Walk the Line: Week 3
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
After week two of the NFL season, there are two things I took away from the weekend: First, the 49ers are really good, and second, I’m never picking the line on a Bills game the rest of the season.
In week one, the Bills got torched for 48 points against an offense that failed to score a touchdown all preseason. So last week they were favored against a team that a lot of people are picking to steal a wild card spot in the playoffs. So what did I do? Pick against the Bills, obviously – not just that they wouldn’t cover the spread, but that they would lose the game. They blew out the Chiefs.
Sorry, Bills fans, but you won’t hear anything in this column about the Bills for the rest of the season (probably).
Moving on, I went 1-1 in my “Locks” again last week. The Texans did more than cover against the Jags, but the Cowboys failed me. I knew Seattle had a huge home-field advantage, but beating a team who just took down the defending Super Bowl champs by 20 points? With a rookie quarterback leading the offense? I don’t think anyone outside of Seattle saw that one coming.
The story of the weekend was the New England Patriots. There’s something sketchy going on in the Patriots’ locker room. This week’s box score is a bit misleading, starting with all-pro receiver Wes Welker. Welker was limited to 14 yards in the Pats’ opener and it was reported that he was only on the field for 65 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps – an extremely small number for a guy who has caught 110-plus passes in four of his five years in New England.
On Sunday, against Arizona, he led the team with 95 yards, but didn’t see the field until tight end Aaron Hernandez left with an injury. Receiver Julian Edelman was on the field instead of Welker throughout parts of the game, as well. It’s early in the season, but I think this is reason to believe there is a 0 percent chance Welker will suit up for the Patriots next season. And I forgot to mention that the Pats didn’t score their first touchdown of the game until there were two minutes left in the second quarter.
They’ll be put in the bright lights this Sunday night against Baltimore, as Brady goes head-up against Ray Lewis. These storylines are enough for me to deem it my matchup of the week.
Note: Lines as of Sept. 20, via: sportsbook.ag
Matchup of the week (1-1): Patriots (+3) at Ravens (-3)
I can’t pick against Brady and Belichick following one of their most embarrassing losses to date. Hernandez being out is a big blow, but now the Pats will have a week to prepare knowing he won’t be a part of the game plan.
After Baltimore blew out Cincinnati on Monday night in week one, the Ravens assured the nation they were en route to being a top team in the AFC again. But they gave away a game to Philly last week. They’re still one of the best teams in the AFC, but I’m not willing to favor them by three points against this vengeful Patriots team.
Patriots 24, Ravens 23
Locks (2-2): Falcons (+3) at Chargers (-3)
The Falcons here all day. The Chargers are off to a decent start, but the Falcons are playing like a consensus top-five team in the league. The game is in San Diego, but I don’t see how the Falcons could be the underdogs to any team in the NFL right now – with the exception of the 49ers. This one should be a high-scoring affair. Ryan and Rivers are off to great starts, as both are ranked in the top five in terms of QB rating. Falcons 34, Chargers 27
Steelers (-4) at Raiders (+4)
The only reason the line is this slim must be due to the game being in Oakland. I’m picking Pitt. Last week I saw the Raiders give up 35 points to the Dolphins. McFadden only has 54 yards through two games, and as he goes, the Raiders go. Without him steamrolling through the defensive line, they don’t have a shot, and their 13.5 points per game this season shows that.
Steelers 24, Raiders 10
Take a chance on (1-3): The San Francisco 49ers (-7) on the road at Minnesota.
The Niners are giving the Vikings seven points, which should be plenty for them to cover up and still go beyond the spread. Minnesota hasn’t looked bad this season; three points have decided each game the Vikes have played. But those games have been against the Colts and the Jaguars. The 49ers are the best team in the NFL right now. Enough said.
49ers 27, Vikings 13
The St. Louis Rams (+7.5), who are the underdogs by 7.5 points at Chicago.
Take caution with this game. I think the dismal performance by the Bears last week can be partly blamed to their shortened week, playing on a Thursday (which I foresee being a problem for teams this whole season; screw NFL Network).
The Bears could trounce the Rams with their explosive offense, but the Rams did just beat the highly touted Redskins, and they kept a game close against Detroit in week one. This one could be kept within a touchdown and half a point.
Bears 34, Rams 27