2019 NFL Picks Week 3: Big Spread Energy

2019 NFL Picks Week 3: Big Spread Energy

Last Week: 8-8

YTD: 17-15

This Week:

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The Patriots opened up with as one of the largest road favorites of all time last week and easily covered an 18-point spread. This week, the Dolphins dive even deeper to 21.5-point underdogs in Dallas, but that’s only the second largest spread of Week 3! The Patriots are favored by 23.5 at home against Luke Falk and the New York Jets,. where they won last December by 35. Let’s see if we can wrangle some of that big spread energy in our picks this week and push ourselves a bit farther over .500!

Jacksonville Jaguars +1.5 vs. Tennessee Titans

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Gardner Minshew II did not disappoint last week, floating a touchdown in the final minute of the game to easily cover the spread against Houston even after Leonard Fournette (maybe?) failed to convert the go-ahead two-point conversion. He may have a bit more trouble this week against the Titans and their 8th-ranked defense, who held Indianapolis under 20 points in a loss. There’s nothing fun about picking Tennessee, but when Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars’ head coach need to be physically separated and the Jags’ running back can’t break 4.0 yards per carry, 1.5 points isn’t asking much. It doesn’t hurt that Jacksonville hasn’t won a game against their division rival since 2016. Titans -1.5

Buffalo Bills -6 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen has improved dramatically in year 2, completing over 64% of his passes through two games. They’ve received a big spark from rookie running back Devin Singletary, but he’s nursing a hamstring injury coming into Week 3. The Bengals are by no means a good team, but debacles like last week’s loss to San Francisco don’t put them in Dolphins territory just yet. I expect the Cincinnati offense to manage a couple of touchdowns, and unless Josh Allen starts throwing quick outs or runs for a pair of touchdowns, 14 will be enough to cover a 6-point spread. Bengals +6

Philadelphia Eagles -5.5 vs. Detroit Lions

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I know Philadelphia won a Super Bowl with Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator, but at some point I’d like to see some imagination beyond running a 0 blitz (leaving no one deep) for the entire second half of a game. It almost worked in Atlanta before likely space alien Julio Jones went from behind the line to the end zone in no time at all, but it’s not going to surprise many teams at this point. The Lions came away victorious against the Chargers last week because the lesser L.A. team is one of the few franchises competing with Detroit for the Most Innovative Ways to Lose award. The Eagles are banged up from Sunday night, but they need to straighten things out here to keep pace with the scary-looking Cowboys. They’ll rise to the occasion at home. Eagles -5.5

New England Patriots -23.5 vs. New York Jets

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Picking against the Dolphins last week wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I feared it might be. When your offense scores more points for the other team than your own, it’s easy to lose by a lot. This one presents a more interesting challenge, so I did some extra research. Here’s a brief history of enormous spreads:

Before this season, there were 8 spreads of 20+ points in NFL games. Three of these involved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 and 1977, their first two years as a franchise, and a fourth involved Joe Montana and some of the 49ers starters playing street free agents signed during the players’ strike of 1987. All 8 of the favorites won in these games, but only one managed to cover: the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the expansion Buccaneers 42-0 in 1976.

With all of that said…I’m taking the Patriots. They seem to have a special “eff you” edge to start things off this season, and they’ll be at home against a second-year, third-string quarterback. We’ve watched the Patriots win with third-string quarterbacks before, but Adam Gase is not capable of such feats. New England is going to be motivated to hold the Jets scoreless, and their offense will have no trouble hitting 30 points once again. Patriots -23.5

Minnesota Vikings -9 vs. Oakland Raiders

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This Vikings team really takes after its quarterback, mixing spells of dizzying effectiveness with puzzling lapses of judgment. After blanking Atlanta through three quarters in Week 1, Minnesota allowed Aaron Rodgers to score touchdowns on each of Green Bay’s first three drives en route to a 21-0 lead. The defense then tightened up and kept the Vikings in the game just long enough for Kirk Cousins to throw it away. So what do we expect them to do at home against an oddly middling Raiders team? I don’t think they’ll have any trouble winning, but head coach Mike Zimmer’s obsession with running the football makes it hard to imagine a runaway victory. Even if the Raiders fall into a three-score hole early, they’ll have plenty of time to make up some of the gap in garbage time for a backdoor cover. Raiders +9

Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens

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I’m pretty sure I love Patrick Mahomes as much as anyone who isn’t a born-and-bred Chiefs fan. I flipped over to their channel last week to watch him even though he was playing the Raiders! Something about this line just feels off, though. These two teams played a great game last season in which Mahomes’ heroics were enough to win in overtime, and with a much-improved Baltimore offense they’re now favored by 6.5? Unless Kansas City miraculously begins covering like an NFL team, Lamar Jackson will be producing plenty of fireworks of his own. Take the over, and don’t take your eyes off this game. Ravens +6.5

Indianapolis Colts -1.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons

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There’s a giant chasm between these two teams in DVOA, and the Colts are only favored by 1.5 points at home. A season-saving Julio Jones touchdown is always fun to watch, but let’s not forget that it was only enough to push the Falcons up to 24 points on the day. Something is wrong with the offense in Atlanta, and the Colts have a solid defense. Throw in home field advantage and some sharp play-calling and game management by Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich, and this one starts to look easy. Colts -1.5

Green Bay Packers -8 vs. Denver Broncos

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Denver head coach Vic Fangio is no stranger to Aaron Rodgers’s ways, but I’m deeply troubled by what I saw against my Bears last week. Joe Flacco looks exactly as he’s looked for the past few seasons, and they couldn’t get past Mitchell Trubisky at home. Now they’ll be traveling north to take on a better Green Bay team, and the Packers’ offensive line isn’t going to help Von Miller and Bradley Chubb get off their sack-less schneid. Just wait for Green Bay to hit double digits and enjoy watching Flacco flail about. Packers -8

Dallas Cowboys -21.5 vs. Miami Dolphins

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Our second 20+ point spread of the week! Remember what I said about the representation of the expansion-era Buccaneers in the Pats-Jets segment above? This line starts to make sense when you consider how far removed from being an expansion team Miami is. I’m pretty sure being an expansion team is their goal on the season, and I don’t think switching from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Josh Rosen is going to fix everything, especially after dealing one of their better defensive players in Minkah Fitzpatrick. As long as Kellen Moore and the Cowboys’ offense keeps their foot down, three touchdowns is just a small hill to climb. Cowboys -21.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5 vs. New York Giants

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Oh dear. Daniel Jones gets to make his first career start against an offense with far more weapons and oddly similar production to his own. New York has Saquon Barkley and a bunch of injured receivers, and they’ve managed 31 points through two games with Eli Manning. Jameis Winston, operating with Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin has managed 37. Avert your eyes when the offenses take the field in this one, and when neither team should be expected to crack 20 points, take the extra almost-touchdown. Giants +6.5

Arizona Cardinals +2.5 vs. Carolina Panthers

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I picked this game before Cam Newton’s availability came into question, and I was happy to take the home underdog because the Cam Newton we’ve seen so far this year isn’t much more effective than Carolina’s backup. Watching him miss wildly with throws against the Buccaneers last week was painful whether you had a monetary stake in the game or not. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals managed to hang tight with Baltimore last week despite their first-year head coach’s bizarre insistence on kicking field goals. If their play-calling remains more aggressive than their 4th-down decision making, Arizona should get their first win of the season. Cardinals +2.5

San Francisco 49ers -6.5 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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How big of a dropoff is this year’s version of Ben Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph? It’s probably not a drastic change, and the Steelers have had a much harder start to the season with the Patriots and Seahawks than the 49ers have with the Buccaneers and Bengals. Pittsburgh still has a good offensive line, and I expect their defense to perform a bit better facing down a non-Hall of Fame quarterback. The Niners will still hit some chunk plays thanks to Kyle Shanahan’s play designs, but I think they’ll pick up their first loss of the year. Steelers +6.5

Seattle Seahawks -5 vs. New Orleans Saints

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Seattle is basically an NFC West version of the Vikings. Their defense has been playing well, and their offense looks stunning for stretches before reverting to a boring, run-first attack and a lot of punts. The key difference is the brilliance of Russell Wilson on third down, but he’s facing a stingy New Orleans defense this week. Teddy Bridgewater is obviously a step down from Drew Brees, but I expect a full week of practice and preparation to help Sean Payton come up with a way to reach 20 points on the road. It might not be enough to top Seattle, but combined with Brian Schottenheimer’s infuriating conservatism, it will be enough to keep things close. Saints +5

Los Angeles Chargers -3 vs. Houston Texans

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Remember what I said earlier about the Chargers’ amazing abilities to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Such habits won’t serve them well against a quarterback with Deshaun Watson’s knack for the big play. With a floundering pass rush and disappointing play from a Derwin James-less defense, Houston can come away with a road win here. Unless, of course, they get Watson sent to the IR first…Texans +3

Cleveland Browns +2.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams

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This is by far my favorite line of the week. Both teams struggled to pull away against backup quarterbacks last week, but there was a wide gap between the quality of their opponents. New Orleans was a Super Bowl-caliber team playing a revenge game with a former starting quarterback as their backup. The Jets are closer to a top-pick contender and they were reeling from losing their second-year quarterback to mono. How are the defending NFC champions favored by less than a field goal here? Don’t overthink it! Rams -2.5

Washington +4 vs. Chicago Bears

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Washington has looked surprisingly competitive against two teams expected to compete for a division title. Chicago has looked utterly ineffective against one team hoping to regain that type of hype and another who considered Joe Flacco an offseason upgrade at quarterback. Now the Bears are favored by more than a field goal on the road; which version of Mitchell Trubisky have they been watching? If the Bears added a touchdown to their points per game through two weeks, it would get them to 17 points. Washington hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points yet. Washington +4

That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.

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