Auburn safety Cayden Bridges recovers a fumble in the end zone to secure the win over Missouri during the first overtime of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn safety Cayden Bridges recovers a fumble in the end zone to secure the win over Missouri during the first overtime of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
First off, a tip of my cap to Albert Pujols and his joining of the 700 home run club.

As a lifelong fan of an American League team, I can’t say I grew up watching him religiously. However, I will remember his home run against Brad Lidge in the 2005 NLCS for as long as I live.

With my White Sox having already clinched their spot in the Fall Classic, attention was turned to the Cardinals-Astros series to see who they would face. When Albert hit that ball, which eight-year-old me incorrectly guessed went about a thousand feet, I was scared. I did not want the Sox to play the Cardinals. It didn’t matter how good our pitching was, how timely our hitting was. The Cardinals had Albert, and that gave me nightmares.

Luckily for me and the Sox, the Astros took the series. That home run will live on forever though, as will The Machine as one of the greatest hitters to ever live.

Fast forward to today and the 42-year-old Pujols would lead the White Sox in home runs. Is that not a sad enough stat for you? Aaron Judge had more home runs at the end of May than any player on the Sox has this year. No wonder I’ve transitioned flawlessly into football mode.

However, football depresses me too. The Bears have completed 23 passes through three games, an abysmal number in today’s NFL. I’m not even going to get into how Mizzou lost this week, but it was bad even for their standards. I wonder if that’s why I started writing this and why I suffer from a crippling NFL RedZone addiction. I’m so desperate to associate winning with this sport that I have to latch on where I can.

Whoa, did I just have a breakthrough?

I’ll look into it more on my own time. As far as winning goes, I did a bit more of that this past week than I had in my previous two. I got to .500 for the first time and even went 5-0 on my bets! Unfortunately, nobody cares.

I’ll be honest, it’s a lot easier to write this intro after a bad week. Nobody likes a bragger and I’m a lot better at self-deprecating humor. We’ve got a tough slate of games to pick this week, so let’s get into it.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5)


The Dolphins defense was on the field for over 90 plays against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, almost three times more than the team’s offense. Tua Tagovailoa suffered a scary injury but was able to come back into the game. With a short turnaround and a road game this week, he’s probably not going to be 100% if he plays.

The Bengals offense finally looked dominant against the New York Jets Sunday. However, the team did lose nose tackle DJ Reader to injury. Tee Higgins took another big hit to the head but is questionable with a toe issue. I haven’t had any luck with my TNF picks so take this with a grain of salt, but I’m going to go with the home team on a short week that didn’t play an emotional game in a sauna last weekend.

The Pick: Bengals -3.5

ACROSS THE POND

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at New Orleans Saints


The NFL goes international for the first time this season Sunday morning at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Both teams have looked less than impressive after picking up Week 1 wins. The Vikings needed a last-second comeback to defeat the Lions at home, while the Saints offense stunk it up and fell to Carolina for the Panthers’ first win of the year. Jameis has looked bad, Alvin Kamara has looked nothing like himself and the team is struggling in a big way.

But I’ll be awake Sunday morning to catch this match up regardless. I wonder if this is considered a primetime game. If it is, I wonder about Kirk Cousins. While New Orleans’ offense has been atrocious, the passing defense has been very good. With all of the factors involved, I wouldn’t touch this game with a ten-foot pole. But I’ve committed to picking every game every week, so give me the team that needs the win more.

The Pick: Saints +3

1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY

Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-3.5)


Both teams come into this game at 2-1 despite lackluster starts offensively. Daniel Jones has just been okay for New York while Saquon Barkley has rejuvenated himself and the offense. Neither team has a good receiving core, and the Giants’ just got worse after losing Sterling Shepard for the season.

The Bears offense might be even worse than expected, but the defense has delivered for the most part. Khalil Herbert made a good impression after coming in for an injured David Montgomery on Sunday. These two teams have had some interesting meetings in the past few seasons, and I think this is one of them.

The Pick: Bears +3.5

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)

The Colts took their season off of life support with a huge comeback win over the Chiefs Sunday, while the Titans got their first and much-needed win of the year against the Raiders. It wasn’t pretty for either team. The Colts struggled offensively before the last-second touchdown, while the Titans were shut out in the second half. The Titans have won three straight against Indy, looking to make it four. I think Mike Vrabel is the better coach, and I think his guys get it done.

The Pick: Titans +3.5

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-4.5)

It was another heartbreaking loss for the Lions last weekend, something that has become a bit of a habit for Detroit under Dan Campbell. The team has proven time and time again that it can put up the numbers and look really good, but finishing games has been a problem.

Geno Smith and the Seahawks have come back down to Earth after beating the Broncos in Week 1. The secondary is bad and there’s not much of a run game. If Detroit is looking for a game to prove to themselves that they’re a tier above last year’s squad, this is the game to do it.

The Pick: Lions -4.5

Buffalo Bills (-3) at Baltimore Ravens

I correctly predicted that last week’s Bills-Dolphins game would end up as the game of the week, and I’m going to double down and call my shot again. This should be a very fun matchup featuring the top two MVP candidates of the young season. I think both Lamar and Josh Allen will have incredible games.

The Bills have proven that they can blow teams out, but Buffalo is still struggling to win close games. Baltimore’s offense has been explosive on the young season, but the defense has been so bad the team hasn’t been able to run away with one like it should. I think the Ravens’ D plays a big factor in this one, and not a favorable one for the home team. Buffalo figures out what went wrong last week and gets back on track.

The Pick: Bills -3

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

It was fun while it lasted, Joe Flacco. Zach Wilson is expected to be back for the Jets as the team travels to Pittsburgh. He inherits some weapons that have proven their worth in the time he was gone. The Steelers are still a mess offensively and Mitch Trubisky is, from everything head coach Mike Tomlin has said, the starter for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how long that’s going to last, but he will start this week. Not to mention the Steelers' defense has been below average since losing star player TJ Watt. For the first time this year, I’m going green.

The Pick: Jets +3.5

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)

Two things I didn’t think I’d be saying at this point in the season: The Philadelphia Eagles look like the best team in the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars look like the best team in the AFC South.

The Eagles rolled over Washington on the road last weekend while the Jaguars put a whooping on the Chargers in LA. Trevor Lawrence might be taking the next step before our eyes while Jalen Hurts has put his name into the MVP conversation. This has the potential to be a great match up and both teams will have something to prove. I picked against Philly last week and regretted it by halftime. I’m going to again and I think it’s a redeemer. Doug Pederson is going to have his boys ready!

The Pick: Jaguars +6.5

Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5) at Houston Texans

I’m feeling a little foolish for taking the bait on that opening Chargers -7 line last week, especially considering I had an entire paragraph written about how the Jags could sneak a cover in. Oh well. We know Justin Herbert isn’t 100%. We don’t know if Keenan Allen is going to play, but we do know that Joey Bosa is out and Rashawn Slater is done for the year.

Lovie Smith has turned the Texans into cover machines. Running back Damien Pierce had his breakout game against the Bears last week and the team, despite being winless, has played solid football. Preseason darlings, the Chargers are once again succumbing to the injury bug and some bad luck. I hope they can turn it around, but they shouldn’t be touchdown favorites anywhere right now.

The Pick: Texans +5.5

Cleveland Browns (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons

Scary story out of Cleveland this week as star pass rusher Myles Garrett got into a car accident. He luckily suffered no life-threatening injuries. In the meantime, the Browns are off to a hot start under Jacoby Brissett. The Falcons picked up win number one last weekend in Seattle and have looked frisky so far this season. It’s an emotional week for Cleveland, they’ll pick up a win for their leader.

The Pick: Browns -1.5

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)

Sometimes the best bets to make are the hardest bets to place. I’ve taken Washington in every column so far, and they’ve burned me the last two weeks. On the other hand, I have yet to pick Dallas once this season, and they’ve also burned me the last two weeks. Cooper Rush is undefeated as a starter, but how long will that last? The Commanders offense has looked horrible the last couple of weeks, and the defense isn’t much better. But I go back to my opening sentence of this pick. The NFL is a week-to-week league, and Washington needs to win more. The magic of Cooper Rush can’t last forever!

The Pick: Washington +3.5

LATE AFTERNOON SLATE

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-10)


Off the top, I want to say I feel really bad for Mac Jones after suffering what seems to be a very bad ankle injury last week. I also feel bad that he had one of the most unfortunate pictures ever taken of him as he was walking off the field. I put it in the paper the other day, but one time is enough. Feel free to look it up.

It appears that it’ll be Brian Hoyer will be taking the reins for the foreseeable future. His first test won’t be an easy one, as Green Bay’s defense has proven itself to be the elite unit it was projected to be. The offense still wasn’t great for the Pack last weekend, but it’s trending in the right direction. I don’t think New England can score the points to keep up.

The Pick: Packers -10

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-1.5)

To make something clear: just because a game is close, does not mean it is good (for example, last week’s Sunday night game). That is what I’m figuring is going to be the case in this one. Neither team has had much luck offensively this season. I’ve picked both of these teams all three weeks and have a 2-4 record to show for it. Kyler Murray is better than Baker Mayfield, but Carolina’s defense is much better than Arizona’s. There are a few games this week that I have to pick but will be staying far away from in terms of placing my wagers. This is definitely one of them.

The Pick: Cardinals +1.5

 Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5)


In the battle of so-far incompetent head coaches, Nathanial Hackett’s Broncos travel to Sin City to take on Josh McDaniels’ Raiders. Vegas is the NFL’s last winless team at 0-3, while the Broncos are somehow 2-1. Playing in the gauntlet that is the AFC West, the argument can be made that the Raiders’ season is already over. The team needs a win and needs it fast. The Denver offense still looks abysmal, with a variety of factors playing into it. Winless teams are 49-32-1 against the spread in Week 4 since 2005. Between the Raiders and Texans, we’re going to get that win column number up to 51.

The Pick: Raiders -2.5

WAITIN’ ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT

Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


How many more times are we going to get to watch Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady face off? Unless the two meet in a Super Bowl, this could be the last time. Mike Evans will be back for a depleted Buccaneer receiving core after serving a one-game suspension last week. In a league full of struggling offenses, Tampa’s may be the worst right now. A couple of miscues cost Kansas City the opportunity at 3-0 last week, and Mahomes is definitely missing Tyreek Hill. JuJu Smith-Schuster leads all non-Travis Kelce receivers with 14 catches. While not yet confirmed, this game could be played at a neutral site in the Midwest due to Hurricane Ian. It’s been a theme in the NFL so far and even though I expect the offenses to step up at some point, I’m going with the better defense right now.

The Pick: Buccaneers +1.5

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)


It was a tough night for Jimmy G and the Niners Sunday night, as the team made a plethora of errors. Garoppolo stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety Dan Orlovsky style, threw a bad pick and only mustered three points after a touchdown on the team’s second drive of the game.

The Rams got off to a fast start against Arizona but kept the Cardinals in the game by only scoring once after the first quarter. The reigning Super Bowl champions just haven’t looked scary so far this year. The Niners have a ton of regular season success against the Rams, but with no Trent Williams and Jimmy G still struggling to get back on track, give me the champs.

The Pick: Rams +1.5

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I really like my board this week. Could this be the first time this season I finish above .500? I sure hope so. Enjoy the week and seize the day!

 

LAST WEEK’S RECORD ATS: 8-8

SEASON RECORD ATS: 20-28

AP WEEK?3 RECORD?ATS: 10-6

AP SEASON?RECORD?ATS: 24-24