Last week was pretty bad (5-10-1), but I was 2-3 on best bets and 0-4 on coin flips. Change the coin flips to 2-2, and it's a 7-8 week, not something about which I'd be excited, but also not as damaging to my overall record. I was also wrong to speculate on the Giants somehow summoning more motivation than the Panthers - that's just making stuff up. Not that predicting the future doesn't involve some creativity, but it's better to lean on actual causes to forecast potential effects.
This week, I particularly like the Steelers, Jets, Broncos, Texans and Falcons. The Ravens-Bills, Cards-Bucs, Bears-Lions and Redskins-Raiders were coin flips.
I also went back and forth on the Giants game. I wanted to pick the Giants, but I couldn't pull the trigger.
49ers -3 at Rams
The Rams looked terrible in Dallas, but they played the 49ers very tough last year, they're at home, and the 49ers don't have the offensive weapons to lay points on the road. Back St. Louis.
49ers 20 - 19
Steelers -1 vs. Vikings (in London)
Both teams are 0-3, but the Steelers are far better on defense and at the quarterback position. Back Pittsburgh.
Steelers 27 - 20
Ravens -3.5 at Bills
I like the Ravens this year and have backed them all three weeks. But three and a half strikes me as a bit steep on the road against a team that might not be a doormat. Back Buffalo.
Ravens 26 - 24
Bengals -5 at Browns
The Bengals are stout defensively, but Cleveland's defense isn't bad, either, and Josh Gordon gives the offense another dimension. Take the Browns at home.
Bengals 20 - 17
Colts -8.5 at Jaguars
I hate that Blaine Gabbert is being re-gifted the starting job, but how am I going to lay this many points on the road with the Colts? Back Jacksonville.
Colts 24 - 17
Seahawks -3 at Texans
I don't like taking the Seahawks on the road, but Houston strikes me as a possible fraud. Still, coming off the bad loss to the Ravens, I think they'll show up. Back the Texans.
Texans 24 - 20
Cardinals +3 at Buccaneers
I hate both of these teams and view this game as a complete coin flip. Give me Tampa at home, I guess.
Buccaneers 21 - 17
Bears +3 at Lions
This is another toss-up game for me. I'll take the Bears defense to make a play and keep it close enough. Back Chicago.
Lions 30 - 28
Giants +4 at Chiefs
I've backed the Giants all three weeks, and it's a fair question whether my rooting interest clouded my judgement - especially last week when Carolina was probably the smarter play. Saying the "Giants will channel the desperation better" was too speculative. We're dealing in non-fiction here, so the storyline is only what actually happens, not what we imagine might happen based on our impressions of the characters. This week, the Giants who can't block anyone and who are dealing with offensive line injuries (Chris Snee and David Baas are both banged up) go to Kansas City to play the team that leads the league in sacks. Moreover, their head coach knows the Giants offense and personnel. So why is this line only four? Probably three reasons: (1) There's plenty of top shelf talent on the Giants; (2) The Giants are a public team, i.e., people root for and bet on them; and (3) People can more easily picture the Giants at 1-3 and KC at 3-1 than 0-4 and 4-0. Only (1) is a valid reason, in my opinion, and it's probably not enough by itself. There needs to be a desperation factor, and given how absent it was last week, it's hard to count on it miraculously appearing in Week 4. I hope I'm wrong here, but I'm laying the points. Back the Chiefs.
Chiefs 27 - 20
Jets +4 at Titans
The Titans look better this year, particularly on defense, and Jake Locker did well against San Diego, but the Jets defense will be another degree of difficulty. I see these teams as equal, and as such I'll take the four points. Back New York.
Jets 21 - 17
Cowboys -2 at Chargers
I don't know what to make of the Cowboys destroying the Rams. Maybe that's the real Dallas team, or maybe the Rams are simply bad. Or maybe the particular match-ups simply favored the Cowboys. In any event, I don't feel strongly about it, but I'll take the Chargers with the points at home. Back San Diego.
Chargers 24 - 23
Redskins -3 at Raiders
What an odd line - the 0-3 Redskins are three-point road favorites against a team that hasn't been that bad. But Terrelle Pryor got concussed, and the team has a short week to recover from the Monday night game in Denver. Moreover, RGIII now has a few games under his belt and should be more in sync. Back the Redskins.
Redskins 24 - 20
Eagles +10.5 at Broncos
This seems like a big line, but who are the Eagles? They lost at home to the Chiefs and Chargers, and the win against the Redskins in Week 1 seems less impressive. The Broncos might be like the 2007 Patriots who are so efficient offensively they'll finally push the lines up too high to cover in the season's second half. But they're not there yet. Back Denver.
Broncos 38 - 24
Patriots +1.5 at Falcons
It's one thing to get by the Jets, Bills and Bucs (two of them at home) without Tom Brady cracking 6.0 YPA, but against a team with a real offense like Atlanta in its home building, that won't get it done. Back the Falcons.
Falcons 31 - 23
Dolphins +6.5 at Saints
The Saints actually have a good defense this year, and that makes them serious contenders again. The Dolphins are also stout defensively, but I don't see them keeping up with Drew Brees in the dome. Back New Orleans.
Saints 31 - 24
We went 5-10-1 last week to go 18-27-3 on the year. Last year we went 121-129-6 on the regular season. From 1999-2012 we've gone 1,810-1,641 (52.4%), not including ties.