Week 3 NFL picks

Last week: 8-8
Overall: 14-16

Titans at Jets

Last week in this space, I asked my friend, the Jets fan, what his excitement level was going into the matchup against the Patriots. He listed it as an 8, but was cautious, saying he thought Bill Belichick was playing possum in Week 1 against the Bills just so he could mess with the Jets in Week 2. Well, looks like his paranoia was unfounded. Rex Ryan's crew was the story last week, but I'm expecting a letdown here. The 0-2 Titans are in desperation mode.

The pick: Titans (+3)

Giants at Bucs

Tough break for the Giants this week. New York lost safety Kenny Phillips for the season with a condition known as patellofemoral arthritis. Reports surfaced that the condition could be career-threatening, but it depends on the severity. Hopefully the 22-year-old talent can get back on the field next season. As for the Giants, impressive performance by Eli Manning last Sunday night against the Cowboys. Guess those receivers aren't that bad, huh?

The pick: Giants (-6.5)

Jaguars at Texans

Time for this week's Comment of the Week. It starts with Ruben, the wonderful man who cleans up the philly.com offices every evening. He's also a Birds fan (and an unbelievable bowler). We usually talk about the latest Eagles news every evening when he comes in. Yesterday as we discussed the Jeremiah Trotter workout, Ruben, who I estimate is in his mid-50s, said, "They might as well bring me in." I Tweeted this yesterday, and some of you responded. From @Rusty Eggen: Tell Ruben if he can stop the run, we'll take him! Thus begins the campaign for Ruben to play middle linebacker for the Birds. I think he can be ready by Week 5 after the bye. I'll keep you posted.

The pick: Texans (-3.5)

49ers at Vikings

Please tell me you've been following the tirade of ex-Vikings QB and former ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury against Deadspin. It has to be the strangest, most entertaining sports story of the past week. I can't even do it justice here trying to explain. Just click on the link and enjoy.

The pick: 49ers (+6.5)

Falcons at Patriots

Time for MC's Pick of the Week. MC bounced back last week, giving us a winner with the Vikings. Here is his Week 3 game:

The Patriots haven’t lost two games in a row since ‘06, and that streak will not end this week. Atlanta goes on the road for the first time this year and runs into a New England team that is hungry to bounce back from its loss to the Jets.

The pick: Patriots (-4)

Redskins at Lions

You may have noticed we didn't feature our weekly post with Dave Staley of sportsbook.com this week. The reason? They still don't have a number for Eagles-Chiefs. But Dave did answer a couple of our other questions via e-mail. They're not about the Redskins or Lions, but then again, what do we really need to say about those two teams? So we'll include one of the questions here.

Q: Which team do you think Vegas is having the hardest time figuring out after two weeks?

A: Through two weeks, two teams come to mind immediately. One has been undervalued and one was overvalued: the Jets and the Patriots. The Jets have not only covered, but won both of their games outright, despite being the underdog twice. Of course, much of this can be attributed to the play of Sanchez. I doubt the odds-makers thought that he'd be so impressive in his first two games. I know it is still early, but this kid looks like a stud. The other reason for the Jets' 2-0 start is the defense, which has allowed only 16 points against two good offenses. This is a unit that was pretty average last season, ranking 16th in the NFL. It seems that our odds-makers have noticed now, as the Jets are 3-point favorites against the Titans. The betting public still seems to have their doubts though as the majority (55%) of the early money is on Tennessee.

Meanwhile, the Pats were obviously overvalued the first two weeks. In Week 1, they were a fumbled kickoff away from losing outright, despite being double-digit home favorites. Last week, they obviously lost to the Jets. It's early, but there is plenty of room for concern in New England. From a handicapping standpoint, look how the 2007 season ended. After being a covering machine the first half of the season, the Patriots only covered one or two games the rest of the way, including the postseason. Now that Tom Brady is back, I think the public automatically thinks that the Pats will be throttling everyone in their path. As I pointed out, the league sort of caught up to them in the second half of '07. A quick check of our Betting Trends page shows that 65% of the early bettors are backing New England (-4) this weekend against the 2-0 Falcons.

The pick: Lions (+6.5)

Packers at Rams

Our other question for Dave:

Q: What were some of the major gambling storylines for Week 2?

A: Plenty of good games and surprising outcomes last week. Big winners for the bettors included: the Saints beating the Eagles; the Falcons beating the Panthers and the Vikings taking down the Lions -- all favorites. The betting public didn’t fare so well with: Pittsburgh losing to Chicago, Green Bay falling to the Bengals at home and the Patriots going down to the Jets -- favorites all failing to cover.

And someone went 15-for-16 in our $100,000 Perfect Parlay promotion again. The only game he missed was the Bengals game as he selected the Packers. Obviously, since that was a 1 p.m. game, there was no hedging opportunity. I told the boss that he better get his checkbook ready because this is gonna hit soon.

The pick: Packers (-6.5)

Browns at Ravens

I just don't see how Eric Mangini's style can work in the NFL in 2009. How far has this guy fallen? One minute he's got a cameo on The Sopranos. The next minute, a report surfaces that he fined a player $1,701 for not paying for a $3 bottle of water charged to a hotel room. And another report says he charged a player the same amount for not paying for an in-room movie. He says he wants to get everyone on the same page, but how can you expect players to want to run through a wall for you when you treat them like they're 6 years old?

The pick: Browns (+13)

Bears at Seahawks

The Eagles do not play the Seahawks this year, but if they did, it seems pretty likely that T.J. Houshmandzadeh would have something to say to Tom Heckert, Andy Reid and company. You remember that in the offseason, Houshmandzadeh seemed very interested in joining the Eagles, but the Birds didn't appear to want him. Here's what he said about the Bears not pursuing him:

"Man, the Bears ain't holler at me. Jerry Angelo probably didn't even think I could play. So I'm going to show him Sunday."

We disagree.

The pick: Bears (-2)

Saints at Bills

Shouldn't there be a little more buzz surrounding the Bills? They outplayed the Patriots in Week 1 and notched a double-digit win over Tampa in Week 2. We know the T.O. meltdown is coming, considering he has just five catches through two weeks, but for now we're poised to ride the Fred Jackson show.

The pick: Bills (+6)

Dolphins at Chargers

San Diego was a popular preseason Super Bowl pick, but injuries have been the story early on. Nose tackle Jamal Williams done for the season. Center Nick Hardwick out at least eight weeks. And LaDainian Tomlinson on the shelf. But I think they rally and win big here.

The pick: Chargers (-5.5)

Steelers at Bengals

No idea what to make of the Bengals. After Hard Knocks, I felt pretty confident that they would be terrible this season. After two weeks? Not so sure. If they knock off the defending Super Bowl champs, I'll be a believer.

The pick: Steelers (-4)

Broncos at Raiders

A couple of ex-Eagles making noise early on for the 2-0 Broncos. Brian Dawkins with 17 tackles. Correll Buckhalter with a 45-yard run and a 30-yard reception last week. He also got into the end zone.

The pick: Broncos (-1.5)

Colts at Cardinals

Let's hope Wilma McNabb doesn't get a Twitter account. In Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald got his brother in a bit of hot water with this Tweet:

Just got off the phone with my brother.  he's happy about the win.  But PISSED he didn't get the ball thrown 2 him much!

Not good. It'll be interesting to see how teams try to regulate this kind of thing going forward.

The pick: Colts (+2.5)

Note: The Monday night game will be picked Monday night. The Eagles game will be picked once sportsbook.com makes the line available.