As NFL teams are preparing for only their third game of the season, the injuries are already beginning to mount for some squads. There are some notable players that were affected over the Week 2 slate that could have an impact on how the games play out during Week 3 (home teams are in CAPS, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas and the choice for the game in BOLD).
Kansas City Chiefs vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-3)
To this point in the season, the Eagles – under head coach Chip Kelly’s fast break offense – have averaged 31.5 points per game. The problem is the defense has given up an average of 30 points per game, leaving the team at 1-1 heading into Thursday night’s game against former head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs. The big question in this game is whether the 2-0 Chiefs are for real (their wins have come against a hapless Jacksonville team and a quality win over the Cowboys).
The pleasantries of Reid’s homecoming to Philadelphia will last all of the pre-game warm-ups and the Eagles will be particularly revved up for this game. Eagles QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy and WR DeSean Jackson will continue the fast pace of the Eagles offense and, with a little help from the D, should be able to cover the spread in this game.
Green Bay Packers (-2) vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Packers are coming off an excellent showing against Washington (where they bottled up Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III) and face another difficult challenge in the Bengals. The Pack will have a decision come game time with their running back situation; Eddie Lacy left the game against the ‘Skins early with a concussion (and will not start this week), but James Starks had a shocker of a game in relief of Lacy and will be in the lineup.
The Packers will not have an easy time this week, but Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton isn’t RGIII. If the Packers can stop the Bengals running game (Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Giovanni Bernard are an outstanding tandem) and keep WR A. J. Green in check, they should defeat the Bengals on their home ground.
St. Louis Rams vs. DALLAS COWBOYS (-3.5)
This is the Week 3 ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Game in that you don’t know which team with show up on either side. The Rams, after a stirring win at home against Arizona, went on the road and gave the Atlanta Falcons all they could handle before falling. The Cowboys, after a strong victory over the New York Giants, were stopped on the road in Kansas City to bring their record to 1-1 also.
The line is a bit short on this game as the ‘Pokes always play better at home than on the road. It also seems that their defense is beginning to come around and should be bolstered by DL Anthony Spencer’s continued improvement from early season injury. Expect Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray and WR Dez Bryant to put together a highlight reel from this game.
San Diego Chargers (+3.5) vs. TENNESSEE TITANS
The Chargers have had two great outings against strong opposition. They lost to the Houston Texans in overtime in Week 1 and they were able to overcome the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. The Titans, although they got a great win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 and pushed the Texans in Week 2, don’t have enough to stop the Chargers this week.
Cleveland Browns vs. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-5.5)
The Browns are in disarray only three weeks into the season. Starting QB Brandon Weeden is out due to a thumb injury and third stringer Brian Hoyer will take the start. On Wednesday, they traded their #1 pick in the 2012 draft, RB Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts. This doesn’t bode well for their journey into Vikings territory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots are 2-0 in the standings, but they are 0-2 ATS (Against the Spread). The Bucs have been worthy opponents in both games they have played this year, going 2-0 ATS. I’m going to lean on the boys from Florida here to cover the spread since the Pats have shown that they aren’t the team of the mid-2000s, especially with the loss of WR Danny Amendola and the delayed return of TE Rob Gronkowski. Sorry, Dark Hoodie and your young apprentice Jedi Tom, you’re not going to be able to fool people much longer.
Arizona Cardinals (+7.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints are getting way too much credit on their home field advantage here. The ‘Birds from the desert are strong on offense and their D is the third rated squad in the league at this point in the season. Although WR Larry Fitzgerald is a game-time decision due to a concussion, expect the Cardinals to cover the spread here.
Detroit Lions (+2) vs. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
The Redskins haven’t shown much offensive punch over the first two weeks of the season with Robert Griffin III working his way into shape. Although they are on the road for a second consecutive week, the Lions have the offense (eighth in total yardage) to bedevil the ‘Skins defense and put them down to their third consecutive loss to open the season.
New York Giants vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (+1)
The Giants have yet to show why there should be any confidence put in them. Resigning RB Brandon Jacobs was nice for fantasy players, but it didn’t translate into a win on the field. While QB Eli Manning is leading the league in passing, the D isn’t stopping anyone, leading me to believe that the Panthers and QB Cam Newton will have a great day against the boys from Gotham.
Houston Texans vs. BALTIMORE RAVENS (+2.5)
Huge injury issues weigh in on this game. Ravens RB Ray Rice was knocked out of Week 2 due to a hip flexor issue; Texans WR Andre Johnson left Week 2 due to a concussion. Both are a game day decision at this point.
If both are out, I have to give an edge to the Ravens due to home field and adequate backups for Rice. If you are a bettor, this is one of those games you stay WAY FAR AWAY from.
Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Although they are on the road, the Falcons have shown they can still put some points on the board. The ‘Fins, after a surprising win at Indianapolis last week, haven’t exactly shut down anyone to this point. Falcons RB Stephen Jackson is a question for the game, but QB Matt Ryan should be able to take the boys from Atlanta to victory.
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
Count me as a believer in Bills rookie QB E. J. Manuel; the way he led the Bills to that last second win over Carolina last week was very impressive. Jets QB Geno Smith, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as impressive. As Manuel has more weapons on his side than Smith does, think the Bills will take this one down.
Indianapolis Colts vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (-10)
After being embarrassed on Monday night against Seattle, the 49ers are going to come for blood in this game. Although new Colts acquisition RB Trent Richardson (teamed with RB Ahmad Bradshaw) might be good, it won’t happen in this game. Expect the 49ers D to crush the underperforming Colts O and make this game a laugher.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-19.5)
This is one of the largest lines that has ever been laid on an NFL game and, to be honest, it might have been taken higher. The Jaguars have scored a TOTAL of 11 points through the first two games of the season. They have no offense to recognize and their defense has been close to matador. The Seahawks, and head coach Pete Carroll, might have to hold themselves back a bit.
Chicago Bears (-3) vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The late game on Sunday once looked like a good one. The Steelers, however, aren’t the team they used to be. The ‘Monsters of the Midway’ should rule this game on Sunday night, especially after the lame showing by the Steelers against the Bengals this previous week.
Oakland Raiders vs. DENVER BRONCOS (-15.5)
The Broncos have covered their two games this year and the Raiders have yet to show anything that might give them opposition. With Peyton Manning on the main stage of Monday Night Football, this will not even be a game.
Last Week: This is the way it is supposed to be. A 10-5-1 record ATS is something you can be proud of.
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