NFL Betting Predictions: Week 3 Opening Line Report and Picks
Can you accurately kick a field goal inside of 50 yards? If so, please send your resumes to Hue Jackson with the Cleveland Browns and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings. Kickers cost each of those head coaches a big win on Sunday, and I'd be stunned if there aren't open tryouts this week with both teams.
Cleveland could easily be 2-0, but Zane Gonzalez had the potential winning field goal at the end of overtime Week 1 get blocked. OK, perhaps not his fault. On Sunday in New Orleans, though, Gonzalez missed two extra points and two field goals in 21-18 loss. The Browns had tied it at 18-all on a Tyrod Taylor 47-yard touchdown pass to rookie Antonio Callaway - getting a lot more playing time because the Josh Gordon experiment is over in Cleveland - on fourth-and-5 with just over a minute left. Gonzalez was wide left on the PAT. Drew Brees drove the Saints down for a field goal, but Gonzalez got another chance from 52 yards in the final seconds and pushed it right. So Cleveland's winless streak is now at 19 games.
The Vikings were given late life in Green Bay on a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty and would tie it at 29-all on a Kirk Cousins TD pass in the final seconds to Adam Thielen and then a successful 2-point pass to Stefon Diggs. The Packers could have won it at the end of regulation, but Mason Crosby just missed a 52-yarder. That you can understand, though, and Crosby hit five other field goals. In the extra session, Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed from both 49 and 35 yards and we finished with our second tie of the early season. Carlson, a rookie, also struggled this preseason, so he's probably going to be on the street by the time you read this. He ruined a stellar performance from Cousins, who became is the first Vikings quarterback with 400 yards passing and four TD throws in a game since Daunte Culpepper on Oct. 17, 2004, against the Saints.
Here are some Week 3 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Jets-Browns - so we should have a kicker update), my in-depth Sunday matchup (most likely 49ers-Chiefs) or the Monday night game (Steelers-Bucs) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Saints at Falcons (-3, 53): New Orleans killed a lot of people in their Survivor Pools with its shocking Week 1 home loss to Tampa Bay and nearly ruined a bunch more Sunday as the Saints were down 12-3 to the Browns about midway through the fourth quarter. Here's hoping you have Michael Thomas on your fantasy team as he continued a record-breaking start with two fourth-quarter TD catches. He finished with 12 catches for 89 yards after 16 for 180 and a score against Tampa Bay. Those 28 catches are a league record through the first two games of a season. Atlanta rallied for a 31-24 home win over Carolina on Sunday. Matt Ryan was 23 of 28 for 272 yards and also rushed for two scores, which is highly unusual. Ryan hadn't rushed for a score since 2012. Perhaps part of the reason he did so Sunday was because starting tailback Devonta Freeman was out due to a knee contusion. Too early to tell if he'll go here. Atlanta could be without starting safety Damontae Kazee as he was ejected to a dirty hit on Cam Newton and could be looking at a suspension. Kazee was in the starting lineup after the Falcons lost starting strong safety Keanu Neal to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 1. The pick: Falcons (at -2.5).
Bills at Vikings (-16.5, 40.5): Sunday didn't go well for the Buffalo Bills, who are clearly the NFL's worst team. They lost 31-20 at home to the Chargers as raw rookie QB Josh Allen predictably struggled in his first start, completing 18 of 33 for 245 yards and two picks. Top running back LeSean McCoy left with a rib injury and clearly was in a lot of pain so he might be out a while. Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy would likely split tailback duties. To add insult to injury, cornerback Vontae Davis literally retired at halftime. Not sure I've ever heard of that. His teammates ripped him afterward for quitting on the team. Coach Sean McDermott already appears desperate as he took over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in the second half of Sunday's game. Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook left the Packers tie in OT but says he's fine. My prediction this week is that the Vikings sign free-agent kicker Dan Bailey to replace Carlson. Bailey is the second-most accurate kicker in league history but struggled a bit last year with the Cowboys and lost a competition to Brett Maher in camp. The pick: Bills are atrocious, but I'll always take that many points (probably will take alternate line of +17.5).
Titans at Jaguars (-6.5, 39.5): Boy, does this set up as a potential letdown game for Jacksonville after it thoroughly dismantled the visiting Patriots on Sunday, 31-20. It was the Jags' first-ever regular-season win over New England. Blake Bortles looked like more like Tom Brady than Brady did with Bortles throwing for 377 yard and four scores in arguably the best game of his career. The Jags rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries despite playing without Leonard Fournette (hamstring). Too early to see whether he plays here. Ditto on Titans QB Marcus Mariota, who did dress Sunday but didn't play in a 20-17 home win over Houston. Ryan Succop kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1:00 left. Blaine Gabbert did just enough (117 yards, TD) in Mariota's place. The pick: Jaguars, but if this got to 7.5 I'd take Tennessee.
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