If only I hadn’t believed in the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
As it was, I got a little bit back on track in Week 2, climbing over the prognosticating Mendoza Line with an 8-6-2 week. But I came away from it feeling like it could have been so much more.
Enter the Raiders, Jets and Broncos. I took all these of these teams to cover on the road and all three of them, well, laid a great big egg.
I was in luck, however, on the Monday nighter. I bet the over on whether or not the game would take more than or less than three days to finish. Thanks, replacement officials!
And now, on with the picks, with (as always) home team in CAPS:
PANTHERS (plus 1) over Giants: Eli Manning has never thrown a touchdown pass in a Thursday game. The road team faces a significant disadvantage with a Thursday game, with the Giants even going so far this week as taking the almost-unheard-of step of scheduling position meetings on Thursday in Charlotte. Preparation time? Not so much.
BEARS (minus 7) over Rams: The Bears will have had 10 days to get the stink of their Thursday night debacle at Lambeau Field out of their system. The Rams are a young team just learning how to win under a new coach. Soldier Field is not a friendly place to continue that education.
BROWNS (plus 3) over Bills: Call it a hunch. Cleveland had a dreadful near-miss against the Eagles in their opener and wasted big games by Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson at Cincinnati last week because the defense didn’t dial up the same effort as it did against Philadelphia. Buffalo still struggles away from home.
Buccaneers (plus 7) over COWBOYS: I like Dallas to win this one at home, just given their Jeckyl-and-Hyde nature and the fact the Cowboys lost last week. But the Buccaneers are no one’s pushover, even when all appears to be lost (see Kneeldown Controversy, Week 2, 2012).
TITANS (plus 4) over Lions: You’re going to give me four points with a home team that is traditionally solid there against a team that is historically horrific when it leaves the comfort of its home dome? Really? This is like stealing.
COLTS (minus 3) over Jaguars: Jacksonville is reminiscent of ESPN since November 2003: No “Playmakers.” Indianapolis is young but played well at home last week against a team that already beat the Jaguars in Week 1.
DOLPHINS (plus 3) over Jets: I’m not as sold on the Jets defense as Rex Ryan appears to be. It could be another big day for Reggie Bush (and, no, I never thought that was a sentence I would ever write).
49ers (minus 7½) over VIKINGS: San Francisco is flirting with “no line too big to lay the points” territory. The only thing that’s a little worrisome is the fact they only beat Detroit by eight points on Sunday night despite completely outplaying them. But it’s the Vikings, ya know?
Chiefs (plus 9) over SAINTS: Las Vegas apparently has much more faith in New Orleans than I do. I saw this train wreck getting ready to happen and haven’t been surprised to see this 0-2 start, complete with disorganization on both sides of the ball. I think they get their first win but there is no way in the mythical place with demons and fire and stuff that I’m laying nine off this team.
REDSKINS (minus 3½) over Bengals: We’ve gone so uncontrollably gaga over Robert Griffin III that we’re making them more than a field goal favorites over a playoff team from a year ago? OK, cool. I’m on board with that.
Eagles (minus 4) over CARDINALS: Raise your hand if you had this as a battle of the unbeatens in Week 3. Yeah, right. Both of you are lying. Philadelphia scares me for this simple reason: Any team that can turn the ball over nine times in two games and win both of them could be scary good once they master the fine art of, you know, holding on to the ball.
CHARGERS (minus 3) over Falcons: I’m starting to warm up to the fact I might of underestimated San Diego in 2012. The idea of this team being 3-0 in September ought to terrify the rest of the AFC West, given how lousy the Chargers usually have been to start seasons under Norv Turner.
Texans (minus 3) over BRONCOS: The Texans are really, really good. Peyton Manning’s arm is really, really not.
Steelers (minus 4½) over RAIDERS: Carson Palmer has been really, really not good since coming to Oakland. Pittsburgh got the ship righted by smacking around the Jets last week.
RAVENS (minus 3) over Patriots: While I realize New England may be better equipped to handle to loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez since every tight end ever born seems to wind up in Foxborough this year, but Kellen Winslow is a major downgrade at this point. Plus, Baltimore seemed a tad bit testy after the loss in Philadelphia.
SEAHAWKS (plus 3½) over Packers: There is always one team each year that Vegas doesn’t seem to understand. I believe this season that team is the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have a tough, physical ground game, an outstanding defense and there’s this thing with crowd noise in Seattle that seems to throw shotgun passing teams a little bit out of sync. Or a lot out of sync.
Last week: 8-6-2
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