Once again, an old rule has been proven true: You can’t take away too much from one week. The Jets blow out Buffalo in week one, then can’t do anything offensively against the Steelers week two. Dallas beats the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants in week one, then gets blown out by the Seahawks in week two. The Seahawks lose in Arizona, then beat Dallas at home week two. Now we enter week three, a crazy week, out of 16 games we have a ridiculous eight home underdogs, and we had nine until tonight’s Giants versus Panthers line moved due to injuries to the Giants. Tough week, let’s get to the picks:
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers (-3) – The Giants entered this game as favorites but the line has moved drastically, because they will be without wide receiver and reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week Hakeem Nicks, along with fellow wideout Domenik Hixon running back Ahmad Bradshaw and offensive tackle David Diehl. Can the Giants stop Cam Newton, and can Eli Manning succeed without all of these offensive weapons? The Giants are historically a better home than road team, and the Giants pass rush should make things difficult for Netwon, with veteran linebacker Michael Boley will likely shadowing him all game. If Eli Manning can keep Big Blue close going into the 4th quarter, I like the Giants.
The Pick: Giants (+3) FINAL SCORE: Giants 27 Panthers 24
St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears (-9) – Anyone who saw the Bears play last Thursday knows they struggled mightily to protect Jay Cutler. We saw him getting in the face of his left tackle Ja’Marcus Webb, and any internal strife is a bad sign for a football team. The Rams have been better than expected, they nearly beat Detroit in Detroit week one and they beat the Redskins week 2, Jeff Fisher has this young team playing hard. With running back Matt Forte being questionable for the Bears, nine points seems like an awful lot, I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Rams (+9) FINAL SCORE: Bears 24 Rams 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys (-8) – In week one Tampa Bay beat a favored Carolina Panthers team and in week two they nearly beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants in New York, so how this fiery young team is getting eight points in Dallas is beyond me. Dallas looked great in the opener, beating the Giants, but then went up to Seattle and got blown out by the Seahawks. I think Dallas wins a tight one, but give me the points all day, Tampa cannot be taken lightly.
The Pick: Buccaneers (+8) FINAL SCORE: Dallas 27 Tampa Bay 24
***Sportsmasher Best Bet Bucs +8***
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings (+7) – Through two weeks the 49ers look like the best team in football, and I have a feeling that Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder has been having nightmares about the Niners defense all week long. San Fran will shut down the running game, force Ponder to throw, and pressure him into bad throws when he does. Offensively the 49ers will do enough to not only win but cover easily.
The Pick: 49ers (-7) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 31 Vikings 13
***Sportsmasher Best Bet 49ers (-7)***
Detroit Lions @ Tennessee Titans (+4) – The Titans are really struggling through two games, they seem out of synch on offense, and have surrendered big plays defensively. Their workhorse tailback Chris Johnson has managed an atrocious 21 yards on 19 carries so far this season, he has been one of the most disappointing players in the league thus far. The Lions are 1-1 after suffering a loss to the best team in football last week, and I think their offense finally breaks out, lead by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
The Pick: Lions (+4) FINAL SCORE: Lions 38 Titans 20
Cincinnati Bengals @ Washington Redskins (-3) – The Bengals do are not firing on all cylinders yet, however they do have 10.0 sacks so far, the most in the NFL through two games. Their pass rush will make things extremely difficult for Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, as gifted as he is, he will be running for his life behind a suspect offensive line. Offensively, I think the Bengals find rhythm running the football and get the ball to AJ Green in the passing game and the Redskins defense will sorely miss Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker. I like the Bengals to beat the Redskins in Washington.
The Pick: Bengals (+3) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 24 Redskins 20
Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints (-9) – For me, this is the most shocking line of the season, I still cannot believe it. The Saints are (0-2) and rank dead last in total defense, they are really struggling as a team and I cannot believe they are nine point favorites. The Chiefs have also struggled and are currently (0-2) but they are fifth in the NFL in total offense and will have no problem moving the ball against a horrific Saints defense. This is one of the games where you have got to look at the moneyline, I think Kansas City wins this game outright.
The Pick: Chiefs (+9) FINAL SCORE: Chiefs 31 Saints 28
***Sportsmasher Best Bet Chiefs (+9)***
Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns (+3) – I was crushing the Browns all offseason, and I have to admit, they are playing much better than I initially expected so far in 2012. But they are still (0-2). The Bills have been up and down so far, but I see another huge game for their tailback CJ Spiller, who currently leads the NFL in rushing yards. I actually think the Browns keep this game relatively close at home, but expect the Bills to cover when all is said and done in Cleveland.
The Pick: Bills (-3) FINAL SCORE Bills 27 Browns 20
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (-3) – Through two games, Andrew Luck has shown that he is not just your average rookie quarterback, he is going to be one of the greats. The Jaguars have really struggled offensively and have the least total yardage in the NFL, so unless Maurice Jones-Drew can muster a truly heroic performance in this one, I think that the Jags are in big trouble. I love the Luck lead Colts at home in this one.
The Pick: Colts (-3) FINAL SCORE: Colts 24 Jaguars 17
***RexRated Best Bet Colts -3***
Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals (+4) – The Arizona Cardinals are currently (2-0) and are the most surprising team in football after upsetting a heavily favored Patriots team in New England last Sunday. Philadelphia has totaled the most offensive yardage in the NFL, but they have had problems turning the ball over, and have only scored 41 points in two games after all of those yards. The Eagles have won two one point games to get to (2-0) and this is going to be another tight one. Can they make it three one point wins in a row?
The Pick: Cardinals (+4) FINAL SCORE: Eagles 24 Cardinals 23
Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers (-3) – Everyone loves the Atlanta Falcons right now, but they are traveling to the West Coast on a short week to take on an undefeated Chargers team, which is plying surprisingly well. Usually Norv Turner coached teams do not play well until November. I think this will be one of the best games of the weekend, a tight, hard fought matchup. Every logical thought that I am having is telling me to pick the Chargers 24-20, except my gut, which does not trust Norv Turner.
The Pick: Falcons (+3) FINAL SCORE: Falcons 24 Chargers 20
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (+3) – Betting on this Jets team is very scary, because if they get the lead, they are not going to give it up. However if they make mistakes early and fall behind, they cannot come back from a deficit. I cannot see a rookie quarterback with a lack of offensive weapons being able to move the ball against an excellent Jets defense, it seems impossible, and I would be shocked if it happened.
The Pick: Jets (-3) FINAL SCORE: Jets 21 Dolphins 6
***RexRated Best Bet Jets -3***
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos (+3) – One of the best matchups of the weekend, the best team in the AFC heads to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and a very good Broncos team. This one could go either way, the Texans have a great defense, and Manning looked mediocre on Monday Night Football when he threw three interceptions in the first eight minutes of the game. However, the Broncos almost came back, and Denver will not lose two in a row. Manning finds a way to win a mile in the sky, and the altitude helps Denver secure a tight victory.
The Pick: Broncos (+3) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 27 Texans 24
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Oakland Raiders (+4.5) – The Raiders are coming off of an absolute beat down in Miami by the Dolphins, a game that they should have won, but instead were crushed. The Steelers handled the Jets last weekend even without two of their best defensive players. This feels like a trap game, and I want to pick Oakland at home, but after their embarrassing performance in Miami last weekend I just can’t do it. Steelers win easily.
The Pick: Steelers (+4.5) FINAL SCORE: Steelers 34 Raiders 17
***RexRated Best Bet Steelers +4.5***
Patriots @ Ravens (-3) – This is going to be a great game, one of these AFC powers will be 1-2 following this Sunday night showdown, where the Ravens want to prove that they are the best AFC team on the East Coast. My favorite bet on this game is probably the over, I think it will be a shootout, and should be the game of the weekend. Ray Lewis will have the Ravens fired up, and the offense will score a lot of points, but I cannot see the Patriots losing two in a row.
The Pick: Patriots (+3) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 38 Ravens 34
Green bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) – I know you are expecting me to pick the Packers here, but you are dead wrong, I’m going to say take the points. Green Bay has look rather unimpressive so far this season and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and their high octance offense has looked out of synch. Meanwhile Seattle is (8-1) in their last nine home gamesm they have the best home field advantage, and will have the stadium rocking on Monday night. I like the Seahawks to win outright, and predict that ESPN’s Bill Simmons is not the only guy on the Seahawks bandwagon by Tuesday morning.
The Pick: Seattle (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 27 Packers 24
Week 1: (9-7) WEEK 2: (7-8-1) 2012 Season: (16-13-1)
Sportsmasher Best Bets: 3-3
RexRated’s Best Bets: 4-3