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Week 3 NFL Picks

The NFL’s best meet in a Monday Night showdown. The Jets have something to celebrate.  (Photo By Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer)

[Warning, WARNING: I felt overly confident about a number of Week 3 matchups, so I expect to look like a genius or for this to be an outright disaster with no in-between.]

Last Week:    12 – 4 – 0
Season:         20 – 12 – 0

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Dolphins 31 at Jaguars 13
Ryan Fitzpatrick was great. His energy is like watching you or me if we were good enough to play in the NFL. Fitzpatrick treats playing in the NFL a privilege, and it’s a joy to watch his appreciation and excitement for the game. Also, where were these Jaguars the last two weeks when I was “invested” in their opponent?

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bears at Falcons
The rare case where the 0-2 team is almost definitely better than their 2-0 opponent. The Falcons need… no, they desperately need a win Sunday. Though, I don’t know if you just bounce back from a historic collapse in 6 days. I mean goodness, the Falcons have been stuck in the upside down for the past four seasons after their last 4th quarter collapse. I said earlier this season Dan Quinn would have to deliver a playoff victory to keep his job. His team’s collapse in Dallas may have accelerated that timeline. An 0-3 start may (finally) be the death knell of Quinn in Atlanta. I’m an idiot, but I believe in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to get a much needed win. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -3.5

Rams at Bills
Josh Allen, huh? It’s always fun to overreact to stats after only two weeks, so here we go. Who leads the league in passing yards? Josh Allen? Who is second in TD passes? Allen. QBR? 4TH. QB Rating? 3rd. Rushing yards? 4th. And most important of all… fantasy points? First. Josh Allen is rolling. There was one play Sunday where he literally ran right through two defensive linemen. Should I mention the Jets and Dolphins are arguably two of the worst 5 to 7 teams in the NFL? No, no I don’t think I will. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +2

Football Team at Browns
Last Thursday was the best the Browns have looked since they beat Buffalo and Pittsburgh in consecutive weeks back in November 2019. Outside of not running the football enough, I don’t understand the Browns and why Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham can’t vibe, so let’s talk about something else I don’t understand… Why does Donald Trump allow narratives like him not accepting the results of the election exist? First of all, if he really feels that way, then he shouldn’t be President. The peaceful transition of power is perhaps the greatest thing about America. Second, what does it accomplish by not adamantly denying these reports or being perfectly clear when answering questions related to the topic? If his base finds this as a rallying cry… yikes. BROWNS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns -7

Titans at Vikings
The Titans are 2-0 but they’re struggling a bit with their ground game. The yardage is still there, but the efficiency is way down. In 2019, Tennessee averaged 5 yards per rush. Derrick Henry averaged 5.1. Through two games in 2020, Henry is at 3.6 and the Titans as a team are only slightly better at 3.7. In Week 1 it was their kicking game that prevented them from closing the door on the Broncos. In Week 2, it was their inability to run the football that allowed the Jaguars to hang around. I’m not ready to write off the Vikings, even though they’ve been atrocious. This just feels like a Kirk Cousins 4 touchdown performance. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings +3

Raiders at Patriots
CAM NEWTON IS BACK! Did he look great last week or what? I understand why Carolina moved on from Cam. Maybe he was done listening to them. Maybe they were tired of injuries making him unreliable. Both would be understandable. But man would it be fun to see Cam with DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson and the Great White Hope. Speaking of talent at the skills position, the New England Patriots spent two of their last three 1st round picks on Sony Michel and N’Keal Harry. Michel averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 2019 and is at 3.3 for 2020. His last 100 yard game was in December 2018. Harry missed the first half of his rookie season and has done little to justify his draft position since. I thought he was supposed to be an explosive threat when he was drafted. New England hasn’t targeted him deep all season and did so very little last year as well. As an Eagles fan, I can say this with absolute certainty; if your top draft picks don’t produce, you will eventually suck, even if you are the New England Patriots. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders +5

49ers at Giants
Week 2 injuries were a huge bummer. Losing Saquon Barkley is a bigger loss for the league than the Giants. Barkley was one of the NFL’s most prominent players and the most popular player in the NFL’s biggest market. His absence shouldn’t impact the Giants all that much because they somehow managed to suck even with him healthy. The San Francisco injuries were even more brutal. They lost four starters and two of them for the season. Fortunately for the Niners, they have three easy opponents before they meet a formidable NFL team again. That should allow George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and maybe even Tevin Coleman enough time to get back into the lineup. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -3.5

Bengals at Eagles
If you could choose between this Bengals team and this Eagles team, would anyone take the Eagles? Sure, the Eagles are “supposed” to be the better team right now (spoiler; they’re not), but do the Eagles have any pieces to be excited about? Carson Wentz would’ve been the obvious yes three weeks ago, but he’s gotten worse in each of the last two weeks. The Bengals have young talent, an intriguing coach and Joe Burrow. The Eagles have aging stars and draft busts. I’m depressed. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -4.5

Texans at Steelers
The Texans need a hug. Imagine being a boxer and having to fight Ali and George Foreman in your first two fights. That’s how Houston’s season started. This week isn’t much better, but I think the Texans at least have a shot. Pittsburgh has looked really good at times and lost at others. Even against a backup quarterback last week, the Steelers had some struggles in putting away the Broncos. James Conner has been strangely ineffective early on. If not for a 59 yard run to ice the win last week, he’d be averaging 2.7 yards per carry. Maybe that was the play he needed to snap out of the funk. Who knows. No offense swings from unstoppable to disaster drive to drive like the Steelers right now. They’ve had 21 drives this season, 9 have gone for less than 10 yards, 2 for less than 22 and 8 drives have gone for over 55 yards. Only 2 drives have been in between those ranges. I think I’m the only one who finds this interesting. Nevermind. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +4

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Jets at Colts
Adam Gase is going to be the first coach fired, isn’t he? The best throw of the season thus far does not belong to Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. It’s not a result of Russell Wilson’s athleticism or the precision of Aaron Rodgers. Nope, it belongs to Sam Darnold. Just look at this beauty.

Congratulations, Jets fans. Aside from the Gase firing, this may be the only thing worth celebrating all season. Drink it up. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +11.5

Panthers at Chargers
Tyrod Taylor having his lung punctured is such an awful and unfortunate event, especially for Taylor. I legitimately felt bad for him. He’s been the ultimate professional at every stop of his career and it seems like he can’t catch a break. The Chargers, on the other hand, may have found the sunshine in the rain. Justin Herbert looked really good last week. While he had the bad interception that resulted in a 10 point swing, he gave life to a Charger offense that was suffocating in Week 1. With Taylor under center the Los Angeles offense averaged 6.9 yards per completion. Taylor only completed 53% of his passes for 208 yards. Those numbers don’t really fly in 2020. Herbert had 311 yards at 9.4 yards per completion and did so at a 66.7% completion rate. It’s only one game, but Herbert brought some pop to an aerial attack that stalled out in Week 1. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -6.5

Buccaneers at Broncos
There was a lot of hope and hype around the Denver Broncos this year. I was high on them as well. Two weeks into the season they’ve lost their All-Pro pass rusher and breakout receiver for the season. Their burgeoning quarterback is out for a month or so, other injuries have weakened their depth and they find themselves 0-2. The season isn’t lost for Denver, at least not yet. With Melvin Gordon and the eventual return of Philip Lindsay, the Broncos must commit to a running attack. Even against Pittsburgh last week they were successful on the ground before abandoning it almost entirely due to score/time. Jeff Driskel isn’t bad, but throwing it 34 times isn’t a recipe for success. With rookies Jerry Juedy and KJ Hamler on the outside, and Noah Fant roaming the middle, Denver could wreak havoc with a play-action offense. Of course, that only works if the running game is effective. Make it happen, Pat Shurmur. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -6.5

Lions at Cardinals
Kyler Murray is so, so smooth. I don’t think the Cardinals get enough credit for drafting him a year after taking Josh Rosen in the top 10. Yes, Murray was pretty much the obvious pick, but how many franchises would’ve traded down or picked a position of greater need instead of admitting they screwed up? A franchise turning point. Well done. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -6

Cowboys at Seahawks
Dallas’ remarkable win against the Falcons last week could be a real problem for the rest of the NFC. It felt similar to an Eagles victory over the Giants back in 2003. At 2-3 the Eagles performed miserably against New York and trailed 10-7 with a 94 seconds to go. The Eagles offense had done little all day. Their season felt like it was slipping away. Then Brian Westbrook returned a punt for a touchdown and it was the beginning of a 9 game win streak. The Eagles finished that season 12-4. Dallas stole a victory and erased all the hysteria from the first 112 minutes of their season. Look out. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys +5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Packers at Saints
The no crowd thing hasn’t impacted the TV experience much, at least in my opinion. It has, however, greatly impacted my opinion of home teams. This week alone, I probably would have picked the Bills, Giants, Steelers and Broncos to win at home. On top of that, I would’ve picked the Vikings without hesitation. But no fans is such a huge advantage to road teams. There’s obviously no crowd to pick up the home team or remind them how bad they suck. The Texans are more desperate than the Steelers, and with no crowd to even out that desperation, I took the Texans. The Saints are coming off a loss and would undoubtedly draw from their raucous crowd. Unfortunately, there will be no crowd and they’ll find themselves on a level playing field with the hottest offense in the NFL. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers +3

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Chiefs at Ravens
The NFL’s two best players. The last two MVPs. This should be good. Baltimore has looked great through two weeks after steamrolling both the Browns and Texans with little resistance. The Chiefs offense, on the other hand, struggled against a very underrated Chargers defense last week. Los Angeles’ pass rush kept Patrick Mahomes off balance for much of the first three quarters. Kansas City failed to establish their running game at any point in the game, making the pressure on Mahomes worse. I think Andy Reid will make a more conscious effort to protect Mahomes early in the game. He’ll likely do that with a more committed effort to the run game and more three step drops, screens, quicker routes, etc… Still, I don’t think anyone is playing better than Baltimore right now. Considering how the Chiefs defense struggled last week, I’m taking the Ravens. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 7 – 9 – 0
Season:       17 – 14 – 1

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