It's Thursday night football as two teams that have struggled mightily in recent years are playing well to begin this season. They're both at 2-2, so tonight's game is pivotal for both sides because a winning record five games into the season would be very encouraging for their long suffering fanbases.
Last week I went 7-8 straight up, which was my second below .500 straight up week in a row. This hasn't been a great season for me picking games so far, but as always I'll do my best to give you info to help you decide your picks. I'm 36-27 on the season straight up.
Buffalo (2-2) @ Cleveland (2-2) 8:30 PM
It's weird seeing these teams with .500 records because I expected less out of them. Kudos to both teams for surprising me a bit. The Bills have played in four relatively close games this year. Their results so far have been 23-21 (loss), 24-23 (win), 27-20 (loss) and 23-20 in a home upset win over Baltimore last week. No game had more than 27 points and no game had less than 20 points. Close games? That's what they do! Three of those four games have been at home too, which tells me they really need this game because the schedule is going to get tougher.
The Browns have woken up after looking terrible the first two games. They traded away RB Trent Richardson away and most of us thought they were going to keep losing. With new QB Brian Hoyer at the helm they won 31-27 over the Vikings and then last week they dominated the Bengals in winning 17-6. Their defense is legit. They have players that can make plays with CB Joe Haden taking out the other team's best WR most weeks. They're 4th against the run and 9th against the pass, so they're showing they could be a top defensive unit. Playing in the cold at home later in the year will certainly help them in that regard too.
I'm leaning towards the Browns because of their defense. I'm not sure the Bills can really stop people when it counts. The Browns have shown that they can. Since Thursday games typically feature poor offensive performances and the Bills will likely be without top RB CJ Spiller, I think they're going to struggle. I expect the Browns to take advantage of that. Their aggressive defensive style will force the Bills into some mistakes and once that happens I expect the Browns to put some points on the board.
I really like TE Jordan Cameron and WR Josh Gordon for the Browns. They are difference makers for them. Their run game needs some work, but Hoyer's good enough to get the ball to his playmakers. I'll take the home team for the win. Browns 24-13
Fantasy Football Five Thoughts for Week 3
1. With four teams on their bye this week (Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington), it makes things difficult for the fantasy football team owner because you're sitting there wondering if you have to start a marginal player that you normally would want to sit. Chances are if you own Adrian Peterson you don't have a great number two RB and your third RB isn't somebody you want to play very much at all. My advice? Play matchups. If you have a guy that might get some touches in a potentially high scoring game then get him out there. If you can pick up a free agent RB like Rashad Jennings of the Raiders (their likely starter with McFadden out) then he might be worth a start. As you sit there trying to decide what to do, just remember that every other owner in the league has tough decisions to make too. Do your research, look at the matchups and it's never a bad thing to rely on a gut instinct too.
2. What's the difference between fantasy football and real football? In fantasy football, a poor defensive game between the disappointing 0-4 Giants and the 1-3 Eagles could lead to plenty of great fantasy stats for those of us with players on those teams. Perhaps this is the game where Giants RB David Wilson breaks out. At some point they have to give him the ball more, so why not against the Eagles defense that is 26th against the run and 31st against the pass. I love Eagles RB LeSean McCoy in this game. I think he'll be the highest scoring non-QB of the week.
3. The Broncos at Cowboys game is intriguing. I get the feeling that it will be another high scoring Broncos game, but I think the Cowboys will hang in for most of it. Obviously you're starting any WR (Thomas, Welker & Decker) and TE (Thomas) on the Broncos, but their RB situation is tough to figure out. With the way Peyton Manning is playing at QB they're going to put up record points and he could pass the 50 TD passes in a single season record held by Tom Brady. I also like Tony Romo and Dez Bryant a lot in that game. Of course they're great players no matter who they play, but that Broncos defense can be scored on even if it's garbage time. I could see both teams getting into the 30s.
4. The Saints offense was incredible on Monday night. I lost a league because Darren Sproles had such a great game, but that's what happens in fantasy football. When you play against guys in a high octane offense like the Saints they could go off at any times. The reason I bring them up this week is because I wonder how they'll do in Chicago against a tough Bears defense. While I don't expect them to drop 30 or more points, you still have to start Brees, Graham, Colston and Sproles of course. It's fun seeing that dominant Saints offense again.
5. I'm happy for the revival of Philip Rivers in San Diego. He's a guy that's always worked hard and in the last few years there really wasn't a lot of talent around him. The talent hasn't changed that much this year (they really lack a #1 WR), yet he's looking like a top ten QB again with three huge games and a weak game against the Titans two weeks ago. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is something of a QB guru. He even guided Tim Tebow to a playoff win two years ago as Denver's offensive coordinator. The good thing for us fantasy football players is their defense is pretty bad, so that means the offense is going to keep throwing and if you have Rivers on your team don't be afraid to put him out there. A favorable matchup against the Raiders this week is very favorable for anybody with Chargers players.
I'll be back tomorrow with my picks for the rest of this week's games.