NFL Football Predictions: Week 3 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/16/2014
It's just about impossible to start 0-3 in the NFL and make the playoffs as just three clubs have done it since 1990 and none since the 1998 Buffalo Bills, who were quarterbacked by Doug Flutie (and Rob Johnson). You know it's been a long time if I'm using the words Bills and playoffs in the same sentence. Thus, it's must-win time for these 0-2 clubs in Week 3: the Giants, Buccaneers, Saints, Colts, Jaguars, Raiders and Chiefs. New Orleans is the shocker on that list. Here's are a few games and interesting NFL opening lines for Week 3.
Ravens at Browns (pick'em, 41.5): I don't understand this line at all. True, Cleveland has been a lot better than people expected thus far, at least offensively. The Browns could have beaten the Steelers in Week 1 in Pittsburgh and shocked the Saints 26-24 on Sunday. It made the Browns 1-0 at home for the first time in 10 years, which is pretty hilarious when you think about it. Brian Hoyer looks like he will fend off Johnny Manziel for a while, although Johnny Football did get in a for a few plays against the Saints. Cleveland running back Ben Tate likely will miss a second straight game, but the Browns might be better off with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell sharing carries. Why I don't get this line is that Baltimore looked great in thumping Pittsburgh last Thursday -- I recommended Baltimore and giving the 2.5 points -- and thus had those extra few days to prepare. The Ravens' Week 1 loss to Cincinnati even looks good now as the Bengals might be the AFC's best team. Yes, better than Denver. The pick: Baltimore (this line is going to move, so get it now).
Vikings at Saints (-9.5, 51): New Orleans is really going to play angry here. This is the Saints' first home game of the season, and they are simply a vastly different club on the fast track of the Superdome. And it's not like New Orleans is playing all that badly as both losses came on last-minute field goals. The Saints did lose running back Mark Ingram for at least a month with a hand injury, and he had finally been playing well. They have enough other backs, though. Minnesota apparently will have Adrian Peterson back for this game. Yeah, he was rather missed in the Vikings' home blowout loss to the Patriots in Week 2. Matt Cassel was terrible in that one with four picks. He is the first quarterback since 2006 to start in both Week 1 and 2 without completing more than one pass 10 or more yards downfield. Let the Teddy Bridgewater countdown begin. The pick: Saints win by more than any other team in Week 2 (especially if the Vikings change their minds on Peterson). Also go "over."
Raiders at Patriots (-14.5, 47): New England is the biggest favorite on the board. Did you put down some money on Oakland's Dennis Allen back in the preseason to be the first NFL coach fired? If you did, you might be able to collect as soon as Monday. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Monday that the scuttlebutt around the league is the Raiders already are pondering dumping the clearly overmatched Allen. It's not really his fault -- the Raiders have the least talented roster in the NFL. According to one report out of the Bay Area, the Raiders already have a plan to promote offensive line coach Tony Sparano to head coach if Allen gets fired during the season. This is the Patriots' only home game in September, and I have a feeling that they might not be all that engaged, perhaps looking ahead to a trip to Kansas City on Monday, Sept. 29. That half point could be crucial, though: The pick: Raiders cover.
Chargers at Bills (-2, 44): This is the definition of a trap game for the Bolts. They come off a very emotional win over the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and now have to travel across country to face a Bills team that is brimming with confidence after wins over Chicago and Miami. I think the Bills are legit. Also, the Chargers lost starting running back Ryan Mathews for a month with a sprained MCL. I have little faith in Donald Brown and/or Danny Woodhead making up for his loss. The pick: Buffalo and "under".
Broncos at Seahawks (-5, 48.5): How can I not touch on this Super Bowl rematch? I would have loved Denver this week to exact some payback for that beatdown at MetLife Stadium, but I'm doubting that Seattle plays anywhere near as badly as it did in San Diego. The Seahawks haven't lost two straight since Weeks 7-8 of Russell Wilson's rookie season. Will the Broncos have Wes Welker for this one? His suspension could be lifted any day now whenever the NFLPA and owners officially sign off on their new drug deal. The 32 NFLPA team representatives gave unanimous approval on Friday, but the sides didn't get the formal agreement done in time for the Sunday roster deadline on Saturday. The pick: Seahawks and over.
Redskins at Eagles (-6.5, 51): I'm not saying the Redskins need to trade Robert Griffin III or anything that drastic, but it's pretty evident they can't count on him to ever play all 16 games in a regular season. RGIII is likely out two months after dislocating his ankle on a play in which he wasn't touched. So Kirk Cousins gets his chance to prove he can be a full-time starter in this league. If you have fantasy team, make sure to start Washington receiver DeSean Jackson. If he plays, that is. Jackson also was hurt in Week 2 (shoulder), but nothing major. He badly wants to play to stick it to his former Eagles team. The pick: Eagles -- while under 7 -- and over.
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