The 0-3 Steelers head across the pond this week to meet the 0-3 Vikings in a thrilling matchup of top teams the NFL is surely happy to be showcasing at Wembley Stadium.
You cannot underrate how poor each team has played so far. The Steelers are tied with the Giants for the worst turnover margin in the NFL (minus-9) and the Vikings lost at home last week to a winless Browns team that had just traded away its best player and started its backup quarterback.
The Steelers offense had least found some rhythm last week in a 40-23 home loss to the Bears, so I’ll take them to outlast the Vikings.
The Bills has played well at home this year but after E.J. Manuel’s iffy performance last week against Geno Smith, I didn’t feel comfortable taking them at only +3.5 against Baltimore.
Week 4 picks, based on lines printed in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Steelers -1.5 vs. Minnesota (London) – Pittsburgh
Baltimore -3.5 at Buffalo – Baltimore
Coming off an emotional, last-second victory, I’m taking E.J. Manuel and the Bills +2 over Geno Smith and the surprisingly not-awful New York Jets in a matchup of rookie quarterbacks.
I’ll be reporting from Heinz Field again Sunday, where I expect the Bears -2.5 to cover against a Steelers team that hasn’t been able to do anything so far on offense. Consider this: Last Nov. 12, Jonathan Dwyer ran 19 times for 56 yards … and no Steeler has topped that performance since. Yuck.
Week 3 picks, made against lines in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Buffalo +2 at NY Jets — Buffalo
Chicago -2.5 at Pittsburgh — Chicago
Final Bills thoughts: The only QB I’d take at No. 8 is Ryan Nassib, and only because Doug Marrone knows better than anybody what he can do.
This is a very poor QB class; Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, etc. will be picked way above their true rate because they are the only options. Using a top 10 pick on second-round talent is not good return on investment and can set the franchise back farther if they take a QB just to have one instead of waiting on a true franchise guy.
The Bills could play Kevin Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson this year, take a top 10 talent-level player who can help next year’s quarterback (WR, maybe) and fill other holes on the team this year (the Bills are not contenders this year anyway).
As always, I remain a fan of trading down if the opportunity presents itself because the top picks have such inflated value.
Dream scenario: Marrone is in love with Nassib, is able to trade down into the 20s and take him while stocking a few picks as well. It’s Marrone’s first year! Get set up for a serious run three, four years down the road and don’t do anything stupid trying to win right now when you don’t have the team for it.