Typical of the NFL. One week you are on top of the world with your picks and the next week is crappy. Well at least it could have been worse if we finished 1-4 or the dreaded 0-5 week. Thankfully Cleveland salvaged our picks and the Kansas City Chiefs continue to dominate. We were way off with the NY Giants so our apologies there. We still feel our New Orleans pick was the right decision. Fluky things like a future Hall of Famer QB getting knocked out of the game can dramatically change the outcome of a game. Our Chargers pick was off but we are baffled by that one. If you look at the team stats for that game, the Chargers won in almost every category so we will chalk up that loss as an anomaly. Overall we are 5-5 which is not too bad. We feel we can bounce back with two consecutive 4-1 weeks.
Before we begin our Week 3 research, it always helps to reflect on the previous week. Here is what we learned and what to expect.
- Los Angeles Chargers -2.5. Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions.
We all know the famous NFL phrase, "on any given Sunday, any team in the NFL can beat any other team." That is exactly what happened here. Our research was still correct in picking the Chargers to win since the Chargers were better than the Lions in several categories: # of 1st downs, 3rd down conversion, total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, red zone efficiency, and time of posession. Penalties and turnovers were a push. Sometimes weird stuff happens in the NFL. We will still keep selecting the Chargers when the value is right and we will still keep going against the Lions.
The Chargers return to California to take on the Houston Texans. This could be a potential playoff matchup with two very talented passing attacks and several key defensive players on both teams. Right now the Chargers are favored to win by 3.5 points. While the Texans did win last week, it was only a 13-12 victory against a mediocre Jacksonville squad. Again, we feel the Chargers loss in Detroit defies logic even if Hunter Henry was out and Mike Williams was limited (who still managed to catch 3 passes for 83 yards). We might lean towards the Chargers and hopefully the models will confirm that selection. Meanwhile, the Lions will hit the road again and take on the Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love. The Eagles are somewhat of a conundrum after putting up 32 points in Week 1 but just 20 in Week 2. A spread of 6.5 in favor of Philadelphia seems high, especially with injuries to wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. That could be a stay-away game.
- New York Giants +1.5. Buffalo Bills at New York Giants.
We really whiffed on this one and thought we were being sneaky by taking the Giants. Yes, the Giants showed lots of promise near the end of last season by finishing 4-4 which was a huge accomplishment given that they started the 2018 season 1-7. However, this is still a team that is a work in progress. Eli Manning was quite ineffective completing just 57.8% of his passes and throwing 2 INTs. Rookie Daniel Jones, former Duke QB who was selected 6th overall in the NFL Draft this past spring, has been announced as the starter for next week so perhaps we can blame the poor Giants start on Eli. The Bills are now 2-0 and continue to not get any respect. We have taken note and will do our best to take a closer look at their upcoming matchups.
The Giants will travel to Tampa Bay and perhaps their fortunes will turn in the Sunshine State. Getting 6.5 points is good value against an average opponent but, again, the Giants are starting a rookie QB in his first NFL start. Jones had good numbers at Duke but nothing spectacular. This could be another stay-away game. The Bills will have their season opener this weekend hosting the Bengals who just got crushed at home by the 49ers. Bills QB Josh Allen is looking like the real deal and the team is definitely buying into Sean McDermott's system after McDermott experienced success in Philadelphia and Carolina as a defensive assistant coach. Giving up 6 points might seem like much but we are liking what we see from Buffalo and this is a city that has been yearning for a good football team for quite some time.
- Kansas City -7. Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders.
So we finally got one Sunday pick right! The Chiefs have not skipped a beat from last year. Patrick Mahomes is easily the best player in the NFL right now. Take away Tyreek Hill and he helps Sammy Watkins have a career day in Week 1. The Raiders schemed to take Watkins out of the game but guess what ... Mahomes winds up hitting lesser known WR Demarcus Robison for 6 receptions, 172 yards, and 2 TDs. By the way, Robinson was targetted 6 times meaning that he caught every pass that came his way. It doesn't matter who is wearing a KC uniform ... as long as Mahomes is behind center, he will find a way to beat you and do so in convincing fashion. The Raiders were the Raiders. Inept offense and nothing special on defense. Their Monday Night win against Denver in Week 1 is more indicative of how bad Denver is as a football team.
The Chiefs will have their home opener in Week 3 and host the Baltimore Ravens. As a football purist, you have to love this matchup. Great offense against great defense. Two teams that are poised to challenge the Patriots AFC supremacy. However, I might steer clear of predicting which team covers the spread here. 6.5 points is a lot. Maybe lean towards Baltimore but going against Mahomes is not a wise move. Stay away from this one and just enjoy watching two great football teams go at it. The Raiders will travel to Minnesota which will be a hostile enviroment. The Vikings fans can be very loud at U.S. Bank Stadium and the Raiders were 2-6 on the road in 2017 and 1-7 on the road last year. The Vikings are 12-4 at home during the past two seasons. Giving 9 points is a lot to ask but let's see what the models tell us.
- New Orleans +2.5. New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams.
Had Drew Brees not get knocked out in this game, we feel we would have covered the spread. Teddy Bridgewater was inaccurate and overall is an ineffective QB. That is sad given the plethora of weapons at Bridgewater's disposal. RB Alvin Kamara had one of his worst games and one has to wonder how his stats will be impacted moving forward. Perhaps Bridgewater will perform better next week with some preparation but if I were a Saints fan, I would be worried given that Brees will be out for a few weeks. The Rams, on the other hand, are not experiencing any Super Bowl hangover symptoms. They are 2-0 and pretty much the team to beat in the NFC even if RB Todd Gurley is a shell of his former self.
The Saints will travel to Puget Sound to take on the 2-0 Seahawks. Seattle is arguably one of the toughest stadiums for road teams so this does not bode well for the Bree-less Saints. The spread is 4 in favor of Seattle so we might consider going with them if our models indicate we should. The Rams will travel to Cleveland for Sunday Night Football. This should be a great matchup given the talent on the Browns roster. Now that they have a convincing win under their belts, this will be a good test to see if the Browns are truly a playoff contender. The Rams are currently favored by 3 points so maybe the home dog is the way to go here.
- Cleveland -2.5. Cleveland Browns at New York Jets.
Going 1-4 is never fun. That can really set you back in your football pools. Fortunately we were able to lock in the Browns at -2.5 early in the week only to see that spread rise to -7 after the news that Sam Darnold would be out for a few weeks due to contracting mono (don't even get me started about USC quarterbacks). The value was too good to pass up and the Browns finally delivered. Perhaps their Week 1 contest against Tennessee was just an opportunity for the Browns to work out any early season jitters. OBJ loves the limelight and he definitely delivered in his return to the Big Apple on Monday Night Football. The Jets were a lost bunch and are in even bigger trouble with their backup QB getting hurt. There was some promise heading into the season for the Jets but with the injuries piling up, it might be time to hit the panic button.
What can the Browns do for you?! We are excited to see this team realize its fullest potential this season. The Browns will be on national TV again and take on the Rams. Right now the Browns are a home dog by 3 points but the Rams are 2-0 and defending NFC Champs. Being a home dog is expected and if you are going to take the Browns, they pretty much need to win. Can they beat a good team like the Rams? We are not sure yet. The Jets are also an underdog but find themselves as a heavy dog at +23. The Patriots defense has been impressive so far giving up just 3 points in 2 games. It was the defense that powered the Patriots to a 6th Super Bowl title last season. They have not skipped a beat and with the Jets down to their 3rd string QB, maybe eating a lot of chalk is the way to go.
After much reflection, perhaps the way to play Week 3 is to go with the home favors. That is not what Vegas wants. Do you remember the middle of the NFL regular season last year when Vegas endured one of its worst losses ever due to so many favors covering the spread? In fact that was Week 9 and favored teams went 8-5.
We could see a repeat of that week this coming Sunday so prepare to eat some chalk!