The 2013 NFL season is not off to a good start for SportSmasher.com, but we did improve by one game over week one, and finished week two with a (7-8-1) record, not inspiring confidence in fans of this site about our game picking abilities. We are four games under (.500) both against the spread and overall through two weeks, however, we plan on changing that all in week three now that we have a better grasp on each team. When it comes to our best bets, RexRated is actually over (.500) with a 3-2-1 record, while SportSmasher is an abysmal (1-5). It’s time to right this sinking ship, let’s get to our picks for Week Three of the NFL season:
Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) This is a very interesting Thursday Night game, because it is longtime Eagles coach Andy Reid’s return to Philly, for the first time as a visiting head coach. The Chiefs are (2-0), they have not always looked sharp offensively, but they have done enough to win. The Chiefs young defensive front seven has been their biggest strength, they are strong against the run, and their pass rush has been excellent. The Philadelphia Eagles (1-1), looked like the most dangerous offense in the NFL during their week one win over the Washington Redskins, but fell back to earth during their week two win over the San Diego Chargers. Thursday night games are always sloppy, as teams just played four days ago, so I am a big fan of taking the points every time. In this game, I think that the Chiefs pass rush will bother Michael Vick, and force him into mistakes. The Eagles offense will be good for some big plays, but their defense will struggle to stop Jamaal Charles, and I like the Chiefs to win. Either way, I’m taking the points.
THE PICK: Chiefs (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Chiefs 27 Eagles 24
San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans (-3) The Tennessee Titans and the San Diego Chargers are both (1-1), however each team could easily make the case that they should be unbeaten, because both teams lost games which they led late to the Houston Texans. Each team also has an impressive road win under their belts, as the Texans beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh week one, and the Chargers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia week two. In my opinion, the Titans are the better team through two weeks, as the Chargers are still prone to making typical Chargers mistakes which will cost them a game like this on the road. Titans quarterback Jake Locker has looked much better so far this season, and the their defense has stepped up their play, and if they can get a running game they should be able to play with almost anyone. In what will be a close game, I think a late mistake by the Chargers will allow the Titans to get a win, and cover.
THE PICK: Titans (-3) FINAL SCORE: Titans 24 Chargers 20
Cleveland Browns @ Minnesota Vikings (-5.5) It has been announced that, with starter Brandon Weeden injured, the Cleveland Browns will start Brian Hoyer at quarterback in this game which could be an upgrade. Both teams are (0-2) and Cleveland gets wide receiver Josh Gordon back from suspension in this game, which should give the offense a boost, and the Browns have already been playing pretty good defense this season. I think that the Browns are a year away from being a good football team, the current regime needs to find their quarterback of the future, who I do not think is currently on this roster. The Vikings were a playoff team last season, and after an (0-2) start, fans are calling for starting quarterback Christian Ponder to be replaced by Matt Cassel. I think that this Vikings team is angry, and will be happy to be getting to play against a new quarterback, who may struggle to time throws with his receivers. I think that Adrian Peterson has one of those monster games, you know he will have a few this year, and the Vikings win easily.
NOTE: Since I made this pick the Browns traded their best offensive player, running back Trent Richardson, for a first round pick in the 2014 Draft.
THE PICK: Vikings (-5.5) FINAL SCORE Vikings 31 Browns 17
***SportSmasher Best Bet: Vikings (-5.5)***
***RexRated Best Bet: Vikings (-5.5)***
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New England Patriots (-7.5) Things do not look good for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it seems that head coach Greg Schiano wants to replace starting quarterback Josh Freeman with rookie Mike Glennon, and it sounds like the players want Greg Schiano replaced with another coach. Tampa Bay has lost their first two games of the season, both on the final play of the game, which is absolutely heartbreaking. The New England Patriots are (2-0) but have barely beaten the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, not exactly the NFL’s elite. The Patriots will be better once they get wide receiver tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola back from injuries, but that will not happen this week, and I think they will be in for another close game against the Bucs. I think that the Patriots will win this game, but unless Tom Brady quickly develops chemistry with rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, it could be closer than many think. I’ll take the points.
THE PICK: Buccaneers (+7.5) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 24 Buccaneers 20
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens (-3) The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have more injuries on the offensive side of the ball than any other team in the NFL, and they can add star running back Ray Rice to that list, who may miss Sunday’s game with a hip flexor injury. The Ravens struggled offensively in a home win over the Browns last weekend, and their defense was shredded by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in their opener. The Houston Texans are (2-0) with come-from-behind wins over the Chargers and Titans this season, and they have been disappointing defensively, as what was expected to be one of the top units in the league has surrendered too many yards and points. Offensively, the Texans may be without star receiver Andre Johnson, who suffered a concussion last week. I think this game comes down to the disappointing Ravens offense against the disappointing Texans defense, and whoever wins that battle will win the game. I’ll take the points.
THE PICK: Texans (+3) FINAL SCORE: Texans 23 Ravens 20
***RexRated Best Bet: Texans (+3)***
St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys (-4) Two (1-1) teams square off in Dallas when the Cowboys take on the Rams, and the winner of this game will be in good shape early in the 2013 season standings. The Cowboys have won a game they should have lost (vs. Giants) and lost a game that they should have won (@ Chiefs), their offensive line has struggled through two weeks, and I think that an excellent Rams defensive line will have a major advantage in the trenches in this game. The Cowboys need to find a way to run the ball, they have really struggled to do so through two games, which again comes down to their weak interior offensive line. The Rams have also struggled to move the ball on the ground, which is very uncharacteristic of a Jeff Fisher team, however Sam Bradford is playing much better with his new weapons and the Rams are moving the ball through the air. This is a tough game to call, I think Dallas defends home field in a tight one, but I’ll take the points.
THE PICK: Rams (+4) FINAL SCORE: Cowboys 24 Rams 23
Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints (-7.5) No team is more banged up on the defensive side of the ball than the New Orleans Saints, who placed starting cornerback Patrick Robinson on the IR, he becomes the fourth Saints defensive starter who will miss the remainder of the season. However the Saints (2-0) have been good enough defensively to win two divisional games to start the season, beating the Falcons at home and the Buccaneers on the road. The Arizona Cardinals (1-1) have impressed me so far this season, Carson Palmer has been a major upgrade which has really sparked their offense, and Larry Fitzgerald has not been this happy since Kurt Warner played for their team. They have had their issues on the other side of the ball, as the Cardinals pass rush, which was one of the best in the NFL last season has managed just 1.0 sack in two games played. I do not think the Cardinals are getting enough respect, and think this line is way too high, I’ll take the Saints to win but am grabbing the points.
THE PICK: Cardinals (+7.5) FINAL SCORE: Saints 30 Cardinals 27
Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins (-1.5) Robert Griffin III has really struggled, but it has not really shown in his numbers, because the Redskins (0-2) have been forced to play from behind and throw the ball in each of their first two games. RGIII is still very tentative about his knee, and is not looking to run or stepping into his throws, especially when the pocket breaks down. The Lions (1-1) lost a close game in Arizona last weekend, and they could be without Reggie Bush for this game, who is a game time decision with a knee injury. The Detroit Lions are a better team on turf than they are on the road, but until I see RGIII regain confidence in his knee and look remotely like his old self, I will not be picking the Redskins. I expect the Lions interior front four to dominate the line of scrimmage and compress the pocket, which will force Griffin to think about his knee, and struggle once again. Look for a big game out of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson as the Lions get a win.
THE PICK: Lions (+1.5) FINAL SCORE: Lions 24 Redskins 21
Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals (+3) I am a little surprised that the Bengals are underdogs at home in this game, because after barely losing in Chicago in week one, they dominated the Steelers in week two for an easy win, and rookies Giovanni Bernard and Tyler Eifert look like they have brought more explosiveness to the Bengals offense. The Packers look excellent offensively, as expected, they played the 49ers tough in a week on road loss, then shredded the Redskins at home in week two. I think this is a tougher game than Vegas does, and would have favored the Bengals slightly at home, but understand that there will be a lot of public money on the Packers. This game will come down to which defense can get the most stops, and I think that the Packers banged up offensive line could be a problem, because of the Bengals excellent front seven. It’s going to be a close game, I see it as a push if the Packers win, so I’ll take the points.
THE PICK: Bengals (+3) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 27 Packers 24
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers (-1) The New York Giants lead the NFL in turnovers through two weeks, and these mistakes have absolutely killed them, causing them to lose at Dallas in week one and at home to the Broncos in week two. My biggest problem with the Giants is their total lack of a pass rush defensively, as a former strength has become a weakness, and exposed holes in the secondary. Offensively, the Giants have not been able to run the ball, which is why Eli Manning is the NFL leader in passing yards through two weeks. The Carolina Panthers (0-2) have been in both games, but have not been able to make plays when it mattered most, in losing efforts to Seattle and Buffalo. The Panthers have the best young front seven in football, and the Giants will not be able to run the ball, so Manning will be forced to throw early and often once again. This may be a good thing for the Giants, because Carolina is weak in the secondary to begin with, and is dealing with injuries to the unit. I expect a big game from Eli Manning and the Giants receivers in a victory in Carloina.
THE PICK: Giants (+1.5) FINAL SCORE Giants 30 Panthers 23
***SportSmasher Best Bet: Giants (+1.5)***
Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins (-3) The Miami Dolphins finally make their home debut, after winning two road games to start the season, against the Browns and the Colts. Ryan Tannehill has made major strides, and is distributing the football to his revamped receiving corps accurately, and the Dolphins have been excellent defensively. The Atlanta Falcons are dealing with several injuries to key players, running back Steven Jackson will miss this game with a thigh injury and star wide receiver Roddy White is still dealing with a high ankle sprain, while standout lienbacker Sean Weatherspoon will miss significant time with a foot injury. The Falcons also lost defensive end Kroy Biermann for the end of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. I think this will be an excellent game, but expect the Falcons injuries to really slow them down, so unless receiver Julio Jones has a monster game I like the Dolphins.
THE PICK: Dolphins (-3) FINAL SCORE: Dolphins 24 Falcons 20
Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers (-10.5) The San Francisco 49ers are going to be pissed off following a blowout loss in week two in Seattle to their hated divisional rival Seahawks, and I expect them to take it out on the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. The Colts have a nice young team, especially after trading for running back Trent Richardson this week, but they have trouble protecting Andrew Luck. That is going to be a major problem against the 49ers. I think that Colin Kaepernick will move the ball at will against the Colts suspect defense both through the air and with his legs, while Aldon Smith with pressure Andrew Luck all day long. The Colts are talented, but not talented enough to hang with the big boys just yet, especially when a team like the 49ers has something to prove.
THE PICK: 49ers (-10.5) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 30 Colts 16
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks (-19.5) This is the largest point spread we have seen in a long time, and it is justified, as I see absolutely no way that the Jaguars will be able to move the ball on the Seahawks defense in Seattle. I am not going to even bother really breaking this down, the Jags will not be able to move the ball, and expect a big day from running back Marshawn Lynch in the running game for Seattle. I am not picking against Seattle at home until further notice, but especially in a game like this, where I expect them to roll.
THE PICK: Seahawks (-19.5) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 41 Jaguars 6
***RexRated Best Bet: Jaguars (-19.5)***
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets (-3) Both of these teams are (1-1), and they each narrowly lost to the Patriots in one of their games, while barely winning their other game. It is also a battle of starting quarterbacks, as the Bills EJ Manuel takes on the Jets Geno Smith, so see which rookie is further along. This is going to be a tight game, and one play down the stretch will likely be the difference, it will come down to which quarterback does not make mistakes. Dropped passes have been a major problem for the Jets through two games, and until that changes, they will be tough to pick. I think that EJ Manuel has slightly better weapons and has made fewer mistakes so far, the Jets excellent defense will shut down the Bills running game, but Manuel will make a play to win the Bills this game.
THE PICK: Bills (+3) FINAL SCORE: Bills 21 Jets 20
***RexRated Best Bet: Jets (-3)*** (I got this line at -2)
Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) The Pittsburgh Steelers have looked awful through two games, they are completely unable to run the football, which has forced Ben Roethlisberger to throw the ball behind an awful offensive line. Wide receiver Antonio Brown questioned offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s play calling after last week’s loss to the Bengals on Monday Night Football, which is never a good sign. The Chicago Bears have done enough to win two games, and much credit belongs to their upgraded offensive line, and the camaraderie between quarterback Jay Cutler and free agent acquisition tight end Martellus Bennett. I do not think the Steelers will be able to move the ball on the Bears defense, so they will have to make this an ugly game to win, and I think the Bears are better than that this year. I think the Bears are a playoff team in 2013, and I like them to dominate the Steelers on Sunday Night Football.
THE PICK: Bears (+3) FINAL SCORE: Bears 24 Steelers 17
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-14.5) The Denver Broncos suffered a major injury in a win over the Giants last weekend, when they lost left tackle Ryan Clady for the season to a foot injury, and this injury could hurt them down the road. It will not hurt them Monday Night at home against the Oakland Raiders. I expect Peyton Manning to absolutely shred the Oakland Raiders, he threw seven touchdowns against the Ravens during week one, and that personal record could be in jeopardy on Monday Night. Terrelle Pryor to use his legs to move the chains, and the Raiders will score some points, but their defense has no chance of stopping Peyton Manning on Monday Night. Maybe Sebastian Janikowski hits a 65+ yard field goal in the thin air in Denver. Broncos in a landslide.
THE PICK: Broncos (-14.5) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 38 Raiders 13
***SportSmasher Best Bet: Broncos (-14.5)***
Against The Spread (6-9-1) Outright (6-10)
SportSmasher Best Bets (1-2) RexRated Best Bets (2-1)
Against The Spread (7-8-1) Outright (13-3)
SportSmasher Best Bets (0-3) RexRated Best Bets (1-1-1)
Against The Spread (13-17-2) Outright (19-13)
SportSmasher Best Bets (1-5) RexRated Best Bets (3-2-1)