Jazz: The good news is that I won’t have to embarrass myself by picking the Jets this week. The bad news is that they gave the Browns their first victory since Obama was in office on Thursday night. The mediocre news is that I managed to barely do better than .500 last week, going 4-3 thanks to yet another tie in the NFL in the Vikings game, bringing my season total to a still respectable 10-4. I’ve also begun developing a nervous tick about picking the Steelers, who don’t seem to be performing to their pre-season billing. Nevertheless, onward and upwards, fans!
Ed: The bad news is that the bad news continues for me. I thought last week’s 3-4 start was bad, but this week Da Bears were all that kept me from a complete skunk in Week 2. That makes me 4-10, the mirror image of Jazz’s hot start after two weeks. These days I’d be satisfied with a tie with Jazz … which means I have something in common with the Steelers, Browns, Vikings, and Packers. BTW, who’s the best bet this week for a tie finish? Maybe the Bengals-Panthers game. Can we get a third week in a row with a lame overtime result? Yes we can!
Jazz: We only have two featured games to pick this week, thanks to the aforementioned Jets debacle. Today, the Vikings are hosting the Bills (1:00 pm, CBS) in what should, by all accounts be a laughable matchup. The Vegas line has Minnesota as a 16.5 point favorite. Kirk Cousins threw for more than 220 yards last week against the Packers and, well… the Bills ain’t no Green Bay team. Let’s just take the Vikings 31-12 and call it a day. On Monday Night Football, the Steelers travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers (8:15 pm, ESPN). Pittsburgh is a slim favorite, but the Bucs offense is leading the league on offense with an average of 482.5 yards per game. The Steelers’ pass defense hasn’t been anything to brag about and they’ve already burned me twice this season. I’m going to take a flyer and pick Tampa Bay in a minor upset, 24-21.
Ed: The Steelers hit the road to get their first win of the season, and they’re running into a buzzsaw named Ryan Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh’s defense is pretty suspect these days, ranking 23rd overall — but 15th against the pass, oddly enough given last week’s shredding by Patrick Mahomes. However, Tampa Bay’s D is ranked 29th. Looks like we’re in for a shootout, and I’ll pick the Steelers to survive 35-31. In Minnesota, the Vikings are averaging 26.5 points per game, while Buffalo has 23 points … in two games. Put together. The Vikes’ D is ranked 13th on yards allowed while Buffalo’s 17th, but the Bills are ranked tied for last in points allowed. That’s because their offense stinks, and they leave their opponents with great field position. That’s a recipe for a Minnesota blowout, 37-14.
Jazz: We’ll dredge up five more matchups to get us to seven for the week.
- Raiders at Dolphins (1:00 pm, CBS) – I don’t care if the Dolphins are the favorite here. This is one of those “trap games” where I’m guessing Miami is looking past a still dangerous Raiders team. I’m going with Oakland in a close one 24-21.
- Packers at Redskins (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Redskins have shown a terrible defense in the red zone so far this season and while the Pack hasn’t looked as impressive as many people expected, this game looks custom made for Aaron Rodgers. I’m going with the Packers 24-17.
- Bears at Cardinals (4:25 pm, FOX) – Chicago is only a four-point favorite over Arizona, but that might be an understatement. Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford has been a disappointment to put it mildly. If Arizona puts in rookie Josh Rosen the game might get more interesting, much the same way the Jets game got “interesting” when the Browns put in their rookie pick. But it sounds like they’ll stick with Rosen so I’ll go with the favorite and take the Bears 24-13.
- Cowboys at Seahawks (4:25 pm, FOX) – Seattle is the favorite here, which isn’t surprising for a home game, but Dak Prescott has proven to be very resilient on the road. I think the Seahawks are in the dumps at this point and there’s an opening for Dallas. I’ll go with the upset and pick the Cowboys for a road win 21-17.
- Patriots at Lions (8:20 pm, NBC) – I hate picking the Patriots game two weeks in a row, but they’re in the late game, so what the heck? I did well picking against New England last week, but I’m afraid the Lions aren’t up to the task. (That’s the team that got smoked by the Jets.) I think the Lions will do a bit better than in week one, but the Patriots will still take this one 30-17.
- Raiders at Dolphins (1:00 pm, CBS) – I thought the Raiders would respond better to Jon Gruden, but so far they’re pretty wan on both sides of the ball. Miami’s scoring a TD more per game and giving up ten points per game fewer. Combined with the home field, I’ll take Miami in a 27-14 win.
- Packers at Redskins (1:00 pm, FOX) – Washington’s not scoring points, but their opponents aren’t either; they’re the #2 defense in points allowed at the moment. Green Bay’s scoring a lot of points, but so are their opponents. It’s a bit of a wash, so I’ll go with the Redskins at home in a relatively low-scoring game, 20-17.
- Bears at Cardinals (4:25 pm, FOX) – After being my only successful pick last week, I feel like I owe them some loyalty in Week 3. The Cards are dead last in points scored and ranked 25th in points allowed; Chicago’s significantly better on both sides of the ball. Da Bears in a walk, 28-10.
- Cowboys at Seahawks (4:25 pm, FOX) – Dallas has a strong defense in the first two weeks, ranked 3rd in points allowed, while Seattle’s D is giving up 25.5 points per game. The Seahawks’ offense isn’t good enough to overcome that if it continues. However, they’re playing their first home game of the season, and they usually step up when the 12th Man comes out to cheer. I’ll pick Seattle in a squeaker, 20-19.
- Patriots at Lions (8:20 pm, NBC) – The Pats have played mediocre on both sides of the ball this year, getting surprised by a tough Jaguars team last week. Detroit, however, has played badly, especially on defense, giving up a league-tying-worst of 39 points a game. Tom Brady isn’t old enough yet to get contained by a defense like that, so expect the Pats to tattoo the Lions, 37-17.