NFL Week 3 Picks

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning

The Giants have been a losing team for a long time. They’re 0-2 right now. They were 6-10 last season. They were 7-9 in 2013, and at 6-2 in 2012 with a chance to win the NFC East, they finished 3-5. Put all of that together and you have a 16-26 record over the last 42 games over parts of four seasons with obviously no playoff appearances. Four of those 16 wins came against the Redskins as the Giants have gone 12-26 against teams not named the Redskins since Week 9 of 2012.

Tom Coughlin survived the second-half collapse of 2012 because of the Super Bowl XLII win the year before. He survived a losing season in 2013 and again in 2014 because of Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. But after this now lengthy stretch of losing, time is running out on Tom Coughlin and his Giants era, which is in its 12th year. The Giants aren’t going to fire Coughlin in the middle of the season if the losing continues and if the team is unable to compete in the wide-open and horrible NFC East, but this will be the beginning of the end of the Coughlin era if the Giants don’t start winning and change the late-game losing culture they have established.

Luckily for the Giants, at 0-2, they’re facing the one team they have been able to count for wins in recent years: the Redskins.

The key to the picks season is surviving Week 2. A 7-9 Week 2 isn’t anything to be excited about, but it’s enough to survive.

(Home team in caps)

NEW YORK GIANTS -3.5 over Washington
In any other division, at 0-2 with a divisional loss, the Giants would be in serious trouble. But in the NFC East, where the 2-0 Cowboys are without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant and the 0-2 Eagles are a disaster and the 1-1 Redskins are the Redskins, the Giants aren’t in the worst place. Sure, it would be nice if they could finish in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and be 2-0 right now, but the season isn’t over … yet. If they lose at home on Thursday Night Football to the Redskins, then yes, the season is over. Unfortunately, in the NFC East, even at 0-3, the Giants probably aren’t even out of it, but I’m going to pretend they will be.

Pittsburgh -2 over ST. LOUIS
The Steelers are getting Le’Veon Bell back in time to face the vaunted home defense of the Rams. I say “home defense” because when you go to Washington and allow 24 points and lose by 14, it doesn’t matter that you beat the two-time defending NFC champions in the season opener. Along with the Patriots, the Steelers are at the top of the AFC right now and were even before the return of Bell. Now that Bell is back and with Martavis Bryant back in two weeks, the Steelers are only going to get stronger. Even though I could care less about the Steelers, I care about the AFC having at least one or two teams that are somewhat good and could prevent the Patriots from yet another easy walk through the postseason, so that’s why I want, no I need the Steelers to be good.

MINNESOTA -2.5 over San Diego
The Chargers opened the season in San Diego against Detroit. Then they flew to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. Then they flew back to San Diego. Now they are flying back to Minnesota to play the Vikings. That’s a lot of travel in the last nine or 10 days once this game kicks off on Sunday, which will have included going three time zones east, three time zones back west and then two time zones east again in that span.

HOUSTON -6.5 over Tampa Bay
Aside from cutting Charles James in training camp and naming Brian Hoyer the starter over Ryan Mallett, Hard Knocks made me want to like the Texans. But after losing their first two games to the Chiefs and Panthers, it’s getting harder to like the Texans and believe in them. This is it for me and the Texans. They have cost me two picks already this season and if their defense can’t hold a rookie quarterback without his best receiver at full strength then I’m done with the Texans.

NEW YORK JETS -3 over Philadelphia
I originally thought if the Jets didn’t win against the Browns in Week 1 that there would be a real chance they could be 1-3 heading into their Week 4 bye. That’s the danger of trying to predict wins and losses in the NFL before the season. The Jets’ Weeks 2-4 matchups at Indianapolis, against the Philadelphia and at Miami looked like an early-season gauntlet. But in two weeks, the Colts have proven they haven’t improved since last season, the Eagles are an 0-2 mess and the Dolphins are once again all preseason hype. Now not only are the Jets not going to start the season 1-3, they might be 4-0 heading into their bye and with the Redskins on the schedule in Week 6, they might be 5-0 heading to New England. Nearly five years after we got the 9-2 Jets against the 9-2 Patriots on Monday Night Football, we might get the 5-0 Jets against the 5-0 Patriots this season.

CAROLINA -6.5 over New Orleans
I used to believe in the Saints inside the Superdome no matter what the line was. But after losing five home games last season and losing to the Buccaneers at home last week, that theory is officially over. The Saints are a bad team and they aren’t getting any better and it might be getting close to a complete change in New Orleans. The problem is the Saints have been so inconsistent and winning enough to not bottom out and force an overhaul. This season, they’re 0-2. Last season, they were 7-9. In 2013, they were 11-5 and won a playoff game. In 2012, they were 7-9. In 2011, they were 13-3 and won a playoff game. In 2010, they were 11-5 and lost their first playoff game. The Saints have had just enough success to keep their core in tact even if they haven’t been good enough to win it all since winning it all in 2009.

NEW ENGLAND -14 over Jacksonville
The only team I ever feel confident picking to cover or win in New England is the Giants. The Jaguars’ win at home against the Dolphins was nice and they seem to be finally headed in the right direction without a winning season since 2007, but this is a terrible spot for them to be in. The Patriots just went to Buffalo and put up 507 yards on the Bills’ defense and left Bills fans devastated. Now they return home where they have lost like three games in 15 years and are facing a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. The Patriots will be 3-0 heading into their bye week before going to Dallas to face the Tony Romo- and Dez Bryant-less Cowboys and then going to Indianapolis to try to hang 80 on the Colts for Deflategate. The Patriots are going to be 5-0 before their Week 7 game against the Jets and that’s the next time I will have to really think about the Patriots not covering.

BALTIMORE -2.5 over Cincinnati
The Ravens, along with the Saints and Rams destroyed survivor pools last week. I wasn’t expecting the Ravens to go to Oakland where the Bengals had ran the Raiders out of their own building a week before and lose. The Ravens are in unchartered territory under John Harbaugh at 0-2 and have to play the undefeated Bengals this week and then go to Pittsburgh on a short week next week. This is it for the 2015 Ravens this week and to think in January they were blowing two 14-point leads against the Patriots away from playing the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, which basically would have meant they were going to play in the Super Bowl.

Oakland +3.5 over CLEVELAND
After not having “that game” last week, this game is “that game” this week …

Somewhere someone who isn’t a Raiders fan or a Browns fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Thank about that.

Mike Pettine deciding to name Josh McCown the starting quarterback this week after Johnny Manziel led the team to a win last week is the most Browns decision ever. Josh McCown is a 36-year-old journeyman, who has never been good. He isn’t going to lead the Browns to the playoffs this year and unless Pettine knows 100 percent that his job is safe with another losing season and that he can hope Manziel will be the full-time starter next season, this decision makes no sense. Actually, it makes no sense anyway. After sitting behind Brian Hoyer last season and McCown this season, it’s not like he’s exactly learning from some former MVP or an all-time quarterback or even a decent one. Manziel continuing to sit on the bench is stunting his growth and preventing the Browns from moving on and improving. I hope the Browns are embarrassed by the Raiders.

TENNESSEE +3.5 over Indianapolis
I hate the Colts for starting Deflategate and making the last eight months unbearable after they served as a red carpet in the AFC Championship Game for the Patriots to get into the Super Bowl. So it puts a smile on my face to see Andrew Luck with five interceptions in the first two games and a very average roster around him playing that way. Maybe I will eventually have enough confidence in the Colts to pick them, and maybe that eventually is next week at home against the Jaguars, but for now, I’m selling the Colts hard just like everyone else seems to be.

Atlanta -2 over DALLAS
The Falcons in a dome outside of Georgia aren’t exactly the same as the Falcons inside the Georgia Dome, but they’re certainly better than the Cowboys without their quarterback, without their top wide receiver and their all-time tight end suffering from various injuries being so banged up he might not play.

SEATTLE -15 over Chicago
A 15-point line in the NFL is a rare occurrence. We saw it on nearly a weekly basis during the Patriots’ 2007 season, but it’s very, very, very hard to get a two-touchdown line, especially in Week 3. It takes a perfect storm of events to get a line like this, and in this instance, the perfect storm is the Seahawks being 0-2 and returning home for the first time since the NFC Championship Game and the Bears being a bad 0-2 team without their starting quarterback and top wide receiver heading to the hardest place for a road team to win in the NFL. The Seahawks are going to win this game and most likely won’t give up a single point. This line is too low.

Buffalo +3 over MIAMI
The Dolphins are the biggest frauds in the NFL. I’m sick and tired of annually hearing how this is the Dolphins year and this is the season they are going to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East. After squeaking out a win against the Redskins in Week 1, the Dolphins lost to the Jaguars in Week 2, blowing what was the easiest two-week schedule to open the season in the league. I’m now rooting against the Dolphins.

Denver -3.5 over DETROIT
I was worried about Peyton Manning before the season started and his Week 1 performance made me worry even more. Then the first half of his Week 2 performance made me worry even more. But during the second half of the Broncos’ win at Arrowhead, Manning didn’t look like his old self, but he looked like a guy that figured out how to play and win with what’s left of his arm and abilities. If he can work his magic after traveling to Kansas City on a short week to win on Thursday Night Football, he can certainly win in perfect conditions inside Ford Field against an 0-2 and headed nowhere Lions team.

GREEN BAY -7 over Kansas City
The Packers are the best team in the NFC and their come-from-behind and convincing win over the Seahawks in Week 2 made me realize the NFC is likely to run through Lambeau Field this winter. These touchdown-or-less lines for the Packers aren’t going to be around much longer with the way they’re playing, so you better get in on them before they’re gone.

Last week: 7-9-0
Season: 16-15-1