NFL against-the-spread picks: What can we expect from Tom Brady and Buccaneers?

We’ve been waiting so long to write off Tom Brady that it’s happening prematurely this season.

There have been plenty of things said about Brady just two weeks into the season. Plenty have wondered, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t great on offense the first two weeks, if Brady is feeling his 45 years finally.

Here are the reasons the Buccaneers offense hasn’t been great yet: Chris Godwin, Donovan Smith, Julio Jones, Ryan Jensen. They’ve all missed time this season due to injury. Add on Ali Market and Rob Gronkowski, two very good players who retired this offseason.

And this week, Mike Evans goes on that list with a suspension.

It’s hard to make many judgments on Brady when Breshad Perriman is his top receiver and his offensive line is beat up. There are warning signs that they can’t be fully ignored, but Brady hitting the wall seems to be pretty far down the list of reasons the Buccaneers haven’t put up a ton of points yet. In addition to the lineup shuffle, they’ve also played two really good defenses.

This week is another tough test. The Green Bay Packers are 1-1, but they’re still one of the best teams in the NFC. They have the type of defense that could make life difficult on the Buccaneers’ offense again.

The Packers are 1-point underdogs at BetMGM, and they’ll have issues on offense too. The Buccaneers defense has been overshadowed so far but they’ve been great. They shut down the Dallas Cowboys before Dak Prescott’s injury forced him out of the game, and the New Orleans Saints were stuck on three points until garbage time in Week 2.

I’ll trust the Packers and take the underdog. They seemed to be finding their groove a bit last week against the Chicago Bears. Last season they started poorly in Week 1 and ended up just fine. And if the Packers win on Sunday, it will likely be for reasons that have little to do with Brady’s decline. We have to wait to see the Buccaneers at full strength before we know what to make of Brady at age 45.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) will face the Packers on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) will face the Packers on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Here are the against-the-spread picks for Week 3, with lines from BetMGM:

Steelers (+4.5) over Browns

This will be an ugly game, as I said in The Daily Sweat on Thursday, and in a low-scoring game I’ll take the underdog getting more than 4 points.

Ravens (-3) over Patriots

Yes, the Ravens are coming off a bad loss and have some injuries. But before a fourth-quarter collapse they were up 35-14 on a Dolphins team everyone is excited about. And the Patriots still have an offense that isn’t very good.

Dolphins (+6) over Bills

It’s scary to go against the Bills. They are the best team in football right now. But oddsmakers are going to inflate every spread on Buffalo’s games until they have a reason not to. The Dolphins have shown enough that they shouldn’t be a 6-point home underdog.

Bengals (-5) over Jets

The Jets got blown out in Week 1 and were down 13 points with two minutes left in Week 2. They had a remarkable comeback win against the Browns but most of their season hasn’t been good. The Bengals are a talented team that has a lot of urgency this week. Lose this one and they’ll be in a huge hole. Cincinnati understands that.

Saints (-3) over Panthers

The Panthers might be a lot worse than we thought. New Orleans’ offense hasn’t been great and I doubt the Saints break through this week, but the defense is good. There’s no reason to believe the Panthers can move the ball consistently on a good defense.

Lions (+6) over Vikings

The Lions are scoring 35.5 points per game. They’re not that good on offense, but they will score some points this season. Minnesota looked great in Week 1 and bad in Week 2, so it’s hard to know what comes next. But the Lions are good enough on offense that even if they don’t stay in the game the whole time, the backdoor cover will be open at the end.

Colts (+5.5) over Chiefs

It’s hard to give up on a team after two weeks. I liked the Colts coming into the season. Then they had two alarming performances including a horrific 24-0 loss at Jacksonville. Maybe they’re not good. But I’m giving them one more week.

Raiders (-2.5) over Titans

One of these teams will be 0-3 and have one foot in the grave in a tough AFC. The Raiders blew last week’s game to Arizona but I think there’s a good team lingering in there somewhere. I don’t have that same hope for the Titans this season.

Commanders (+6.5) over Eagles

You’d think this would be an easy Eagles pick. They looked great on Monday night. They could be the best team in the NFC or close to it. But it was a pretty easy Commanders pick. Overreaction is the way of the NFL world, and this line is an overreaction. The Commanders have their issues but they do have playmakers on offense, and they’re at home with the Eagles coming off a Monday night game. The spread is too high.

Texans (+2.5) over Bears

The Bears have completed 15 passes in two games. They don’t trust Justin Fields. That dates back to the offseason, when a new regime did nothing to help him. The Texans aren’t very good either but they have battled hard this season and will continue to. I just don’t think the Bears are very good.

Chargers (-7) over Jaguars

This is the hardest game on the board. The line seems too high, but are we ready to trust the Jaguars on the road. I did that in Week 1 and it didn’t turn out well. The Chargers have a few extra days of rest. It’s a long trip for the Jags. I’ll go with the Chargers but not with much conviction.

Seahawks (-1.5) over Falcons

NFL Red Zone channel won’t be switching to this game very often. Yikes. It’s another game I don’t have a lot of conviction on, because both teams are bad. The Seahawks have a little bit of a talent edge. Maybe.

Rams (-3.5) over Cardinals

Are the Cardinals the team we saw make a fourth-quarter comeback to win in overtime last week, or the one that looked awful over the first seven quarters of this season? I know the Rams haven’t been great but I’m not sure the Cardinals have fixed all their issues.

Broncos (+1.5) over 49ers

The overreaction stuff from before? It applies here too. Everyone seems to believe Nathaniel Hackett should be fired after two games, which is way too far over the top. He has been bad but even SEC fans have more patience with coaches. The Broncos aren’t a bad team just because they haven’t looked great for the first two games of a season. Fading overreaction is one of the best approaches you can have betting on the NFL.

Cowboys (+1) over Giants

The line has been moving the Cowboys’ way, and I get it. Of all the units in this game, the Cowboys defense is the one I trust the most. I don’t think the Giants are going to move the ball much.

Last week: 9-7

Season to date: 16-16