SEATTLE — The NFL pulled out all the stops for its 100th season, but the first two weeks (previewed here and here) are on the verge of becoming a funeral. Injuries will always be a part of football, but top quarterbacks are going down fast and furious. At this rate general managers helming NFL 2019 teams will be on the streets with tin cups asking, “Hey brother, can you spare a signal caller?”
Let’s chart this week’s truly awful Cavalcade of Injuries.
- In Week 1, Nick Foles’s first game with the Jacksonville Jaguars was his last for awhile. A broken clavicle will take away at least half of his season.
- In Week 2, Big Ben Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury without being touched. He is out for the season, leaving Mason Rudolph to lead a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has never had a losing season under Mike Tomlin.
- Drew Brees suffered an injured thumb, as the Saints went from Super Bowl contenders to mediocrity. Teddy Bridgewater will try and save Sean Payton’s team.
- The Jets had hopes of being better, but Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis. At least it’s not another of this season’s appalling injuries.
- Cam Newton is still in the lineup, but it is clear the Carolina Panthers quarterback is injured.
- No injuries here. Eli Manning is healthy, but the New York Giants benched him. Rookie Daniel Jones will soon find out that the problem was not Manning, but the 21 other starters around him. Outside of Saquon Barkley, the Giants have some terrible players at key positions.
- Jacoby Brissett is starting for the Indianapolis Colts because injuries forced Andrew Luck to retire stage 29.
But there are bright spots in this star-driven league
The NFL is a star-driven league. And some of the brightest stars are healthy and slinging it well. Tom Brady has the New England Patriots on a mission to shatter the record books. Patrick Mahomes may be a secret weapon proving that there is football on Mars. The Kansas City Chiefs may be the best offense in the league. Aaron Rodgers has put up pedestrian numbers, but he finally has a defense to take the pressure off. He seems more relaxed in the pocket knowing his defense can get him the ball back.
But three bright spots are not enough. As for a solution to the proliferation of serious injuries, there’s none on the horizon. Trying to legislate the violence out of football has only led to players taking more risks, leading to more injuries. As Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs used to say, it is not the best team that wins the Super Bowl. It is the best healthiest team. As the season progresses, let us all hope that the injuries of the first two weeks were an aberration and not a trend.
And now for this week’s Guide
With that, here is the NFL 2019 Week 3 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 19, 2019, 8:20 p.m.
NFL 2019 Week 3 begins in Jacksonville.
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
20 years ago these teams met in the AFC Title Game. This time they are part of a terrible division anyone can win. Jacksonville needs a quarterback. Doug Marrone already has his defense griping. Tennessee is not that good, but Jacksonville is a mess. Titans cover.
Sunday, September 22, 1:00 p.m.
As always, in NFL 2019 Week 3, Sunday is still the NFL’s big day. Let’s hope Sunday’s games don’t involve any more fateful injuries.
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-8) —
22 years ago, John Elway quarterbacked the Broncos to their first Super Bowl title over the heavily favored Packers. 22 years later, President John Elway is struggling to fend off critics. The Packers are the better team, but their offense has been too inconsistent to trust the high spread. Packers win but fault cover.
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-7) —
The Eagles are angry after a heartbreaking road loss and will at home take it out on the overmatched Lions. It will not be as bad as the 1995 playoffs where the Eagles led the Lions 51-7 at halftime. However, Carson Wentz should be able to move the ball at will against the Detroit defense. Eagles cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) —
The Ravens are a good football team, but the Chiefs are an elite team. The Ravens play good defense and Lamar Jackson is much improved at quarterback. The Chiefs offense can score at will. Patrick Mahomes may be an alien from the future sent to destroy all NFL opposition. Even without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs did not miss a beat. The spread is high given that the Ravens are a sound team, but the Chiefs seem unstoppable. Chiefs cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-6) —
In 1981 and 1988, these teams played in the AFC Title Game. Now, as both teams meet in this NFL 2019 Week 3 contest, the Bengals are a bad team. On the other hand, the Bills are 2-0 pretenders. Expect the Bills to become 3-0 pretenders. Bills cover.
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts (-2) —
After an inspired win at home against Philadelphia, Atlanta is due for a letdown. The Falcons may have more talent, but until they show consistency, go with a Colts team desperate to prove it still matters. Adam Vinatieri will either be on the road to redemption or retirement. Colts cover.
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings (-8) —
The Raiders got blasted at home by Kansas City. Safety Jonathan Abram is out for the year. Running back Josh Jacobs may be injured as well. The Vikings came out flat last week, and Kirk Cousins has been less than spectacular. At home, Mike Zimmer’s defense is a better bet than Jon Gruden’s offense, especially if Derek Carr is asked to do everything himself. Vikings cover.
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-22.5) —
Yes, the spread is correct. The Patriots won their two games by 30 and 43. The Jets lost their opener by one point after blowing a 16 point lead. They then lost at home to Cleveland by 20 points. The Jets have been known to occasionally play the Patriots tough, but this Jets team is bad. At New England, this game could be the biggest embarrassing blowout not involving a butt fumble. Patriots cover.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys (-21) —
Again, this is not a college football game. The spread is real. Miami lost two games at home by 49 and 43 points. They are terrible at every position. Dallas seems more focused than in past years. The issue is not of the Cowboys will put a ton of points on the board. It is if Miami can put any. Cowboys cover.
Sunday, September 22, 4:00 p.m.
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5) —
Midway through he 2004 season, the Giants benched Kurt Warner in favor of rookie Eli Manning. Now it is rookie Daniel Jones taking the reins from Manning. If ever there was an NFL 2019 game a rookie could win, this one would be it. The Giants have a real running game and Tampa Bay’s defense is not the Pewter Power of glories past. Buccaneers win but fail to cover.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (-2) —
Returning from a more than rough NFL 2019 Week 2 game, Cam Newton is playing injured. He can deny his injuries until he is blue in the face. But his body is already black and blue. Cliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have brought excitement back to the desert, but excitement does not necessarily mean wins. Carolina is desperate. But Newton does not silence the critics until he actually does. Cardinals cover.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) —
The Seahawks have Russell Wilson and a solid defense. Pete Carroll seems to have a permanent fountain of youth. The Saints were legitimate Super Bowl contenders until Drew Brees went out injured for several weeks with a bad thumb. No Brees means no chance. Seahawks cover.
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers (-3) —
Led by star quarterbacks, both these teams possess ridiculous talent on the offensive side of the ball. They are also both underachievers and fail to show consistency. There is no home field advantage for the Chargers unless they move back to San Diego. Even without Jadavean Clowney, their defense is still good enough. This could come down to the final play. The teams are evenly matched. Philip Rivers gets rid of the ball quicker than Deshaun Watson. Chargers cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) —
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season coaching the Steelers. But he has never been without Ben Roethlisberger for an entire season. The 49ers are finally coming into their own. The Steelers will be desperate, but after awhile the players tune out even the best coaches. They have heard the same speech ad nauseam. The Steelers have too much talent to trust this spread. 49ers win but fail to cover.
Sunday, September 22, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Cleveland Browns —
The Browns were exposed as frauds in NFL 2019 Week 1 before looking like an actual football team in Week 2. However, the Rams dismantling of the Saints cannot be ignored. Even with Brees in the game before his injury, the Rams defense was solid. Michelin Man Wade Phillips is going to throw everything at young Baker Mayfield. Sean McVay is the new Mike Martz, inventing plays like a mad scientist. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are healthy. Cooper Kupp is back and healthy. Rams cover.
Monday, September 23, 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Bears (-4) at Washington Redskins —
Chicago’s offense looked like garbage in both its NFL 2019 games, as the Bears were lucky to escape woeful Denver with a win. The Bears have a defense without support from the offense. Washington seems to be lacking on both sides of the ball. Go with the home field. Upset special, Redskins win outright.
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