My Week 3 picks weren’t as abhorrent as my disastrous 1-7 showing in Week 2 but it’s still far from where I expected to be at this point in the season. On the other hand, if I continue to make two-game improvements every week, I’d have a perfect week by Week 6! Keep the faith, right?
Okay, let’s move on. Week 4 is the first week of the season that won’t have a full plate of games. Yes, fellas! The bye weeks have arrived! This week, six teams will be on the sidelines, including the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns, and the St. Louis Rams. That’s the equivalent of three less games to study, which should equate to more time to invest on the rest of the schedule.
Week 4 of the NFL season also marks the first of two weeks throughout the year that will feature a game played on the other side of the pond. For this instalment, our friends in the UK will be treated to a barnburner of sorts when the Oakland Raiders host the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in London. Notice the quotation marks on host? That’s because the Raiders aren’t likely to be happy playing one less home game in Oakland because they’re playing a home game 5,345 miles away from their actual home stadium. The Dolphins even opened as -3.5 favorites despite being the road team that also happened to have lost their last two games. Call me skeptical about this game.
Saints road faves in Arlington
On paper, this line seems a little absurd. The Saints, which has lost its last two road games and are 0-6 as road favorites since the start of last season, are giving up 3 points against a Dallas Cowboys team that looks a little better than what we thought. New Orleans actually opened as -3.5 faves but money on that side immediately dropped the line to 3 points. This should be an easy Dallas pick, right? Well, I’m not sold on the Cowboys defense just yet, especially now where they’re scheduled to play a high-powered offense that just dropped an NFL record 40 first downs on them last season on their way to a 49-17 demolition in New Orleans. Remember that game?
Will the real Bills and Texans please stand up
These two teams entered Week 3-0 as two of seven undefeated teams. Then the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants, respectively, spanked both teams. All that leads to a Week 4 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Texans that will determine which of these two team are as good as their Week 1 and Week 2 selves. The game will be played in Houston so it’s not surprising that the Texans opened as -3.5 favorites before early action on the Bills pushed that number down to -3. The Texans arguably had a worse showing compared to the Bills in Week 3. There’s no shame for Buffalo to lose to a sneaky good Chargers team, but Houston getting waxed by a hapless Giants squad leaves a lot of questions on how far the Texans can really go this year.
The prisoner-of-the-moment game
The Atlanta Falcons travel to Minnesota to play a Vikings team that has had trouble scoring without running back Adrian Peterson. The Falcons are just -2.5 favorites, which seems like an absurdly low number after Matt Ryan and company hung 56 points on the Tampa Bay Bucs last Thursday. But I’m not ready to sleep on Teddy Bridgewater just yet. Despite the loss to the Saints, the dude showed a lot of promise with an uncanny combination of youthful energy and veteran poise Vikings fans haven’t seen since Brett Favre was in town. I don’t foresee the Falcons dropping 56 again this week. It’s an admittedly tricky game to balance so I’m guessing that we’re going to see this line move on both sides before Sunday.
What’s going on in San Francisco?
The Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Bay Area to take on a 49ers team that has developed a scary obsession with yellow flags in the past two weeks. The 49ers need to be on their ‘A’ game when they host a Philly team that looks as good as advertised. The home team is still -4.5 favorites but we all know that the wind of change is fleeting. Depending on what transpires in the week, this spread could still end up having a lot of movement on both sides of the ball. Tread at your own risk, at least for now.
Other notable games
I’m not ready to jump off the Jake Locker bandwagon because the Cincinnati Bengals defense is just that dominant. But I already have my kneepads and elbow pads ready just in case he plays another stinker against a Colts defense that isn’t really setting the world on fire. Indy opened as -6.5 favorites but that line has already moved up to -7. It should settle around that number because this is still a division game. I just hope Locker gets his play together or else we might be seeing the dawn of the Zach Mettenberger era in Music City.
The Carolina Panthers travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens. These two sides have become the poster teams for the NFL’s current domestic abuse crisis, which is a bummer because we should be hyping this game up as the Steve Smith Bowl. The Ravens opened as -3 favorites and I expect that number to move up during the week as more talk of Smith exacting revenge on his former team intensifies. There aren’t a lot of things that can rile up the public more than the fictitious revenge game.
A lot of line movement has already taken place in the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs game. The Pats opened as -4.5 favorites but that has dropped to as low as -3.5 before settling in at -4 for now. I don’t think I remember the last time Tom Brady has looked this mediocre and while the Pats have won in spite of his performance, he still needs to get his throws in order or risk seeing New England grind through a tough season. It should have been an easy win in KC before the season started, but the Chiefs are better than what we expected. That Knile Davis dude is really something else, too.