We’re back with the third edition of MTS’ weekly NFL picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Perry was looking to strike gold in his first crack in Week 2, but put forth more of a bronze effort, going 9-7. While it could have been better, it certainly could have been worse too. On the plus side, Perry went 3-1 on his “Pledges of the Week.” Here’s what Perry’s putting forth for Week 3.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 3 Picks ATS
Thursday, September 22
Houston Texans (-1) at New England Patriots
As we all learned in Week 1, be wary of betting against the Pats as an underdog. But their Week 1 road upset over the Cards came with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, not Jacoby Brissett.
The Texans enter this game 2-0, and their defense has been great against the pass, only allowing 178.5 yards through the air per game. They did, however, show some signs of weakness on the ground against the Chiefs in Week 2, allowing 6.3 yards per carry.
Brissett has the physique to run the ball himself and Bill Belichick will get creative with his rushing attack. The Pats defense will put in an angry performance after nearly allowing the Dolphins to come all the way back in Week 2. Mostly, though, I’m rolling with New England because I refuse to bet against the Pats as a home ‘dog.
Pick: Belichicks … I mean Patriots (+1)
Sunday, September 25
Arizona Cardinals (-4.5) at Buffalo Bills
Yes, the Bills put up 31 points in Week 2 against a pretty tough Jets defense, but the offense didn’t play as well as that number would suggest. In fact, they were so bad they fired their offensive coordinator the next day. Buffalo’s defense was picked apart for big chunks by Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 2, but remained pretty stout defending the run, only allowing 3.4 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Arizona flexed its muscle in Week 2 after an incredibly disappointing loss in Week 1 to the Brady-less Patriots. The Cardinals defense forced Jameis Winston into five turnovers and sacked him twice.
Carson Palmer will have a field day with this beat up Bills defense, while Tyrod Taylor will suffer through a similar fate to Winston.
Pick: Cardinals (-4.5)*
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans (-1.5)
The Raiders are giving up 517.5 total yards per game, which is the most in the NFL – 66 more yards per game than the Saints – and 404 of those are coming through the air. Their offense has put up more yards than anyone else in the league, but their defense really has been that bad.
Tennessee’s “exotic smashmouth” fared much better in Week 2, gaining 5.8 yards per rush, but Mike Mularkey refused to just feed his horses, only giving DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry a combined 21 carries.The Titans defense made it clear they wanted to shut-down what Detroit does best – pass the ball -and got after Matthew Stafford in Week 2. The strategy worked (though it was aided by an obscene number of Detroit penalties) and Tennessee held the Lions to just 15 points.
Dick LeBeau’s defense continues to overachieve, and their offense should be able to do as they please in Week 3.
Pick: Titans (-1.5)
Washington at New York Giants (-4.5)
Washington continues to be plagued by Kirk Cousins turnovers. His three interceptions trail only Jameis Winston, and his team is now 0-2. He’s not getting much help from his defense as the unit is giving up more than 400 total yards per game.
The Giants put up the passing yards we were expecting against a weak Saints defense, but struggled mightily to run the ball and couldn’t find the end zone. Their defense looks much improved, only giving up an average of 308 total yards per game.
Eli and the offense will put the three turnovers from Week 2 behind them, and this will be Odell Beckham Jr.’s breakout week – yes, against Josh Norman.
Pick: Giants (-4.5)*
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins (-9.5)
The Browns will head into Week 3 preparing to start their third quarterback in as many weeks. (Does Hue Jackson regret taking this job yet?) Next up: rookie third-round pick Cody Kessler.
Miami began staging a comeback against the Patriots after Jimmy Garoppolo left the game, but came up just short, again. The offense continues having its ups-and-downs while the defense is getting exposed on the ground.
The Browns are averaging 6.0 yards per carry through two weeks, and the Dolphins are giving up 136.5 yards per game on the ground. I don’t think Cleveland wins this game, but they keep it within a touchdown.
Pick: Browns (+9.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars (Pick)
The Ravens offense has now put forth two very underwhelming performances against teams who leak points (Buffalo and Cleveland). Adding to the concerns, the defense just gave up 387 total net yards to the Browns.
After a lot of offseason hype, the Jags are 0-2, yet again. A tough Week 1 setback to the Packers (27-23) was tolerable; a royal ass-whooping at the hands of the Chargers (38-14) was not. Gus Bradley is far from safe, and you get the feeling that he may be coaching for his job in this one.
Baltimore doesn’t have the offense to beat many teams in a shootout, while the return of Chris Ivory will let Jacksonville to run the ball early.
Pick: Jaguars (Pick)
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Penalties were the big story for the Lions in their Week 2 loss, getting flagged 17 times for 138 yards. Three of those penalties negated touchdowns. Their defense played a little better in Week 2, but were getting gashed on the ground.
We’re not really sure what to think of the Packers at this point. Their offense hasn’t looked as dangerous as we’ve come to expect, and we can’t pin the problems on facing tough defenses (see what the Chargers did to the Jags).
But Andrew Luck had a lot of success throwing the ball against the Lions defense and I think Aaron Rodgers will too. This will be Green Bay’s breakout week on offense.
Pick: Packers (-7.5)
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Von Miller and the Broncos defense are back at it again and look just as good as last year – which is scary for opposing quarterbacks. Gary Kubiak is getting just enough from QB Trevor Siemian while leaning heavily on his ground game (141 rushing yards per game).
Cincinnati’s offense has been very one dimensional this season, averaging just 51.5 yards per game on the ground. The lack of a rushing attack was fine when they were burning Darrelle Revis over and over again, but cost them in a rainy game in Pittsburgh. If they can’t establish the run against Denver, Andy Dalton will be in for a long day.
Denver continues to pound the ball, while the defense shuts down the run and forces Andy Dalton into far too many third-and-long scenarios.
Pick: Broncos (+3)*
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-7)
Apparently the Vikings are still the favorites to win the NFC North and Sam Bradford is a stud. I might be extrapolating too much from one game. But what’s certain is that Bradford put in an inspiring performance in his first start, which was crucial as the run-game struggled. Another certainty: Minnesota’s defense is very good.
Carolina’s offense didn’t contribute to the scoreboard until the second quarter against the 49ers, but once Cam Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 78-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the floodgates opened. However, the Panthers did lose Jonathan Stewart to a hamstring injury, and he’s expected to miss this game.
Both teams are without their star running backs, but it will hurt Carolina more, as Minnesota is 2-0 without any sort of ground game. Bradford makes just enough plays to keep this game within a touchdown.
Pick: Vikings (+7)
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5)
Yes, the Rams beat the Seahawks in Los Angeles, but this doesn’t mean they are a good team. For some reason, they play Seattle tougher than they play anyone else in the league. (They had beat them in three of their previous four meetings, as well.) The defense gets all the credit for the 9-3 win. Case Keenum and the offense were still abysmal.
Jameis Winston looked horrible in Week 2, throwing four interceptions and adding a lost fumble, too. Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t resolved any of its issues in the secondary, but won’t need to worry about that in Week 3.
The Bucs will be the next team who stacks the box and dares Case Keenum to beat them, while Winston will find Mike Evans deep for the game’s lone touchdown.
Pick: Bucs (-4.5)
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-10)
The 49ers defense was brought back to Earth by the Panthers in Week 2, while their offense struggled mightily until garbage time. Blaine Gabbert’s task won’t get any easier against Seattle in Week 3, and I strongly believe we are nearing a Colin Kaepernick sighting.
The Seahawks offensive line is terrible and Russell Wilson is banged up. Their defense has only allowed 19 points through two games, but should have been able to beat the Rams on their own.
I know they’re at home, but I have no reason to trust Seattle to blow anyone out right now. If they get a lead, I see them sitting on it and preventing Wilson from taking any more hits.
Pick: 49ers (+10)
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
Darrelle Revis has lost a step and is being exposed. Fortunately, the Jets offense put on a clinic against Buffalo, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is proving he’s worth far more than $12 million per season.
Kansas City’s defense played good enough to win last week, forcing two turnovers, but the Chiefs fumbled away the turnover battle. Alex Smith was sacked four times by the Texans in Week 2, and now faces the scariest defensive front in the league.
The absence of Justin Houston continues to hurt the Chiefs, who haven’t been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick will take advantage of the time he’s given, and Matt Forte will continue to be the piece that ties it all together.
Pick: Jets (+3)*
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
Is San Diego a good team? Better question: how good would they have been with Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead? Unfortunately, we won’t get an answer to the latter question, and the jury is still out on the former.
However, the team they play in Week 3 has an awful defense and an offensive line that can’t keep their quarterback upright (seven sacks in two games). Phillip Rivers continues to carry the Chargers on his back.
Pick: Chargers (+3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Steelers have solidified the contender status early in the year, riding a deadly offense (31 points per game) and a defense that is awfully stingy against the run (50.5 yards per game) to a quick 2-0 start.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are emerging as contenders in the NFC East, themselves, recording two convincing wins. That said, their level of competition (Cleveland and Chicago) is a little dubious.
Pittsburgh will shut down Philadelphia’s rushing attack and Carson Wentz won’t be able to keep up with Big Ben in the battle of Pennsylvania.
Pick: Steelers (-3.5)
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
The Bears are gearing up to start Brian Hoyer at quarterback in Week 3 as Jay Cutler’s right thumb injury is going to keep him sidelined for an extended period of time. As if this season wasn’t already bad enough for Chicago.
The Cowboys continue to pound the ball in spite of their inefficiency on the ground (3.4 yards per carry). Dak Prescott has to start pushing the ball down the field a little more often to keep the safeties out of the box.
What better team to do that against than the Chicago Bears? Dak and Dez take advantage of a weak Bears secondary, and Brian Hoyer makes the Cowboys defense look like the Broncos.
Pick: Cowboys (-7)
Monday, September 26
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3)
Matt Ryan appears to have left his 2015-self in the past; he’s thrown for 730 yards, five touchdowns, and only one interception. But the Falcons defense still can’t rush the passer and look to have taken a step back against the run, too, allowing 122.5 yards per game.
The Saints enter this game 0-2, but have lost those two games by a combined four points. (Although they were only in the game against the Giants because of turnovers.) Their defense still bleeds yards through the air, and their offense is still reliant upon Drew Brees putting up MVP-like numbers.
However, Brees will have all day to operate in this one – just like when he torched the Raiders for 34 points in Week 1 – and he’ll make the Falcons pay for it. Look for a combined 700 yards through the air, with Brees getting the final word.
Pick: Saints (-3)
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.