Helped in a big way by his successful four-star backing of Atlanta, Vinnie did well last week. His Week 2 picks weren’t without reproach, however, as picking Carolina at home did not turn out well at all. One reason Vinnie is turning against the Panthers in his Week 3 picks, perhaps.
at Kansas City Chiefs (over/under 36.5)
: The ease with which the numbers would indicate you can pass on San Francisco is a bit skewed, in that half its matchups has come against Drew Brees and the Saints. Make no mistake, this is a solid defense Kansas City is pitted against this weekend. Matt Cassel has not resembled a starting caliber NFL quarterback, and the distribution of handoffs between Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles seems awry. On the other side, Kansas City’s defense and special teams are nothing to sneeze at. Vinnie likes to think, actually, that its vastly improved defense and special teams is precisely what has Kansas City undefeated thus far. Besides, does anyone really expect Alex Smith to string together consecutive decent games for his 49ers?
under 36.5 total points.
Falcons at New Orleans Saints (over/under 49.5)
: Given the sheer number of explosive playmakers each team can boast of on offense, taking the under seems half crazy, right? Obviously even the best of NFL defenses struggle to hinder the lethal combination that is Sean Payton’s playcalling and Drew Brees’ execution. But Atlanta faces this team at least twice per year, and has come into 2010 with arguably sound enough defensive personnel to keep the score within reach, in this case. The Saints, meanwhile, have already shown plenty of defensive vulnerabilities but do well to rely upon Gregg Williams’ aggressive strategy and game planning. Vinnie is convinced this one will surprise some folks, each defense embracing its challenge admirably at times.
under 49.5 total points.
As for Vinnie’s four premiere picks, enjoy …
Bengals at Carolina Panthers (+3.5): The Jimmy Clausen era begins this weekend at Bank of America in Charlotte, and Mike Zimmer and the Bengals defense will be ready. Oh, you’d better believe they’re going to be ready, Vinnie says. The Panthers have been toothless in their attempts to pound the rock through two games, looking downright awful as a team that fans had very high hopes for as the season began. While Cincinnati is trying to work out some deficiencies of its own, on offense, there are at least enough weapons around Carson Palmer to get ahead and salt the game away – all while Jimmy Clausen is taking his lumps. Of note: Carolina has beaten the spread only twice in its past 10 September home games.
Gimme the Bengals minus the points.
Raiders at Arizona Cardinals (-3.5)
: Don’t laugh, but Vinnie is buying Bruce Gradkowski. Not so much as the star quarterback who will lead Oakland deep into the playoffs this year and next, but as a smart player who will get much more out of his supporting cast than did JaMarcus Russell and so far, Jason Campbell. Strictly in terms of the favorable matchup, Darren McFadden might just defeat the Cardinals himself. Admittedly, part of Vinnie exploiting Arizona as the favorite has to do with last week’s Falcons pick, which panned out and then some. But again, Derek Anderson isn’t doing his team any favors.
Gimme the Raiders plus the points.
Titans at New York Giants (-3)
: Well for one thing, the Giants have lost four straight to Tennessee, but that probably matters little here. Vinnie could talk all about how good the Titans pass defense is, or the memorable day Chris Johnson is in for versus a mediocre Giants defense. Obviously a large part of what the line on this game comes down to, though, revolves around how badly Vince Young played quarterback in Week 2. Picking the underdog Titans is Vinnie’s way of chalking that regrettable performance up to how dominant Pittsburgh’s defense is this year, rather than a knee jerk “looks like Young is imploding again” sort of reaction.
Gimme the Titans plus the points.
Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams (+3.5)
: It is deceptive how poor Washington’s pass defense looks on paper right now when you consider Arian Foster’s rushing efforts last week were stymied, leaving Matt Schaub with little choice but to air it out. And then there’s the extra passing numbers on account of that game going into overtime. Needless to say, Vinnie likes Washington to limit what Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson can do. On the other side of the ball, Donovan McNabb, Santana Moss and maybe even Clinton Portis should have their way with the Rams defense. Of note: St. Louis has gone 1-9 against the spread over the past 10 of its September home games.
Gimme the Redskins minus the points.