Isn't this just a particularly peculiar NFL season thus far? It has a topsy-turvy feel about it that make you think, 'Wait, did I just wake up four years later, did I just miss a couple of seasons worth of news and developments?' Everyones perennial Dark Horses Kansas are pathetic. The Colts are facing 0-16. The Colts! There hasn't been one solitary Ochocinco headline out of Cincinnati, perhaps he has gone somewhere else, although there's no way to tell as he doesn't appear to have any catches yet! Meanwhile, has anyone seen Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson or Frank Gore? Just an odd, odd year, and there's no reason to doubt week four will be any different.
Let's break it all down like a fraction.
- Last weeks totals against the spread - 6-10
- Running total against the spread - 29-18
Buffalo Bills (3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) +3.5
That is not a misprint. The Bills really are the AFCs only unbeaten team. Their other-worldly come-back against the Patriots means they are the only AFC team with a '0' in the loss column. What kind of odds might you have gotten against that happening pre-season start? A kajillion to one? No need to dig too deep in this one. The Bengals lost a disappointing one last week to the 49ers, at home, no less. The Bills are also currently riding a 8-0 streak against The Bungles. The Bills can put points up in a hurry. No reason to believe The Bungles can keep up.
The Score: Buffalo 34 Cincinnati 17 The Pick: Buffalo -3.5
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Chicago Bears (1-2) -6.5
The Bears were absolutely putrid against the Packers. Having said that, it is doubtful they will face the same ferocious pass rush against the Panthers. If Cutler has time, he is a fantastic throwing QB. His arm is second to none in the NFL. Given time, the Bears can hang points on anyone. However, even considering home field advantage, this is still too many points to give the feisty Panthers. They should be able to hang around deep into the ball game.
The Score: Carolina 24 Chicago 27 The Pick: The Panthers +6.5
Tennessee Titans (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-1) -1.5
So, Matt Hasselbeck is starting to look like a good idea, right? His 5/2 TD to INT is nice, and his veteran savvy is just lovely, thank you very much, as far as Tennessee are concerned. Bear in mind also, the Brownies struggled to over come soon-to-be-coachless Miami, while Tennessee beat Denver easily enough. Final thought, Chris Johnson has to come unglued eventually.
The Score: Tennessee 20 Miami 17
The Pick: Tennessee +1.5
Detroit Lions (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1) -3.5
I am not a Doctor but, facing the Detroit Lions pass rush, and the borderline psychotic, physical freak that is Ndamukong Suh, can not be an appealing prospect for Tony Romo and his broken ribs, back injury, damaged shoulder and the rest. In Blackjack you never, ever walk away from a hot streak, a hot table. Well, Detroit represents that hot table, and that extra half point looks juicy from a gambling perspective. Detroit carries the good vibrations forward, knocking Romo out of the game and over power an over rated Dallas side. Doesn't matter how big your stadium video screen is, just matters how many Ndamukong Suh's you have on your side.
The Score: Detroit 27 Dallas 23
The Pick: Detroit +3.5
Minnesota Vikings (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) +1.5
Putrid, turgid mess alert! What a shocking mess. The Vikings can't hold a lead. The Chiefs can;t buy a lead. How on earth do you separate these two? Easily enough actually. The Vikings have a couple of skill players the admittedly injury ridden Chiefs can only dream about in Peterson and Harvin amongst others. If the Vikings even sniff a lead, Kansas doesn't have it in them this season to come back.
The Score: Minnesota 30 Kansas 17
The Pick: Minnesota -1.5
Washington Redskins (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-3) -0.5
The Rams have a secondary even Rex Grossman can get excited about. This looks a soft line. The Rams have serious injury issues, and are not able to come back after falling behind this season. QB Bradford is having a down season but isn't helped by the plague of injuries that have hit the Rams clubhouse. Meanwhile, the Skins and little Timmy Hightower are enjoying a feisty looking 2011, and have the players and most of all the defence to overcome basically a scratch handicap.
The Score: Washington 24 St Louis 20
The Pick: Washington -0.5
New Orleans Saints (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) +7.5
This game couldn't come at a worse time for the rudderless Jags. The Saints are starting to kick into form whilst the Jags have managed a paltry 13 points in two games. New Orleans eviscerated Houston last weekend, and will do the same, in fact probably worse, to the awful Jags.
The Score: New Orleans 37 Jacksonville 16
The Pick: New Orleans -7.5
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) -6.5
What, a team that has a defence built back to front is struggling? Really? What a shock! The Eagles spent eleventy billion on their defensive backs and forgot to build a defensive line. Teams are pounding away at will against them on the ground, and loving it against a relatively light, weak Eagles front seven. The Eagles will win a close one, and everyone related to the 'dream team' will breathe a sigh of relief, at least until a serious team takes them down next time.
The Score: San Francisco 23 Philadelphia 24
The Pick: San Francisco +6.5
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1) -3.5
Imagine that, Houston getting off to a blazing start before coming 'back to the pack' as it were. Isn't this exactly the kind of game Pittsburgh relishes? Their backs to the wall, everyone backing against them. The Steelers can not only keep this close, they can go into Houston, annoy the natives and take their lunch money.
The Score: Pittsburgh 26 Houston 20 The Pick: Pittsburgh +3.5
Atlanta Falcons (1-2) at Seattle Seahawks (1-2) +4.5
Major bounce back coming from the Falcons. Seattle not in a position to withstand the angry backlash. One of the softest lines of the week.
The Score: Atlanta 30 Seattle 13 The Pick: Atlanta -4.5
New York Giants (2-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2) +1.5
Is this line someones idea of a bad joke? While the Giants were, well, giants, against 'The Dream Team', aka the Eagles, the Cardinals were busy losing to the absolutely horrific Seahawks. No need to delve too deeply into this one. Just trust the G-Men and quietly move on.
The Score: New York 27 Arizona 16 The Pick: New York Giants -1.5
Denver Broncos (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-0) -13.5
Niggling doubts linger here. If the opponents were Seattle I would understand the almost-two-TD line. However, Denver can stay competitive in this one. Not a strong fancy, but I can see Denver landing at least a back-door-cover.
The Score: Denver 24 Green Bay 33 The Pick: Denver +13.5
New England Patriots (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-1) +4.5
Ah yes. The over-adjustment. As is tradition. Did the Patriots turn into an awful team last week? No they did not. Did Oakland turn into the '85 Bears last week? No they didn't. The Patriots played sloppy football and paid for it. The Raiders played the game of their lives and came away with a win over the offensively ordinary Jets. A theme of 2011 is Market Correction. Well, that comes into place this week. The angry Patriots come out firing, and Oakland can't keep up.
The Score: New England 36 Oakland 24 The Pick: New England -4.5
Miami Dolphins (0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1) -8.5
What on earth is the story with the Vegas love affair with San Diego? Everyone saw the Chargers really struggle to beat the Vikings and Chiefs, right? We all saw that? The Chargers should win, sure, but will they win 'going away', or will Miami put up a fight? With their season on the line, surely the latter.
The Score: Miami 28 San Diego 30 The Pick: Miami +8.5
New York Jets (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1) -3.5
The Jets shocking loss in Oakland last week was curiously buried by the media, who were too busy mocking the Patriots loss in Buffalo. Well, the Jets were blown out (by ten points) by a young Oakland tea very much in the rebuilding phase, by their own admission. The bad news for New York is, the Ravens have an upgrade on Darren McFadden waiting in the wings for them. You think Ray Rice is anyway scared of a Jets paper-tiger defence that just gave up 34 points to Oakland? Baltimore look scary good at home. If they get a lead, how are the Jets going to keep up?
The Score: New York 17 Baltimore 28 The Pick: Baltimore -3.5
Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) -9.5
Oh for God sake. I mean, come on. The Colts have, I think, proved they are not going to roll over and die. They played very strong last week and were unfortunate to lose. This is an absolutely ridiculous line. Dwight Freeney is laughing at this line. Painter looked decent last week in limited action. Tampa should squeak a dramatic win, but the Colts can stay within 10 easily.
The Score: Indianapolis 21 Tampa 24 The Pick: Indianapolis +9.5
Week one - 11-4
Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10