Week 3 NFL Picks

Week 3 is here. Is Kenny Pickett running out of time? Is 0-3 really a death sentence? Can Dallas survive the Diggs injury?

Last Week:   8 – 6 – 2
Season:       15 – 15 – 2

Thursday (8:20PM ET)

Giants 12 at 49ers 30
The Giants don’t look good… at all. For starters, the defense can’t get off the field, allowing a 48.7% conversion rate on 3rd down. Second, the offense is a mess. The Giants are in the bottom five in yards per game, 1st downs, points scored and yards per play. The offense displayed some flashes in the 2nd half against Arizona, but those flashes did not travel north to the bay area. Obviously, Saquon Barkley’s injury didn’t help. I assumed it was getting late early for the Giants in terms of a playoff berth because there’s a real chance New York is 2-5 a month from now. The schedule may save them, though. After Week 6 the Giants have the Commanders (twice), Jets, Raiders, Patriots, Packers, Saints and Rams ahead of them. I can’t guarantee any of those are wins, but they’re winnable. The Giants just need to find some footing on offense and the Wildcard should be within reach.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Titans at Browns
Deshaun Watson is bad. I’m likely the last person to reach concerned status but I’m about to board that train. There were plays to be made Monday night in Pittsburgh and he simply missed them. His game sense is near zero and his inability to hit receivers in stride and throw with accuracy is alarming. The Nick Chubb loss will prove devastating if the Cleveland run game falls off just a little because Watson is not capable of carrying an offense in his current state. The Titans may be the obvious pick here but don’t underestimate Ryan Tannehill’s ability to win this one for Cleveland. Yes, that sentence is correctly stated. TITANS +3.5

Falcons at Lions
Bijan Robinson is a joy to watch. I understand not paying running backs and not using top picks to draft one. However, there are few players in the league more exciting than Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Robinson. If the Eagles aren’t in the mix come Super Bowl time, I will root for whichever team has a big name back just so we can return some much-needed value to the position. LIONS -3

Saints at Packers
I have no idea what the Packers were doing in the 4th quarter last week in Atlanta but it was not pretty. The wheels just completely fell off the Packer offense on their final three drives after taking a 24-12 lead with a quarter to go: 3 plays, 2 yards / 3 plays, 5 yards / 4 plays, 0 yards. The defense, meanwhile, was equally awful, surrendering; 8 plays, 75 yards, TD / 8 plays, 44 yards, FG / 12 plays, 66 yards, FG. If you sign up for 60, make sure you play all 60. PACKERS -1

Broncos at Dolphins
The Eagles were thisclose to trading for Russell Wilson and giving up on Jalen Hurts. Admittedly, I probably would’ve been all for it. Thank you, Denver, for saving me from your unenviable state. DOLPHINS -6.5

Chargers at Minnesota
Starting the season 0-3 is likely a death sentence. According to ESPN, only a handful of teams in the Super Bowl era rallied to make the playoffs after such a start. With that said, I still think both these teams end up in the postseason. (Only dumb people ignore statistics. I’m dumb.) Why? First, the Chargers are too talented and the AFC has proven itself to be overrated through the first few weeks. The Chiefs will be there in the end, but who else are we sure is awesome? Miami is certainly looking the part. Baltimore isn’t far behind but I need to see more. The Steelers and Bengals look rough. The Browns just lost their best player, and their quarterback is trending toward washed up. The Jets are toast, the Jaguars offense has some kinks, and the Titans are a quarterback away for the 2nd decade in a row. I do think the Patriots look better than their record but they have a tough schedule. All that is to say, I think the Chargers stay in it and ultimately reach the playoffs regardless of Sunday’s outcome. Firing Staley now wouldn’t make much sense unless they kept the offense the same and tinkered with the defense, so maybe that is an option. Minnesota, meanwhile, is in a similar position but would be more likely to unload their quarterback if they don’t string together some wins. But outside of Dallas, San Francisco and I’ll give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt, there’s no reason to believe the Wildcard or even the NFC North will be running away from the Vikings. I won’t be selling either team come Monday. Not yet at least. VIKINGS -1

Patriots at Jets
I just said this week wasn’t a must-win for two 0-2 teams. This, however, is a must win for the 0-2 Patriots. A win here likely puts them at 1-3 next Monday instead of 0-4 (they go to Dallas next week). The schedule softens a bit after that so piling up wins is certainly doable but they have to beat the Jets first. I’ll be shocked if a Zach Wilson led offense gets the better of a Patriots defense that performed really well against the Dolphins a week ago. If New England could eliminate the backbreaking turnovers they’ll be fine. I will say, I thought the interception that everyone is roasting Mac Jones for this week wasn’t his fault. DeVante Parker let Xavien Howard run him out of bounds. The wide receiver HAS to stay strong on his route and defend that line so the outside shoulder is available. Jones put the ball on the outside shoulder but Parker was already on the boundary. Should he have not thrown the ball? Maybe, but in the NFL, single coverage with the boundary is open. PATRIOTS -2.5

Bills at Commanders
I still don’t love Washington’s offense. My expectations were probably too high but I expected a more downfield attack to what I thought was a dynamic receiving duo. Through two games, Jahan Dotson has 8 receptions for 62 yards and Terry McLaurin has 7 for 85. Gross. COMMANDERS +6

Texans at Jaguars
Speaking of disappointing… Jacksonville’s offense was pitiful last week and there was no greater offender than quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars had open receivers in the red zone multiple times and Lawrence simply missed them with poor throws. I know Doug Pederson loves to throw the ball, but he has to get Travis Etienne Jr. going if he wants his offense at its peak. It’s only two games, so take this with that in mind, but Etienne’s yards per rush is a full 1.2 yards lower than a year ago. Side note: CJ Stroud is the most impressive passer of the younger quarterbacks thus far, and I’m including the 2nd year guys in that group. TEXANS +8

Colts at Ravens
It would’ve been fun to see Anthony Richardson and Lamar Jackson on the same field but it appears Richardson will be sitting this one out due to a concussion. Jackson was awesome last week in Cincinnati and I like what I’ve seen out of Baltimore’s revamped offense. One minor question I have is where is Isaiah Likely? I’m not in Baltimore’s building or at practice, so maybe he stinks now, but I thought we’d see him and Mark Andrews together more. RAVENS -7.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Panthers at Seahawks
Two games is no time to panic about a rookie quarterback. I’m trying real hard to remember that because Bryce Young does not look like the most NFL ready prospect he was supposed to be at draft time. I think a Carolina win Sunday would put the Panthers in a position that could benefit Young. Let him take a step back and see if Andy Dalton can’t get some wins on the board before inserting the green horn back into the fire. SEAHAWKS -5.5

Bears at Chiefs
I am a broken record on this, but Kansas City needs Isiah Pacheco more involved in the offense. He sparked their only 2nd half touchdown drive with a big run and was a key cog in sealing the game on Kansas City’s final two drives as well. Call me, Andy Reid. I got ideas. CHIEFS -12.5

Cowboys at Cardinals
Trevon Diggs is a great player but I don’t think his injury is a crippling loss for Dallas. I don’t say that because Diggs isn’t great, but the Cowboys pass rush is good and their secondary depth is such that they shouldn’t miss a beat moving on without him. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the Cowboys will be just fine. On the other side of the ball, I’m still skeptical about Dak Prescott. The Jets were never going to win in Dallas, but I would have loved to see how that game progressed if Sauce Gardner didn’t drop that pick six. Those crippling mistakes are still very much a part of Prescott’s arsenal. COWBOYS -13

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Steelers at Raiders
A stellar defensive performance and one big play by George Pickens masked another dreadful Kenny Pickett outing. I’m not sure how long the leash is, but the Steelers need offensive production and they need it now. Pittsburgh’s time of possession is 31st in the league. Injuries to the defense have already started to mount and needing your defense to outscore your offense is a losing strategy. My guess is if Pickett can’t get the offense moving this week, Mitch Trubisky may see an NFL field yet again. Why? Trubisky gives Pittsburgh a better option to move the pocket and create with his feet. It’s not a good solution, but it may be the only one Pittsburgh has if Pickett continues to struggle. RAIDERS -2.5

Monday Night (7:15 and 8:15PM ET)

Eagles at Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is 2-0 but they don’t belong on the same field as a loaded Eagles roster. If the Eagles don’t run away with this one expect an even louder groan out of Philadelphia. Fans are already restless with the sluggish play of Jalen Hurts and the lack of big plays from the passing game. The Eagles have a +4 turnover differential. San Francisco is +4 as well and Dallas is +7. Scoring differential tells the story of the Eagles slow start; San Francisco +48 / Dallas +60 / Eagles +11. EAGLES -4.5

Rams at Bengals
I’m an elite couch quarterback. I thought Joe Burrow’s brutal 3rd quarter red zone interception snapped him out of his preseason rust funk. After that pick, Burrow was 14/23 for 125 and 2 touchdowns. It’s still not at the level we’re accustomed to for Burrow, but it was significantly better than any stretch of the season before it. The deep ball is still missing, though, and I think that’s crippling the offense right now. The Bengals yards per completion is over 3 yards lower than a year ago. BENGALS -2.5

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