Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 3 NFL picks

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. AP

There is no positive spin for our 7-9 record straight-up last week. You can put a top hat on a pig, but it still grunts and smells. The only saving grace is that we scrambled for 8-8 against the spread, hitting a pair of mini-upset wins by Broncos and Browns, and two other ’dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys. I won’t dwell on the bad stuff, except to say that if I ever pick the Bears to win again, please have me Baker Act-ed. (Note: Thursday-game pick was Giants (-4) over Redskins, 24-17).

Cote’s record



Vs. spread


Last week










Final 2014





Dolphins this week

BILLS (1-1) at DOLPHINS (1-1)

Line: MIA by 3.

Cote’s pick: BUF 23-20.

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

All the elements of a delicious matchup are here. It is Miami’s home opener, it’s vs. an AFC East rival, and it is coming off a bad Dolphins loss at Jax to ratchet up the pressure on Joe Philbin’s guys. Want more? How about blustery Rex Ryan in Bills clothes now, and former Fins bully Richie Incognito back in town tasked with blocking Ndamukong Suh. This could be damned entertaining, folks! It also could be a tough one for Miami to win. Don’t read too much into Tom Brady putting up 466 yards last week; the Buffs’ pass-D is pretty good against everybody not named Brady. And that defensive line has the potential to dominate MIA’s blocking front and spend way too much time Sunday in Ryan Tannehill’s pocket — especially if LT Branden Albert (hamstring) doesn’t play or is limited. The homies haven’t shown enough consistent running game or balance to take much heat off Tannehill. On the other side, a Dolphins run defense gouged for 284 yards the first two games will face its toughest challenge yet in LeSean McCoy. Miami will get some help from Buffs’ proneness to penalties; still, I doubt the stadium will be a happy place as dusk settles.

Game of the Week

CHIEFS (1-1) at PACKERS (2-0)

Line: GB by 7.

Cote’s pick: GB 31-23.

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

Not a lot of compelling Game of the Week contenders on the Week 3 slate, so we go with Super Bowl front-runners Green Bay and the sublime Aaron Rodgers, on a Monday stage at Lambeau Field, against a KC squad itching mad after choking away what should-a been a win over Denver last Thursday. With that extra time to prepare, a pass rush that could get to Rodgers and Jamaal Charles vs. a so-so Pack run-D, the Chiefs might have half a shot here. KC has won six of past seven in series, too, though teams haven’t met since 2011. Give me Rodgers and his Cheeseheads at home — always — but see this one living up to the stage.

Upset of the Week

FALCONS (2-0) at COWBOYS (2-0)

Line: ATL by 2.

Cote’s pick: DAL 23-16.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

AAAWWWK!” sings the soaring Upset Bird. “Is this even an upset? What? Waaawwwk!” Yes it is an upset, with Dallas a home ’dog even at 2-0. It is because injured Tony Romo joins Dez Bryant watching from the sideline. It mostly is because Romo’s replacement is Brandon Weeden, 5-16 as a career starter including eight straight L’s. (That alone keeps Week 3’s only meeting of 2-0 teams off the Game of the Week float.) Watch the ’Boys D rise up. “Time for Dallas to experience life in the Garden of Weeden,” notes U-Bird. “Garden of Weeaaawwwk!

Dog of the Week

BEARS (0-2) at SEAHAWKS (0-2)

Line: SEA by 14 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 41-13.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.

Our Dog of the Week refers to lousiest game, not to a betting ’dog, and this one barks loudest because Seattle so needs a win and is so good at home, while Chicago is a holy mess on defense and has Jimmy Clausen likely starting at QB via Jay Cutler’s hammy. Clausen is 1-10 as a starter, and Hawks get Kam Chancellor back from a holdout. Watch SEA get Jimmy Graham untracked in its home opener.

COLTS (0-2) at TITANS (1-1)

Line: IND by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: IND 27-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Indy has won seven in a row in this series and 13 consecutive division games overall. In other words the weak AFC South should be a get-well card for the Colts and Andrew Luck, who desperately need one. Marcus Mariota’s 129.9 rating is the highest of the Super Bowl era for a rook’s first two games, and he gets the home-opener bounce here, but Nags — if they can cut back on the turnovers — still should roll.

RAIDERS (1-1) at BROWNS (1-1)

Line: CLE by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CLE 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Not sure if Brownies are wise to sit Johnny Manziel coming off a win and reinsert Josh McCown. But this makes the change less risky: Oakland travels worse than un-refrigerated meat. The Raiders have lost 11 consecutive road games and 19 of their past 20. They also pack a defense that has allowed 66 points and 889 yards in two games. You never feel sure liking Earthtones, but Oaks are pros at playing road kill.

BENGALS (2-0) at RAVENS (0-2)

Line: BAL by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BAL 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

This is uncommon early desperation for Baltimore, which was last 0-2 in 2005. That, the home field and a division rivalry should provide the Crows enough goose to get off the schneid. Joe Flacco is 13-1 in his career in September home starts. Am also counting on Andy Dalton, who has been uncharacteristically efficient so far, to screw up in a way that mirrors his 67.6 career rating in games played in Maryland.

JAGUARS (1-1) at PATRIOTS (2-0)

Line: NE by 13 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NE 42-10.

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

Where to start? Patriots are a ferocious home team. Jaguars stink on the road. Jax has lost five consecutive trips to NE by double digits. Pats sackers will make it a nightmare for Blake Bortles. Tom Brady will sail past 400 career TD throws. Could be a game that makes you wish NFL had a mercy rule.

SAINTS (0-2) at PANTHERS (2-0)

Line: CAR by 3.

Cote’s pick: CAR 26-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Carolina aims for its first 3-0 breakout since 2003, and does it vs. a wounded Drew Brees, who says he thinks he’ll play despite a bum shoulder. Panthers defense is in too good a place right now to predict a home loss and an outright upset, but a desperate, winless opponent in a division rivalry is a dangerous thing.

EAGLES (0-2) at JETS (2-0)

Line: NYJ by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: PHI 27-20.

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

Upset! It isn’t that Philly is 9-0 all-time in this series and hasn’t been 0-3 since 1999. It’s more that Chip Kelly’s Eagles offense cannot keep being as bad as it’s looked. It is also that NYJ’s defense — first team since ’92 Steelers with 10 takeaways in two games — cannot keep doing that, either. Birds not that bad, Planes not that good, and here’s the return to normal.

BUCCANEERS (1-1) at TEXANS (0-2)

Line: HOU by 6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: HOU 19-16.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Arian Foster still is out for Houston, and now DeAndre Hopkins (concussion) also could be sidelined. Think Tampa could keep it closer than the betting line, but still like J.J. Watt and that Texans’ defense to help remind Jameis Winston he’s a rookie.

CHARGERS (1-1) at VIKINGS (1-1)

Line: MIN by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: MIN 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

The Upset Bird wanted this game. Kept hovering. Dive-bombing. I got it. Think Bolts are a slightly better team all-round. But Teddy Bridgewater plays well at home, and Adrian Peterson is a great matchup vs. SD’s thin run-stoppage. (That’ll bring a smile to Minny OC Norv Turner as he faces his ex-team.) Also, Philip Rivers is operating behind a tattered O-line. Sorry, U-Bird.

STEELERS (1-1) at RAMS (1-1)

Line: PIT by 1 1/2

Cote’s pick: PIT 30-16

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

To his fantasy owners’ delight Pitt gets star RB Le’Veon Bell back from a two-game suspension, perfectly timed to face a St. Lou run defense that hasn’t proved very good. Rams can’t even claim any great home-dome advantage anymore. Not with the franchise having one foot in L.A.

49ERS (1-1) at CARDINALS (2-0)

Line: ARI by 6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: ARI 24-20.

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox.

I’m done disrespecting the Cardbirds and paying for it with unnecessary losses. Finally seeped through my skull is the fact ’Zona is pretty damned good when Carson Palmer is healthy. In fact, he’s won his past eight starts in a row and 15 of his past 17. Still hunching, tough, that Frans keep it closer than the fat line. Colin Kaepernick is 4-1 vs. Cacti, with nine TDs and only one pick.

BRONCOS (2-0) at LIONS (0-2)

Line: DEN by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DEN 27-17.

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

Peyton Manning seems to be fast-forward aging because his line isn’t protecting him, and he has a lousy ground game, but those weaknesses might not be as glaring against a post-Suh Lions squad struggling to stop the run. Home opener gives Motown a shot, but don’t see an upset because here is what Peyton and Denver do have, and in abundance: A really good defense.

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