New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco passes against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday in Cleveland. Photo by the Associated Press
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco passes against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday in Cleveland. Photo by the Associated Press
I’m going to get a bit personal with you good people for a minute here, so I apologize in advance.

There I was, sitting at my desk, watching NFL Redzone on my phone while working and seeing chaos unfold as wins became losses and losses became wins (Hope you’re reading, Scott). The Miami Dolphins stunned the Baltimore Ravens with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to get a remarkable come-from-behind win. The Cleveland Browns took their 99.9%-win probability with a 1:31 left and threw it out the window as Joe Flacco and the New York Jets shocked the world by scoring two touchdowns with an onside kick in-between. The Detroit Lions played the best half of football the franchise has seen since the first Model T graced the streets of the city to get their first win eleven weeks earlier than last year. All of these crazy, improbable and amazing things happening, I should have been in heaven.

I was not. Quite frankly, I was very upset.

I was crunching the numbers. As the afternoon games began and the smoke cleared from the anarchy that was the 1 o’clock slate, I read last week’s column once more. Somehow, someway, I had found a way to go 0-8 on my picks from Thursday night to the late afternoon.

“How is this possible?” I thought to myself. “I have to be the biggest idiot alive.”

You see, I have a very bad problem with taking things too personally or too harshly. Especially with sports, and even more so with things that involve winning and losing. I couldn’t believe I had picked so many losers. All losers, to be specific.

I was angry. Angry that all of the picks I’d thought so long about and published were wrong. Angry that I would normally be losing my mind watching all of the madness that is the NFL unfold, but instead was watching it and fuming. I didn’t know what to do. It was ruining my day.

I got home from work and watched the afternoon slate. Those five games weren’t short on drama either, except this time, the breaks were going my way. The Atlanta Falcons almost reversed the 28-3 curse and took the Rams to the final whistle. Kyler Murray put on his magic running shoes and pulled off a stunning comeback for Arizona against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Denver Broncos still couldn’t figure out how to run a play in 40 seconds and the Texans hung around. Things began to even out. I calmed down just in time to watch my Bears earn a participation trophy on Sunday night. At least Aaron Jones helped me cash a four-player-touchdown parlay.

I’m writing this after catching both of the games on Monday night. The Bills and Eagles cruised to victories in a couple of stinkers. After a final tally, I made a nice comeback to finish at 6-10, the same record I had last week. A few breaks go my way instead of the other in the early window and I would have gone .500. After my sky-is-falling mentality consumed my brain for a few hours on Sunday, I’m sitting here feeling fine.

I’m considering this a lesson in humility for myself.

I stated in my first column that I’m no expert, and even those who claim to be have weeks they’d like to forget. The only person holding me to that high standard is myself, and if I continue to, it’ll only drive me further into madness and away from my love of the game. I can’t do it to myself every week.

Maybe this is the week I finally go above .500. Maybe it won’t be, but I’m not going to tell myself the world is ending if it isn’t. Betting spreads are a lot like life. Sometimes you win, and sometimes Joe Flacco throws two touchdowns in a minute in a half. We’ve all been there, and the sun will rise again tomorrow.

Let’s get to it.  

THURSDAY NIGHT

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-4.5)


This pick would have been a lot easier for me if the Browns hadn’t collapsed in one of the most epic fashions we have ever seen last weekend. Pittsburgh looked awfully uninspiring on offense against New England, starting the rumblings to give Kenny Pickett a shot. He probably won’t get one with the quick turnaround, and points figure to remain a premium for Pittsburgh. Cleveland was seconds away from getting me a cover last week, and despite what happened, I somehow trust them more. That being said, divisional match ups in the AFC North usually end up being bloodbaths. I think Cleveland gets the win, but does so by a field goal.

The Pick: Steelers +4.5

1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-2.5)

The Bears gave the Packers hell for about a quarter before Green Bay showed why both teams have vastly different expectations and poured it on them. The Texans hung around with Denver on Sunday, but couldn’t get enough offense going to finish the job. This is going to be a close game with not a lot of points scored. The Texans have proven their toughness, but I have to stick with my guys as favorites. Won’t be many of those games on the schedule.

The Pick: Bears -2.5

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts

I shouldn’t have expected the Colts to look like a football team this past weekend, that Jacksonville curse is really real. I’ve picked the Colts twice so far this season, and both times they disappointed me severely. In years past, the team has usually been able to overcome a slow start and gotten into playoff contention. This year, the division is so bad there’s a chance it still happens.

Kansas City is head and shoulders above Indy right now, but Frank Reich is coaching for his job. The Colts get a back door cover in the home opener.

The Pick: Colts +6.5

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)

Did you know that the Detroit Lions have the second most points scored in the NFL this season, only trailing the Chiefs? Now you do. Minnesota did a complete turnaround in Week 2, looking horrible in prime time against Philadelphia after putting up a dominant performance against Green Bay in Week 1. Kirk Cousins proved that even with all of the hype surrounding him, he’s still liable to turn back into Kirk Cousins at any given time. I regret not picking Detroit last week, and while I’m not sure they’ll win, I’m confident they’re going to open up NFC North play with a statement that this isn’t your dad’s Detroit Lions any longer.

The Pick: Lions +5.5

Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

This game has “game of the week” potential written all over it. The Bills have played the two best games of football out of any team in the NFL this season and the Miami Dolphins offense looks to be a force to be reckoned with. For those who care, the over/under for this game is set at 53.5, a total that I like more than any other this week.

Tua Tagovailoa sent a message to his haters with six touchdown passes Sunday, proving to lefties like myself that anything is possible. The QB on the other side, Josh Allen, has looked as good as advertised and is at the top of the early season MVP ladder. For me, it’s pretty straightforward. I like Miami, and am looking forward to seeing what they accomplish this year, but until someone is able to make the Bills look human, I’m going to keep picking them to circle the wagons.

The Pick: Bills -6.5

Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) at New England Patriots

Baltimore has to be angry that the team is not 2-0 heading into this game. After a stunning comeback by Miami, the Ravens are left with some questions this week when the focus should be on the amazing play of Lamar Jackson this season. Lamar has looked just as good, if not better, than his MVP year in 2019 while negotiating for a new contract. The price has gone nowhere but up.

The Patriots on the other hand picked up a win over Pittsburgh Sunday in a slugfest of the game. Points are going to be at a premium for the Patriots this season, and in games like this, I’m just not sure they can score at the level Baltimore is capable of. The Ravens bounce back with a win.

The Pick: Ravens -2.5

New Orleans Saints (-3) at Carolina Panthers

New Orleans was neck-and-neck with Tampa Bay last weekend before things kind of went off the rails after the Mike Evans-Marshon Lattimore scuffle. Jameis Winston looked like he did before the lasik eye surgery, throwing three bad interceptions. Carolina needs a win this week, but the only problem is they have looked so bad I have a hard time thinking they’ll get it. The only coach in the league with a hotter seat than Frank Reich is Matt Rhule. Baker and CMC get it done.

The Pick: Panthers +3

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Washington Commanders

The Philadelphia Eagles are the media darlings of the NFC after two weeks, and I can’t find many faults in the argument. Jalen Hurts has looked great, his weapons look fantastic and the defense responded in a big way after allowing 35 points to Detroit in Week 1. On the other side, Washington has moved the ball pretty well offensively. Carson Wentz has looked like a solid NFL QB and Curtis Samuel is finally breaking out. This is another game that I think could see a lot of points this week. I like Philly, but I also like the Commies to keep it a close game at home.

The Pick: Commanders +6.5

Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans

Both teams suffered bad losses last week to find themselves at 0-2 in this Week 3 match up, albeit both teams got there in very different ways. The Raiders had the lead for virtually the entire game before blowing it late, while Tennessee was the bug to Buffalo’s windshield in a whooping on Monday night. The Titans offense has struggled to get anything going offensively, and I don’t even think a big game from Derrick Henry can save them. Raiders finally string together a solid 60 minutes.

The Pick: Raiders  -2.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) at New York Jets

Even after supposedly buffing up its offensive line, the Bengals have given Joe Burrow zero time to work his magic this season. The QB has been sacked 13 times in two games and it has made it impossible for the team to get any sort of offensive rhythm going. The Jets got their first win last week and will be riding high into this one. I really don’t think the defending AFC champions will start 0-3, and I think this is the week the offense shows signs of life. If the line was any more lopsided, I probably would have gone with the Jets. I think we’re in the sweet spot here.

The Pick: Bengals -4.5

LATE AFTERNOON SLATE

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers (-7)

Justin Herbert is banged up, and we’re not sure how good he is going to look. Doug Pederson has the Jaguars looking like a completely different team after last year’s debacle, one that might be in the mix for the AFC South crown. Trevor Lawrence looks to finally be taking the next steps, and could be the franchise cornerstone Jacksonville imagined he’d be. The Jags will make life difficult on the Bolts for some time, but I think the Chargers show their class at some point in the second half.

The Pick: Chargers -7

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5)

The final score might have indicated otherwise, but as I was watching the Bears-Packers game on Sunday night, I thought that Aaron Rodgers didn’t look great. It was Aaron Jones that beat the Bears, not the QB that has tormented myself and other Bear fans for years. I don’t think the lack of weapons in Green Bay has been over exaggerated.

On the other hand, the Buccaneers offense has had its own struggles through two weeks and will be without Tom Brady’s favorite weapon, Mike Evans. The Bucs defense has more than picked up the slack, allowing their first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter of Week 2. It’s going to be difficult to not allow one this week, but I think Tom wins what could be his final matchup with Aaron.

The Pick: Buccaneers -1.5

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were on the fast track to 0-2 last week before a miracle comeback headlined by the speed and athleticism of Kyler Murray. The Rams were on the fast track to 1-1 before letting the Falcons make things interesting. The team got the win, but not without the performance it was looking for. There are definitely some holes in the defending champs’ 2022 squad, not all of which look easily fixable. The Cardinals and Kyler it up to their fans after getting blown out at home Week 1.

The Pick: Cardinals +3.5

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-1.5)

I get it. This isn’t going to be the most watched game this season, but at Triple C, we treat all of our games equally. Both Marcus Mariota and Geno Smith were fantastic college quarterbacks who are now catching on with new teams later in their careers. Mariota has looked serviceable so far for Atlanta, while Smith dazzled in Week 1 as the Seahawks won their Super Bowl against Russell Wilson, but came back down to earth against San Fran Sunday. I was always a big Marcus Mariota fan while he was at Oregon, and I’m happy to see him getting a shot. He’ll pick up his first win in Seattle.

The Pick: Falcons +1.5

WAITIN’ ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT

San Francisco (-1.5) at Denver Broncos


It was a tough sight for the Niners and the football world when Trey Lance went down with an ankle injury last weekend, as he’s out for the season. So much was made this offseason on this being such an important year for him and the franchise. The timetable has now been pushed back, and the team has to be glad it kept Jimmy Garoppolo.

Denver has had all sorts of issues, and the team has only played two games. From less than stellar play from Russell Wilson, to what has been an absolute masterclass on how to mismanage a game by Nathanial Hackett, it’s been a nightmarish start for the 1-1 Broncos. Are they going to turn it around or become just another team that falls victim to the preseason hype? For one more week, I’m going to believe it’s the former. Denver fans may boo throughout the game, but they’ll go home happy.

The Pick: Broncos +1.5

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-1.5)

Hands up, who had the 2-0 New York Football Giants on their bingo cards? I’ll be the first to admit I did not. I also didn’t expect Cooper Rush to win his first game filling in for Dak Prescott, but that’s the beauty of the sport. The Giants offense has looked good with a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, but Micah Parsons has been a fantastic focal point of a tough defensive unit. It was an emotional win for Dallas last week, and I think they fall flat.

The Pick: Giants -1.5

I know I began this column with a whole breakthrough about not taking it so seriously in order to find some happiness in my life. I also just spent about five hours writing this and pulling the imaginary hair out of my head. Maybe I’ll learn someday. Cheers.

 

LAST WEEK’S RECORD ATS: 6-10

RECORD: 12-20

AP WEEK?2 RECORD ATS: 8-8

AP?RECORD: 14-18