Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 3 NFL picks

Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) looks to hand off the ball in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016, in Cleveland. The Bears won 21-7.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) looks to hand off the ball in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016, in Cleveland. The Bears won 21-7. AP

Pinch me! Check that. I hate to be pinched. What I mean is, am I dreaming? Couldn't ask for a much better start to our season of NFL picks with a second straight strong week putting us a big 10 games over .500 against the spread. Last week we bull's-eyed our Upset of the Week call with Vikes over Pack (“Aawwk!”), nailed another outright upset with Cowboys over Skins (and with the exact score, 27-23), and also had a couple of 'dogs-with-points in Falcons and Browns. Let's do it again. [Note: Thursday night pick was Patriots (+1) over Texans, 20-17].

COTE’S RECORD

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

12-4

.750

10-6

.625

Season

22-10

.688

21-11

.656

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

DOG OF THE WEEK

BROWNS (0-2)

at DOLPHINS (0-2)

Line: MIA by 9 ½

Cote's pick: MIA 27-10

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida)

Make this game the “Dawg” of the Week in dishonor of the Cleveland Browns being so awful that even a winless Miami is a near double-digit favorite. Shouldn't the Browns have beem relegated to the Canadian league by now? This also happens to be the only NFL Week 3 matchup between 0-2 teams. The difference is, one of them is credibly competitive. The other is incredibly incompetent. Cleveland has lost 10 of its past 11 road games and is now piloted by rookie Cody Kessler – the Browns' fifth different starting quarterback in the past five games dating to last season. Having said all of that, Miami has not proven itself good enough to take any opponent lightly, even this one. “Dolfans” and “overconfident” are not words that go together. Jay Ajayi tends to cough up the football and Brownies have a pair of very productive cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, so Fins must take care that Miami turnovers don't keep the Earthtones in this game. Almost forgot: Welcome home, Duke Johnson! This is home opener for the newly refurbished and renamed stadium. The Browns will help Miami christen it right.

GAME OF THE WEEK

BRONCOS (2-0)

at BENGALS (1-1)

Line: CIN by 3 ½

Cote's pick: CIN 23-20

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

There were a handful of other solid GOTW candidates this week but I'll take this AFC duel of playoff teams pitting Cincy's high-motor offense vs. Denver's super-stout D. Reasons to favor either team here. Punch: Broncos lead series 20-9 including five of past six. Counterpunch: Andy Dalton has 16 TD passes and a 106.8 passer rating in his past nine home games. Although an upset would not surprise, Broncos will miss injured sackman DeMarcus Ware, and 'Gals' home opener will make it a tough first road game for young Denver QB Trevor Siemian.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

CARDINALS (1-1)

at BILLS (0-2)

Line: ARI by 4

Cote's pick: BUF 27-23

TV: 1 p.m., Fox

Aaawwwk!” crows the Upset Bird. “Buffalaaawwwk!” This admittedly is a big dice roll, because a blowout win by the Cardbirds would probably be less surprising than a victory by the desperate Bison. But sometimes you have to go with the gut, right? Sometimes, against prevailing logic, you just have a feeling. Tyrod Taylor has a 110.3 rating in his past five home games, and I think Rex Ryan's defense will rise up and limit Carson Palmer's potent attack. “Call it a strong hunch,” nods U-Bird. “Good day for brothers Rex and Rob Ryan. Raawwx and Raawwb Ryaawwk!”

RAIDERS (1-1)

at TITANS (1-1)

Line: TEN by 1 ½

Cote's pick: OAK 27-20

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

Titans are a sorrowful 2-15 in past 17 home games in seeking their first back-to-back wins since 2013. Their offense hasn't been very good, but could find its remedy in a Raiders defense that has allowed more than 1,000 opponent yards in its first two games. Safe to side with the home team in a close call, but in this case I'll saddle up the better team. Upset!

RAVENS (2-0)

at JAGUARS (0-2)

Line: BAL by 1

Cote's pick: BAL 23-21

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

Blake Bortles' 43 completions of 25-plus yards since start of last season lead the league. Jaguars are on the rise but have a ways to go, as seen vs. San Diego last week. Philip Rivers decimated the Jax defense, and injuries in the secondary suggests Joe Flacco could do the same. Jags a tempting home 'dog but Crows know how to win in a way the opponent does not yet.

LIONS (1-1)

at PACKERS (1-1)

Line: GB by 7 ½

Cote's pick: GB 28-24

TV: 1 p.m., Fox

This is no longer the lopsided series that once saw the Lions lose 24 in a row in Green Bay. Nor is this the Aaron Rodgers we're used to. His 2015 lull has carried over; he now has 14 games in a row without a 100 passer rating. I predict that streaks ends here, but I like the disrespected Lions (who've beaten Gee Bees in three of past five meetings) to keep it inside the bet-line.

VIKINGS (2-0)

at PANTHERS (1-1)

Line: CAR by 7

Cote's pick: CAR 23-20

TV: 1 p.m., Fox

Will the protestors demonstrating for racial justice in Charlotte pause three hours to watch the Panthers play? Carolina, even missing Jonathan Stewart, seems to have its offense untracked and has won 14 consecutive home games. Vikes lose Teddy Bridgewater and now Adrian Peterson (again) but still bring enough defense to keep this one close.

REDSKINS (0-2)

at GIANTS (2-0)

Line: NYG by 4 ½

Cote's pick: NYG 30-27

TV: 1 p.m., Fox

Worth the price of admission: Redskins cornerback Josh Norman vs. Biggies receiver Odell Beckham in a duel of bitter rivals with a history. Be ready, Josh. Odell has 363 catch-yards and five TDs in three career games vs. Skins. Washington brings the desperation here, but also is injury-wracked and has lost four straight and seven of past eight at NYG.

RAMS (1-1)

at BUCCANEERS(1-1)

Line: TB by 5 ½

Cote's pick: TB 19-17

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox

Thought the Rams were awful. Then they beat Seattle last week. Thought the Bucs were not bad. Then they lost 40-7 to Arizona. Welcome to the UnpredictaBowl! Which L.A. defense will appear? Did Rams remember to pack an offense for the trip? Which Jameis Winston shows up? Venue pick. But it's yet another point spread that feels a bit fat.

49ERS (1-1)

at SEAHAWKS (1-1)

Line: SEA by 9 ½

Cote's pick: SEA 24-9

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida)

Tough week for Seabirds. Offensive woes continued in a 9-3 loss, and club was fined $400,00 by NFL and made to forfeit a fifth-round draft pick over excessive offseason practices. Feelgood remedy: Visit by Niners. Seahawks need to solve their O-line struggles, but see a breakout game by Russell Wilson here. Oh, and that defense might still be the best in fall of football.

JETS (1-1)

at CHIEFS (1-1)

Line: KC by 3

Cote's pick: NYJ 23-20

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida)

K-City has won seven games in a row in the friendly confines of Arrowhead, but all streaks must end. The Chiefs' rotation of young cornerbacks has really struggled and I see that translating to a big game by Planes QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. A like NYJ's defensive front matching up very favorably against Injuns' disheveled blocking wall. Upset!

CHARGERS (1-1)

at COLTS (0-2)

Line: IND by 3

Cote's pick: IND 37-31

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS

Philip Rivers is hot, 5-1 against Colts and facing Indy defense that has allowed 73 points in two losses. Bolts could see debut of Joey Bosa. Oh, and Andrew Luck has a sore throwing shoulder, though he says he'll play. Yes, there are reasons to like Bolts as a road 'dog here. But I resist. Indy is getting healthier on defense and could get CB Vontae Davis back. Make it a venue pick.

STEELERS (2-0)

at EAGLES (2-0)

Line: PIT by 3 ½

Cote's pick: PIT 26-17

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS

Keystone State duel had Game of Week cred as only Sunday matchup of 2-0 teams. Also like Big Ben Roethlisberger matching arms with early rookie of the year frontrunner Carson Wentz. One more: Philly's Doug Pederson is only second rookie head coach since 1970 to start 2-0 with wins of 15-plus points. The other is across the field here: Mike Tomlin. Pitt defense poses first real test for Wentz. Pitt defense wins.

BEARS (0-2)

at COWBOYS (1-1)

Line: DAL by 7 ½

Cote's pick: DAL 24-20

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida)

Chicago bombed in prime-time last week, now gets another shot. This time it's with Brian Hoyer pitching for injured Jay Cutler, but I'm not sure that's a huge dropoff. The journyeman Hoyer is a credible 15-11 as a starter. And isn't Dak Prescott due a mistake or two? Upset, anyone? No. But worth a consideration.

FALCONS (1-1)

at SAINTS (0-2)

Line: NO by 3

Cote's pick: NO 31-27

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida)

Game marks 10th anniversary of reopening of Saints stadium following Hurricane Katrina, promising an emotional Monday night. Should be an aerial show pointfest. Drew Brees has rolled four straight 300s vs. ATL, while Matt Ryan has topped a 100 passer rating four straight vs. N'Awlins. Oh, and Julio Jones has 499 catch-yards his past three Monday nighters. Bottom line: Saints are 15-5 vs. Birds under Sean Payton.

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