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NFL picks against the spread, Week 3: It’s a great week for road teams

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Five picks for the road teams? It makes perfect sense if you look a little closer.

I correctly picked four out out five games last week. That’s two weeks in a row I’ve gotten four out of five picks. It’s probably just a real lucky streak. But I’m feeling good about it, good enough to offer this week’s picks with some level of confidence.

So much confidence, that I’m picking five road teams this week. Five.

Sometimes we give home field too much credit. Sure, the home crowd can help a team on the field — give the players some wind in their sails, so to speak — but it can’t make up for bad rosters or dumb coaches, which you see this week in the case of the Colts and Bills.

Other times, I think the spread is just too big for the opponent. I fully expect the Panthers and Seahawks to win their games this week, but not by the margin we’re getting from the books.

Vikings (+7) over PANTHERS

Seven points? After what we’ve seen the Vikings do so far this season, I’m just not buying it. I know that Adrian Peterson is hurt, and the thinking is that teams can pull back a little, take that eighth guy out of the box and use him to double up Stefon Diggs.

I think that’s oversimplifying it. Jerick McKinnon is a dynamic runner. He might even be dynamic enough to scratch out a few yards of his own behind that terrible run blocking line.

Also worth noting, the Panthers let Blaine Gabbert throw three touchdown passes last week.

But the reason I’m picking Minnesota over the Panthers — to cover, not to win — is that Vikings defense. It’s very good.

Cardinals (-3.5) over BILLS

The Bills have a new offensive coordinator, one who specializes in the running game. That’s probably good since the Bills will be without Sammy Watkins this week.

It doesn’t matter. The problem with the Bills has been the defense, allowing 50 points in two games. They haven’t covered the spread either. I know that, technically, Rob Ryan is not their defensive coordinator, but his hands are close enough to it to be a problem. Anything the Ryan brothers touch turns to soft buttery imitation gold, the kind of crap that gives you a rash whenever you wear it.

Bruce Arians and the Cardinals are angry anyway, unsatisfied with their 40-7 win over the Buccaneers last week. When Arians’ Cardinals are mad, they do terrible things to opponents.

49ers (+10) over SEAHAWKS

Russell Wilson says he’s feeling much better this week. He also said he felt great last week. Letting someone with a stake in a bottled water company that claims to fix concussions diagnose themselves is a bad idea.

Even if Wilson is feeling okay, he still has to contend with Seattle’s junk offensive line.

The Seahawks are scoring an average of 7.5 points per game right now. I know that the 49ers are a bad team, but they’re better than we’ve been giving them credit for. They aren’t going to win, but I just don’t see a 10-point gap on the scoreboard when it’s all said and done.

Chargers (+1.5) over COLTS

I know betting against Andrew Luck against a defense that’s just okay looks like a bad idea. But the Colts are bad. If it wasn’t for Luck, we’d be talking about them in the same category of World League teams as the Bears and Browns.

San Diego folded in Week 1 after they lost Keenan Allen, but they surprised me last week by throttling the Jaguars. That’s what happened last year, but last year Melvin Gordon was lost on the field too. He’s really turned things around this season, topping 100 yards last week. He’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry and already has three touchdowns.

Jets (+3) over CHIEFS

I know the Chiefs are at home, but they’re 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games. They’re just not a very good team this season. Jamaal Charles comes is still out, so is Justin Houston. And it’s on defense where the Chiefs are really hurting.