Note: I will have my 8-Unit NFL Game of the Year on Sunday. This one should be a goddamn bloodbath and I can't wait.
Just two weeks into the season and you can smell the stench of panic coating teams throughout the NFL. Everyone knows the gruesome numbers about the probability of a team that starts the season 0-2 making the playoffs (it is somewhere just north of 10 percent). But it is even worse for teams that start 0-3, as only five clubs in the history of the NFL have been able to turn their seasons around after losing their first three games.
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The panic isn't simply reserved for 0-2 teams. The sportsbooks got crushed last weekend as a host of high-profile favorites came through against the spread. Vegas was able to get a little back when the Bears flopped on Monday night. But on the whole the books took one on the chin and have responded by jacking up the spreads in many games on the board this week.
There are five games with spreads of 7.0 or higher.
And even teams with winning records are panicking! The Patriots are trying to hustle their injured backup/starting quarterback onto the field while 2015 playoff teams like Arizona and Cincinnati know they will have their hands full to avoid a 1-2 start to the year.
Desperation is in the air. Don't breathe it in. We have made but a few small strides on this six-month journey toward the Super Bowl. And there are many twists and turns awaiting us. This is not the time for Fear. That will come later.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 3:
1. New England Patriots (2-0) - Good god. I don't even want to see if the Patriots can win with Jacoby Brissett. Enough already. We get it. You're the best. The rumors coming out about pressuring Jimmy Garoppolo to play are vintage Belichick manipulations. But they are also clear signs that the Patriots know that Brissett is in way over his head and doesn't have a chance this week. Regardless, the Patriots will try to win again with defense and a power running game; also known as "fundamental football". The Patriots are now 20-8 ATS in their last 28 home games.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) - Do you think that the Steelers have heard enough about how amazing Carson Wentz is this week? You think there is anyone on that defense that doesn't want to abjectly humiliate Wentz in front of his home crowd on Sunday? These two teams met in Week 2 of the preseason and the Eagles scored a 17-0 win. However, Big Ben and The Boys didn't play in that game. Regardless, I am guessing the Steelers are still a little salty about getting shutout in a loss there. The home team has won six of the last seven meetings in this series, going back to 1991, and the favorite is just 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.
3. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) - Arizona is the public's favorite bet on the board this week, with 83 percent of the action coming in on the Cardinals. They are making a long trip and will have to endure the dreaded 10 a.m. PST kickoff. However, that didn't bother them at all last year. The Cardinals went 3-1 ATS in these situations last year. Arizona is an outstanding 15-7 ATS on the road and 19-7 ATS against teams with a losing record. Further, Arizona is 12-1 on the road against a team with a losing home record.
4. Carolina Panthers (1-1) - Kelvin Benjamin is an absolute animal. Just an animal. I predict that by the end of the season he will be in that conversation when people are talking about the best receivers in the game. He is on pace for 100 catches, 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns and frankly looks unstoppable at the moment. The betting action in the Vikings game is essentially split 50-50. However, nearly all of the books that opened the game at 7.5 have already moved the spread to 7.0 in that one.
5. Green Bay Packers (1-1) - I am not buying into the "There's Something Wrong With Aaron Rodgers" narrative. The guy is still making just about every throw. But he is still not getting a ton of help from anyone else on his offense. Jordy Nelson is not the same player, Randall Cobb is nicked up, Eddie Lacy is still fat, and the offensive line has been shaky at best. But I really like how physical the Packers have been on defense. And I think Green Bay's offense will be ready to explode in the home opener against a shaky Lions secondary. The favorite is 7-1 ATS in the Detroit series, and the home team has won five of the last seven meetings.
6. Denver Broncos (2-0) - Trevor Siemian will be making his first road trip this week when the Broncos head to Cincinnati. It shouldn't matter with that defense that the Broncos are packing, though. Denver's defense does have to get better on third down. They allowed the Panthers and Colts to convert 52 percent of their third downs in the first two games. The Broncos have won five of the last six meetings with Cincinnati over the past decade but are just 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings. The underdog is 6-1 ATS in this series and the road team is 5-1 ATS the last six times these teams have met.
7. Minnesota Vikings (2-0) - I think I was the least-surprised person in the country on Sunday night when Sam Bradford played well and led the Vikings to a crucial rivalry win over the Packers to christen their new stadium. I have been a big Bradford supporter for several seasons and, even without Adrian Peterson, Bradford still has more skill position talent around him than he's ever had. I was incredibly surprised to see the Vikings getting a full touchdown from the Panthers this week, but it looks like the books expect a letdown. Regardless, Minnesota is a dominating 39-17 ATS in its last 56 games overall and 10-1 ATS in its last 11 road games.
8. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) - Would you believe me that only 33 percent of the wagers in a Seattle home game are actually coming in on the Seahawks? The public is clearly convinced that there are major problems, besides some just injury issues, with Seattle's offense. But the Seahawks have been one of the most dominating home teams in the NFL the past decade, and they are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games as a home favorite of 10.0 or more. Seattle is 4-1 ATS after a loss as well.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) - The Bengals will have an opportunity to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions in their home opener this week. The Bengals handled the Broncos here in 2014, winning 37-28, but they lost at Mile High in overtime thriller last December. That gives Cincinnati the revenge motivation this week as well as the emotional edge from their first home game. The Bengals are 14-5 ATS in their last 19 games overall but just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games. Cincinnati is 27-11 ATS in its last 38 September games. But be wary: all NFL teams are 13-30 ATS the week after playing the Steelers.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) - I completely understand how hard it would have been for the Chiefs to beat the Texans, in Houston, AGAIN. However, it is a problem to see the Chiefs play such slow starting, sloppy football for the second straight week. The Chiefs are averaging 5.3 yards per rush right now, so I really don't think they are missing Jamal Charles all that much. I don't think they should risk rushing him back. The home team in the Jets series has won five straight, and the Chiefs are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against New York. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in this series, and the Chiefs will be looking for their first home cover in their last five games at Arrowhead.
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) - Obviously John Harbaugh reads my Power Rankings! Last week I wrote about the idiocy of coaches going for two when the situation doesn't call for it. Harbaugh twice eschewed going for two, first when they cut the score to 20-8 in the second quarter and then again when they cut it to 20-18 to open the third quarter. Harbaugh showed poise and didn't panic, and it paid off. The Ravens will have revenge on their minds in Jacksonville this week. Baltimore lost to the Jaguars at home last year thanks to an officiating error and a bizarre facemask penalty that set up the game-winning 53-yard field goal at the buzzer.
12. New York Giants (2-0) - I know it is early. I know that the Cowboys and Saints are both second-tier teams right now. But the Giants look good, man. For all the talk about what a strict disciplinarian Tom Coughlin was, it is worth noting that the Giants have taken the fewest penalties in the league so far (seven). I did feel like Ben McAdoo's (wrong) decision to go for it on fourth down inside the Saints five-yard line last week was a direct reaction to everyone calling him out for his (wrong) decision NOT to go for it on fourth down in a potential game-winning situation in Dallas the week prior. I hope I am wrong, because if McAdoo is going to coach in New York he can't have rabbit ears about that stuff.
13. New York Jets (1-1) - Ryan Fitzpatrick absolutely had that back shoulder throw working against the Bills last week. When Fitz is slinging it like that, the Jets offense can be unstoppable. New York showed a veteran's poise by not getting rattled in Orchard Park; even though the Jets did everything they could to put that game in Buffalo's hands. Much like we saw with the Ravens,
14. Houston Texans (2-0) - The Texans are one of only two teams (Steelers) that have beaten both opponents by at least a touchdown this season. That said, I can't say I'm overly impressed with their offense to this point and I am starting to wonder how Bill O'Brien was ever an offensive coordinator. Sure, with a defensive front seven like Houston's the focus of the offense should simply be not turning the ball over. But Brock Osweiler has been spraying balls all over the place and already has three interceptions. He's been kind of a mess. Houston has been a mess on Thursday nights, going 0-6 ATS in their last six Thursday Night Football games.
15. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) - How many people do you think will be watching the Falcons-Saints game on Monday Night Football? Maybe 10? Twelve? The presidential debates aren't going to put up Super Bowl numbers (maybe), but I expect that will be one of the most-watched non-sports events of all-time. It is amazing how much things can change for Atlanta in one week. Falcons fans were ready to throw themselves, and Matt Ryan, off a bridge after Week 1. But four touchdowns and a road win later everything is peachy. Atlanta is just 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games against the NFC and just 1-7 ATS in its last eight division games. The Falcons are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games overall but 4-1 ATS in their last five games on Monday nights.
16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) - Dak Prescott continues to impress. But most importantly, he continues to take care of the ball. Prescott will be seeing his first 3-4 defense this week when the Bears come to town. However, Chicago's defense has been decimated by injuries, and Prescott and the Cowboys should move through them like a knife through hot butter. Dallas is just 1-3 ATS in its last four meetings with the Bears, and the favorite is just 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings. The Cowboys have been notoriously bad large favorites (6.0 or more) in the Romo-Garrett Era. The Cowboys are just 8-24 ATS in their last 32 games as a home favorite.
17. Oakland Raiders (1-1) - It doesn't look like anyone is jumping off the Raiders bandwagon at the moment as Oakland is still taking over two-thirds of the action in their game at Tennessee this week. Probably not a good sign that Jack Del Rio had to take over the defensive calls for Ken Norton in the fourth quarter of Oakland's loss to the Falcons. The Raiders are the second-most penalized team in the league to start the season after being the second-most penalized team during the preseason. Some of that lack of detail is on the coaching staff. I attribute the rest to the players simply lacking self-discipline, and this very much looks to me like a team that started believing its own hype.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) - Well, there you have it with Jameis Winston. The guy is an absolute turnover machine, and there are going to be some games where he is on point and looks like a Pro Bowler. But then there are going to be plenty of other games where he almost singlehandedly loses games for the Bucs. Doug Martin will miss the next month, and that is a huge blow to the Tampa offense. Also, there is something going on with Vincent Jackson. He looks completely disinterested and has caught just six of 15 targets. Jackson is dangerously close to moving into Roddy White territory.
19. Washington Redskins (0-2) - I don't think there is any doubt that the Redskins should start Colt McCoy right now. And that actually doesn't have anything to do with Kirk Cousins. I have said for several years that I felt McCoy was more than capable of being a very productive NFL starter. The road team is just 3-7 SU in the last 10 in the Giants series and Washington is just 1-5 ATS against the G-Men the last three years.
20. New Orleans Saints (0-2) - It was another tough-luck loss for the Saints, and this team has been much better than its record suggests. New Orleans and Atlanta are two of the biggest rivals in the NFL, but they've had kind of an odd series the last five years. There has been a sweep in four of the last five seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2012. The favorite is a woeful 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings and the chalk is just 2-8 ATS in the last 10 meetings. The home team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings, and the books are clearly expecting a shootout, making the Saints-Falcons total the highest one on the board yet this season. The 'over' is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in New Orleans.
21. Detroit Lions (1-1) - Last week's Lions game definitely made my eyes bleed. Detroit absolutely should have blown out the Titans. They had an incredible 17 penalties and three - THREE! - touchdowns called back because of infractions. That's some vintage Lions stuff right there. Detroit is 2-7 ATS in its last nine divisional games and 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games on grass. The Lions are just 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games against the Packers.
22. Tennessee Titans (1-1) - That comeback road win has to be a huge confidence builder for Marcus Mariota and the Titans. But Tennessee has to be very careful about throwing too much on his shoulders, especially with a dearth of receiving weapons. Tennessee talked all preseason about wanting to be more of a running team. But they have attempted only 46 rushes this season, No. 22 in the league. The Titans have revenge for a home loss to the Raiders last November in a game they were outgained by 160 yards. Oakland scored with just over a minute left after the Titans had rallied back from an 11-point deficit. The favorite is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings, and the Titans have won four of the last five meetings.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) - No, I am not buying the hype on Carson Wentz. At all. He has faced two of the worst teams in the NFL in his first two games and has done very little to make me think that he is anything special. That's not to say he won't develop. But I don't care how good Wentz will be three years from now; I care about how good he is going to be three days from now. The early line on the Eagles-Steelers game was 5.5 last year, but dropped two whole points based on Philadelphia's win over Chicago. Were you really that impressed with how Philadelphia played on Monday? I know I wasn't.
24. San Diego Chargers (1-1) - That Week 1 collapse by the Chargers has to really be eating at San Diego now. This team very easily could be 2-0 with two blowout victories. However, they have been outgained in each of their victories, and this is a really a tough team to put a finger on. Losing Danny Woodhead is a crippler. That guy was such a valuable, versatile weapon and was a third down machine for Phil Rivers. San Diego has covered six straight games, and they are 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games. The Chargers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games with the Colts, and the underdog is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings in this series.
25. Buffalo Bills (0-2) - Yup, it was all Greg Roman's fault. Roman was the scapegoat of Buffalo's 0-2 start for some reason, even though Buffalo has faced two defenses that will likely finish in the Top 12 in the league this season. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn takes over. This is his first coordinator job of any kind, and he has been primarily a running backs coach for the last 15 years. This team remains a train wreck, and it is only going to get worse. They are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven September games and just 6-13 ATS in Week 3 the past two decades. Buffalo is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games.
26. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) - If T.Y. Hilton isn't making more plays then the Colts offense is in serious trouble. He has been targeted 23 times in two games but has just 10 catches for 120 yards. I would expect the Colts to take several shots down the field with Hilton this week as Indianapolis is essentially playing for its season here. The Colts are an exceptional 21-9 ATS in their last 30 games after a loss and 26-11 ATS in their last 37 home games.
27. Miami Dolphins (0-2) - Even though it went for naught, I think it was important that the Dolphins offense got it going in the second half against the Patriots. They were able to put together three second-half touchdowns and I think that momentum could carry over into their game against Cleveland. Miami's front seven will have to be a lot better against the Browns this week. Cleveland is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and Miami has the second-worst rush defense in the league to this point. The Dolphins should have a bit of a home-field edge in their opener as the temperature is supposed to be 91 degrees. That could have a major impact on the Ohioan visitors.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) - Wait, so the Jaguars REALLY aren't going to the Super Bowl? Jacksonville is garbage. And Gus Bradley is stalking Rex Ryan in the Coaches Who Won't Make It To Midseason Derby. Of the 170 head coaches in NFL history to coach at least 50 games, Bradley's winning percentage ranks No. 169. The Jaguars were the most penalized team in football this preseason and to this point they are tied for the second-most penalized team
29. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) - I'm sorry, but I'm not at all impressed by the Rams' win in their home opener. Case Keenum looks lost out there and isn't getting much help from his shoddy receiving corps. The Rams will have to avoid a letdown after their emotional opener last week. They also have to deal with travel while making that long trip out to Tampa Bay. However, they did catch a break when the game was scheduled for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Rams are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games and a horrendous 15-36 ATS in their last 51 September games.
30. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) - The 49ers were essentially blown out by the Panthers twice. They fell behind 31-10, made a serious comeback (34-27), and then flamed out during a 49-34 loss. Things won't get much easier this week against Seattle. Incredibly, San Francisco is 0-9 ATS in its last nine games against the Seahawks. The 49ers have lost the last four meetings by at least 10 points apiece and an average of 15 points per game.
31. Chicago Bears (0-2) - I don't think there is any doubt that the Chicago offense will play more inspired football under Brian Hoyer than Jay Cutler. Look, I've been writing about what a colossal loser Jay Cutler is for years. It seems like the mainstream is finally catching up. The Bears should release Cutler and move on. They will be off the hook for the remainder of his contract when someone picks him up (and he will get picked up quickly). But this front office and coaching staff are just running in place until they wipe the slate clean from this loser. Also, of the Bears top five secondary players, it is pretty clear that only one of them would even make the roster of a Top 20 defense in the NFL. Their back four is going to be comically bad this year, negating what looks like a pretty good front seven.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-2) - Cody Kessler, come on down! Dating back to last year Kessler will be the fifth different starting quarterback in five games for the Browns, something that has never been done before. There is a fitting symmetry to Kessler getting the start for Cleveland. He suffered some ignominy this preseason when he accidentally stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety. It was shades of Dan Orlovsky, who did the same for the 0-16 Lions back in 2008. I'd put the likelihood of Cleveland going 0-16 this year at about 60 percent. I am dead serious. There is no way in hell they will win more than one game, and this will go down as one of the worst teams in the NFL's last 40 years.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Wednesday. My next ones will be released on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Robert Ferringo is one of the top football handicappers in the country and tallied an unrivaled $20,800 in football profit between 2011 and 2015, including his amazing 2013 NFL season in which he hit 62.1 percent (95-58). Robert has produced 14 of 22 winning football months and an amazing 37 of 57 winning football months over the past decade. Robert has hit nearly 60 percent winners over his last 750 totals picks and is the most prolific big play football handicapper in the nation, going 101-63 (62%) on all football plays rated 5.0 or higher since 2010. Also, Robert's proprietary KING College Football Betting System has posted three of four winning seasons and is 122-92 over the last three years (57.0 percent).
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