By: Matt Doherty and Liam O’Brien
Matt: Raiders (-3) over Browns
I can’t believe I’m about to bet FOR Jon Gruden. But I’m biting the bullet. Not for Gruden but for the situation.
Let’s take a rational look at this: The Raiders played the LA Rams, Denver, and Miami close. Those three teams are a combined 9-1. Now they come home in a must-win and play a Cleveland team who just won for the first time since Obama was president. This situation could not be more perfect.
Liam: Seahawks (-3) over Cardinals
Arizona got lucky by covering last week, as a late Josh Rosen pick-six got overturned via defensive holding. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, this penalty simply delayed the inevitable as the rookie quarterback ended up throwing a pick to end the possession anyway.
Arizona is making the right decision by starting Rosen this week. But, the reason why Rosen is getting the nod has to do more with the ineffectiveness of Sam Bradford than it does Rosen’s readiness to take the reins. The Seahawks will exploit this as they did Dak Prescott and the Cowboys at home a week ago.
Facing a banged-up Dallas offensive line, Seattle got after the quarterback and forced Prescott into two interceptions. Even further, the Seahawks have not lost in Arizona since 2012.
Matt: Lions (+3) over Cowboys
Remember when Dak Prescott was good? Remember when the Cowboys went 13-3? Remember when Jason Garrett was a good coach? Okay, that last part isn’t true, but how crazy is it to think Dallas won 13 games two years ago?
It’s a thrilling two-person race in the “First 2018 Coach Fired” pool between Bill O’Brien and Jason Garrett. O’Brien has the lead right now but Garrett is like a horse at the Kentucky Derby who takes the final turn and sees the leader yards away. He can feel it. Now all he has to do is a lose at home to a rookie astrophysicist.
Liam: Bears (-3) over Buccaneers
It doesn’t matter whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston get the nod at quarterback for Tampa Bay.
The Bears defense is a juggernaut, tied with the aforementioned Seahawks for the most takeaways in the league with eight. Khalil Mack has forced half of those turnovers by himself.
Fitzpatrick has been entertaining, there is no doubt. But, he did throw three picks in a loss to the Steelers on Monday. The Bucs could opt to start Winston, but he is coming off a season in which he threw 11 interceptions in 13 games.
Chicago’s offense garnered momentum in the second half against the Cardinals, and this should continue against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 31st in yards allowed and 29th in scoring.
Matt: Bengals (+3.5) over Falcons
Cincinnati’s offense is fun. Atlanta’s defense is bad. Two things I never thought I would say a month ago. With no Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones, or Keanu Neal, Atlanta’s defense is set for a long season. But they are now in prime position to be crowned the “2018 Red Zone Team” with every game like last week’s 43-37 OT loss to New Orleans.
This week’s O/U is 53.5. A lot of points will be scored and the Falcons can’t stop anyone. The Andy Dalton Renaissance continues and the Bengals backdoor this spread. Make sure you grab that extra half point.
Liam: Chargers (-10.5) over 49ers
No Jimmy G? Big problem.
Remember how bad San Francisco was without Jimmy Garoppolo last year? Hint, they went 1-10.
The pieces around the quarterback have not gotten much better since last season, and cornerback Richard Sherman will not be suiting up against a Chargers team whose two losses have come to the best two teams in the NFL.
The 49ers defense has gotten gashed over the first three games, and this trend will continue against Los Angeles. Philip Rivers is off to a great start with 906 yards, eight touchdowns and a 81.2 QBR while the team is gaining 5.5 yards per carry.
Only thing I’m worried about is a backdoor cover. This game will be over by halftime.
Matt: Titans (+4) over Eagles
This game is going two ways.
- Tennessee’s defense continues to look great. They continuously put pressure on Carson Wentz and his newly constructed ACL. On offense, the combo of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert find a way to put points on the board (mainly from Ryan Succop field goals). Wentz gets the ball down 18-15 with two minutes left but Malcolm Butler picks him off. Tim McGraw blares from the stadium speakers and Mike Vrabel gets drenched in Gatorade.
- Carson Wentz looks a lot more comfortable than last week. He shreds a Titans defense that has feasted against poor quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill, Deshaun Watson, and Blake Bortles. Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert string together five straight three-and-outs. FOX puts up a graphic that Tennessee hasn’t been in Eagles territory all game. It’s 23-0 Philadelphia and you realize you put money on Blaine Gabbert and Marcus Mariota.
Liam: Ravens (+3) over Steelers
There’s no love lost between these two NFC North squads and Sunday night should present a fun matchup between these two squads.
Joe Flacco has a fire lit under his belly, throwing for 889 yards, six touchdowns and a 92.8 passer rating while leading the Ravens to a 2-1 start. He should be able to take advantage of a Steelers defensive unit that is allowing 30 points per game and has two members of their secondary listed at doubtful on the injury report.
Pittsburgh has been impressive offensively, but the Ravens have a dynamic defense. Baltimore is allowing just 17 points per outing and their 273 yards yielded per game is the lowest in the NFL.