By Ryan Faherty
At long last, Fall is finally here. Leaves changing, temperatures dropping, and degenerates gambling. Nothing like football season to bring out the compulsive gambler in us all. Unfortunately, as is the case in all gambling ventures, the house wins more often than not. Well I’m personally tired of watching people throw their hard earned money away, so on behalf of the good folks at NeutralFan, I’m here to give you the inside scoop on what to expect each week. And hey, if worse comes to worst, at least you’ll have someone to blame in the event you gamble away your life savings. (Sidenote: In no way do I advocate gambling away one’s life savings. What kind of idiot are you?)
Without further ado, let’s dive into our Week 3 NFL matchups:
CHICAGO (-7) over St. Louis
DA BEARS. I’m higher on Sam Bradford than most, but have a feeling that Julius Peppers and co. will be in his grill all day. I expect the young QB to get hit early and often, which will probably yield a turnover or two. This Bears team was declared a contender in the off season, despite their glaring flaws on the offensive line. If they want to justify this hype, they need a big time performance from Jay Cutler and the offense, which should be manageable against a weak STL defense. Fear not, Bears fans. Clay Matthews is a long ways from Chi-town.
Tampa Bay (+8) over DALLAS
Do I think the Bucs are good enough to roll into Big D and leave with a win? No. But 8 points is a few too many for me. Look for Tampa to try and establish the run early. This will keep Demarcus Ware from wreaking havoc, and keep the Bucs D, and more importantly their struggling secondary, off the field. If Tampa can control the clock, this will be a one score game.
San Francisco (-7) over MINNESOTA
I will not bet against the 49ers until they prove me wrong. So far, so good. San Fran’s D will suffocate the Minnesota running game, putting the onus on Christian Ponder to carry the offense. I like Ponder, but this is a tall order. He’ll dink and dunk his way to a few long drives, but I see a lot Vikings drives ending with field goals, and they’ll need better than that to make this a game.
Detroit (-3.5) over TENNESSEE
Hate that half a point. Can Chris Johnson and the Titans really be this bad? I’ve been very unimpressed with Detroit thus far, but they have too much fire power to be contained by the anemic Titans D. Jake Locker is near the bottom of the list of QBs I’d want starting my team, and until he can impress me, I refuse to take him over a better team with a better QB.
WASHINGTON (-3) over Cincinnati
Through two weeks, RG3 looks like the real deal and Cincy’s D looks to have taken a dramatic step back from a pleasantly surprising 2011. Letting Brandon Weeden and the Browns hang a 27 spot on you is not a good look. With Peter Man (Pierre Garcon) banged up and not expected to play, I expect a big day for Fred Davis. I struggled with this pick, because of the devastating losses of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, but this game being played in Washington swayed me. Andy Dalton may not be a rookie, but he’s still a young QB, and a raucous Washington crowd could present problems.
NY Jets (-2.5) over MIAMI
The Jets can’t afford a dud of a game like the one they put together last week. I expect them to come out and play angry. Looks like Darrelle Revis is a go, which should effectively eliminate one side of the field for rookie Ryan Tannehill. Provided Reggie Bush doesn’t put up USC numbers for a second consecutive week, the Jets should take this game by at least a field goal.
NEW ORLEANS (-8.5) over Kansas City
The Saints and Drew Brees are one loss away from full blown panic mode in New Orleans. They are the only remaining winless team in the NFC (if you claim to have predicted that before the season, you are a liar) and that will not last past this week. Brees will put on a show in the friendly confines of the Superdome and flat out smoke the Chiefs.
Buffalo (-3) over CLEVELAND
Mario Williams….paging Mario Williams. To put it extremely mildly, Super Mario has not lived up to the expectations put forth for him by his enormous contract. This guy needs a break out game and I expect him to have one. Long day for the Browns offense, long day for the Browns (a phrase the folks in Cleveland are all too familiar with).
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Jacksonville
Do I really need to explain not taking Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars on the road? Andrew Luck will turn some heads this week.
Philadelphia (-3) over ARIZONA
The Eagles will remind everyone who got the better end of the Kevin Kolb deal. This Eagle D is very, very good, and if Michael Vick doesn’t continue to turn the football over at such an alarming rate, this could be a laugher. Arizona’s D seems for real, but I can’t imagine their offense scoring much if they’re not given a short field to work with (as they were in their stunner at Foxboro).
Atlanta (+3) over SAN DIEGO
A little stunned by this line. Hard to look as impressive as the Falcons have thus far. San Diego has had some early success, but I can’t overlook their weak schedule to date. Plus, Norv Turner is still their head coach. Call me crazy, but I’m going to take the “I’ll believe it when I see it,” approach to a talented team being coached by Turner. Just seems all too familiar.
DENVER (+2) over Houston
Toughest game of the week for me, no doubt. I keep coming back to the fact that Peyton Manning doesn’t find himself on the wrong side of .500 very often. Home crowd helps, but I don’t love this pick.
OAKLAND (+3.5) over Pittsburgh
The 5 matadors on Pittsburgh’s O-Line will not make Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers very happy today. The Black Hole is a tough place to play, and I think Big Ben finds himself on his back side more than he’d like. I still like the Steelers to win, but think this game will come down to a field goal, and will end with a Carson Palmer pick.
New England (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
The Pats have much to prove after a shocking home loss at the hands of the Cardinals. This Pats defense is much improved from years past. Chandler Jones has already made a name for himself after just two games, and I think he’ll chew up and spit out Michael Oher. Expect Wes Welker to get involved, and silence the bizarre rumors that keep popping up about his status with the Pats.
Green Bay (-3) over SEATTLE
Clay Matthews is the Defensive MVP through two weeks, and he should continue his success in Seattle. Green Bay’s blitz packages should rattle rookie QB Russell Wilson, and force him into some bad throws. Also, Aaron Rodgers has been relatively quiet this season. Let’s not forget he was the best player in football last year.
I’ve now lost my NeutralFan virginity. I hope it was good for you, too.