Here’s Week 3’s joint Confessions of a Sportscaster/Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron picks against the spread. Both of us had above .500 records for the second week in a row in Week 2 – this time, Lucas went 10-6 and I went 9-7, so we’re back at a deadlock heading into tonight’s Chiefs-Eagles game. The surprising leader of our ESPN Pigskin Pick’Em group, however? Mark Murphy! I only say “surprising” because Mark didn’t register a pick in either of the Thursday night games that have been played so far but has picked 20 of the other 30 games correctly so far. We should all probably be paying more attention to what he has to say, in all honesty. For the time being, here are Lucas and my rationales for our Week 3 picks.
Thursday Night: Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
Lucas: Chiefs. Chip Kelly’s offense puts up a crapton of points… but they give up a crapton of points too. KC probably has enough offense to keep up or at least keep it close while Andy Reid eats a literal and figurative throwback cheesesteak in his return while the Philly crowd gives him a 70-30 boo-to-cheer ratio.
Nathaniel: Eagles. The Chiefs’ best attribute in their 2-0 start has been their ability to let the Jaguars and Cowboys beat themselves. Alex Smith is in danger of inheriting the dubious Captain Checkdown title and will have to take more chances tonight if the Chiefs are going to score enough points to keep up with the Eagles on a short week.
Sunday, Early Afternoon: Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5)
Lucas: Packers. I pulled up the Bengals radio feed on my phone Monday night when I was driving home and heard a really weird commercial for either a convenience store or a liquor store, starring a weirdly voiced announcer and a guy who started each of his lines with “Hi, I’m Steve.” It also included the announcer mentioning libations and Steve followed with, “Hi, I’m Steve. What are libations?” I don’t know, dude, maybe something YOU IDIOTS ARE DRINKING WHILE RECORDING THIS SPOT?! This is like the Eagleman of radio commercials and might be worse than Cincy’s defense repelling Aaron Rodgers.
Nathaniel: Packers. Cincinnati has the better team but a much worse quarterback. Always side with the team with the quarterback. Eagleman says so.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
Lucas: Vikings. Originally I was going to pick Cleveland. Then they announced Brian Hoyer is starting. I mean, yeah, I make fun of Brandon Weeden, and sure he’s hurt, but… Brian Hoyer?
Nathaniel: Vikings. All those years of Mike Lombardi going on Bill Simmons’ podcast and claiming that Brian Hoyer would be the one quarterback he would seek out to build a team around will finally culminate in a beautiful, glorious spectacle at the Metrodome Sunday. The saddest part of the Browns tanking so early in the season? They may not even know they’re tanking right now.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Lucas: Rams. Dallas won the turnover battle convincingly in Week 1 and only won by 5. They lost it and the game last week. I think Sam Bradford has a good game in him this week.
Nathaniel: Rams. I don’t trust either team a single iota and am simply taking the points. This is the rationale by which approximately 80% of my bad picks happen.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins (-1.5)
Lucas: Lions. I’ve written on COAS before that people shouldn’t wish death (or really, even injuries) on professional athletes. That being said… watching Brandon Meriweather get wasted by James Starks and suffer a concussion felt like sweet, sweet justice for leading with his helmet on Eddie Lacy. Maybe that will serve as official notice to the ‘Skins that hey… maybe you guys should learn how to play defense.
Nathaniel: Lions. Two more teams I have zero trust in. The Lions at least have occasionally played defense this season, though.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Lucas: Chargers. When he’s not throwing crippling interceptions, Phillip Rivers hasn’t been terrible. Tennessee has a good defense, but the Bolts have been able to score points. This will be closer than people think.
Nathaniel: Chargers. Mystifying line to me. Rivers looks like the 2008-10 Marmalard again (this is totally a good thing, I swear) and the Titans needed three missed field goals and a pick-six just to lose to Houston in overtime. I wouldn’t trust Jake Locker to throw me a roll of socks from five feet away right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Lucas: Patriots. Hold on, I’m not done with Meriweather. How does he get off with just a fine when Goldson originally got suspended for his hit, even if it was overturned? Greg Schiano will have his full defense here, but if it sounds like he’s not utilizing Darrelle Revis in his wheelhouse, why should I believe in this defense?
Nathaniel: Buccaneers. This’ll likely come back to bite me in the keester if Gronk ends up playing. But as of right now (i.e. mid-Thursday morning), he’s looking like a no-go. Which likely means another close, low-scoring, nearly unwatchable game involving Tom Brady and five receivers he met 15 minutes before the game.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-7.5)
Lucas: Cardinals. Arizona has given up chunks of yards through the air, and this is a resurgent Saints team we’re talking about here. But part of me just thinks 7.5 points is too much.
Nathaniel: Saints. I have the same worries about the spread that Lucas does but am assuming the early afternoon start throws the Cardinals’ body clocks off enough to make this a rout.
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers (-1.5)
Lucas: Giants. Maybe I’m reading too much Bill Barnwell. But with this close a line and given Carolina’s history… why should I be picking a Ron Rivera coached team against an opponent of reasonably close strength, again?
Nathaniel: Giants. There’s at least hope for the Giants: they’ve been moving the ball well, they just need to stop shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers. There’s no point, on the other hand, of keeping up the charade that Carolina’s a good team that’s just had bad luck in close games. They’re just a bad team. Period.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (+2.5)
Lucas: Ravens. I think Houston is objectively the better team here, but John Harbaugh has a funky disparity in his home record and road record. Ray Rice or no, give me the home team.
Nathaniel: Texans. If Ray Rice was 100% healthy, I’d give the benefit of the doubt to Baltimore’s outstanding, best-in-the-league-outside-of-Seattle homefield advantage. However, it looks like he either won’t play or won’t be completely healthy, which is a big deal considering he’s only their best receiver in addition to being their best runner.
Sunday, Late Afternoon: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (-1.5)
Lucas: Falcons. Basically for no other reason than “Don’t cross William Moore.”
Nathaniel: Falcons. Miami’s 2-0 road start may have had something to do with the fact that they were the only team from 2003 to 2012 to have a better point differential on the road than they did at home. For whatever reason, you’d almost think the Dolphins would rather be facing Ryan, Julio and the gang at the Georgia Dome than at Sun Life Stadium.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-2.5)
Lucas: Jets. The dominant talk at work Wednesday morning when I got in was about Jim Schwartz defending his team of idiots and then we started talking about current Jets OC Marty Mornhinweg back when he coached the Lions and how apparently he still defends taking the wind in overtime against the Bears back in 2002. Suddenly the fact that he’s on the Jets make a lot more sense. And I’m still taking them!
Nathaniel: Bills. In a battle of two rookie quarterbacks, I trust E.J. Manuel – or, rather, Doug Marrone’s streamlined offense that produces a lot of easy throws for Manuel – more than I trust Geno Smith.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)
Lucas: Colts. I think everyone knew the Colts were going to regress some while still being a solid team. I also think everyone knows the Niners aren’t going to play as poorly as they did in Seattle Sunday night. But who in their right mind thought 10.5 points was a great line? I think Kap does a lot of damage to make up for last week while Luck sneaks in a backdoor cover because he does stuff like that.
Nathaniel: 49ers. Kaepernick goes from facing an absolute juggernaut of a defense to possibly the worst in the league. On the bright side, at least Trent Richardson can average three and a half yards per carry in a new uniform now!
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks (-19.5)
Lucas: Seahawks. I was looking forward to seeing this line, just to see how high it would go (honestly, this was about where I expected it). The real question: how high would this line have to be before people seriously consider picking the Jags? While we’re at it, what would the line be if you pit this Jaguar team against Alabama? I’d probably still take the Jags there, but I’d have to think about it.
Nathaniel: Seahawks. I know history says there’s a 92% chance the Jaguars cover a line this high. I also know that I’d feel 10,000 times dumber if I picked the Jags and Seattle ended up winning 56-3 like I’m expecting than if I picked Seattle and the Jags somehow ended up covering. How on God’s green Earth they’re ever going to do that, I’m not sure.
Sunday Night: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)
Lucas: Bears. So did the definition of “Pure Jay” change this offseason? He’s made a couple bad decisions, but he’s led the team on game-winning, come-from-behind drives late in each of the first two weeks. I get the feeling he may not need to this week.
Nathaniel: Bears. It feels so weird yet undeniably wonderful to say the following two words: Pittsburgh sucks. I’m not at all sold on the Bears as a true contender yet but the Steelers have had so many problems in the first two games that they’re making Jay Cutler seem like the safe pick. Who saw that coming two weeks ago?
Monday Night: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-14.5)
Lucas: Broncos. This one took a little more thought than the other double digit lines. On the one hand, Terrelle Pryor hasn’t been too bad, Denver has given up points, and Ryan Clady is out for the year. On the other hand, it’s the Raiders and Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. …why was I thinking long and hard about this game again?
Nathaniel: Broncos. You can’t make this line high enough.
Lucas: 19-13 (10-6 last week)
Nathaniel: 19-13 (9-7 last week)