Hard as it is to believe, once this coming weekend’s games have been played the regular season will be one quarter complete for more than three quarters of the NFL’s 32 teams.
Six of the teams have their bye weeks. And we will also be treated to the first of three games to be played in London, England, as the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders face one another at storied Wembley Stadium.
The highlight of this past week’s action was the Super Bowl rematch between Denver and Seattle. Seattle again was the winner, but the game was much more competitive.
For a while it looked as though Seattle would win rather easily, building a 17-3 halftime lead. But Denver held the Seahawks scoreless for most of the second half while closing to 17-12 in the fourth quarter. A Denver turnover led to a Seattle field goal and 20-12 advantage with about a minute remaining, enough time for Broncos QB Peyton Manning to direct a quick scoring drive and subsequent 2-point conversion to tie the game and force overtime.
When the Broncos scored to make it 20-18, Seahawks bettors were all rooting for the 2 point try to be successful since overtime would be their only chance to cash their tickets on Seattle laying anywhere from 4 to 5.5 points. Seattle bettors got their wish.
Seattle won the coin toss to start overtime and the only way Indianapolis would not get the football in the extra period would be if Seattle scored a touchdown – which they did after a five minute-plus drive.
Other highlights of Week 3 included a pair of wild games in which Dallas rallied from 21-0 down to defeat St. Louis, 34-31, along with Philadelphia overcoming another sluggish start to overtake and then hold off Washington in a 37-34 win.
Two Super Bowl contenders continue to have problems on offense although both teams managed to win competitive games. New Orleans defeated Minnesota, 20-9, in its first home game of the season and New England needed a holding penalty on Oakland that took away a last minute potentially tying Raiders TD in the Pats’ 16-9 win.
After the first two weeks’ results each produced just 7 OVERS and 9 UNDERS, this past week saw 8 go OVER and 7 stay UNDER heading into the Monday night game between Chicago and the New York Jets.
Underdogs won four games outright (San Diego, Arizona, Kansas City and Pittsburgh) although Dallas, the Giants, Baltimore and Detroit each won their games as favorites of less than 2 points.
The point spread came into play in just two games with Philadelphia winning but failing to cover against Washington and New England doing the same against Oakland.
After just 3 weeks only three teams remain unbeaten (Arizona, Philadelphia and Seattle) and just three teams remain winless (Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay).
Whether this is a sign of parity remains to be seen. The lines makers might be thinking so as through the first 47 games this season the average game featured a point spread of 4.61. Through the first 3 full weeks last season (48 games) that average was 5.26.
Bye weeks begin this weekend with six teams on the sidelines. Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis all get some extra time to assess the start of their seasons, make adjustments and have extra preparation time for their week five games (although note 2-1 Denver will play host to unbeaten Arizona when both teams return to action).
NY Giants +3 at Wash (45): Rashad Jennings helped the Giants run for 193 yards against Houston, which was more than they gained on the ground in their first two games combined. A successful running game opens up the passing game. The Giants have had success against their Division rivals over the past decade, winning 14 of their 20 meetings. Despite home teams having had success on Thursday nights this line seems suspiciously short. GIANTS.
Miami -4.5 vs. Oakland (41): Game played in London, England. Oakland played well in losing last week at New England and is a team that does have upside potential in terms of showing significant improvement as the season progresses. Both teams have struggled on offense and the long trip and unfamiliarity with the surroundings are factors that suggest a lower than expected scoring contest. UNDER.
Green Bay NL at Chicago: Barring key injuries to Chicago on Monday night this game should be priced close to pick ‘em. Neither team has yet rushed for 100 yards in a game. That said, both defenses have also been very vulnerable to the run. Chicago QB Jay Cutler has just as many weapons as does Aaron Rodgers. This has the makings of being the day’s most entertaining game. OVER.
Buffalo +3 at Houston (41): Current Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick may have extra motivation in going against his former team, motivation that may be additionally fueled by the 3 interceptions he suffered last week. Houston’s rush defense is a concern whereas Buffalo’s has been a strength. Still, in JJ Watt the hosts have the most impactful defensive player. HOUSTON.
Tenn +7 at Indy (45.5): After starting 0-2 Indianapolis routed Jacksonville 44-17, leading 30-0 at halftime and gaining over 500 total yards for the game. The Colts’ two losses are excusable, at Denver and to Philadelphia, a pair of Playoff teams from last season. The Colts have been a strong home team since QB Andrew Luck arrived in 2012, going 14-4 SU and 12-5-1 ATS, and overall have won 5 in a row against Tennessee, going 4-0-1 ATS. INDIANAPOLIS.
Carolina +3 at Baltimore (39): Baltimore did not allow over 100 rushing yards to any of its first three foes. The Ravens have had extra time to rest and prepare for a Panthers team going on the road after a pair of home games. After opening the season with three straight Divisional games the Ravens finally get to play a game that should feature less intensity. With the better coach and more accomplished quarterback the Ravens have most of the edges. BALTIMORE.
Detroit NL at NY Jets: Lions continue their recent history of struggling on the road and inability to sustain momentum. In the win over the Packers they lost key defender Steven Tulloch for the season to an injury sustained during a sack celebration – yet another indication the Lions continue to suffer from a lack of disciplined play. The Jets have an above average defense and a front that should put consistent pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford. NY JETS.
Tampa Bay +7 at Pittsburgh (44): Last Thursday may have been the low point of the season when the Bucs fell behind, 56-0, in a Divisional road loss at Atlanta. Historically teams that allow at least 50 points in a game have been successful plays the following week. Often it’s a combination of pride kicking in and an overreaction by the lines makers. Tampa is a desperate team off of an embarrassing loss and with extra time to prepare. TAMPA BAY
Jacksonville +13 at San Diego (44.5): San Diego had a costly 22-10 win at Buffalo, losing versatile RB Danny Woodhead to injury after losing starting RB Ryan Matthews a week earlier. That could force the Chargers to employ more of a passing game while they make adjustments to their ground game plan. The Jags have little to lose by opening up their own offense behind their rookie QB and we could be treated to a high scoring contest. OVER.
Philly +4.5 at SF (50.5): The Eagles are 3-0 and have overcome double digit deficits in each win. The 49ers are off back-to-back losses for just the second time under coach Jim Harbaugh. The San Francisco defense is still one of the best and the Eagles have been slow starters this season. And this will be the best defense the Eagles will have faced. SAN FRANCISCO.
Atlanta -3 at Minnesota (46.5): In his first start Teddy Bridgewater gets to face an Atlanta defense that was torched for 300 passing yards by Cincinnati and New Orleans before facing the rather tame Tampa Bay offense last Thursday. The Vikes do have concerns in replacing RB Adrian Peterson. Atlanta was just 1-7 on the road last season and began this season with a 24-10 loss at Cincinnati, allowing the usually modest Bengals to gain 472 yards. MINNESOTA.
New Orleans -3 at Dallas (53): It’s only a matter of time before the Saints break out on offense, and the Dallas defense remains a major concern. Fired by Dallas as defensive coordinator after the 2012 season and now holding the same position with the Saints, Rob Ryan should have intimate knowledge of what defensive schemes confuse Dallas QB Tony Romo. Last season, at home, the Saints routed the Cowboys, 49-17. NEW ORLEANS.
New England -4 at KC (45): Running the football is a good tactic to keep Patriots QB Tom Brady on the sidelines as, despite the struggles, the Patriots still have the better QB. Aside from that opening loss in Miami when they seemed to wither in the second half due to unusually high heat and humidity, the Pats have put up solid defensive stats. We could see this game featuring more rushing than passing success. UNDER
Last week: 8-7
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]