NFL Analysis: Wrapping Up Week 3

Week 3 was a disaster for me on so many levels. The loss by the Washington Redskins, my favorite team, infuriated me, and my picks went to hell in a handbasket. As regular readers know, each game is picked on the moneyline every week and I had patiently ground out a (+157) profit over the first two weeks. But, as is often the case in betting, the wins are hard-fought and small while the losses come in a tidal wave. And I got nailed this week.

I missed upset calls on teams like St. Louis, Arizona and San Diego, along with minor underdog picks like Atlanta and Pittsburgh. That wasn’t what hurt the most though—what killed me was Minnesota blowing it to Cleveland as a (-320) favorite and San Francisco getting the smackdown at home from Indianapolis at a (-520) price tag.

Everything combined to create a (-1115) week—yep, if I were betting these games for real, and not just hypothetically, I’d have dropped a dime at the sportsbooks. It’s the biggest “knockout” since the episode of the TV show Castle by the same name where the hit man Lockwood escapes at his arraignment and comes back to try and kill Kate Beckett. But I digress.

The knockout takes me down to (-958) for the year and a long road up. If I were still writing marketing copy for the touts like I used to, I’d spin it with the fact I’ve had two winning weeks out of three.

The upsets by Cleveland and Indianapolis were chronicled as part of our look at the AFC’s 6-0 sweep of the NFC in Week 3. Here’s a look at the other ten games from Sunday and Monday, as we close out NFL analysis  for Week 3…

Dallas 31 St. Louis 7: The Cowboys winning like this at home is not what’s surprising. It’s the way Dallas did it that opens eyes. Since when does this franchise win games with Tony Romo just playing efficiently, but not spectacularly, and then pounding the ball on the ground. Dallas got 175 yards from Demarco Murray against a good defensive front and became the only NFC East team to start the season 2-1.

Detroit 27 Washington 20: RG3 and the ‘Skins should have been 2-1, if not for a horrific call—or a terrible rule, I’m not sure. Trailing 20-17 early in the fourth quarter, RG3 completed a beautiful 60-yard pass to Aldrick Robinson for a touchdown. Or so it appeared. Though Robinson had the ball for a good 1-2 count, the fact he did not make a “complete football move” upon coming to the ground and it juggled a bit at the end rendered the pass incomplete.

This “complete football move” stuff remains completely confusing. I’m in my early forties, have watched football my whole life and have had several conversations with people my age and older, on how we have no idea what is or isn’t possession anymore because there’s so many stupid nuances to what is a basic question. The man caught the football. If the officials got this call right, then the rule needs to be changed.

The only consolation is that if any team deserves to benefit from this rule it’s the Lions, after they lost a game in Chicago a couple years ago because of an even worse application of the rule on a game-winning TD catch by Calvin Johnson. Detroit got its justice, now I’ve got to wait for it to come back around for the ‘Skins. But at 0-3, we don’t have much time to waste.

Carolina 38 NY Giants 0: I’m not going to defend Eli Manning. He was awful on Sunday, throwing for just 119 yards. But this New York team has no running attack, while former Giant back Ahmad Bradshaw prospered for the Colts. The Giants are also 0-3 and unlike Washington, appear to be getting worse rather than better.

Baltimore 30 Houston 9: The Ravens did a better job pressuring the quarterback, and they scored on both defense and special teams. Ultimately, this was just not a very well-played game, with 24 combined penalties and each team in double digits. The wait for Joe Flacco to show he can truly lead a team in the absence of Ray Lewis continues. Flacco has yet to look good in the young season.

Chicago 40 Pittsburgh 23: Baltimore can at least take heart in the fact they’re winning while they work out their problems. The same can’t be said in 0-3 Pittsburgh. The Steelers got the big night from Ben Roethlisberger that I thought they would, with over 400 yards passing. Pittsburgh contained Jay Cutler.

But not being able to run the ball kills you against the ballhawking Bears’ defense. They used an interception return to build a 24-3 lead, and got another defensive TD to finish it off after Big Ben got the Steelers back in the game.

Denver 37 Oakland 21: The Raiders got a couple late touchdowns to make this one appear respectable. Peyton Manning’s brilliance, 32/37 for 374 yards can’t be overlooked, but it’s of greater long-term importance to Denver’s success that they keep running the ball well. Ronnie Hillman and rookie Monte Ball both look good as a 1-2 combo in the backfield.

Seattle 45 Jacksonville 17: Michael Bennett and Clinton McDonald led a potent Seattle pass rush, the Seahawks were up 24-0 early and made it an easy day for those like me who took this game in our elimination pools.

New Orleans 31 Arizona 7: A lot of Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham, but also a lot of Cameron Jordan on the pass rush, with two sacks and three QB hits. Don’t look now but the Saints have played three good defensive games and are off to what seems like a quiet 3-0 start.

Tennessee 20 San Diego 17: This has to be the best moment of Jake Locker’s young career, not that there’s a huge body of work to pick from. His performance overall was good enough—23/37 for 299 yards and no picks. But a 34-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter when you’re down four with 15 seconds left is huge. Both of these teams look better than expected in the early going.

NY Jets 27 Buffalo 20: The Jets committed 20 penalties. Twenty! As a result, the positive showings by Geno Smith (331 yards passing) and Bilal Powell (149 yards rushing) are hard to take seriously until their team can clean up the game. As to the Bills…well, they played a team that committed twenty penalties and still couldn’t win.