Let’s keep this short and sweet.
Week 2 of the NFL season was pretty “meh” if we’re being honest, and if we’re really being honest, this week doesn’t look much better. But that won’t stop NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian from making their weekly picks against the spread.
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole 9-7 (16-15 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 9-7 (19-12 overall)
Andre Khatchaturian 8-8 (15-16 overall)
Be sure to check out “The Spread” in the video above and get their full Week 3 picks below with lines courtesy of OddsShark.com.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 21
(-2) Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Rams. The Niners will move the ball against a Rams defense that’s allowed the second-most yards per carry, but can they get in the end zone? They haven’t yet, and I think this is a game where Todd Gurley goes off to spark L.A.
Ricky: Rams. These teams are fairly comparable defensively, but the Rams look like they have the better offense. Which isn’t saying much.
Andre: Rams. The Rams’ pass rush is good at getting to the quarterback as they boast an 11.1 sack percentage (third in the NFL). The 49ers haven’t scored an offensive touchdown and there’s a good chance they won’t find the end zone again against the Rams’ great defense.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 24
(-3.5) Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars, 9:30 a.m., in London
Mike: Ravens. The Baltimore defense has been so darn good, and it’s been especially good in pressuring the quarterback. The result? An opponent passer rating of 35 through two games, and now they get Blake Bortles. Leave the Jags in London, please.
Ricky: Ravens. What Mike said. Sleep in.
Andre: Ravens. Expect the Jaguars’ ferocious pass rush (11 sacks, first in the NFL) to get plenty of pressure on Joe Flacco. But also expect Bortles to continue to be very bad. In 47 career games, he has 53 interceptions and now he goes up against a defense that has feasted on bad quarterbacks (Andy Dalton and Deshone Kizer) this season.
New York Giants at (-6) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. The Giants are in big trouble. They can’t score points, and now they have to keep pace with an Eagles team that’s scored a total of 57 points through two games. Oh, and by the way, the Eagles get after the QB, which is bad for Ereck Flowers and the rest of New York’s porous offensive line.
Ricky: Giants. Philadelphia’s front seven is legit That’s bad news for New York’s struggling offense. But the Giants’ defense still is loaded with talent, especially if Janoris Jenkins returns to the lineup. That should be enough to keep things close in a low-scoring affair.
Andre: Giants. None of the numbers point toward the Giants, but I’m going with them. They’ve had a rough first two weeks, but I can’t ignore their big names on defense. Also, Odell Beckham Jr. is only going to get healthier and once that happens, the Giants offense will click again.
Cleveland Browns at (PK) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. The Browns have six turnovers already through two games. That needs to get better, and until it does, even a team like the Colts will make them pay for short fields. Jacoby Brissett, overtime pick aside, actually looked halfway decent for Indy last week, too.
Ricky: Browns. Because I have to pick one.
Andre: Colts. The Colts have the better offensive attack with Brissett and T.Y. Hilton and they did put on a decent showing against a tough Arizona secondary. It doesn’t help that Cleveland just lost Corey Coleman for an extended period. Also, Isaiah Crowell has struggled this so far and the Colts’ run defense has actually been decent, allowing 2.5 yards per carry — second best in the NFL.
(-7) Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. I know we all think the Steelers are supposed to be really good or will be really good. But they haven’t hit their stride just yet, and I’m not sure it happens this week, either. Just one too many points for me.
Ricky: Steelers. The Bears clearly have less talent than the Steelers, and they’re also banged up going into this game. The absence of linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who was placed on IR after Week 1, will continue to haunt Chicago’s defense against Ben Roethlisberger and Co., and the Bears’ rushing attack will find it difficult to get going against the Steelers’ staunch run defense, especially if Jordan Howard is dealing with the lingering effects of an arm injury he suffered in Week 2. Bears quarterback Mike Glennon might be forced to beat the Steelers, and let’s be real, that isn’t happening.
Andre: Bears. As I explained last week, Ben Roethlisberger is a completely different quarterback at home than on the road. Since 2014, he’s 17-4 at home with 61 TD and 16 INT. But on the road, he’s 14-9 with 25 TD and 23 INT. The Bears defense did a great job at home containing the explosive Falcons offense, so it is possible for the Bears to keep a game close against an NFL titan. On the other side of the ball, Chicago’s offensive line should help neutralize the Steelers’ devastating front seven and allow the Bears’ two-headed running attack to eat some clock and keep the game close.
(-3) Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. Sure, Detroit is 2-0 and is at home. But the Lions haven’t faced a test like the Falcons yet with weapons at every position. Expect a big game for the Atlanta rushing attack, which was bad news for the Lions last season, going 2-8 in games they allowed 100 or more yards of rushing.
Ricky: Falcons. I’m starting to believe in Detroit, whose defense has really improved since last season. But I need to see what they’re made of against top-notch competition before fully buying in. Wins over the Cardinals and Giants just don’t do it for me. Let’s go with the safe pick here.
Andre: Falcons. Despite the Lions’ success in Week 2 in terms of getting to the quarterback, they still haven’t proven they can do that on a consistent basis. And I don’t see anyone on Detroit’s secondary that’s going to put up a test against Julio Jones.
(-6) Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Wanted to pick the Jets so badly, especially given injury question marks surrounding Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry’s knees. But I still think Adam Gase finds enough creative ways to move the football, while the Jets just don’t have the offense to keep pace.
Ricky: Dolphins. Jay Cutler has a really good assortment of weapons, which doesn’t bode well for a Jets defense that just got carved up by Derek Carr. Ajayi also could have a monster day with the Jets’ run defense — last in the NFL with 370 rushing yards allowed through two games — looking like a shell of its former self.
Andre: Dolphins. Cutler showed he can be a very good quarterback when he has weapons. The Jets have also allowed 5.4 yards per carry, so expect a big day from Ajayi, if he plays. The Dolphins recorded just one sack in their win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1, but they have some pretty big names on that pass rush that’ll provide plenty of problems for the Jets.
(-3) Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Weird things have happened in Orchard Park the last few years, but I just don’t see where Buffalo finds the offense.
Ricky: Broncos. There’s no way Tyrod Taylor will have much luck against Denver’s “No Fly Zone” secondary. That means the Bills will need to establish the run, which is a tall order after the Broncos limited Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries in Week 2.
Andre: Broncos. Tyrod Taylor was the most-sacked quarterback last season and he’s been sacked on nearly nine percent of pass plays this season (10th-highest). Now he’s going up against a ferocious Denver Broncos pass rush that was third in the NFL in sacks last year. The Broncos only allowed 4.2 yards per play against two elite offenses in the Chargers and Cowboys. Something tells me Taylor is going to have a long day.
Houston Texans at (-13) New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. New England sounds like it will get some pieces back, so it should be able to move the ball on offense. Defensively, the Patriots should have little issue slowing down an offense that ranks dead last in the NFL with 3.6 yards per play.
Ricky: Texans. I’ll probably regret this given how good the Patriots typically are against rookie quarterbacks. But 13 points is a wide margin against a potential playoff contender with one of the NFL’s most talented defenses, especially given the plethora of injuries to New England’s receiving corps.
Andre: Patriots. It’s a lot of points against a really good defense, but Bill Belichick is a master against young and inexperienced quarterbacks. Last season, the Patriots went up against Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler twice, Landry Jones, Jared Goff, Trevor Siemian and Bryce Petty. Combined, those quarterbacks had four touchdowns and nine interceptions.
New Orleans Saints at (-6) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. There are a whole host of trends going in the Saints’ favor (they’re 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on grass; who knew?), but that defense is just so bad, as Tom Brady and some running backs proved last week. I think this is a breakout game for Christian McCaffrey.
Ricky: Panthers. Normally, I’d be concerned about the Panthers’ ability to move the football in their first game after placing Greg Olsen on injured reserve. But I’m pretty sure Wayne Newton, never mind Cam Newton, could slice and dice this Saints defense.
Andre: Saints. Sam Bradford and Brady each had remarkable games against the Saints defense and Newton shouldn’t have problem slinging the ball around either. But Drew Brees has been getting protection this year (only two sacks) and he’ll have time to throw against an aging Panthers defense. The Panthers haven’t given up a touchdown but they’ve gone up against Brian Hoyer and Tyrod Taylor. Brees will keep this within six.
Seattle Seahawks at (-3) Tennessee Titans, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Seattle has struggled against the run this season (5.2 yards per carry, 29th) and now gets a run-heavy offense. If the Titans can put together some lengthy drives, they’ll have a chance of tiring out that Seattle defense — especially with high temperatures into the 90s in Nashville.
Ricky: Titans. Tennessee should be able to ride its rushing attack to victory. Don’t sleep on the Titans’ defense making an impact, though. The unit looks capable of forcing turnovers this season, which adds a whole new wrinkle to Tennessee’s repertoire.
Andre: Titans. The Seahawks’ strength is their defense, but the Titans have a formidable offensive line that’ll give Marcus Mariota time to throw and the Titans room to run and eat the clock. The Seahawks’ offensive line woes are also well-documented, so keep an eye on Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.
(-3) Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Seems like everyone is on the Chargers this week, which is weird given the Chiefs’ fast start. Here’s what I love, though: Kansas City is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and 5-0 ATS in its last five divisional games.
Ricky: Chargers. Everything points to the Chiefs, who have won 11 straight games against divisional opponents and six straight games against the Chargers. Kansas City surrendered six sacks against Philadelphia last week, though, and Los Angeles can get after it. Take the desperate team and the points.
Andre: Chargers. The Chargers have the second-lowest sacks allowed percentage, which will help negate the Chiefs’ pass rush and give Philip Rivers time to throw. K.C.’s defense also gives up yards (5.4 yards per play, 22nd), and Eric Berry’s loss should benefit Antonio Gates. Finally, unlike the Chiefs’ previous opponents (Patriots and Eagles), the Chargers actually have a pass rush with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-8.5) Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Picking against Green Bay at home coming off a loss against a team that hasn’t scored a touchdown yet seems questionable at best, but the Packers are banged up on both sides of the ball, and if Cincy commits to the run, it could jump-start the offense.
Ricky: Packers. Green Bay needs to reassert itself after being steamrolled by Atlanta in Week 2. A home game against Cincinnati should help facilitate that, as it’s hard to imagine the Bengals keeping up, especially with how bad Andy Dalton has been through two weeks.
Andre: Bengals. Andy Dalton should be better now that he’s not going up against tough defenses like the Ravens and Texans. He’ll use A.J. Green to exploit the Packers shaky secondary, which gave up a ton of yards to Julio Jones. The Packers should still win, but I think the Bengals put up a fight.
(-3) Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Feels a little trap-y, but even though the Redskins won last week, they did all they could to give that game away. If and when they do the same thing this week, Oakland will be ready to take advantage.
Ricky: Redskins. The Raiders are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games on the East Coast, so that’s an overblown narrative. The Redskins, though, stink on the big stage, evidenced by their 3-11 SU and ATS record in their last 14 primetime games. But Washington’s offense showed improvement in Week 2 after a poor Week 1 effort. This could be a shootout, with the Redskins capable of pulling off an upset if they’re able to get a few big plays from Chris Thompson and their running backs.
Andre: Raiders. I think this comes down to who makes the costly turnover. That’s more likely Kirk Cousins, who’s going up against a defense that forced the second-most takeaways last season. And if the Raiders find the lead, they can hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch to eat the clock.
MONDAY, SEPT. 25
(-3) Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The Broncos just laid the groundwork for how you beat the Cowboys. Stack it up and make Dak Prescott beat you. Oh, and that’s a lot easier if you have a premier cornerback who can shut down Dez Bryant, which is exactly what Patrick Peterson will do Monday night.
Ricky: Cardinals. The Cowboys are playing their second consecutive road game, having had their doors blown off by the Broncos in Denver in Week 2. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are returning to the desert for their home opener after squeaking out a road victory over the Colts. I’ll say momentum wins out here.
Andre: Cardinals. The Cardinals allow just 2.8 yards per carry and have a solid pass rush with Chandler Jones and Karlos Dansby. Their strong secondary can eliminate Bryant from the game. On the other side of the ball, Dallas’ defense showed how bad it stinks last week on the road. Carson Palmer has plenty of weapons and it’ll be enough for Arizona to eke out a close home win.
Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images