NFL Gridiron Guide Week 3: Sanchez, Jets should deliver in big game

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez walks off the field Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez walks off the field after losing 19-17 to the Miami Dolphins. (Jan. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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John Boell Newsday sports writer John Boell

Boell has worked in the Newsday sports department in various capacities since 1999. In 2010, he became Newsday's ...

1 P.M. GAMES

JETS (1-1) at DOLPHINS (1-1)

Jets by 3; O/U: 40

TV: Ch. 2. Radio: ESPN (98.7).

We all knew it was coming, right? We all knew the anti-Mark Sanchez, pro-Tim Tebow talk would get loud at some point this season. I just didn't expect it to be this soon. (My guess was following Week 5 vs. Houston.) Now the Jets travel to Miami, the site of last season's Week 17 collapse. If Sanchez wants the "Tebow Talk" to quiet down, he has to play well here. I believe this is the biggest regular-season game of his career. The Jets are 11-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 14 games in Miami, and 19-7-2 ATS in the past 28 meetings with the 'Fins. Jets assistant Tony Sparano should enjoy this first shot at his old team.

The pick: Jets

RAMS (1-1) at BEARS (1-1)

Bears by 7 1/2; O/U: 44 1/2

Bears QB Jay Cutler reminds me of the little kid at the birthday party who whines that his piece of birthday cake was too small. He even cries after you give him a better piece. It's understandable that Cutler was miffed after last Thursday's beating courtesy of the Packers. But the 6-3, 220-pound Cutler crossed a line when he bumped 6-6, 333-pound LT J'Marcus Webb. (It was some of Webb's best contact in that game.)Cutler later said he "probably" shouldn't have done it. Try definitely, pal! I think the Rams'D will bump Cutler some more, and keep this one close.

The pick: Rams

BUCS (1-1) at COWBOYS (1-1)

Cowboys by 7; O/U: 46 1/2

What happens if this one comes down to a Cowboys' kneel-down? Would Dallas owner Jerry Jones give Bucs coach Greg Schiano a stern tongue-lashing? "You're not at Rutgers anymore, Greg." A quick warning to the Bucs'offense: Be ready when you're kneeling down!

The pick: Bucs

BEST BET

LIONS (1-1) at TITANS (0-2)

Lions by 3 1/2; O/U: 47

Hard to believe the Titans have rushed for an NFL-worst 58 yards so far. Fifty-eight! This has to be killing Titans coach and Hall of Fame guard Mike Munchak. Wonder if he could un-retire and give RB Chris Johnson some help? Probably not.

The pick: Lions

JAGUARS (0-2) at COLTS (1-1)

Colts by 3; O/U: 42

Jacksonville has won threeof the last fouroverall vs. Indy, and is 4-1 ATS in last five meetings. But I think the tide has turned against the Jags, who have the worst offense in the NFL (236 ypg). The Colts' Reggie Wayne (206 yards) and Donnie Avery (148) are first and seventh, respectively, in AFC receiving yards.

The pick: Colts

CHIEFS (0-2) at SAINTS (0-2)

Saints by 9; O/U: 53

Only three teams have started 0-3 and still made the playoffs since 1990: the 1992 Chargers, '95 Lionsand '98 Bills. KC and the Saints not only share 0-2 records, they're also tied for most points allowed (75) after two weeks. If I could choose a "push" here, I would.

The pick: Chiefs

49ERS (2-0) at VIKINGS (1-1)

49ers by 7; O/U: 43 1/2

This could be a trap game for San Fran after a big Week 2 win. The 49ers are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games as a favorite between 31/2 and 10 points. Plus, the Vikes are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games.

The pick: 49ers

BENGALS (1-1) at REDSKINS (1-1)

Redskins by 3 1/2; O/U: 49

Robert Griffin III is fourth in the NFC in QB rating (111.6) and ninth in rushing yards (124 yards). He is the only player in either conference in the top 10 in both departments. Cincy is 0-3-2 ATS in their last five roadies, and 1-7-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.

The pick: Redskins

BILLS (1-1) at BROWNS (0-2)

Bills by 3; O/U: 43 1/2

This is a matchup featuring two good, young running backs. The Brownshave Trent Richardson (148 rushing yards, eighth best in AFC), while the Bills' C.J. Spiller, surprisingly, has an NFL-best 292 yards rushing. Quick trend: Home underdogs are 8-3 ATS this season.

The pick: Browns

4:05 P.M. GAMES

FALCONS (2-0) at CHARGERS (2-0)

Chargers by 3; O/U: 47 1/2

Falcons D-coordinator Mike Nolan's "amoeba defense" confused Peyton Manning into a trifecta of first-quarter INTs Monday night. Chargers QB Phillip Rivers will be the Atlanta Amoeba's next victim.

The pick: Falcons

EAGLES (2-0) at CARDINALS (2-0)

Eagles by 4; O/U: 43 1/2

TV: Ch. 5.

Could there be two more unlikely 2-0 teams? The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to win their first two games of the season by a single point. Arizona QB Kevin Kolb leads the Cardinals against his former team a week after they pulled the biggest upset of Week 2 vs. the Pats. The Cards probably knocked out half the participants of survivor pools around the U.S. (including me). They could knock off Philly in the desert, or at least, keep it close.

The pick: Cardinals

4:15 p.m.

TEXANS (2-0) at BRONCOS (1-1)

Texans by 2; O/U: 46

TV: Ch. 2.

Peyton Manning earned a degree in speech communication from Tennessee. I would have bet he was a philosophy guy. I'm not talking about dudes like Socrates or Sartre. How about good, old Popeye the Sailor Man! When Manning's arm strength was questioned this week, he responded: "I am what I am. It is what is. Whatever expression you want to use." Here's my expression, Peyton: You'll lose again, and the Texans will cover a third straight week.

The pick: Texans

STEELERS (1-1) at RAIDERS (0-2)

Steelers by 4; O/U: 44 1/2

Much of the focus this week has been on the replacement referees. Think they're influenced by NFL crowds? Check this out: home teams are 23-9 overall, and 19-12-1 ATS this season. The last three seasons, home teams on average went 19-13 overall and 16-15-1 ATS. Fade the trend.

The pick: Steelers

PATRIOTS (1-1) at RAVENS (1-1), 8:20 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4.

Ravens by 3; O/U: 49

I just watched NFL Films' A Football Life on Ray Lewis (which was excellent). It made me think about the passing this week of Steve Sabol, a true pioneer in sports TV history. Sabol would have loved to film this rematch of last season's AFC title game won by New England, which is 34-16-1 ATS in its last 51 games coming off a loss. A FG either way. Take the 'dogs.

The pick: Patriots

MONDAY

PACKERS (1-1) at SEAHAWKS (1-1), 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Packers by 3 1/2; O/U: 47

Nugget of the week: Seattle has been one of the most inconsistent teams with a record of 9-21-1 ATS in its last 31 games following a win. Clay "Sackman" Matthews (NFL-best sixsacks) is an absolute beast for the Pack.

The pick: Packers

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