Three weeks into the NFL seasons, there are serious problems for the five teams that have started with three straight losses. It’s no surprise that Arizona and San Francisco are on that list, but Kansas City, Miami and Tampa Bay were all considered playoff contenders.
In fact, over the summer Kansas City was 8-1 to win the Super Bowl and Tampa Bay was 9-1. Miami, even before Ricky Williams "retired" was 15-1 before being raised to 20-1. Now at 0-3, each of these teams are significant longshots to even make the playoffs.
Kansas City is perhaps the biggest surprise of the trio after losing twice at home as solid favorites. Injuries to key offensive contributors and a defense that has not shown improvement are the main reasons. The Chiefs might well have been a one season wonder in 2003 as Chicago was in 2001.
Prior to last season, the Chiefs had missed the playoffs five straight seasons with only one winning record (9-7) during that span. We may have several weeks of value remaining in going against the Chiefs as they continue to be overrated.
Miami’s nosedive is a bit easier to understand. There has been a tremendous overhaul of talent on the offensive side of the football notwithstanding the departure of RB Williams. The defense is still solid and the Fish are allowing barely 15 points per game. Coach Dave Wannstedt may have blown the season with his decision to start newcomer A.J. Feeley at QB in place of veteran Jay Fiedler.
Though not amongst the NFL’s elite QBs, Fiedler was effective as a starter and had the support of his teammates. Memo to coach Dave: If you have any hopes of salvaging this still young season, make the change back to Fiedler.
Tampa Bay’s situation is a mixture of tangibles and intangibles. There has been a significant roster turnover, especially on defense. There are major problems on offense with several key WR not available due to injury and holdout. Even on defense there are problems. The loss of veterans John Lynch and Warren Sapp have stripped the team of leadership.
Prior to Monday night’s game, home favorites were just 4-6-1 ATS last week and home underdogs 0-2. Again there were more "unders" — holding a 9-4 edge versus the "overs." This should start to even out and expect value in playing the "over" as the linesmaker makes adjustments.
Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota and Seattle have "bye" weeks.
Sunday, Oct. 3
Giants (+7) at Green Bay (44): Giants running game has been better than expected and QB Kurt Warner has played well. Green Bay played well at Indy, despite being picked apart by Peyton Manning’s five first-half TD passes. Expect pressure on Warner, while Brett Favre picks apart Giants secondary. PACKERS.
Eagles (-8Â½) at Bears (41): Hard to knock the Eagles after their 3-0 start. Chicago boasts a solid running attack averaging over 150 yards per game. The Bears have played well for new coach Lovie Smith. Philly is better and should win but Chicago’s defense will keep this one close. BEARS.
Redskins (NL) at Browns: Washington is off of an intense Monday night home game against hated rival Dallas. Cleveland has dropped their last two games against a pair of Redskins rivals, New York and Dallas. Cleveland’s offense has been slow to develop. UNDER.
Patriots (-5Â½ at Bills (35): The teams swapped a pair of 31-0 home blowout wins at opposite ends of last season. The Patriots are off to a 2-0 start while Buffalo played well but lost both its games. Don’t be surprised if Buffalo does enough to keep this one close and an upset possible. BILLS.
Raiders (-1Â½) at Texans (42): Backup QB Kerry Collins showed in Oakland’s win over Tampa Bay that he an effective leader. The defense played well most of the game. Houston was outgained in its win at KC. The offense has struggled to run the ball against their first three foes. Oakland has beefed up the rush defense and has more weapons on offense. RAIDERS.
Colts (-4) at Jaguars (42): Indy QB Peyton Manning was at his best last week in the win over Green Bay. Jacksonville has won all three games, allowing just 28 points. A good defense beats a good offense. UNDER.
Bengals (+4) at Steelers (39Â½): Cincinnati outgaining the Ravens with nearly 400 yards of total offense in last week’s loss. Pittsburgh won at Miami and, despite the foul weather, ran for nearly 160 yards. Two of the Bengals first three foes have run for more than 200. STEELERS.
Falcons (+3Â½) at Panthers (39): Mike Vick continues to have more of an impact with his feet rather than his arm in the early stages of the season. The Falcons are averaging just 132 passing yards per game and 177 rushing. Carolina is rested following their Bye week. Atlanta is facing by far the best defense thus far. PANTHERS.
Saints (-3Â½) at Cards (41): Arizona has been competitive on the scoreboard but not on the field. The Cardinals have been out yarded in all three games by an average of nearly 150. New Orleans had its best rushing game at St. Louis despite the absence of Deuce McAllister. Both teams have played the Rams and the Saints not only won but had better stats. SAINTS.
Jets (-4Â½) at Dolphins: The Jets are rested and playing with confidence while the Dolphins are somewhat in turmoil. New York has a long recent history of playing well against Miami. The Dolphins may not be able to contend with QB Chad Pennington and RB Curtis Martin, each off to strong starts. JETS.
Broncos (-3) at Bucs (36): The Broncos ran for 202 yards against the porous KC defense but could muster just 106 at Jacksonville and 37 at home against San Diego. But the Denver defense has been outstanding, limiting the Jags and Chargers to a combined 390 yards. This is Denver’s second trip to the East Coast in three weeks. Tampa’s season may be on the line. BUCS.
Titans (NL) at Chargers: An injury to Tennessee QB Steve McNair kept the game off the board as the week began. Tennessee has been a strong running team early in the season. San Diego’s defensive strength has been against the run. If LaDainian Tomlinson is able to run, the Chargers might choose to open the game up. OVER.
Rams (-4) at 49ers (44): The Niners were blanked at Seattle for the first time in more than a quarter century. Both teams have already lost to both Atlanta and New Orleans. With neither team capable of making many big stops on defense, scoring should be high. OVER.
Monday, Oct. 4
Chiefs (+4Â½) at Ravens (41Â½): The Chiefs are desperate at 0-3. The Ravens have a strong running game behind RB Jamal Lewis while KC has trouble stopping the run. Chiefs have Priest Holmes but with Baltimore’s suspect passing offense, scoring should be similar to last year. UNDER.
Last week: 9-4.