Real and (we hope!) spectacular Week 3 picks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 24, 2009
We've promised picks the first two weeks that were much like Teri Hatcher's breasts: they're real and they're spectacular.
We certainly delivered in Week 1: 13-3 straight up and 10-6 ATS.
But we failed miserably, very miserably, in Week 2: 8-8 straight up and a pathetic 5-11 ATS. It was the worst week in the history of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
We haven't seen somebody get hammered that badly since the time CHFF bon vivant Frankie C. puked on himself at Robbie Buttomer's drunken barn dance bachelor party.
If we have one excuse, it's that we focused a bit too much attention on the Auburn cheerleaders last week and not enough on our bosomy picks.
Regardless, the dreadful Week 2 puts us at 21-11 straight up this year, and a substandard 15-17 ATS.
Here goes Week 3, highlighted by three outright victories by road underdogs.
San Francisco at Minnesota (-6.5)
This is our game of the week and it's a day when three stars rise: San Francisco's star in the NFC, Mike Singletary's star in the coaching ranks, and Shaun Hill's star among upstart quarterbacks.
The 49ers counter the threat of Adrian Peterson with the No. 4 ranked Defensive Hogs, who have surrendered 2.65 YPA on the ground in the first two games and will force Brett Favre into one of his classic mistake-filled games.
The Vikings have feasted on two of the weakest teams in football, but even against these two teams, Favre and the Minnesota passing game has produced a league-low 4.18 Passing Yards Per Attempt.
We've picked one road dog to win outright each week this year and both have hit. This is our third.
San Francisco 23, Minnesota 20
Denver at Oakland (-1.5)
Never go against Kyle the Horseshoe Orton, who's now 23-12 as an NFL starter, despite a 72.4 career passer rating and an average of just 6.0 YPA in his career – both marks well below average.
Plus, the Broncos have been awesome on pass defense this year with a 59.9 Defensive Passer Rating (5th), while the Raiders could barely move the ball through the air against the Chiefs, let alone a real NFL team.
We've picked one road dog to win outright each week this year and both have hit. This is our second this week.
Denver 23, Oakland 13
Cleveland at Baltimore (-13.5)
The Ravens are struggling on pass defense here in the early stages of the 2009 season (95.86 Defensive Passer Rating). Fortunately for them, the Browns are still struggling to find an air game under Brady Quinn (66.86 offensive passer rating).
Joe Flacco and company will find great success against Cleveland's struggling defense and will become the third straight team to beat the Browns by at least two touchdowns.
Baltimore 33, Cleveland 17
Pittsburgh (-4.5) at Cincinnati
The Bengals shocked the NFL last week, pulling off a 31-24 upset in Green Bay (and knocking out 26 of 80 people in our death pool in the process).
The Steelers, meanwhile, suffered a surprising 17-14 loss at Chicago and have not looked like the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back in February (27 points scored in two games).
The Steelers have won five straight against the Bengals and should be able to hold serve here. But their lack of offensive firepower makes it tough too cover the 4.5 points.
Pittsburgh 21, Cincinnati 17
Washington (-6.5) at Detroit
There's a lot of talk out of Detroit, Washington and elsewhere that this is the game that can end Detroit's streak of 19 straight losses. Much of the enthusiasm for the Lions is based on the fact the Redskins eked out a 9-7 win over the also-inept Rams last week.
We'd like to believe it. But of those 19 straight losses by Detroit, just three have been by less than a touchdown, and two of those came against the Vikings last year. We need more evidence before we start picking the Lions to win games.
The historically inept Lions defense makes even average quarterbacks look like Hall of Famers, so Jason Campbell & Co. should get back on track here in Week 3.
Washington 28, Detroit 20
Jacksonville at Houston (-3.5)
The Jaguars have been victimized by the two most accurate passing days in NFL history twice in the past 19 games – Tom Brady set the postseason record (26 of 28) in the 2007 playoffs; Kurt Warner set the regular season record (24 of 26) last week.
The Jags have also surrendered a 108.7 Defensive Passer Rating through two weeks: only Miami, Tampa and, of course, Detroit are worse.
That soft D should taste like a big fluffy victory marshmallow for Matt Schaub, who torched the Titans last week (357 yards, 9.2 YPA, 4 TD, 127.8 rating).
Houston 30, Jacksonville 20
Atlanta at New England (-3.5)
We're struggling to figure out why the Patriots are such big favorites against what looks like a powerful Atlanta team. Well, there's Tom Brady's 20-1 record as a starter in his last 21 games – a mark overshadowed by the paranoia in New England that followed the one-score loss on the road against a good Jets team.
Still, the Patriots have not looked sharp on offense in their first two games, while the Falcons feel so much positivity that Senator Stuart Smalley has adopted them as his favorite team.
Home field, where Brady's Patriots have not lost since the middle of 2006, helps the Patriots cling to a narrow win.
New England 23, Atlanta 21
Kansas City at Philadelphia (-9.5)
The Eagles recover from their shredding at the hands of Drew Brees with a big win over the Chiefs, who lost at home to a lousy Raiders club last week.
Plus, the Armchair Analysis guy seems to like this one, too.
Philadelphia 28, Kansas City 17
Green Bay (-6.5) at St. Louis
We're a little concerned by the fact that the Packers surrendered a shocking 31 points at home to the Bungles – but at least the Bungles have some offensive talent buried on the roster.
The Rams have virtually none. Everything about them is bad: 3.5 PPG, 8 for 26 on third & fourth downs (30.8%), a 69.5 offensive passer rating and just 50 percent completions through two games.
The Packers recover from the Week 2 devastation and romp.
Green Bay 27, St. Louis 13
N.Y. Giants (-6.5) at Tampa Bay
Here's a statistical mismatch if we've ever seen one: The Giants have an offensive passer rating of 103.2 (5th); the Bucs have a Defensive Passer Rating of 118.7 (31st... thank you, Lions).
The Bucs have already suffered two two-touchdown losses this year, one at home and on the road, to teams that aren't as good as the Giants. The trend continues here in Week 3.
N.Y Giants 30, Tampa Bay 20
New Orleans (-5.5) at Buffalo
The Drew Brees story is well documented so far this year and, as we noted this week, the Saints are clearly the dominant team in football after two weeks.
The Bills, meanwhile, are still covered by more question marks than the Riddler.
We hate to keep picking blowouts by road teams, but this one seems too natural to go against.
New Orleans 33, Buffalo 23
Chicago (-1.5) at Seattle
Two teams trying to define themselves. The big concern we have with the Bears is the fact that Jay Cutler has yet to prove himself worth the cost, and at the same time the Bears pass defense is as poor as it's been in years (85.75 Defensive Passer Rating).
We like the Seahawks to hold serve at home.
Seattle 21, Chicago 17
Tennessee at N.Y. Jets (-2.5)
The Titans are exhibit A as to why they call it the Not For Long league: last year, 13-3 and a Super Bowl favorite. This year? Sitting on the edge of 0-3 with the season over before October.
This has "bad match-up" written all over it for the Titans.
Their pass defense has been extraordinarily bad (107.8 Defensive Passer Rating) in hard-fought, three-point losses to the Steelers and Texans.
Kerry Collins has been merely mediocre passing the ball, meanwhile, (85.4 passer rating), and now he faces a defense that has completely shut down Matt Schaub and Tom Brady. In fact, New York is No. 2 in the league right now with a 54.3 Defensive Passer Rating.
The Jets, fueled by the excitement of the win over the Patriots and a shutdown pass defense, win big.
N.Y. Jets 27, Tennessee 21
Miami at San Diego (-5.5)
We don't see the Chargers as big faves, other than the cross-country trip the Dolphins must make. Not sure if you've watched them this year, but they barely beat a bad Raiders team, and then lost in Week 2 to Baltimore.
Yes, Miami's 0-2, but has played a tougher schedule (Atlanta, Indianapolis). And it was only a Peyton Manning performance for the ages that prevented a Dolphins win in Week 2. Phillip Rivers, our fine-feathered friends, is no Peyton Manning.
San Diego holds serve at home, but it's closer than the pigskin public expects.
San Diego 24, Miami 23
Indianapolis at Arizona (-2.5)
After his amazing performance last week, Peyton must be thrilled to stare at the game film of Arizona's questionable pass defense, which has been merely ordinary against the likes of Shaun Hill and David Garrard (83.8 Defensive Passer Rating).
The Colts and Manning carve of their second consecutive road win against a 2008 playoff team, and the Cold, Hard Football Facts hit on their fifth outright victory by a road dog in three weeks.
Indianapolis 28, Arizona 24
Carolina at Dallas (-9.5)
Last week, the Cowboys fought hard but lost to what was simply a superior team in the Giants.
The Panthers, meanwhile, went toe-to-toe on the road last week against a very good Atlanta team. However, they're marked by a brutal Passer Rating Differential of -56.2 – only the inept Lions prevent them from the entering the basement.
The Panthers start to find their groove on the ground behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who will combine for 200 yards on the ground.
But the Cowboys have a little too much firepower on the ground and through the air to lose.
Dallas 26, Carolina 23
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