Last week: 11-5, shifting the seasonal forecast to 18-14 in two weeks
All lines come from BetOnline as of 4:00 p.m. ET on 9/22
– Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (+7.5): Davis Mills gets his first NFL start for the Texans. Yes, Deshaun Watson is still on the active roster. I don’t get it either. Do something, Mr. Goodell …
Still, I watched Mills take his first action against the Browns and you know what? He’s not terrible. Neither are his recipients. The defense of the Panthers looks fantastic in the first two weeks. A good challenge to see if Mills can take on the big stage, but also an underrated challenge for Carolina’s defense. For real.
Panther 24, Texan 17
– Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5): Urban Meyer is going to learn the hard way these Cardinals aren’t Ball State. The Jacksonville Defense are still looking for their first takeaway of the season.
Cardinals 33, Jaguars 18
– Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-5): This game could rightly decide the AFC South race. The Titans are 1-1 and could bury the more faulty than advertised Colts to 3-0 with the home win here. Between the Carson Wentz injuries, the orienteering problems and a runner-up straight from the Big 12, the Colts are in serious trouble when Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown & Co. find out. Given the way the Titans have played so far, this is certainly not a given. Another good week to use the Titans in your survival fantasy game.
Titans 34, colt 19
– Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (+8): My Lions are easy to fail, and they stand little chance in this game with their teenage secondary and dollar general receiving corps. But see TJ Hockenson in this movie. The Ravens shed copious catches and yards to Darren Waller and Travis Kelce in the first two weeks, and now they’re attracting Hockenson – who has the most receptions of any TE in two weeks. Hock could place 11 catches for 116 yards and a TD. These are two of the five worst pass defenses in the league, so buckle up and hammer the over at 50.5!
Ravens 44, lions 30
– Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills (-7.5): The Bills come out with a 35-0 shutout win in Miami, and that brings a lot of strange clouds to the forecast. How much of that was a great defense compared to a terrible performance by Tua Tagovailoa and his post-injury replacement, Jacoby Brissett? How worrisome is it that Josh Allen stayed in his weird funk even with a Blowout win? Will the Bills be too confident after the easy win? Will Football Team QB Taylor Heinicke be able to weigh in on the Bills defense?
Bet on this risk at your own risk …
Bills 24, soccer team 17
– New Orleans Saints in the New England Patriots (-3): The Saints performed the best of all teams in week 1 and the worst in week 2. New England is a bad place to try to settle into normalcy.
Patriots 20, saints 17
– Los Angeles Chargers at Chiefs (-6.5): Regrouping and recovery week for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes after their Sunday night defeat. The Chargers can make it very interesting if they avoid the mistakes they made in their own week 2 loss to Dallas. The lack of speed in midfield defense for Kansas City (outside of Bully Mathieu) is a real issue against guys like Austin Disgust and even Justin Herbert in the QB scramble. But in a shootout, take the team with the better overall firepower.
Chiefs 37, Chargers 31
– Atlanta Falcons in the New York Giants (-3): My thoughts on Matt Ryan in Atlanta are aptly summed up by a band who are passionate Giants fans, Coheed and Cambria, in their (fantastic) latest single, Shoulders.
You avoid your way
Just to keep me down
Maybe we are not meant to be one another
And I’m just the one that you can keep
Man your own jackhammer, man your battle stations!
Giant 28, Falcon 24
– Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (-7): The Justin Fields era begins for Chicago. It’s not a terrible place to try as the Browns defense was strangely overwhelming for the first two weeks. Cleveland has yet to build a defensive identity this year that goes beyond “we have a lot of talented guys on the field.” Fields can take advantage of that when Brown’s DC Joe Woods doesn’t work with the likes of Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, John Johnson, Denzel Ward & Co.
See? The Browns have some fantastic pieces on defense. Time for you to put the puzzle together …
Brown 27, Bear 20
– Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3): There are questions about the availability of Ben Roethlisberger for this AFC North match. Many readers know what that means: hedge time!
If Roethlisberger plays, the Steelers win 28-17
If Roethlisberger sits, the Bengals win 30-11
– Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders (-4): Our first look at Jacoby Brissett in Miami wasn’t a positive one. And now he’s getting his first start in Miami against the undefeated Raiders, who for two weeks certainly don’t seem to be a coincidence. Las Vegas is very good at countering and exhausting opponents. This could end earlier from TKO …
Raiders 30, Dolphins 12
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Los Angeles Rams (+1.5): Probably the best game on the list where Tom Brady and the undefeated Bucs get a real test with the new looking Rams behind Matthew Stafford. Despite the media focus that will be on the quarterbacks, I think this game depends on which team can play the ball more efficiently.
Rushing yards can be misleading. They are usually rated by mass numbers, but yards per carry are far more important than total rushing yards. More specifically, the ability to play the ball effectively on first down or second and short is often one of the most powerful predictors of outcome. And here’s the surprise: The Rams are doing a lot better than the Buccaneers for two weeks. I’ll hang my forecasting hat on it lukewarm.
Rams 24, privateer 20
– Seattle Seahawks with the Minnesota Vikings (+2): Just a clue here but I find it hard to believe this Vikings team is bad enough to start 0-3. Seattle is certainly victorious and probably deserves to be preferred, but I’m looking more at the macro level here. Don’t ask me how that happens, but Mike Zimmer’s crew will find a way to get out of the winless trail.
Vikings 22, Seahawks 20
– New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-10.5): Love someone as much as the NFL planners love the Denver Broncos. This is the third game in a row to start the season that the Broncos will face a team that will be without a win after Week 3. The sledding gets tougher in Week 4 with Baltimore, but until then, enjoy the fruits of a ridiculously cheap preseason schedule, Broncos fans …
Broncos 32, Jets 13
– Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5): When I sat down to write this forecast, the Packers won comfortably on the back of the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams connection. The 49ers have no answer to that, especially with their injury-ridden secondary school.
But then I thought about the other offense on defense, and I have a feeling the Packers might be in real trouble here. Your pass frenzy doesn’t exist, period. Their LBs aren’t bad, but they’re unable to screw up what Kyle Shanahan’s diverse offensive wants unless they get help.
So now I’m really in conflict. I can make convincing arguments for both teams to win. Then there’s the X factor: it’s Green Bay at prime time. Even on the street, expect at least one outrageously bogus, unfair call to come at a time when it is providing the Packers with the greatest positive advantage. Prove me wrong, NFL …
Packer 28, 49er 26
Eagles at Cowboys (-4): Finally, we get a convincing NFC East matchup that should inspire the audience. It has been a while. My money is on Dak Prescott and his cheerful gang of talented pass catchers to take advantage of some holes in the Eagles defense, more than what Jalen Hurts and the Philly Offensive can do for Dallas’ own sad back 7. I’m excited also to see how Tony Pollard evolves over Ezekiel Elliott as top cowboys RB, and how hard it will be for some Dallas fans to reconcile that.
Cowboys 34, Adler 28
Wisconsin 24, Notre Dame 20
Arkansas 30, Texas A&M 27
Clemson 23, State of North Carolina Jan.
State of Oklahoma 32, State of Kansas 27
Alabama 52, Southern Miss 10
Michigan State 20, Nebraska 16