In case you missed it, I wanted to say that I thought it was fantastic that Andy Reid completely shredded Sal Paolantonio after the Chiefs – Eagles game with a giant F-U that was reminiscent of Bill Belichick’s reaction to Tom Jackson’s attempt at a post-game interview years ago. After first completely ignoring Sal Pal, Reid told him that he was blocking his path and then went on to hug Duce Staley while saying “this guy’s not that important right here”. Finally, if there was any doubt at all Reid sarcastically answered a Paolantonio question about a third down conversion by responding that it “was as big as Sal Paolantonio, baby.”
Paolantonio, an unapologetic Eagles fan who rode Reid hard during his days in Philadelphia and emphatically opined that no other NFL team would or should hire Reid deserved the epic dis.
Aside from the comeuppance, Paolantonio disregarded protocol by even attempting to be the first to interview Reid. The game was televised by NFL Network and the unwritten (or perhaps written) rule is that the network that televised the game gets the first on-field interview, That didn’t stop Paolantonio, who brazenly stepped in front of NFLN’s Alex Flanagan just as she was about to ask her first question.
The pompous and arrogant attitude of the self proclaimed world wide leader and their representative was on full display, and it was gratifying to see them embarrassed and taken down a few notches off of their high horse on Thursday.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans (early, CBS)
Titans -3; over/under 43½
Tennessee’s offensive line struggled protecting Jake Locker last week, but has been mostly solid in the run game. The Titans rank first in rushing attempts and dead last in pass attempts, which stands to reason when Locker is your QB and Chris Johnson is the RB. Last week LeSean McCoy made Eric Weddle look bad; although Johnson does not have McCoy’s lateral quickness, CJ2K does have more speed once he gets past the first line of defense.
LT Michael Roos will have his hands full against Dwight Freeney when Tennessee does want to pass. This will be a key for the Chargers, because they need something to offset their own pass defense. CB Shareece Wright is starting for the first time in his NFL career, and he looked lost against Philadelphia; Nate Washington could have some big gains against him. The Chargers rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense, having allowed 774 yards in the first two games.
The Tennessee defense is vastly improved from last year, and is very good in pass coverage. The Chargers have improved from last year as well; their offensive line and running backs are doing a much better job in pass protection; last year I felt bad for Philip Rivers, getting no help from his team in that department at all. Rivers has historically played well against Tennessee (5-0 with a 69% completion rate), he’ll miss Malcom Floyd and come up just short Sunday.
Pick • Titans 27, Chargers 20 ✔
Titans -3 (push)
over 43½ X
Final Score: Titans 20, Chargers 17
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings (early, CBS)
Vikings -6½; 40½
The moment Trent Richardson was traded I jumped on Minnesota minus three. It’s up to as much as seven points at some places, and even that high I would still go with the Vikings. Cleveland was unable to score a single touchdown last week at Baltimore, and this week they are without starting QB Brandon Weeden (thumb) and RB Trent Richardson (traded). Am I to believe that Brian Hoyer and Willis McGahee will be more productive?
In the 2007 draft Cleveland passed on Adrian Peterson in favor of Joe Thomas. While Thomas is an excellent player, a year ago Peterson ran all over the Browns defense for 180 yards and three touchdowns, including a 64-yard touchdown score; expect more of the same Sunday. If nothing else the matchup between the six-time Pro Bowler Thomas and five-time Pro Bowler Jared Allen is something worth watching. Cleveland’s slim hopes hinge on the defense forcing Christian Ponder to throw the ball, WR Josh Gordon making a triumphant return from his suspension, and RB Willis McGahee having discovered the Fountain of Youth. Hey, at least Cleveland area football fans get to watch Ohio State this fall.
Pick • Vikings 31, Browns 6 X
Best Play: Vikings -3 (four units) XXXX
under 40½ (two units) XX
Final Score: Browns 31, Vikings 27
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (early, FOX)
Patriots -7; o/u 44½
Zach Sudfeld re-emerges and Rob Ninkovich comes up with a clutch turnover as the Patriots hang on to win a tight one. More on this game here.
Pick • Patriots 20, Bucs 17 ✔
Bucs +7 X
under 44½ (one unit) ✔
Final Score: Patriots 23, Buccaneers 3
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (early, CBS)
Texans -2½; o/u 44½
While everybody is getting down on the Ravens, few are noticing that Houston looked unimpressive while barely hanging on to beat the Chargers and Titans in the first two weeks. Matt Schaub will be looking for tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham, who have seven receptions apiece. Baltimore needs to do a better job covering tight ends; last week Jordan Cameron caught five passes on seven targets for 95 yards, and in week one Julius Thomas also caught five passes on seven passes thrown his way, going for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Terrell Suggs and the Ravens defense needs to get to Schaub early and get him off his mark. Don’t be too swayed by the talking heads touting Houston as the league’s number three defense; they may rank highly in yards allowed, but are just 23rd in points allowed with 26.0 per game. Houston has never won a game in Baltimore, and that streak
continues Sunday. Update: no Ray Rice changes everything, allowing the Texans to tee off on Flacco; Houston ends that streak here.
Pick • Upset Special:
Ravens 27, Texans 24 Texans 27, Ravens 20 X
Ravens +2½ Texans -2½ X
over 44½ X
Final Score: Ravens 30, Texans 9
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys (early, FOX)
Cowboys -3½; o/u 47
Teams are lighting up the Rams pass defense, completing over 71% of their passes and averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Expect lots of big plays from Tony Romo (who has completed 73% of his passes thus far) to Dez Bryant, exploiting that porous defense.
On the other side of the ball the Rams will be without RT Rodger Saffold. Keep an eye not only on the matchup between DE DeMarcus Ware (2 sacks, 2 hits and 7 hurries for 11 pressures) against LT Jake Long (a good game vs Atlanta after a mediocre game vs Arizona), but also DE George Selvie (2 hits, 8 hurries and 11 pressures) versus Saffold’s replacement, Joe Barksdale. If the Rams’ OL manages to hold their own they might be able to take advantage of Dallas CB Morris Claiborne and slot CB Orlando Sandrick; those two have been torched the first two weeks, allowing opponents they are covering to compile passer ratings of 105.8 and 107.0, respectively.
Pick • Cowboys 27, Rams 24 ✔
Rams +3½ X
over 47 X
Final Score: Cowboys 31, Rams 7
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (early, FOX)
Saints -7; o/u 48½
If WR Larry Fitzgerald plays, the Cardinals have enough talent at receiver to have a chance. While the New orleans defense is much improved, the Saints secondary can’t match up with Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts if Carson Palmer is given enough time to throw the ball. DC Rob Ryan seems to have improved with a change of scenery, taking advantage of being on a team where it is not incumbent on the defense to come up with a big play to win the game.
Arizona CB Patrick Peterson can’t be everywhere at once. Peterson should be able to limit WR Marques Colston, but that leaves New Orleans with two highly favorable mismatches: LB Karlos Dansby on TE Jimmy Graham, and S Yeremiah Bell attempting to cover RB Darren Sproles. The Saints are 30-11 at home since 2008, and with Sean Payton on the sidelines New Orleans has won each of the last ten home games; expect that dominance to continue.
Pick • Saints 31, Cardinals 17 ✔
Saints -7 (two units) ✔✔
under 48½ ✔
Final Score: Saints 31, Cardinals 7
Detroit Lions at Washington Racists (early, FOX)
Pick’em; o/u 48½
Matthew Stafford continues to lock on to one receiver and not see the open man, but it’s not going to matter against what is a sieve of a Washington defense. The ‘skins are allowing over 200 yards per game rushing, a league-worst 10.2 yards per pass attempt, and 35.5 points per game.
Washington’s offensive line has struggled so far this year, and it won’t get any easier facing Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. Because they have constantly fallen behind early the ‘skins have abandoned their running game. OC Kyle Shanahan needs to exhibit some patience and find ways to get RB Alfred Morris more involved.
Pick • Lions 31, Washington 24 ✔
Lions (one unit) ✔
over 48½ (three units) XXX
Final Score: Lions 27, Racists 20
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals (early, FOX)
Packers -2½; o/u 49½
The Bengals may be a bit boring to watch, but they’re the better team; the defense will do just enough while the Packer defense still needs upgrading. Since December 2011 Green Bay is 2-5 on the road following a home victory, including losses as a favorite at Seattle, Indianapolis and Minnesota last year. I have a feeling that the Packers win last week over Washington will not look nearly as impressive at the end of the season as it does right now; the ‘skins defense is simply not very good. Cincinnati has not allowed 300 yards passing in 16 straight games; that streak will probably end Sunday, but as long as they don’t rely on Andy Dalton to win a shootout they should prevail.
Pick • Upset Special: Bengals 24, Packers 21 ✔
Bengals +2½ (one unit) ✔
under 49½ X
Final Score: Bengals 34, Packers 30
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers (early, FOX)
Giants -1½; o/u 47
The Panthers are coming off a demoralizing loss at Buffalo where rookie quarterback EJ Manuel drove the Bills 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown with two seconds left. Carolina fans are questioning HC Ron Rivera and his decision to kick a field goal rather than go for it on 4th-and-1, and already he is the number one NFL coach on the hot seat. Even so, the Carolina defense with Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei is a force to be reckoned with – especially against a really bad Giants offensive line that has regressed from not being able to run block to also not being able to hold up in pass protection.
Pick • Upset Special: Panthers 24, Giants 20 ✔
Panthers +1½ (one unit) ✔
under 47 ✔
Final Score: Panthers 38, Giants 0
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (late, FOX)
Dolphins -1½; o/u 45½
Miami is making believers of the doubters who weren’t buying the off season free agency hype after defeating the Colts on the road. Now in their home opener the Dolphins get an opportunity to take advantage of an Atlanta team that is without their best RB, best DL, a starting CB, and their FB.
Pick • Dolphins 24, Falcons 20 ✔
Dolphins -1½ ✔
under 45½ X
Final Score: Dolphins 27, Falcons 23
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers (late, CBS)
49ers -10½; o/u 46
While the media will focus on QB Andrew Luck with his college coach, the fact is that Harbaugh’s 49ers respond in an extreme way to losses. The Colts may have added a running back but their offensive line and defense are still below average. The 49er defense will take advantage of that Sunday – if they play more disciplined ball. San Francisco has committed 23 penalties in two games for 206 lost yards; that has to change right away. San Francisco is 7-0 straight-up and 5-2 against the spread after a loss under coach Jim Harbaugh, and 18-8-1 ATS overall at home since he became their coach.
Pick • 49ers 31, Colts 20 X
Colts +10½ ✔
over 46 (one unit) X
Final Score: Colts 27, 49ers 7
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks (late, CBS)
Seahawks -19½; o/u 40½
Seattle eases up and loses a bit of focus after an emotional division game to win easily but not cover the line. The loss of Russell Okung weakens the Seattle offensive line at two positions, as LG Pat McQuistan moves from LG to LT, and James Carpenter starts at RG. It won’t determine the winner of this game, but that’s something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks. On the plus side for Seattle CB Brandon Browner gets his first playing time since suffering a hamstring injury two weeks ago, as does DE Chris Clemons. Clemons led the ‘hawks with 11½ sacks last year and has 31½ sacks over the last three seasons; he is coming off of a torn ACL in the playoffs versus Washington last January. My gut instinct is to go with Seattle, but my head says that 19½ points is just too much to go with in an NFL game.
Pick • Seahawks 27, Jaguars 10 ✔
Jaguars +19½ X
under 40½ (one unit) X
Final Score: Seahawks 45, Jaguars 17
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (late, CBS)
Jets -2½; o/u 39½
While it is fun to pile on the Jets, they are actually very good on both the offensive and defensive lines. Meanwhile Buffalo continues its ten-plus year streak of under achieving.
Pick • Jets 17, Bills 13 ✔
Jets -2½ ✔
under 39½ (one unit) X
Final Score: Jets 27, Bills 20
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (SNF, NBC)
Bears -2; 40½
The Steelers have not been an underdog at home with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger since 2008. There’s a reason for that: they’re just not very good.
Pick • Bears 24, Steelers 14 ✔
Bears -2 (one unit) ✔
under 40½ X
Final Score: Bears 40, Steelers 23
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (MNF, ESPN)
Broncos -16; 49½
Denver has a short week to prepare for Philadelphia, who will be playing with ten days to prepare and recover. I am guessing that John Fox will look to rest as many of his players as possible if the Broncos have the lead, keeping the score down, using the running game to play keep away and run the clock down.
Pick • Broncos 35, Raiders 20 ✔
Raiders +16 (push)
over 49½ ✔
Final Score: Broncos 37, Raiders 21
Three-Team Teaser: Vikings +2½; Lions-Redskins over 39½; Bengals +11½ X
Final Scores: Vikings lost by 4 X; Lions-Redskins total 47 ✔; Bengals won by 4 ✔
Thursday Night, Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
Pick • Eagles 26, Chiefs 24 X
Chiefs + 3½ ✔
under 50½ ✔
Final Score: Chiefs 26, Eagles 16
Straight Up: 25-7 (78%)
Underdogs to win straight up: 2-2 (50%)
Against the Spread: 15-16-1 (48%)
ATS picking favorites: 8-10-1 (3-6, -370)
ATS picking underdogs: 7-6 (3-1, +690)
ATS Confidence Picks: 6-7 (+320)
One Unit Plays ATS: 1-5 (-450)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 4-2 (+370)
Three Unit Plays ATS: none
Four Unit Plays ATS: 1-0 (+400)
Five Unit Plays ATS: none
Over Under Total: 22-10 (69%)
Picking Over: 9-4 (1-0, +100)
Picking Under: 13-6 (6-2, +560)
O/U Confidence Picks: 7-2 (+660)
One Unit Plays O/U: 4-0 (+400)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 2-2 (-40)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 1-0 (+300)
Four Unit Plays O/U: none
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
Best Play of the Week: 2-0, +700
2-Team Teasers: none
3-Team Teasers: 1-0 (+300)
2-Team Parlays: none
Grand Total: (4290 risked; net +1280; +29.8% ROI)
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