NFL Week 3 Picks: Which Early Standout Teams are Legit?

Last week was a much easier week to predict than Week 1. I went 14-2 in pick’em, bringing my overall record to 20-12 (21-12 including TNF). This was partially due to more imbalanced match-ups, and partially due to things we noticed in Week 1. This week will probably be somewhere in between the first two, as some early trends will be broken, and others will continue. This week will have some more competitive games than last week as well. We’ve seen some of the usual teams start off strong, and some surprise teams as well. A lot of them face off this week. Keep reading to find out which strong starts I have continuing, which teams I have winning, and for an additional surprise at the end of the post.

Lock of the Week

I think we’re all praying for QB Tyrod Taylor to recover from his punctured lung. While Taylor is recovering, I expect QB Justin Herbert to continue to succeed considering his good surroundings. Meanwhile, the Panthers offense will struggle mightily against a strong Chargers D. They’ll really be missing RB Christian McCaffrey by the end of this one.

Upset of the Week

I think Eagles TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will have a big game here. But QB Carson Wentz is missing multiple WRs, and his TE duo won’t produce enough for Philly’s first win of the season. Maybe 24 points would be enough if the Eagles were playing better defense. However, I expect the Eagles to struggle in stopping young QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, and Cincy’s improving group of receivers. CB Darius Slay should shut down WR A.J. Green, but it’ll take more than that to stop Burrow and his offense.

The Other Games

TNF (on Social Media)
I’m expecting some Fitzmagic against this depleted Jaguars D in an offensive shootout. QB Gardner Minshew and the Jags will make it close, but it will be tough without WR D.J. Chark. Miami’s secondary should succeed at slowing down Minshew’s other receivers.
Vegas did a surprisingly good job on defense against the Saints Monday Night. QB Cam Newton has more left in the tank than Drew Brees though. I think he’ll lead the Pats to victory as the Raiders offense struggles with WR Henry Ruggs III out and offensive standouts Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller below 100%.
The Bills are missing a couple offensive pieces in RB Zack Moss and TE Dawson Knox. I still think they pick up the victory in a close one. Expect QB Josh Allen to post another strong game against a top heavy Rams defense. Sure, DT Aaron Donald can apply pressure at the line of scrimmage. Sure, CB Jalen Ramsey can lock down WR Stefon Diggs. That won’t be enough to stop Allen’s Bills.
I think Washington’s offense will put up more than they did in Arizona. The defense will limit the Browns backfield duo and QB Baker Mayfield. However, I think the Browns will come out on top despite a fight from Washington. RB Nick Chubb will be too much for even this improving front seven to stop, and WR Odell Beckham Jr. will make the most of the targets he gets.
No team has figured out this Steelers defense yet, and I don’t expect Houston to be the team that does. Maybe they would’ve been able to win with WR DeAndre Hopkins, but instead they have RB David Johnson who should easily be shut down by Pittsburgh’s relentless front seven. Meanwhile, the trio of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster will thrive against a flawed Texans defense.
The Vikings may have started 0-2. But I think they’ll stop QB Ryan Tannehill and the Titans without WR A.J. Brown playing. Meanwhile, I have QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers bouncing back against an injury-riddled Tennessee secondary.
This Niners offense is not the same without TE George Kittle. They may have been able to beat the Jets, but I think the Giants provide a little bit more of a challenge. QB Daniel Jones and his receivers will be able to put up more points than the Jets did due to the absence of DE Nick Bosa among other Niners defensive players.
This Falcons offense has been a dominant force the first two weeks. But it seems the Bears D is closer to 2018 form than 2019 form. With WR Julio Jones once again banged up, I think the Bears will slow down Atlanta enough to allow for a QB Mitch Trubisky victory. Chicago’s star WR,Allen Robinson and Trubisky’s backfield should succeed against a flawed Falcons D that let up 40 points to Dallas in a choke last week.
The Niners beat the Jets without TE George Kittle and after losing many other players mid-game. I’d be shocked if the Jets beat Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium with fans in attendance. The Jets are missing all 3 starting WRs, so QB Sam Darnold will probably have a rough game and the Jets D won’t do much better.
This Buccaneers team hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. However, for the first time this year, WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both 100%. That should allow QB Tom Brady to lead Tampa to victory, especially since the Broncos are now missing QB Drew Lock and WR Courtland Sutton among others.
Yeah, we might have Brees vs. Rodgers and Mahomes vs. Jackson in the prime time slots. But I think this will be the week’s most exciting game. The Seahawks are letting QB Russell Wilson cook, and Wilson and his receivers should thrive here. However, Dallas will make it close as the Seattle secondary will struggle against a their WR trio. This will be a pass heavy offensive shootout that all NFL fans can enjoy.
I’m expecting a huge game from QB Kyler Murray against one of the weaker defenses in the league. I think Murray will toss 2 TDs and run one in himself as well. It’ll be hard for QB Matthew Stafford to keep up, even if WR Kenny Golladay comes back.
SNF
You might think this would be an exciting game as it’s a battle of QBs Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. But each of them will likely be without their top receiving option. I think Brees will struggle once again without WR Michael Thomas, but end up winning as QB Aaron Rodgers receives a wake up call from a strong Saints D.
MNF
Both these teams have gotten off to strong starts as usual, and this should be a very close game. The Ravens D should be able to slow down QB Patrick Mahomes a bit. Meanwhile, I think Jackson and his RBs will be too dynamic for this Chiefs D to stop. As long as Jackson can mix some good passing in there, which I think he can, the Ravens can win this.

So that’s all for my NFL picks this week. However, as a Boston sports fan, I won’t be watching Packers at Saints on Sunday Night. Instead, I’ll be watching Game 6 of Celtics-Heat, a must-win for Boston. I’ve included my prediction for that game below:

The Heat are a very deep team and should put up a good fight in this one as long as C Bam Adebayo bounces back from his rough Game 5 performance. Whether it’s PG Goran Dragic, SG Duncan Robinson, or Tyler “Game 4” Herro (pun intended), the Heat have had standout performances around Jimmy Butler and Adebayo throughout the series.

However, I think the Celtics will come out on top here. They outplayed Miami’s zone defense in the 2nd half of Game 5, and with the momentum in their favor, I think they’ll keep it up and force Game 7. I’m expecting another big game from breakout star Jayson Tatum, and the other players around him will have their moments in this one as well. The team’s chemistry was faltering early in this series as Boston struggled to get in the paint and get good shots up. But the chemistry is definitely stronger than it was with Kyrie Irving in town, as the Celtics have worked together as a team to win 2 of the last 3 in this series.

I’m looking forward to this huge Sunday in the sports world. We have a full slate of NFL games including the Pats game and the Celtics finish the day off at 7:30. Are you guys ready for 9 straight hours of sports tomorrow? I know I am.

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