Back in the saddle again and making picks that are actually worth taking into consideration. This past week saw some more realistic results and 13 wins out of 16 games is relatively encouraging. The problem is this week provides tons of matchups with the chance for upsets. And if you know me by now, I can’t get enough of the upset. As for picking games, it’s probably better to go with the sure thing. But if you time it right, sometimes you look really smart. I’m hoping that Week 2 was more a fluke and Week 4 is more of the standard. We shall see.
Week 3: 13-3.
Overall record: 30-18.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh. I’d love to say that this game isn’t a must-win, but this past Sunday was basically a must-win. The weather won’t help either teams cause, but the ground game was likely going to be featured more for the Steelers due to the loss of Ben Roethlisberger than the opponent’s anemic pass defense. The Steelers have been very good against the run and Justin Forsett hasn’t been able to run on anyone. Joe Flacco will need a big game from Steve Smith Sr. again. But there just aren’t enough weapons right now to beat Pittsburgh. Even with Michael Vick behind center it will be tough to expect the offense to have trouble. Steelers 24, Ravens 22
New York Jets at Miami. It would be easier to believe in the Jets if they had a QB that was a franchise guy (or a guy that was definitely going to be the starter next year) or a running back able to do much more than play half the season. Brandon Marshall has proven that he’s not quite ready to slow down and that even in this NY offense he can thrive. But with no other obvious threats (with Eric Decker hurt and Devin Smith not up to speed), it’s tough to get behind a team that depends on its defense so much and is playing on the road. With that said, Lamar Miller better be healthy this week and Ryan Tannehill better start playing up to the hype. Dolphins 23, Jets 20
Houston at Atlanta. Did we expect the Texans to win anything significant this year? Definitely not. But now that Arian Foster is likely back they should have a much brighter future. The Falcons showed this past weekend against Dallas that they are susceptible to the run. Will that doom them? And will Julio Jones be healthy enough to carry the offense? Because Devonta Freeman won’t replicate last week’s performance again any time soon. Falcons 30, Texans 20
New York Giants at Buffalo. Victor Cruz is likely to make his return this week and it comes at a time when the Giants offense is finally hitting their stride. The running game has been bad but that was expected. Can the defense stop anyone? Not with Prince Amukamara banged up once again. And how do fantasy owners feel about LeSean McCoy not playing completely healthy? I hope you picked up Karlos Williams a week or two ago, otherwise you might be upset at all the touches he’s going to take for the foreseeable future. Hopefully Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins can continue to co-exist (provided Watkins can play this weekend). Bills 24, Giants 13
Oakland at Chicago. Where did the Raiders come from? Well, we knew their offense would be improved. But I seem to remember all the other “expert analysts” proclaiming Derek Carr a mediocre player with a questionable future. And who thought they were wrong? Exactly. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have been very good together and this young Oakland team is going to continue to get better even if their team doesn’t win the majority of the remaining games. At least the Bears have Matt Forte. Raiders 17, Bears 13
Kansas City at Cincinnati. Two good teams with good schedules so far. The Chiefs have had a tough start to the season and might run into some more trouble this week. But it’s not crazy to think something might happen that hasn’t happened this year. Jamaal Charles has been great minus a few fumbles a couple games ago. Jeremy Maclin had a great second half last week and Justin Houston continues to prove he was worth every penny spent on him in the offseason. AJ Green had a breakout game against the Ravens even without a good game from Jeremy Hill. The Bengal defense looked okay against Baltimore. Chiefs 28, Bengals 20
Jacksonville at Indianapolis. It took a while, but the Colts finally got things going against the Titans and are now in position to get things going again. They aren’t as good as most thought they would be but I’m not sure that really matters in their division. Frank Gore has actually been pretty good this year but hasn’t had as many chances as he’d like. Andrew Luck has to make better decisions with the football and be a little more patient when possible. The Jags have had some good performances by TJ Yeldon and Blake Bortles, can they translate it into another win? Colts 34, Jaguars 17
Philadelphia at Washington. As all divisional games are difficult, the NFC East is really curious this time around. The Eagles totally still have a chance to turn this thing around and Sam Bradford has what it takes to lead the way. DeMarco Murray needs to stay healthy but Darren Sproles really has a chance to make himself relevant in this offense going forward. The Skins have better a solid team on offense. The running game didn’t show up this past week and the emergence of Matt Jones has really seemed to hurt Alfred Morris. Washington has been better than expected. Redskins 20, Eagles 14
Carolina at Tampa Bay. Well the Panthers weren’t supposed to be at this point, especially after losing Kelvin Benjamin. But they just picked up Jared Allen, and even without Luke Kuechly, have a great defense to rely on. Cam Newton should continue to get the job done. Can the Bucs get it going early at home? That might be the key to sticking around in this one. Panthers 17, Buccaneers 14
Cleveland at San Diego. The Browns just continue to give their fans headaches. Josh McCown wasn’t that bad this past weekend. They just need more out of their defense and more than just a few big plays here and there. Staying close early on would be a big help for a team still to develop any real identity. Philip Rivers continues to plug away and Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead have been more than enough help in the backfield. San Diego isn’t great but they aren’t bad either. They always have playoff potential, it just doesn’t go much beyond that. Chargers 28, Browns 14
Minnesota at Denver. Adrian Peterson could’ve come out of college earlier. That’s cool. And he could’ve not hit his kid. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. What have you done for me lately? Well, he’s starting to get that together. The passing game still hasn’t quite rounded out the way they had hoped but they still have the pieces necessary to make it happen. And Peyton Manning just keeps getting the job done. With no running game to speak of, Emmanuel Sanders and Demauryius Thomas have been impressive. Broncos 30, Vikings 24
Green Bay at San Francisco. How great have the 49ers looked after Week 1? That’s a joke. They’ve been terrible. And now they go against an offense that is seemingly unstoppable. They better run the ball with Carlos Hyde and play keep-away. Because they don’t have much else to throw at the Packers. James Jones has been great for Green Bay. I bet he’s ecstatic that Jordy Nelson went down with that season-ending injury. After getting cut by Oakland and then some other team in the preseason (I wanna say the Giants but I don’t care enough to do the research), Jones has had a great start to the year. Packers 35, 49ers 24
St. Louis at Arizona. In a match-up of two great defenses, the team with the better offense will likely come out on top. The Rams were stymied by an average Pittsburgh unit last week even when the defense was able to provide a stellar effort on the other side of the ball. Meanwhile, Carson Palmer continues to impress and Larry Fitzgerald just keeps getting younger. The dude isn’t done yet. Cardinals 24, Rams 14
Dallas at New Orleans. Luke McCown was great on all those 2-yard passes, but where was the rest of the New Orleans offense? They made it close considering how bad they really were. And just when you thought the Cowboys were screwed they had a nice showing by Brandon Weeden. Dallas wasn’t able to win, but they were able to run the ball all over Atlanta. This week will be no different. Cowboys 21, Saints 17
Detroit at Seattle. Lions fans wanted a win last week and if it were against any other team I don’t think they were that far off. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate continue to produce while the running game still is struggling and the defense only has its moments rather than complete games. The Seahawks have been playing with a hurt Marshawn Lynch and yet they continue to get the job done. Until they are pushed by an offense with a solid defense they should continue to win games. Seahawks 30, Lions 24