Week 2 of the NFL was…absolute carnage. Big name players dropped like flies…and no, I’m not solely blaming the MetLife Stadium turf (for all of the 49ers issues). Saquon Barkley, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Bruce Irvin and Courtland Sutton done for the season. Christian McCaffrey, the consensus fantasy football #1 pick, out 3-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Quarterbacks weren’t immune either – Drew Lock of the Broncos might not be back until midseason with a shoulder injury and reigning NFC champion Jimmy Garoppolo is week-to-week.
It’s hard not to attribute all of this to the lack of a preseason / ramp-up time before the regular season started. Yet I’m torn as I’ve never been a proponent of big name players taking snaps in meaningless games.
So what’s the solution? A two game preseason seems like a good combination…and also the reality that it’s football and injuries, such as torn ACLs, will happen.
As for the result on the teams above, here’s how I’d (predictably) revise preseason expectations for these clubs:
49ers: DOWNGRADE – their defense takes a big hit though I’m not concerned much about the current injuries on offense. They’re still likely a playoff team though.
Giants: DOWNGRADE – without Saquon, they’re once again a bottom five team in the league. (Side note: from a fantasy football perspective, I’d stay away from Saquon again next year as he’s developing the reputation of being super injury-prone.
Panthers: DOWNGRADE – but maybe an UPGRADE long term. Tank in 2020, get Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields as their long term QB in 2021.
Broncos: MAJOR DOWNGRADE – they’ve been ravaged by injuries thus far on both sides of the ball and won’t be able to recover. You’re looking at a playoff contender when healthy that will be lucky to win five games the rest of the way.
Seahawks: SMALL DOWNGRADE – Irvin is a phenomenal pass rusher but let’s be honest, if Russell Wilson keeps playing at a Mahomes-like 2018 level, Seattle is going to make a run regardless of having a so-so defense.
On to the picks where a solid Week 2 has me back to respectable levels. Week 3 features what could be the game of the year…which might be a game of the year betting play for me!
Week 3 Picks
Last Week: 13-3 Straight Up (SU), 8-8 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 20-12 SU, 15-17 ATS
Preseason Picks Matrix – Last Week: 15-1, Overall: 22-10
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
Miami Dolphins 26, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 21 (ATS: Dolphins +3.5)
ATLANTA FALCONS 30, Chicago Bears 23 (ATS: Falcons -3.5)
BUFFALO BILLS 23, Los Angeles Rams 17 (ATS: Bills -2.5)
CLEVELAND BROWNS 24, Washington Football Team 17 (ATS: Washington +7.5)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 27, Tennessee Titans 20 (ATS: Vikings +2.5)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 24, Las Vegas Raiders 17 (ATS: Patriots -6.5)
San Francisco 49ers 19, NEW YORK GIANTS 13 (ATS: 49ers -4.5)
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 28, Cincinnati Bengals 20 (ATS: Eagles -6.5)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 27, Houston Texans 24 (ATS: Texans +3.5)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 30, New York Jets 14 (ATS: Colts -10.5)
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 26, Carolina Panthers 17 (ATS: Chargers -7.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, DENVER BRONCOS 19 (ATS: Buccaneers -6.5)
ARIZONA CARDINALS 30, Detroit Lions 24 (ATS: Cardinals -5.5)
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 32, Dallas Cowboys 29 (ATS: Cowboys +4.5)
Green Bay Packers 27, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 24 (ATS: Packers +3.5)
BALTIMORE RAVENS 33, Kansas City Chiefs 23 (ATS: Ravens -3.5)
5 Quick Thoughts on Week 3
1. Gardner Minshew has played very well in the first two weeks, quietly quelling the ‘Tank for Trevor’ campaign in Jacksonville. But on Thursday night my pick comes down to this. The Jaguars don’t seem good enough to start 2-1 and the Dolphins don’t seem bad enough to start 0-3. Make sense? Might be dump logic but I’ll go with it.
2. If the Eagles lose to the Bengals in Week 3, which seems unlikely but the way they’ve been playing…, I think they need to feign a Carson Wentz injury to give rookie Jalen Hurts a shot. Wentz looks like a shell of his former self these days.
3. How good is the NFC West? Arizona and Seattle are playing explosive football. The Rams have beaten the two best teams in the NFC East…and the 49ers while dealing with a multitude of injuries, played in the Super Bowl in February. It’s not inconceivable at this point that all FOUR teams could make the playoffs with the addition of a 7th team per conference.
4. I faded my Packers in Week 1 in Minnesota and was glad to be dead wrong. Now they travel to New Orleans, who is coming off a short week where they were exposed by the Raiders on Monday night, and facing the league’s highest scoring team through two weeks. I’m taking a lot of home favorites in Week 3 so have to differentiate somewhere. Maybe Matt LaFleur is an elite coach after all.
5. Monday night – game of the year – best two teams in the league. But here’s the difference…Baltimore has what I consider the league’s best defense. Mahomes will get his 300+ yards but a few turnovers will be the difference. Plus it’s not as if KC looked all that great against the Chargers decent D last Sunday. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Ravens only giving 3.5 points here. I don’t want to call this a ‘bet your house’ play but it’s not far off.
Week 3 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 1-1): Ravens -3.5 vs. Chiefs
Underdog (LOSS, 1-1): Vikings +2.5 vs. Titans
Bet the Over (WIN, 2-0): Bears / Falcons Over 47.5
Bet the Under (LOSS, 1-1): 49ers / Giants Under 41