CHERRY HILL, NEW JERSEY, September 23, 2015 — What makes the NFL the greatest game in sports is the idea that any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday. Total mismatches on paper produce confounding results. As ESPN Auber-announcer Chris “Swami” Berman reminds us, “That’s why they play the games.” Last week saw the Raiders shock the Ravens, the Jaguars take down the Dolphins, and the Buccaneers stun the Saints.
We saw the most glorious and darkest parts of football all in one week. Derek carr, teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles showed us what the future of football may look like. Jameil Winston and Marcus Mariota had different results in two weeks. Tony Romo, Drew Brees and Jay Cutler all suffered injuries. Football is a violent game, and one hit can end a career. The triumph outweighs the tragedy, which is why we love football. With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 3 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Washington at New York Giants (-4) — The Giants have blown two double-digit fourth quarter leads. This game will determine if the Giants bounce back in a weak division or if they mail it in and send Tom Coughlin into retirement. Expect a bounce-back. Giants cover.
Sunday, September 27
Atlanta Falcons (-1) at Dallas Cowboys — Dallas has lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Even with home field, Brandon Weeden is a step down. Still, Dallas showed on heart on defense last week on the road. Upset special, Cowboys win outright.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans — The Colts are a surprising 0-2 and their offense is out of sync. Despite losing last week, the Titans are improved, and Marcus Mariota is for real. Upset special, Titans win outright.
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3.5) — Both teams had big wins last week, but the Browns have the home field and the far better defense. Derek Carr will need help, and Manziel could torch the Oakland defense. Browns win, but fail to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) — The Bengals are 2-0 and the Ravens are 0-2, but John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco will not go 0-3 with this game at home. Ravens cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-13.5) — A bad team coming off a stunning win goes on the road to face a great team. The spread is high, but this has the makings of a blowout by halftime. Patriots cover.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-7) — Brees is injured and the Saints are a mess. The Panthers have been unspectacular but they have done enough to win. Panthers win, but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-1.5) — The Eagles are on the verge of a breakdown and open revolt against Chip Kelly while the Jets under Todd Bowles are 2-0. Neither offense is impressive but the Jets defense is for real. Jets cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans (-6.5) — The Buccaneers got a stunning road win while the Texans are 0-2. Despite subpar quarterback play, this is the week where J.J. Watt and the defense steps up to save Houston’s season. Texans win, but fail to cover.
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) — The Vikings have the home field and Adrian Peterson, but the Chargers are the better team overall. Upset special, Chargers win outright.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) at St. Louis Rams — The Steelers are coming off a big win, while the Rams suffered a stunning loss after their emotional opening win. The Steelers have the better team, and the home field will not save the Rams. Steelers cover.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) — The 49ers could be the worst team in the league. The Cardinals could be the best. This is where Goliath beats David and takes his girlfriend and his lunch money. Cardinals cover.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-3) — Buffalo’s supposedly fantastic defense got shredded by New England, while Miami was just uninspiring in their loss to Jacksonville. Rex Ryan is as hilarious as Joe Philbin is boring, but Miami is at home. A Dolphins loss here could be the beginning of the end for Philbin. Dolphins cover.
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-14.5) — Both teams are 0-2, but Seattle is expected to bounce back. Chicago was bad with Jay Cutler. With Jimmy Clausen, they are far worse. The spread is very high, but the Bears really are that awful. Seahawks cover.
Denver Broncos (-3) at Detroit Lions — These teams are in reverse. Denver had a soft defense that is now nasty. Detroit had a nasty defense that is now soft. Peyton Manning does not have to do as much, and Matthew Stafford is hurting. Broncos cover.
Monday, September 28, 8:30 p.m.
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers (-7) — Forget that the Chiefs blew a big game last week. Their psychology is irrelevant. The Packers are on a mission, at home, and led by Aaron Rodgers. The Cheesehead Express will roll. Packers win, but fail to cover.