I went 4-1 last week. I am 6-4 for the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
Let me get this straight — the Jags, under legendary college coach Urban Meyer, have allowed 91 points in three games and traded a recent (2020) first-round pick C.J. Henderson for journeyman tight end Dan Arnold? This is sometimes what happens when you hire a drive-by coach.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are home for the Thursday nighter that holds little interest anywhere outside of the Queen City. I like the way this Bengals offense is operating under Joe Burrow. I am sure Trevor Lawrence will have a couple moments, but with the Bengals faithful making lots of noise at the right times, I see a pretty easy win in the jungle for Cincinnati.
The Pick: Cincinnati 29, Jacksonville 16
Carolina Panthers (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
I don’t want to pop the Panthers’ 3-0 balloon and the encouraging early play of the revivified Sam Darnold, but let’s be real, here’s who they’ve beaten:
- The New York Jets
- A discombobulated New Orleans Saints franchise with eight coaches out due to COVID
- The hapless Texans on a Thursday night in Houston
The Cowboys are the Panthers’ first test, and frankly I like the way the Cowboys are trending. Dak Prescott is playing terrific football and he has lots of toys to play with. I love the way head coach Mike McCarthy is splitting time with running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. They’ll grab the lead and really push hard on Darnold.
The Pick: Dallas 27, Carolina 16
New York Giants (0-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-1)
New Orleans -7.5
This just may be the best bet of the season. Not sure what the oddsmakers see or don’t see in the Joe Judge Giants. It’s the first game the Saints will play at the Superdome after powerful Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc with the New Orleans area.
After beating the Packers in a neutral-site match in Jacksonville in Week 1, the Saints then had a crazy COVID outbreak that forced eight coaches out of their Week 2 game in Carolina. In what should have been a Saints win, they got slaughtered. In Week 3, they went to New England as an underdog and crushed Bill Belichick’s new-look Patriots squad.
This game very well could be the first of many-to-come nails in Judge’s coffin as a head coach in the NFL.
The Pick: New Orleans 36, New York Giants 16
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)
I get that the Broncos are 3-0, have scored 76 points and allowed just 26. Let’s have a round of applause for the Broncos. And to make it even a bit more impressive, two of their three wins were on the road. OK, here’s the bad news, they have beaten the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. Now a real team comes to town. It’ll be a test for the Broncos’ defense, and it’s one I don’t see them passing.
The Broncos have beaten three teams that have no victories. I love the Teddy Bridgewater story unfolding, but I think defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will whip out some blitzes and I think Lamar Jackson will do what he most does — score enough points to win a regular-season game. Hollywood Brown should be used early to get him back in the fold.
The Pick: Baltimore 27, Denver 16
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Green Bay -6.5
Funny how the Steelers’ big upset victory in Buffalo way back in Week 1 has made these past two games at home — losses to Las Vegas and Cincinnati — all the more stunning. But when you break it down, those two games probably saw the better teams win.
The Steelers’ defense wasn’t very good in either of those losses and the offense was even worse. Through three games, Ben Roethlisberger has looked very much like a washed-up 39-year-old quarterback. His play has been slow, plodding and just not at a level that looks ready to produce a victory in Green Bay. If I were predicting right now what the Steelers will do in the 2022 draft, I’d guess their No. 1 pick will be a quarterback.
Meanwhile, after an awful 38-3 loss in Week 1 against New Orleans in a neutral-site game in Jacksonville, the Packers bounced back with a 35-17 win against division foe Detroit. In Week 3, the Packers traveled to San Francisco and played as a +3 underdog. It wasn’t always easy, because the Niners are a good team. But so are these Packers and they proved it with a come-from-behind 30-28 victory.
Aaron Rodgers looks like quite the play here against a seemingly rapidly aging Big Ben.
The Pick: Green Bay 30, Pittsburgh 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at New England Patriots (1-2)
Tampa Bay -7
This never figured to be a good week for the Patriots, but the worst thing that could have happened to them was the Bucs losing last week in Los Angeles against the Rams. If the Patriots remember one thing about Tom Brady, it’s how much he despises losing back-to-back games.
When the Patriots allowed Brady to walk, their calculus was that they were not going to be a very good team with Brady anyway. What they didn’t count on was how long it might take to get good enough again to compete for a Super Bowl or simply be competitive again. Meanwhile in Tampa Bay, the Bucs just closed a deal with 33-year-old defensive back Richard Sherman, something Brady pushed for.
Maybe the oddsmakers think Bill Belichick can come up with some sort of defensive scheme to “freak out” Brady. I just don’t see this being much of a Sunday night story, as much as Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth may try to spin it.
The Pick: Tampa Bay 31, New England 13
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