It’s danger time.
Especially if you’re an NFL team still looking for its first victory in Week 3, and fancy yourself a playoff contender. Odds are, if you start out 0-3, you don’t make the playoffs. It’s only happened three times since 1990.
Eight teams find themselves in that position this week. Most are expected to struggle all season. But certainly not Tennessee, and probably not Carolina. Both are probably in must-win territory.
Conversely, there are eight teams currently 2-0. At least a couple of those could likely be classified as pretenders. Week 3 is a time to even things out.
Last week’s results: 7-9 vs. spread, 15-17 for the season. 8-8 straight up, 19-13 overall.
Let’s aim to do a little better this week.
Sunday, Sept. 27
NEW YORK JETS 3 over Tennessee: Exhibit A of our discussion. Jets have looked impressive on defense in starting 0-2, while the Titans have absorbed two tough losses. But this is the NFL. Titans can run it with spectacular Chris Johnson and Jets will have trouble keeping up on offense. Tennessee 20-14.
HOUSTON 4 over Jacksonville: The Texans’ potent offense looked the part vs. Titans after getting stuffed by the Jets in Week 1, and should continue to roll again. Jags have not fared well on the road recently against this division rival and their problems, particulary on defense, are a concern. Houston 28-17.
PHILADELPHIA off vs. Kansas City: No early line again this week because of QB, though Kevin Kolb figures to get second straight start. Eagles D torched by Drew Brees-led Saints but Chiefs hardly resembles that group. Philly bounceback likely while KC continues stumbling through another brutal season. Philadelphia 27-13.
BALTIMORE 13 1/2 over Cleveland: Let’s see, Browns have scored one TD in past eight regular-season games. So how many do you think they will score against Ravens? Yeah, me too. It is a flat spot for Ravens, coming off long trip and victory over Chargers, with Patriots on deck. So what will the Browns do about it? Any life there? Hello, McFly! Baltimore 28-6.
New York Giants 7 over TAMPA BAY: G-men coming off big win in Dallas, and this is normally situation Bucs would do well. But so far they have shown little, particularly on defense, and look capable of going 0-for most of the season. New coach and QB, long way to go. Giants 24-7.
Washington 6 over DETROIT: Could this be the week? Skins won 9-7 over Rams, a team likely worse than these Lions. Another loss would make it 20 in a row, so it’s time. Can I pull the trigger? Do I have the guts to where others fear to tread? Ehhhhhh, noooo. But I will take the points. Washington 17-14.
Green Bay 7 over St. Louis: Another big home dog. Just how many really bad teams are there in the NFL this year? Try not to think about it. Pack took it on the chin from Bengals last week, at Lambeau no less. Too much talent to let this bunch do the same to them. Green Bay 26-10.
MINNESOTA 7 over San Francisco: The only matchup with a pair of 2-0 teams. One is a surprise but not without talent, and Singletary is the kind of fiery coach some of these other teams could use. Spread could be a problem, but go with superior home side. Minnesota 20-10.
NEW ENGLAND 4 over Atlanta: Falcons a rising young team for sure. So are the Patriots starting to decline? Don’t bet on it. Defense will gel, and Belichick will shore up the rushing attack to keep Brady from having to do it all. Pats rarely (never?) lose two in a row. New England 24-17.
Chicago 2 1/2 over SEATTLE: Hasselbeck likely out, turning Seahawk attack into a Seneca Wallace dump-off fest. Bears not the most reliable squad to be laying road points but showed resilient mindset in coming back against Steelers and no turnovers by Cutler. Chicago 17-12.
New Orleans 6 over BUFFALO: I’d love to say Saints can’t play in frigid weather, but it’s too early for that…even in Buffalo. Still, Bills’ offense has shown plenty of life and might even be able to keep pace with the prolific Brees. Just don’t go overboard. New Orleans 27-24.
SAN DIEGO 6 over Miami: Dolphins’ tough early-season sked continues unabated. Coming off tough Monday night loss at home, traveling cross-country against angry Chargers not likely to end well. Miami held ball all night against Colts, but couldn’t tackle anybody when they did give it up. San Diego 21-10.
Pittsburgh 4 1/2 over CINCINNATI: Home game in name only for Bengals, considering about the half the crowd figures to be rooting for Steelers. And blowing one in Chicago last week will have black-and-gold in foul mood. Don’t read too much into Bengals’ victory in Green Bay. Pittsburgh 23-14.
Denver 2 over OAKLAND: Would love to go against Broncos, probably the least deserving 2-0 team, but they usually win in this venue despite all those scary looking patrons. A bigger issue is the Raiders’ limited offense and their scatter-armed QB. Denver (ugh) goes to 3-0. Denver 19-13.
ARIZONA 2 1/2 over Indianapolis: Tough spot for Colts, like the Dolphins, forced to head west after Monday nighter. Cards much more in tune against Jags and usually take full advantage of their sun-baked home field, even against some of the league’s best, like the Colts. Arizona 30-24.
Monday, Sept. 28
Dallas 9 over Carolina: Cowboys couldn’t lose first two in shiny, new digs could they? Probably not, but this is a boatload of points against a desperate 0-2 team that is flawed but still prideful. Romo followed up big first game with all-time clunnker against Giants. Look for the good Tony to show up but might not be easy. Dallas 27-23.