Nostrathomas had a great start to the NFL Week 3. Nostrathomas gave you the Carolina Panthers -7.5 against the Houston Texans and nailed it with the analysis about why the game would play out the way it did.
Now it’s time to bring out the crystal beer mugs, peer intently into the suds and see what the rest of Week 3 has in store for us.
Game of the Week
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams +1.5 (4:25PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)
Here are two teams that will likely be fighting for top seed in the NFC Conference all season.
You want strengths? Both teams are dominant on offense. The Buccaneers are first in the league in scoring through two games. Los Angeles is seventh, although the Rams are second in points per drive.
Matthew Stafford is first in the NFL in net passing yards per attempt. He’s also third in passer rating with Tom Brady clocking in at seventh.
On defense, Tampa Bay is third in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed, the Rams are 24th but neither team spends much time running the ball anyway.
Pass defense is where the Rams hold the major advantage between these two teams. They’re fifth in net passing yards per attempt allowed, fifth in passer rating allowed and seventh in negative pass play percentage (sacks plus interceptions divided by total dropbacks).
When this one is finished, we’ll have a game that we’ll be talking about all week. That talk will be about how the Los Angeles Rams slowed down the Buccaneers relentless march towards another Super Bowl appearance.
Los Angeles Rams 30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
Arizona Cardinals -7.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1PM ET; TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)
The Arizona Cardinals are off to a hot start this season in their bid to claim a playoff spot out of the tough NFC West.
After two games, Arizona is third in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings. They are third on offense in points per play and fifth in points per drive.
Quarterback Kyler Murray is taking full advantage of his powerhouse pair of receivers, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green, by averaging 8.9 yards per pass attempt. On defense, the Cardinals have only allowed 5.4 net passing yards per attempt and are seventh in the NFL in negative pass play percentage.
Jacksonville looks like a team still trying to find its identity under first-year NFL head coach Urban Meyer. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has yet to get untracked in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense.
Lawrence has only thrown for 450 yards in his first two games with four touchdowns and five interceptions and a passer rating of 57.1.
The only positive on offense for the Jaguars so far is their ability to run the ball. They’re ninth in the league with a 4.7 yards per attempt average.
If we’re looking for a team that can slow down Arizona, we’ll have to wait until Week 4 when they travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams. Jacksonville is not that team.
Arizona Cardinals 29 Jacksonville Jaguars 19
New York Jets +10.5 vs Denver Broncos (4:05PM ET; Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO)
Nostrathomas is saying take the New York Jets and the points? Yes, he is. Is Nostrathomas crazy? Yes, he is, wait, what was the question? Okay, this is a strange one but sometimes the way a game gets bet will hand you an opportunity.
This game opened with the Denver Broncos favored by 7.5. Early in the week, public money came in heavy on Denver. To try and get money in on the Jets, sports books began increasing the spread on this game until it reached its current line.
Because the Broncos have jumped out to a 2-0 record and New York quarterback Zach Wilson looked so bad last week against the New England Patriots, fans have overreacted and bet this game up to the point where the spread is too high.
As good as Denver has played, it’s asking a lot of the Broncos to cover a two-score spread. This is an instance where Nostrathomas is going to go against his rule of not picking the road dog unless he thinks they can win.
In this game, the rule is, sometimes the public, after seeing a team take a beat-down in its first two games, will react irrationally and create an opportunity that’s too good to pass up.
Nostrathomas doesn’t believe there’s any way on Earth that New York can beat the Broncos in Denver. I also don’t believe Denver can win this game by two scores and the half-point hook.
Denver Broncos 22 New York Jets 13
Miami Dolphins vs Las Vegas Raiders -4 (4:05PM ET; Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV)
There has been a lot of play on the Miami Dolphins so far this week. Nostrathomas isn’t buying it. The public has come in heavy on Las Vegas to drive the spread from its 1.5 opening to where it currently sits but I think that’s betters taking advantage of a line that was giving the Dolphins more credit than they deserve.
It is true that the Raiders under Jon Gruden have given no reason for anyone to have faith in his team beyond the month of September. However, this isn’t just a Derek Carr team. Las Vegas currently fields a defense that has to be reckoned with.
The Raiders are 14th on defense in points per play but seventh in the league in points allowed per drive. Their defense is also sixth in third down conversion percentage.
That is going to be tough on a Miami offense that has only managed an average of 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. That offense is also dead last in the league in scoring this season. Yes, even behind the Jets. You have to be able to score points to cover spreads and the Dolphins have failed miserably at that through two games, especially against the Bills.
Nostrathomas expects Las Vegas to stay on a roll, at least for one more week.
Las Vegas Raiders 29 Miami Dolphins 22
Best of the Rest
Chicago Bears +7.5 vs Cleveland Browns (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
With Andy Dalton’s injury in the Chicago Bears win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, Justin Fields gets his first career NFL start against the Browns.
Cleveland will be without wide receiver Jarvis Landry but are expecting to get Odell Beckham, Jr back for this game.
The Browns have played a couple of tough games, losing a battle to Kansas City in Week 1 and beating a depleted Houston Texans team in Week 2.
The Bears defense showed up strong against Cincinnati last week but offense has been the problem all season. The hope is that the unit starts to gel under the rookie first round draft choice.
Chicago has talent on offense but Andy Dalton wasn’t able to bring that out. While it’s a stretch to think that the Bears are going to win this game, covering isn’t out of the question. Cleveland has only covered in one of their last six home games.
Take Cleveland to win but the Bears to cover.
Cleveland Browns 26 Chicago Bears 20
Washington Football Team vs Buffalo Bills -7 (1PM ET; Highmark Stadium; Buffalo, NY)
The Buffalo Bills rebounded from their Week 1 loss by dismantling the Dolphins in Miami last week while Washington struggled against Daniel Jones and the Giants receivers.
Josh Allen and Buffalo’s corps of receivers should also have a strong game against the Football Team this weekend.
Buffalo Bills 26 Washington Football Team 16
Baltimore Ravens -7.5 vs Detroit Lions (1PM ET; Ford Field, Detroit, MI)
This would normally be an easy game to pick but the Baltimore Ravens have placed four defensive players, including Justin Houston, on the Covid-19 list. Also, Lamar Jackson has been ill and missed some practices, although he’s still expected to play.
Because of their problems there are plenty of people jumping on Detroit’s bandwagon this week. Stay off it. Fly with the Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens 34 Detroit Lions 24
Cincinnati Bengals +3 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (1PM ET; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)
The Cincinnati Bengals opened the season strong before falling under the treads of the Chicago Bears defense last week. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they won a hard-fought game in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills but were surprised by the Las Vegas Raiders last week in their home opener 26-17.
As bad as the Bengals looked against Chicago, they still hold the edge defensively against Pittsburgh. Also, as of this writing, Ben Roethlisberger is questionable to play in this game because of a pectoral injury. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has already been declared out with a knee injury.
On defense, the Steelers will be without T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
That’s a lot of problems for a Pittsburgh team that will be playing a Bengals team that has something to prove within the division. This is a week to take Cincinnati and the points.
Cincinnati Bengals 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs -7 (1PM ET; Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)
The Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs have both had mixed starts to their seasons. Each has had an impressive victory and lost a heartbreaker in the fourth quarter.
While the Chargers look to be moving up in the NFL world, Kansas City is already there. The Chiefs have struggled on defense so far in 2021, but they do have the players to tighten things up as the season goes on.
Los Angeles isn’t yet ready for their close-up. Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
Kansas City Chiefs 33 Los Angeles Chargers 24
New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots -3 (1PM ET; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)
The question here is, which New Orleans Saints team will be showing up to play this week. The one blew out the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 or the one that got crushed by the Carolina Panthers last week
Both these teams are strong on defense but like New Orleans, the Patriots have struggled for consistency on offense. Still, New England will score and has the defense to make the afternoon a miserable one for the Saints.
New England Patriots 23 New Orleans Saints 17
Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee Titans -5.5 (1PM ET; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)
In any other season, this would have made the list as a game of the week. Now it’s a game between an 0-2 team and an opponent who is looking to take an early lead in the AFC South.
The Tennessee Titans were close to dropping to 0-2 on the season before making an improbable fourth quarter comeback last week against the Seattle Seahawks. The Indianapolis Colts lost a heartbreaker last week to the Rams 27-24. They also lost quarterback Carson Wentz in the fourth quarter with two injured ankles.
Everything seemed to come together for the Titans last week in Seattle. For Indianapolis, they may have to start Jacob Eason in this game. Take Tennessee to win and cover.
Tennessee Titans 27 Indianapolis Colts 20
Seattle Seahawks -2 vs Minnesota Vikings (4:25PM ET; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
The Seattle Seahawks blew a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter lead last week against the Tennessee Titans in a 33-30 overtime loss.
Derrick Henry bulldozed over Seattle’s defense to drive the Titans to victory. The problem for the Seahawks is that Minnesota has a quality runner of their own in Dalvin Cook. The good new for Seattle is that Cook may miss this game because of an injured ankle. Even if Cook plays, he won’t be at full strength.
The Vikings are tough against the run. This isn’t a game where you’ll want to have Chris Carson as a starting running back in your fantasy league. You definitely want to have Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf playing though.
Minnesota is currently 26th on defense in points allowed, 27th in net yards per pass attempt allowed and 28th in passer rating allowed. On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson currently leads the NFL with a 146.9 passer rating.
The Vikings can move the football on offense but the NFL is a passing league and Seattle is excellent at it. One trend to consider, the Seahawks are on a 7-0 run against the Vikings.
Take Seattle to win and cover.
Seattle Seahawks 27 Minnesota Vikings 24
Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers -3 (Sunday Night Football; Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA)
The Green Bay Packers washed the bitter taste of their Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints with a convincing 35-17 trouncing of the Detroit Lions. This week, they have to step up in class again with a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
These two teams have one thing in common so far in 2021. Both have hung convincing losses on the Detroit Lions.
One of the problems with analyzing this game is that the statistical picture for Green Bay is skewed by their getting dragged through the mud in Week 1 against the Saints.
The one constant for these teams is that the 49ers have been tough on defense this season while Green Bay is vulnerable, especially in the secondary. The 49ers are equipped to take advantage of that vulnerability.
Take San Francisco to win and cover.
San Francisco 49ers 30 Green Bay Packers 24
Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 vs Dallas Cowboys (Monday Night Football; AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX)
The Dallas Cowboys are heading into their home opener with a 1-1 record after splitting last second outcomes in their first two weeks. The Philadelphia Eagles crushed the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 then lost their home opener 17-11 to the San Francisco 49ers.
Both teams are strong up front and protect their quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott well. The offensive lines also provide both teams with strong running games. One big difference between these NFC East rivals is Philadelphia gets it done on defense too.
The Eagles defense has only allowed an average of 3.8 yards per carry through two games. They are also third in net passing yards per attempt allowed and eighth in passer rating allowed.
There are also a couple of trends that Nostrathomas considered when picking this game. Dallas is on a seven-game losing streak in prime time. The Eagles are 4-2 in their last six games on the national stage.
Philadelphia dominates the stat sheet that Nostrathomas uses to analyze games. That means the Eagles are the pick to win and over in this one.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 Dallas Cowboys 21
Game of the Weak
Atlanta Falcons +3 vs New York Giants (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Both these teams are trying to keep from being completely irrelevant before the month of October.
The New York Giants played tough in Week 2 against the Football Team but an offside penalty gave Washington a second chance to kick the game-winning field goal.
The Falcons fought hard last Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions before falling short.
In this one, Nostrathomas is taking the team with the better quarterback. That’s Matt Ryan.