LOUISVILLE: During a 1996 playoff game, retired football player, announcer and walrus Paul Maguire utters: “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.”
. The 1995 Kansas City Chiefs went 13-3. They lost to the 9-7 Indianapolis Colts 10-7 when Chiefs kicker Lin Elliott missed three field goals. Maguire later revised his salary offer to 25 cents. When it was pointed out that Lin Elliott was the loneliest man on the Chiefs sideline, Maguire was unsympathetic.
“It doesn’t matter, because Lin Elliott’s not going to be a Chief next year.”
Elliott never played in the NFL again.
Through two weeks of the NFL season, kickers have been huge.
The Oakland Raiders cut Sebastian Janikowski in the offseason after 18 years with the team. This past week he drilled a 56-yard field goal for the Seattle Seahawks that had plenty of room to spare.
Meanwhile, the Raiders lost by one point because kicker Mike Nugent missed an extra point.
The Cleveland Browns saw Zane Gonzalez have the winning field goal attempt in Week 1 blocked. In their Week 2 loss, Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points.
The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings ended in a tie when normally reliable Mason Crosby missed the winning kick for Green Bay on the last play of regulation. Minnesota kicker Daniel Carlson missed three field goals, including two in overtime.
The Vikings and Browns both cut their kickers on Monday. Minnesota shows brains by hiring Dan Bailey, who is a salary cap casualty from Dallas. Bailey is one of the most accurate kickers of all time. Football games are won by kickers.
With that, here is the NFL 2018 Week 3 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by OddsShark and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 20, 2018, 8:20 p.m.
N.Y. Jets at Cleveland Browns (-3) —
The Jets went on the road and blasted Detroit, then laid an egg against Miami. The Browns have done everything to win except win. They have to get a win at some point. They fired their kicker. The Browns have a defense. Sam Darnold, while impressive, is still a rookie. This is the week the Browns finally get it done. Browns cover.
Sunday, September 23, 1:00 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings (-17) —
The Bills lost by 44 points in their opener. Last week cornerback Vontae Davis retired at halftime. Yes, at halftime. He just gave up. The spread is ridiculously high, but the Bills really are that bad. Mike Zimmer is too disciplined to let his team take the Bills lightly, but a garbage touchdown could happen. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers (-3) —
The Bengals are 2-0, but Carolina has a tough defense. At home, give the Panthers the edge. Panthers cover.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-5) —
The Broncos are 2-0. They were manhandled at home by Oakland but survived due to Oakland’s kicker missing an extra point. On the road at Baltimore, expect the Ravens to rebound from a dismal road showing of their own. Ravens win but fail to cover.
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Washington Redskins —
Washington looked at horrendous at home last week in being unable to score a touchdown. Green Bay is far better than Indianapolis. Even a 70% healthy Aaron Rodgers is scary. Packers cover.
Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles (-6) —
The Eagles got rocked last week against Tampa Bay, but they will rebound against lowly Indianapolis. Carson Wentz returns as Nick Foles returns to the bench. Eagles cover.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-3) —
New Orleans has looked awful so far. Last week they survived because Cleveland’s kicker missed two field goals and two extra points. Home field rarely matters in this series since both teams play in a dome. In a close game, trust Atlanta. Falcons cover.
N.Y. Giants at Houston Texans (-6) —
Both of these teams have struggled to start the season. The texans have the better defense, and the Giants offensive line is truly offensive. Eli Manning was sacked six times last week. Texans win but fail to cover.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (-3) —
The Raiders are a mess. Derek Carr completed 29 of 32 passes last week and the Raiders still lost. Psychologically, they do not know how to close out games. Yet they beat up uninspiring Denver for most of the game, and Miami despite being 2-0 impresses nobody. The Raiders will save their season. Upset special, Raiders in outright.
San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) —
The Chiefs are a complete team. Patrick Mahomes set an NFL record with 10 touchdown passes in two games to start the season, including six last week. Jimmy Garoppollo is also quite good, but the 49ers do not have nearly enough firepower to keep up with the Chiefs playmakers. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) —
The Titans won last week in ugly fashion. The Jaguars wrecked New England. Jacksonville’s defense is every bit as good as advertised, and Blake Bortles has been vastly improved this season. At home, expect Jacksonville’s defense to overwhelm the Titans. Jaguars win but fail to cover.
L.A. Chargers at L.A. Rams (-7) —
The Rams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Chargers are the Clippers, an afterthought who should return to San Diego. Joey Bosa is out with an injured foot. Philip Rivers cannot do it all himself. Jared Goff has Toddy Gurley. Rams cover.
Chicago Bears (-4) at Arizona Cardinals —
These teams will always be linked with the Cardinals blowing a 23-3 lead and Dennis Green thundering that “The Bears are who we thought they were!” The Bears are improved, but don’t “crown their @ss” just yet. However, the Cardinals are just awful. Bears win but fail to cover.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-3) —
Seattle is a shell of what it was, as the Legion of Boom is now in the past. The Cowboys have talent but looked horrendous in their first two games. They struggled to put away the lowly Giants. In Seattle, give Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson one last chance to show they are not done yet. Seahawks cover.
New England Patriots (-7) at Detroit Lions —
This game has blowout all over it as Bill Belichick faces off against his former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The Lions lost at home by 31 points in their opener. The Patriots got shellacked by Jacksonville in a revenge game. So an angry Patriots team will face a wounded Lions team. This could be over by halftime. Patriots cover.
Monday, September 24, 8:20 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers —
This spread seems very surprising given that Ryan Fitzpatrick has turned the Buccaneers into an offensive juggernaut. The Steelers failed to beat Cleveland, and saw its defense shredded by Kansas City. In the New Big Sombrero, trust Fitzpatrick. As spotty as his career has been, he has earned the benefit of the doubt at home this week. Upset special, Buccaneers win outright.