To quote the GOAT LeBron James, about damn time. Offense returned in a big way in Week 3 and the result was one of the better NFL Sundays in recent memory. The Rams and 49ers kicked things off Thursday night when both teams combined for 80 points. Blake Bortles of all people continued the explosion with four touchdowns in London as the Jaguars mollywhopped the Ravens 44-7.
Tom Brady also got in on the fun. He reminded us all that he is the one and only GOAT as he spazzed for 378 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Patriots needed every bit of his explosion to hold off impressive rookie Deshaun Watson and the Texans. The trend was widespread across the league. The Bengals popped their cherry. Case Keenum threw for 368 yards with no interceptions. Odell Beckham Jr., got Big Blue back in the end zone with a pair of scores and Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things.
All in all it was an electric week of action. I don’t want to jinx it but it appears that action we have been craving all summer has arrived. Let us thank the football gods and move on to Week 4.
Three Point Stance
Return of the O
We covered this in the beginning but to recap briefly. Case freaking Keenum threw for 370 yards last Sunday. The same Keenum who couldn’t eclipse 200 yards last season for the Rams threw for 370 yards with zero turnovers. That sounds like an anomaly more than a sign of things to come.
As for the rest of the offensive explosions around the league, those are more believable. Brady is self explanatory. Bortles likely falls in the Keenum category but the Bengals, Giants and Cardinals getting on track is legit. With this great news now you can start betting that over again and even take on a wider range of lines (i.e. Bengals +9 at Green Bay last week).
At the same time there are teams with good offensive units hit by injuries. The Packers are flirting with that, I believe they cover nine points fully healthy. But I’m talking more about the Panthers right now. They continue to be hit with injuries (they are now down Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin) so it would be wise to stay away from them if they are favorites. At same time they could be easy team to pick against depending on the spread.
The Underdog Uprising
There are no upsets in professional sports but last week was funky. The following teams covered: Jets, Colts, Bears, Jaguars, 49ers, Bills and Bengals. Do not overreact to these results by talking yourself into taking them this week. With the exception of the Jaguars who play the Jets, all these teams should be viewed as they were previous to this week-untrustworthy.
F***k LA Football
Which leads me to my final stance. Fuck Los Angeles football. No sugarcoating this one. Let’s start with the ever annoying Philip Rivers. Every time you ride with him he defecates his pants. When you choose against him he morphs into John Wick. Anyone that has bet the Chargers this year or any of the previous five years knows exactly what I’m talking about. Last week he threw three picks in the first quarter and still had a chance to cover! Instead the Chargers rolled over and gave up a 69 (nice) yard run to Kareem Hunt.
The Rams are even worse. Scoring 41 points should win you a game in the NFL. Scoring 41 points against an offense led by Brian Hoyer? That’s money in the bank. Well the Rams either didn’t get the memo, started cruise control too early or just flat out suck. I’ll go with the latter because it’s easier to see. There are three defensive players on the roster worth caring about-Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree. That’s it. The rest of that unit is garbage as many of us saw on Thursday night.
I recommend picking against either LA team especially if they are laying points. Live with the few losses and collect a majority of the time. People in LA don’t care about these guys, why should we?
So we recovered from Week 2’ gross 1-3 performance and bumped up to 2-2. Can we continue to progress? Let’s see what’s on tap for Week 4.
PATRIOTS (-9) over Panthers
Why on earth would I trust the Patriots this week when they failed a big spread last week? For starters, Tom Brady is at quarterback and in the midst of a scorching hot streak. Over his past two games Brady has thrown for 825 yards with eight touchdowns to zero interceptions. The defense is what is holding the Patriots back from being the automatic locks they have been over the years.
Luckily the Panthers offense is in shambles. Cam Newton has lost his top two targets–Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin– in consecutive weeks leaving him with just Christian McCaffery and Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers secondary was finally exposed last week and Brady will not relent one bit. To remain in this game Newton will have to piece together at least 20 points. I cannot see that happening.
Prediction: Panthers 17, Patriots 34
Eagles (+1) over CHARGERS
You can see above for my feelings on Philip Rivers. I have grown a serious distaste for the Chargers in terms of gambling. This season they are 0-2-1 against the spread and Rivers has not looked good in any of the three games. Similar to his 2004 draft classmates Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, Rivers might be hitting the tail end of his career. I’m not sure if all those years of carrying injury stricken teams is starting to wear on him but it’s clear he is not the Philip Rivers we have come to know.
Opposite of the aging Rivers is the rising Carson Wentz. The second year standout Wentz and the Eagles sit atop the NFC East and have no intention of moving. They lost living legend Darren Sproles for the season but Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount can carry the load. On defense they fly around (no pun intended) to the ball and force tough throws. That feistiness should be key as the Chargers could roll over if things aren’t looking good late.
Prediction: Eagles 21, Chargers 17
Titans (-1.5) over TEXANS
This has more to do with the Titans than the Texans. They have looked strong through the first three weeks against three quality opponents. Their loss against the Raiders was cancelled out with two strong performances against the Jaguars and Seahawks. Marcus Mariota and the offense scored 37 and 33 points respectively on two of the better defenses in the league. They’re solid across the board at virtually every position which makes them tough to take down.
The Texans aren’t too shabby themselves. Deshaun Watson appears to be the white knight. After several failures at quarterback under Bill O’Brien, Watson looks to be competent in the pocket and electric out of it. Their one weakness is the secondary which gave up too many big plays to count in New England. Mariota isn’t Brady but he is still good. This will be a good matchup where the stable team with better quarterback should prevail.
Prediction: Titans 27, Texans 24
VIKINGS (EVEN) over Lions
What is it about the first quarter of the season that the Vikings like so much? Last season they started 6-0 and this year they are already 2-1. The defense has been as good as advertised and even Case Keenum looked like Frank Tarkenton for a week. The key to the offense centers around the young guns-Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook. If you have either in fantasy you know exactly what I’m talking about. Cook ranks only behind fellow rookie Kareem Hunt in rushing yards with 288, while Diggs ranks third in receiving yards with 293 yards. Diggs’ teammate Adam Thielen ranks second with 299 yards.
Whether or not Sam Bradford plays, that offense will have to continue its hot streak. Matthew Stafford and the Lions got hosed last week, Golden Tate scored that touchdown. Against a stout Vikings defense Stafford will have to pull out all the stops but at the bare minimum he should be good for 17 to 20 points. That will be the marker Keenum or Bradford have to aim for. Given their success early in seasons I see them finding a way to get a big home win.
Prediction: Lions 20, Vikings 23
The Other Guys
Jaguars (-3.5) over JETS
BRONCOS (-2.5) over Raiders
DOLPHINS (+3) over Saints
Bills (+8) over FALCONS
Steelers (-3) over RAVENS
Bengals (-3) over BROWNS
COWBOYS (-6.5) over Rams
CARDINALS (-7) over 49ers
Giants (+3) over BUCCANEERS
Colts (+13) over SEAHAWKS
CHIEFS (-7) over Redskins
Last Week: 8-8