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Saturday, 21 September 2019

NFL Week 3 Picks 2019 (September 19-23)

A busy week has gotten on top of me with a couple of evenings needed to be set aside for personal events that meant I could not really produce the kind of NFL Week 3 thread that I wanted.

What was important to me was to write out the analysis for the Week 3 selections that I am going to back with the heavier units. I have added a couple of single unit selections to the 'MY PICKS' portion of the thread below.

Week 2 proved to be a tough one, but there isn't a lot I can do about yet another starting Quarter Back going down with an injury, although I had some late fortune on Sunday which helped prevent this being a really poor week.

It was still a losing one and I want to begin turning things around from Week 3 and getting this season back into a positive position after the successes in 2018. Hopefully injuries favour my selections this week and I can have a little fortune on my side to get into a winning week.

I have added the season totals to this thread too. Onto Week 3 Picks.

Oakland Raiders @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: Once again you can point at Kirk Cousins and wonder whether he was worth all the money that Minnesota invested in him when he continues to make bonehead plays at key times in big games. The bigger the game, the more likely this is a Quarter Back who will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and it was his poor play in the Fourth Quarter, including a back-breaking Interception thrown in the Green Bay End Zone, that cost the Minnesota Vikings and dropped them to 1-1.

Playing a non-Conference opponent between two Divisional games is usually a really poor spot to back a team and especially one favoured by as many points as the Vikings are in Week 3. However Mike Zimmer is a Head Coach who will be demanding a response and the fact his Vikings team are 21-9 against the spread coming in off a loss will make me feel more comfortable backing Minnesota here.

Kirk Cousins should be blamed for the defeat to Green Bay, but this is the kind of game in which he has usually thrived as there is no real pressure on him. The Quarter Back is playing behind an Offensive Line which has offered him plenty of protection and Cousins has some top Receiver threats which should give him a chance to have his best game of the season having averaged just 160 passing yards through the first two weeks of the season.

There is a lot of effort in the Oakland Defensive unit which will mean they can make some plays, but they won't be able to think about slowing the pass unless they can be the first team to get to grips with Dalvin Cook at Running Back. While the Raiders Defensive Line has opened the season looking pretty good, this is the toughest Offensive Line they would have faced and I think the Vikings will get Cook established and that should open things up for Cousins to attack a Secondary that is allowing 352 passing yards per game.

One way Oakland can remain competitive is by looking for their own Offense to keep the ball for long periods and control the clock. Both Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams are going to be ready to go in Week 3 and Derek Carr has shown he can keep the chains moving, although he will have to avoid the mistakes that cost the Raiders any chance of challenging the Kansas City Chiefs last week.

Carr could be helped in this game if the Minnesota Vikings are not able to play better Defensively than what we have seen through the first two games. While they looked better in the second half against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings Defensive Line has allowed 4.8 yards per carry so far this season so it might be a chance for Oakland to give the ball to the rookie Jacobs and hope he can keep the team in third and manageable spots.

That is important for Carr who is going to want to use quick passes to keep the Minnesota pass rush quiet- any time he is in third and long spots, Minnesota will feel their pass rush will be able to get the Raiders off the field, but it will all start up front as they bid to clamp down on Jacobs and show that they are the elite Defense that many thought it was before the season began.

There have been some bend, but not being broken, about the Defensive unit in the Secondary, but I am not sure Oakland will be looking to hit Minnesota down the field. Instead they will look to play short passes to keep the chains moving, but it could be difficult to keep up when Derek Carr is asked to do more if they fall a couple of scores behind as we saw with the mistakes made in the second half of the game against Kansas City.

I do think Minnesota will bounce back this week and I am expecting Cousins to have a big week at Quarter Back. I mentioned the record Mike Zimmer has coming in off a loss and the Head Coach has also led his team to a 17-2 record against the spread as a home favourite against a non-Divisional opponent.

The spread has continued to tick upwards despite the wagers being pretty even in Vegas and I want to be with the sharps who seem to like the Vikings here. If the spread ticks over into double digits I would be less keen and would definitely drop a unit, but at this number I am backing Minnesota to get back above 0.500 for the season and give themselves some momentum to take into a huge Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears.

Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers Pick: Winning the opening two games of the 2019 season and both against Divisional rivals have given the Green Bay Packers a strong leg up as they bid to return to the PlayOffs. Matt LaFleur is the rookie Head Coach making the headlines as he bids to restore the Green Bay Packers to relevance in the NFC having finished back to back seasons with losing records.

The wins over the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings have been fuelled by the new look Green Bay Defensive unit which may be amongst the very best in the NFL. Neither team faced has been able to find consistency against them although the Packers had to hold on for the win over the Vikings in Week 2 having Intercepted a terrible Kirk Cousins throw in their own End Zone while leading by just 5 points.

The 2-0 start may also be covering up some of the issues the Packers are having Offensively and Aaron Rodgers is in for another test in Week 3 as he faces the Denver Broncos Defense which almost did enough to help the team win their first game of the season. Instead the Broncos have been left at 0-2 with Joe Flacco yet to really show why Denver picked him up and it could be a situation where the veteran is soon replaced to see what the Broncos have on the roster as far as a Quarter Back of the future is concerned.

It is too early to think about making that move now, but Flacco and the Broncos have to be feeling pretty sick that they were not able to score more than 16 points in either game played so far this season. They had chances against the Chicago Bears in Week 2, but Flacco threw a terrible pass which was Intercepted on the goal-line and I have no doubt the veteran has to be better if Denver are going to get back on track.

A big part of the problem is the Offensive Line which was called for far too many penalties in the defeat to Chicago last week. Holding calls have made it very difficult for Denver to run the ball effectively and they are not going to have a lot of joy against the Green Bay Packers, even if the numbers have been skewed by one huge run by Dalvin Cook last week.

Phillip Lindsay has not been as effective this season with those issues on the Offensive Line and it is going to be hard for Denver to sustain drives if they are not playing a cleaner game up front. If not they are going to be stuck in third and long spots and Joe Flacco is going to find himself under significant pressure from the Green Bay pass rush which looks revitalised this season, while Denver also have to respect the Packers Secondary which is making big plays.

The key to the spread is clearly going to be the Green Bay Offensive unit which is yet to sparkle in 2019. I think the problems Aaron Rodgers and the team have had to really understand what Matt LaFleur wants from them is giving them a few teething issues and Green Bay are now facing a Denver Defense which is underrated to say the least.

The Broncos Defensive Line has been strong enough to believe they can at least limit the impact the Packers have through Aaron Jones and Julian Williams on the ground. Both players could be influential in the passing game, but Denver will be looking to remain stout up front and then rely on a strong Secondary to make the plays they need to get off the field.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game is averaging less than 180 yards through the air in the opening two weeks of the season. You would certainly expect that number to change over the months ahead, but Rodgers is facing a Denver Secondary that has held teams to under 200 passing yards per game, although those have been against Quarter Backs that don't match up to the standards Rodgers has set.

You have to imagine Denver will look to make someone other than Davante Adams beat them through the air and the Broncos have played well enough on this side of the ball to believe they can limit the amount of points the home team score. It certainly makes getting more than a converted Touchdown worth of points that much more appealing and I do like the Broncos when you think of the tough spot Green Bay are in.

The Packers have won back to back Divisional games and face a Conference rival on Thursday Night Football in Week 4 so I can imagine a situation where a 0-2 non-Conference opponent is not one they take as seriously as other games. Green Bay do have one very favourable trend that has to be respected, but they are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games following a game against the Minnesota Vikings and plenty was invested in last week's game.

Denver do have a poor recent record against the spread, but they should be desperate after the 0-2 start to the season. With the Thursday Night Football game coming up for the Packers, I will look for the Denver Broncos to earn just enough points to get within this number.

Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: From the moment Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles announced regular Wednesday practice would be cancelled because of the amount of injuries in the Eagles locker room this spread began moving. The sharp players were very much behind the Detroit Lions who had opened up as a full 7 point underdog, but that mark is much shorter now.

We have gone through a couple of key numbers so some of the value has gone, but I do think the Detroit Lions are still a decent team to get behind in Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season as they look to improve their 1-0-1 record. They upset the Los Angeles Chargers at home last week and are facing a Philadelphia Eagles team who were dropped to 1-1 after losing to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football.

Some key players are expected to be missing for the Eagles on Sunday or at least they are going to be limited. Philadelphia have been very strong at home under Doug Pederson so they have to be respected and you can't ignore the fact that the Eagles are favourites, but Carson Wentz and those that take to the field are going to have to dig deep ahead of a Thursday Night Football game at the Green Bay Packers.

The Quarter Back could have more success if the Eagles are able to establish the run against a Detroit team that have given up some huge plays on the ground. Much will depend on the Philadelphia Offensive Line getting back on track having had some problems both opening running lanes and also in pass protection.

Some of the issues might be down to the inconsistent Running Back committee that have yet to see one player really take over the majority of the carries. I do think the Eagles can have some successes in this one, and that may help Carson Wentz who is otherwise going to be under pressure from the Detroit pass rush.

There are holes in the Detroit Secondary which Wentz can expose, but I do think you would be more comfortable doing that if the likes of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey are missing or limited. I expect some positive plays from the Eagles at home, but there may be some inconsistent drives with the backup Receivers perhaps struggling to make the same kind of plays as Jackson and Jeffrey.

It will certainly be important for the Eagles to get into a position to score points as they may struggle to get the better of the Detroit Offensive unit. Like the Eagles, Detroit have struggled to run the ball and I don't think they are going to have a lot of joy against this Philadelphia Defensive Line that has held teams to 2.8 yards per carry.

However Matthew Stafford has shown he is feeling comfortable with the Offensive plays being called and I expect the Quarter Back to have success against this struggling Eagles Secondary. Philadelphia have given up 340 passing yards per game on the season so far and the pass rush has not been as effective as they would have liked so you have to believe Stafford and the Lions can have a strong day through the air.

Avoiding Interceptions is the key for Matt Stafford if the Lions are going to remain unbeaten and keep tabs on the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers. The Lions have to also avoid some of the narrative around the Philadelphia Eagles and remind themselves they are still big underdogs despite their hosts being banged up and that has to be motivation for Detroit to play a big game.

Detroit are 11-1 against the spread when playing a non-Division opponent off a straight up loss as the favourite so they should be able to handle the emotion that Philadelphia may have after losing in Atlanta last week. The Eagles are also 0-6 against the spread at home when playing a team who are off an underdog win like the Detroit Lions are.

As much as Matt Patricia is under pressure as the Head Coach of the Lions, his team is 6-3 against the spread on the road and I still believe this is enough points to be receiving with the underdog.

Houston Texans @ Los Angeles Chargers Pick: Two teams who would have been targeting the NFL PlayOffs in January meet in Week 3 with both the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers at 1-1. The Texans are in the weaker Division which looks up for grabs, but the Chargers won't want the Kansas City Chiefs getting too far away and this is also a game which could have huge PlayOff implications in terms of tie-breakers later in the season.

I do think there are some similarities with the way these two teams have performed in the first two weeks of the season. Both could be 0-2, but the more positive fans will be looking at the performances and suggesting the Texans and Chargers should be at 2-0.

I think that is the feeling the players will have, but they are looking to clean up some of the poorer play which has cost them. Injuries are not helping either, but the Chargers and Texans should be confident going into Week 3.

This is not exactly a strong home field advantage for the Chargers, but they have bounced back from losses under Anthony Lynn. Philip Rivers has been playing well for the team, but the Offensive Line has not played as well as the Quarter Back would have liked and that has stalled some drives despite the strong numbers produced.

In each of the two games played in 2019 the Chargers have actually earned more yards than their opponent, but mistakes have been costly including a late Interception when it looked like Los Angeles would have a chance to at least tie the game in their defeat in Detroit in Week 2.

Los Angeles will feel they can have a good Offensive outing against the Houston Texans even though they are going to have some pressure put on them by the pass rush that their visitors can generate. Austin Ekeler has stepped up in the continued absence of Melvin Gordon and the Chargers have run the ball very well which is a strong way to slow down the pass rush.

Ekeler and the Chargers are putting up 5.7 yards per carry and I think the Offensive Line is much happier when being able to get downhill and open holes for the Los Angeles Backs. It has been a surprisingly poor start from the Houston Texans when it comes to stopping the run so the feeling is that Los Angeles can establish the ground game which is going to make life all the more comfortable for Rivers to hurt Houston through the air.

Philip Rivers has some very strong numbers and he should be happy with the play-action and short yardage spots he will be put into. Houston have a Defensive unit that is still finding its feet in 2019 and I do think the Chargers will be able to move the ball with a lot of consistency in this game which will give them a very good chance of winning this game.

Houston should have a successful Offensive day too having seen Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson having established the run with some big plays on the ground. They should have a chance to get something going against the Los Angeles Defensive Line and that will be important to give this Offensive Line a chance perform better when it comes to protecting Deshaun Watson.

The Quarter Back is capable of running RPOs which can help Houston move into third and manageable spots and that should be important in helping an Offensive Line that have not protected Watson when he drops back to pass. Any time they get into third and long, I would expect the powerful Los Angeles pass rush to pressurise Watson, although he should still be able to make plays to the likes of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins.

We haven't seen the Chargers pass rush at full tilt yet, but I think they have the players to at least get around Watson and force some mistakes from the young signal caller. There are some injuries in the Los Angeles Secondary which can be exploited by Watson who can extend plays and look to hit big passes down the field, but I do think there won't be the same type of consistency that the Chargers can produce when they have the ball in the hands of the Offense.

The Texans only just held on for a Divisional win in Week 3, but they are 1-6 against the spread in the following game in that situation over their last seven attempts. Home advantage is not huge for the Los Angeles Chargers, but they have been very good at covering when hosting teams from the AFC South and the Chargers have covered in six in a row against the Texans.

As I mentioned above, the Chargers have bounced back well off losses under Head Coach Anthony Lynn and they are 6-2 against the spread in the last eight games they have faced that situation. Being able to lay a Field Goal worth of points is a good enough spot for me here and I will back the Los Angeles Chargers to have enough firepower to edge out the Houston Texans at home.

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: Dropping to 1-1 is the least of the concerns that the New Orleans Saints will have out of Week 2 of the 2019 season. The bigger issue was the injury suffered by Drew Brees which is going to keep him out of the team for a few weeks and that means Sean Payton is going to ask Teddy Bridgewater to keep the Saints afloat before their Hall of Famer returns.

It won't only be Bridgewater but Payton has made it clear that Taysom Hill will also be given plenty of snaps as the Saints look to find a way to deal with how the cards have fallen for them. New Orleans have been so close to reaching the Super Bowl in each of the last couple of seasons so the loss of Brees is going to really sting.

At least New Orleans are playing in a Division where none of the teams look like they are going to be capable of running away with it. The schedule could be problematic for the Saints and this game in Seattle looks a very difficult one against the Seahawks who moved to 2-0 after beating an opponent who were missing their starting Quarter Back in Week 2.

Playing another team with a backup Quarter Back has made the Seahawks big favourites to win this game, but I do think the Saints Defensive unit can at least give their team a chance in this one. There are still some areas you would like to see New Orleans improve, but they do look like they could match up well with the Seattle Offense.

Running the ball has been a problem for the Seahawks which can't be considered a surprise when you think of the Offensive Line problems they have had all season. Some teams are happier running the ball, but this Offensive Line has not opened up consistent holes for any of the Running Backs even if they are expected to have a little more success against the Saints Defensive Line which has given up almost 6 yards per carry.

That number needs to be improved by New Orleans but I am expecting that to happen over the course of the season considering they ended with the Number 2 Rushing Defense in the NFL in 2018. The Saints will be looking to force the Seahawks into passing situations by clamping down up front and if they can do that this team will have the kind of pass rush to give Seattle fits.

Russell Wilson is a mobile Quarter Back, but even he has not been able to prevent the Offensive Line giving up as many Sacks as they have in the first two weeks of the season. The Seahawks Offensive Line did look like a real weakness before a Down had been played and that has looked the case early on, something that the New Orleans Saints will feel they can punish as they did against the Houston Texans in Week 1.

I still think this Super Bowl winning Quarter Back will be able to make strong plays through the air, especially as the Saints Secondary have not played as well as they would have liked. However Russell Wilson is not throwing to an elite list of Receivers and the Saints can at least give their team a chance of winning this game.

The key for New Orleans to make this a competitive game will be Alvin Kamara who has been running behind a strong Offensive Line that have helped the Saints produce 5 yards per carry. While the Seahawks Defensive Line has surprised with their strength up front to open the season, I do think we will get a clearer idea about where they are in this game as they are facing an Offensive Line much stronger than the one Cincinnati are using, while Pittsburgh were perhaps taken back by having Ben Roethlisberger leave the game.

You may think Seattle are going to look to clamp down on the run and force Bridgewater to beat them through the air, but I am very much expecting a better game from the new Quarter Back. He will have been surprised to have been needed in Week 2, but now Bridgewater has a week knowing his spot in the line up and the Seattle Secondary is far from the level produced during the 'Legion of Boom' era.

The Seahawks have allowed almost 300 passing yards per game and Mason Rudolph showed last week that a backup Quarter Back can have some success against Seattle. Teddy Bridgewater has a lot more experience and Taysom Hill can use RPOs to open things up on the ground and I do like the Saints chances of scoring enough points to keep this close.

Sean Payton is a very good Head Coach who will have prepared his team on how to deal with being without Drew Brees and he has a very good record off a straight up loss. The Head Coach also has a very high covering rate when being set as the underdog and I do think the whole Saints team will step up their play to make up for the Hall of Fame Quarter Back that is missing.

The Saints have been very good on the road as far as covering the spread is concerned and I do think they can make enough big Defensive plays to set up Teddy Bridgewater to help the team keep this competitive at the very least.

MY PICKS: Minnesota Vikings - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denver Broncos + 7.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Detroit Lions + 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Los Angeles Chargers - 3 Points @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Cincinnati Bengals + 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

Week 2: 3-4, - 2.70 Units (14 Units Staked, - 19.29% Yield)
Week 1: 4-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Season 2019: 7-8, - 2.54 Units (29 Units Staked, - 8.76% Yield)

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