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I was ill enough during the week to drive a coach and horses through my blog schedule for the week so I have a large number of things to cover in a single post so I guess I will be going broad but shallow this week.

I extended my lead over Dan with a decent week of picks after a poor week two so let’s see if I can settle into a system or if it’s going to be a week to week season.

Gee:Week 3:  12 – 4Overall:  28 – 20
Dan:Week 3:  8 – 8Overall:  23 – 25

The Thursday night game saw the Bengals win a game 24-21 having gone in at half time down two touchdowns having scored nothing. Until recently that would have meant a loss but there does seem to be something different about this year’s Bengals. I’m not suddenly pencilling them into the Super Bowl, but Joe Burrow is reminding everyone why people were excited about him and to get this win with the injuries in the secondary on a short week is a good step forward. As for the Jaguars, they obviously had a good first half, but they look a ways away from winning regularly and it could take some time. It’s too early to truly judge Urban Myer as a coach, but it has been rough early and this was always a long term project so it might not get better for a while. You can also see given Myer’s offseason moves and some of his comments why there is already speculation.

Survivor Competition

Dan got his first point on the board this week with the selection of the Cardinals going against the Jags whilst I would still be standing in a standard survivor pool so let’s see both how long I can keep that going and if Dan can catch me. I’m plumping for the Saints at home for the first time this season against a Giants team who have injuries and a troubled start to the season. Dan is going for Bills to beat the Texans which seems a solid selection to me!

Current Score

Gee: 3
Dan: 1

Week 3 Selection:

Gee:    Saints
Dan:    Bills

Bold Prediction of the Week

My bold prediction for this week was to take the Detroit Lions getting their first win on the road against the Chicago Bears. It’s certainly bold, and I’m not entirely sure it won’t happen either, but let’s see.

Early Games:

I’m still at the stage where I’m seeing most of the games as having something interesting but in the interests of keeping it short, I’ll cover what I can in a brief manner.

The matchup of the early games for my mind is the Carolina Panthers visiting the Dallas Cowboys to put their unbeaten record on the line against the 2-1 NFC East leaders. This should be a great game given how well the two teams are playing, particularly as the line is very much leaning to the Cowboys, while the Panthers are the number one team by DVOA and are both eight places and 18.5% higher than their opponents. The Cowboys have competent defence this season to go along with an explosive passing attack, which should be a really interesting matchup against the league’s top defence by DVOA. I think you likely lean Cowboys to win the game as I’m not that convinced by Sam Darnold and the Panthers are also missing Christian McCaffery with a hamstring problem, but it still should be a cracking game and the Panthers could well spring a surprise.

Points from the rest:

  • The Falcons got their first win last week but are not convincing yet so is this a game where Washington can get right after a difficult start to the season or will their problems continue on the road.
  • The Bills are understandable favourites against the Texans, but 16.5 is a huge number of points to lay so whilst I doubt rookie quarterback Davis Mills can get his first win on the road, he didn’t look that bad last week and I wonder if there is a sneaky cover to be had here.
  • The Bears offence was woeful last week, and the questions are understandably on the coaches at this point. The Lions might be viewed as a get right team but equally, this could be a game that’s a big trap for the Bears, particularly as these two teams are right next to each other in overall DVOA.
  • The Miami Dolphins have had a rough start to the season, but the Colts have been even rougher and starting a quarterback with two sprained ankles and limited time with his new team in the pre-season doesn’t inspire confidence. At this point, a first win is a must for the Colts, but a top ten defence by DVOA might be enough for the Dolphins to deny them.
  • This is the other cracking matchup in the early games that in another week would have been featured. The Browns are the number two team by DVOA and are heading to take on a Vikings team whose record is probably worse than their performance. This should be a cracking game, well worth a watch and whilst I understand the Browns being favoured, the Vikings getting points at home looks a good selection to me
  • I don’t think the Giants are getting the answers they were hoping for about Daniel Jones thanks to a combination of coaching and injuries, but there are wider problems for this franchise. It’s hard to see them beating the Saints, even if Jameis Winston has shown us the usual high and lows of his play dispite now having Sean Payton as his coach.
  • The New York Jets have shown glimmers of what could be, but it was already a mutli-year rebuild project before the injuries started and after a shut out they will be desperate to do better at home against the Titans. The Titans are not a good team, but should have enough to win this one, but I’m not sure that includes winning by eight.
  • The Chiefs are another team who’ve had a rough start to the season, which is unusual for Andy Reid who has an impressive record in September but the Chiefs’ defence is rooted to the bottom of the DVOA rankings and even with Patrick Mahomes you can’t outscore that. However, the Eagles started picking up injuries and quarterback Jalen Hutrs needs to be more consistent passing the ball before the Eagles can truly start to compete and so I find it hard to believe they will win this game.

Washington @ Falcons (+1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Washington
Dan’s Pick:      Washington

Texans @ Bills (-16.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Lions @ Bears (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Panthers @ Cowboys (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Colts @ Dolphins (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Browns @ Vikings (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Vikings

Giants @ Saints (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Titans @ Jets (+7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Chiefs @ Eagles (+7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Late Games:

There’s a couple of intriguing games in the late slot but the pick for me once again has to feature the LA Rams, this time hosting the also unbeaten Arizona Cardinals. The Rams have been explosive on offence and good enough on defence, which is interesting as when you start comparing these two teams’ DVOA rankings the Rams are ranked first in offence, but the Cardinals are top ten in all three phases of the game and are only 0.3% worse overall. I’m not sure if the Cardinals can win the game on the road, but this looks to be a cracking game and I think there’s a decent chance the Cardinals can keep this to within six.

Points on the Rest:

  • The Seahawks have not quite come together yet and will be hoping to peg back the 49ers in their bid to stay in the race for the play-offs. The 49ers have not entirely convinced either so this should be an interesting demonstration of where these two teams stand.
  • The unbeaten Denver Broncos host the Ravens this week in their first true test of the 2021 season. The early DVOA ranking are somewhat volatile as they don’t have all the opponent adjustments factored in, so I totally understand why the line sees the Ravens as the better team but I’m curious to see how this plays out on the football field. It’s certainly not beyond Vic Fangio to scheme up a defence capable of stymieing the Ravens’ multi-faceted rush attack as well as their passing game, but can Teddy Bridgwater maintain the Broncos offensive success against the Ravens defence?
  • The Steelers look to be in trouble with the offence looking how it did at the end of last season and the defence struggling against the Bengals last week minues TJ Watt. There are still doubts about the Packers after their opening loss of the season and how the defence has looked, but a good win here would further settle some of those anxieties and I suspect that is what will happen, even if you should never count out Mike Tomlin’s Steelers.

Cardinals @ Rams (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Seahawks @ 49ers (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Ravens @ Broncos (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Ravens
Dan’s Pick:      Ravens

Steelers @ Packers (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Packers
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Sunday Night Football:

Buccaneers @ Patriots (+6.5)

From a narrative point of view the undisputed game of the week is the return of Tom Brady to New England with his Super Bowl winning Buccaneers. Things have not gone perfectly for the Bucs this season, particularly as they have been struggling to defend the pass and were fairly straightforwardly beaten by the Rams last week. However, their offence has looked good and there is a solid 31.8% between the teams in overall DVOA, which accounts for them laying six and a half pints. Ordinarily getting this many points at home would be a no brainer selection of the Patriots, but even with the selection of Mac Jones looking to have provided the long-term successor to Brady at quarterback for the Patriots, there is still a lot of development for the Pats to go and whilst I wouldn’t bet against them being in the playoff hunt by December, I’m not there with them right this second. Mind you, I would not exactly be surprised if Belichick makes me regret this pick come Monday morning either…

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Buccaneers

Monday Night Football

Raiders @ Chargers (-.3.5)

This should be a cracking divisional game to finish off the week as the unbeaten Las Vegas Raiders head over to LA to face a Chargers teams coming off an impressive win against the Chiefs last week. However, right now the Raiders’ defence ranks eleventh by DVOA so might be able to do a better job against Justin Herbet than the Chiefs managed. Derek Carr has been playing better than the Vegas offensive ranking of seventeenth might indicate and the Chargers have not demonstrated that they are a defensive monster just yet. I don’t have a strong lean in either direction on this one so I’m grabbing the extra half point for a pick, but I am really looking forward to watching this game.

Gee’s Pick:       Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.