If you overreacted in your Week 2 NFL picks, you probably had a pretty rough week.
The sportsbooks were printing money last week after underdogs went 11-5 against the spread in another wild week of football. Week 3, though, typically is known as the week when the lines start to sharpen, so you’re going to want all the information you can get.
That’s where the NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian step in with their against-the-spread picks. It’s only been two weeks, but so far, so good for the guys.
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 9-6 (16-14-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 5-10 (16-14-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 9-6 (18-12-1)
Here are their Week 3 picks (lines courtesy of OddsShark.)
THURSDAY, SEPT. 20
New York Jets at (-3) Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Browns. It’s cliche, but I’m can’t take the rookie quarterback on the road in a short week. Cleveland has been really, really competitive thus far, and now they get a primetime spot to finally get off the schneid.
Andre: Browns. Cleveland’s offensive line has allowed 10 sacks this year, but they were competitive against the Steelers and Saints. They lead the league in takeaways and have the best turnover differential because Tyrod Taylor doesn’t cough up the ball.
Ricky: Browns. The Browns are 0-34-1 SU in their past 35 games on Sunday. Fortunately, this game takes place Thursday. Free beer in Cleveland!
SUNDAY, SEPT. 23
Buffalo Bills at (-17) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. Don’t love taking the Bills! Nope! But I’m just hoping these two teams both show up, realize this is a waste of time and go through the motions with Buffalo keeping it just within the number.
Andre: Vikings. 43.9 completion percentage. One touchdown. Four interceptions. 11 sacks. Those are the quarterback stats for the Bills this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Bills quarterbacks have been under pressure on 41 percent of dropbacks. Only Deshaun Watson has been pressured more. Sheldon Richardson, who is tied for first in QB pressures, according to PFF, should have a field day.
Ricky: Vikings. I’m trying to figure out how many points I’d be willing to lay in this matchup. 20? 50? 700? It’ll be shocking if the Vikings don’t put the Bills through a flaming table this Sunday in what ultimately could be a matchup of the NFL’s best team and its worst team.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-3) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Not having Joe Mixon will hurt, but Cincinnati is on extra rest, and more importantly, the Bengals can get after the quarterback. Cam Newton has been solid this season, but he has just a 25.8 passer rating under pressure, according to PFF.
Andre: Panthers. What’s this?! Cam Newton has completed 69 percent of his passes this season? Thank Christian McCaffrey, who leads the team in receptions and has twice as many catches as Devin Funchess. The Bengals have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to running backs. I also love the Panthers’ pass rush (sixth-best sack rate) against the Bengals’ offensive line, which ranks 22nd in pass blocking, according to PFF.
Ricky: Panthers. Ron Rivera didn’t mince words in criticizing Carolina’s defensive effort in Week 2, and I expect that message to be well-received at home leading into the Panthers’ bye. Also, Carolina typically plays well against AFC opponents, for whatever reason, going 10-3 SU in its last 13 such games.
Denver Broncos at (-5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. The Broncos have played the Seahawks and Raiders (they both stink) at home this season; they have won those games by a combined four points. Things will be a little different at Baltimore where the Ravens have won seven of their last 10.
Andre: Broncos. Denver has the second-most rushing yards in football this season. As for the defense, the Broncos have the fifth-best sack rate. Baltimore has allowed the fewest yards per play this year, but it’s not as strong against the run. This should be a low-scoring, close, smash-mouth game.
Ricky: Broncos. There are several trends suggesting it’s foolish to back the Broncos on the road, but the likely absence of linebacker C.J. Mosley — arguably Baltimore’s most important defensive player — is hard to ignore. The Broncos’ pass rush also will cause problems for the Ravens’ offensive line, which is coming off a poor performance against the Bengals.
(-3) Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Green Bay somehow finds a way to slow down the RPO and its stout run defense puts Washington in 3rd-and-long situations. That’s enough for Aaron Rodgers to go to work against a Washington defense that isn’t nearly on par with the Packers’ Weeks 1 and 2 opponents, Chicago and Minnesota.
Andre: Redskins. How do you beat Aaron Rodgers? Keep the ball away from him. The Redskins lead the league in time of possession and have Alex Smith, who isn’t going to make many mistakes. There’s a lot of value in this spread. The Redskins are coming off a bad performance, are pretty underrated (third-best total defense grade and best defensive coverage grade, according to PFF) and they’re getting points at home.
Ricky: Packers. I trust Green Bay’s defense enough to slow 33-year-old Adrian Peterson and make the Redskins’ offense one-dimensional, especially if Washington’s O-line, which hobbled out of last week’s loss to Indianapolis, suffers any setbacks.
Indianapolis Colts at (-6) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. Carson Wentz being back should give the Philly offense a much-needed shot in the arm (Nick Foles beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl will never cease to amaze), and the inconsistent Indy offense should present a get-right game for the Eagles.
Andre: Eagles. It’s a miracle how the Colts won a game last week after losing the time of possession and turnover battles to the Redskins and also having fewer first downs and total yards. That strategy likely won’t work against the defending champs on the road.
Ricky: Colts. Banking on Wentz showing some rust in his first game since last December, especially since the Eagles QB will be operating with a depleted receiving corps and a thin backfield.
New York Giants at (-6) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. New year, new coach, a new weapon, same old story for the Giants. Eli Manning looks old, and his offensive line remains something of a mess, which is not a recipe for success against the Texans pass rush.
Andre: Texans. Deshaun Watson has been brutalized this season because of his horrible offensive line, having been under pressure on 48 percent of his dropbacks, according to PFF. Fortunately for him, he goes up against a Giants pass rush that has recorded just one sack this year.
Ricky: Giants. This spread is inflated with everyone jumping on the Texans early. So I’ll gladly take the extra points and pray the Giants’ offensive line can protect Manning just enough for him to exploit the Texans’ beatable secondary. Giants tight end Evan Engram will have a big game, much like Rob Gronkowski did against the Texans two weeks ago.
New Orleans Saints at (-3) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Since 2014, the four games in Atlanta between these two teams have been settled by a combined 14 points. Expect a big game from Alvin Kamara after the Panthers exposed some issues the Falcons have with pass-catching running backs with Christian McCaffrey hauling in 14 of 15 targets for 102 yards.
Andre: Falcons. Mark Ingram’s absence has hurt the Saints. They’re averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry and because of this, Drew Brees is becoming more one-dimensional. That might work against Cleveland, but it probably won’t on the road against a speedy Falcons defense that’s allowing 5.2 yards per play. The Saints defense has also allowed a league-high 7 yards per play and that’s a recipe for disaster against Matt Ryan.
Ricky: Saints. The Falcons’ offense looked much better in Week 2, finishing with the second-most total yards of Steve Sarkisian’s tenure as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. But the Saints’ offense will keep pace, as the injuries to Falcons safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones will be felt Sunday, especially if New Orleans can get Kamara the ball in space.
Oakland Raiders at (-3) Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. The Miami offensive line has been pretty good so far, and they’ll look even better this week against an Oakland defense that can no longer generate a pass rush after trading Khalil Mack. Go figure.
Andre: Dolphins. The Raiders have been outscored 43-7 in the second half. That’s poor coaching. Oakland also allows a league-high 5.7 yards per carry and it goes up against the highest graded rushing team in football, according to PFF.
Ricky: Raiders. Jon Gruden has to win a game at some point, right?
San Francisco 49ers at (-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. That everyone is on K.C. here is concerning, but that San Francisco defense has been pretty shaky through two weeks with missed tackles being a real problem — not what you want when going up against an explosive offense.
Andre: Chiefs. The league’s third-lowest graded defense, according to PFF, goes up against the second-highest graded offense. The Chiefs are averaging nearly 7.5 yards per play and they’ve done it against some pretty solid defenses. The 49ers also haven’t done a good job protecting Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s been sacked nine times this year. #BloodBath
Ricky: Chiefs. Kansas City scored six touchdowns last week against Pittsburgh with just 27 minutes, 49 seconds time of possession. The Chiefs’ longest scoring drive lasted just 3 minutes, 57 seconds. It’s hard to imagine this type of quick-strike attack is sustainable — 26 percent of Patrick Mahomes’ completions (and 18 percent of his attempts) have resulted in touchdowns — but the good times should continue for at least another week against a 49ers team with secondary issues and an inconsistent pass rush.
Tennessee Titans at (-6.5) Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Maybe (?) there’s a chance of a letdown here for the Jags after the Patriots win last week, but they took it to New England and theoretically should do the same against a banged-up Titans team.
Andre: Jaguars. The Titans have injury problems at offensive line (Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan) and quarterback (Marcus Mariota) — two positions in football that will be given hell if not up for the task against the Jaguars’ defense. They also have the fourth-worst yards per play differential in the NFL and that was against mediocre teams like the Dolphins and Texans.
Ricky: Jaguars. According to OddsShark, the Titans are 8-34 SU and ATS over the last five years when being held under 20 points. It’ll be difficult for them to crack that number Sunday against Jacksonville’s elite defense, especially given Tennessee’s injury concerns.
Los Angeles Chargers at (-6.5) Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. I’m not a big trends guy, but Philip Rivers going 13-5 ATS as an underdog of 6.5 or more and 24-10 ATS as a road dog of 3.5 or more is hard to ignore. And look for a big Melvin Gordon game in the passing attack.
Andre: Chargers. Since Dec. 6, 2015, the only time a team not named the Chiefs — who somehow have a nine-game winning streak over the Chargers and are just a terrible matchup for them — to beat the Chargers by more than one score was Week 14 of the 2016 season against Carolina. The Chargers always keep games close and they definitely have the talent to keep this game within one score or even win.
Ricky: Chargers. The Rams have been so dominant while outscoring their opponents 57-0 over the last six quarters that it’s easy to forget they beat up on two weaklings, the Raiders and Cardinals. This is a stiffer test, obviously, and the Chargers have enough firepower, both offensively and defensively, to avoid being run out of Los Angeles.
(-4) Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Bears. I’m not sure the Bears are a true playoff contender as they’ve displayed through two weeks, but I am pretty sure the Arizona offense (3.7 yards per play) is brutal. A hobbled Larry Fitzgerald won’t help matters, either.
Andre: Bears. The Bears have more defensive touchdowns than the Cardinals have offensive touchdowns. And that lone offensive touchdown was in garbage time. Please explain to me how the Cardinals plan on scoring any points in this game against the Bears’ lethal defense.
Ricky: Bears. Basically, I’m not entirely sure the Cardinals even will score, in which case the Bears just need to put up five or more points. Sounds reasonable.
Dallas Cowboys at (-3) Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The Seahawks got no favors from the schedule-makers starting the season against Denver, Chicago and now Dallas, three teams that can get after the quarterback. Dallas might not be on the level of those other two, but the resurgence of Jaylon Smith should keep Russell Wilson up at night.
Andre: Cowboys. Another game where Wilson will be running for his life. He’s been sacked on nearly 15 percent of dropbacks and is going up against a strong Dallas pass rush that already has nine sacks this year.
Ricky: Seahawks. Seattle’s offensive line stinks to the high heavens, but Wilson still is capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat from time to time. CenturyLink Field will be rocking for the Seahawks’ home opener, making life difficult for the Cowboys’ inconsistent offense, especially with linebackers Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks expected to suit up for Seattle.
(-6.5) New England Patriots at Detroit Lions, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. The Patriots are 21-6 ATS following a double-digit loss since 2000, and they’re an absurd 13-5 ATS in their last 18 primetime road games.
Andre: Patriots. Since 2016, the Patriots are 6-0 with an average margin of victory of 10.6 points after a loss.
Ricky: Patriots. Bill Belichick will coach the pants off one of his former coordinators, Matt Patricia. Expect a breakout game from rookie running back Sony Michel against a Lions run defense giving up an NFL-worst 179.5 yards per game on the ground through two weeks.
MONDAY, SEPT. 24
(-2) Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Don’t have any great reasoning for this other than I still refuse to believe the Steelers are that bad, and the Bucs are that good.
Andre: Bucs. It’s becoming very clear how much Ryan Shazier meant to this defense. Prior to his injury, the Steelers held opponents to under 20 points, 15 times since the start of the 2016 season. Since his injury, they’ve done it just once and that was against T.J. Yates last year. They’ve also allowed nearly a whole yard per play more since his injury.
Ricky: Bucs. The Steelers are a mess: Le’Veon Bell still is holding out, Bud Dupree is arguing with hecklers on social media, Antonio Brown might want to be traded and Ben Roethlisberger probably is shaking about Stormy Daniels’ new book. Pittsburgh generally plays well in primetime — Tampa Bay does not — but I’d rather root for FitzMagic and even more chaos in the Steel City.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images