NFL Insider

NFL INSIDER: Things never really sorted out in NFL

2013-09-19T18:00:00Z 2013-09-27T01:01:05Z NFL INSIDER: Things never really sorted out in NFLMatt Erickson NFL Insider
September 19, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Right on schedule, Week 3, things are starting to sort themselves out in the NFL.

Or are they?

This week features some seemingly strange lines that make a lot of us in the armchair business believe we can outsmart the oddsmakers. But really, how often is that the case?

The Giants are underdogs on the road at Carolina, which just doesn't seem right. Sure, both teams are 0-2. But the Giants have more firepower, and the Panthers are banged up on defense. And sometimes you just have to say, "Is Eli Manning going to start 0-3?" The answer is no, but there we go again trying to outsmart Vegas.

The Falcons are still thought by many to be the best team in the NFC. Yet they're a road 'dog in Miami this week against a Dolphins team that just beat the Colts. But I think the Falcons are several pegs above Indy, and they should bring the Fish back to reality.

The Colts draw a tough task on the road at San Francisco this week, and they're 10-point underdogs. But 10 is a lot of points. The Niners likely will come out angry after laying an egg in Seattle last week, but I like the Colts to keep it close.

The Bears also get what normally would be a tough game on paper, going to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in prime time on Sunday night. But the Steelers are reeling, and even though the Bears needed come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter twice already to be 2-0, they simply have more to offer on offense than the Steelers, and that will be key. Expect the Bears' defense to finally step up, as well.

San Diego (1-1) +3 (44) at Tennessee (1-1)

MattE's pick: Chargers 27, Titans 23

Cleveland (0-2) +6 (42) at Minnesota (0-2)

MattE's pick: Vikings 31, Browns 16

Tampa Bay (0-2) +7 (44.5) at New England (2-0)

MattE's pick: Patriots 28, Bucs 20

Houston (2-0) -2.5 (45) at Baltimore (1-1)

MattE's pick: Texans 26, Ravens 23

St. Louis (1-1) +4 (47) at Dallas (1-1)

MattE's pick: Cowboys 31, Rams 23

Arizona (1-1) +7 (48.5) at New Orleans (2-0)

MattE's pick: Saints 34, Cardinals 24

Detroit (1-1) +2 (49) at Washington (0-2)

MattE's pick: Lions 27, Redskins 20

Green Bay (1-1) -2.5 (48.5) at Cincinnati (1-1)

MattE's pick: Packers 34, Bengals 31

N.Y. Giants (0-2) +1 (45.5) at Carolina (0-2)

MattE's pick: Giants 29, Panthers 20

Atlanta (1-1) +2.5 (44.5) at Miami (2-0)

MattE's pick: Falcons 28, Dolphins 20

COLTS (1-1) +10 (46) at San Francisco (1-1)

MattE's pick: 49ers 24, Colts 17

Jacksonville (0-2) +19.5 (40.5) at Seattle (2-0)

MattE's pick: Seahawks 31, Jaguars 10

Buffalo (1-1) +2.5 (39) at N.Y. Jets (1-1)

MattE's pick: Bills 23, Jets 20

BEARS (2-0) -2.5 (40.5) at Pittsburgh (0-2)

MattE's pick: Bears 24, Steelers 16

Oakland (1-1) +15 (49.5) at Denver (2-0)

MattE's pick: Broncos 37, Raiders 20

Last week: 12-4 straight up, 9-6-1 against the spread. Season: 22-10 (.688) straight up, 15-14-2 (.517) against the spread

Matt Erickson is an award-winning journalist whose NFL picks have appeared in The Times for 12 seasons. He covers mixed martial arts for The Times and is assistant MMA editor for USA Today and

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