Scott Shapiro's Week 3 NFL Six Pack
Usually most of the NFL overreactions take place after Week 1, but this season I found far more games where teams are being overvalued or undervalued after Week 2.
I may end up paying the price by endorsing teams that are unlikely to win a ton of games, but hopefully a few squads that are being dismissed by the public can turn things around in Week 3.
Half of my plays fit those parameters in this week’s Six Pack (all games Sunday).
The Packers enter Week 3 with a perfect record after victories over divisional rivals Chicago and Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers and the offense have been just OK through two games, outside of an impressive first quarter in their game Sunday against the Vikings, but the new-look defense of Mike Pettine has been outstanding.
Denver has not played well through two contests under new head coach Vic Fangio. The Broncos were outplayed by Oakland on Monday night in Week 1 and then lost a brutally tough game in Week 2 after a controversial roughing-the-passer call on Bradley Chubb allowed Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears to march down the field for a game-winning field goal with no time left. The Broncos may not win a lot of games in 2019, but they head into Lambeau Field a desperate team.
It is tough to get excited about backing quarterback Joe Flacco at this point in his career, but with their season basically on the line, I expect the Broncos to hang in this one from start to finish.
Pick: Denver +7.5 (best bet)
In another contest between an undefeated team at home and a squad that is off to an 0-2 start on the road, the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers travel cross-country to take on the 49ers.
Most folks have written Pittsburgh off of after two weeks, but I am not ready to do so. There are far worse options off the bench than 2018 third-round pick Mason Rudolph, who is fortunate to have one of the league’s best offensive lines to protect him. The Steelers’ front office also showed confidence in its team by trading away its 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami. I am not convinced Pittsburgh is ready to throw in the towel quite yet, but the Steelers badly need a win Sunday to keep hope alive.
San Francisco has won two road games to start its 2019 campaign, but those came against a Tampa Bay team that handed them the victory in Week 1, through numerous mistakes by quarterback Jameis Winston, and a Bengals team that forgot to show up in its home opener. I was bullish on the 49ers going over their win total this year and like what I see so far, but they are still a work in progress.
I understand why the public is reluctant to back the Steelers off of two losses and a quarterback change, but they have played strong competition. Nearly a touchdown spread is an overreaction.
Pick: Pittsburgh +6
The uncomfortable endorsements continue at New Era Field, where the Bills head back to upstate New York after two road victories to begin the season.
Quarterback Josh Allen has taken a step forward in his second season, and the Buffalo defense once again looks solid, but let’s pump the brakes a bit. Outscoring the opposition is what matters, but the Bills' two wins have come against the Giants and Jets. They thoroughly outplayed the Giants, but it took a late comeback in Week 1 to barely get by the Jets.
The Bengals’ defense was embarrassed at home in Week 2, but it is not nearly as bad as that performance suggests. I am just not ready to lay nearly a TD with Buffalo against anyone but Miami.
Pick: Cincinnati +6
The Chargers had an outstanding 2018, but reverted back to past form on the road when they found a way to lose a game they should have put away several times against Detroit. It is hard to overlook the number of opportunities they let get away Sunday, but they take on a Texans squad that will have difficulties blocking Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and covering Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the other side of the ball.
Los Angeles is banged-up on both sides, but I am not sold on the Texans, outside of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers -3
Two teams that are loaded with offensive firepower will meet Sunday night, but I do not expect this to be the shootout that the high-point total suggests. Look for both defensive fronts to get the best of the opposition’s offensive line and for this game to be more of a grinder than the public expects.
Pick: Under 49
If you have followed my work through the preseason and early part of the regular season, you know I am very high on the Eagles, but the amount of injuries they have incurred over a two-week period is staggering. Not only have they lost the majority of their playmakers outside, but also two key members of their defensive front, in Tim Jernigan and Malik Jackson.
Philly will meet a Detroit team that may not make the playoffs and does not possess one of the league’s better head coaches, but the Lions have talent on both sides of the ball. Detroit should be able to make the Eagles work hard to earn their second win of 2019.