NFL Week 3 predictions: Bears-Packers, Bills-Patriots and more
BY MARK POTASH e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @MarkPotash September 22, 2011 11:04PM
The Bills must contain Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has thrown seven touchdown passes in the first two weeks. | Getty Images
Updated: September 30, 2011 6:07PM
After opening the season with a 41-7 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs and a come-from- behind 38-35 victory against the Oakland Raiders, the Buffalo Bills are in dire need a of litmus test.
They are about to get it.
The New England Patriots not only have been the No. 1 team in the NFL through the first two weeks — beating the Miami Dolphins 38-24 and the San Diego Chargers 35-21 — but they have the Bills’ number like nobody else.
The Patriots have won 15 games in a row against the Bills (11-4 ATS), and they’ve been particularly tough to handle in Buffalo. The Patriots are 7-0 straight up and against the spread in Buffalo since 2004, winning by 14, 28, 22, 46, 13, seven and 31 points. They’ve beaten the spread by an average of 14 points.
Last season, the Patriots were nine-point favorites and won 34-3. In 2007, they were 16-point favorites and won 56-10. The only time the Bills even have come close to covering against the Patriots at home was in 2009, when they were 6œ-point underdogs and lost 17-10. Even then, the Bills were down 17-3 until scoring a consolation touchdown with 3:02 left.
So as rejuvenated as the Bills appear to be — and as vulnerable as the Patriots’ 31st-ranked defense appears to be — the trend is your friend. And you won’t find a better one than Sunday in Buffalo.
Line: Patriots by 81/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Patriots 2-0/2-0; Bills 2-0/1-1.
Pick: Patriots 42, Bills 17.
Time: 3:15 p.m., Fox-32.
Line: Packers by 31/2. Total: 46.
Records (overall/ATS): Packers 2-0/1-1; Bears 1-1/1-1.
Outlook: Bears are willing and able, but injuries give them virtually no margin for error.
Pick: Packers 23, Bears 17.
Line: Bengals by 21/2. Total: 401/2.
Records (overall/ATS): 49ers 1-1/1-0-1; Bengals 1-1/2-0.
Fast fact: Bengals rookie Andy Dalton has a 105.7 passer rating (3 TDs, 0 INTs).
Outlook: Jim Harbaugh will light a fire under his team after the 49ers blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Cowboys last week. Bengals rookies Dalton and receiver A.J. Green have impressed early, but they’re still rookies.
Pick: 49ers 26, Bengals 17.
Line: Browns by 21/2. Total: 41.
Records (overall/ATS): Browns 1-1/1-1; Dolphins 0-2/0-2.
Fast fact: Dolphins’ defense is last in the NFL, allowing 483.5 yards per game.
Outlook: Under new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, Browns are sixth in the NFL in total defense (289.5 ypg) after finishing 22nd last season (350 ypg). Dolphins can’t seem to win with Chad Henne (53.2 completion percentage).
Pick: Browns 27, Dolphins 10.
Line: Titans by 61/2. Total: 42.
Records (overall/ATS): Broncos 1-1/0-2; Titans 1-1/1-1.
Fast fact: Titans’ Chris Johnson rushed for 53 yards on 24 carries against Ravens.
Outlook: Titans due for a letdown after surprising 26-13 home victory against Ravens last week. Broncos’ Kyle Orton was 35-for-50 for 341 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-20 victory against Titans in Nashville last season.
Pick: Broncos 24, Titans 20.
Time: Noon, Ch. 2.
Line: Saints by 4. Total: 53.
Records (overall/ATS): Texans 2-0/2-0; Saints 1-1/1-1.
Outlook: Saints’ victory against the Bears last week was not as convincing at it looked.
Pick: Saints 38, Texans 35.
Line: Eagles by 71/2. Total: 411/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Giants 1-1/1-1; Eagles 1-1/1-1.
Outlook: Michael Vick might not play, but ex-NU quarterback Mike Kafka can manage this one.
Pick: Eagles 20, Giants 10.
Time: Noon, Fox-32.
Line: Lions by 31/2. Total: 45.
Records (overall/ATS): Lions 2-0/2-0; Vikings 0-2/1-1.
Outlook: Not many thought Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford still would be standing this late in the season.
Pick: Lions 24, Vikings 14.
Line: Panthers by 31/2. Total: 43.
Records (overall/ATS): Jaguars 1-1/1-1; Panthers 0-2/1-0-1.
Outlook: Panthers’ run-pass imbalance isn’t an issue when the quarterback throws for 400 yards a game.
Pick: Panthers 17, Jaguars 10.
Time: 3:05 p.m.
Line: Ravens by 4. Total: 411/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Ravens 1-1/1-1; Rams 0-2/0-2.
Outlook: Ravens are one of those teams that covers on the road after a straight-up loss.
Pick: Ravens 23, Rams 16.
Time: 3:05 p.m.
Line: Chargers by 141/2. Total: 451/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Chiefs 0-2/0-2; Chargers 1-1/0-2.
Outlook: Playoff-caliber teams usually score big the week after facing the Patriots.
Pick: Chargers 45, Chiefs 21.
Time: 3:05 p.m.
Line: Jets by 31/2. Total: 41.
Records (overall/ATS): Jets 2-0/ 1-1; Raiders 1-1/2-0.
Outlook: Jets are 11-5 on the road under Rex Ryan, but Oakland isn’t your typical road venue.
Pick: Jets 23, Raiders 21.
Time: 3:15 p.m.
Line: Bucs by 11/2. Total: 451/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Falcons 1-1/1-1; Bucs 1-1/1-1.
Outlook: Matt Ryan often struggles against Bucs’ defense, but he usually finds a way to win.
Pick: Falcons 17, Buccaneers 14.
Time: 3:15 p.m.
Line: Cardinals by 31/2. Total: 421/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Cardinals 1-1/1-0-1; Seahawks 0-2/0-2.
Outlook: Cardinals’ defense isn’t very good, but Seahawks aren’t good enough to take advantage.
Pick: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 13.
Time: 7:20 p.m., Ch. 5.
Line: Steelers by 101/2. Total: 391/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Steelers 1-1/1-1; Colts 0-2/0-2.
Outlook: National game gives Colts a chance to show just how badly they want Andrew Luck.
Pick: Steelers 21, Colts 6.
Time: 7:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN.
Line: Cowboys by 61/2. Total: 451/2.
Records (overall/ATS): Redskins 2-0/1-1; Cowboys 1-1/1-0-1.
Outlook: Tony Romo (bruised ribs) plays well when he’s banged up. But beware of Good Rex.
Pick: Cowboys 27, Redskins 24.