Last week ATS: 2-2
Overall ATS: 3-4-1
Detroit Lions (+6) at Arizona Cardinals
The Lions have underperformed for the first two weeks, losing straight up (27-23) as 3.5-point home favorites against the Bears and getting mauled (42-21) as 5.5-point road dogs versus Green Bay. They have been outscored by a composite total of 69-44 — playing two AFC North rivals no less — and the worst part is they had a reasonable chance to win both games.
In Week One they blew a 17-point 4th quarter lead to the Bears, and in Week Two they opened with a 14-3 lead. It’s never a real shocker to see the Lions start a football year 0-2, but the way they have lost is an obvious indictment of both their defense and coaching staff.
Still, at 0-2 there is time to right the ship. They have to be motivated in Week 3 on the road against the Cardinals, a team that has started the season hot as a pistol and have parlayed immediate success into being 6.5-point favorites this week. Remember, before the year started the Lions (6.5 wins) and Cards (7 wins) were virtually expected to be the same team. In just two weeks the projected point spread has shifted somewhere around 4 points in Arizona’s direction, which doesn’t seem crazy given the records of these two teams and the fact that the Cards are at home, but is nonetheless enough of an overreaction to make me side with the Lions in this spot.
Score prediction: Lions 27, Cardinals 24
Buffalo Bills (-2) vs Los Angeles Rams
Normally when a west coast team travels east it’s an advantage for the home team. In this case, the Rams just got done playing in Philadelphia — a 37-19 win — so that won’t play as much of a factor. The Bills, meanwhile, are playing on the east coast for the third week in a row, which consists of wins over their division rival Jets (27-17) and Dolphins (33-28), respectively.
To me this game comes down to quarterback play, since both offenses are built around ball control and both defenses are average or better. In this matchup, specifically, I’m rolling with Josh Allen for two reasons: the first is that he’s playing at home, and the second is that he gives his team a higher offensive ceiling. I really have a hard time imagining this game getting into the mid-20’s, but I like Buffalo’s chances of creating big plays. It feels like a field goal game in either direction.
Score prediction: Bills 26, Rams 16
Washington Football Team (+7.5) at Cleveland Browns
This pick is all about the Cleveland Browns being overrated by the public. Last Thursday they dominated the Cincinnati Bengals, but thanks to a late touchdown they only won 35-30 and did not cover the 6-point spread. Still, with names like Baker Mayfield at QB, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt at RB, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry at WR, and Austin Hooper at TE, squares all over the country are going to want to bet on them.
Washington, meanwhile, have very few skill position players anyone is aware of. Their quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, is one of the lesser starters in the league, and the only receiver with any sort of name recognition is a second year stud named Terry McLaurin. Besides that, this is a makeshift unit with a bunch of no-names. And the public doesn’t like to bet on no-names.
The thing Washington has going for itself is that their defense is above average, which was the entire reason I liked them to go over their expected season win total of 5.5. It would be a shocker if they won this game outright, but I’m betting that 7.5 points is too large a spread and they keep this within a touchdown.
Score prediction: Browns 22, Football Team 19
New England Patriots (-5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
This line opened as Patriots -6, and if anything I expected it to go up. I would have liked it all the way up to Patriots -6.5, and because of that I absolutely love it at only -5.
I was hoping as much as everyone else in America that New England was going to take a step back in 2020, but after an easy win and cover against the Dolphins in Week One and a loss to the Seahawks that could have gone either way in Week Two, I have seen enough: The Patriots are going to be in the playoffs, and if they don’t win the division outright (which I believe they will) then they will definitely be the one wild card no one wants to play on the opening weekend. Cam Newton gives this offense a different dimension that they didn’t have with Tom Brady — since Cam is so clever out of the pocket — but he’s also more than held his own passing the rock.
At the same time, despite the Raiders impressive 2-0 start they caught their two wins at the perfect time. They beat one of the worst teams in Week One, the Panthers, by four points, and beat the Saints in an emotional stadium-opening Monday Night Football game in Week Two. Now you are asking them to go across the country, on a short week, no less, to stay within 5 points of a Patriots team that is coming off a loss. Give me the home team, and eat all those points and then some.
Score prediction: Patriots 31, Raiders 20