For Sunday, use this for your non-Giants games open thread.
After a good start to the season, two losing weeks have not been fun. There were a lot of weird games last week, so this week will maybe help show if some of those were just flukes or if we were wrong about some teams over the first two weeks of the season.
Remember these picks are strictly for fun and entertainment purposes and please for your sake do not take these picks as gambling advice. Lines used here come from the Westgate Las Vegas via OddsShark. Home team in CAPS.
Minnesota (+7) over RAMS
The Rams are probably the best team in the league — they’re first in DVOA and point differential — and the Vikings just did… I don’t know what the Vikings just did against the Bills. But this is a weird Thursday night game, the Rams will be without Aqib Talib and possibly Marcus Peters at cornerback. Against Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, that’s no bueno. Minnesota might also have a defense that can hang with the Rams offense. I’d still probably pick the Rams to win, but seven points is a lot.
UPDATE: there were a lot of points here, but it ended up as a draw against the spread. 0-0-1 for the week.
Philadelphia (-4) over TENNESSEE
Tennessee might be the weirdest team in the league. They lose a crazy marathon game to the Dolphins in Week 1, then beat the Texans by barely throwing the ball, then beat the Jaguars in a game with almost no points that saw their injured starting quarterback play significantly more than the backup who started the game. Despite all that, Titans are still just 24th in DVOA and the Eagles are better in just about every way.
GREEN BAY (-9.5) over Buffalo
What the hell, Buffalo? There was a point it felt we had to adjust stats for teams that played against the Bills, then they go and blow out the Vikings. But still, we have a two-game sample of the Bills being the worst team in the league and one being very opportunistic. Outside of Tre’Davious White, the Buffalo defense has been a disappointment and it’s not going to take much more than that to pick Aaron Rodgers by a lot in this game.
Detroit (+3) over DALLAS
The Dallas offense is pitiful, there’s really no way around it. Even with the lack of receivers, the offense should be better than this. Detroit maybe figured out a winning formula against New England and there’s little to suggest they won’t be able to take advantage of whatever is going on in Dallas right now.
CHICAGO (-3) over Tampa Bay
There hasn’t been a better defense in the league so far than the Chicago Bears. There have been few better offenses than the Buccaneers. The one way to slow down Ryan Fitzpatrick (if he’s the starter) is to force him into turnovers and that’s something the Bears can do. Chicago matches up really well on that side of the ball, which will be important while they still figure out what they can and can’t do on offense.
Jets (+7.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Dominating New England and then not being able to do anything against Tennessee is quite the two-week stretch for Jacksonville. The Jaguars defense should be able to handle the Jets’ offense, but the Jets are second in defensive DVOA and second in special teams DVOA, which could keep this game closer than some (the line) would anticipate.
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Miami
The Patriots can have slow Septembers, even though this feels like one of the slowest of the Brady-Belichick era. Still, it’s the Brady-Belichick era and expecting back-to-back letdown games from New England is expecting lightning to strike twice. Miami is surprisingly top-10 in all three phases of the game by DVOA, but even with that it’s hard to pick against the Pats.
INDIANAPOLIS (-1) over Houston
Cincinnati (+5.5) over ATLANTA
The Bengals offense can put up points. So can the Falcons offense. But the Cincinnati defense has a much bigger advantage over the Atlanta defense as currently constructed. It feels weird to say, but don’t be surprised if the Bengals can hang in a potential shootout with the Falcons.
Seattle (-3) over ARIZONA
It’s Josh Rosen time, which is nice. But unless the Cardinals have figured out they need to completely change the structure of the offense along with the quarterback, there’s not a lot of immediate hope for an instant improvement. As much as the Seahawks have changed over personnel on defense, they still rank sixth in defensive DVOA through three weeks.
Cleveland (+2.5) over OAKLAND
All aboard the Baker train. Oakland is 31st in defensive DVOA, nearly the perfect defense for Mayfield to make his first start. He was so calm and collected against the Jets and a full week of prep for him as the starter can absolutely yield great results.
CHARGERS (-10) over San Francisco
As much as the Chiefs and Buccaneers have gotten talked about as the top offense, no team has gained 20 or more yards on a higher percentage of their offensive plays than the Chargers. San Francisco has some injuries on defense and will be starting C.J. Beathard at quarterback. That’s really all you need to know.
New Orleans (-3.5) over GIANTS
There’s going to be a lot written about this game (and already has) on this site. So I’ll make this brief: it’s hard to imagine the Giants winning a potential shootout here.
Baltimore (+3) over PITTSBURGH
The Ravens have a top-5 defense and an offense that’s been much more passable than it has in the past. Pittsburgh can still put up the yards and points with the best of them, but the defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone through the first three weeks of the season. With the quarterback selections recently, we’re moving toward a time when the AFC North matchups are going to be more Big 12 than 1980’s. How this game plays out could be a good test in how close we are to that.
Kansas City (-5.5) over DENVER
Kansas City is scoring on 53 percent of their offensive drives. They’re also allowing scores on 48 percent of their opponents’ drives, but 53 > 48. Everything about the Kansas CIty offense has been perfect so far. It’s spread out to give Patrick Mahomes open reads and he’s good enough to take advantage of them. It’s more than enough for the Chiefs to have the advantage every time they get themselves into a shootout, which has been just about every game this season.
Last week: 6-10