GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 3 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
DOLPHINS (0-2) at COWBOYS (2-0)
Line: DAL by 21 1/2.
Cote’s pick: DAL 38-7.
You’ve heard of “once bitten, twice shy”? Well, I’m twice bitten by the Dolphins so what does that make me? I pick Miami to win its opener in a big upset and it loses 59-10. I pick Miami to cover an 18 1/2-point spread last week and the Fins lose by 43. The lesson? I’m done with this team. MIA to me means missing in action from now on. Now the Fins are getting an outrageous 21 1/2 points at Dallas. Along with Patriots-Jets, this marks the first time in 32 years the NFL has seen multiple 20-point spreads in one week. And that was the 1987 strike season, with replacement players. The 2019 Dolphins could use some of those. Josh Rosen will start at quarterback. But will it even matter? The 0-16 talk is silly. I still see the Dolphins having a chance to win four or five games. But oh lord this is not one of them. You have a better chance of winning the lottery while simultaneously being struck by lightning than Miami has of winning Sunday.
GAME OF THE WEEK
RAVENS (2-0) at CHIEFS (2-0)
Line: KC by 6.
Cote’s pick: KC 42-31.
Game of the Week committee met, blessed this matchup by acclimation, banged the gavel and repaired to the Quill & Swill Pub to celebrate both the decision and the alacrity of it. What a game! Not only is it Week 3’s only battle of unbeatens — it’s Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson and the merry prospect of a conga line of touchdowns. Mahomes at Arrowhead might not be Tom Brady at Foxborough in terms of mortal locks, but it’s close.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
GIANTS (0-2) at BUCCANEERS (1-1)
Line: TB by 6 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NYG 27-23.
“AAAWWWK!” bellows the Upset Bird. “Daniel Jones! Daniel Joaaawwwk!” Eli Manning’s career rests in a casket of mothballs as rookie Daniel Jones takes over at QB -- the newly anointed Duke of East Rutherford! It isn’t that I see Jones as all that heroic or a panacea for Biggies. It’s more that I don’t trust Jameis Winston or the Bucs to not mess this up. Oh, and NYG has beaten Tampa in six of past seven meeting. “They call that research!,” notes U-Bird. “Daniel is traveling tonight on a plaaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 3:
@Bills (2-0, -6) over Bengals (0-2), 24-16: Not sure Buffs are all that, but don’t see ‘Gals as the foe to prove it. Line feels a tad fat, but Cincy looked awful vs. Niners last week and is on a 1-9 skid dating to last year.
@Eagles (1-1, -6 1/2) over Lions (1-0-1), 27-23: Philly has become notorious slow starter, so Motown needs to jump out quick for a shot here. Carson Wentz hasn’t looked great thus far, so hunching Lions getting this many points.
@Patriots (2-0, -22 1/2) over Jets (0-2), 41-6: The poster child for NFL quarterback upheaval, Adam Gase’s Jets are down to third-stringer Luke Falk vs. Tom Brady. Did I mention New England has won 17 in a row at home?
@Vikings (1-1, -9 1/2) over Raiders (1-1), 34-16: Minnesota doomed itself with four turnovers vs. Pack last week as Kirk Cousins’ critics moved in, but The Cuz should enjoy a nice rebound game vs. Jon Gruden’s generous pass defense.
@Colts (1-1, -1) over Falcons (1-1), 23-20: Like Nags at home in near pick-’em game, with RB Marlon Mack and WR T.Y. Hilton both expected to play despite being questionable. See a letdown by erratic Falcons after last week’s big night win over nemesis Eagles.
@Packers (2-0, -7 1/2) over Broncos (0-2), 28-14: Joe Flacco and Broncs’ supposedly vaunted defense have disappointed. I asked Aaron Rodgers on ESPN’s Le Batard Show this week if he would lead the crowd in The Wave when Denver has ball, so we’ll see if he does.
@Cardinals (0-1-1, off board) over Panthers (0-2), 23-18: Game was off betting boards for the foot/ankle injury that has Cats QB Cam Newton very iffy and Kyle Allen poised to pitch. Carolina otherwise would be a 2 1/2-point road favorite, but I would fancy a Cardbirds upset even if Newton played. Panthers have been awful since midseason ‘18, and Kyler Murray is making Arizona believe.
@49ers (2-0, -6 1/2) over Steelers (0-2), 19-17: This one makes me nervous because I decline to overestimate the Niners and refuse to write off The ‘Burgh even though Big Ben Roethlisberger is lost for the season and the step down to Mason Rudolph is sharp. SF gets its first 3-0 breakout since 1998, but like Steelers with points, and an outright upset would not surprise.
@Seahawks (2-0, -4) over Saints (1-1), 27-17: This matchup had Game of the Week heft before Drew Brees busted his thumb to sideline him six weeks or so. Sean Payton hinted Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill both could see action, though Teddy B. clearly deserves the nod. Even with Brees, topping a hot Russell Wilson at home would have been a big ask.
@Chargers (1-1, -3 1/2) over Texans (1-1), 34-31: Premier wideouts DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) and Keenan Allen (knee) are questionable but both should play — and light up suspect secondaries. Meaning a shootout seems in store. The Achilles in this matchup will be the inability of Houston’s O-line to protect Deshaun Watson, but still running with Texans and that dangling half point ATS.
Rams (2-0, -3) over @Browns (1-1), 27-23: QBs are dropping all over the league, but Jared Goff vs. Baker Mayfield fills a marquee pretty nicely for this Sunday prime-time test. Clevers tempt as home ‘dogs, but Earthtones have 27 penalties in two games, and Rams’ Aaron Donald-led pocket-busters will get to Mayfield.
Bears (1-1, -4) over @Redskins (0-2), 20-17: Biggest challenge in this game? To see how the Monday night booth talks up Mitchell Trubisky vs. Case Keenum as must-watch TV. Give Skins an upset shot, but count on Chitown’s big defense to steer a low-scoring affair.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Like a dog shaking off rainwater, we cast aside a rough opening week and rallied in Week 2 to a solid 11-5 mark straight-up and 8-8 against the spread. Highlights: Nailed our Upset of the Week pick with Lions over Chargers (“Aawwk!”), bull’s-eyed another outright upset with Falcons beating Eagles, and also cashed a trio of dogs-with-points in Bucs, Colts and Seahawks. Lowlight: Had the Dolphins-plus-18 1/2 in a game they lost by 43. Lesson learned, albeit the hard way. [Note: Thursday night pick was @Jaguars (+1 1/2) over Titans, 20-17. Find the full pick capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 2 — 11-5, .688; 8-8, .500
Season — 19-12-1, .613; 14-18, .438
Final 2018 — 179-75-2, .705; 145-104-7, .582