Pudge’s Picks – Week 3 2014

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Kirk Cousins’ time to shine

After a glorious win for the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night, I’ll be picking the remaining weekend games for Week 3. I’m not sure how the Falcons win will affect my picks, but maybe I can ride the high of the win to do better. I’ve done a pretty good job picking against the spread thus far this season (20-13), but my record of simply picking straight winners (18-15) has been disappointing.

* All lines are from ESPN.com.

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Bills (-2.5)

It’s another East Coast trip and early start for the Chargers, which traditionally does not bode well for West Coast teams. But the Chargers were 2-1 last year in such games, with their only loss being an overtime game against the Redskins. The Bills have a formidable front that could perform well against a questionable Chargers offensive line. It’s tough to pick against the Bills at home, but I like Philip Rivers enough that I think he can pull some fourth-quarter magic if the Chargers get down. I don’t have that sort of confidence in E.J. Manuel yet.

Spread Pick: Chargers
Straight Pick: Chargers

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Bengals (-6.5)

The Bengals simply look too tough at home with their formidable defense to think that Jake Locker and the Titans are going to fare well against them. There’s always the possibility of a bad Andy Dalton game, but it appears that Hue Jackson has done a good job thus far marginalizing Dalton from impacting the game in a negative way. But the reason you want to take the Titans is because the Bengals shouldn’t be a scoring juggernaut if they are missing A.J. Green for another week with a toe injury.

Spread Pick: Titans
Straight Pick: Bengals

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Browns (+1.5)

The Browns got a surprising win over the Saints last week, but their success might be short-lived. The Ravens are by no means a juggernaut, but they have a formidable defense and Joe Flacco seems to have a security blanket in Steve Smith thus far this year. It’s hard to see the Browns getting enough out of Brian Hoyer sans Jordan Cameron to expect the Browns to pull the upset.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Rams (+0.5)

It is concerning that Tony Romo’s back problems seemed to flare up last week, but it’s less when you consider the Cowboys are facing the Rams. Granted, the Rams defense is formidable and their pass rush could definitely impact a game. But Tyron Smith should be able to keep Robert Quinn from going off, and the Cowboys overall have a good offensive line. The fact that the Rams starting quarterback may be a game-time decision also doesn’t bode well for them. The Cowboys traditionally struggle on the road, but I think they can pull off this win.

Spread Pick: Cowboys
Straight Pick: Cowboys

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Lions (-1.5)

Aaron Rodgers is 9-0 against the Lions in games that he has started and finished. At some point that streak is going to end and it certainly could be this year since I don’t see the Packers as a particularly strong team. The Lions defense has played well this year, but they haven’t played any offensive juggernauts in matchups against the Giants and Panthers. This will be a real test to determine if these Jim Caldwell-coached Lions are going to be significantly different than the Jim Schwartz-coached ones of yesteryear. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Jaguars (+6.5)

The Colts handled the Jaguars by a combined margin of 54 points in their two wins last season. So one wonders why this line is so low. Sure, the Colts are 0-2, but they lost to two teams that many feel are playoff front-runners in the Broncos and Eagles. If this spread was twice as high, I might have pause about taking the Colts, but since it’s in the single digits, I have no qualms picking the Colts in a one-sided game.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Patriots (-14.5)

I’m not sure if I trust the Patriots enough at this point to take them with such a large spread. They certainly laid the smackdown on the Vikings last week, but 17 of their 30 points were generated off turnovers. I just don’t see them as this offensive juggernaut that deserves such a large spread. It’s really more a question of whether you believe the Raiders are so bad that they’ll get beat by this huge margin. And I’d be hard-pressed to argue against it. If the Raiders were at home, I’d probably take them, but they really struggle to on their road trips to the East Coast. They are 2-18 in their last 20 1 pm games in the Eastern time zone. At the end of the day, I’ll take the Patriots for that reason alone, even though I don’t have much confidence that this will be a blowout.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Minnesota Vikings (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Saints (-10.5)

With Adrian Peterson out of the lineup, I have the feeling that the clock is ticking down towards when Teddy Bridgewater gets to start for the Vikings. It might come as soon as next week against the Falcons, or perhaps even midway through this week’s game if Matt Cassel doesn’t step up. The Saints have lost to close games at the very end so they could easily be 2-0 which is probably why the line is so favorable. They are very tough at home, and the Vikings simply don’t have the offensive firepower or formidable defense to really think they can slow them down. I don’t really think the Saints are as good as many projected them to be, but this should be a favorable matchup for them.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

Houston Texans (2-0) at New York Giants (0-2)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Giants (+2.5)

The Texans are pretty beat up, but they are facing a pretty terrible Giants team. Their offense just isn’t really capable of scoring more than 17 or so points a game, a feat they have yet to accomplish this season. And the Giants defense is by no means strong enough to hold most opportunities below that mark. The Texans aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but even if they wind up winning this game 17-14, they cover.

Spread Pick: Texans
Straight Pick: Texans

Washington Redskins (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
Sunday, September 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Eagles (-6.5)

While the Redskins aren’t yet sold that Robert Griffin III’s season is over, it’s very likely that we’ll see Kirk Cousins manning the starting spot for at least a month. What this Redskins team looks like with Cousins at the helm remains to be seen, although last week’s lopsided win over the Jaguars is a promising start. But with playmakers like JOrdan Reed and DeSean Jackson possibly out of the lineup this week, it’ll be hard to beat the Eagles on the road this week. Washington’s key to success will be pounding the ball with Alfred Morris, and Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan getting pressure on Nick Foles like they did last week when the Redskins defense sacked Chad Henne 10 times. Given the Eagles offensive line problems, this could be another week where the Redskins defense looks significantly better than what it actually is.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Eagles

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Sunday, September 21 at 4:05 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Cardinals (-2.5)

With questions still surrounding Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer’s health, it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals beating the 49ers if Drew Stanton draws another start. While the 49ers tanked last week’s game to the Bears in the second half, there should be expectations that they will bounce back this week and pull out a close one on the road. This is likely to be a defensive battle and right now I like the 49ers defense a lot more than that of the Cardinals.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Seahawks (-4.5)

This is a tough game to pick. I don’t want to be overreact to Seattle’s surprising loss to San Diego last week. And I don’t want to assume that the matchup between Denver and Seattle will be comparable to last year’s Super Bowl. But it’s hard to beat the Seahawks in Seattle, so it only makes sense to pick the home team here. It’s just a question of whether Denver will keep the game close. I’m not sure they will, since their offense doesn’t appear quite as potent as it was a year ago. The Broncos’ lack of a strong running will hurt them if they want to slow down Seattle as well as San Diego did.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)
Sunday, September 21 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Dolphins (-4.5)

The Dolphins struggled last week against the Bills, but they should bounce back this week at home against a depleted Chiefs team. The potential loss of Jamaal Charles is a dagger to the chest of the Chiefs, and it’s hard to imagine Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe being able to pick up the slack. The Chiefs defense isn’t quite that good, and will likely have to rely on creating turnovers to stop even what is just an okay Dolphins offensive attack.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Dolphins

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)
Sunday, September 21 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Panthers (-3.5)

One cannot deny that I and several others collectively underestimated the Panthers this year. Their front seven is still one of the league’s most formidable and keeps them in most games. Against a Steelers offensive line that is known for its struggles, it is the recipe for another successful win for the Panthers.

Spread Pick: Panthers
Straight Pick: Panthers

Chicago Bears (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)
Monday, September 22 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

*Line: Jets (-2.5)

The Jets choked away a 21-6 lead against the Packers last week because of giving up some big plays in the passing game as well as Geno Smith’s inability to complete a pass in the second half of that game. The Bears came back against the 49ers for similar reasons. But that was last week, and this is a new game. The Jets secondary still is a problem, and even when not 100 percent, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery showed they could still make plays last week. But I’ll have a tendency to favor the Jets at home, where Geno isn’t awful.

Spread Pick: Jets
Straight Pick: Jets

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com