“We’re on to Week 3.” – Bill Belichick voice
I’ve stated this before many times but in terms of the sports landscape, make no mistake, the NFL is king. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching MLB, the NBA, College Football, etc. But the NFL is truly a nationwide sport that generates levels of excitement and interest that other sports can’t match. This past weekend was further proof of this as evident by not one, not two, but three improbable 4th quarter comebacks by the Jets, Cardinals and Dolphins. Combine that with a couple of upsets and it was an exciting weekend.
Before we get to this week’s slate of games, let’s revisit last week’s picks. I went 10-6 overall which is not bad considering I lost in all 3 of the comeback games mentioned previously. My worst pick? Probably taking the Commanders to knock off the Lions in Detroit although they did mount a second half comeback to make it interesting. My best pick? I tried telling everyone that the Cowboys and Cooper Rush would come to play last week, and they did, knocking off the Bengals at home and sending them packing with an 0-2 record to start the season. Are there more upsets in store this week? I think there may be. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s picks.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland – Pittsburgh lost at home to New England last week and the Browns were booed off the field as they let Joe Flacco and the Jets steal a game that they mathematically had a 99.9% chance to win. While Cleveland has a great running game I’m going to go with coaching as the x-factor in this one and pick the Steelers (and their fans who travel well) to knock off the Browns on Thursday night. Steelers take it. As an additional note, if they don’t take it, I think Kenny Pickett may be getting a look sooner rather than later.
Baltimore at New England – The Ravens were in firm command entering the 4th quarter against the Dolphins and let Tua Tagovailoa throw for 6 touchdowns to pull off a wild comeback. I was very high on the Ravens to start the year, but it will be interesting to watch how much they miss the presence of former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. The defense is starting to concern me a bit. The Patriots won in a tough environment in Pittsburgh, but the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are much more dynamic and should pull off the win. Go with the Ravens.
Buffalo at Miami – What can you say about Buffalo that hasn’t been said? They have the number one offense and defense in the league. They have steamrolled the Rams and the Titans in back-to-back primetime games and will now head to Miami to face a Dolphins team who is off to a 2-0 start under new coach Mike McDaniel. I think Buffalo is the better team, but I can see the Dolphins pulling this one out with the extra day of rest. Dolphins in a minor upset.
Cincinnati at New York Jets – J-E-T-S – you know the rest. While I’m not a big fan of Fireman Ed I couldn’t help but be a fan of seeing Joe Flacco turn back the hands of time and leading the Jets to a thrilling comeback victory over the Browns. Wideout Garrett Wilson looks like a stud, and it will be interesting to see where the Jets go once healthy. That said the Bengals NEED to win this game after falling to 0-2 and I expect them to get back on track this week. The Bengals take it at MetLife.
Detroit at Minnesota – After destroying the Packers in Week 1, the Vikings laid a complete egg on Monday night against the Eagles dropping Kirk Cousins Monday night record to a paltry 2-10. Their defense made no adjustments throughout the game and while it’s early, it’s fair to wonder whether this will be another one of those up and down seasons for Minnesota. The Lions on the other hand performed great at home knocking off the Commanders to even their record at 1-1. Minnesota should be coming into this game salty and ready to win. Take the Vikings in a close one.
Houston at Chicago – Not exactly the flashiest matchup this weekend. The Texans defense played well in a losing effort against Russell Wilson and the Broncos, but the offense looks like it has a long way to go. The Bears ran into a juggernaut with Aaron Rodgers and the Pack and simply didn’t have enough firepower to compete for 4 quarters. I am a huge believer in Justin Fields despite his lackluster supporting cast. That said, I think former Bears and current Texans head coach Lovie Smith is going to be out for revenge in this game, I’m taking the Texans in an ugly one in Chicago.
Kansas City at Indianapolis – The Colts look a mess to start the season. They were shutout last week against the Jaguars with Matt Ryan throwing for only 195 yards and 3 interceptions. It’s not going to get any easier this week with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes coming to town on 10 days' rest. I think the Colts should perform better as their season is on the line but I’m not betting against Andy Reid. Chiefs win.
Las Vegas at Tennessee – The Raiders gave away a 20-point lead in the second half to the Cardinals and fell to 0-2 on the season. The Titans also fell to 0-2 at the hands of the Bills and look like a team that is completely lost on offense after losing 5 of their 6 top receivers in the offseason. It’s hard to label a Week 3 game a “must win” but this is as close as it gets. I don’t trust Ryan Tannehill or his receivers, I’m taking the Raiders.
New Orleans at Carolina – The Saints defense gave Tom Brady everything he could handle on Sunday but unfortunately Jameis Winston gave the Buccaneers defense the ball time and again. The Panthers meanwhile lost to the New York Football Giants behind an abysmal performance from Baker Mayfield. The Panthers offense looks lost, and the Saints need to get back on track. Saints' talent wins out here.
Philadelphia at Washington – The Eagles have looked fantastic through 2 weeks and Jalen Hurts is looking like the real deal. Are they the best team in the NFC? They certainly have an argument. The Commanders put up 27 points in the second half against Detroit with Carson Wentz going for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think this divisional battle is going to be a close one and even though I like the Eagles long term, I have a funny feeling Wentz is going to be at his best on Sunday. Commanders in an upset!
Jacksonville at LA Chargers – The Jaguars are a team on the rise and it’s evident that new coach Doug Pederson has Trevor Lawrence and this offense moving in the right direction, especially after shutting out the Colts 24-0 on Sunday. The Chargers lost to the Chiefs on Thursday night and in the process phenom quarterback Justin Herbert hurt his ribs. He’s a gamer and I think he plays, and I think the Chargers win big.
Atlanta at Seattle – It would be easy to pick on the Falcons at 0-2 but to their credit they gave the Rams a very competitive game in a losing effort on Sunday. The same cannot be said for the Seahawks who lost 27-7 to the division rival 49ers. Who wins this game? Not the fans. The Falcons have more talent in my opinion, but I just have a tough time betting against Seattle at home. I’m taking the Seahawks.
Green Bay at Tampa Bay – This easily could be an NFC Championship preview in the making. The Packers were back on track at Lambeau behind a strong running game which is what they will need to rely on this year more than in years past. The Buccaneers will be without WR Mike Evans who was suspended after being involved in a fight in the Bucs 20-10 win over New Orleans. Both quarterbacks are even but I think the difference maker will be the Bucs defense who are going to be a problem all year for opposing teams. Close one but I’m taking the Bucs.
LA Rams at Arizona – Kyler Murray did his best Bo Jackson Tecmo Bowl impression this past week and led the Cardinals to an incredible comeback against the Raiders. The Rams won but looked very underwhelming against the lowly Falcons. That must mean Cardinals over the Rams then, right? Sorry I’m not buying an Arizona renaissance. Rams win here.
San Francisco at Denver – QB Trey Lance is out for the season after breaking his ankle, however fortunately for the Niners they have the best backup QB in the league, Mr. Jimmy Garoppolo. The Niners looked very comfortable on Sunday with Garoppolo behind center and I’d expect that trend to continue through the regular season. The Broncos on the other hand look completely lost. They barely beat the Houston Texans and it took 10 points in the 4th quarter to pull it off. I was very high on the Broncos to start the season but after seeing some of new coach Nathaniel Hackett’s schemes I’m starting to have a lot of doubt. Mile High is still a very difficult place to play, and I can’t help but think Wilson is going to want to prove to the Denver faithful that he’s the franchise quarterback he espouses to be. I’m going with Denver but don’t feel great about it.
Dallas at New York Giants – Props to Dallas for pulling off an incredible win against the Bengals on Sunday. QB Cooper Rush isn’t going to wow anyone, but he does just enough on the field to put his team in a position to win. Also, LB Micah Parsons may be the best defensive player to come in the league since JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. He’s that special. As for the Giants, what an incredible job by their defense led by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. I get accused by other Giants fans of not being very positive about the team at times and I have to say I feel it’s very unwarranted. First of all, I’m a realist. I root for good things to happen, but I also recognize what the end results are. The Giants have had a losing record 8 out of the past 9 seasons. Those are facts. The previous regime left the Giants in absolute shambles both in terms of cap space and talent. Those are facts. BUT – the good news? I’m a full believer in this new regime. The culture is better; there is accountability (looking at you Kenny Golladay) the schemes make sense and realistically we’re not going to see the full vision of this management in action until 2 seasons down the road when cap space becomes available, and the Giants add more young talent. I love that the Giants are 2-0 right now, but this season isn’t about winning games. It’s about finding what core pieces you can build around for the long terms, who you want to extend contracts to, and who you want to move on from in an effort to improve. One of those players the Giants need to move on from is Daniel Jones. He’s a nice kid, he’s got talent, but I just don’t see the improvement we need to see for a year 4 starter. Do I feel for him that he’s had some tough breaks in terms of a poor offensive line and not the best receiving corps? To an extent. But a franchise quarterback would overcome those obstacles and I just haven’t seen it. Again, I’m rooting for him to prove me wrong, but his time is almost up. I think this is a very winnable game for the Giants but the Dallas talent on defense wins out for me, I’m going the Cowboys in a close one – but Go Giants!
Thanks as always for reading, enjoy this weekend!