by Ryan Meehan
As you can probably tell from last week’s wrap-ups, I haven’t been completely pleased with the way the first couple weeks of the NFL season went. There’s been some garbage officiating that I thought we has systems in place to correct, and obviously off the field things are turning into a continuous trainwreck. But enough with all of the gloom and doom (at least in the intro) I am looking forward to going on vacation, and beginning that vacation with a day of awesome football games to watch. As Anthony Jeselnik would say “I like that enthusiasm, let’s see how far it carries…”. Hopefully in this case it will be all the way through Monday night, so let’s think positive and see what might take place in week three of the 2014 NFL season.
Thursday Night Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6 at Atlanta Falcons (44.5)
Thursday night’s NFC South matchup features two teams that both had a rough week. Tampa lost to the Rams at the last second, which had to be humiliating as hell. Atlanta lost to Cincinnati on the road, which isn’t all that bad but after a big win against the Saints it had to take a little bit of wind out of their sails. The Falcons may have just had a bad game…If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from watching them, it’s that there’s absolutely nothing that you can learn from watching them. I like Atlanta to cover the spread at home on a short week, especially against a team that doesn’t seem to get much use out of having a full week’s rest. It’s a lock, but that being said, avoid the point total bet.
Falcons 24, Buccaneers 16
San Diego Chargers +1 at Buffalo Bills (44)
I said a couple days ago that Buffalo is the most uninteresting 2-0 team, and hopefully they will prove me right. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to keep the Chargers in check, as San Diego took down the defending Super Bowl champions last week and specifically went after their best player while doing so. I won’t be the least bit surprised if San Diego puts together an 11-5 season, but I would be shocked if the Bills finish 9-7. If there’s anything I’ve picked up from any one of the numerous disappointed ex-girlfriends who have left my apartment before midnight, it’s that longevity counts for something. The NFL’s current 16 game schedule is no exception, and I think the Chargers have some of the most sustainable momentum from last year’s playoffs aside from the team that they just beat. I can understand the spread here, but I don’t have to agree with it. I like San Diego to finally expose the Bills for the Chiefs they really are in disguise.
Chargers 27, Bills 21
Baltimore Ravens EVEN at Cleveland Browns (41.5)
The Ravens could be in trouble here. We already know that for obvious reasons they are lacking in the backfield, so there’s that. The Browns are coming down from a big high after winning at home against New Orleans. But will the crash be too much? I want so desperately to be able to pick the Browns, but as I said last week being right trumps desire to get what I want. I’d love to see the Browns win this division, but didn’t I just give you the longevity lecture? That would be hypocritical, and I’ve never owned a hippo in my entire life. It kills me to pick these clowns but I have to do it. I want the Browns to win this game so bad…
Ravens 23, Browns 22
Tennessee Titans +7 at Cincinnati Bengals (43.5)
The Bengals are really aiming to be the team beneath Seattle that everyone hates to play at home. They aren’t going to be the team that runs up 41 points on you before you shit your pants and realize you got Rickrolled by Carrot Top’s long lost brother. Their identity lies in the fact that they can usually score 25 to 30 points a game, which makes them better than other AFC contenders like the Chiefs. And don’t buy the “questionable” status from Marvin Lewis with regards to AJ Green, he’s going to play. But while I was once enamored by the long flowing youthful locks of the beauty that was the Titans after beating those chiefs in week one, after seeing them fail to score two touchdowns against a Dallas defense that is super weak I think it’s time we decided to see other people. The girl that I had a brief crush on is now a truck stop hooker whose tongue is blue from what I can only hope is having one too many raspberry Fanta slushees. But in the Tinder era, they probably should have seen it coming…Bengals cover easy.
Bengals 27, Titans 18
Dallas Cowboys EVEN at St. Louis Rams (45)
For the record I was impressed by what the Dallas Cowboys were able to do on the road against the Titans last week, but at the same time you won’t hear me say that they’re “back” because one game against a mid-tier AFC team doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. If Romo is even the least bit dialed in, they win this one against a Rams team that only sits at .500 because the NFL gave them a guaranteed victory by handing them Tampa and they almost blew that. This gives the Cowboys a 2-1 record that primes them well for the three week shitstorm that follows during which they host New Orleans and Houston, they fly to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. If they win this one, be prepared to go another month without seeing them win – it could very well happen. EVEN? Man, it looks like I’m not the only one here who doesn’t trust Dallas. But the Rams aren’t exactly stocked on either side of the ball, so I’m taking Dallas by six.
Cowboys 23, Rams 17
Green Bay Packers +1 at Detroit Lions (51.5)
Given the fact that the Jets were able to rack up 21 points last week against the Packers rather quick, I expect this to be a bit of a shootout. I still have major issues with both of these teams, but more so with the Packers due to the fact that we are expecting a lot out of them. The spread tells me that neither team’s defense can be trusted, and Detroit is the more suspect of the two. Like Vegas I don’t fully trust either of these teams yet, but I trust the Lions a lot less than I trust the Packers so I’m taking them to win this game but not by much.
Packers 27, Lions 24
Houston Texans -1 at New York Giants (42)
The New York Giants are not fit to take on any team that has a defensive weapon which could cause them to create turnovers, so it’s only fitting that they get to host the Houston Texans who are getting every penny of every dollar that they spent on JJ Watt. I expect this game to play out in a very similar fashion to the way the Arizona game did, with a lot of fans headed to the exits with several minutes left in regulation. I like the Texans to cover, but seriously who wouldn’t? I think giving them six is still pretty conservative, as this game could very easily turn into a blowout that won’t go in the Giants’ favor. Here are some more Giants facts: They are 29th in rushing, 21st in passing, and as far as I know still not familiar with the concept of special teams. Who would have thought Houston would be 3-0? Not me…
Texans 26, Giants 20
Indianapolis Colts -7 at Jacksonville Jaguars (46)
After getting butchered by Kirk Cousins last week (bet you didn’t think you’d ever read that sentence, did you?) the Jacksonville Jaguars will head home to scrape together the last remaining fragments of their self-esteem and try to convince us that they are still a professional football team. And that won’t be an easy task, because the Jags will be facing Andrew Luck and the Colts who have to be angry about the game they threw away at home against the Eagles on Monday night. I expect the same 0-2 pissed off attitude out of the Colts here that I’m expecting out of the Saints in the New Orleans – Minnesota game, which I’ll discuss in a second. Colts cover.
Colts 33, Jaguars 20
Minnesota Vikings +10.5 at New Orleans Saints (51)
The Saints are headed home 0-2 to what will essentially be the world’s biggest and angriest bourbon bash of all time. Are the Saints really going to be this bad? On paper the defensive issues appear to be resolved, but then when it has to translate to the field all of a sudden Brian Hoyer turns into John Elway. A lot of the attention here is going to be on Adrian Peterson and the media circus that his life is slowly turning into, but now that he’s gone this might be a total blowout. If New Orleans was really the Super Bowl contender that some of these analysts thought they could be, they would put all of their chips on the table and go for the throat. With the way the Vikings played last Sunday, the Saints from five years ago could put up a 50 spot but I question their ability to possess that same killer instinct today. But still it won’t be close: If I gave you the choice between Drew Brees and Matt Cassel and there was a 75% chance at least one of them was in a wheelchair, you’re not really betting on the Vikings are you?
Saints 34, Vikings 11
Oakland Raiders +16 at New England Patriots (47)
Make no mistake, the second half of the Miami game was a fluke for the Pats. They’re never that worried about making mistakes like that one, because in the end they’re not a team that’s worried about losses early on in the season. I’m picking the Raiders to score fourteen points again, because it seems like that’s the number they’re content with this year. New England covers but barely, even I didn’t expect the line to be that high. Wow. I’d stick with the new kid (Carr) if I was Oakland because your only other option is Matt Schaub and I see more promise in Carr than some of these other writers who want to take his head off with a shovel. He’ll come around, but this certainly won’t be the game where it happens.
Patriots 32, Raiders 14
Washington Redskins +7 at Philadelphia Eagles (50)
I’m all about stroking the ego of Nick Foles, which is a strange thing for a Giants fan to say…but what else can I really say? He went into Indianapolis last Monday and took care of business…Sure he had the help of some bad play calling on the part of Pagano, but he still won a game that was a tough road struggle in which he didn’t exactly come out of the box playing like Unitas or Staubach. RG3 not playing in this one might have something to do with why the spread isn’t double digits…and as crazy as it sounds if Cousins plays half as good as he did last week we may very well be seeing the changing of the guard in DC. I like the Eagles to cover easily, and for their defense to finally start getting some of the credit they feel they deserve.
Eagles 31, Redskins 10
San Francisco 49ers -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals (N/A)
Last week was very confusing for San Francisco 49ers fans…you get this beautiful new stadium built for you and in comes a team with a questionable quarterback who had just shit the bed at home against Buffalo. Seems like a slam dunk right? Not so much, and the Niners are now looking up at the team who could potentially steal their Wild Card slot from them if they aren’t careful. I still don’t see them playing with the confidence and swagger that is so crucial when establishing your place in the conference standings this early in the year. I do see that confidence in Arizona, which is a statement that’s conveniently parked outside of the mental asylum when you consider they started a backup quarterback last week. However there will be some bleedover there and the 49ers aren’t exactly the Giants which I’m sure the Cardinals will be aware of after the first set of downs. My crystal ball is telling me that the Cardinals will lose this game in the same late fashion they won the Chargers game, and that I’m probably too fat for this genie costume. Do not bet on this game.
49ers 20, Cardinals 19
Denver Broncos +5 at Seattle Seahawks (48.5)
Because last year’s Super Bowl was such a lopsided affair, the odds that the regular season rematch just months later will be much better are quite good. And it should be, but there is some suspicion that Richard Sherman may have gotten worked last week. I’m not buying it, plus if there’s anybody whose number he has recently it’s Peyton. This is why how Seattle plays in that building matters so much – Even though the Broncos are coming in with a better record and it would appear that the Chargers set a blueprint for how to deal with the Seahawks’ frightening secondary, the margin of error for Peyton Manning is so small for a guy that’s obviously intimidated by that defensive setup. This will be an ugly game and Seattle won’t cover the spread, but at the same time the only reason because the spread is five to begin with is because it’s the Hawks at home. For more comprehensive Seahawks coverage, head on over to Sports with Neil and Friends, the best Seahawks site on earth and the best college radio show in America. Tune in Friday nights at KUGR.org and listen to the guys act like they aren’t annoyed as hell with my rants.
Seahawks 26, Broncos 23
Kansas City Chiefs +4.5 at Miami Dolphins (41.5)
I judge a lot of these week three games based on what I’ve seen from the way they responded to their first two opponents, so as you can imagine the Dolphins scramble my brain beyond recognition. They beat New England, who is most definitely better than they played in the second half of that week one game. But they lost against the Bills, who I have no faith in at all. And who do they play this week but the team I don’t trust more than anyone else in the world? But this is the Dolphins at home, not the Dolphins a block away from Canada. I will be super impressed if the Chiefs can win this game, but it won’t be due to my thoughts on them for the long haul. Boy, there are a lot of trap games this week aren’t there? Steer clear…
Dolphins 25, Chiefs 20
Sunday Night Football: Pittsburgh Steelers +3 at Carolina Panthers (41.5)
Thank God I’ll be in the recording studio when this game is taking place…I can honestly say I take no interest in this game whatsoever, but I hope the Steelers win. And since I don’t get anything I want, I’m picking Carolina here. That way, they’re 3-0 and the Steelers will be buried on the back page like they should be in every media market that’s not Pittsburgh. Carolina’s defense is something to love for sure, but the rest of that team lacks the explosiveness that makes for great primetime television. Both of these teams are going to have clouded judgment, as regardless of what they say about focusing on the game they will have their eyes on their respective divisional concerns blowing games where they are touchdown plus favorites. The disappointment of knowing that the Saints and the Bengals have in fact won could potentially cause a distraction, but after seeing the Steelers eat it last Thursday night against Baltimore I’d be more confident betting on Limp Bizkit winning a Grammy for best Country album than I would Carolina pissing away this game at home. I like the Panthers to cover here as well but look at how low the point total is…
Panthers 20, Steelers 12
Monday Night Football: Chicago Bears +2.5 at New York Jets (45.5)
Given the way these two teams played last week, it would be easy to say that the Jets will go up early on Chicago only to throw it away by laying an egg in the second half. But let’s not forget that not only are they the underdog in this matchup after ruining San Francisco’s housewarming party, but they’re also still 30th in the league in rushing. My worry for the Bears is that they will have so little of a rushing attack that Cutler will try to do too much, and that he won’t be able to match the 250 yards a game he’s currently averaging. Lucky for them, I have so many concerns about the Jets that I’m taking Chicago. For example, if they were able to score 21 points on the road in Wisconsin why the hell did it take them all game to score 19 points against Oakland at home opposite a guy who has never started an NFL game in his entire life? How are they first in rushing AND first against the rush yet still gave up 31 to Green Bay? And are they aware that the league is keeping track of Yards After Contact when it comes to the passing game? Yikes. If the Jets are still .500 heading into their bye in week eleven, then we’ll talk. But the odds the Bears will have a better record by then are much higher.
Bonus Comment: Since the Bears and the Packers meet in week four, this game is going to be how those two teams are measured against each other since they will have both played the Jets. I don’t make the rules, but you see where I’m going with this one.
Bears 26, Jets 22
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