It’s crazy what one win can do for your mental state.
If you remember last week’s column, I complained about my Missouri Tigers in the introduction, stating that I already knew they were going to lose by 30 to Kansas State last weekend after a mediocre start to the year.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Not only did the Tigers avoid getting blown out, they pulled off the upset, knocking off the No. 15 Wildcats on a last-second field goal by former Warsaw Tiger place kicker Harrison Mevis. His 61-yard make barely went through the uprights as time expired, giving Missouri its first win over a ranked opponent at home since 2013. That was a full three years before I enrolled. Oh, and the 61-yarder by Mevis was the longest made field goal in the storied history of the SEC. How cool.
It was not only awesome to see my alma mater pick up its biggest win since I showed up on campus in 2016, but for the game to be won on the shoulders of an athlete from the community that has welcomed me with open arms over the last few years. I can’t think of a better example of sport being the unifier that we sometimes desperately need it to be. My list of reasons for why I love sports is already a mile long, but a new entry was added on Saturday.
As I watched students and fans storm Faurot Field and have a party at the 50-yard line, tears couldn’t help but form in my eyes. Yes, a small part of it was because I was a tad jealous to be watching the game from my couch after spending countless Saturdays at Faurot as a student, watching more than a few heartbreaking losses unfold in real time. But as the tears started to roll down my cheeks, all I could feel was an overwhelming sense of pride to be a Tiger.
It was the type of pride you only feel when your team knocks off one of its oldest rivals in front of a sellout crowd for its biggest win in years. The type of pride that has you texting all of your college buddies “OMG, did you see that?” because you know they’ve been waiting for this moment too. The type of pride that has you run out to your apartment balcony and scream M-I-Z at the top of your lungs, much to the dismay of your neighbors. Don’t get it twisted: I’m proud to be a Missouri Tiger every day of my life. But this week, I’ll be wearing my Mizzou hat with an extra touch of swagger.
The win felt so good that I barely even cared that the Bears looked downright horrendous once again on Sunday. As for last week’s picks, it somehow went even better than last Week 1, despite my concerns. I was livid after the Vikings covered in the last minute to steal Thursday night from my win column, but it turned out not to matter much. A great 1 o’clock slate and an even better late afternoon gave me the nine wins necessary for a winning week, and the primetime games added on, giving me an even better week than the first.
This is a fun development, but a scary one as well. I have to make sure this newfound picking success doesn’t get to my head. If I start getting cocky and get away from my methods, who knows what disaster awaits me. We must stay strong.
As usual, some quick hitters before we begin.
I watched the movie Amadeus for the first time ever last week. What a film. I’ve had Mozart in my head ever since and I may watch it again next month. I can’t believe I’d never seen it. Right up my alley!
Our coverage area currently boasts two undefeated football teams in Warsaw and Tippecanoe Valley. Both teams seem to be getting better as the season goes along, and I’m really excited to see how far they can go! Warsaw plays at Mishawaka tomorrow night while Valley hosts Jimtown.
There are six matchups in college football this weekend featuring two ranked teams facing off, headlined by Notre Dame and Ohio State squaring off on Saturday night. It’s going to be marvelous.
Anyways, let’s get down to business.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-10)
At halftime of last week, the Giants were dead in the water. But the G-Men found a way to erase a 28-7 deficit to escape Arizona with a massive come from behind win. It came at a cost though, as star running back Saquon Barkley appeared to injure himself at the end of the game. He’ll be out for at least three weeks. If New York starts slow once again, they aren’t going up against Arizona this time around. The Niners are ridiculously talented and will make them pay. Anybody who reads this column consistently knows I hate lines this lopsided, but this won’t be the first time today I’ll be picking a heavy favorite. Christian McCaffrey runs wild and San Fran covers.
The Pick: 49ers -10
1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
The Colts looked great on Sunday, even after losing rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson early in the game to a concussion. If he’s not able to play on Sunday, expert this line to get even more lopsided. I’m interested in this one because Indy has not struggled to score points this season, but they have not played a defense like Baltimore’s. The Ravens defeated Cincy last week to move to 2-0. I like what the Colts are building this season, but this is going to be a big challenge for the young group. I like Baltimore at 3-0.
The Pick: Ravens -7.5
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (-3.5)
The Falcons are perhaps the most surprising 2-0 team in the league after knocking off the Packers last week. The Lions had a massive let down at home after beating Kansas City in Week 1, falling to Seattle. Both of Atlanta’s wins have come at home and this week will be their first road test. The rabid Detroit fans will be looking for a win, and if the defensive front can shut down the run, they should be able to get it.
The Pick: Lions -3.5
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Another huge spread. This one is tricky for me. The Texans have lost both games they’ve played this season by double digits, while the Jaguars offense has shown flashes, but hasn’t put it all together for 60 minutes just yet. At home, this seems like the perfect opportunity for them to take flight against a rather meh defense. But I like what I’ve seen out of C.J Stroud so far, and I think he and the offense can score enough points to keep this within ten points. Jacksonville wins by a touchdown.
The Pick: Texans +8.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-1.5)
This is an interesting one, as one of these two playoff teams from last year is going to start this season 0-3. Austin Ekeler was missed by the Chargers last week, but there’s a chance he’s back for this one. Kirk Cousins has quietly put up some great numbers despite his team’s slow start. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think the offense I trust more is Minnesota’s. On the defensive side of the ball though, the Vikings are littered with issues. The Chargers run game could flip this one on its head, but with Ekeler either out or potentially hobbled, the seat gets even hotter for Brandon Staley.
The Pick: Vikings -1.5
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-3)
Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point in the column where we have to talk about Nick Chubb. For the second straight week, a top player in the NFL suffered a season-ending injury on Monday night. This one was so bad that I hope Chubb can suit up again at all. Jerome Ford is the new man in the backfield for now. The Titans did pull off the upset at home against the Chargers last week, just as predicted. I think they might have found a recipe for success in that game. The Browns defense is great, but the offense, even with $230M man Deshaun Watson at the helm, looks mediocre at best.
The Pick: Titans +3
Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Washington Commanders
Buffalo had the get-right game it desperately needed last week, while the Commanders joined the list of surprising 2-0 teams. Despite that, they’re still being disrespected as touchdown underdogs at home. Sam Howell might be really good. The Bills showed off what they’re capable of last week, but did so against one of the worst teams in football. Similar to my Titans pick last week, there’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to this one, but I think the home team shows out. I don’t know if they will win, but this will be a one possession game.
The Pick: Commanders +6.5
New England Patriots (-2.5) at New York Jets
The Patriots need a win in the worst way this week, and will have a prime chance to get one against a Jets side that struggled last week against Dallas. New England head coach Bill Belichick owns New York, and I see the trend continuing here. The Jets defense didn’t look as otherworldly in Week 2 as it did in its opener, and the Patriots offense has looked good at times this season. I don’t think Zach Wilson has what it takes to lead this team to the playoffs, which is not something I’m thrilled to say. Give me the Pats over the Jets once again.
The Pick: Patriots -2.5
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-2)
The Packers lost a game against the Falcons on Sunday that the team definitely should have won. It was really fun to watch. The Saints offense through two games has looked shaky, but the defense continues to be one of the strongest units in the league. Green Bay hasn’t faced off against a defense this stout so far, so it could be a rude awakening for Jordan Love and company. If Derek Carr can figure it out even just a little bit, I think this should be a win for New Orleans.
The Pick: Saints +2
Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins (-6.5)
Don’t shoot the messenger, but after two weeks, the Miami Dolphins are the best team in football. The offense is absolutely ridiculous, with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle running all over secondaries with no remorse. The Broncos on the other hand, I’m still not sure. Denver started its Week 2 game white hot before blowing a big lead and falling to 0-2. So far, the Broncos look better than they did last year, but that’s not saying much. Give me Miami by a touchdown or more in its home opener.
The Pick: Dolphins -6.5
LATE AFTERNOON SLATE
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)
No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young has shown flashes in his first few NFL starts, but he doesn’t really have the talent around him for me to think he’s going to make a name for himself this year. The Seahawks and Geno Smith looked much better in their Week 2 win over Detroit. While I still don’t think Seattle is very good, they are better than Carolina and will have a chance to prove so at home. I like Smith and company to win this one.
The Pick: Seahawks -5.5
Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)
The Chicago Bears are the first team in NFL history to lose 12 straight games and give up 25 points or more in each of them. Take a bow, Matt Eberflus! I’m running out of things to say about the Bears. They stink and there’s not much hope they’ll get better. That being said, nearly two touchdowns is a massive spread and the KC offense hasn’t lit it up to this point. There is a big part of me that sees this game being a 31-10 blowout, but I could also see the Bears losing 34-24. I really do feel like the Bears will cover this, but I’d feel like an idiot picking them to do so with no evidence to support that they can
The Pick: Chiefs -12.5
Dallas Cowboys (-12.5) at Arizona Cardinals.
I know I said earlier that I think Miami might be the best team in the league right now, but Dallas is certainly giving them a run for their money. Tied with Kansas City as the biggest favorites of the week, I’m not going to overthink this one. Maybe it’s because the Cowboys aren’t playing my favorite team. From what we’ve seen from the Dallas defense, Arizona might not get onto the scoreboard. I think the Cowboys keep it rolling with another big win here.
The Pick: Cowboys -12.5
WAITIN’ ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT
Pittsburgh Steelers at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5)
Pittsburgh got a much-needed win on Monday night against the Browns, getting two defensive touchdowns to lead the way. The Raiders got crushed by the Bills after earning a nice win in Week 1. I don’t think either offense in this game is very good, but one defense is far superior to the other. I like Pittsburgh and TJ Watt to cause some problems for Jimmy Garoppolo and the Raider offense. Give me the Steel Curtain.
The Pick: Steelers +2.5
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of these teams will head into Week 4 with a 3-0 record, something we might have assumed about the Eagles but certainly not the Bucs. Baker Mayfield has been playing lights out for Tampa Bay so far this season, but this will certainly be his biggest challenge yet. He hasn’t gone against a defense like Philly’s yet, and I think he’s liable to struggle. That being said, the Eagles have found themselves engaged in a few one-score games already. Will this be another one? I’m not so sure. I think Philadelphia gets it done big.
The Pick: Eagles -5.5
Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
This game is a must-win affair for the Bengals, who will be in a deep world of trouble if they lose this one and fall to 0-3. The Rams, in my opinion, have already proven they are not last year’s team, going 1-1 and hanging tough with the Niners last week. Cincy QB Joe Burrow is still hobbled by a calf issue that came up in training camp, so I do wonder how he is going to play, if he suits up. He probably shouldn’t, but the Bengals need this win in the worst way. I wonder if because of that, the Rams end up taking this one.
The Pick: Rams +2.5
The pressure is certainly on now. Last season, my picks were so consistently bad that I hid under the veil of “this is just for fun.” I’ve had a taste of success now. The only thing on my mind is winning. They say water always finds its level, so part of me is expecting a slump in the coming week. Let’s avoid that. Let’s make it three weeks in a row.
Last Week’s Record: 11-4-1
Season Record: 20-11-1