Tag Archives: Week 3

NFL Week 3 Odds, TV Info, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
September 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm ET

Only ten teams remain undefeated after just two weeks, and two of those clubs are 1-0. The best game of the week includes a pair of those teams and two of the NFL’s highest paid quarterbacks. Atlanta is at Detroit in a matchup that actually looks better now than it did when the schedule was released last spring.

Atlanta (at Detroit) and Oakland (at Washington) are both three point road favorites, highlighting the slate of NFL Week 3 games. The Patriots are favored by two touchdowns in Foxboro against Houston in a rematch of last year’s playoff game. The Browns are surprise road favorites at Indianapolis as the Colts continue their post-deflategate descent into the abyss.

Four of the nine winless teams will attempt to avoid an 0-3 start while facing a 2-0 club. Starting the season in that manner will put any head coach and general manager on the hot seat. Teams such as the Giants and Bengals that are taking an unexpected drastic downturn are already feeling the heat. In other cases owners of bad teams don’t have enough patience for a team to develop, a situation exacerbated by sports talk radio and anonymous internet commentary. The inevitable result will be another HC or GM change, and the losing cycle simply continues.


Sunday, Sept 24 at 9:30 am ET on Yahoo.com. Announcers: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton.
Baltimore Ravens ‘at’ Jacksonville Jaguars in London
No television broadcast except in each team’s home market.
Ravens favored by 3½; point total 39½

Sunday kicks off with the first of three 2017 breakfast football games. The Ravens and Jaguars play at Wembley Stadium, one of five international contests to take place this season. The Baltimore defense already has ten turnovers, eight interceptions and eight sacks. In case any defensive coordinator could not figure it out, last week Tennessee gave the league a blueprint on how to game plan against the Jags. It’s simple: put eight in the box to neutralize Leonard Fournette and dare Jacksonville to pass. Since 2014 Blake Bortles has an NFL high 66 turnovers and 53 picks.

Ravens 24, Jaguars 13
Baltimore -3½ (three units)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Beth Mowins, Jay Feely
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts
Broadcast in Ohio and Indiana.
Browns favored by 1½; point total 42½

For the Browns to be favored against anybody other than the Jets is a surprise. For that to happen on the road is newsworthy. The Colts had gotten away with dominating a weak division from 2003 on, after Eddie George retired and Steve McNair’s body gave out for Tennessee. Indy may very well win this game, but the cosmic retribution for attempting to frame the Patriots will continue for years.

Colts 23, Browns 20
Colts +1½


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears
Broadcast throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic states and Great Lakes region.
Steelers favored by 7; point total 44

Pittsburgh is notorious for playing down to (or below) their competition when away from Heinz Field. That shouldn’t be of any concern Sunday. Mike Glennon has thus far proven that he did not deserve his free agency contract and should forever return to backup status. The Steelers have attempted to upgrade their secondary the last two off seasons. This is just another tuneup for them until they face some real competition.

Steelers 24, Bears 16
Steelers -7


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Tom McCarthy, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
Broadcast in eastern New York and Florida (except Jacksonville and Tallahassee).
Dolphins favored by 6; point total 43

Among other deficiencies, the Jets have been been terrible against the run. Team Green is giving up 185 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry. Miami’s Jay Ajayi is leading the NFL with 122 rushing yards per game and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Even Jay Cutler can’t screw this game up.

Dolphins 27, Jets 17
Dolphins -6 (two units)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
Broadcast in New York (except NYC and Albany), and most of the western US.
Broncos favored by 3; point total 39

Who are the Broncos? The team gifted with a slim home victory against an average team in week one? Or the the one that looked like a well balanced machine, dominating against what we thought was a formidable opponent last week? The Buffalo offense is far too one-dimensional and reliant on LeSean McCoy for him to be effective.

Broncos 24, Bills 13
Broncos -3 (three units)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Broadcast in New England, Tennessee (except Memphis), Greenville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Los Angeles, Hawaii, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.
Patriots favored by 14; point total 44

A repeat of last season’s playoff game would not be a surprise. The Houston defense is still as formidable as it was last year when they led the NFL in total yards allowed. The Texans have not given up a touchdown pass this season and are limiting opponents to a 26% conversion rate on third down. Most remarkably they have not permitted an opponent to pass for 300 yards in 31 consecutive games.

The Patriots will be without tackle Marcus Cannon, which makes an already tough job more difficult for the offense. The problem for Houston is that their offense is a work in progress. Rookie QB DeShaun Watson is still learning the game and has no playmakers to work with. The Patriot offense will eventually get it in gear and Houston doesn’t have the horses to keep up.

Patriots 27, Texans 16
Texans +14


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Broadcast in North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Panthers favored by 3½; point total 46½

Carolina has allowed a mere six points in two games but now faces their first legitimate offense. The problem for New Orleans is that their defense is one of the worst in the NFL for the fourth straight season, and seems to be getting worse rather than better.

Panthers 27, Saints 20
Panthers -3½


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Broadcast in Florida (except Miami and West Palm Beach), parts of Illinois, Wisconsin (except Green Bay and Milwaukee), Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, and North and South Dakota.
Bucs favored by 2½; point total 39

Minnesota is another of many teams that looked great one game (week one) and awful (week two) this season. The Bucs have only played one game and since it was against Chicago we have to take it with a grain of salt. Despite that caveat Tampa looks strong on both sides of the ball and should be considered a serious playoff contender.

Bucs 24, Vikings 17
Bucs -2½ (one unit0)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
Broadcast in Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, most of Illinois, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Topeka.
Falcons favored by 3; point total 50½

The much anticipated Super Bowl hangover has not materialized for Atlanta. 2-0 Detroit has looked good in both of their games as well. RB Ameer Abdullah appears to be fully recovered from a 2016 Lisfranc injury, which has helped to diversify the Lion offense. A dome road game aids Atlanta’s chances, but the Falcons will be without leading pass rusher Vic Beasley (hamstring).

Lions 27, Falcons 24
Lions +3


Sunday, Sept 24 at 1:00 ET on Fox; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Broadcast in most of the northeast (except Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh), Cincinnati, eastern Kentucky, West Palm Beach, Texas (except Houston), Oklahoma, Kansas (except Topeka), Utah, Arizona, Las Vegas and southern California.
Eagles favored by 6; point total 42½

Fox is sending their number one announcing crew to this game, and beaming it in to nearly every neutral television market. Considering how the Giants have played so far that may be a mistake, despite all the scattered New York transplants. Despite some injuries the Eagle defense should dominate New York’s porous offensive line. The vaunted Giant defense hasn’t done anything special yet, though that could change against an inconsistent Philly offense. Perhaps the G-men get it together with their backs up against the wall, but the Eagles are the superior team.

Eagles 24, Giants 14
Eagles -6


Sunday, Sept 24 at 4:00 pm ET on Fox; Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans
Broadcast in Alaska, northern California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Ohio (except Cincinnati), Tennessee, Wyoming, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Pittsburgh and Reno.
Titans favored by 2½; point total 41

Seattle is one of many teams that looks awful early this season due to the deficiencies with their offensive line. Facing an aggressive Dick LeBeau defense without the benefit of their 12th man won’t help. Seattle’s potent defense will once again have to carry the day for the Seahawks to eek out a road victory.

Seahawks 17, Titans 16
Seahawks +2½, under 41 (one unit)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 4:30 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Broadcast in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Reno.
Chiefs favored by 3; point total 47½

In recent seasons the Chargers seemed to lose every close game they played in, losing games they should have won. The proper response of a change in head coach was supposed to curtail that epidemic. So far this year we just have more of the same. If you enjoy watching good running backs then this game is a must-see, featuring Kareem Hunt and Melvin Gordon. KC has the better defense and better head coach.

Chiefs 27, Chargers 23
Chiefs -3


Sunday, Sept 24 at 4:30 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers
Broadcast in all markets except Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Nashville and Reno.
Packers favored by 8; point total 46½

This looked like it should be a quality, highly competitive game when the schedule was announced back in April. Both offensive lines are sieves, the Bengals don’t know what it is like to score a touchdown, and Green Bay’s defense is a work in progress. Despite injuries and their o-line, Green Bay should win this game easily.

Packers 24, Bengals 13
Packers -8, under 46½ (two units)


Sunday, Sept 24 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins
Broadcast in all Markets.
Raiders favored by 3; point total 55

The Washington offense is still forming an identity after free agent departures of wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Marshawn Lynch has added another dimension to an already potent Oakland offense. The Raider defense (4.8 yards per carry) hasn’t noticeably improved so the Redskins should be able to keep this game tight.

Raiders 31, Redskins 24
Raiders -3


Monday, Sept 25 at 8:30 pm ET on espn; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
Broadcast in all markets.
Cowboys favored by 3; point total 47

Here we are with yet another schizophrenic team, the Cowboys. Expect Dallas to rebound after last week’s embarrassment. The Arizona offense is lost with no compass without RB David Johnson. The Cardinal defense used to dominate but that is no longer the case. Expect the Cowboy offensive line to control the game while the Arizona offense sputters.

Cowboys 27, Cardinals 17
Cowboys -3 (two units)


AFC East Notes after NFL Week 3: Brandon Marshall’s dumb lateral leads to Jets loss

John Morgan
September 30, 2015 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots rolled to a 34-point victory Sunday, dominating an overmatched Jacksonville squad. This felt like a homecoming football game scheduled to please the alumni for an SEC powerhouse as the Pats, who were favored by two touchdowns, scored on every possession with the exception of a game-ending kneel down. Tom Brady became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for 400 touchdowns, completing 79% of his passes on the day for 358 yards and two touchdown. The Pats were also successful on the ground, rushing for 125 yards with LeGarrette Blount reaching the end zone three times. Rob Gronkowski had 101 yards receiving, Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 85 yards, and Danny Amendola and Keshawn Martin both had touchdown receptions. The defense came through as well, most notably with a Devin McCourty interception in the first half that set up Brady’s 400th TD which put the Patriots up 20-3. Brady threw some nice deep passes; his passing yardage would have surpassed 400 yards if not for defensive pass interference penalties on Jacksonville. Early in the third quarter following the McCourty pick the Jaguars were flagged on consecutive plays for DPI: the first on a 52-yard post route to Aaron Dobson, and then Gronk was tackled in the end zone for another 24 yards. The next play was Brady’s 400th TD on a pass to Amendola; that all but made the final result official even though there were 24 minutes yet to play as it gave the Pats a 30-3 lead.

In other news the Patriots acquired linebacker Jonathan Bostic from Chicago in exchange for a 6th-round draft pick. Bostic was selected 50th overall in the 2013 draft out of the University of Florida. He was Chicago’s leading tackler in 2014, but a combination of injuries left him unavailable for offseason programs and the first three games. That apparently put him in new Chicago head coach John Fox’s doghouse, making the 24-year player available to the Patriots. Considering the potential upside, at this point the trade has to be considered a steal. Running back Travaris Cadet was released in order to make room on the roster for Bostic.

The Patriots also worked out six players this week, including running back Montee Ball. Ball was a second round draft pick in 2013 out of Wisconsin by Denver and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, totaling 704 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns as a rookie. The Broncos let Knowshon Moreno sign with Miami the following offseason, seemingly paving the way for Ball to become the starter. However, Ball struggled early in the season and after a loss at Seattle he was replaced by Ronnie Hillman as the starter. Two weeks later he suffered a groin injury and eventually landed on injured reserve; by the end of the year he was buried on the depth chart behind C.J. Anderson, Hillman and Juwan Thompson. While the Pats have a nice one-two punch at running back with LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, Ball could be an interesting potential addition if he is fully healthy; the big caveat to that happening is how well he can perform on special teams though – as a backup running back that is a necessity on this team.

It’s unfortunate that the Patriots have a bye week so early, as they are clicking on all cylinders right now and appear to already be in mid-season form. New England leads the lead in total offense with 446 yards per game; that’s 32 more yards per game than the next closest team. Their 39.7 points per game is second only to Arizona (42.0), and their 359 passing yards per game is by far the best in the NFL also. The defense is chipping in as well; their five interceptions is third best in the league. After the bye the Patriots are on the road at Dallas and at Indianapolis (won’t that be interesting), followed by a three-game home stand against the Jets, Miami and Washington.


The Buffalo Bills did not suffer any letdown after their loss to the Patriots, as they traveled to south Florida and pummeled Miami, 41-14, to advance to 2-1. While three games is too soon to to reach a definitive conclusion, it appears that Buffalo has finally found a quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is completing 75% of his passes with seven touchdown passes to three interceptions, a passer rating of 116.1, and is also averaging 5.6 yards a carry. Taylor was able to stretch the defense with deep, accurate throws; against Miami he was 21-29 for 277 yards with three touchdowns, no picks, and no sacks. Tight end Charles Clay (5 catches for 82 yards and a TD at Miami) has been a nice pickup, and it is worth noting that the Bills were able to score those 41 points without LeSean McCoy. Once Buffalo got an early 14-0 lead, their defense took over. The Dolphins dropped back to pass 51 times, and more often than not the result favored the Bills: 23 incomplete passes, three interceptions and two sacks. Buffalo is now plus-five in turnovers, with eight takeaways after three games. Defensive end Jerry Hughes took advantage of facing a backup left tackle: Hughes harassed Ryan Tannehill all day, with six quarterback hurries and a hit. Linebacker Preston Brown had two interceptions, including a pick-six that blew the game open late in the second quarter. On a side note, in typical Rex Ryan fashion he made two former Miami players captains for the game: Clay, and guard Richie Incognito. Whatever works for you, I suppose.

The Bills meet the Patriots again on Monday night in week eleven, but between now and then they have for the most part a very manageable schedule. Next up is a home game against the Giants followed by a road game at Tennessee, and then the toughest part of this stretch: home against Cincinnati. After that they are at Jacksonville and then after a bye the Bills are home versus Miami, at the Jets (for a reunion we will all surely hear about), and then in Foxboro to face the Patriots on November 23.


The home opener for the Miami Dolphins went about as badly as could be imagined as they were humiliated by division rival Buffalo, 41-14. That was the worst loss for the Fins since 2010, when the Patriots beat them by the same score. The boo birds were out in full force as the team walked off at halftime, and for good reason. Miami’s first half offensive drives consisted of a three-and-out, five-and-out, five-and-out, one play and interception, six-and-out, six plays and a pick-six, five plays and another interception, and a kneeldown to end the half. The dream team defense wasn’t any better, allowing four first half scores, resulting in a 27-0 deficit at intermission. Off-season talk about winning the AFC East is a distant memory, with finger pointing now focusing on whether coach Joe Philbin should be fired, or if the front office is to blame for the team not living up to the hype. The absence of injured left tackle Branden Albert does not help matters, but Miami’s issues go much further. Maybe defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will be the fall guy, but Philbin most certainly is in the hot seat. Next up for the Dolphins is another division “home” game as they host the Jets in London; after a bye that is followed by a game at Tennessee, home versus Houston – and then a tough three-game road trip starting with games at New England and Buffalo.


The New York Jets missed a golden opportunity as they lost at home in “a messy game” to a reeling Philadelphia Eagles team, 24-17. The Jets turned the ball over four times and were down 24-0 in the second quarter. While the defense did force Philly to punt nine times, they generated only one sack and only one turnover – after creating ten takeaways in their first two games. Getting down that far early forced them out of their comfort zone: the Jets ran the ball just 16 times while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 58 times. You are not going to win with Fitzpatrick dropping back to pass that often, and the final score was much closer than this game really was. The Jets punted on each of their first six possessions – five of those six were three-and-outs – fumbled the next time they had the ball (more on that in a moment), and then finally scored with six seconds left in the half after they were already down 24-0. In their defense, an already average at best offense was without wide receiver Eric Decker (sprained knee) and running back Chris Ivory (quadriceps), but the bottom line is that they were outplayed in all three phases of the game.

Back to that fumble: it’s something you have to see to believe. Brandon Marshall was being tackled, and inexplicably attempts to lateral the ball. The ball is recovered by Philadelphia, setting up a scoring drive that puts the Eagles up 24-0. Next up is a trip to London to face Miami, followed by a bye in week five.




AFC North Notes after NFL Week 3 – Big Ben injured; Bengals remain undefeated while Ravens drop to 0-3

John Morgan
September 29, 2015 at 8:52 am ET

Another week and another marquee NFL player is sidelined with a serious injury. Ben Roethlisberger was off to a fantastic start of the 2015 NFL season but  will reportedly be out 4-6 weeks after suffering a medial collateral ligament sprain and bone bruise from a low hit in the pocket by St. Louis safety Mark Barron in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers12-6 victory over the Rams on Sunday. Big Ben had completed over 75% of his passes this season and was leading the league with 10.2 pass attempts; in the first two games of the year Roethlisberger threw for a whopping 720 yards, and was picking the St. Louis defense apart, completing 20 of 24 passes before the unfortunate hit. Just over a month ago it looked like 35-year old Michael Vick‘s NFL career was over, before the Steelers signed him on August 25th. The first overall pick of the 2001 draft will take over an offense with plenty of weapons, featuring Antonio Brown (29 receptions for 436 yards and two touchdowns through three games) at wide receiver and Le’Veon Bell (2,215 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns in 2014) at running back. Head coach Mike Tomlin will have a short time to prepare Vick: the 2-1 Steelers host division rival Baltimore on Thursday night in what should be a very interesting game.


In what has to be a bit of schadenfreude and poetic justice for Pats Fans, the 0-3 Baltimore Ravens still have yet to win a game since whining about New England’s legal formations in last season’s playoffs and then collaborating with the Colts to set up an ill-advised and bungled sting operation. Baltimore could easily be 3-0 instead, but continues to find ways to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  Patriots president Jonathan Kraft could not resist the opportunity to take a jab at the Ravens when asked about their start, sarcastically calling Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh a “sweetheart” and commenting on their early struggles that “it’s too bad, isn’t it?” The Baltimore secondary has been extremely ineffective, and the Ravens keep shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. The Ravens were penalized 13 times for 116 yards against the Bengals, and now have been penalized for 240 yards (fifth worst in the NFL). Even though only five teams in NFL history have begun the season 0-3 and then gone on to make the playoffs, it is still far too early to write the Ravens off – but certain folks predicting that Baltimore would win the Super Bowl are hoping nobody remembers their prognostications.


The Cincinnati Bengals advanced to 3-0 with their win at Baltimore Sunday and for the moment control the AFC North. Cincy’s run defense was stellar, stuffing Justin Forsett to just 29 yards on 14 touches while holding Baltimore to a paltry 36 yards on 18 carries overall; DT Geno Atkins in particular appeared to have a very good game. The pass defense was another matter though; Steve Smith toasted the Bengals to the tune of 13 receptions (on 17 targets) for 186 yards and two touchdowns.  Cincinnati has been a good defense/average offense in recent years, but that appears to have changed. Andy Dalton threw for 383 yards, three touchdowns and averaged an incredible 12 yards per pass attempt. Nobody seems to have an answer for WR A.J. Green, who was unstoppable with ten receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns – including the game-winner with 2:10 remaining. Green is averaging 18.6 yards per reception on the season and is fourth in the NFL with 335 yards receiving. The next four games will tell us a lot more about this team, as they face some pretty good defenses: next up are home games against the Chiefs and Seahawks, followed by games at Buffalo and Pittsburgh.


The Cleveland Browns displayed a hallmark of bad teams on Sunday, as they were unable to handle success – in their case a single victory the previous week – and lost at home against a west coast team that had not won an eastern time zone early game in their last 14 tries. The Browns inexplicably signed WR Dwayne Bowe to a two-year contract with $9,000,000 guaranteed – despite the fact he has not caught a touchdown pass since 2013. Bowe was inactive Sunday and has been on the field for just eight snaps this season. The Browns have given up an NFL-worst 475 yards rushing through three games with poor fundamentals – they missed 14 tackles in the loss to the Raiders – and for whatever reason stick with 36-year old journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback rather than seeing what Johnny Manziel can do, and assess his future with the team. Things don’t get any easier for the Browns in the foreseeable future; after a two-game road trip at San Diego and Baltimore they host Denver, followed by a game at St. Louis, home against Arizona, and then two more road games at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.




NFL Week 3 Previews, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
September 26, 2015 at 11:15 am ET

NFL week three has a few interesting matchups on tap. During commercials for the Pats-Jaguars game – or if it turns into a blowout – Pittsburgh at St. Louis and Cincinnati at Baltimore are a pair of compelling early games on CBS. Once the game against Jacksonville ends, Pats fans should be interested in leaving the tv on to watch a pair of AFC East teams meet as the Bills are at Miami in a late game on CBS. The other late game on CBS is a bit of an anomaly, as it is a cross-flex game between two NFC teams: Seattle will look to get their first win of the season as they host the Bears, who will be quarterbacked by Jimmy Clausen.

One early game on FOX features an underachieving 0-2 team versus a 2-0 team that has exceeded expectations as the Jets host the Philadelphia Eagles. Atlanta is at Dallas in a clash of 2-0 teams early, and the late game on FOX should be a good one with San Francisco at Arizona. Detroit looks for their first win Sunday night at home against the Broncos, and the week wraps up with Kansas City at Green Bay on Monday night.

For those without the Sunday Ticket, check out the television maps at 506 sports to see what is being broadcast in your area. Patriots fan JP Kirby does a fantastic job compiling not only the weekly NFL maps, but also television maps for college football and major league baseball. You can follow JP on twitter @506sports.


Pittsburgh at St. Louis, early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Steelers -1½; over/under 48½; Steelers -110, Rams -110

Ben Roethlisberger played in a clean pocket all game last week at home against the Niners, but the Rams present a much more difficult obstacle with their front seven. While I understand St. Louis having a letdown after defeating Seattle in week one, I did not expect them to come out as flat as they did in Washington. The St. Louis defense already has eight sacks this year, but to be effective they will need to limit Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell first; Bell totaled 2,215 yards from scrimmage last year and gets his first action of the season after serving a two-game suspension. I’m thinking that the Steelers aren’t quite as good as they appeared to be last week, and the Rams are nowhere near as bad as they were in week two; a slight lean to St. Louis here.

Prediction: Rams 24, Steelers 21

Rams +1½; under 48½


San Diego at Minnesota, early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Vikings -2½; o/u 48½; Vikings -130, Chargers +110

Are the Vikings the team that was manhandled by the Niners in week one, or the one that beat up Detroit last week? San Diego’s offense has surrendered 52 points, but that was against two better offenses than Minnesota. Similar to the game above, I believe both teams will regress closer to their true selves rather than duplicate last week’s results. San Diego averaged 5.2 yards per carry against a Bengal defense that is superior to the Vikings, and Minnesota will not force three turnovers like Cincy did.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Vikings 21

Chargers +2½; under 48½ (one unit)


Tampa Bay at Houston, early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston

Texans -6½; o/u 40½; Texans -280, Bucs +240

One thing about mediocre teams like Tampa Bay is that they haven’t learned how to handle success, so they very rarely win consecutive games. Another thing about mediocre teams like the Bucs is that they never win two games in a row on the road. Beating a team with what may be the league’s worst defense (New Orleans) is one thing; beating a team with a strong defense when you have a rookie quarterback that left college after his sophomore year and is playing in only his third NFL game – that is a monumental task.

Prediction: Texans 20, Bucs 10

Texans -6½ (one unit); under 40½ (two units)


Philadelphia at N.Y. Jets, early game on CBS; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch

Jets -2; o/u 46; Jets -130, Eagles +110

The Eagles and their abysmal offense are in a tough spot here. The Jets are stout against the run and with the return of Darrelle Revis, they have little to be concerned about against Sam Bradford throwing to Riley Cooper and Josh Huff. If Rex Ryan was still coaching I would assume that Jets would become overconfident and unable to handle success, but Todd Bowles has this club well grounded.

Prediction: Jets 20, Eagles 13

Jets -2 (one unit); under 46 (two units)


New Orleans at Carolina, early game on CBS; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber

Panthers -6½; o/u 42½; Panthers -360, Saints +300

The New Orleans offense was built around Drew Brees, who will not play. I wonder if Verizon is nervous now that their ‘backup’ spokesperson, Luke McCown, will actually have to start? With no Brees the Saints offense is doomed; they’ll need their defense to step up. Carolina is averaging only 185 yards passing and although the Saints have given up 57 points in two games, they did manage to force a couple of timely turnovers last week.

Prediction: Panthers 27, Saints 13

Panthers -5½ (one unit); under 42½


Jacksonville at New England, early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Patriots -13½; o/u 47½; Patriots -1400, Jaguars +800

The Patriots have failed to cover in their last four games as a double-digit favorite, and are 2-9 when laying 13 or more going back to 2008. Normally in a situation like this Bill Belichick might hold back a bit with the remainder of the season in mind, but this could be different. Next week is a bye so players will get extra rest, plus there is still the specter of the NFL FU Tour of 2015, post-deflategate. Jacksonville has quietly assembled a nice group of receivers (Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee), and we have seen the New England secondary give up some chunks of yardage in the first two games. That could open things up for rookie running back T.J. Yeldon; we saw what DeAngelo Williams was able to accomplish on the ground against the Pats in week one. I’m shooting for a 14-point final point differential in this game; I took Jacksonville plus 14½ early in the week, then hedged and middled that by going with the Pats when the line dropped to 13½.

Prediction: Patriots 34, Jaguars 20

Patriots -13½; over 47½ (two units)


Cincinnati at Baltimore, early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein

Ravens -2½; o/u 44½; Ravens -140, Bengals +120

Take out the quarterback position and Cincy has the best group of skill position players (RB, WR, TE) in the NFL. The Bengals swept the Ravens last year, and the Baltimore defense is not the same as it has been in years past now that they are without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. While the Ravens could easily be 2-0 and are at home and due for a close one to go their way, the Bengals are the better team right now.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 17

Bengals +2½; under 44½


Oakland at Cleveland, early game on CBS; Carter Blackburn, Chris Simms

Browns -3½; o/u 42½; Browns -180, Raiders +160

There’s not really much to go on between these two teams, but one trend does stand out: the Raiders have lost 17 straight games when playing in the eastern time zone. While one of these two has to somehow win back-to-back games, I’ll have to simply go with the home team here.

Prediction: Browns 27, Raiders 21

Browns -3½; over 42½


Indianapolis at Tennessee, early game on CBS; Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta

Colts -3, o/u 46; Colts -165, Titans +145

Indy has struggled to run and has a whopping eight turnovers, but that was against two very good defenses. The Andrew Luck-era Colts have made a living feasting off the miserable AFC South; look for Indy to get their first victory here. The Tennessee secondary is not very good; T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson should be able to fully exploit that deficiency.

Prediction: Colts 28, Titans 21

Colts -3; over 46


Atlanta at Dallas, early game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Falcons -1, o/u 44; Falcons -120, Cowboys +100

I really do not understand these ‘power rankings’ that mainstream sports media compiles. How is Dallas with no Tony Romo, no DeMarco Murray and no Dez Bryant rated a top-five team? You may as well simply make 32-team standings based on the won-loss record, and call that your ‘power rankings’. The delta from Romo to Brandon Weeden – who has lost eight straight games as a starter – is worth at least six points.

Prediction: Falcons 20, Cowboys 17

Falcons -1; under 45 (two units)


San Francisco at Arizona, late game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis

Cardinals -6½, o/u 44½; Cardinals -270, 49ers +230

The Cardinals lead the NFL with a plus-37 point differential, and rank first in Football Outsider‘s DVOA at 85.2%. Division games are always tough, but I’ll give Arizona a slight lean to cover.

Prediction: Cardinals 28, Niners 20

Cardinals -6½; over 44½


Chicago at Seattle, late game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Seahawks -14½, o/u 43½; Seahawks -1600, Bears +900

The Bears are on the road without their starting quarterback and best receiver. They’re playing an angry team that plays with a lot of emotion in a very loud stadium. Jimmy Clausen has completed only 53% of his NFL passes, with more than twice as many interceptions as touchdowns while compiling a 1-10 record as a starter. Don’t let the big line scare you; take the chalk, sit back and watch Seattle romp.

Prediction: Seahawks 31, Bears 3

Seahawks -14½; under 43½ (one unit)


Buffalo at Miami, late game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

Dolphins -3, o/u 42; Dolphins -150, Bills +130

This will be Miami’s first home game of the season and Buffalo’s first road game, but the Dolphins historically don’t really have that much of a home field advantage: the Dolphins are 37-42 straight up and 13-30 ATS as home favorites over the past decade. The Miami defense has some very good players but their edge players do not contain and gap integrity is an unknown concept. That being said, Ryan Tannehill has done an excellent job against the blitz in his career, making this game a difficult one to handicap.

Prediction: Bills 20, Dolphins 17

Bills +3; under 42; Bills +130


Denver at Detroit, Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Broncos -3, o/u 44½; Broncos -170, Lions +150

Peyton Manning doesn’t seem to realize that he can’t make a deep pass any longer, and keeps throwing wounded ducks. At some point that will result in losses by Denver, but probably not inside a dome against this Detroit defense that is allowing an astonishing 81.2% of opponent’s passes to be completed against them. On the other side of the ball Detroit has not been able to open up any lanes for their running backs, and against the Bronco defense that means a lot of third and longs. The Denver pass rush will thrive in those situations; if Matthew Stafford suffered a beating against the Vikings, how will the Lions offensive line protect him against Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and company? At 0-2 Detroit will be playing with some desperation, and will have a boisterous crowd inside Ford Field for their home opener. A win by the Lions would not surprise me at all – let’s not forget that Denver could easily be 0-2 right now also – but right now on paper the Lions do not have the edge in one single phase of the game on either side of the ball.

Prediction: Broncos 27, Lions 23

Broncos -3; over 44½


Kansas City at Green Bay, Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Packers -6½, o/u 49; Packers -320, Chiefs +260

The Packers are dealing with a lot of injuries, while Andy Reid will have had ten days to prepare for this game. Look for the Chiefs to keep this game close.

Prediction: Packers 24, Chiefs 20

Chiefs +6½; under 49



The Patriots are off next week, but here is an early look at the week four games:

Thursday: Ravens at Steelers (-3½)

Sunday: Jets vs Dolphins (-1) in London

Jaguars at Colts (-7)

Texans at Falcons (-3½)

Panthers (-3) at Bucs

Giants at Bills (-5½)

Raiders at Bears (no early line)

Eagles (-2½) at Skins

Chiefs at Bengals (-3)

Browns at Chargers (-6½)

Packers (-6½) at Niners

Vikings at Broncos (-5½)

Rams at Cardinals (-4)

SNF: Cowboys at Saints (no early line)

MNF: Lions at Seahawks (no early line)




Week Two Results:

Last week was a rarity – a losing record straight up yet at the same time a better record against the spread. The end result was only a small negative where it matter$ most though, with three out of four higher confidence plays coming through.

Straight Up: 5-11

ATS:  8-8

O/U: 5-11

5-Unit Plays: none

4-Unit Plays: none

3-Unit Plays: 1-0 (+300)

2-Unit Plays: 2-1 (+180)

1-Unit Plays: 0-5 (-550)

Money Line: 1-1 (-65) [risked 230]

Teasers: 0-1 (-110)

All Plays: 4-8 (-245)

Risked: 1880

ROI: -13.0%


Year To Date Results:

Straight Up: 17-15

ATS:  18-14

O/U: 15-17

5-Unit Plays: none

4-Unit Plays: none

3-Unit Plays: 3-0 (+900)

2-Unit Plays: 5-2 (+560)

1-Unit Plays: 3-7 (-470)

Money Line: 1-1 (-65) [risked 230]

Teasers: 0-1 (-110)

All Plays: 12-11 (+815)

Risked: 3200

ROI: 25.5%






TNF, Washington at NY Giants – preview, prediction, stats and pick against the spread

John Morgan
September 24, 2015 at 7:00 am ET

NFL week 3 kicks off on Thursday night with the Giants hosting Washington in a clash between two longtime NFC East rivals. The game starts at 8:25 eastern time and will be broadcast on CBS and simulcast on the NFL Network. New York is favored by 3½ with a point total of 44½; the money line has the Skins at +165 and New York at -185.


The Giants enter the game with a record-setting performance for futility: they are the first team in NFL history to begin the season 0-2 while blowing double-digit leads in both of those games in the fourth quarter. Should they drop to 0-3 the New York sports media and fans will surely start loudly grumbling for head coach Tom Coughlin to be canned; that noise will become a deafening roar in the five boroughs  should their co-tenants in East Rutherford (the Jets) win again Sunday to advance to 3-0.


While it is foolish to draw conclusions about a team after just two games, Washington – a team I had figured would be among the bottom five, if not the worst in the NFL in 2015 – has seemingly turned things around this season. The Skins were 4-12 last year and prior to last week’s victory had lost 27 of their previous 34 games. Last year their defense ranked 20th in total yards (357 yards per game) and was tied with Tennessee for the third-worst points allowed (27.4 points per game); their 19 takeaways were the seventh fewest and their turnover ratio of minus-12 was the third worst in the league. So far this year the defense ranks first in yardage (234 yards per game) and is fourth against the run (70.5 yards per game, with zero rushing touchdowns allowed).


The Washington offense has been productive as well. Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones both have 100-yard rushing games already.  In week one Morris ran for 121 yards on 25 carries against Miami, then last week Jones rumbled for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 rushes in a shocking upset over St. Louis and their heralded defense. The Skins lead the league with a whopping 172 rushing yards per game, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Morris and Jones are both very difficult to bring down – they both weigh over 215 pounds – and can really wear down a defense, while at the same team demoralize an opponent by keeping their offense off the field.


This won’t be a gimme for the Washington running attack though. The Giants are allowing just 3.0 yards per carry, third best in the NFL. With WR DeSean Jackson out with a hamstring injury and game manager Kirk Cousins at quarterback, coach Jay Gruden is calling for quick short routes. The results have been favorable thus far: though Cousins is averaging only 6.9 yards per pass attempt, he has completed 76% of his passes and has only been sacked three times. Keep an eye on tight end Jordan Reed. Injuries limited Reed in his first two seasons, but he is healthy now and appears to have a good rapport with Cousins. Of the 17 passes thrown his way in the first two games, Reed made 13 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown; the four misses were not realistically catchable.


Last year Eli Manning torched Washington to the tune of seven touchdowns (with only one pick) and 750 yards passing, completing 51 of 73 passes as the Giants won the two games by a combined score of 69-27. This year the Skins pass defense has improved, allowing opponents just 5.7 yards per pass attempt (3rd best in the NFL), in comparison to last year’s 8.2 yards per pass. The Giants have only allowed three sacks but opponents have been able to generate pressure, particularly against rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers. Flowers is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury, so left guard Justin Pugh will slide over to man left tackle while Dallas Reynolds comes off the bench to play left guard. Offensive lines need to play together as one cohesive unit, so that side of the line is one to watch in this game. Other injuries the G-Men are dealing with include CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is unlikely to play due to a concussion, and WR Victor Cruz, who is still rehabbing from a calf injury and has yet to play this year. With Cruz unavailable as a pass option and Beckham drawing double coverage, former Patriot RB Shane Vereen could have a busy day catching passes out of the backfield.


If Manning can get time to throw the ball deep, Odell Beckham could have a big day. Washington released CB David Amerson, a third-round bust from the 2013 draft. Chris Culliver does return from a one-game suspension to rejoin DeAngelo Hall and Breshaud Breeland in the secondary, but that unit will have their hands full. Beckham caught seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown last week, and Manning has thrown for 485 yards and two touchdowns with no picks thus far.


While Washington has looked pretty good so far, both of those games were at home. They were 1-7 on the road in each of the last two seasons and have won only two of their last 14 division games. While the Giants are 0-2, they could easily be 2-0 instead if not for a couple of blunders near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Despite the resurgence of the Washington defense they are one of six teams ranked at the bottom of the NFL with only one takeaway, while New York is one of four teams to have turned the ball over a league-low one time.


Despite their recent history on the road, at this point in time Washington appears to be more stout in the trenches, where games are still won or lost. Their running game has dominated defenses that are better than New York’s, which will wear down the G-Men and also limit their opportunities to score. Strange as it may sound, a victory here would make the Skins a legitimate candidate to win the NFC East. They have the easiest strength of schedule for those four teams for the remainder of the year, and each of their rivals has problems: Dallas is beset with multiple injuries to key players, Philadelphia can’t get its offense in gear, and at 0-3 the Giants could be on the verge of a mutiny. I’ll give a slight lean to Washington in a game that could easily go either way.


Prediction: Washington 20, New York 17

Skins +3½

Under 44½

Washington +165

An Early Look Ahead to NFL Week 3

John Morgan
September 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm ET

NFL Week 3 finds the Patriots hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars in what on the surface appears to be the most one-sided matchup next Sunday. The most competitive contests should be the Steelers at Rams, Bills at Dolphins, Bengals at Ravens and Chiefs at Packers.

Every Thursday the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas posts early lines for the following week’s NFL games. Those odds then get updated after the games played on Thursday, Sunday and Monday, but one can occasionally find some valuable gems before those other games are played.

Here is a look at the early week three lines before adjustments are made based on week two results and injuries.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Washington Redskins
New York Giants  -5½

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Rams  -2½

San Diego Chargers
Minnesota Vikings -3 Pick’Em

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Houston Texans -8½

Philadelphia Eagles  -3½
New York Jets

New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers  -2½

Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots -12½

Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens -3

Oakland Raiders
Cleveland Browns (n/a)

Indianapolis Colts  -4½
Tennessee Titans

Atlanta Falcons
Dallas Cowboys  -4½

San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals -4½

Chicago Bears
Seattle Seahawks  -9½

Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins -3

Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions Pick’Em (now n/a)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kansas City Chiefs
Green Bay Packers n/a (was -6.5)


Based on what is happening in the early games, I would guess that favorites that lost like the Rams and Saints will move down a point or so, while winning clubs like the Cardinals and Bengals might be shown a bit more love by the oddsmakers.