Here we go with another round of our 2015 NFL Predictions, this time for Week 3. This is the time of year when things begin to shake out a little more clearly, with teams that drop to 0-3 starting to slide away and while others who pick up their first wins of the season showing their first signs of life.
There are plenty of squads facing certain peril should a victory continue to remain elusive this week and we’ll know a lot more about what direction this season is traveling come around 11:30 Sunday night. So with that, let’s get rolling with this week’s picks. As always, the numbers come from Bovada LV and the home teams are in all CAPS.
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Jaguars (+14) over PATRIOTS: This game could very easily end something like 41-14 Pats. But sometimes the toughest games are the ones you’d never expect to be tough and the Jaguars should be feisty enough to fend off a blowout even playing in Foxborough. Remember, a healthy dose of perspective (and remembering to be wary of lines this big) is key.
Falcons (-2) over COWBOYS: That Dallas is 2-0 right this minute constitutes one of the great mysteries of the first month of the season. It’s very difficult to imagine them winning this game — even at home — given all of their major injury problems. Atlanta is riding high off of two hard fought wins and looks to have a defense that’s finally legit. Take the road faves here.
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VIKINGS (-2.5) over Chargers: Never mind Vikings coach Mike Zimmer calling Chargers QB Phillip Rivers one of the best of all time. San Diego has issues on both sides of the ball that will prove too much to overcome on a second straight week of traveling east to play at 1:00 (or noon in Minneapolis). The Vikings showed that they are better than what was on display in Week 1 in last week’s win over Detroit and they should move to 2-1 after this matchup.
Bucs (+6.5) over TEXANS: This is the week the Texans, quarterback or not, get off the schnide and break into the win column. Tampa looked pretty good on the road last week against the Saints but at they point, that’s not saying much. The Texans have too much pride and too much talent on defense to drop this one but it’s still too much to ask a team with such issues at QB to cover nearly a touchdown. Houston 20, Tampa 16.
PANTHERS (-3.5) over Saints: When did the Saints earn such a massive benefit of the doubt? Their Super Bowl win is now nearly six years old and they’ve gotten progressively worse each year ever since. New Orleans is terrible even with Drew Brees under center and seeing as how he’s out this week, a much tougher Carolina team will cruise to 3-0.
Eagles (+2.5) over JETS: Here it is, gut check time for Philly. The Eagles can’t possibly be as bad as they were last week against the Cowboys, can they? If they lose this game — against a surprisingly solid Jets squad — they may find themselves in a hole that’s impossible to dig out from, even in the lousy NFC East. Philly wins a close, low-scoring game at MetLife Stadium.
Steelers (-2) over RAMS: Here’s a tip – if you ever think you have the Rams figured out or can predict when they will win or lose, you are wrong. The only guarantee when it comes to the (soon to be L.A.) Rams is that they will win in a couple upsets and lose to a couple of bottom dwellers every year before finishing somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8. High-powered Pittsburgh wins this game convincingly.
DOLPHINS (-2.5) over Bills: Shockingly, the Bills and their coach were exposed as, ahem, fraudulent, last week against the Patriots. That’s not to say that this will be a walk for the forever .500 Dolphins. But playing in Miami early in the year is never easy for any team (ask last year’s Super Bowl champs) which is why the home team should bounce back from last week’s brutal loss at Jacksonville and move to 2-1.
RAVENS (-3) over Bengals: It’s desperation city for Baltimore, which is facing a serious challenge this week in a Cincy team that’s more talented from top to bottom and swept the season series from the Ravens last year. The only reason to go with the Ravens here is their experience and success rate in big, meaningful games. That just may make up for the talent disparity in this matchup. If it doesn’t, Baltimore is in deep doo doo.
Colts (-3.5) over TITANS: It’s amazing how many surprising 0-2 teams need a win this week and the Colts are near the top of the list. Their defense and O-line are both bad enough to inspire plenty of stress so it’s up to Andrew Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to adjust accordingly. We’ll see if they can do it. Having to make such adjustments against a better but still not yet good enough Tennessee squad is a pretty comfortable scenario for the Colts to get well.
BROWNS (-3.5) over Raiders: Here’s one that you best avoid altogether if you like betting. Trying to predict games is difficult enough without having to deal with trick-or-treaters like Cleveland and Oakland, although the Raiders are decidedly better (at least for now) than usual, as evidenced by last week’s huge win over Baltimore. Nonetheless, we have to pick ‘em all so let’s go with the home team despite the strange decision to start Josh McCown over Johnny Football.
CARDINALS (-6.5) over 49ers: The Niners crashed back to earth in Pittsburgh last week and the Cardinals are playing like a team with title hopes. Even though both of Arizona’s wins have come against terrible competition (the Saints and the Bears) and even though San Francisco probably isn’t as bad as preseason prognostications made it out to be, the home team should still cruise in this one, especially if Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald keep playing like it’s six or seven years ago.
SEAHAWKS (-15) over Bears: Remember when you were reminded about perspective and the difficulty in identifying blowouts and using caution when dealing with such massive lines right at the top of this page? Forget all that for a minute. If Seattle, flailing at 0-2 and in its home opener, doesn’t beat the horrid Bears — who will be sans starting quarterback and No. 1 receiver — by three touchdowns or more, something may really be wrong in Seattle.
Broncos (-3) over LIONS: It’s kind of amazing that the Broncos are 2-0 with Peyton Manning crumbling to pieces before our very eyes. But that defense is legit and the Lions, after a year of some actual hope, have been transformed back into the same old Lions ever since getting hosed by the officials in last year’s Wild Card loss to Dallas.
PACKERS (-6.5) over Chiefs: This line could change between now and Monday night should Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams wind up playing for Green Bay. But really, does it even matter? The Chiefs have no offense and are coached by someone who has failed to learn from the same mistakes he’s been making weekly for the better part of 17 years. Packers win big.
Last Week: 8-7
Season to date: 15-15
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