2009 NFL Football Week Three Preview and Picks

Week Three Preview
Week Three Preview

Who Will Win Each Game, and More Importantly, Who Will Cover the Spread

Last week, Green Bay and Pittsburgh threw me off my mark and then Miami spoiled my party on Monday. I took a bit of a step down with my straight up picks, although I still did pretty decent with a 10-6 record. Against the spread, I once again split it right down the middle with an 8-8 record. So, two weeks into the season my official records are 23-8 straight up and 15-16 against the spread. Things are starting to jell though and I'm back for week three with a much better handle on where things stand in the NFL.

However, there are two things making me sweat this week. One is the number of games with point spreads of a touchdown or more. The other is how hard it is to make a case for the underdog covering in almost all of those games. As a bettor, I love underdogs because the general public tends to bet favorites especially when they are favored big. The sportsbooks often over-compensate for that, which means that you can more often find spreads that are too high than too low. I get very nervous when there are a bunch of large point spreads and I can't justify taking those points. Unfortunately, this is one of those weeks, but I have faith in my picks.

But before we get to that, first let's go through things I liked about week two, the things I didn't like about week two, what I learned during week two, and what I already knew before week two.

Tom Coughlin Retires From His Family to Spend More Time with the Giants

Chad Ochocinco does the Lambeau Leap and comes back out with all his limbs intact
Chad Ochocinco does the Lambeau Leap and comes back out with all his limbs intact

Have Your Say

What did you like most about week two?

  • Chad Ocho Cinco diving into the enemy stands and coming back out alive
  • The New York Giants receivers stepping up for Eli Manning
  • Peyton Manning proving he can do it regardless of who lines up wide
  • Chris Johnson gaining more yards than some teams did
  • Something else (put it in the comments)
See results without voting

What I liked in Week Two

  1. The OchoLambeau Leap - I'm not personally a big fan of the pre-planned celebrations and the player formerly know as Chad Johnson would have been a lot better off last season concentrating on scoring TD's rather than choreographing what he would do afterwards. But I do like Chad though and he's one of the most entertaining players in the NFL. And his version of the Lambeau Leap did not lack for entertainment. Especially the Packer fan who had the presence of mind to fly the bird on camera, even though it made it hard to find a decent picture of the leap. If Numero Ochocinco really wants to impress me though, let's see him dive into the stands in Oakland when Cincy plays there in November.
  2. The NY Giants Receivers - I guess we know how they are going to survive without Plaxico Burress now. Granted one of Dallas' weak spots is their defensive backfield, but two receivers grabbing ten catches each is nothing to sneeze at. Steve Smith having a big game wasn't a big shock, but who ever heard of Mario Manningham? If this is indicative of the way things are going to go all season, the NFC East might be a one horse race. Yes Giants fans (and everyone else), it's time to stop asking if Eli Manning really was worth all that money in the new contract he just signed.
  3. Peyton Manning - Speaking of Mannings who are worthy of their huge paychecks...For a long time people who wanted to knock Peyton Manning had two arguments. One was that he couldn't win the big game, but that was eliminated in 2007 when the Colts finally won the Super Bowl. The second criticism has always been that there was so much talent on the Indianapolis offense that he looks much better than he actually is. However, that theory is also quickly being put to rest over the course of the last two seasons. The running game has completely evaporated into one of the worst in the league. Also between injuries and a "suspicious" shooting (someone he was arguing with shortly before was coincidentally shot with his gun a block from a bar he owned) Marvin Harrison is no longer in the building. Then Anthony Gonzalez, who the Colts were hoping would replace Harrison as Manning's no. 1 target, got injured in week one, leaving tight end Dallas Clark as the last man standing among Manning's once overflowing tool chest. It'll remain to be seen if it will hold up through the entire season (I think it will bite them eventually), but there was no shortage of big plays to ruin Miami's evening in the Monday game.
  4. The Titans' Chris Johnson - After a pretty quiet game in week one against the Steelers, Chris Johnson really came to life in week two against the Texans. Johnson's 274 yards were more than half the total offensive yards by all the rest of Titans combined. Admittedly, the Houston defense isn't quite on the same level as the one in Pittsburgh, but scoring touchdowns of 57 and 91 yards rushing and a 69 yard receiving TD, as Johnson did, is a serious accomplishment regardless of who the opponent is.


Jeff Reed needed a drink after missing two FG's that cost the Steelers the game.
Jeff Reed needed a drink after missing two FG's that cost the Steelers the game.

Have Your Say

What did you like the least about week two?

  • Jeff Reed missing two field goals that would normally be gimmes
  • The Packers O-Line getting exposed by the Bengals
  • Another Matt Hasselbeck injury
  • The Raiders offense is still horrible
  • Something else (put it in the comments)
See results without voting

What I Didn't Like in Week Two

  1. Jeff Reed Missing Two Routine Field Goals - A guy who is ranked twelfth in career FG percentage isn't supposed to miss a 38 yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He's especially not supposed to follow that up by missing a 43-yarder with just over three minutes remaining in a tie game. Fortunately for the Steelers, unlike last year, they have a cupcake schedule this season and could still easily end up winning at least 11 games.
  2. The Packers Offensive Line - As often happens in the first weeks of the season, the team that was anointed the front runners end up with their fans jumping off roofs the next. Part of that is because you don't have a full season to put games into context and someone who had a good game in week one is hailed as a superstar and then promptly disappears. Other times, it's because they matched up well against their first opponent(s) and their big weakness has yet to be exposed. The latter would seem to be the case in Green Bay after week two, when their offensive line has now given up ten sacks in two games. Aaron Rodgers might have trouble spotting open receivers while running for his life. Maybe the Packers shouldn't have been bucking the trend by not picking any offensive linemen in the first round like every other team in the league. Fortunately, they have the St. Louis Rams to straighten things out against before Minnesota with one of the best defensive lines (and that one guy) come to town.
  3. Matt Hasselbeck Injured Again - Last year the Seahawks fell apart after Matt Hasselbeck suffered a series of ongoing injuries. The fact that Seattle wasn't it's normal dominant self within the NFC West is the main reason that Arizona managed to get into the playoffs and subsequently to the Super Bowl. So this season with the 49ers and Cardinals both looking like legitimate contenders in the division, it is essential that Seattle return to pre-2008 form in order to regain their spot on the top. Another injury by Hasselbeck doesn't bode well for that plan.
  4. The Oakland Offense Returns to Form - In spite of losing the game, Oakland's offense finally showed some signs of life against San Diego in week one. In a bit of  reversal in week two, the Raiders got dominated by the Chiefs, but somehow managed to win. Squeaking out an unlikely win against Kansas City isn't something to get excited about, but even more so when the offense plays atrociously. JaMarcus Russel's 7 completions out of 24 passes for 109 yards destroyed any hope that his performance against the Chargers had created. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush didn't exactly set the world on fire either with 35 yards each on 12 and 9 rushing attempts respectively. Looks like yet another season where the nickname "Blackhole" applies more to the offense than it does to the bleachers.

The Titans defense needs to figure something out
The Titans defense needs to figure something out

Have Your Say

What is the most significant thing you learned in week two?

  • The Titans defense is very average without Albert Haynesworth
  • The Lions may be even worse than when they were the worst team in history
  • Matt Cassel might not be the savior in Kansas City
  • Tom Brady may not be fully recovered yet
  • Something else (put it in the comments)
See results without voting

What I Learned in Week Two

  1. The Titans are Now 4-16 Without Albert Haynesworth - Truth be told, I think their struggles have as much or more to do with the absence of former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is currently going down with the ship in Detroit. New D-coordinator Chuck Cecil's less than aggressive play calling late in Pittsburgh and the confusion in the defensive backfield during the Houston game would tend to support that theory. But one thing that is hard to dismiss is that the Tennessee defense was a different animal anytime Haynesworth was out of the lineup during his time there. In every instance that he was either injured or suspended, the Titans defense went from dominant to average or worse. The fact that many of their struggles this season have stemmed from the D-line not getting consistent pressure on the QB doesn't do much to dispel the appearance that the missing piece to the puzzle is Albert Haynesworth.
  2. The Lions Might be Even Worse This Year - Speaking of Jim Schwarz and the Lions, that theory everyone (including me) had that Detroit couldn't do worse than they did last year may not be so clever afterall. My prediction that they would come out playing angry and win some games early certainly looks to be dead in the water. The cupboard is pretty bare in Motown thus far this season. Their offense might be slightly better, but the defense is at this point even worse than it was last season. In particular, their pass defense has continually regressed over the past few years. Which, according to Sports Illustrated's Kerry J. Byrne, is the real problem that led to that 0-16 record last season. Matching last years perfect (in all the wrong ways) season would be difficult, but at this point the Lions seem to up to the task.
  3. Matt Cassel isn't Tom Brady - Matt Cassel went from a career backup to a superstar in one season, while filling in for Tom Brady after he was injured the first game of 2008. There was some buzz during the offseason about whether the Patriots should keep Brady and Cassel just in case Brady's injury wasn't fully healed. A minority of people even thought maybe the younger Cassel should be the one to stay while Brady would become trade bait. However, the Patriots smartly struck while the iron was hot and grabbed a second round pick in exchange for Cassel (and Mike Vrabel) from Kansas City, who promptly signed him to a $60 million contract. It isn't an unfamiliar story for a lightly regarded backup to come in after the starter is injured and parlay that opportunity into a starting job somewhere else (see AJ Feeley). Unfortunately, it's equally familiar for that success to be a fluke related more to defensive coaches being unfamiliar with the new guy and the fact that the team around them is solid. More often than not, the new found treasure ends up washing out once he gets his own gig (see AJ Feeley). Granted week two was his first start for the Chiefs after sitting out week one with an injury, but he didn't do anything in that game to inspire comparisons to Tom Brady.
  4. Tom Brady isn't Tom Brady Yet - That brings us back to the question of whether the Patriots should have kept Cassel around as insurance in case Tom Brady hadn't fully recovered yet this season. The Patriots offense has definitely struggled so far this year. As I've said previously, much of that has to do with the offensive line that has been declining for several years and no small part of that had to do with the Jets defense and the absence of Wes Welker. However, with the exception of the waning minutes of game one in Buffalo, Tom Brady hasn't done much more than Matt Cassel has to inspire comparisons to Tom Brady prior to the injury last season. Against New York, Brady completed just 48 percent of his passes averaging only 4.8 yards per completion and posted a less than stellar 53.1 QB rating. Patriots fans have to hope that week two's performance was mostly due to the Jets defense and/or some temporary rust rather than a long term issue or New England may be in for a long season.

The Jets are not nice people.
The Jets are not nice people.

Have Your Say

What is the thing you were least surprised by in week two

  • The Jets walking the walk against the Patriots
  • The AFC East title could be a battle royale this season
  • The Redskins still want a different QB
  • Mangini might be lucky to make it through the season in Cleveland
  • Something else (put it in the comments)
See results without voting

What I already Knew

  1. The Jets are for Real - In the past even somewhat innocent statements about New England became bulletin board material and the Patriots would take great joy in shoving those words down the offending party's throat. Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith and the Charger's Ladianian Tomlinson were both particularly good examples of players who soon regretted opening their mouths about the Pats in recent years. So a bit of an uproar was created when Rex Ryan said he hadn't come to New York to kiss Belichick's Super Bowl rings and turned into a full blown war of words after Kerry Rhodes stated that the Jets intended not only to beat the Patriots, but to embarrass them. Only this time the Patriots didn't storm into New York and put the upstart Jets in their place. Instead Brady spent the game running for his life from New York's aggressive defense and for the first time in almost three years (37 games) the Patriots were held without a touchdown and committed four delay of game infractions including two consecutive during the third quarter.
  2. The AFC East Dogfight - Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Jets aren't the only team that look like they will be giving them a fight in the AFC East. In fact, all four teams potentially could be good enough to make the playoffs. I won't count New England out this early in the season, but at this point New York looks to be the front runner (I picked them to get to the AFC title game) in the division. Miami has some obvious flaws that will probably cost them over the course of the season, but they should be a solid team. Even Buffalo looks like they will be a pretty good team, barring their typical late season swoon and/or a meltdown by TO. The AFC East is shaping up to be the most competitive division in the NFL this season.
  3. The Redskins have zero confidence in Jason Campbell - There's obviously a reason why Washington has been searching for somebody (anybody) to replace Jason Campbell as their QB the past few offseasons. That reason is because they have no confidence in him as the starter and that hasn't changed in spite of the fact his numbers have gradually improved. During the St. Louis game, Jim Zorn called running plays on 10 out of 16 plays inside the twenty yard line and one of those passes he did call was thrown by Clinton Portis. Which means that on the most important plays of the game the Redskins coach decided to take the ball out of Cambell's hands on more than 2/3 of them. Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence.
  4. Mangini is no Genius - The more time goes by the more the Browns' hiring of Eric Mangini reminds me of the year that the Jets tripped over themselves to hire Rich Kotite after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, I don't think things are going to pan out any better this time around. Even before the season, Mangini had already alienated many of the Browns staff and employees with his arrogant attitude. Next, word came out that agents were discouraging players they represented from signing with the Browns because of his excessively physical training camps. Then last week it came out that he fined a player $1701 (which was the maximum amount allowable) during the preseason for not paying for a $3 bottle of water at a hotel during a road game. In a bit of karmic justice Mangini himself was fined $25,000 for not reporting Brett Favre's injuries last season when they were both with the Jets. Players might buy into an authoritarian style if you win, but Cleveland is currently 0-2 and they don't appear to be on the verge of a quick turnaround. The Mangini death watch could begin as early as week six.

Have Your Say

Which Prediction Do You Think is Most Likely to Happen?

  • Dallas and Carolina will score a ton of points
  • The Patriots will come out fighting
  • The Vikings will put the 49ers to the test
  • The Eagles will get a chance to recover during October
  • None of the above (put your own predictions in the comments)
See results without voting

Some Predictions for Week Three

  1. Bet the Over on Monday - Neither Carolina nor Dallas have impressed me with their defensive play and especially not when going against the pass. Dallas is going to be fired up to make a statement after Monday's big loss to the Giants and they have plenty of talent on offense. On the other side, Delhomme is gonna put up some good numbers against the Cowboy's defensive backfield and defensive line that hasn't put any sort of pressure on opposing passers.In fact, the Cowboys defense has yet to record even one sack or turnover in the first two games this season.
  2. It's Do or Die Time in New England - If the Patriots had won last week, I would definitely take the points with the Falcons and I would have even consider picking Atlanta to win the game. However, the Patriots are coming off a bad loss and they are looking down the barrel of a loaded schedule in the upcoming weeks. In their next ten games after Atlanta, New England plays Baltimore, Denver, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Miami, Indianapolis, the Jets, New Orleans, and Miami again. If they start that stretch 1-2 they will have a real chance of not only missing the playoffs, but even finishing with a losing record.
  3. This Week is the Real Test for San Francisco - Minnesota represents the first verifiable contender that San Francisco has faced. If the 49ers manage to pull off a win against the Vikings, they are going to be a playoff team. San Francisco has been winning with solid rushing and solid run defense. If they can limit Adrian Peterson, which is a big if, and force Favre to throw some bad passes (not such a big if), they might just come through in a big way.
  4. The Kansas City Chiefs are Coming to Town at the Right Time - The Eagles have to be happy that their upcoming opponents consist of the Chiefs, Bucs, and Raiders, plus a bye in week four. That gives them three winnable games, so they don't have to rush Mcnabb back from his injury. Also it gives them four full weeks to get the defense straightened out against teams that aren't exactly offensive juggernauts.


My Picks for the 2009 Week Three NFL Games

Sun, Sep 27
10:00 am (PST)
11:00 am (MST)
12:00 pm (CST)
1:00 pm (EST)
Favorite
Underdog
Point Spread
Straight Up
Against The Spread
New York Jets
Tennessee
2.5
New York Jets
New York Jets
Houston
Jacksonville
4.0
Houston
Jacksonville
Philadelphia
Kansas City
9.0
Philadelphia
Philadelphia
Baltimore
Cleveland
13.5
Baltimore
Cleveland
New York Giants
Tampa Bay
6.5
New York Giants
New York Giants
Washington
Detroit
6.5
Washington
Washington
Green Bay
St. Louis
6.5
Green Bay
Green Bay
Minnesota
San Francisco
7.0
San Francisco
San Francisco
New England
Atlanta
4.0
New England
New England
Sun, Sep 27
1:00 pm (PST)
2:00 pm (MST)
3:00 pm (CST)
4:00 pm (EST)
Chicago
Seattle
2.5
Seattle
Seattle
New Orleans
Buffalo
6.0
New Orleans
Buffalo
San Diego
Miami
5.5
Miami
Miami
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
4.0
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Denver
Oakland
1.5
Denver
Denver
Sun, Sep 27
5:20 pm (PST)
6:20 pm (MST)
7:20 pm (CST)
8:20 pm (EST)
Arizona
Indianapolis
2.5
Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Mon, Sep 28
5:35 pm (PST)
6:35 pm (MST)
7:35 pm (CST)
8:35 pm (EST)
Dallas
Carolina
8.5
Dallas
Dallas
The final tally
The final tally

The Aftermath

Well, I was nervous about all the high point spreads and more specifically about the fact that I couldn't make much of a case for those big underdogs to cover. Now that all the games are over though, there was no reason to be stressing over it. Every one of those teams with a spread of six points or higher except Washington covered the points and most of them did it easily. Speaking of the Redskins...no, lets not speak of the Redskins ever again unless it is absolutely necessary. And I have no idea what I was thinking when I picked the Browns to cover against the Ravens. I get a little gun shy when the spread approaches two TD's and that's my only excuse.

When all was said and done, I ended up with a 10-6 record both straight up and against the spread. Which leaves me with an overall season record of 33-14 straight up and a 25-22 record against the spread. I'll be back in week four with a much better idea of who sucks and who doesn't in the NFL.

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10 comments

ShyneIV profile image

ShyneIV 7 years ago from Montreal

Great stuff from top to bottom


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks Shyne.

The word is that Randy Moss might not play now. I was already nervous about picking the Pats and now they might be without both Moss and Wes Welker. Oy!


BSLIONS profile image

BSLIONS 7 years ago from Richmond, Va

Sorry but I don't agree. Look at what the Saints did to Philly compared to what they did to us. With us Brees slaughtered our backup CB and we still managed to play them slightly closer than Philly. Look at what Adrian Peterson did to the Browns, we held him to half the yards he had against them and under 100 yards total. Its not like were playing cupcakes here.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I wouldn't say Philly and Lions vs. New Orleans were anywhere close to a similar game. Philly held close until Kolb fell apart in the second half. The Saints eased up on the Lions after they had 28-10 lead at half time. Cleveland isn't exactly a defensive powerhouse themselves, nor would I be particularly worked up about "holding" him to 92 yards.

Anyway, I seem to be the only one on the planet not picking the Lions to upset the Redskins tis week so maybe everyone else knows something I don't know.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

Cool hub...go Colts! :)


BSLIONS profile image

BSLIONS 7 years ago from Richmond, Va

Lol, well I live in Redskin country (Va) and I'm a Lions fan so I know both teams fairly well. I just didn't see the Skins pulling this one off, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't going nuts during the last drive of the game. It was a close one.


John Z profile image

John Z 7 years ago from Midwest

Dem Boys need to pick it up. Good calls this week.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

The Lions played a good game and I hate the Redskins, so I'm not feeling any sadness over them being the first victim. It's hard to judge how much of it is actually due to Washington sucking, but Stafford has been getting progressively better each week.

Thanks Tom and John!

How 'bout them Jets? And Cincy looks for real this season.


John Z profile image

John Z 6 years ago from Midwest

I have been a cowboys fan since 1960 when I was 5. Having said that, this was a sloppy win for the Boys. Delhomme gift wrapped the picks and the boys won on defense. But carolina was in the backfield all night, and without the turnovers I think Carolina would have won. The Pokes have little to be proud of with this win, rushing champs or not.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

For the most part I agree, but they did much better in the second half. I think the broadcasters were right (been a long time since I've said that about a Monday Night Football crew) that they are missing Barber a lot during pass blocking situations. Neither team really inspired any fear with that game.

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