only do so much with their offense never on the field; it’s a complete disaster. NY has only scored 13 total points in two weeks, and I’m getting tired of thinking that they can turn it all around. I’ll hold out hope, but I won’t pick them to win here, as the Eagles go to Philly for their home opener and should walk away with a win. They played the Chiefs hard, and there’s no shame in losing in KC, so count on them for a good performance here, where they’ll move to 2-1 and keep the NFC East lead.
Mia @ NYJ – Cutler returns with a flourish, and the Dolphins win their first game of the season. On the road, new QB, a bye Week 1 for the hurricane, an away game in San Diego; that’s a pretty impressive win, and Cutler deserves a lot of credit. Now, how far this team will actually go is anyone’s guess, but perhaps they didn’t take that much of a step back from last year when they were forced to make the switch at quarterback, and perhaps they’re in the playoff conversation in a few months when the time is at hand. Let’s see how they do in their second game, another road contest, vs a team we can expect them to beat. The Jets, like the Colts, completely collapse when you remove a talented QB from the equation. McCown isn’t the answer, obviously, and this team will continue to lose all season long. What they need to do is too complicated to accomplish in one year, even two, and so it’ll take some time before this franchise is back on track and winning games. They do get to play at home for the first time this season, they do have an extra game under their belts, but I still think they lose to the JayJay combination of Miami.
Den @ Buf – I hope the Broncos play all season with a sense of disrespect, because that sure can be helpful, and they sure are entitled to feeling that way. Everyone and their brother thought the Broncos would lose to the Cowboys, despite playing in the rarefied air of the Mile High City. Not many people saw what I saw in that game vs the Chargers; a dominant performance that was overshadowed by a blown call & a fluky play that led to an INT and then to a closer game that it should have been. Denver creamed San Diego, the score just didn’t indicate that, and then they creamed Dallas even more, the score helping to tell the story this time. That they aren’t seen as an elite team right now is insulting, and should push them to be even better/angrier/more determined. Now, I say all that knowing that if they lose to Buffalo I and they will both look pretty foolish, but I have to say it because it’s true, I can’t worry about what might happen. I’m confident that the Broncos can take care of business on the road vs a far inferior team, I just hope my boys are thinking the same thing.
NO @ Car – It’s ridiculous, but the Saints always start out 0-2 or 0-3, that’s just how they do things. As Brees ages, you feel more & more concerned that he won’t be able to turn things around before it gets out of hand, but I’m not giving up hope in New Orleans yet, their offense is too good to be held down for long. Eventually, Thomas & Ingram will start scoring TDs, the team just needs to get in a groove first, snap out of this funk that they’ve started with. I don’t know what it will take to make that happen, but maybe a third loss to a division opponent and the realization that the season is slipping away far too fast will do it. The Panthers are in their own doldrums, but again, you have to assume that they’ll pick up their feet sooner rather than later. As bad as they’re playing, especially the offense, Carolina is currently undefeated, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s their defense that’s holding their heads above water right now, holding opponents to an average of 3 points a game. Wow, and the offense will match that intensity at some point, as soon as Cam knocks off the rust and realizes that this team is pretty great.
Pit @ Chi – The Steelers are putting in the work right now, plain and simple. Like their namesake, they are down in the suck gritting it out, not looking like the flashiest team, but fighting every game. First Cleveland then Minnesota; these aren’t pushover defenses, and it’s not easy to put up points in any game in this league. The Steelers just seem determined to beat you, no matter how they have to do it, and that’s gotta be frightening to other squads, that kind of resolve to win. I’ve always liked Big Ben, I think he’s great, and I think we can count on him to lead Pittsburgh deep into the playoffs at least one more year. The Bears aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so count them out now so that you don’t have to worry about them in December. Glennon or Trubisky; I don’t really think it matters, this team took a nose-dive down the standings a long time ago and they aren’t anywhere near climbing back up. Really, since Urlacher, Chicago has been sad, and how it takes so long to turn that around is beyond me. They’ll lose this game, they’ll probably lose a dozen more, and they won’t be relative for some time to come.
Atl @ Det – Battle of two NFC unbeatens, and it should be one hell of a game to watch. The Falcons took care of the Packers at home last week, in a statement win. They are dangerous still, and we all know that they should have won the Super Bowl last year. Really, all they had to do was run the ball instead of calling the play that got Matt Ryan sacked, and they would have won the game. It’s that simple, and how an NFL coach and an NFL player could make that mistake is beyond me. I still think the dreaded Hangover might hurt them eventually, but so far they are proving me wrong. The Lions are demanding attention as well, beating the Cardinals and the Giants, teams that were supposed to be among the best in the NFC. That they don’t look wonderful doesn’t reflect badly on Detroit; they took care of business the way they should. Stafford is playing well, the only other QB to throw 6 TDs in the first two weeks of the season is Siemian of the Broncos, so things are off to a good start. If the defense can hold their own, this is a team that can win a lot of games, including this one at home vs a tough opponent.
TB @ Min – Tampa starts off the season with an easy win, heralding good things to come for this young team. The offense could be great, the defense could shut you down, and the Bucs could be playoff-caliber. They won at home vs the Bears, so it’s not a complete test, this week will go a lot farther in showing just what they can do. I trust them to win games though, with Winston throwing to Evans, with a strong homefield advantage, we just need to see if they can win the hard ones as well as the easy ones, and here’s Week 3 to answer the question. The Vikings were beat up last week vs the Steelers in part because Sam Bradford had a surprising knee injury. I mean, it’s not that surprising, we just didn’t know about it this time, but as I’ve always said, Bradford will collapse at some point, either physically or in his play, it’s just a matter of time. Keenum looked terrible, of course, and whether or not Bradford comes back this week, I think the team needs Bridgewater to return if they’re to have a legitimate chance at the division. I don’t like this team, despite their defense, until they get rid of Bradford; his isn’t a winner.
Hou @ NE – This game looks good on paper, but it might be a complete blowout. Houston won last week in Cincinnati, making it look pretty easy, but that’s Andy Dalton, he’s not very scary. He’s probably about as good as Savage or as Watson, so no matter who the Texans threw out there, they had to know that they had a pretty good chance of winning the game, despite their own offensive inadequacies. The Texans only score 10 points per game, so any offense that can beat that should be able to beat them, even though their defense is solid. It’s just not solid enough to make up for such a bad offense, and I’m not sure how long it will take Watson to really come into his own. Too long I guess, since the Patriots are now on the schedule. New England bounced back in a big way last week, which was perfectly expected, we all knew they would do exactly that. They took their frustration out on the Saints, and they proved that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this team. Another win would solidify that idea, and I think the Pats will get it with relative ease, assuming that Brady stays off the turf.
Sea @ Ten – Here’s a sneaky good game, two of the better defenses in football squaring off and counting on their offenses to show up as well. Seattle has been pathetic on offense, scoring one TD through two games. They can’t run, they can’t block, and all they can do is hope that Wilson can escape the pocket, that the defense can hold that side of the ball down while the offense gets a couple of field goals. I don’t think that formula will last long, so they had better find a way to score, and quick. Neither of these teams wants to drop to 1-2, so look for a desperate fight, but I think Tennessee comes out on top. They found their scoring game last week, after an embarrassing home loss Week 1 to the Raiders. I think they’ll defend their turf this time out, and I think maybe they’ll be able to score some points. Maybe not many, it’s the Seahawks after all, but this run game is solid, and it could be the difference in this matchup. Seattle is completely confused as to what it should do with its running backs, but the Titans have no such problem. They’ll pound the ball, will play well before their fans, and will walk away with a victory.
Cin @ GB – Oh gosh, this might be a slaughter. The Bungles are earning that nickname this season, starting 0-2, failing to score a touchdown, firing their OC, and only scoring 9 total points on the season. The defense is OK, but not when kept on the field as long as they have been, and not when the offense completely drops the proverbial ball. Dalton looks worse than ever, the new speedsters aren’t speeding, no one seems to know what they’re doing, and I’d be delighted if they would finally fire Marvin Lewis, something that’s needed to happen for over 5 years. The Packers should completely annihilate the Bengals, and I’m not sure I can watch, as the guy I’m playing in fantasy has Aaron Rodgers and my security blanket, Jordy Nelson, is hurt. ARod might be insane this week, especially after being frustrated by the Falcons on Sunday Night in Week 2. That was embarrassing, and it’s not a product that GB shows to its home crowd. In Lambeau, the Pack are hard to beat, and I can’t possibly see them dropping this game; not to this team, and not after a loss. This one might end up 6-36.
KC @ LAC – The AFC West is a meat grinder, every team undefeated except for the Chargers, who are winless. The Chiefs, the Raiders, the Broncos; I wouldn’t want to play any of these teams right now, not the way they’re dominating, and poor LA has to play them each TWICE. The Chiefs are on a roll, and they look even tougher than last year when they should have gone deeper into the playoffs. Hunt is the real deal, he’s running wild, and Andy Reid looks like a genius. But the deal with him is that he doesn’t know how to coach a Super Bowl caliber team, they’re always good but not great. Is this the year that it finally comes together? I don’t know, I picked the Pats to win the SB and I’m not changing that any time soon, but KC has potential. The Chargers don’t, they find new ways to shoot themselves in the foot every single week, and I wouldn’t count on them to find a way to win more than 4 or 5 games all year. That said, you hate to go to a division opponent’s backyard, that always seems to backfire, so the Chiefs better be cautious, I just think they’ll still find a way to win.
Oak @ Was – Sunday Night football, with another AFC West juggernaut going on the road. The Broncos to Buffalo, the Chiefs to LA, the Raiders to Washington; will they all escape undefeated? That would be something, and they all SHOULD because they’re the better team, but it’s hard to deny that homefield advantage has its perks. Oakland seems immune to that though, they can go anywhere and do anything, regardless of who they play. It’s something in their genetics, they just scrap through the problem and laugh at you while they’re doing it. The Raiders are a wild card, always have been, and I like that they’re finally strong enough to be a real threat. Washington will give them a run for their money though, and they’ll look to defend their house. The Redskins won last week, they’re an OK team, they won’t be making a big impact on the NFC this season, but they’re good enough to be concerned with. You can assume that the Raiders know that the Redskins aren’t pushovers, will prepare, and will come out playing their best ball. We could see a close game, one that comes down to the wire and is really fun to watch.
Dal @ Ari – The Cowboys were destroyed by my Broncos last week, and that bitter taste could not have been fun. They were exposed, and sometimes when a blueprint gets out there, it’s hard to overcome other teams’ knowledge of how to beat you, to find other ways to win. Dallas will slump this year, that was always my prediction, and now that will be even harder to stop from happening. All you have to do it stop Zeke, make Dak throw, frustrate this squad by out-balling them on every snap. Sounds hard, is hard, but Denver did it, and I have a feeling that Arizona can do it too. They didn’t look half bad vs Detroit, but lost. They struggled vs Indy, but won. So it’s hard to say what kind of team these Cardinals are, whether they can return to their strength of these past few seasons. Palmer is getting old, Johnson being out hurts, but this defense is pretty solid, and I wouldn’t rule them out of posing a big threat to Dak & Co. If they can stuff up the line, they can get to the QB, they can win this game, and then the Cowboys go to 1-2 and we all start asking tough questions. We’ll see, should be a nice Monday Night in the desert.
Fantasy Players To Watch – presented by The Fantasy Footballers
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QBs – Jared Goff vs the 49ers. Jay Cutler vs the Jets. Trevor Siemian vs the Bills. Ben Roethlisberger vs the Bears. Matthew Stafford vs the Falcons. Aaron Rodgers vs the Bengals. Kirk Cousins vs the Raiders. Carson Palmer vs the Cowboys.
RBs – Todd Gurley vs the 49ers. Jay Ajayi vs the Jets. Mark Ingram vs the Panthers. LeVeon Bell vs the Bears. DeVontae Freeman vs the Lions. Mike Gillislee vs the Texans. DeMarco Murray vs the Seahawks. Kareem Hunt vs the Chargers. Marshawn Lynch vs the Redskins.
WRs – Alshon Jeffrey vs the Giants. Travis Benjamin vs the Saints. Antonio Brown vs the Bears. Marvin Jones vs the Falcons. Mike Evans vs the Vikings. Devonte Adams vs the Bengals. Amari Cooper vs the Redskins. J.J. Nelson vs the Cowboys.
TEs – Julius Thomas vs the Jets. Coby Fleener vs the Panthers. O.J. Howard vs the Vikings. Rob Gronkowski vs the Texans. Delanie Walker vs the Seahawks. Martellus Bennett vs the Bengals. Travis Kelce vs the Chargers.
Ks – Justin Tucker vs the Jaguars. Brandon McManus vs the Bills. Will Lutz vs the Panthers. Matt Bryant vs the Lions. Stephen Gostkowski vs the Texans. Mason Crosby vs the Bengals. Dan Bailey vs the Cardinals.
DEFs – LAR vs the 49ers. Philadelphia vs the Giants. Pittsburgh vs the Bears. New England vs the Texans. Green Bay vs the Bengals.