Week 3 Recap & Week 4 Early Picks

YOU LIKE THAT CAPTAIN KIRK!?! I’m a Jets fan and typically a Kirk Cousins stan but BOY WAS I FIRED UP when Bills Pro Bowl CB Tre’davious White tossed Kirk’s catchphrase right back in his face. Between that and Josh Allen’s hurdle of the century, we were treated to one of the most entertaining upsets in recent memory on Sunday. Perhaps the Vikings were looking ahead to their looming slugfest with the Rams on Thursday night or even to Leif Erikson Day on October 9th, but that isn’t nearly enough of an excuse to justify a 21 point loss in a spot where they were FAVORED BY 17.5 POINTS!!!

Fortunately for the Vikes, most of the top teams not named the Rams were underwhelming in their Week 3 bouts. I unfortunately don’t have time to highlight some teams this week (also no segment for this post – deeply sorry), but let’s take a look at my powerful POWER RATINGS to see where those teams ended up:

Rank Team TMC Score Last Score Score Diff.
1 LAR 6.5 5.5 1
2 MIN 3 5 -2
3 NE 3 4.5 -1.5
4 PHI 3 4 -1
5 KC 2.5 2 0.5
6 NO 2.5 1 1.5
7 ATL 2.5 3 -0.5
8 PIT 2 1.5 0.5
9 GB 2 3 -1
10 JAX 2 3 -1
11 CAR 1 0.5 0.5
12 LAC 1 1.5 -0.5
13 BAL 1 0.5 0.5
14 CIN 0 0 0
15 WSH 0 -1 1
16 SEA -0.5 -1 0.5
17 MIA -0.5 -2 1.5
18 IND -1 -2 1
19 DAL -1 -0.5 -0.5
20 DET -1 -2 1
21 TB -1.5 -1.5 0
22 TEN -1.5 -2 0.5
23 CHI -2 -1.5 -0.5
24 NYG -2 -2.5 0.5
25 HOU -2 -1 -1
26 DEN -2 -2 0
27 CLE -2 -2.5 0.5
28 OAK -3 -2.5 -0.5
29 NYJ -3 -3 0
30 SF -5 0.5 -5.5
31 ARI -5.5 -6.5 1
32 BUF -5.5 -7.5 2


If you’ve checked the site in the past few days or follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I fired away at a few Week 4 bets on Sunday and Monday. This was after a mediocre Week 3 in which I went 1-2 with my bets and lost 1.18 units. I still have a nice cushion in the black thanks to my big Week 1, but I need to get back on track with some winners and it (hopefully) starts with these three picks for Week 4.

Minnesota Vikings +6.5 vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (-110) for 2 Units – As you all will see in the next few paragraphs, I absolutely defend the logic behind this wager, but boy did I time this bet wrong. When I placed this wager on Sunday night I was anticipating sharp action to swoop in and bet the Vikings from +6.5 through the minor key number of 6 to +5.5. That did not happen – the sharps avoided this game (to my knowledge) instead and the public has predictably pounded the Rams over the past few days. As of the time of this writing, I could get Vikings +7.5 -115 at my book, which is way more valuable than +6.5 -110. Hypothetically, I could bet more on the Vikings to get a taste of that +7.5 action, but I don’t want to risk more than 2 units betting against the best team in the league. This just goes to show that WHEN you bet is just as important as WHAT you bet. HOW you bet is also important – don’t do parlays children – and WHERE you bet can net you some extra value and/or keep you out of prison.

But even at my cruddy +6.5, I still do like the Vikings. My Power Ratings have the Rams rated 3.5 points higher than Minny, and as I mentioned last week in my handicap of the NFL’s Battle of L.A., I really don’t think the Rams deserve the standard 3 points of home field advantage for any regular season game. Even with last week’s home win, the team DOES NOT have a great track record at home (6-11 since moving to L.A.), an energized crowd, or a notable advantage with the L.A. weather. I’ll concede that this is a BIG home game for them, but kickoff is a little after 5 PM on a Thursday. Even when accounting for the standard 12-to-4 California workday, there’s going to be at least an hour of traffic for every ten miles traveled in L.A. By the time most Rams fans park their hybrid eco-friendly bandwagons in the stadium lot it will be halfway through the third quarter.

All California jokes aside, if you disagree with my take on the Rams HFA you should COME AT ME BRO consider the personnel matchups, particularly with the biggest weaknesses of each team. Right now, the Vikings biggest weakness is their offensive tackles – they’re not great to begin with, two of them are banged up, and they managed to allow Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes to get 15 PRESSURES on Kirk Cousins. Jerry Hughes is a solid player but he’s certainly no Von Miller, and thankfully for Kirk, the Rams don’t even have an edge rusher of Hughes caliber on their roster. Between roster construction and injuries, the Rams are now weak at edge rusher, linebacker, and cornerback (depending on the injury status of Marcus Peters), and those weaknesses let Minnesota off the hook for their weak offensive tackle play while also enabling them to attack the middle of the field. With weapons like Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, that bodes well for the VIkings.

I also think that the Vikings have a bit of a motivational edge here. They’re 1-1-1 in what projects to be a competitive division AND they’re coming off of a humiliating loss. Meanwhile, the Rams are 3-0 and all signs point to them cruising to a division title now that Jimmy G is done for the season (sorry San Fran). In fact, the Rams could lose this game and still be in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the NFC. I’m confident that we’re getting the best version of the Vikings here and I’m less confident that we’re getting the best version of the Rams. That’s the flip side of betting on a team coming off of a terrible loss – although their Power Rating may have to be dropped a few points, which is a major downgrade for a team that hasn’t lost its starting QB for the season (sorry again San Fran), they will very likely be fully motivated for their next game.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (-105) for 2 Units – Fun fact about the Ravens as it relates to this blog – I’ve wagered on all 3 Ravens game this season, either on them or against them, and in those wagers I’m 3-0. Maybe it’s just luck but I think I have a good feel for this team. In my opinion, what people and the betting market are missing is that a) they have a great HFA that is often overlooked, and b) without ace CB Jimmy Smith in the lineup, this defense is much better equipped to handle teams that aren’t a threat to throw deep.

The early returns of this season back up those claims. The Ravens won both of their home games against quarterbacks that struggle to throw deep (Nathan Peterman and Case Keenum) and lack deep threats in their receiving corps. However, the Ravens one loss came in Cincinnati in Week 2, when the Ravens had no cornerback that could cover Green and thus were discouraged from stacking the box at the possibility of Dalton connecting to Green on a deep ball. The Bengals offense went on to eviscerate the Ravens defense in the first half, and although Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense was able to put up some points in the second half, it wasn’t enough to get them back in the game.

Do the Steelers have a receiver that could win matchups against decent cornerbacks and a QB that could connect with him on a deep ball? UHHHH, YA. Unless Antonio Brown gets doubled on every play, he should be able to find openings at will against this defense, and the fact that he gets to play in Heinz Field with Big Ben means that he could actually be thrown catchable passes. And if the Ravens end up doubling Antonio Brown, they leave themselves vulnerable to a deep ball to JuJu, a pass over the middle of the field to (*insert big white dude here*), or a run for James Conner behind a great offensive line against a six man box. I could see the Steelers hanging 30+ points on the Ravens here just like the Bengals did in Week 2.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-6.5) vs. Miami Dolphins (-115) for 3 Units – Being a Jets fan, my AFC East bias may have very well interfered with my intent to handicap this game more thoroughly before placing my wager here. I’ve watched the Patriots destroy my favorite team for OVER 15 YEARS and I’m convinced that Tom Brady is immortal and Bill Belichick is a god amongst men. It’s flat out IMPOSSIBLE to envision them dropping three games in a row, even though Belichick clearly doesn’t care about winning games in September. I think the notion that the Patriots would effectively be 3.5 games out of first place in the AFC East with a loss here is enough to ignite a flame under Belichick’s sub-zero buttocks.

Their last two losses weren’t pretty, but I would argue that the Patriots were in terrible spots in both of those games. Going back to Week 2 in Jacksonville, it was apparent from the onset of that game that the Jaguars wanted that game a lot more than the Pats did. In retrospect, it makes total sense – that was a huge revenge spot for the Jags following their AFC Championship defeat AND it was the biggest game played in Jacksonville in a very long time, possibly ever. After that loss came last week’s bout with the Lions, and similar to the Jags game, it was clear that the Lions wanted and NEEDED that game more than the Pats by the end of the first quarter. Not only are the Lions led by much-maligned former Pats DC Matt Patricia, but they were also coming off of an 0-2 start to their season and thus desperate for a win. This Patriots team is seemingly more flawed than most of the New England squads in recent memory, but they’ve been hit with the perfect storm of bad spots over the past two weeks.

On the other hand, Miami was gift wrapped a cupcake schedule to start the season, even though it doesn’t make sense to gift wrap a cupcake or a schedule. I don’t want to undermine what this team has been able to do – starting 3-0 is difficult no matter which teams you face and they’ve had some impressive breakout performances by individual players – but let’s pump the brakes a bit. This team got to play a beat-up Titans squad in a home game with four hours of weather delays, a young Jets team that was coming off of a huge win, and an ancient Raiders team that doesn’t know how to close games. Of those three games, only the Raiders game was an unfavorable situation (an 0-2 team facing a 2-0 team) and they didn’t exactly win that game convincingly. Again, this Dolphins team has impressed me overall – I’ve upgraded them 2.5 points since the start of the season – but with the Pats finally in a good spot and desperate for a win, I think we see some convincing evidence as to why the Pats have dominated this division over the past 15 years.

Week 2 Recap & Week 3 Early Picks

HEY HEY HEY, IT’S MAD CAPPER!!! I’m back on my grizzy comin at ya with my Power Ratings for Week 3 and some early bets that I locked in on Sunday night. I had a mediocre Week 2 in terms of betting with a 2-2 record and a net loss of 1.52 units. Thanks to my HUGE Week 1, I’m still up about 8 units on the NFL season thus far and about 3 units when you include my stupid bets over the summer. Obviously it’s better to have a winning week than a losing one, but I’m confident there will be quite a few more winning weeks in our future.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at my powerful WEEK 3 POWER RATINGS:

Rank Team TMC Score Last Score Score Diff.
1 LAR 5.5 4 1.5
2 MIN 5 4 1
3 NE 4.5 5 -0.5
4 PHI 4 1.5 2.5
5 ATL 3 2 1
6 GB 3 2 1
7 JAX 3 2.5 0.5
8 KC 2 0.5 1.5
9 PIT 1.5 2.5 -1
10 LAC 1.5 1 0.5
11 NO 1 2 -1
12 CAR 0.5 1 -0.5
13 BAL 0.5 1.5 -1
14 SF 0.5 1 -0.5
15 CIN 0 -1 1
16 DAL -0.5 -1 0.5
17 WSH -1 0 -1
18 SEA -1 -1 0
19 HOU -1 0 -1
20 TB -1.5 -3 1.5
21 CHI -1.5 -1.5 0
22 MIA -2 -2.5 0.5
23 DEN -2 -1.5 -0.5
24 IND -2 -3 1
25 DET -2 -2.5 0.5
26 TEN -2 -2 0
27 NYG -2.5 -2 -0.5
28 OAK -2.5 -3 0.5
29 CLE -2.5 -3.5 1
30 NYJ -3 -3 0
31 ARI -6.5 -4 -2.5
32 BUF -7.5 -6 -1.5

Let’s take a peek at some teams, from the top:

Philadelphia Eagles (TMC Score = 4) GUESS WHO’S BIZZACK!?! That’s right folks, the Red Scare is BACK in the form of Carson Wentz and with his return the league has developed a fear of “we can no longer stack the box against the Eagles since Foles isn’t playing” subversion. The Colts have drawn the short straw and will be the first to play a Wentz-led and likely galvanized Eagles team. I can picture this weekend already – Wentz throws for three scores, the Eagles defensive line devours Andrew Luck, and the Linc’s video boards show Joel Embiid sitting in the stands with Rihanna as her new song “We Found Luck in a Hopeless Place” plays in the background.

Kansas City Chiefs (TMC Score = 2) – So yeah that Pat Mahomes guy is pretty good huh? The dude sounds like the Cookie Monster took a hit of helium but he is an absolute BALLER. I definitely appreciate what Alex Smith brought to the table in Kansas City and it’s a big reason why I bet big on the Redskins win total in the preseason, but I’m not sure if Smith wins that game against the Steelers. That was a good spot for the Steelers and I bet on them for that reason, yet Mahomes and the Chiefs just tore apart their defense AT the seams and WITH the seam routes. Their defense is obviously a problem, though it will be less problematic when Eric Berry returns. Still, in today’s NFL, it’s hard to imagine a team this one-sided not named the Patriots making a serious Super Bowl run. We’ll see how this experiment plays out.

Houston Texans (TMC Score = -1) – GOOD LORD what happened here!?! How do you lose to the Titans, a team you beat 57-14 last season with a healthy Deshaun Watson, when Mariota is out and BLAINE GABBERT is starting? They outgained the Titans by two yards per play but that was still a disappointing performance, and given how many people picked the Texans in the Supercontest this week, I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. Their season isn’t over yet – they might have the easiest scheduled in the league and their star power can still overwhelm a good chunk of teams – but they have to get their act together quickly.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TMC Score = -1.5) – Here’s the Mad Capper’s crackpot theory of the week – Ryan Fitzpatrick rubbed his beard on Deshaun Watson’s arm bands and stole all his powers Space Jam style. This guy is breaking bad just when the Bucs organization needed something like this to happen and now they have an interesting dilemma on their hands. At this point the consensus is to roll with Fitzpatrick when Jameis gets back from his suspension unless Fitz crashes back to Earth against the Steelers this week, which makes sense to me. But as good as Fitz has looked, they have to be ready to pull the plug if he starts to struggle. We’ve seen flashes of Fitz playing good and even great football before and those stretches are usually short-lived. This offense has been so pass-heavy that I have to imagine opposing DCs will figure it out soon, and at that point a more dynamic QB may be needed to keep the ship afloat.

Indianapolis Colts (TMC Score = -2) – Luck and the bois definitely had one of the more surprising Week 2 performances. I’m not sure if this defense is sneakily decent or if the Redskins are overly conservative and/or unable to complete deep passes, but holding their offense to nine points is impressive nonetheless. I could only name two players on this defense going into the season and I can’t name much more than that at this point, so we’ll see how this unit holds up going forward. The offense has yet to crack five yards per play in a game this season, but a) that will change as Luck gets his arm strength back, and b) Luck might be good enough to keep this offense humming despite a low YPP.

Arizona Cardinals (TMC Score = -6.5) – I don’t want to say it since I sprinkled some cheddar on their win total before the season, but this team absolutely stinks. They got slaughtered in Week 1 by the Redskins in a game that I had difficulty interpreting, but after seeing the Colts beat the Redskins last week and then bearing witness to the Rams schellacking of the Cards, it’s safe to say that this team IS NOT GOOD. I will say that the Cards also looked bad at the start of last season before finishing 8-8, but this situation looks a lot worse than last year’s. I don’t think I can bet on any games involving the Cards or the Bills until I see some signs of life from them, as the spreads will be heavily inflated and I won’t have faith in either side to cover.

I locked in not one, not two, but THREE separate Week 3 wagers on Sunday night via Twitter and now we’re gonna take a look at them.

BALTIMORE RAVENS -3.5 vs. Denver Broncos (-110) for 2 Units – I actually saw this game open at -3 at my book for a hot sec but by the time I was able to wipe the saliva off of my computer the line jumped to -3.5. Obviously that number is less juicy but by my Power Ratings this is still a good price. I have the Ravens rated 2.5 points higher than the Broncos, and because I almost always give the Ravens a 3.5 point HFA for their perennially great home field advantage, I would set this line at Ravens -6. It currently sits at Ravens -5.5, so the fact that I was able to get this at -3.5 bodes well for this bet.

The Broncos have not impressed me very muched in either of their wins. In Week 1, I bet on them against the Seahawks in what I saw as a highly favorable situation against a beat up team that is known for starting slow, yet they couldn’t cover the spread and gave up quite a few big plays. Last week, they were 6.5 point favorites against the Raiders and needed a last second field goal to beat them in a game in which they were outgained in yards per play. Both of those games were played in Denver against shaky defenses, yet Case Keenum threw four interceptions across the two contests. This is one of the more fraudulent 2-0 teams in recent memory.

In this spot, the Broncos have to travel east for an 11 AM MST kickoff against a team with a great home field advantage and well-rounded defense. That Ravens defense wasn’t sharp last weekend, but they had to worry about covering A.J. Green – which is a lot more difficult when your best CB is suspended – and preventing the surprising capable deep ball passer Andy Dalton from getting him the ball.

The Broncos don’t have a receiver of A.J. Green’s caliber and their starting QB is Case Keenum, so I think the Ravens will use this to their advantage and stack the box. As I mentioned in by Bills-Ravens Week 1 handicap back in June, that extra man in the box will be Tony Jefferson, who ranks among the best run-stopping safeties in the league. That puts the defense in a position to bottle up the run and force Keenum to pass, and if Keenum plays like he did these past two games, that is a very good thing for the Ravens.

Los Angeles Chargers +7 vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (-110) for 2 Units – I hinted at this wager in my last post and stayed true to my word that I would very likely bet the Chargers if they were getting 7 or more. It turns out that I didn’t need to bet this so early since the line is still sitting at +7, and if it moves to +7.5 I’ll feel like a fool. I’d be surprised if that happens though as I see this as a good spot for the Chargers and I imagine others will see it too, even if the idea of betting against the Rams scares some handicappers off of the game.

We’ll start with what I briefly mentioned in my last post – Philip Rivers is excellent when playing as an underdog. Whether it be through poor coaching, tough luck with injuries, or questionable decisions from GMs, Rivers has been dealt some garbage hands over the course of his career. He is a great QB with a nearly unrivaled passion for football that has played on many teams that aren’t great, and that unique situation has made him one of the best QBs in the league in an underdog role. This dude refuses to throw in the towel, even if it means playing on a torn ACL, so if he’s down 14 with 90 seconds left in the game you better believe he’s giving it his all to score and get us a backdoor cover in the process.

It’s also worth considering the Rams HFA, or lack thereof. Including their playoff loss to the Falcons last season as well as last week’s game, the Rams have a 5-11 home record since moving to L.A. in 2016. The city is still adjusting to the team and the team is still adjusting to the stadium, so it isn’t too surprising that their home record isn’t better. For a normal game I’d give them about a 2 point HFA now that they’re getting some bandwagon fans in the stands, but I don’t think they even deserve 2 points in this matchup. The Chargers are also now based in L.A., and although there will certainly be more Rams fans here than Chargers fans, the Chargers players have the same benefits as the Rams players in terms of sleeping in their homes and not having to travel. I’d only give the Rams about a 1.5 point HFA, which makes the 4 point difference I have in the teams’ Power Ratings look less daunting.

Personnel wise, the Chargers have another advantage related to how their offense matches up with the Rams defense. The Rams have a terrifying group of interior rushers and an excellent secondary, but their linebacking corps is weak and thus they are most vulnerable in the middle of the field. The post-post-post-hype fantasy sleeper Jared Cook was able to record nine receptions for 180 yards against them, and although the Chargers don’t have a tight end that can put up those numbers with Hunter Henry sidelined – sorry Antonio Gates 🙁 – they excel at attacking the middle of the field and the sidelines with short passes. Last season, the Bolts had a receiver rank in the Top 15 in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) for drag, slant, curl, dig, and out routes. This is the bread and butter of the Chargers offense, and it will be difficult for the Rams to develop a game plan that stops these routes with all of the weapons the Chargers have.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -6.5 vs. Tennessee Titans (-115) for 1 Unit – I jumped on this one with practically no insight on Mariota’s status for next week and the bet was taken off of the board soon after. There’s a chance I regret this wager when this weekend rolls around, but as of now I’m not too concerned. Frankly, I don’t think there is much of a drop off between a hurt Mariota and Blaine Gabbert starting as the Titans QB. Unless Mariota gets back to 100% by this weekend, which I highly doubt considering that he still has numbness in his fingers, we’ll be getting a sub-par QB on the road against a fantastic defense.

The Jaguars were excellent at home last season and the early returns on this season are good with their home victory against the Patriots last weekend. That Pats game was the most important home game for them in a very VERY long time, so I do think that this could be a let down game for the Jags. However, the talent discrepancy between the teams and the Jags recent success at home is just too much for me to ignore. I have the Jags rated 5 points higher and I’d give them the full 3 for HFA even though their crowd is weak, so I do think that this line is on the wrong side of 7.

We’re done with our football content for this week so let’s get to our SEGMENT!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Just like how the Library of Congress selects culturally significant albums to be preserved in the National Recording Registry, we should have a group of high ranking officials select certain articles that perfectly capture our society. These articles would be preserved in a public space so if anyone wants a snapshot of life in America in any given year they can visit this public space and read some articles from that year.

For 2015, visitors can read about Lil Wayne starting a bench-clearing brawl at a “Stop the Violence” charity basketball game, complete with Weezy spitting on a referee and getting heated with an event promoter named Loose Cannon Slim. The 2016 section would feature this gem involving Jill Stein’s race against a dead gorilla and a meme. I’m sure we’d be able to figure out every other year too, but the reason why I’m bringing this up is that we have officially found our 2018 representative for this esteemed public space. Of course, I’m talking about Kylie Jenner going the first 21 years of her life without eating cereal and milk.

Some people get super pissy whenever the Kardashians or other undeserving celebrities get brought up in conversation and those are the EXACT type of people that are not fun at all. Say what you want about that family but the ONE THING they most certainly are is interesting. The O.G. dad was a defense attorney for O.J. Simpson, the new dad is a former Olympic decathlon champion and now a mom that may have committed vehicular manslaughter, the most famous daughter starred in a pantheon level sex tape and is now married to one of the most important musicians of the past 25 years, the youngest daughter is on track to be the youngest “self-made” billionaire ever, and the rest of the daughters have a deeper rotation of NBA players than half the teams in the league. Their day-to-day lives may not be interesting, but collectively, this may be the craziest group of people ever assembled.

How do you go 21 YEARS without eating cereal with milk!?! That’s actually unfathomable. Even if I had a personal chef that could make me food whenever I wanted, at some point there would have to be a morning where we were low on groceries or the chef called out sick or SOMETHING that would cause me to settle for a bowl of cereal with milk. I know I’m doing exactly what the Kardashian family wants by ranting about this and giving them free PR, but no one reads this blog anyways so I’m gonna do what I want.

Fortunately, the slimiest people this side of Jerry Springer did some investigating and discovered that Kylie may have actually eaten a bowl of cereal before. There is a picture accompanying the claim, but it’s difficult to tell if the bowl has milk or yogurt in it so we have yet to get a definitive answer. If Kylie admits to lying, this would be the biggest lie a non-Trump celebrity has been caught in since Susan Boyle lied about never having been kissed, so the implications here are huge. The world awaits with bated breath, as does the selection committee for the most culturally significant article of 2018.

Week 2 Picks & Week 3 Leans

RED ROCKET RED ROCKET, ANDY’S GOT IT!!! That’s what I was screaming at my TV on Thursday night as I watched the Cincinnati Bengals unleash holy hell on the Baltimore Ravens in the first half. They made me sweat it out a bit in the second half, but with that win and cover against their division rivals the Bengals are now responsible for nearly half of my NFL betting profits (4-1-1, +10.42 units) thus far. The Soulless Sniper has used his arsenal effectively and this team is now 2-0 despite Vontaze Burfict’s annual suspension costing him the first four games of the season.

I still have the Saints bet that I locked in on Twitter and explained in my last post coming up on Sunday, but I have a few more bets that I want to lock in today. I don’t love any of the games on this week’s slate but there are some that I like enough to place small wagers on. Let’s get to it!

Miami Dolphins +3 at NEW YORK JETS (-127) for 2 Units – I’m betting against my favorite team and the juice is steep, but I see this as a good spot for a Dolphins team that I think is slightly better than the Jets. Per my Power Ratings, I have the Dolphins rated at -2.5 and the Jets rated as -3. I’d give the Jets a 3 point HFA here – they’re not known to have a great HFA and the Dolphins play in the Meadowlands once per season, but it’s a home opener and there may be extra optimism and excitement following the Jets surprise blowout win and Darnold’s promising start. So before considering any other factors, my handicap has the Jets as 2.5 point favorites instead of 3.

A major factor that I’m considering here is how each team will respond to their Week 1 victories. The Jets won a thriller on Monday night, pouncing on the Lions in a game in which they closed as 7 point underdogs. This team has to be excited and fired up following that win, and that concerns me with a young team that lacks leadership in the locker room. The players seemingly respect Bowles but I don’t know if he is a vocal leader, and the team has (wisely) ridded of most of their veterans over the past few years. Very few players on this roster have achieved and handled success at the NFL level, especially Sam Darnold, and I think that could affect preparation after winning a big game and having less time than usual to prepare for the next game.

Contrast that to the Dolphins, who more than any other team in the league, made it a point to change the culture of their locker room in the offseason. This team traded two of their best players, Jarvis Landry and Ndamukong Suh, in the offseason primarily because of how they negatively impacted the team. Although I see that as a rather myopic series of moves they may regret later in the season, the positive culture they’re establishing could make a difference in this game. Ryan Tannehill isn’t a great QB but he is a veteran, and with other veterans and potential leaders like Danny Amendola and Robert Quinn in the fold, this team should be more composed and better equipped to make weekly preparations. They proved their composure last week in a game that featured FOUR HOURS of weather delays, and that composure will keep them steady relative to the likely excitable Jets.

I also see some slight personnel advantages for the Dolphins. They lost former All-Pro guard Josh Sitton for the season after he tore his rotator cuff last week, which could be a problem if they try to run between the tackles against Jets run stuffers Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon. But with the likes of Kenyan Drake, Amendola, and Kenny Stills, this offense is built on lots of short passes with the occasional deep ball. That description may remind Jets fans of the Lions offense that the Jets defense just devoured, but unless the Jets players happen to know what plays the Dolphins are calling too, they shouldn’t have nearly as much success this week.

I don’t see much of an advantage for either team on the other side of the ball – the Dolphins defense seems vulnerable to the run after a horrible preseason defending the run, but with a weak offensive line and iffy running backs, the Jets aren’t equipped to take advantage of that. They’ll likely have to depend on Darnold to move the football, and even though Jets OC Jeremy Bates will do everything he can to put him in a good situation, I think we’ll see some rookie moments from Savior Sam against a veteran defense.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS -4.5 (or lower) vs. Kansas City Chiefs for TBD Units – I’m not locking in this wager just yet. I’m expecting public action to come in on the Chiefs between now and kickoff due to what happened last week – the Steelers couldn’t beat the Browns despite being favorites, Roethlisberger looked bad, and the Chiefs dropped 38 points on the Chargers and beat them as underdogs. That public action would drive this line down from where it currently sits at -4.5 to potentially -4 or even -3.5, so waiting for that public action is definitely in the best interests of any Steelers bettors here. I’ll be locking in my bet on Twitter tomorrow, but I’m currently planning to risk 1 unit if the line sits at -4.5, 2 units if it moves to -4 or -3.5, and 3 units if it somehow hits -3 or lower.

In spite of the results of last week’s Steelers-Browns and Chiefs-Chargers games that gave FS1 about 10,000 hours worth of hot takes, I only moved the Steelers and Chiefs about a half point each in my Power Ratings. The Steelers outgained the Browns by over two yards per play last week and would’ve won pretty easily had it not been for all of Big Ben’s turnovers. Those turnovers are concerning, as is his elbow injury that kept his status in doubt until yesterday, but Ben has been a much better at home than on the road for a while now. Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense looked spectacular in Week 1 but their defense looked just as porous as it did in the preseason. They were outgained by 0.7 yards per play and benefitted from the Chargers perennial Week 1 bedshitting, which came in the form of allowing a punt return TD and tallying five drops. The scores of both of these games were misleading and creates value in this spot.

Even with a half-point bump down for Pittsburgh and a half-point bump up for KC, I still have the Steelers as two full points better than the Chiefs. With the standard HFA of 3 points, I would have the Steelers as five point favorites against the Chiefs before accounting for other factors. I don’t see much in terms of personnel advantages in this matchup, but there are two other factors that swing this game further in the Steelers direction.

The first is the dynamic of an 0-1 team facing a 1-0 team in Week 2. Technically the terms of this trend aren’t being met in this contest since the Steelers are 0-0-1, but not being able to defeat the Browns despite being favorites and bullying them for the past 15 seasons should motivate them. The idea behind the trend – that the 0-1 team will be very motivated to win while the 1-0 team won’t be as motivated – is more important the trend itself, and I feel as if the Steelers will play like an 0-1 team after embarrassing themselves in Cleveland. The Chiefs will likely play with discipline since Andy Reid is great at preparing his teams, but after beating their biggest threat to the AFC West crown last week, they don’t need this win quite like the Steelers do.

The other factor here is the Chiefs travel schedule. Dating back to the preseason, this is the Chiefs fourth road game in five weeks. Preseason travel doesn’t matter as much as regular season travel since the starters aren’t playing the entire game, but having to travel to Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh in the span of a month can take its toll. I think this will affect the defense a lot more than the offense, and as good as that offense looked in Week 1, the defense will need to get a few stops in this game for the Chiefs to have any chance of winning. I think they’ll struggle to do that in what should be a high scoring game, and the fact that it’s likely to be high scoring makes it a little easier to lay points here.

Now let’s take a quick look at some of Week 3 bouts with potentially nice betting opportunities. I may lock in some Week 3 bets as soon as the lines are released on Sunday evening, so keep an eye on my Twitter if you want to get in on some of the action with me.

49ers at Chiefs – The Westgate advanced spread has this game at Chiefs -4, implying that the Chiefs are a better team than the 49ers, and I simply don’t think that’s true. I have the 49ers rated a half-point higher than the Chiefs – their offense isn’t as explosive, but so long as Eric Berry doesn’t return from injury for this game they’ll definitely have the better defense with LB Reuben Foster coming off of his suspension. Obviously this line will shift depending on what happens this week, but I may very well fire away a Sunday night bet on this game depending on the opening number.

Chargers at Rams – Westgate has this one at Rams -5.5, which I think is a very appropriate number, but both of these teams are in situations this week that could really shift that number. The Rams are 13 point favorites against the Cardinals, and if that game turns into the bloodbath many are expecting that would shift this line further to the Rams. A Chargers slip-up could also shift the line in that direction, and given that they’re traveling east for a 10 AM PST kickoff and are known to shoot themselves in the foot in favorable situations, it wouldn’t shock me if that game against the Bills gets a little nutty. If this line opens at 7 or higher I will very likely bet the Chargers, largely because Philip Rivers is 24-10 ATS as a road dog of 3.5 or more and 13-5 ATS as a dog of 6.5 or more.

Patriots at Lions – This one is priced at Patriots -6.5 on the road which is quite a bit of points for a road team to lay against any team not named the Buffalo Bills. Although Week 1 was brutal for the Lions and Matt Patricia has had a pretty disastrous start to his head coaching career, I have to imagine this team will play better in the coming weeks, at least on offense. At Patriots -6.5 I don’t have much interest in either side, but if this gets to 7 or 7.5 that definitely has me considering a Lions wager. Matthew Stafford is too good of a QB to be getting that many points at home, and that big of a spread gives him a chance at a garbage time score that would get us a backdoor cover. Very good QBs getting 7 or more points provide us with great opportunities, and with Rivers and Stafford facing arguably the two best teams in the league in Week 3, we might have two of those opportunities incoming.

That’s all the football content for this week, which means that IT’S SEGMENT TIME!!!

Mad Now Disease

We have a DEFCON 3 situation happening on Twitter and Reddit right now, so I dropped into the warzone to investigate. The investigation was taxing and arduous, as I was called a “douche canoe” multiple times on Reddit, but I eventually found all the information I needed. It turns out that many people are upset with the Browns organization over their decision to release Josh Gordon, and these people have taken to Twitter and Reddit to voice their frustrations.

The Browns make many stupid decisions as an organization – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that and it doesn’t even take former rocket scientist and current dingus Matt Patricia to figure that out. Even just looking at this offseason, they traded two potentially useful players in WR Corey Coleman and CB Jamar Taylor for conditional picks and decided to punish WR Antonio Callaway by making him play all four quarters of a preseason game. But the point of this paragraph isn’t to make fun of the Browns, rather, it’s to say that there is probably a good reason why the Browns let him go. He broke the team’s trust, and though the Browns are probably not a great judge of that sort of thing, letting a player go for trust issues is justifiable.

Fantasy football players in particular think that Gordon is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The dude is undeniably talented, but his monster season was FIVE YEARS AGO. At some point you have to let go, and if there are this many off-field concerns surrounding him, maybe we should all collectively let go of his pro football prospects. He had an impressive TD catch last week, but that was his only catch of the game on three targets. I’m having a difficult time imagining him getting even remotely close to his 2013 season in terms of output.

At this point, it’s probably better for Gordon to take some time off of football to focus on himself from a health perspective. This dude clearly still has personal issues that needs to be addressed, and I really do hope that he gets well and no longer has these vices hanging over him. I think most reasonable people would agree with that sentiment, but the Mad Now Disease has spread far enough that there will be a backlash if Gordon hangs up the cleats. Eventually the disease will die out, likely when another fantasy football sleeper goes on a tear that gets all the nerds excited again, but until then be safe and make sure you don’t get contaminated.