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Sunday, 22 September 2013

TPL Picks: Week 3 - Winners, Spread picks & Game of the Week

After two weeks the pressure is already on for the 8 0-2 teams, two of whom made the playoffs last season. Some may feel that a tough opening schedule is the reason (Minnsota), or that bad luck has played its part (Tampa Bay). Others, like the Jaguars, are right where we expected them to be.

Meanwhile our 2-0 teams (including the now 3-0 Chiefs) are hardly all happy with themselves. New England have scratched out a pair of divisional wins and will need a greatly improved offensive performance against Revis and his new team this week, while Houston have had to fight tooth and nail for their wins and over-come a very iffy start to the season from Arian Foster.

So who are we picking for some crucial week 3 match-ups? Find out after the jump!


Game of the Week: Houston Texans (2-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
1pm ET, Sunday

Our defending champions have had a tricky start to the season. First the Baltimore Orioles schedule meant they had to open on the road in Denver (where they got shellacked) rather than at home, then they struggled enormously in a 14-6 win over Cleveland. Worse still, during that Browns game Ray Rice got injured and is officially listed as "Doubtful" for this game.

Without him the Ravens offense are going to have to lean heavily on backup Bernard Pierce. For as good as he's looked in limited time as Rice's backup it's not at all clear that he can take on a full time roll, let alone if he can do enough against this stout Texans front to move the chains and the scoreboard.

Speaking of the Texans front, they were a dominant force in this game last year (a 43-13 win in Reliant Stadium), feeding off the chaos JJ Watt created to get 4 sacks and 2 turnovers. That, however, was against a very different offensive line. Since that game Bryant McKinnie has come into left tackle, allowing Oher to move back to the right and Kelechi Osemele to shift to guard. There is of course the retirement of Matt Birk to consider, and certainty that during this game Watt will line up over new centre Gino Gradkowski and test him. How this new offensive line can deal with Watt, an impressive Brian Cushing and their running-mates will go a long way to deciding this game.

On the other side of the ball the Ravens defense have a rather different looking Houston offense to contend with. Arian Foster, who missed the whole pre-season, has been extremely pedestrian so far, going at just 3.7 yards a carry while his back-up Ben Tate has ripped off an average of 8.2 yards in his 18 carries. If things continue in that vein Foster could quickly find himself sliding down the depth chart and Tate, an impending free-agent, could be in for a big pay day.

Because of Foster's struggles the Texans have been throwing it a lot. The only people with more attempts than Matt Schaub are Alex Smith (who's played 3 games) and Joe Flacco. That's it. I doubt Houston's Super Bowl plans had Schaub being so heavily involved but the running game issues have forced the passing game to play a larger role. And because of that we've seen two things: Andre Johnson has still got it, and DeAndre Hopkins might just be the 2nd receiver they've been looking for for so long. His 7 catches, 117 yards and game-winning touchdown last week were mightily impressive. If he can replicate some of that this week then the Ravens defense will be stretched to try and cover Johnson, Hopkins and the continually productive Owen Daniels.

So how does this game go? For one I think it will be far closer than last year's game, but I'm still going with a Texans win. The lack of over the middle options have really hurt the Ravens passing game, with Torrey Smith as the only reliable option. So could turn become a long day for Joe Flacco in the face of an heavy Houston pass rush which is averaging over 6 QB knockdowns a game. Houston walk away 28-17 winners. (TD)

TD's Spread Picks (Last week: 1-2):

Minnesota (-6.5) over Cleveland

I don't care that Christian Ponder is a bad QB or that the Browns defense has played very well to start the season, giving less than a touchdown to a Richardson-less Cleveland Browns lead by Brian Hoyer is a steal.

Houston (-1.5) over Baltimore

See above.

Seattle (-19) over Jacksonville

Yes, this line is very, very high and any team needs a lot to go right to win by 3 scores. But that said, can you really see the Jaguars scoring more than 10 points in Seattle? Maybe the Seahawks have a bit of a let-down game after hammering the 49ers last week, and maybe the crowd isn't as loud as it normally is, but the Jaguars have a hurt MJD, Chad Henne and are still without Justin Blackmon. It's going to get ugly.



Toby Durant 

Phil Gaskin 
Gur Samuel 
Chiefs @ Eagles

Chiefs 
Eagles 
Eagles 
Packers @ Bengals

Packers 
Packers
Packers
Rams @ Cowboys

Cowboys 
Rams
Rams
Chargers @ Titans

Chargers 
Chargers
Chargers
Browns @ Vikings

Vikings 
Vikings
Vikings
Bucs @ Patriots

Patriots 
Patriots
Patriots
Cardinals @ Saints

Saints 
Saints
Cardinals
Lions @ Redskins

Lions 
Redskins
Lions
Giants @ Panthers

Giants 
Giants
Panthers
Texans @ Ravens

Texans 
Texans
Texans
Falcons @ Dolphins

Falcons 
Dolphins
Falcons
Bills @ Jets

Bills 
Jets
Jets
Colts @ 49ers

49ers 
49ers
49ers
Jaguars @ Seahawks

Seahawks 
Seahawks
Seahawks
Bears @ Steelers

Bears 
Bears
Bears
Raiders @ Broncos

Broncos 
Broncos
Broncos




Last Week:

12-4 
10-6 
12-4 
Overall: 
23-9 
20-12 
23-9 

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