I went 7-9 last week straight up, and…uh…5-10-1 against the spread. That puts me at 16-16 straight up for the season, and 12-19-1 against the spread. (For a comparison, check out the “experts” over at ESPN.)
Here are my picks for the NFL’s Week Three:
Thursday, September 20
New York Giants 1-1 at Carolina 1-1 8:20 p.m. [Line: Giants by 1.5]
Recap: Last week the Giants came back from a 14 point deficit in the 3rd quarter to beat Tampa Bay 41-34. Eli Manning threw for 510 yards, and both Hakeem Nicks (10 catches for 199 yards and a TD) and Victor Cruz (11 catches for 179 yards and a TD) had huge days. Carolina surprised New Orleans last week, winning 35-27. The Panthers ran the ball 41 times for 219 yards and three scores.
Preview: I don’t expect New York’s passing game to put up video game numbers again this week, but the Giants should be able to put enough points on the board to win. Cam Newton will be facing a menacing defensive line that includes Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Jason Pierre-Paul, Rocky Bernard, Osi Umenyiora, and Adrian Tracy (though not all at once, obviously). It should be fun to watch them chase Newton around all night.
RJ’s Pick: Giants by 8
Sunday, September 23
St. Louis 1-1 at Chicago 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: Bears by 7]
Recap: The Rams came from behind to beat the Redskins last week 31-28. They were down by 15 points in the 2nd quarter, but Sam Bradford tossed three touchdown passes to three different receivers in the comeback effort. Danny Amendola caught one of those touchdown passes, along with 14 other receptions for a total of 160 receiving yards. The Bears lost to the Packers last week 23-10. Jay Cutler was awful, throwing 4 interceptions and completing just 41% of his passes.
Preview: The Bears should win this week at home, but I expect a close game.
RJ’s Pick: Chicago by 3
Buffalo 1-1 at Cleveland 0-2 1:00 p.m. [Line: Bills by 2.5]
Recap: The Bills beat Kansas City last week 35-17. C.J. Spiller rushed for 123 yards and two TDs on just 15 carries. The Browns lost the Battle of Ohio last week, falling to the Bengals 34-27. Rookie RB Trent Richardson gained 109 yards on 19 carries, including a 32 yard run for a score. Richardson also caught four passes for 36 yards and a TD. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden looked sharp, completing 70% of his passes for 322 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers.
Preview: I expect around 300 yards rushing between these two teams this week. Look for both QBs to struggle.
RJ’s Pick: Buffalo by 6
Tampa Bay 1-1 at Dallas 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: Cowboys by 7]
Recap: Tampa Bay lost to the Giants last week 41-34. Head coach Greg Schiano caused some controversy by having his defense rush Eli Manning when the Giants quarterback was doing a kneel down to end the game. While this unorthodox move broke no NFL rules, it certainly got Giants players extremely buttmad. If this whole coaching thing doesn’t end up working out for Schiano, it looks like he at least has a possible career in internet trolling to fall back on. The Cowboys lost to Seattle last week 27-7. There’s really not much positive to say about their performance. Hmmm. Well Dan Bailey did a really nice job kicking that extra point, so that’s something.
Preview: I don’t see a lot of scoring in this one.
RJ’s Pick: Dallas by 2
New York Jets 1-1 at Miami 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: Jets by 3]
Recap: Last week the Jets lost to the Steelers 27-10. New York completed just 37% of their pass attempts, and no, Tim Tebow was not the guy throwing them. (Incidentally, Tebow has his very own page on NFL.com called the Tebow Zone, which is kinda like the Twilight Zone, only more inexplicable.) The Dolphins crushed Oakland 35-13 last week. Reggie Bush rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The last time anybody saw a Bush run like that, it was away from an Air National Guard base in 1972.
Preview: The over/under for this game is the lowest for any matchup this week, at 40. Take the under.
RJ’s Pick: Miami by 1
San Francisco 2-0 at Minnesota 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: 49ers by 7]
Recap: The 49ers beat the Lions last week 27-19. Alex Smith and Frank Gore had good games, but the real standout on offense was TE Vernon Davis, who caught two touchdown passes and led the team in receiving yards. Randy Moss was held to a single reception, though on the plus side he did not insult any caterers. The Vikings lost to the Colts last week 23-20. Christian Ponder completed 77% of his passes and threw two touchdowns in a losing effort.
Preview: Moss returns to Minnesota this week to run routes half-heartedly. This game is something of a mismatch as the 49ers are a very good NFL football team while the Vikings are currently ranked somewhere between Clemson and TCU in the USA Today Coaches Poll-kidding, of course.
RJ’s Pick: San Francisco by 17
Kansas City 0-2 at New Orleans 0-2 1:00 p.m. [Line: Saints by 7.5]
Recap: The Chiefs lost to the Bills in Week Two 35-17. Dwayne Bowe had eight receptions for 102 yards and two TDs. The Saints lost to the Panthers last week 35-27. Drew Brees threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Pierre Thomas had 110 yards on just nine carries.
Preview: The over/under for this game is the highest for any matchup this week, at 52.5. Seeing as how the Saints are scoring an average of 29.5 points per game—and still losing because they are giving up an average of 37.5 points per game—and seeing as how the Chiefs are also allowing an average of 37.5 points per game, I say take the over.
RJ’s Pick: New Orleans by 11
Cincinnati 1-1 at Washington 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: Redskins by 3.5]
Recap: The Bengals beat the Browns last week 34-27. Cornerback Terence Newman, who isn’t even listed as a starter on Cincinnati’s depth chart, recorded nine tackles and forced a fumble. The Redskins lost to the Rams last week 31-28. RG3 ran for two touchdowns and threw for another one, but it wasn’t enough.
Preview: This is a difficult game to pick. I predict a close, high-scoring affair where the team with the ball last wins.
RJ’s Pick: Washington by 1
Detroit 1-1 at Tennessee 0-2 1:00 p.m. [Line: Lions by 3.5]
Recap: The Lions lost to San Francisco last week 27-19. Calvin Johnson caught 8 passes for 94 yards, but he was held scoreless for the second week in a row. Matthew Stafford has really struggled so far this season, having thrown more INTs (4) than TDs (2). This doesn’t look like the same Stafford from a season ago. Ndamukong Suh recorded one and a half sacks, giving him two and a half already this year. The Titans lost to the Chargers last week 38-13. Jake Locker completed just 50% of his passes and threw an interception in his second career start.
Chris Johnson, whose salary this season is $8 million (or $500,000 per regular season game), rushed the ball eight times for 17 yards. His totals for the season so far: 19 carries, 21 yards, and 0 TDs. But while he may not be very good at football anymore, he’s become an All-Pro at projection, as he actually had the gall to call out his teammates for not playing well. You’d think with all that money he has now that he’d be able to afford a mirror.
Preview: I pick Detroit to win every week, so it’s kind of pointless for me to even bother analyzing their matchups. But what the hell: Tennessee gives up a lot of points and doesn’t score many. They are a bad, bad team. And seeing as how Chris Johnson just made $3,000 while I was typing that, I really want him to lose, and you should too.
RJ’s Pick: Detroit by 15
Jacksonville 0-2 at Indianapolis 1-1 1:00 p.m. [Line: Colts by 3]
Recap: The Jaguars lost to the Texans last week 27-7. Blaine Gabbert completed just 7 of 19 passes for 53 yards before leaving the game with an injured gluteus maximus. (Insert joke here.) The Colts beat the Vikings last week 23-20. Rookie QB Andrew Luck looked a lot better than he did in Week One, and Donnie Avery had 111 receiving yards.
Preview: Sadly for Jaguars fans, Gabbert is expected to be healthy enough to start this week. The Colts are usually tough at home, so I have no problem picking them to win this one.
RJ’s Pick: Colts by 7
Philadelphia 2-0 at Arizona 2-0 4:05 p.m. [Line: Eagles by 4]
Recap: The Eagles beat the Ravens 24-23 last week. Michael Vick continues to be a turnover machine (2 INTs and 1 lost fumble in Week Two), but Philly remains undefeated nevertheless. TE Brent Celek caught eight passes for 157 yards in the win.
The Cardinals are a surprising 2-0 after beating the Patriots in Week Two 20-18. RB Ryan Williams fumbled the ball at around Arizona’s 30 yard line with just over a minute left in the game, giving the Patriots a golden opportunity to win it with a field goal in the closing seconds. But New England’s kicker missed the field goal, so Arizona remains unbeaten. Williams is perhaps not the ideal running back for your fantasy football team, as through two games he has 18 carries for 22 yards, 0 touchdowns, and two lost fumbles.
Preview: Can Kevin Kolb keep the Cardinals undefeated by beating his old team? Yes, I think he can.
RJ’s Pick: Cardinals by 3
Atlanta 2-0 at San Diego 2-0 4:05 p.m. [Line: Chargers by 3]
Recap: The Falcons beat the Broncos 27-21 last week. Roddy White caught eight passes for 102 yards and a TD. The Chargers shredded the Titans last week 38-10. Jackie Battle ran for two scores and TE Dante Rosario caught three touchdown passes.
Preview: RB Ryan Mathews is expected to play this week (he has been recovering from a broken collarbone suffered early in the preseason), and I predict he will rush for about 100 yards and at least one score.
RJ’s Pick: San Diego by 6
Houston 2-0 at Denver 1-1 4:25 p.m. [Line: Texans by 2]
Recap: The Texans were victorious 27-7 in Jacksonville last week. Running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for 184 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries. The Broncos lost to Atlanta last week 27-21. Peyton Manning threw three interceptions in the 1st quarter, and the Falcons built a 20-0 lead by the 2nd quarter that Denver could not overcome. Willis McGahee ran for 113 yards and two TDs on 22 attempts.
Preview: The Texans are seemingly a lock to win their division and make a nice run in the playoffs. Denver will likely be battling San Diego for the division title in the AFC West, with the team that finishes in second place maybe getting a Wild Card berth, or maybe not. This will be a game that the Broncos look back on at the end of the regular season, either as a tough loss that cost them a division title and/or playoff berth, or a signature win that helped propel them into the postseason.
RJ’s Pick: Denver by 4
Pittsburgh 1-1 at Oakland 0-2 4:25 p.m. [Line: Steelers by 4]
Recap: The Steelers beat the Jets 27-10 last week. Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of 31 passes for 275 yards and two TDs. The Raiders lost to Miami last week 35-13. Oakland was held to 23 rushing yards on 14 attempts. They are averaging just 34 rushing yards per game. If the Raiders can’t run the ball with any success this season, they better pray that Carson Palmer stays healthy. Matt “71.6 Career Passer Rating” Leinart is the backup QB, and Terrelle “Would You Like My Autograph” Pryor is behind him.
Preview: Oh, c’mon.
RJ’s Pick: Steelers by 14
New England 1-1 at Baltimore 1-1 8:20 p.m. [Line: Ravens by 3]
Recap: The Patriots lost to Arizona last week 20-18. It is rumored that immediately after the game Logan Mankins held Stephen Gostkowski down in the locker room while Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels took turns sodomizing him with one of Gisele’s Shake Weights. But this is only a rumor. Stat of the week: In Week Two, Tom Brady completed passes to six different receivers, four of whom are white.
The Ravens lost to the Eagles last week 24-23. Joe Flacco completed just 22 of 42 passes, threw an interception, and lost a fumble. I bet he regrets not signing that long-term deal back in August. Safety Bernard Pollard had a sack and an interception. Ray Lewis forced a fumble, but did not record a single deadly stabbing in Week Two.
Preview: Robert Kraft donated $22,900 to Obama’s re-election campaign. Fuck the Patriots.
RJ’s Pick: Ravens by 7
Monday, September 24
Green Bay 1-1 at Seattle 1-1 8:30 p.m. [Line: Packers by 3]
Recap: The Packers beat the Bears 23-10 last week. Clay Matthews had 3.5 sacks and Tramon Williams had two interceptions. The Seahawks beat the Cowboys last week 27-7. Marshawn Lynch (whose profile photo on NFL.com looks like a mug shot from The Smoking Gun website) ran for 122 yards and a score.
Preview: This should be a good defensive battle without a lot of scoring.
RJ’s Pick: Packers by 8
(If you’re interested, you can check out the full list of Danny Sheridan’s Odds here.)