Let’s just say that if I were living in Las Vegas, I’d be residing in a cardboard box right now, panhandling for change and more importantly, correct NFL picks. Last week, I picked exactly three games correctly out of 16. Three! That’s not good. There are octopi picking soccer games at a higher clip than I am.
It’s not that I’m watching less NFL, which I am. It’s not that I’m a little taken aback with everything that’s going on in the league right now, which I also am. It’s not that this season has been unpredictable as of yet, which it has been. And it’s not that my crystal ball is in the shop. I don’t own one.
It is all of the above.
I know I’m not the first one among us to ask “What the fuck is going on in the NFL this season?” Who among us expected Cleveland to beat New Orleans or a seemingly hot Detroit team not to cover against Carolina after Cam Newton called their best defensive player “Donkey Kong Suh?” Who expected Seattle to lose to the Chargers? And who in this world can predict which Cowboys or Bears teams will show up to play every week?
I’m not conceding this competition after only two weeks. What I am suggesting is that I’ll be taking a different approach, perhaps the Costanza approach where I go with the opposite of my natural instinct to find the true winners. Had I done that from the start, I’d be living the high life. Instead, I’m looking for an interior decorator for my cardboard box. I hope she comes on the cheap and knows a little something about football.
This week, to further add to my embarrassment, KP and I have called upon BleedLakersPnG, another former Fox-Dweller and a guy who, for a nominal fee, has promised to level the playing field in my favor.
SPORTSCHUMP’S IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE COSTANZA PICKS
TAMPA BAY +6.5 at ATLANTA
As a Buccaneers fan, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. The new-look Yucks in their fancy digital uniforms have lost their first two games, at home, to quarterbacks nobody has heard of. To add insult to injury, literally, the Bucs are going to be shorthanded on a short week traveling to division rival Atlanta. Gerald McCoy, their best defensive player, and Doug Martin, their starting running back, are questionable. So why exactly did this line move from six-and-a-half to six? The Buccaneers have given us absolutely no reason to think they’ll be able to cover the number they’re getting this week which is why I’m compelled to go with the Falcons in a Thursday night game that could get ugly.
SAN DIEGO + 2.5 at BUFFALO
Look, I get the fact that the Bills are 2-0 but the Chargers are probably the better team and coming off an emotional victory over the talkative Super Bowl champions. This spread actually surprises me almost as much as the Bucs-Falcons line. I asked last week whether we thought the Bills were a playoff team. While starting off the season 3-0 is certainly a step in that direction, if I were to ask you at the beginning of the season if you thought the Bills would win their first three games, you’d ask me if I were off my meds. The Chargers are the better team and win this game outright which means I’m taking them and the 2.5 points.
TENNESSEE + 7 at CINCINNATI
I really, really, really want to take Tennessee and the points in this game. But I promised myself I’d go Costanza. Plus, as I mentioned last week, it’s probably about time I start paying Cincinnati their just due. The Titans could barely muster up any sort of ground game last week against Dallas and the Bengals are pretty stingy defensively. Fuck it, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m taking Cincy and laying the touchdown.
BALTIMORE -1.5 at CLEVELAND
This over/under of 42.5 is screaming to go low. Cleveland will be riding high from last week’s victory over the Saints as are the Ravens who pummeled the Steelers last Thursday night. With Cincy likely running away with this division, everyone else in the AFC North will be shooting for a wild card. Which team, Baltimore or Cleveland is more likely to earn that spot? I’m thinking the Ravens have the better shot which is why, on a long week, I’m picking them on the road.
GREEN BAY +2.5 at DETROIT
Once again, I think this is a game Green Bay can win outright. The spread is minimal and this game likely won’t be decided by a point or two. So which is the better team? I know Green Bay is pretty horrid defensively which has me leaning towards taking the over, which is already pretty high at 52. But I’m not here to pick over/unders. I’m here to pick winners… or rather losers. I just like Green Bay on the road this week. Which is why, if you were smart, you’d do the opposite. But I’m not going to. Give me the Pack in the dome.
DALLAS -1 at ST. LOUIS
Personally, I think Dallas goes into St Louis and waxes that ass. They just went into Tennessee and beat the Titans handily and the Titans are better than the Rams. So why wouldn’t the ‘Boys do the same thing in St Louis? I’m taking Dallas.
OAKLAND +14 at NEW ENGLAND
This is the biggest spread of the season so far. There’s a reason for that. There will be no tuck rule in this game. The question is whether you feel comfortable laying two touchdowns against what we thought was supposed to be at least a slightly improved Raiders team. This just in. They’re not. Most NFL power rankings have them dead last for good reason. And if you don’t think Bill Belichick will have a stifling game plan for rookie quarterback Derek Carr in his first trip to Foxboro, you’re mistaken. I’m feeling frisky enough to lay the fourteen.
MINNESOTA +10.5 at NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans has to be reeling from that last second loss at Cleveland but not nearly as bad as Minnesota has been reeling from all the media attention Adrian Peterson’s parenting skills have brought the organization. Peterson had been activated for this week’s ball game until the governor spoke out and sponsors suspended their relationship with the team. Vikings’ brass then reconsidered, making AD ineligible until all charges against him have been cleared. Saints back Mark Ingram is also out with a broken hand which means we’ll see a lot more passing from both teams. If that’s the case, I’ll take my chances with Drew Brees over Matt Cassell all day and particularly this Sunday.
HOUSTON -2 at NEW YORK GIANTS
What’s wrong with this picture? As J-Dub accurately pointed out last week, the Giants are the worst team in the league not named Jacksonville. So why are they only a two point dog to Houston (2-0) when they were a two-and-a-half point dog at home last week to Arizona? Something’s rotten in Denmark which makes me want to take the Giants in this one but I just can’t bring myself to do it. They’re horrible. I’ll take the Texans in what should be one game closer to Tom Coughlin just saying “Fuck it all!” and walking out the door.
(THAT TEAM FROM) WASHINGTON +6.5 at PHILADELPHIA
So let me get this straight. We have a team that looks to be one of the best in the league going against a team with a rookie head coach who just lost his starting quarterback in a division game? Can we just go ahead and crown the Philadelphia Eagles NFC East champions and save everyone the trouble of watching them play inferior opponents? RGIII is out so why is Philly only giving a touchdown? I’ll take the Eagles even on a short week.
INDIANAPOLIS – 6.5 at JACKSONVILLE
Andrew Luck has to be pissed off. Not only is his razor broken but Indy had that Monday night game against Philly all but wrapped up. That game gave him his first back-to-back losses since being drafted. That might not bode well for the Jacksonville Jaguars who are counting down the days before they move to Los Angeles or Europe or fold entirely. The Colts defense does scare me a little bit but not as much as Jacksonville’s. This could be like Andrew Luck throwing footballs through a tire or shooting fish in a barrel or whatever easy target practice expression you’d care to use. I’m going to have to take the Colts and lay in this one.
SAN FRANCISCO -3 at ARIZONA
Don’t look now but Arizona is currently sitting atop the NFC West. So why are they getting three points at home to the San Francisco 49ers? Good question. In real life, this is another game I’d stay away from. The Cards have looked pretty good in their first two games but San Fran has won the last four games in this series. I think this week, they make it five. I’ll take the Niners on the road and lay the points.
KANSAS CITY +4.5 at MIAMI
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this will be the last time Miami will be such a large favorite this season. I know the Chiefs have looked horrible so far. I also know that Jamal Charles is hurt. That being said, I just don’t like Miami laying that many points in this game. Kansas City will come around eventually. This should be the week they do so.
DENVER + 5 at SEATTLE
Anyone who watched last year’s drubbing of a Super Bowl knows Peyton Manning would probably like a little payback. Don’t expect for him to fumble the first snap of this game. This is clearly this week’s most watchable, and probably unpredictable, game. Last February, the Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8. I expect this one to be a little closer. The question is whether it will be within five points. I’m feeling a little revenge factor for Denver in this game, at least close enough to keep it within five points. I’ll take the Peytonnettes and the points.
PITTSBURGH + 3 at CAROLINA
A buddy of mine and I were having lunch this off-season looking at the over/unders. The Panthers won the NFC South last year yet were still only projected to win eight-and-a-half games. On top of that, most pundits were taking the under. Not too many believers in the Panthers these days but I can tell you this, after only two games (and two wins, mind you), they’re already a quarter of the way there. Pittsburgh on the other hand is dysfunctional. While this might seem like a game the Steelers can win, don’t count me in the crowd that is underestimating the Panthers. I like them at home to cover.
CHICAGO +3 at NEW YORK JETS
This game should be awful. Wait, scratch that. Both these teams are mediocre at best which means it actually might be somewhat competitive. The Jets are still scratching their head about what happened at the end of last week’s ballgame with their offensive coordinator calling a time out right before a play that tied the game. I’m not sure I would have liked to have been in that office and heard the tongue-lashing Rex Ryan gave Marty Mornhinweg afterwards. The Bears are riding high after their surprising victory in San Francisco last week. They do the same against a far worse Jets team this Monday night. I like the Bears and the three.
BLEED’S HOPEFULLY THESE WILL GIVE ME A CHANCE TO CATCH UP PICKS
What better way to make a suffering Los Angeles sports fan feel worse about himself than to invite him to pick out of his hoops wheelhouse and try a little pigskin pick em, right Chump?
Between the Lakers sucking and USC losing to Boston freaking College, why not embarrass my Southland-lovin’ self further by attempting to play Carnac the Magnificent in a league where we don’t even have an LA team?
Oh well, what the hell…At least the Kings and Dodgers are doing well.
Anyway, here goes…
Bucs (+6.5) @ Falcons –Atlanta surprised in week 1, but was shut down by the Bengals in week two. The Bucs were supposed to be improved, yet here they sit at 0-2 as usual. I simply don’t trust Tampa bay to step up…Ever.
Chargers (+2.5) @ Bills – Rivers is like a box of chocolates, but Buffalo just might be legit…Okay, that may be pushing it, but I’ll lay the points and take the home team.
Titans (+7) @ Bengals – Locker will be locked down. Bengals D at home should be enough to cover against lowly Tennessee.
Ravens @ Browns (+2) – Cleveland’s impressive win over the Saints last week isn’t enough to sell me that they can take Baltimore, who manhandled the Steelers.
Packers (+1.5) @ Lions – Toss up game. Rodgers and Nelson are clicking, Stafford and, well, everyone, aren’t. Detroit dropped more balls than a drunk juggler last week.
Colts @ Jags (+6.5) – Indy is now 0-2. Can’t see them falling to 0-3 with big cat on the menu.
Raiders (+14) @ Pats – By nature I hate all things Boston…And that’s a lot of points…But, I’m an avowed Raider-hater and want no cause to root for them whatsoever -So I’ll plug my nose and “root” for Beantown.
(That hurt. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little)
Vikings (+9.5) @ Saints – Vikes spanked by the Pats in week two, and New Orleans HAS to be pissed off sitting at 0-2…Even with Adrian Peterson supposedly playing, he won’t be able to bring his switch with him…And these aren’t his kids. Gotta think the fathers and uncles on the Saints defense would love to send him a message about trying that bullshit with someone his own size.
Texans @ Giants (+2.5) – Giants hungry for their first win, but I don’t see it happening against that Texas D, even if they are at home.
Redskins (+6) @ Eagles – Paper tiger RG-knee folds again but Cousins steps up big time. Impressive, but that was vs. the Jags, this is Kelly and the comeback kids.
Chiefs (+4.5) @ Dolphins – Battle of the also-rans. Wake me when it’s over.
Cowboys @ Rams (Even) – Another toss up game and another box of chocolates in Romo…I’ll say Mr. Interception has a good game this go round.
49ers @ Cardinals (+3) – Cardinals undefeated no more as Kap and the Niners bounce back from a tough loss to Chicago at the new home stadium opener.
Broncos (+4.5) @ Seahawks – Hmmm. Seattle at home coming off a loss, or a Denver team looking for revenge after being embarrassed in the Superbowl. Decisions decisions…
If it were Nov/Dec, I’d take the Seahawks, but since it’s only week 3, I’ll go with Peyton and the points.
Steelers (+3) @ Panthers – Sorry Ben. The spread just ain’t enough.
MNF – Bears (+2.5) @ Jets – Jets weak secondary will be exposed yet again. The question is, will Cutler and Marshall top last week’s 7 combined TD showing?
KEVIN’S STILL NUMBER ONE BUT LOOK WHO HE’S GOING AGAINST PICKS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
Will the real Atlanta Falcons please stand up? Is it the team that survived an offensive explosion from the Saints, or the squad that managed just ten points against the Bengals? Bet on somewhere in between, and also look at the matchup, which is a home game versus the hapless Bucs, who faltered against a Rams team that was playing its third-string quarterback. Tampa Bay has no interceptions in two games, while allowing opposing quarterbacks to rock them with a 104.3 QB rating. Playing at home, expect Matt Ryan to add to that ugly stat line. Falcons cover.
Against the Spread: Atlanta Falcons
Straight Up: Atlanta Falcons
Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
Two stingy defenses face off in this one. The Titans have eight sacks in two games and have held opposing quarterbacks to a 67.1 QB rating. Tennessee also currently features the top pass D, allowing just 163 yards per game. The Bengals, on the other hand, have yet to allow a sack, and held a potent Falcons offense to just ten points last week. Most will take this strong Bengals team to win by a touchdown at home, but my gut keeps gravitating towards the Titans. If Giovani Bernard breaks out against the Tennessee run defense, this game will not be close. I am expecting otherwise. In a somewhat low-scoring game, the Titans keep this one tight throughout.
Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans
Straight Up: Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5)
The Jags have allowed 13 sacks in two games, but will face a Colts defense that has managed just one sack over the first two weeks. Will that translate into Jacksonville being able to stick with an Indianapolis offense that can score in bunches? For some reason, I recalled the Jags giving the Colts fits in recent years, especially at home. I looked it up, and yeah, the last few meetings have been Indy blowouts. Not sure where my brain came up with that one. Someone get Blake Bortles on the phone. This could be a long day for the Jags.
Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts
Straight Up: Indianapolis Colts
San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills (-2.5)
The Chargers rebounded last week to knock off the defending champion Seahawks, while the Bills trounced the Dolphins, to move to 2-0. If this game were taking place during the winter, Buffalo would have a much larger edge, playing the warm weather Chargers. But this is September, and we aren’t talking about “Buffle-snow” yet. San Diego’s offense was impressive last week, with Antonio Gates clearly returning to form. All this and Keenan Allen hasn’t even broken out with a big game yet. Give the Bills credit for what they have accomplished, but that momentum will come to a screeching halt eventually – and look for that to be on Sunday. Chargers win this one outright.
Against the Spread: San Diego Chargers
Straight Up: San Diego Chargers
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
Kirk Cousins was effective taking over for the injured Robert Griffin III last week, and many (including yours truly) believe that the Redskins will be a more effective offensive unit with Cousins under center. Through two weeks, the Redskins lead the league in overall defense (234.5 ypg), which includes third against the pass and fourth against the run. Playing against the Jags last week likely skewed those numbers a bit, but still, Washington’s ‘D’ is much improved. The Eagles, meanwhile, have been off to slow starts in each of its first two games. With all this in mind, this NFC East rivalry game – which will be highlighted by the return of DeSean Jackson to Philly – should remain close.
Against the Spread: Washington Redskins
Straight Up: Philadelphia Eagles
Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots (-14.5)
The Raiders will want to control the clock and run the ball, hoping to keep Tom Brady off the field and New England’s home fans quiet. But Oakland, which has been a solid run team in previous seasons, is 31st in the league, averaging 63 yards per game on the ground. The Patriots, meanwhile, have seven sacks in its first two games, and should get plenty of pressure on rookie Derek Carr. This one has the makings of a blowout. Heck, Gisele could be under center by the fourth quarter. Yeah, you wish.
Against the Spread: New England Patriots
Straight Up: New England Patriots
Houston Texans at New York Giants (+2.5)
The Giants played a tad bit better last week, but the offense is clearly still a work in progress. Every team needs to force turnovers and win the field position battle, but New York may need that more than any other team, considering the struggles of the offense, and the fact that Houston has allowed zero sacks in its first two games. The Texans also lead the NFL in rushing attempts per game, with 40. Plain and simple, Houston will try to bully the Giants in the trenches, and barring a miraculous turnaround by New York’s offense, the Texans will do just that.
Against the Spread: Houston Texans
Straight Up: Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
Adrian Peterson is out indefinitely, which leaves the Vikings as a major question mark offensively. The Saints have certainly struggled defensively, starting 0-2, including a shocking loss to the Browns last week. New Orleans is at home this time, and do we really expect Drew Brees and Co. to start the season 0-3, especially when the Vikings have to start Matt Asiata at running back? Saints cover.
Against the Spread: New Orleans Saints
Straight Up: New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-1.5)
Two offenses capable of scoring in bunches, leaves this game to be a tossup in favor of the home team. The Lions were shut down by the Carolina defense last week, while Green Bay fell behind early to Rex and the Jets, only to post 31 points and the win. For me, this game comes down to Stafford-Johnson versus Rodgers-Nelson. Sure, both teams have additional weapons, but these two combos have been lethal in the first two games. Looking at the numbers on pass defense, nothing stands out between Detroit or Green Bay. Therefore, take the better QB. Rodgers and the Pack win on the road.
Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers
Straight Up: Green Bay Packers
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+1.5)
The Browns pulled off a stunner versus the Saints last week, but perhaps we should hang that one on Rob Ryan and a New Orleans defense that is dead last against the pass? Baltimore has allowed just one TD through the air in two games, and held opposing quarterbacks to an 82.0 rating. On the other hand, the Ravens have just two sacks in two games. With such a small sample size, the safer bet is to assume that Baltimore will be able to pressure Brian Hoyer into mistakes. What’s that you say? Johnny Manziel? Don’t get me started. Ravens win on the road.
Against the Spread: Baltimore Ravens
Straight Up: Baltimore Ravens
Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Rams (+1.5)
The Rams have allowed 171 yards per game on the ground in the opening two weeks. DeMarco Murray has been running wild for the Cowboys, and appears to be headed for another big week against St. Louis. The key will be Tony Romo, who is still recovering from a back injury. If Romo is efficient throwing the football, then St. Louis will not consistently be able to stack the box against Murray. Assuming that Dallas will have balance offensively, I like the Cowboys on the road.
Against the Spread: Dallas Cowboys
Straight Up: Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5)
Drew Stanton held his own last week, replacing Carson Palmer and taking on the Giants. San Francisco is a different team, featuring a much more aggressive defensive unit. The Niners have to be angry following last week’s loss to the Bears. Expect that frustration to be taken out on Stanton.
Against the Spread: San Francisco 49ers
Straight Up: San Francisco 49ers
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)
Here we go, a rematch from last season’s Super Bowl debacle. On paper, that game should have been a gem, featuring the league’s top offense taking on its top defense. This season, it’s similar on paper, as the Broncos have elite offensive talent, along with some high-quality defensive additions, too. Seattle is a similar team, although the ‘Hawks faltered in San Diego last weekend. Peyton Manning is a beast during the regular season, and has no doubt studied plenty of film from San Diego’s Week 2 win over Seattle. I give the win to the Seahawks, thanks to the 12th man, but I like Peyton to keep this one close.
Against the Spread: Denver Broncos
Straight Up: Seattle Seahawks
Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
Two backup running backs were expected to be headlining this game, with Knile Davis representing the Chiefs and Lamar Miller running for Miami. Jamaal Charles has returned to practice, and apparently has a good chance to play. That boosts the Kansas City offense, but I like what Miami’s ‘D’ has done to opposing quarterbacks, including Tom Brady in Week 1. The Dolphins are holding QB’s to a 78.9 QB rating through two games, and Alex Smith has been inconsistent so far this season. Miami takes this game at home, but the Chiefs keep it close, thanks to its run game.
Against the Spread: Kansas City Chiefs
Straight Up: Miami Dolphins
Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
The Panthers are strong defensively, ranking sixth in run defense, while adding seven sacks through two games (4th most in the NFL). Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers struggled to put points on the board last week, and I don’t see that happening two weeks in a row. With that being said, Carolina is playing at home, and quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Cam Newton each showed that having no big name receivers matters. Still, it’s enough to think that Big Ben and the Steelers can keep this one at a field goal or less. Panthers win, but barely.
Against the Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers
Straight Up: Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears at New York Jets (-1.5)
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were both hampered last week, yet did enough on the field, especially after the 49ers completely shut down Matt Forte and the Chicago run game. The Jets are number one against the run, holding opponents to just 52.5 ypg on the ground. Even with a one-dimensional offense, the Bears were able to stage a fourth quarter comeback against San Francisco. The Jets have fewer weapons offensively. I like Chicago by a touchdown.
Against the Spread: Chicago Bears
Straight Up: Chicago Bears