We’ve got two weeks in the books and there are only ten undefeated teams left in the league. Week 3 boasts just one matchup of 2-0 teams, so in theory we could still have nine after this weekend. This likely won’t happen, but you never know with today’s NFL. Defense has been the name of the game for the first two stanzas, so will this be the window when the offenses catch up? Here are my game picks for the third week of the season.
Last Week: 10-6
Thursday, September 21st, 8:25 e.t.
Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2)
After demolishing the Colts at home, the Rams got run over by the Redskins last week and that evened their record out. Now they hit the road for the first time this year to take on a 49er team that hung tough with Seattle a week ago. The Niners won two games all of last year and both were against these Rams. I want to pick them to win again here but I can’t pull the trigger given the fact that I think that L.A.’s D-line will dominate this game. Could see this one being close, but ultimately I think the Rams will put it away midway through the third quarter.
Los Angeles 21, San Francisco 12
Sunday, September 24th, 9:30 am e.t.
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) (in London)
We get our first international game of the season, and it pits two good defenses alongside two not so great offenses. I don’t expect to see a ton of points here and this contest will come down to which “D” steps up in the end. I like Baltimore to improve to 3-0 in that situation. The Ravens have had a terrific start to their season on that side of the ball with ten takeaways (five in back-to-back weeks). While I don’t think they will steal the football five times yet again, I can see them making some splash plays and making life tough on Blake Bortles sans Allen Robinson.
Baltimore 17, Jacksonville 10
Sunday, September 24th, 1:00 e.t.
Houston Texans (1-1) @ New England Patriots (1-1)
The Pats showed everybody last week that they are not on the downfall after taking one on the chin opening night. Now they play host to an offense that has looked terrible for the most part this season. Deshaun Watson has a lot to learn in this league, and on the road in New England is not the place to do it. Look for the Pats’ “D” to make a statement win at home against the rook.
New England 31, Houston 14
Cleveland Browns (0-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Last week I said that the Colts wouldn’t win a game without Andrew Luck this year. I was almost wrong a week ago and I’m ready to go back on my word here. I think the Browns have a much improved team over a year ago, but it could take a little bit of time for their offense to gel. The Colts aren’t anything special, but they are playing at home and I think they can squeak out a win playing the Brownies this early in the season.
Indianapolis 20, Cleveland 18
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
As of the writing of this column, we don’t know if Sam Bradford will be good to play in this game. I am operating under the assumption that he will not be which will make things tough on the Vikings. That said, I love the homefield advantage that the Vikes do have and I think that their offense will look much better this time around with that edge. So, regardless of who starts at QB, I like Minnesota to take this one. Jameis Winston makes a couple of mistakes that tilt the game in the home team’s favor. It also seems like a good opportunity for the Vikings to shut down that Tampa run game and make the Bucs one dimensional.
Minnesota 27, Tampa Bay 14
New York Giants (0-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
You won’t see a more desperate team entering Week 3 than the New York Giants and the story of their season has been their poor play up front on the O-line. Things do not get better as they hit the road to take on a stout Eagles’ D-line. The Giants will utilize a lot of quick passes to prevent Philly from getting after Eli Manning, but as long as the Eagles tackle well, they shouldn’t have a problem here. I like what I’ve seen from Carson Wentz so far too as the birds have looked like the best team in the NFC East thus far. I don’t think the Giants season is done with a loss here, but they got a big hole to dig themselves out of.
Philadelphia 26, New York 17
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (0-2)
Okay, which Bears will we see this week? The one that nearly (and probably should have) beat Atlanta Week 1, or the one that got destroyed by the Bucs last week. Methinks they will be a little closer to the former as they draw the Steelers in Chicago. Le’Veon Bell has yet to really get it going on the ground and I look for Pittsburgh to establish the run early. The Bears have been good versus the run thus far, so it will come down to Ben Roethlisberger’s right arm. I think he gets the job done, but not without a fight.
Pittsburgh 24, Chicago 20
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Detroit Lions (2-0)
I’m looking at all sixteen games this week, and I think that this is the best out of all of them. Both teams have looked pretty good to start the year, and one of them is going to 3-0 to start the year. I think that will be Atlanta. They’ll be running on turf this week which gives them a huge advantage. Also, the Falcons’ offensive line is much better than the Giants’ and Cardinals’, so Detroit won’t be able to bully them around quite so much.
Atlanta 37, Detroit 27 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Buffalo Bills (1-1)
The Broncos looked good last week against the Cowboys, proving their defense is still great. The big story has to be Trevor Siemian and his right arm thus far, though, as he has looked like a potential franchise quarterback. Most people will be picking Denver to go to 3-0, but I think that the Bills can steal one here. I look at the Broncos and can see that defense falling off a bit as they fly to the east coast and fall into a classic trap game. If Buffalo can get some rhythm going on offense, I like their chances at an upset at home.
Buffalo 23, Denver 21 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***
New Orleans Saints (0-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The NFC’s answer to Baltimore’s defense has to be the Carolina Panthers. They have allowed just six points through two weeks and are getting after the passer much better than they did a year ago. The Saints, meanwhile, have had some issues on offense to this point in the year with only three touchdowns, two of them coming in garbage time. Last year the NFC South matchups produced a lot of points, but I don’t think this one will. I was going to take the Saints to win their first game of the season, but they’re going to have to get the ground game going. Drew Brees can’t do it all and unfortunately I think he will have to on the road in Charlotte. Give me Carolina.
Carolina 19, New Orleans 16
Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ New York Jets (0-2)
The Dolphins eeked a win out on the road in Los Angeles a week ago and now they fly back across the country to take on an underwhelming Jet team. Josh McCown actually looked decent on the road in Oakland but he has no other help on offense at the moment. The Dolphins did a great job against the run versus the Chargers and they shouldn’t have any trouble shutting that facet of the game down here either.
Miami 30, New York 14
Sunday, September 24th, 4:05 e.t.
Seattle Seahawks (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Each of these teams picked up their first win of the year last week, but the Titans have looked like a much better team this season. All I’ve got to say is luckily for Tennessee, they draw this game early in the year because if this was November or later, I’d probably pick Seattle. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they are still trying to put the pieces together on offense and their rush defense has not been great to this point. The Titans get the job done at home here with some power football and play action passing.
Tennessee 24, Seattle 18
Sunday, September 24th, 4:25 e.t.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1)
The Bengals have been a major disappointment this season so far. Their offense has been atrocious and they have yet to score a touchdown on the season. The Packers got torched by Atlanta on the road last week, but a lot of teams will probably meet that same fate this season. Returning home, Green Bay gets back on the ball with a win. However, I think the Bengals will shock everybody by playing them tough. Their defense has not been the problem this year, so if the “O” gets it going a little bit, this could be a better game than most would expect.
Green Bay 29, Cincinnati 23
Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)
The Chargers need a win, and badly. Unfortunately for them they are playing the hottest team in football this week. The Bolts could be 2-0, but continue to find ways to lose games. I think they can keep this game very close until then end, but I can see Alex Smith driving his team down the field for a go-ahead score late to down L.A. for a third straight heartbreaking defeat. That offense is looking good and they continue to roll to their third win.
Kansas City 32, San Diego 28
Sunday, September 24th, 8:30 e.t.
Oakland Raiders (2-0) @ Washington Redskins (1-1)
The Redskins picked up a huge road win last week late versus the LA Rams and it’s a good thing they did because I do not see them winning this game here against the Raiders. Derek Carr and the Oakland offense has looked good this season and the Washington defense has not been that fantastic so far. The Raiders will travel well this year and I think their passing attack can shred the Redskin defense in Landover.
Oakland 38, Washington 20
Monday, September 25th, 8:30 e.t.
Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
I wanted to pick Dallas to win here since the Cardinals have not been that good this season and barely beat the Colts last week. However, this is their home opener, and I think that will really help them out. Their defense should be swarming and Denver really put the blueprint down on how to defeat the Cowboys: make Dak Prescott beat you. He was unable to do so last week and won’t be able to again this week as the Cards will work to shut Ezekiel Elliot down for the second straight week.
Arizona 21, Dallas 19