Saturday, September 20, 2014

2014 NFL Week 3 Picks

Week 3

If I were a betting man, I'd parlay Baltimore -1.5, New Orleans -10.5, and Carolina -3. Chicago +3 also got serious consideration, but you could still hedge on the SNF like MNF.

Tampa Bay +6.5 at Atlanta

Well that didn't go well. While I tweeted that the Falcons would definitely win, I took the points because I thought the Buccaneers would at least be competitive. I underestimated the injuries to their defense, especially on the line, but they're the most disappointing team in the league to me.

Dallas -1 at St. Louis

Murray just kills the Rams.
I still don't believe in the Cowboys defense, but I believe in Austin Davis even less. DeMarco Murray's breakout game as a rookie was when he went for 253 yards and a TD on 25 carries against the Rams, and with the way the Cowboys offensive line is playing, I'd expect more dominance against a St. Louis team that gave up 144 yards to Bobby Rainey on the ground last week. If the Rams do compete, it'll likely be on the back of Jared Cook since the Cowboys get killed by tight ends, but I wouldn't count on Davis until he proves it.

Philadelphia -6 versus Washington

This will be the start of Kirk Cousins' extended audition to prove that he is indeed the better fit for Jay Gruden's offense than Robert Griffin III, as training camp observers hinted. Unfortunately for him, the Eagles offense is likely to put him in a tough spot in a hostile environment.

Houston (PK) at New York Giants

This one's tough for me as it's hard to imagine the Giants at 0-3 and the Texans at 3-0, but I think J.J. Watt will continue to look like a man among boys as he faces one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Ben McAdoo's offense is showing signs of life as he involves Rueben Randle more and Larry Donnell continues to surprise at tight end, but it remains a work in progress. Middle linebacker Jon Beason's absence should allow Arian Foster to continue to roll, and if his hamstring gives him continued trouble, Alfred Blue will be in a great situation to display his talent.

New Orleans -10.5 versus Minnesota

After two disappointing losses on the road, you know the Saints will come out firing back in the Superdome. The Adrian Peterson-less Vikings are the team scheduled to face their wrath, and they're coming off a drubbing at home against the Patriots. If Matt Cassel doesn't get the ball to Cordarrelle Patterson to let him make plays, it'll be Teddy-time before long. Regardless, Drew Brees is a different quarterback at home, and Khiry Robinson is poised to break out thanks to Mark Ingram's unfortunate broken hand.

San Diego +2.5 at Buffalo

The early cross country game gives me pause, but the Chargers were really impressive in their win against the Seahawks. The Bills have been pleasantly impressive, as well, but I think San Diego will be able to move the ball on them, with Keenan Allen finally getting a chance to shake loose. The Ryan Mathews injury is a bummer, but Donald Brown was signed exactly for this purpose, with Danny Woodhead remaining a package player.

Cincinnati -7 versus Tennessee

The Bengals should run away with this one.
Jake Locker and the Titans came back to earth last week, and the Bengals continue to be one of the most impressive teams in the league. The line is a touch high, but I expect Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill to run all over Tennessee's light front seven and put the game away.

Baltimore -1.5 at Cleveland

The Browns have been playing tough football, but I like the Ravens coming off a long week. I wouldn't expect a lot of scoring in this one, and a turnover generated by Baltimore's superior defense might be the difference in a close one. Things might get a little dicey if Bernard Pierce can't give it a go, but fourth rounder Lorenzo Taliaferro is an interesting sleeper in Kubiak's zone blocking scheme.

Green Bay +2.5 at Detroit

Conversely, I expect a full on shootout between two high octane offenses in a dome, with both teams' right tackle issues as the only possible wrench in those plans. Calvin Johnson feasts on the Cheeseheads' defense, so Green Bay will have to hope the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round pays off. I think he'll acquit himself well, but Matthew Stafford should still be able to keep up with the Pack. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson predictably put on a show last week and have another good matchup against a depleted secondary. I'll take the more talented team and the points.

Indianapolis -7 at Jacksonville

How was this not called on MNF?
Coming off a a valiant comeback falling short and a collapse after a horrible non-call on T.Y. Hilton being held, I think the 0-2 Colts take out all of their frustrations on a disappointing Jaguars team. Everyone knew Jacksonville wouldn't be bad, but I thought they'd at least be competitive with signs of hope. It doesn't look like that'll happen until the Blake Bortles era begins, and it's smart to wait since their current line will make even Indy's pass rush look formidable.

New England -14 versus Oakland

They couldn't make this line high enough with the hapless Raiders going cross country to face a Patriots team coming off a blowout. Both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley should have big days in a rout.

San Francisco -3 at Arizona

I think Michael Crabtree could have another huge day against Patrick Peterson like he has in the past, especially with Vernon Davis unlikely to play. Arizona is great against the run and lacks perimeter pass rushers, so the Niners should open up the passing game and trust Colin Kaepernick to bounce back after last week's letdown. Larry Fitzgerald will have a size advantage in the slot against Jimmie Ward like Brandon Marshall last week, but Drew Stanton is no Jay Cutler. As long as San Francisco doesn't let Andre Ellington get away from them, they should be able to get consistent stops.

Denver +5 at Seattle

Not only must the Broncos be mad that their divisional rival got win last week, but now the Seahawks are pissed coming off a loss. It's not usually wise to bet against them at home, but you know Peyton Manning spent all offseason going over that Super Bowl loss. They'll need Montee Ball to step up in a big way so that they can consistently move the ball like the Chargers did last week. Their defense has been upgraded since the Super Bowl, and having Chris Harris healthy in the slot against Percy Harvin is huge, as well. It should be enough to at least keep the game close.

Kansas City +3.5 at Miami

I'm taking the points with the Chiefs on the road again, but I don't feel nearly as good about it as last week. I think Ryan Tannehill will have a bounce back game at home, and Lamar Miller will finally take hold of this backfield. That being said, it's hard to see the Chiefs losing ways continue. Having your best player out obviously hurts, but Knile Davis has filled in well for Jamaal Charles everything he's been plugged into the lineup.

Carolina -3 versus Pittsburgh

Cam Newton looked no worse for wear in his season debut last week against a tough Lions defensive front, and the Steelers have not shown the ability to consistently get to opposing passers. Conversely, the Panthers have one of the best front sevens in the league facing an inconsistent offensive line. Big Ben always has the ability to make magic happen, but I don't think he'll make more plays than Cam at home.

Chicago +3 at New York Jets

The Bears get an extra day of rest for their star receivers to get healthy after their gritty win last week, and they're facing a secondary that just got exposed by the Packers. The worry is that the Jets will control possession with their ability to run the ball against a shaky Chicago defense, especially with Chris Ivory up the middle. However, while Geno Smith has been impressive at times, he still has too many turnovers. The same could be said of Jay Cutler, of course, but I'm going with the veteran and the points.

Last week: 7-9
Season total: 13-19

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