September 19, 2019
For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 3 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.
Note: It's straight chalk this week. Sorry. Licking my wounds after picking like 7 upsets last week, I guess.
Titans (-1.5) at Jaguars: In what may be Jalen Ramsey's last game with the Jaguars, Jacksonville's season has already gone sideways, and I believe that will continue in front of a national audience Thursday night.
Jets at Patri*ts (-22.5): Next.
Bengals at Bills (-6): The Bills are 2-0 with two road wins under their belts against a pair of garbage teams. They have a great chance at making that 3-0 against a trio of garbage teams.
Dolphins at Cowboys (-21.5): Survivor pool pick alert. See below.
Broncos at Packers (-7.5): Should we believe in the Packers' defense yet? They've allowed fewer than 10 points per game so far, and should be able to corral a crappy Broncos offense as well.
Falcons at Colts (-1.5): The trend of Vegas sleeping on the Colts continues, as a 1.5-point spread indicates that they think the Falcons are the better team if this game were played on a neutral field. I disagree. Give me Frank Reich all day over a very shaky Falcons team.
Ravens at Chiefs (-6.5): This should be the game of the week, between the No. 1 and No. 3 offenses so far this season, who both have fun quarterbacks to watch. I believe more in the long-term sustainability of the Chiefs.
Raiders at Vikings (-8.5): The Raiders hung with the Chiefs for like a quarter last week, and then... (fart noise). The Vikings will look to get back to taking the ball out of Kirk Cousins' hands on Sunday. They should be able to do that.
Lions at Eagles (-6.5): Before the season began, I think we all looked at this matchup, quickly penciled in a W without any thought, and moved onto the next game. Now, ehhhhh, it's not such a no-brainer pick.
The Lions have quietly assembled a quality group of skill position players, an offensive line that has some continuity under its belt, and a decent enough defense with good players at each level, including an elite corner in Darius Slay.
If there's a major positive to take away from the Eagles' loss last Sunday to the Falcons, it's that Carson Wentz, after some early struggles, put the team on his back, and nearly carried them to a W on his own. He just didn't get enough help from his teammates.
Ultimately, I like the Eagles to overcome a mess of injuries on Wentz's back, at home, where they currently have a four-game winning streak. That said, I'll take the Lions +6.5 all day.
Panthers at Cardinals (-2.5): Cam Newton hasn't practiced this week, and as a result, this line has moved from Panthers -2.5 to Cardinals -2. Hang on... Let me see who the Panthers' backup is.
Oh, it's Kyle Allen. Who's that? He was Texas A&M's quarterback to start the season in 2015, before he got benched for... drumroll... Kyler Murray!
Anyway, I have no strong feelings on this game. The Panthers are a sinking ship, and the Cardinals' head coach keeps making incredibly cowardly decisions.
Giants at Buccaneers (-6.5): This has nothing to do with this matchup, but I'm flabbergasted at the number of sportswriters who have Eli Manning making the Hall of Fame in this poll done by ESPN. And worse, many of the explanations for why he should be are based on nonsense. "He played in New York," for example. WHO CARES?!?!?
The worst of the bunch is this, from Dan Graziano.
Yes, of course. Think about it from the perspective of a football fan 30 to 40 years from now, looking back over the history of the league and seeing there was a quarterback who didn't miss a game due to injury for a 15-year stretch and during that stretch won the Super Bowl twice, both times against Tom Brady's Patriots, once when those Patriots came into the game 18-0. Your grandchildren are finding out about this player and asking you, "How come this guy isn't in the Hall of Fame?" And then you watch their eyes glaze over as you explain about efficiency stats or whether he ever led the league in passing yards. The Hall of Fame tells the story of the game's history, and Manning is an essential part of that history as it pertains to his era. I have no idea if his candidacy can survive the absolute worst Hall of Fame/awards voting process in all of sports, but this is a no-brainer for me.
Good Lord. If Eli Manning doesn't make the Hall of Fame, and I have a grandson who asks me why not, I'll simply tell little Jimmy, "Little Jimmy, Eli Manning was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league over the last decade of his career, and even when he was 'good' or something close to it, he was never objectively among the top 10 of quarterbacks in the league. As for the Super Bowls he won against Tom Brady, they happened because the Giants' defensive line pummeled him."
And then little Jimmy will say, "Thanks! You're the smartest grandfather in all the land." And I will nod in agreement.
Anyway, I'll take the Buccaneers in Daniel Jones' first NFL start, I guess.
Texans at Chargers (-3.5): Heading into the season, the Chargers tricked me into thinking they were one of the best teams in the league for like the fifth time in the last decade. They have not looked that way so far, but I'll still stick with them for a bit.
Saints at Seahawks (-4.5): Teddy Bridgewater did not inspire much confidence when he entered in relief of Drew Brees a week ago, and now New Orleans has to play on the road in a tough environment.
Steelers at 49ers (-6.5): This will be our first glimpse as to whether Mason Rudolph is the future at quarterback for the Steelers, or if they were foolish for trading away a potential top 10 pick that could have been used on one. My bet is on the latter.
Rams (-3) at Browns: I loved this line when it was 2.5. I still like it at 3. The Rams are the team the Browns aspire to be, but they aren't there yet.
Bears (-4) at Washington: The thinking on the Bears heading into this season was that the offense should get better with Mitchell Trubisky in his third year, but could the defense, minus its offensive coordinator, keep playing at the same high level they did in 2018?
Well, the defense has held up its end of the bargain, but Trubisky has stunk. Still, I'll take the Bears and lay 4 points against the second-worst team in the NFL.
Easy. Take the Cowboys. They're 21.5-point favorites at home vs. the Dolphins. And if they somehow lose, you can just be happy about that, too.
Teams already used: Eagles, Ravens.
There are three this week. In real life:
Update: I received an objection on the falcon-horse analysis from our Matt Mullin that I can't really disagree with.
"How is the horse defending itself from an attack from above as the falcon claws its eyes out? I’ll wait…"So I concede there. I'll still go with a lion over an eagle and a panther over a cardinal all day though, obviously.
• Picks against the spread: Colts (-1.5), Lions (+6.5), Rams (-3), Bears (-4).
• Eagles picks: 1-1
• 2019 season, straight up: 17-14-1 (0.547)
• 2019 season, ATS: 7-5 (0.583)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS: 41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)
• Last 5 years, ATS: 171-137-6 (0.554)
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