NFL Week 3: Rams To Put Browns In Their Place14 min read
Lindy’s Sports, America’s leading Football authority, looks ahead to some of the big Week 3 NFL action, which includes an AFC clash between two unbeaten teams and the NFC champions bidding to remain unbeaten at Cleveland.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Drama. We have seen plenty of it in the first two weeks of the NFL season. So much, it is proving to be exhausting.
The never-ending Antonio Brown saga, Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury, Drew Brees’ thumb injury, the Dolphins giving away most of their talent in exchange for a few draft picks and a season-full of woe or more, the potential end of Eli Manning’s New York career, Adam Vinateri having to kick retirement talk to the sidewalk (he is 1-of-3 on field goals and 1-of-5 on extra points), the Jets losing two QBs, and now along comes Jalen Ramsey. Arguably the league’s top shut-down cornerback has demanded to be traded.
In Sunday’s 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans, which dropped the Jaguars to 0-2, Ramsey had a heated exchange on the sideline with coach Doug Marrone, for not challenging a competition to DeAndre Hopkins, and the two had to be restrained.
News that Ramsey had asked to be traded broke on Tuesday, and he removed all connections to the Jaguars on social media. It hardly represents a team-first attitude and that is a possible distraction heading into Thursday’s game with AFC South division rivals Tennessee.
The last time these teams played, the Jaguars were embarrassed by running back Derrick Henry, who scored four touchdowns in a 30-9 win; the Titans’ fourth successive win over the Jags and the sixth in the last seven.
The Titans, who are 1-1 after losing at home 19-17 to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, have not won three consecutive meetings in Jacksonville since doing so in 2002-04. They are 6-8 in Jacksonville since then, winning 9-6 on their last visit in September 2018.
The Titans have some offensive line issues to address, with QB Marcus Mariota sacked four times on Sunday, making a total of eight in the last two weeks.
They went just 1 of 10 on third down against the Colts, just a week after going 2 of 10 on third down in Cleveland, and the run defense has also been tested, conceding 167 rushing yards on Sunday, adding to the 102 yards on the ground in a blow-out win at Cleveland.
While Mariota is expected to play, he was on the injury report earlier this week, but the Jaguars will again have 23-year-old rookie passer Gardner Minshew at the helm, following Nick Foles’ clavicle injury which will take about nine weeks to heal. The early consensus projects Minshew to be a future NFL star, yet this Titans’ defense is still one of the best under veteran coordinator Dean Pees.
The BetVictor NFL odds are 10/11 for the Titans to cover a 1.5-point handicap and while both teams will be smarting from defeats that could easily have been victories, we feel the visitors are worth chancing in a game that may well offer more points than the 39.5 that layers anticipate.
Tip: Tennessee Titans to win on the Money Line at
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are 12-0 straight up at home when favourited by four points or more with QB Patrick Mahomes as starter. They will bid to extend that run against the Ravens, who are given a 6.5-point start on the handicap with BetVictor at odds of 10/11.
The Ravens took the Chiefs to overtime at Arrowhead in QB Lamar Jackson’s fourth career start last season, eventually succumbing 27-24. It was their first loss in four previous visits, and the Ravens can run the ball with attitude.
That may limit Mahomes’ time on the field to exploit the suspect Ravens’ secondary, who have given up several big plays this term, despite moving to 2-0 with wins against the sad-sack Miami Dolphins and fellow cellar-dweller Arizona Cardinals.
This will be the Ravens’ first real test. The Chiefs have covered the spread in both outings, with a 14-point win over the Jaguars and scoring 28 unanswered points after falling behind by 10 in Oakland on Sunday.
While favourites covered just seven of the 16 handicaps in Week 2, it is worth noting that favourites of five points or more this season are 13-2 straight up, with the Carolina Panthers (-6.5 in Week 2) and Cleveland Browns (-5.5 in Week 1) the only ones to lose outright.
The law of averages would deem that some big handicap favourites will fall, but although the Ravens may have good history at Arrowhead, they have not faced anything like the quality possessed by the Chiefs.
Likewise, the Chiefs’ defense must find a way to limit Lamar Jackson who, along with Steve Young (1995), is the only QB to boast at least 550 passing yards and rushing yards through the first two weeks of the season.
Layers expect a points-fest. Yet there has been only one meeting in the last nine where the points total has eclipsed the one set this week. Should Baltimore be able to establish their ground attack, and stymie Mahomes and company, taking the negative view might be viable.
Tip: Under 54.5 total points at
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers went 12-4 with multiple injuries last year and made the playoffs. They are battling injuries again, with starting safety Adrian Phillips the latest to be sidelined in a 13-10 loss at Detroit on Sunday.
Five key players were out already, receiver Mike Williams was playing with a knee injury and running back Melvin Gordon was still holding out. Yet lack of personnel was less of a factor than the unforced errors – which included two touchdowns wiped out by penalties and an interception of a Philip Rivers pass in the endzone with 1:10 left in the game – that caused their downfall.
Houston were fortunate to survive for a 13-12 win over the Jaguars, needing a goal-line stand to deny Leonard Fournette a two-point game-winning conversion, to move to 1-1 for the season.
The Chargers are 3-point favourites at odds of 5/6 to defeat the Texans for a sixth time in seven meetings, with the visitors winning 31-28 when they met in San Diego six years ago.
Four of the last five meetings have been settled by a one-score margin and given the Chargers’ now-vulnerable secondary, it is likely that Houston will keep this close.
The Texans’ offensive line has shown marginal improvement with the arrival of Laremy Tunsil, but it still allowed four sacks last week, with QB Deshaun Watson still appearing to have problems deciphering pre-snap blitzes. He has been sacked 75 times in the last 19 games.
The Chargers’ pass rush has managed just two sacks in two weeks and unless they generate pressure, DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills and Will Fuller against the banged-up secondary looks an unhealthy proposition for the hosts.
Yet their iffy offensive line, coupled with bland and predictable play-calling, means that the Texans can’t really be trusted to deliver, and Rivers may find a way to keep the Chargers’ noses in front. A tough game to call, but…
Tip: Houston Texans to score over 22 points at
Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns
The Rams moved to 2-0 with a convincing 27-9 win over the New Orleans Saints, who were not helped by the loss of QB Drew Brees to thumb injury.
The Cleveland Browns gained their first win of the season, taking advantage of a New York Jets team that was without its starting QB Sam Darnold and who lost back-up Trevor Siemian to a first-half ankle injury.
The Browns’ run defense still looks shaky, allowing 108 yards per game and they may be without a couple of key offensive starts in tight end David Njoku, who is in concussion protocol, and wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who is battling a knee injury.
Cleveland’s offensive front improved on Monday in the 23-3 win over the Jets, with Mayfield only being sacked three times. Finding a way to neutralise pass rusher Aaron Donald is a conundrum that offensive line coach James Campen may not be able to solve. Double-team him, and Clay Matthews will likely continue his productive start following his arrival from Green Bay.
He will want to shine, too, since his legendary father, four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews Jr, is being inducted into the Browns Ring of Honour on Sunday night.
Until the Browns fix the offensive line, they cannot be relied upon to deliver against any Super Bowl contenders. Attempting to keep pace with the Rams’ three-headed monster receiving corps of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks may be asking too much.
Tip: Los Angeles Rams -3.0 points at
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins
If the Bears are going to challenge in the NFC North, then its defense will be carrying the offense, even allowing for the fact that it has conceded 495 passing yards in the first two weeks,
Following their last-gasp 16-13 win at Denver, the Bears have scored only 19 points in two games, and kicker Eddie Piniero has been responsible for 12 of them.
QB Mitch Trubisky’s numbers on the season so far are a very modest 42 of 72 for 348 yards (4.8 per attempt), 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He is completing just 58 percent of his passes, with a longest being 27 yards.
Trubisky was expected to make big strides this season and thus far, he has done little to suggest he is nothing more than a serviceable passer. Sacked five times already, he has looked less than comfortable.
With Green Bay already gaining two big division wins, the Bears could not have faced a bigger bogey side than the Redskins, who have lost just two of the last 15 meetings.
Chicago’s sole win in their last nine visits to DC was a 20-15 win in 2001. They have lost the last seven meetings and the Redskins will be keen to get off the mark for the season following defeats to division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas.
The Redskins face Super Bowl champion New England in Week 4, and they played both the Eagles and Cowboys close in the opening two weeks. Despite an inexperienced receiving corps, QB Case Keenum has completed nearly 70