These are not a nice set of lines as we head into week four of the regular season, but first there’s the matter of our trivia competition:
‘So, now we move onto Week 4 where I want to know Who is Captain Fear and which team does he support?’
I’m going to have to take a complete shot in the dark here and suggest he founded the Black Hole fan group and therefore supports the Oakland Raiders.
‘It’s back to guessing again this week for me, but I think the word ‘Captain’ is the giveaway – I think Captain Fear is the pirate mascot of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.‘
Bengals @ Falcons (-5.5)
This is an important game for the Bengals as they will want to keep the pressure on the Ravens in the AFC North and they will want to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Panthers. They were in the Panthers game until the fourth quarter even if their run defence was bad, but the turnovers weren’t really Dalton’s fault and this week they travel to face an Atlanta team that keep losing starting players. The Falcon’s offence found its scoring mojo in last week’s crazy game with the Saints but the Bengals defence is a very different unit. I’m not definitively predicting the Bengals to win, but I absolutely feel like they will be within six points by the end of the game and I’m hoping for the win.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
‘I actually think Bengals could end up doing pretty well in this one. Not only do I think they’ll cover, I think they’ll win!’
Bills @ Packers (-10.5)
The Green Bay Packers went to Washington and got thumped so I’m a little surprised that they are giving eleven points in this game. I’m not saying that everything is suddenly fixed for the Bills, but they got a tough road win and whilst there could be a let-down, this is too many points for me to give when Aaron Rodgers is not fit and the defence of the Packers is ranked twenty-seventh in the league by DVOA
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Bills
‘This is REALLY difficult to pick. A week ago I’d have said easily Packers, but with that spread, and with their performance last week against the Vikings, I’m going to go with the Bills.’
Buccaneers @ Bears (-2.5)
This is a truly fascinating game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly managed to pull back their Monday night game against the Steelers after a disastrous first half where Ryan Fitzpatrick kept throwing interceptions. Given that he was the first NFL quarterback to throw for four hundred yards in three straight games it feels like he has to come back to earth a little. Particularly against a Chicago Bears defence that currently ranks number one by DVOA and boasts the early candidate for defensive player of the year in Khalil Mack who is making every Raiders fan sad about the strange trade that sent him to the Bears. The problem for the Bears is that as well as Matt Nagy’s offence looks to be schemed, the instinct of Mitch Trubisky is to tuck and run, which right now looks as if it could hold back this team. I’m not confident about this, but in the end I’m going with the quarterback that I have a little more faith in and the thing that he seems to have going with his co-ordinator Todd Monken calling the plays.
Gee’s Pick: Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick: Buccaneers
‘Could we see the return of Jameis Winston? Probably not. Buccs win.’
Lions @ Cowboys (-2.5)
This is a fairly straight forward pick to me, which probably means I’m about to get this horribly wrong but the Dallas Cowboys look to be in trouble. The offence just isn’t working as they haven’t replaced either Jason Witten or Dez Bryant and so Dak Prescott is lacking options in the passing game just when the offensive line has some injuries and isn’t the dominant unit it has been in recent season. If things weren’t bad enough, the defence’s talisman Sean Lee is out and so I don’t fancy them at all against a Detroit Lions team who seem to have been improving week to week and who I fancy to get a win on the road in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Lions
Dan’s Pick: Lions
‘Fourth game in a row I’m going for the road team! Lions for me in this one.’
Eagles @ Titans (+3.5)
This is very much a strange game to pick given that the Tennessee Titans have won the last two games by a field goal despite the nerve injury that is hampering Marcus Mariota who didn’t even start the last game and they have an overall ranking of twenty-fourth by DVOA. The Philadelphia Eagles are having a difficult start to the season thanks to the injuries they have but at least Carson Wentz is back behind centre. Thanks to the points I’m really undecided about this one so in the end I’m going to grab the points for a home underdog.
Gee’s Pick: Titans
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
‘Make that 5! The Titans haven’t actually looked as poor as I thought they might after week one, and have won their last couple. That being said, I think the Eagles have a good feel about them and will want to really establish themselves with Wentz back. Eagles win.’
Texans @ Colts (-0.5)
This is a really important game for the 0 – 3 Houston Texans who have really struggled thanks to an offensive line that is not getting the job done and problems in their secondary. This week they travel to face an Indianapolis Colts team who have looked competitive all season as Andrew Luck works his way back from his long term shoulder injury and the defence quietly has improved to just outside the top ten by DVOA through three weeks. I’m trying to balance up the desperation of the Texans to finally get a win vs the clear problems they are having and a line that is giving me no help whatsoever. This is another game I don’t have a hugely strong feel for so I’m going to grab the home team and hope.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Texans
‘Difficult one to call, but I think the Texans will do this.’
Dolphins @ Patriots (-6.5)
I find this a curious line because as difficult as it is to see the New England Patriots losing three games in a row there are real problems with both the receiving options and the balance of the offence as well as the defence. The Miami Dolphins however have hugely benefitted from having Ryan Tannehill back from injury and look to have impressive speed on offence whilst the defence has played tough all season and the Dolphins are currently ranked second in the league by DVOA. I’m not saying the Dolphins will definitely win but I they are more likely to be within seven than not.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
‘Miami to win at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2008.’
Jets @ Jaguars (-7.5)
I am going to resist reading too much into the Jaguars loss last week as divisional games can be funny but they will want to get things back on track this week as they host the New York Jets who have very much struggled since their opening win against the Detroit Lions. I find it hard to predict that Sam Darnold (who is going through the usual rookie difficulties) suddenly having an easier time against the Jaguars defence. The Jets were competitive with a poor roster last season but on the road I see them struggling yet this number of points worries me. However, in the end I can’t quite bring myself to pick them. I may well regret this.
Gee’s Pick: Jaguars
Dan’s Pick: Jets
‘New York will want to get back to winning ways after losing to the Browns, and while I don’t think they’ll do that this week, they won’t lose by more than a touchdown I wouldn’t have thought.’
Browns @ Raiders (-2.5)
The Cleveland Browns travel to Oakland to seek their first consecutive wins in four years with the Baker Mayfield era definitely started. However, it will be a different test coming in as the starter but Mayfield made such a difference to the way the Browns’ offence operated whilst their defence has been better all year. That said, whilst I don’t exactly trust them, the Browns face a Raiders team who are winless this season but there are signs that the Browns won’t have it all their own way. The Raiders have been competitive for the last two games and having started the season against the juggernaut Rams they have been on the road for those two games as well. The Raiders will be desperate to get their first win and I find it just too hard to predict a Browns win two weeks in a row.
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
‘Can’t see the Browns winning this week. The Raiders didn’t look too bad last week and I think they’ve got enough about them to win here.’
Seahawks @ Cardinals (+3.5)
I thought the Arizona Cardinals would have a tough season but they have truly struggled and have now made the move to start rookie quarterback Josh Rosen but he faces an uphill task. That said the Cardinals did manage to get out to a fourteen-point lead last week until they succumbed to a Chicago Bears comeback. However, whilst the Seattle Seahawks have not exactly looked good, they have been competitive and are coming off their first win of the season. I don’t have a strong feel for this game, which has recent years has been a tense close battle between divisional opponents and in the end I’m going to grab the points and not feel confident at all.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks
‘Can’t really decide on this one, but seeing as I’ve got to, I’ll go Seattle.’
Saints @ Giants (+3.5)
The New York Giants got their first win last week on the road going against a poor Texans team and this week they welcome a New Orleans Saints team whose offence is top five by DVOA and whose defence is bottom five. There is a big difference for the Saints when Drew Brees is on the road outdoors than in a dome but the bad weather has not truly hit yet and I have so much more faith in the Brees led offence than what Eli Manning is producing at the moment. I might really regret this but I’m backing the Saints in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Saints
Dan’s Pick: Saints
‘They might have needed overtime to get the win last week against Atlanta, but I think they’ll settle this one fairly comfortably this week. Saints to win.’
49ers @ Chargers (-10.5)
This is a tricky game for me in that yes the San Francisco 49ers have lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the season but I mentally have a picture of the LA Chargers struggling to win games by a lot However, they have managed a win by eleven already this season and totalled five such wins last season and so now I swinging back and forth on this one. In the end this feels like too many points for a team that I don’t entirely trust so I’m reluctantly picking the 49ers to cover against one of the worst home advantages in the league but I’m not convinced.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
‘It’s tempting to pick the 49ers given the 10.5 spread, but I’m going to say LA because the 49ers are a bit broken.’
Ravens @ Steelers (-3.5)
This should be a cracking game that sees the Baltimore Ravens facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in a huge divisional game where the Steelers will be looking to get their second win of the season. The Ravens got back to winning ways last week having paired an improved offence with their traditionally strong defence. I like them to keep this game close and given the issues the Steelers have on defence and how I don’t expect Flacco to turn the ball over with the same rate as Fitzpatrick did on Monday I think this will be a close game and the extra half point has me backing the Ravens to keep this within a field goal if not win.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Ravens
‘This could really go either way. I’m going to call Ravens but I won’t be overly surprised if I don’t get this one.’
Chiefs @ Broncos (+5.5)
The Denver Broncos have improved on offence this year but their defence also looks to have taken a step back and as much as they have a good home advantage, particularly early in the season, they face a Kansas City Chiefs team with the best offence in the league right now. Andy Reid will be very comfortable with his trading away of Alex Smith given that Patrick Mahomes has thrown for thirteen touchdowns and no interceptions through the three games of this season. Even with their home advantage the Broncos have not beaten the Chiefs since 2015 but the question is whether they can keep this game with six and that still has me struggling to make up my mind given the Chiefs bottom of the league defence. I expect the Chiefs to win this game but on the road for the third time in four weeks against a divisional opponent I’m nervously going to grab the points.
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs