Well, I made improvements from my previous two weeks, but I still went negative (7-8-0). Early in the season, these picks have not gone my way. Once again, my Lock of the MF Century, the Bucs +2.5, came nowhere close to hitting, by my survivor pick, the Chiefs did. Maybe I'm just cursed, but I'd bet I've been set up by the system en route to a major comeback this week. Let's jump into these picks with our heads held high and wallets open, ready to collect this revenue.
Current Record: 27-36-0
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (-9.5)
Pick: Patriots (-9.5)
Well, the Patriots just showed the world they're still the Patriots and the Dolphins, are, and always will be, the Dolphins. Their offense looked much improved from their previous outings, where they couldn't get anything going against the Jags or Lions. Their running game, despite missing Rex Burkhead, looked the best it has thus far, and now, with Julian Edelman returning and Josh Gordon having another week under his belt, their passing game should, at the least, perform as well as it did last week. Their defense did well, but they were facing the Dolphins, so that should be taken with a grain of salt. The Dolphins' offense did look strong in weeks 1-3, but their efficiency couldn't hold up, even against the Pats. I'm not sure I'd consider the Pats to be anything better than average defensively, even with holding the Dolphins to 7.
As for the Colts, Andrew Luck looked good, but his numbers were inflated due to playing from behind and going into OT against an terrible Houston secondary. Defensively, they have performed better than expected, but their rookie standout, Darius Leonard, may not be available in this game. My pick really comes down to that fact; not that Leonard is out, but because of the multitude of injuries they've sustained. TY Hilton is out and Doyle is banged up. On a short week, I doubt either plays, which may be to their detriment in a game where they will need to score. Because of these offensive losses, I'm not sure they can keep this within 9.5, especially in Foxborough on a short week.
Tennessee Titans (-3.5) @ Buffalo Bills
Pick: Titans (-3.5)
This is my Lock of the MF Century. The Titans may be one of the strangest teams in the NFL, they have talent on both sides of the ball but don't play that way. Mariota finally put up a big game and put Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor's talents to use, and against the Bills, I think they can do much of the same. The team's biggest weakspot is their secondary, as Malcolm Butler has been a walking door mat this season, but the lack of receivers on the Bills means they won't be able to expose that. Their running game hasn't been there, and their defense, other than against the Vikings, hasn't shown any sign of being able to stop a team. The Bills' offensive and defensive weaknesses gives me confidence the Titans will be able to cover, especially with a relatively small spread.
Atlanta Falcons @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
Pick: Falcons (+3.5)
If there was ever going to be an absolute shootout, it would be this game. Both defenses are abysmal, while their offenses have tons of weapons all over the field. The Falcons' run game has been stronger than the Steelers' has in recent weeks, and if Freeman returns, they will be able to deploy the 1-2 punch out of the backfield that keeps defenses on their toes.
What this game really comes down to is who can continue to score throughout the game. Sure, this sounds simple and straightforward, but neither defense has any ability to stop the opposing offense. We've seen Big Ben lose his touch in the past, slowing down as the game progresses, and because of this, I think Matty Ice and the Falcons will continue to keep their foot on the gas while Big Ben and the boys might not be able to keep up.
Denver Broncos @ New York Jets (-1.5)
Pick: Broncos (+1.5)
The fact that the Jets are favorites is baffling. Sure, they're at home, but what have they done outside of week 1 that's anywhere close to being impressive? Last week, against the Jaguars, they couldn't muster up any type of offense, and haven't put up more than 17 points since week 1, being held to the 12 points twice in that span. Pairing their offensive inefficiency with a strong Broncos pass rush, I have absolutely no confidence in Darnold and the GD Jets this week.
As for their defense, they have held 3 teams to 21 points or fewer, but the Jags dropped 31 on them last week. I'm not sure the Broncos' passing game is as strong at the Jaguars simply due to their lack of weapons outside of Emanuel Sanders. At this point, DT is nothing more than a big name, but he's still getting a ton of snaps, which may be hindering their offense. What makes me think the Broncos will be able to score, though, is their running game. Both Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay have looked incredible this season, and that should continue in this matchup. The Broncos should look to dominate the time of possession by dominating defensively and running the ball, so I have confidence they win this game, which makes them a strong pick for me since they're underdogs.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)
Pick: Jaguars (+3.5)
This is my least confident game of the week, and here's why. The Chiefs faced their toughest matchup this far on Monday night against the Broncos. Now, the Broncos don't have the greatest offense, but they were in control late in the game until Mahomes helped lead the offense upfield, leading to a Kareem Hunt carry inside the 10 that gave them a 27-23 advantage. The Chiefs' defense, once again, had no answers, even against a below average offense, and this week, should have a tougher time against the Jags.
Sure, Blake Bortles may not be great, but lately, he hasn't been awful. He has Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and Keelan Cole, 3 respectable receivers who all offer different strengths, and even with Fournette sitting, have a good combination of runningbacks in T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant. They should have no problem moving the ball this week, but the same can't be said for the Chiefs.
Sure, they look like a top 3 offense this year and Mahomes has been incredible, but 3 of the 4 defenses they faced have given up an average of 29 points or more through their first 4 weeks. As for the Jags, the most they've given up is 20 points to the Pats and even limited the Titans to 9 points. I'm not saying the Chiefs won't score, but with an injured Sammy Watkins, facing an elite pass rush and secondary, I'm not sure his efficiency just automatically carries into this week. Even at home, I'm not so sure the Chiefs can win by 3.5 on a short week against their toughest opponent yet.
Green Bay Packers (-.5) @ Detroit Lions
Pick: Packers (-.5)
This should be another high scoring game this week, as neither defense has shown any consistency or promise thus far. Sure, the Packers shut the Bills out, but they have nothing offensively that should put fear in opposing defenses, unlike they're facing the Vikings.
This game comes down to offensive performance, as the Lions and Packers have both struggled to stop anyone on the ground or through the air. The reason I like the Packers is simple: they have Aaron Rodgers and the Lions have Matthew Stafford. Even though he didn't put up a spectacular performance against the Bills, he looked like himself, not limited by his banged up knee. Even with a healthier knee, the Packers are still dealing with injuries, namely Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Even with these losses, they still have weapons out of the backfield, Jimmy Graham, Davante Adams, and a variety of rookie receivers who all produced at the college level. Even though none are proven at the NFL level, they are tied to Aaron Rodgers, who brings out the best in his players. They should be able to take advantage of Detroits' defensive weaknesses and win this game, despite the Lions having weapons of their own.
Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns
Pick: Ravens (-2.5)
Last week, the Ravens showed defensive promise, going on the road to Pittsburgh, limiting Big Ben and the Steelers to 14 points. This week, they should continue this performance, especially with the return of star cornerback Jimmy Smith. Offensively, they have put up 26 or more points in all outings and have actually looked good. Joe Flacco, in the past, has looked awful, which is why they invested in Lamar Jackson. Now, he has actual weapons and looks to have built great chemistry with John Brown, connecting on multiple deep balls thus far. Their running game has also looked strong, splitting touches between Buck Allen and Alex Collins. Overall, the Ravens look like a very good team who have strengths on both sides of the ball.
As for the Browns, they are fairly similar in terms of strengths. They have a good secondary and pass rush headed by Myles Garrett, and their offense is filled with talented players at each position. The only thing that worries me about the Browns is the amount of points they allowed last week against the Raiders. Oakland is by no means an offensive juggernaut, nor do they have a good defense, but they forced Mayfield to turn the ball over four times and dropped a 45 piece on the Brownies. The Ravens, who have a much better defense than the Raidaaaahs, so they will likely put similar pressure on the rookie this week. If the Ravens force turnovers, their field positioning should help them put up points against a fairly strong defense. Even on the road, I prefer a proven Baltimore squad over a young, inexperienced Browns roster.
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers (-6.5)
Pick: Panthers (-6.5)
Well, it looks like these weapons the Giants have are going to go to waste. Against an awful New Orleans defense, the Giants only mustered up 18 points and have only scored more than 20 points ONCE, against a weak Houston defense. Their defense hasn't been spectacular, and as long as Eli is under center, I have no confidence in their offensive consistency week to week, or even having a ceiling where they can play keep up with a high-scoring opponent.
As for the Panthers, they are at home, coming off a bye. Those two factors alone give me confidence in this matchup. What further entices me to choose Carolina is their offensive pieces, paired with a strong defense. Devin Funchess is a serviceable wide receiver, and McCaffrey has looked like an elite runningback thus far, producing on the ground and through the air. One player who I think could take a step forward could be D.J. Moore, who could produce as Janoris Jenkins focuses on D Funch. Moore has looked great with his limited touches, and coming off a bye, may see a greater snap share this week. If Cam can get him the ball, I'm sure the Panthers will be able to put up points. If they score over 20 points, which they have done in 2/3 games, I think they'll be able to hold off the Giants and win by at least a touchdown.
Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5)
Pick: Dolphins (+5.5)
I have little confidence in this pick, but if I was forced to choose, I'd bet on Cincy. Admittedly, my reasoning for this pick is lacking, my opinions are more narrative based, and here's what I think:
The Dolphins are currently 3-1 in the AFC East, which has been continuously dominated by the Patriots in recent memory. Last week, they got blown TF out by New England and resorted to Brock Osweiler in the 4th quarter, which led to them scoring their only points in the game. This week, they draw a much more manageable opponent, and I think they bounce back in this spot. Cincy has been good, like really good, but they're the Bengals. Thus far, they've ran up the score on two bad defenses (Colts and Falcons), dropped 34 on a decent Ravens D, and lost in a matchup in Carolina where they only put up 21. Their weakspot looks to be their defense, allowing 23 or more points in all matchups, and have given up at least 31 in their last 2 games. Their relatively soft defense should allow for Miami to bounce back from their awful performance last week, and if they incorporate Kenyan Drake and their myriad of explosive wideouts, I think they'll be able to put up significant points. Outside of last week, they have shown they can score, putting up 27, 20, and 28 over their first 3 games, which should carry into week 5.
As for Cincy, sure, their offense is good, but the only competent defense they played (I consider Baltimore more than competent, but they looked awful week 2) has been the Panthers, who limited them to 21 points. The Dolphins have looked solid defensively, and although they aren't elite, they could give the Bengals some trouble. They lead the league in interceptions, and Dalton isn't afraid to turn the ball over, recording SIX picks in 4 weeks. If Miami can turn the Bengals over, they should be able to keep the game close, certainly withing 5.5, which is why they're my pick.
Oakland Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5)
Pick: Chargers (-5.5)
As a Chargers fan, I say this from the bottom of my heart...I hate this team. Ok, maybe that's an overreaction, but they are so damn unpredictable it's unreal. If you look at their roster, they have no real weaknesses; their line is improved, they have weapons at every skill position, Phil Rivers isn't dead yet, and their corners/secondary/pass rush is filled with players who have produced in recently, yet almost took an L to a Garappolo-less 49ers last week. This team is just a headache, week in and week out. In this spot, though, I have confidence they will be able to win and cover the spread. Their receiving core should abuse the Raiders with the complementary skillsets of Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, and Keenan Allen, and their RB pairing of Gordon and Ekeler looks to be one of the best in the NFL. The Chargers should have no problem scoring in this spot, so it all comes down to their defense.
Looking at the Raiders' offense, one player sticks out in particular: Marshawn Lynch. He has been incredible this season, and against LA's weak run defense, he should be able to perform well. Outside of Lynch, they have Jared Cook, Jordy Nelson, and Amari Cooper, who you could argue may be the most inconsistent receiving corps in the league. If the Chargers get out to a big lead early, which is certainly in the realm of possibilities if they get the ball first, turn the Raiders over, and score again, then they can keep Lynch off the field, which bodes well for them, masking the weakest part of their defense. The only way I think the Raiders keep this close is if they keep up early in this game and establish the run. If they are chasing points early, which I think may happen, they'll be forced to throw, which, with their receiving options, may not be sufficient in keeping this game within 6. In a divisional matchup, at "home" (sick stadium Chargers), I think LA will want to show their dominance (alpha alert) and blow the Raiders out.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
Pick: Cardinals (+4.5)
If you're still in your survivor pool, atta boy, you made it infinitely further than I did. My week one pick (Saints) blew up in my face, so it may not be wise to take my advice, but hear me out. When else are you going to get to take the Cardinals with any type of confidence? They haven't looked awful these past two weeks against Seattle and Chicago, and even though they're on the road, they face a depleted 49ers offense. Sure, they looked good against the Chargers last week, but Goodwin is banged up and Beathard left the game with injury. Their backups are even getting injured, and outside of Matt Breida and George Kittle, there's nobody on this roster that has looked good thus far. As for the Cardinals, they have tons of talent on both sides of the ball with the likes of DJ, Josh Rosen, Fitz, Chandler Jones, and Pat Pete, along with others, which is much more than the 9ers can boast. Although it is a small sample, their offense has looked much better under Rosen than it did with Bradford over the earlier part of the season. My pick all comes down to the fact that I believe the Cradinals' defense is superior to that of the 49ers, and if they want any chance in their division, they need to take advantage of this matchup against a banged-up 9ers team. If they can pressure whoever is playing QB for San Fran, and dominate time of possession with DJ, this game should be a lock, especially as underdogs.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
Pick: Vikings (+3.5)
Boy, have I been wrong on the Vikings. Entering the season, they looked to have a top 3 defensive unit in the league, but week after week, they continue to get trounced. Last week, it came at the hands of the LA Rams, which isn't a good matchup for anybody, but just a week prior, they were blown out by the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen legit looked like Cam Newton, hurdling over Anthony Barr and using his legs to his advantage. The only reason I decided to choose the Vikings is because I simply don't think they'll continue their poor performance. They have so much talent on defense on all levels of the field, it just hasn't panned out yet. In the past, they have proven to be elite, and I think, eventually, this form will inevitably return. This week, facing Carson Wentz, who is only in his 3rd week back, I think they should be able to limit the Eagles' offense.
As for Minnesota's offense, they have shown to be great outside of their game against Buffalo, where they were almost shut out. They have one of, if not, the best WR duo in the league, and with a long week of rest, Dalvin Cook should be closer to 100% than he was Thursday night. Last week, Philly had no answer for Marcus Mariota and the Titans, so I'm not sure they will be able hold off the Vikings. As underdogs in this matchup, I think Minnesota gets revenge for their playoff blowout and win this game outright.
Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) @ Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Seahawks (+6.5)
What am I thinking with this pick? If I told you I knew, I'd be lying.
Firstly, the Rams look to be the best team in the league offensively and top 3 defensively. By logic and common sense, there should be no reason for me to pick against them, especially against a team that's 2-2 after marginally beating the Cardinals. The Seahawks' offensive line is in shambles, they lack receiving weapons, and their coaching staff is delusional, so why am I picking them? Fuck if I know.
Here's my only reasonable explanation: this is a trap game. Week 1, when the Titans faced off against the Dolphins, I called it the Lock of the MF Century since it was only a 1.5 point spread. I thought the Titans were infinitely more talented on both sides of the ball, but Vegas isn't in the business of losing money, they know a whole Hell of a lot more than us. Last year, when these two teams matched up in Seattle, the Seahawks got their doors blown off 42-7, so something's fishy here. I have no good reasoning for this pick, so if for some reason you are listening to me, don't do it here. I'm living on the edge, not particularly my best life.
If I had to come up with a reason, let's just say it's the fact they're at home. Even then, I'm not sure a 12th man could handle Sean McVay and the Rams.
Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans (-3.5)
Pick: Texans (-3.5)
The Texans have surprisingly looked better offensively than defensively, which may be because their defense has been so shit. Despite this, I really like them in this spot. Their biggest weakness this year, as it was last year, is their secondary. What makes this not much of a weakness? Well, it's the fact that the Cowboys have absolutely nothing, in terms of receivers, that will allow them to take advantage of Houston. Clowney has been incredible, and him putting pressure on Dak should limit their offense efficiency through the air. The only thing that worries me is their combination of defense and Zeke. The only way the Cowboys win this game is by dominating time of possession by limiting the Texans' offense and running it out with Zeke. Running it with Zeke shouldn't be an issue, but limiting the Texans' O will be a tougher task.
The Texans' o-line is in absolute shambles, so facing the Cowboys won't be great for them. David Irving returns to the Cowboys this week, and pairing him with Demarcus Lawrence could be trouble for Deshaun Watson. I have confidence, though, that Deshaun will be able to take whatever the Cowboys give him. Last week, against the Colts, a team who had sacked Carson Wentz one week prior, Watson got sacked SEVEN times, yet was able to drop 375 yards and 2 scores through the air with 41 and a score on the ground. Watson has looked great recently, and if Fuller plays, I'm not sure there are many defenses that can fend off Houston. At home, I'm big on the Texans covering the spread.
Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
Pick: Redskins (+6.5)
The Saints' offense has looked great thus far, and now, Mark Ingram returns. This addition, though, may not be as vital as it may seem, as last year they were able to pound the rock with Ingram due to their elite defensive play. This year, they can't stop anybody, so they won't have the same opportunity to run out the clock since when they turn it over, they'll have no answers.
As for the Redskins offense, they should have no problem putting up points against the Saints. Even though they are on the road, they are on a SUPER long week, after being on a bye and playing this week on Monday night. They've had more than enough time to gameplan for the Saints, which by no means means they'll have all the answers for them defensively, but they'll atleast be ready and should see where they can expose them offensively. Alex Smith isn't a gunslinger who will throw bombs to P Rich all game, but he's a smart player who will take what the defense gives him, and the Saints will give him a ton here.
As for the Skins' defense, they have been really solid thus far, limiting Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 17 points in week 3. If the Saints can overcome Washington's defense, I think the Skins will be able to keep up offensively and limit the Saints' lead. This is one of my favorite picks this week, and I have a ton of confidence in the Redskins going on the road, in a dome, to take down New Orleans.
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