2016 NFL Week 3 Bettor’s Guide
An absolutely brutal week in Week 2, with several upsets and total letdowns from some teams. We can only hope to rebound in Week 3, but the NFL is a slippery game to handicap now more than ever. And Thursday Night’s game is not making that assertion any less true, as there are several machinations at play here.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: HOU +1
Over/Under: Under 39.5
Jacoby Brissett is making his first NFL start as a rookie, due to the injury to Jimmy Garappolo. Brissett played well against Florida State, but that’s college ball. New England’s system trumps New England’s players, so there won’t be that much of a drop off in play regardless of who plays the position. Brissett can also move well outside of the pocket. How well he can elude JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, however, is another story.
The Texans simply need to avoid turning over the football. This is far from a given with the way the Texans have played thus far this season. Brock Osweiler could have easily thrown three interceptions to Marcus Peters alone in Week 2 (had two). Texans can utilize Lamar Miller in the passing game as well as on the ground. Will Fuller has surpassed Jaelen Strong on the depth chart, and Braxton Miller is out. It will be interesting to watch DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins against Malcolm Butler and Fuller against Logan Ryan. This might be an ugly game, and definitely low-scoring, unless there are several turnovers, which could happen. No matter how good New England has been at home, and Bill’s propensity to sell out to stop the one thing a team likes to do best (get Hopkins the ball, in this instance), the Texans still have Fuller as a downfield threat and Miller underneath.
Rob Gronkowski will play, and Martellus Bennett will be out there in a number of two tight end sets, so the Patriots will try to stress the inside linebacking play of the Texans’ 3-4 defense, and force the safeties to come down quite often. If the Texans play nickel too often, the Patriots will counter with LeGarrette Blount on the ground. Houston’s been good against both the run and passing games, so it’s a tough call to pick a rookie in just his second NFL game to win here. Even at home.
New England 13
Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
My Call: DEN +3
Over/Under: Over 41
This has been a good game in recent years, but with the way Denver’s defense is playing, and how Cincinnati struggled with Pittsburgh’s defense (which has been much better thus far this season over last), it will take a huge game by Jeremy Hill, and more of what Giovani Bernard did last week (9 receptions for 100 yards vs. PIT) to slow down Denver’s pass rush. We won’t be picking against Denver until given a legitimate reason, although the Bengals will be all over Siemian to start this game, we feel.
Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans
My Call: OAK +1.5
Over/Under: Over 46.5
The Titans must be licking their chops watching Ken Norton’s defense come to town. The Raider defense that faced a Matt Ryan-led team at home in Oakland, when Ryan often struggles on the road; and particularly out west. The Titans pass defense isn’t good enough to stop the Raiders’ passing attack, however.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bills
New Era Field
Orchard Park, New York
My Call: ARZ -3.5
Over/Under: Over 47
This is do or die time for Rex Ryan. If they win, he will get a one-week reprieve (and then be under the gun to beat a rookie 3rd string QB, who, if he loses to, may end his career in Buffalo). Either you believe the Bills’ “simplified” offense will be effective enough to allow whatever adjustments Rex makes over the asinine decision of playing straight man coverage all game against the Jets to take hold against Arizona.
Can’t see it happening, though, even at home in front of a desperate and raucous crowd.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
My Call: JAX +1.5
Over/Under: Over 47
The Jaguars should finally play a good game for once… right? Baltimore has been anything but impressive in their 2-0 start, but Blake Bortles has regressed to rookie form, and that’s mind-boggling considering he has a complete arsenal of weapons on offense, and the best defense the Jaguars have had — at least on paper — in years.
Cleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
My Call: CLE +9.5
Over/Under: Over 42
Does anyone really care, first of all?
But if you do, the Browns may be bad, and on their third quarterback already through two games (at one point, went through all three in four quarters of football); however, why act as if the Fins are good enough to eat 9 1/2 points? Either the Browns will be in it all game until the end or they will backdoor cover in garbage time. Trap bet.
Washington Redskins vs. New York Football Giants
East Rutherford, New Jersey
My Call: NYG -4.5
Over/Under: Over 45.5
Aside from all the supposed talk of where Josh Norman will line up in the secondary, the Redskins’ front seven is not good, which is of much more vital importance to anything Norman says or does. Thus far, the Redskins entire secondary has been a sieve, and they are getting their biggest test yet with the Giants’ receiving corps coming to town. Pittsburgh only had Antonio Brown and a couple of very inexperienced receivers along with him (one, a rookie).
If the Giants finally take care of the football and avoid the mind-boggling turnovers — they have played Kirk Cousins well even with poor defenses — they could make him look foolish on Week 3. However, the Giants never make what should be easy wins… easy. So be careful on that 4 and the hook.
NY Giants 31
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Green Bay, Wisconsin
My Call: DET +7
Over/Under: Over 46
Much has been made of the Packers’ offensive issues, but those are fixable, and we may see evidence of that as early as this week against Detroit. The Lions have blown leads in both games thus far, and very well
should have could have lost both. They also will be without Ezekiel Ansah, their best pass rusher. Detroit has a pretty deep defensive line, but David Bakhtiari isn’t the weak link that other teams’ left tackles are. Matthew Stafford has to value the ball better.
Then again, so does Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay 26
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
My Call: MIN +7
Over/Under: Over 43
The Vikes do not have Adrian Peterson and several other players (Sharrif Floyd for sure, and likely Xavier Rhodes, to say the least), but with all the rioting taking place in Charlotte, there is no way the NFL is passing on the revenue of playing in Charlotte, so the game was almost certainly not going to be moved unless something catastrophic occurs between now and Sunday morning. Stay tuned.
As for football, the Vikes don’t need to run the ball in superior fashion to match up with Carolina. In fact, the Panthers’ pass defense has been leaky thus far this season. San Francisco was in that game — only down 7 with 6 minutes left, before the bottom fell out — Carolina had trouble with Denver’s defensive front, and the Vikings’ is just as good. This game will be closer than some think.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
My Call: SF +9.5
Over/Under: Over 40
Why is SF getting this many points? SF scored almost three times as many points in one game as Seattle has managed in two thus far, and that’s with a pretty substandard 49er offense against two very good defenses. The Chip Kelly effect? Seattle hasn’t been imposing at all on defense; they have yet to force a turnover. Their offense is arguably the worst in the league. The Rams’ is scoring a few points per game (through two games, not 10, we know…) less, but they have a handicap. Seattle’s handicap isn’t a lack of weapons or a CFL quarterback. They have one of the best QBs in the NFL and several skilled weapons, but the offensive line has been a turnstile with injuries causing players to be juggled in at key positions — most notably, Russell Wilson’s blind side at left tackle. We will take Seattle to win, but 9 and the hook? San Francisco is more likely than not to cover that.
San Francisco 17
Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
My Call: TB -5.5
Over/Under: Under 42
The Rams got their win in their amped up home opener. Their inspired play was expected. This is a rematch of last year’s late-season Thursday Night Football matchup when the Bucs made Case Keenum look like Roman Gabriel.
Being back at home should — SHOULD — help Tampa’s play, as they looked as they never got off the bus in Arizona; the entire team, minus Jameis Winston. Do not expect a repeat against a much less lethal offense.
Los Angeles 13
Tampa Bay 23
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field
My Call: PIT -3.5
Over/Under: Over 46
The Steelers defense is much better thus far this season, which is key. Carson Wentz has faced the two worst teams in the NFL, and has looked decent (far from great vs. CHI, despite the pundits’ constant heaping on of superlatives). The Eagles defense is good, but not enough to slow down the Roethlisberger-Brown connection.
New York Jets vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City, Missouri
My Call: KC -3
Over/Under: Under 42
Yuck. Maybe the Jets can get some things done in short, but this has all the makings of a vintage Ryan Fitzpatrick shitfest.
NY Jets 10
Kansas City 16
San Diego Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium
My Call: SD +2.5
Over/Under: Over 51
Do not allow the aberration that was the Bolts’ showing vs. Jacksonville reel you in, San Diego is as enigmatic as any team out there. The minute you begin to gain confidence in them for betting purposes, they play completely opposite. To the team’s credit, they’ve been very good offensively, even with starting receivers and backs dropping like flies every week, and their defense has been surprisingly good (and this is without Square [suspension] and Bosa). No one has an excuse here. The Bolts are without three of their best offensive players, the Colts are without three of their best defensive players, although they may get two of them back for this game.
San Diego 29
Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: DAL -7
Over/Under: Under 44.5
The Bears MIGHT be the worst team in the NFL. It’s arguable. Dallas will win this game and give their league-worst fans (tied with New England) false hope.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
New Orleans, Louisiana
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: ATL +3
Over/Under: Over 53.5
The Saints are the most disparate team in the NFL home vs. away. They played their typical, low-octane offensive game on the road in East Rutherford last week, and will be back to their home confines for this rivalry match up with the Falcons this week. The Falcons may have gained some confidence in Oakland, and we know the Saints are down both their starting cornerbacks. The Falcons SHOULD win this game, but Matt Ryan has either been very good or very bad against the Saints. There’s literally no in-between.
New Orleans 31