NFL Game Picks: Week 3
Once again, the NFL proved to be wild and unpredictable in week two, as numerous underdogs came out on top. How much more madness will we see in week three? Let’s take a look ahead.
New York Jets (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)
Just a week after completely dismantling the Lions’ defense, Sam Darnold and the Jets’ offense came up flat at home against Miami. Cleveland, meanwhile, had numerous opportunities to inch closer to a road victory in New Orleans, but kicking troubles created a Browns loss instead. It won’t get any easier for either squad, as they’ll both have to deal with a short week. It’s put up or shut up time on Thursday night.
The pick: NY Jets 23, Cleveland 17.
New Orleans Saints (1-1) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
The Saints have looked a bit worrisome thus far, especially for a team that was predicted in the offseason to make a deep title run in 2018. They’ll get another chance to alleviate some worries in week three, but it won’t be easy against Atlanta. The Falcons’ primary concern is working around injuries, but they did a fine job of that against Carolina last Sunday. Games between these two teams are usually close and exciting, so there’s a good chance we’ll see that again here.
The pick: New Orleans 27, Atlanta 22.
Buffalo Bills (0-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1)
Poor, poor Buffalo. The Bills have shown that they’re wildly unprepared for the 2018 season, and it doesn’t get any easier in week three as they travel to Minnesota. The Vikings missed on numerous opportunities to escape Green Bay with a victory, instead having to settle for a tie, but Buffalo seems like a much more manageable opponent than the Packers. Expect Minnesota to win big in front of a home crowd.
The pick: Minnesota 33, Buffalo 13.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-1)
The Bengals have been one of 2018’s most pleasant surprises, though they’ve still shown signs of struggle as they almost let the Ravens come back from 21 down. We may finally get to see if the Bengals are for real in week three, as they head to Carolina to face a bruised Panthers team. Capitalizing on this would be a major step in the right direction for Cincinnati, but the Panthers won’t go without a fight. This could be one of week three's best matches.
The pick: Cincinnati 34, Carolina 23.
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
As perhaps the least impressive-looking 2-0 team, Denver has narrowly escaped defeat twice despite less than stellar play from the offense. It won’t get any easier though, as the Broncos travel to Baltimore this week to take an angry Ravens team. Unless Case Keenum can suddenly return to his 2017 form, it looks like this could be a relatively painless victory for the home team.
The pick: Baltimore 31, Denver 14.
Green Bay Packer (1-0-1) @ Washington Redskins (1-1)
After dominating the Cardinals for the entirety of their Week one game, the Redskins took a big step back against Indianapolis last Sunday, as the offense produced a mere nine points. They’ll have to be better in Week three, as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come to town. Green Bay may need to turn it up too, though; they can’t rely on kicker Mason Crosby to score 17 points again. But as long as Aaron Rodgers is in prime form, the Packers have the edge.
The pick: Green Bay 28, Washington 17.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0)
The Titans may very well be the NFL’s greatest enigma. A week after seeing offensive stars like Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker and Taylor Lewan go down with injury, the Titans put on a solid performance to defeat Houston. Tennessee is wrapped in mystery, Jacksonville isn’t though; it’s clear that the Jaguars are one of the best teams in the NFL. This one’s unlikely to have a surprising result.
The pick: Jacksonville 41, Tennessee 19.
Indianapolis Colts (1-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
There are plenty of storylines here. Perhaps the most prominent is the fact that Carson Wentz has been medically cleared and will have get his first NFL start since Week 14 of last season. But another thing to keep an eye on is Colts head coach Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator for last year’s Super Bowl winning Eagles squad. This one may be worth watching just to see if Reich has any tricks to play on his old team.
The pick: Philadelphia 20, Indianapolis 12.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Patrick Mahomes is looking like the real deal. In his first season as the Chiefs’ starting QB, Mahomes has already thrown for an unprecedented 10 touchdowns. It helps that he has the likes of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill as his weapons, but it certainly seems like a lot of that success relies on Mahomes too. The 49ers, meanwhile, narrowly avoided the dreaded 0-2 start, but it’s hard to imagine the No. 26 ranked passing defense cooling down Mahomes and company.
The pick: Kansas City 37, San Francisco 23.
Oakland Raiders (0-2) @ Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Despite the 0-2 record, the Raiders have been playing better than once imagined, especially on the offensive side of the ball. After all, Derek Carr was 29 of 32 with 288 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday’s loss to Denver. Ryan Tannehill has been surprisingly solid as well, considering his struggles in the past. This one may not grab any headlines, but it could very well be one of the better games in week three.
The pick: Oakland 27, Miami 23.
New York Giants (0-2) @ Houston Texans (0-2)
As bad as 0-2 is, 0-3 would be a near death sentence, especially for the Texans who will have to try to catch up and keep pace with the Jaguars in the AFC South. New York’s season hasn’t started like expected either, as gaps on the offensive line and pass rush have proven to be Big Blue’s downfall thus far. Neither team wants to start 2018 with three straight losses, but someone will have to bite the bullet.
The pick: Houston 17, NY Giants 10.
Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
The battle for LA should be one of the most highlighted games of the week, as both teams had lofty expectations going into 2018. The Chargers have been slightly disappointing, thanks to injuries marring the play of the likes of Joey Bosa (out for Sunday’s game), while the Rams have been absolutely dominant. The Chargers will give them a run for their money, but the Rams should be favored.
The pick: LA Rams 39, LA Chargers 29.
Chicago Bears (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-2)
It’s easy to name the Bills as the team that has struggled the most this year, but the real answer might be Arizona. In two weeks, the Cardinals have scored a total of six points; the Chicago defense alone has doubled that. Arizona couldn’t even cross midfield until the final 30 seconds of last Sunday’s game in Los Angeles. This is a clear mismatch on paper, and it very well could turn out that way in reality.
The pick: Chicago 27, Arizona 10.
Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
It’s crazy to think that both of these teams were 12-4 just four seasons ago, but a lot can change in that span of time. Both teams are a shell of their former selves, and it’s shown so far in 2018. The main difference maker here is the presence of Russell Wilson, who has the potential to change the outcome of a game himself. Add in the fact that it’s a home game for Seattle and it’s the Seahawks who have the advantage.
The pick: Seattle 26, Dallas 14.
New England Patriots (1-1) @ Detroit Lions (0-2)
Detroit is in hot water. With Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota all looking like viable contenders for the NFC North crown this year, the Lions find themselves playing catch-up after a rocky start. But it’s not getting any easier, as Detroit hosts Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday night. We’ve seen crazier things happen before, but the outlook is bleak for the Lions.
The pick: New England 34, Detroit 20.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Mere weeks ago, this looked like a joke. But, boy, have the tides changed. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers have been on fire, torching both the Saints and Eagles defenses in back-to-back weeks. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has looked solid on offense without Le’Veon Bell, but the defense has regressed massively with the loss of Ryan Shazier. It’s only week three, but it may be do-or-die time for Pittsburgh.
The pick: Pittsburgh 24, Tampa Bay 17.
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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