Packers, Giants, Saints Are Strong Favorites in Week 3


September 25, 2009

Packers, Giants, Saints Are Strong Favorites in Week 3

So here we are, two weeks into the season, knowing a few things but still feeling utterly confused over everything else.

Here?s what we do know:

The Saints can score points. In bunches. Drew Brees and Co. have scored 93 points through two games. That?s 24 more points than any other team. The Rams, meanwhile, have scored just seven points.

The Giants will once again be a force. Last week, the G-Men were spotted points on the road. Don?t expect that to become a trend anytime soon.

The Jets? defense will be winning most of their games this season. Just don?t count too much on their offense.

Beyond that, it?s far too soon to tell what?s reliable and what?s been a fluke. To get a better idea, let?s take a look back at Week 2?s “?Woofs of the Week.”

TENNESSEE (-7) over Houston
Final score: Texans 34, Titans 31

Houston looked awful in Week 1, but it looks like a lot of teams might look awful against the Jets. The Titans, meanwhile, went toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with the champs in Week 1 ? then lost to the Texans. I suppose this is why we watch.

WASHINGTON (-10) over St. Louis
Final score: Redskins 9, Rams 7
Congratulations, Skins and Rams, for qualifying for the worst game of the year. Whether another game can snatch the title away from this Week 2 epic will be a story line worth ignoring for the rest of the season.

Without further ado, let?s try to our best with the Week 3 picks (home team in caps).

NEW YORK JETS (-2.5) over Tennessee
The Jets look poised to be monsters in September (shades of the 2008 Bills?), and you?d have to be nuts not to believe they?ll keep rolling through the Titans. Unless, of course, you believe in the letdown game.  Tennessee struggled to get anything going offensively against Pittsburgh. Now it will face the defense that has stifled Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Andre Johnson.

Green Bay (-6.5) over ST. LOUIS
The Rams have impressively looked like the worst team in football thus far, getting outscored 37-7 in the process. Until they show any sign of life, they can?t be picked.

DETROIT (+6) over Washington
OK, yes, this pick is a stretch, but at some point, the Lions have to win a football game. With Jim Zorn looking to justify his job, his team may not respond well. Washington was utterly useless (0-5) in the red zone last week, something that could cost them in Detroit.
Gut instinct says Washington wins this one, but after 19 straight losses, it?s time to start playing the ?Detroit?s gotta come around? card.

NEW ENGLAND (-4) over Atlanta
See this game? Now run away from it. Run far, far away.
The Patriots, to put it plainly, have looked pretty bad. There are clearly a number of issues to be worked out, and to expect them to magically be repaired in one week is not completely wise.

That said, the Patriots don?t lose two games in a row. The last time that happened was against the Colts and Jets in 2006. The Pats were so stunned they ripped up the grass and installed the new carpet in about 20 minutes. Those consecutive losses were the only ones from 2003-08.

Atlanta has looked strong but hasn?t really been tested against Miami and Carolina. This is the Falcons? test, and how they respond will be a big determining factor in where they?ll stand for the rest of the season.
Until then, stick with history.

HOUSTON (-3.5) over Jacksonville

I was the first to take a dive off the Texans? bandwagon after they got whooped by the Jets, but a win over the Titans has me inching back toward it. That?s not to say I?m going to be riding the wave week to week on Houston, but I?m now convinced the Texans will be winning a game or two this year.

Oh, and they?re playing the Jaguars. That helps.

San Francisco (+6.5) over MINNESOTA
I hate this pick. I hate it. I?m just not convinced that Minnesota ? outside of Adrian Peterson ? is an elite team. I?m just making the pick, closing my eyes and moving along.

Kansas City (+8.5) over PHILADELPHIA
The Eagles are a mess without Donovan McNabb. Kevin Kolb looks like Kevin Kolb, so in goes Jeff Garcia, right? Well, there?s that whole Michael Vick thing going on. The decisions facing Andy Reid might be too much of a distraction. That?s not to say the Kansas City Chiefs are world beaters, but the healthy spread is too enticing to pass up.

Baltimore (-13) over CLEVELAND
Are the Ravens the best team in football thus far? Arguably, yes. After a healthy win over the Chiefs in Week 1, Baltimore took a trip across the country to win a tight one in San Diego. The Ravens burned me in Week 1 by scoring a last-minute touchdown to cover the 13-point spread. Bank on them not needing a fourth-quarter score to accomplish the same against the Browns.

New York Giants (-6.5) over TAMPA BAY
Really? Not even a 10-point spread on this one? Who is making these Giants? odds?

New Orleans (-6) over BUFFALO
Yikes. Will the T.O. era in Buffalo get off to a 1-2 start? Based on the way the Saints? offense has looked, yes. If this game was in December, it?d be another story. Unfortunately for the Bills, it?s not.

Chicago (-2.5) over SEATTLE
The Matt Hasselbeck injury came early, and word is he?s thinking about gutting it out and playing this week. He did the same thing last year, and look how that turned out.

That?s not to say I have tremendous confidence in a Bears team that?s looked thoroughly beatable, but when things go bad for the Seahawks, they go very bad.

Pittsburgh (-4) over CINCINNATI
The Steelers can?t be as bad as they looked last week, can they?

SAN DIEGO (-6) over Miami
Hopefully, the Dolphins have enough time to catch their breath before Sunday?s game. On Monday night, all you heard about was how gassed the Colts? defense was, when it was very clear the Dolphins ? and Chad Pennington ? were struggling.

If we learned anything, though, it?s that Mr. Pennington and his crew can?t be trusted to make any sort of comeback. The Dolphins? running game is great, but if they fall behind a good team like the Chargers, they?ll never be able to catch up. (OK, so maybe the Chargers aren?t all that ?good? this year, but they?ll need a few more stinkers before they fall from the elite.)

OAKLAND (+1.5) over Denver
Here?s another pick I hate, but you know what? Denver has beaten the Browns and the Bengals. The Raiders have looked like some semblance of an NFL team. They even got to put a notch in the ?W? column last week. This could be the win that springboards them to a six-win season.

ARIZONA (+2.5) over Indianapolis
Has a team ever looked so impressive and unimpressive at the same time as Indy did on Monday night? The Colts scored at will, but the Dolphins? defense appears to have perfected the art of bullfighting. No one really knows what to expect out of the Cardinals, but this isn?t the good old days for Indy. The Colts are going to lose some games this year.

Carolina (+8.5) over DALLAS
The Cowboys can?t lose their first two games in their new stadium. Not with Jake Delhomme serving up interceptions on the other side. Can they?

Probably not, but the Cowboys don?t look like a team with blowout ability. With Marion Barber potentially out, the Cowboys may be forced to go through the air. That wouldn?t bother the Panthers, who have given up the third-fewest passing yards so far.

Who ultimately wins this one? No clue. Let?s just hope we get to see Jerry Jones make his pick on national TV again. 

Last week: 11-5
Season: 19-13

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