Matthews: NFL Week 3 "Best Bets"


The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking like a well-balanced genuine Super Bowl contender.

The Chicago Bears are looking like a team that could get coach John Fox fired soon.

This week’s “Best Bet”: Pittsburgh 28, CHICAGO (+7 1/2) 13.

Sunday’s other games

(home teams in CAPS)

Baltimore 24. JACKSONVILLE (+3 ½) 14 – The Jaguars are accustomed to playing in London but there are many more significant reasons to pick the Ravens.

Denver 20, BUFFALO (+3) 13 – This is one of those “too good to be true” games. I can see the Bills holding the Broncos to around 20 points but Buffalo would need a booster shot on offense to hang tough against one of the NFL’s best defenses.

CAROLINA (-6) 20, New Orleans 17 – The Panthers will miss inured tight end Greg Olsen and the Saints have enough firepower to make this game interesting.

Cleveland 17, INDIANAPOLIS (+1 ½) 13 – For the Brown to be favored on the road, the home team must be really bad. Without injured QB Andrew Luck, the Colts are just that.

Miami 33, NEW YORK JETS (+6 ½) 13 – QB Jay Cutler has looked OK so far for the Dolphins and the Jets don’t have enough playmakers to pull off an upset.

Atlanta 27, DETROIT (+3) 20 – The Lions don’t run the ball well enough to match scores with the multi-dimensional Falcons.

PHILADELPHIA (-6) 20, New York Giants 10 – The Giants can’t run the football and Eli Manning is having trouble throwing it.

Tampa Bay at MINNESOTA (no line) – As of Friday morning, there was no Las Vegas line on this game because of the status of Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (knee). If he were to play, Minnesota would be tough to beat. If Case Keenum has to start, it would be tough for the Vikings to win.

NEW ENGLAND (-13 ½) 30, Houston 14 – This is a generous spot to a decent Houston team, but the Patriots will be ready to make up for their embarrassing season-opening 42-27 home loss to Kansas City. I think Texans rookie Desean Watson has a bright future but going head-to-head in his second career NFL start on the road against Tom Brady is a tough assignment.

Seattle 24, TENNESSEE (-2 ½) 20 – The Seahawks are due to wake up on offense.

GREEN BAY (-9) 28, Cincinnati 14 – The way Andy Dalton is playing, I wouldn’t take the Bengals to beat Ohio State.

Kansas City 24, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (=3) 17 – The Chiefs are 4-0 against the spread in the last four road games against the Chargers and that trend should continue.

Oakland (-3) 27, WASHINGTON 20 – The Raiders think they’re an elite team. A win Sunday night would support their case.

Monday night’s game

Dallas (-3) 28, ARIZONA 20 – The Cowboys, particularly running back Ezekiel Elliott, can’t be as lousy as they looked in last week’s 42-17 loss at Denver.

Last week’s results: 11-5 picking winners straight up (19-12 this season) and 8-8 picking winners against the point spread (13-17-1 this season); the “Best Bet” is 2-0 straight up and 1-1 ATS after 7 ½-point favorite Arizona beat Indianapolis by only 16-13.


The wide receivers branch of the Buffalo Bills 2016 Alumni Association/wide receiver had a productive meeting Thursday night in Santa Clara, Calif., during the Los Angeles Ram’ 41-39 victory over the host San Francisco 49ers:

Sammy Watkins (LA Rams) – 6 catches for 106 yards and 2 TDs

Robert Woods (LA Rams) – 6 catches for 108 yards

Marquise Goodwin (SF 49ers) – 2 catches for 62 yards

Total – 14 catches/276 yards/2 TD.

Buffalo’s five-deep wide receiving corps – through two games – has a total of 11 catches for 149 yards and 1 TD.


In the past 10 NFL seasons, the 83 teams that started 0-2 went on to make the playoffs only 10 times.

The 10 teams that started 2-0 went on to make the playoffs 49 times.

Doesn’t this season’s list of 0-2 teams appear particularly weak?

The Jets, Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York Giants, Chicago, Indianapolis (without QB Andrew Luck) and San Francisco (0-3 after Thursday night’s loss to the LA Rams) look like genuine doormats to me. I put the New Orleans and the Los Angeles Chargers a notch above.

The bottom line: There appears to be an unusually high number of lousy teams this season. The Buffalo Bills probably will have lots of competition for a prime spot to pick a promising young quarterback in the 2018 college draft.


The 2017 American League Most Valuable Player figures to be Houston Astros sparkplug Jose Altuve.

The National League MVP is much tougher to predict. The top contenders:

Charlie Blackmon (Colorado) -- League-best  .329 batting average (201-for-6117); 131 runs; 34 doubles; 14 triples; 35 HRs; 95 RBI; .998 OPS.

Nolan Arenado (Colorado) -- .306 batting average; 93 runs; 42 doubles; 7 triples; 34 HRs; 125 RBI; .949 OPS.

Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona) -- .306 batting average; 110 runs; 33 doubles; 3 triples; 35 HRs; 117 RBI; .986 OPS.

Joey Votto (Cincinnati) -- .316; 100 runs; 30 doubles; 1 triple; 35 HRs; 96 RBI; 127 walks; 77 strikeouts; 1.025 OPS. Votto isn’t likely to win MVP because his Reds won’t make the postseason, but he’ll probably be among the 10 picks on every ballot.


Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was the winning pitcher for Atlanta in a 3-2 home win over Washington Thursday night to boost his record this season to 10-10 (4.32 ERA). He’s 42. He has an $8 million club option for 2018 but is thinking about retiring to spend more time with his family.

Dickey has a 120-118 record and 4.04 ERA in the majors.

Dickey was 2-1 with a 5.13 ERA in five starts for Rochester in 2009. He is one of seven former Red Wings to win the Cy Young Award. Can you name at least six of them (not easy)? The answer is at the end of this column.


The WNBA best-of-five Finals begin Sunday. 3:30 p.m., on NBC:  Los Angeles Sparks (26-8 in the regular season, including 16-1 at home) at Minnesota Lynx (27-7, including 15-2 at home). It is a repeat of the 2016 Finals (Sparks won 3-2).

The National Women’s Soccer League champion North Carolina Courage (formerly the Western New York Flash) are the first team to clinch a spot in the 2017 playoffs. They’ll host a semifinal match Oct. 8 in Cary. N.C. They have a league-best 15-6 record, including 9-2 at home. They have 11 shutouts and seven 1-0 wins. notes that since Tyrod Taylor joined the Buffalo Bills in 2015, no other tarting quarterback in the NFL has had more games with fewer than 200 passing yards than TT (16). It also is fair to note that Taylor is 16-15 as Buffalo’s stating QB.

Syracuse’s football home game against No. 2-ranked Clemson will be Friday, October 13, 7 p.m., on ESPN.

I imagine New York Yankees fans would be very upset – and I wouldn’t blame them – if the Yankees lost the one-game American League playoff showdown to Minnesota. Entering Friday, the Yankees had a +186 run differential and the Twins were -3.


Friday, September 22

Carlos Correa 23...Thiago Silva 33...Chester Taylor 38...Christian Fauria 46...Mike Matheny 27...Mike Richter 51...Vince Coleman 56...Mark Johnson 60...Harold Carmichael 68...David Stern 75...Lute Olson 83...Tommy Lasorda 90.

Saturday, September 23

Trevor May 28..Brandon Jennings 28...Jedd Gyorko 29...Joba Chamberlain 32...Chris Johnson 32...Brian Brohm 32...Kraig Urbik 32...Matt Kemp 33...Bryant McKinnie 38...Matt Hardy 43...Donald Audette 48...Dixon Ward 49....Pete Harnisch 51...Marvin Lewis 59...Marty Schottenheimer 74. Bruce Springsteen (68) is invited to the party and can sing Happy Birthday.

Sunday, September 24

Vontaze Burfict (27)...Hunter Strickland (29)...Paul Hamm (35)...Drew Gooden (36)...Stephanie McMahon (41)...Kyle Turley (42)...Eddie George (44)...Bernard Gilkey (51)...Rafael Palmeiro (53)...Joe Washington (64)...Terry Metcalf (66)...”Mean” Joe Greene (71).

The seven former Red Wings who won Cy Young Awards are Mike McCormick (NL 1967)...Bob Gibson (NL 1968 and 1970)...Jim Palmer (AL 1973, 1975 and 1976)...Mike Flanagan (AL 1979)...Fernando Valenzuela (NL 1981)...Bartolo Colon (AL 2005)...R.A. Dickey (NL 2012). NOTE: Valenzxuela and Colon each pitched in one game for Rochester.

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