Coming off a winning week in week 2 (2-1-1), which would have been even better if Jesse Holley was a shade faster and wasn’t stopped at the 1 yard line in overtime, I’m feeling very good about all four of these picks, and am expecting this to be my first undefeated week of the season. Heed my advice, football fans, and you shall be rewarded with a great day of football watching on Sunday. Let’s take a look what I’m thinking this week…
Asher’s Top NFL Week 3 Picks:
One may think it is a little peculiar to be so gung-ho about a team that is 0-2, has Tarvaris Jackson as their starting quarterback, and has Doug Baldwin leading the team with 87 receiving yards. Still, I believe Seattle are not as bad as advertised. Firstly, they have played both games on the road, and now get to head back home. When you speak about home field advantage and the 12th man in the NFL, you are talking about places like Seattle. The Seahawks are very tough to beat in their home stadium, and it is going to take teams a whole lot better than Arizona to do so. The Cards have done nothing to impress me thus far, beating the Panthers by a touchdown in Cam Newton’s debut, and then losing to the mediocre Redskins last week. The Seahawks have looked pretty awful, admittedly, but the Cardinals defense is one of the worst in the league, so Seattle should be able to get far more going than they were against two of the tougher defenses in the league in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Expect the Seahawks to really get their ground game rolling in this one, as Marshawn Lynch showed signs of explosiveness last year, and has the tools to take advantage of a shoddy Cardinals defensive line. Arizona, meanwhile, may have some big issues on the ground, as Beanie Wells is a game time decision, and even if he plays one has to wonder how healthy he will be. This leaves most of the heavy lifting to Kevin Kolb, who obviously has one of the best targets in the league in Larry Fitzgerald, but not much more beyond that. Arizona are also 0-5 ATS versus the NFC West, and 1-4 in their last 5 ATS when they are a favorite by more than a field goal. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are an impressive 5-1 ATS in their last 6 when they score less than 15 points the week before, and are 5-2 ATS at home as an underdog between 3.5 and 10 points. This isn’t so surprising given how much better they are at home. When I can get a home team with more than a field goal of flexibility against a team that is far from scary, I am going to almost always take it. This game won’t be pretty, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it come down to a late field goal one way or the other, which means either way you should come out a winner if you take the Seahawks.
Once again, I am going with the underdog in this one. The Dolphins may be 0-2, but they have kept things respectable against two of the top teams in the AFC in New England and Houston. This is why records this early on can be deceiving, as Miami is a far better team than their record indicates. Let us also not forget that Miami was 6-2 on the road last year, so they are one of the few teams that actually performs much better away from home (both their losses this year were in Miami). The Browns meanwhile have done absolutely nothing to earn themselves favorite status in this matchup. They lost to Cincinnati in week one (costing many people their NFL survivor lives) and then beat the hapless Colts last week, but rather unconvincingly. Peyton Hillis does not look nearly as powerful as last year, perhaps suffering from the infamous ‘Madden curse’. Colt McCoy is a capable game manager, but not much more than that at this point, and his receiving corps may be the least impressive in the league, even when fully healthy, and both Joshua Cribbs and Mohammed Mossaquoi are not locks to play in this one. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have some legitimate weapons in Brandon Marshall and Davonne Bess, and rookie running back Daniel Thomas looked pretty impressive in his debut last week. Chad Henne, let’s not forget, threw for over 400 yards in week one, so he has proven he has what it takes to do his part in a shootout. This game should be a little more tame, but I would lean towards Henne over McCoy given the talent around both of those teams. Miami are undefeated in their last 8 ATS as a road underdog of less than a field goal, and are 8-2 in their last 10 ATS on the road. Meanwhile, the Browns are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games at home, and 1-5 in their last 6 against teams in the AFC. Miami does not look like an 0-3 team, and the Browns don’t look like a team that should be above .500, which all means that I would expect Miami to win this one outright, so given a small cushion of points to work with is gravy here. I like the Dolphins in this one, especially if they can get Reggie Bush involved like they did in week one. Bush is a solid weapon for Miami, and they need to utilize him far more than they did last week. The Fins take this one away from home, which is just where they like to be.
Are you sensing a trend here? I’m going with a big underdog here, as the Broncos are a full touchdown underdog against the Titans. The only question I have is, why? This is what I consider a massive public over reaction to last week, when the Titans soundly beat the Ravens. All this proves to me is how wildly unpredictable Tennessee will be this season, as let’s not forget that only a week before that one, the Titans lost to a Luke McCown led Jacksonville team. The Titans did look good last week, but that may be a case where it was more about the Ravens coming out flat than anything the Titans were doing. Chris Johnson has yet to have a good game this year, showing plenty of rust from his holdout. Denver’s rushing defense has been one of the worst in the league this year, but they have been dealing with a fair amount of injuries, so that’s not an entirely fair portrayal of what they’re capable of. Matt Hasselbeck has looked great this year and has developed a quick rapport with Kenny Britt, but let’s not forget that Hasselbeck was glaringly mediocre last week, and is reaching the twilight of his career. Kyle Orton is having to face a hostile Denver fanbase who are rabid to see Tim Tebow play (why they want this is beyond me, Tebow couldn’t even beat out Brady Quinn for the backup spot). Despite the lack of support, Orton really isn’t that bad, throwing for 3 touchdowns this year and over 300 yards in week one. Last year he was very impressive, especially considering he didn’t have a wealth of talent surrounding him outside of Brandon Lloyd, throwing for 3653 yards and 20 touchdowns against only 9 interceptions. The Titans have a very good pass defense though, so the Broncos will need to turn to Willis McGahee, who looked great last week, and Knowshon Moreno if he ends up playing this week. Lloyd expects to play this week after an injury held him out of last week’s game, and Eric Decker has emerged as an impressive second receiver, with 8 catches for 166 and 2 touchdowns this season. Denver is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 when they have allowed under 90 rushing yards the previous week, while the Titans are 3-9 ATS following a straight up win, and 1-6 in their last 7 when they are a favorite of more than a field goal. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Denver eke out a win in this one, but with a 7 point cushion, I am fully on board here. Go with Denver in this week of underdogs.
An outcast in my week of underdogs, but this one is too good to pass up. Once again, I am taking advantage of the public’s over exaggeration of last week’s results, where the Ravens were soundly dealt with by the Titans. Baltimore was flat in that one, likely due to the expected letdown that comes with thrashing the Steelers in week one. Yes, they are favorites here, but only by 4 points, when really they should be considered one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, or at least win the very tough AFC North. Admittedly, the Rams are probably the best 0-2 team out there, but have been the victims of a very difficult schedule for the first half of the year. It is not getting any easier in this one, and really don’t have an easier match up until they face Arizona in week 9. Don’t worry Rams enthusiasts, as St. Louis will get 6 games against their woeful division, so if they can sweep those and get a couple more wins elsewhere, they still have a good shot at winning their division this year (somebody’s got to, right?). However, for this week, they are in very tough against a Ravens team that will be looking to avenge their embarrassing performance last week. The Rams will likely be without Steven Jackson again, and his backup running back Cadillac Williams is also hurting, meaning that third stringer Jerious Norwood may be given the reins against an always tough Ravens defense. As far as third options go, Norwood is actually pretty decent, but it would be shocking to see St. Louis get much of anything going on the ground. This means that Sam Bradford will be carrying the load in this one, and while Bradford is more than capable, he hasn’t looked all that impressive this year, and will be without his top receiver in Danny Amendola. He still has some decent options out there, but nothing that should prove to be too much of a problem for Baltimore’s D. On the other side of the ball, Ray Rice should run wild in this one. The Rams are giving up a league worst 177.5 rushing yards per game, and Rice is one of the best running backs in the league. It is not too difficult to figure out the equation in that one. The Ravens will run the ball all day long and drain the Rams defense, and then let Joe Flacco find Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans when the time comes. Let’s also keep in mind that the Ravens are 10-1 ATS when they rush for less than 90 yards the previous week, and are 14-6 ATS against teams with losing records. Meanwhile, the Rams are a paltry 1-5 in their last 6 games, and 0-4 when they are an underdog of more than a field goal. Don’t get fancy with this one; the Ravens are substantially better than a depleted Rams squad, and should coast in this one, easily surpassing the 4 point spread. Take the Ravens with confidence in this one.
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