After an unusually chalky Week 2 in the NFL, Week 3 was back to normal with a handful of upsets taking place, albeit nothing earth-shattering for survivor pools.
As far as survivor pools are concerned, birds of all kind were an endangered species this past week. The Arizona Cardinals -- slightly less than a touchdown favorite – lost to the Detroit Lions as time expired. The Atlanta Falcons, up 26-10 as 3-point favorites over the Chicago Bears, somehow managed to blow another double-digit fourth-quarter lead en route to losing. And the Philadelphia Eagles tied the Cincinnati Bengals 23-23 … and strangely seemed very content to do so.
Week 4 provides some attractive entry options, as we have at least two games hovering around the two-touchdown range as the lines opened. Let’s find a winner...
Games to consider
Baltimore Ravens -14 over Washington Football Team
It’s hard to find a reason to stay away from this one. Washington upset Philly in Week 1, but its second-half comeback in that game is a) less impressive the more we watch Philly, and b) seems to more the exception than the rule. The 1-0 start was followed by two drubbings, as Arizona and Cleveland both beat up on Washington following the opener. Baltimore will be on the road, and on short rest following a huge Monday night showdown with the Chiefs in what could be a letdown spot. Still, saving an elite Baltimore squad for later in the season is the only reason to not pick against a Washington team that looks to be headed for another long season.
San Francisco 49ers -6.5 over Philadelphia Eagles
What looked to be a very appealing matchup when the schedules were released, this game has lost its luster quickly in the new season. The Eagles look like may be on the clock early next April, winless heading into October barring an upset here. The 49ers have a list of injuries so long that it would actually save time if I just listed their healthy players. Under normal circumstances, with a somewhat intact roster, San Francisco would be a candidate to beat up on this Eagles team that is a mess on both sides of the ball. Since that Super Bowl victory in 2017 – and even before that -- the Eagles have been a middling team, which now looks to be headed in wrong direction. The issue is that the 49ers have too many injuries to feel confident backing at the moment.
Los Angeles Rams -14 over New York Giants
I’m keeping it simple this week, using a Rams team that was impressive even in a 32-28 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Erasing a 28-3 deficit, the Rams had the Bills beat until a late, and very questionable, pass interference call on fourth down gave the Bills new life (if you’re the Rams you can’t complain about incorrect pass interference calls for a while, following the missed call in the 2018 NFC Championship against the New Orleans Saints). The Rams should be hungry and able to move the ball with ease against a Giants team that lacks talent on both sides of the ball. The Giants defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl of the 2011 season and have not won a playoff game since, returning to the postseason only once in that span.
What has historically been one of the leagues model franchises has now turned into a tire-fire for the better part of the last decade, and New York’s start this year does nothing to convince me they’re on the precipice of a turnaround. The Giants were beaten soundly at home, against essentially the junior varsity version of the 49ers last week. This week won’t be any better for Big Blue. Take the Rams and live to see Week 5 in your pool.