Week 3 NFL Picks: Early Look at Each Underdog's Chances of an Upset

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst ISeptember 18, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13:  John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals drops back to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Cardinals won 21-17. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In Week 2, six of the 16 NFL games were won by the team that Las Vegas dubbed as the "underdog." For the most part, a range of 3-6 betting upsets is expected every NFL week.

For Week 3 of the NFL season, we broke down what each of the respective underdogs must do to become one of the week's upset specials. It won't happen for all, but expect a few of them to pull it off. 

Note: All underdogs provided by Bovada.net, through ESPN

New York Giants (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-1)

Vegas essentially considers this a toss-up, so there's plenty of reason to think Carolina can pull off the minor upset at home. Cam Newton torched the Saints in Week 2 with his arm and legs, but the Panthers will need to continue the turnovers of Eli Manning


St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)

The Rams open as 7.5-point underdogs despite their win over an improved Redskins team at home and the Bears' stinker in Green Bay. The Rams can pressure quarterback Jay Cutler off the blindside, just as the Packers did Thursday. Constant pressure equals another rattled and angry Bears quarterback.


Buffalo Bills (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-2)

The Jets beat the Bills in Week 1 by forcing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into making tough throws on confused reads. Cleveland did the same to Michael Vick during the opening weekend. Turnovers can turn this game in the Browns' direction in a hurry.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

Despite having 11 days rest, the Cowboys were physically man-handled by the Seahawks in Seattle. Can the Bucs pull off the same trick, but in Dallas? Tampa Bay's loss in New York will sting for awhile, but they were really good for three quarters. 


New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)

The key for Miami is giving rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill safe throws against defensive fronts that are expecting the run. Joe Philbin's game plan against the Raiders Sunday was perfect in that regard. He needs another solid plan in Week 3 to combat Rex Ryan's confusing looks. 


San Francisco 49ers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

This looks like the safest game to call in Week 3, but we said the same thing about New England-Arizona last Sunday. The Vikings need an inspired effort on defense and special teams to keep this one close, just as the Cardinals executed in Week 2. 


Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at New Orleans Saints (0-2)

These are two teams fighting to keep their heads above water, but the game plan should be clear for Kansas City: pound the football on the ground, disrupt Drew Brees' passing game with pressure and hope for a turnover or two. That plan has put New Orleans in an 0-2 hole. 


Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Washington Redskins (1-1)

The Bengals are plenty capable of going into the nation's capital and winning a game. And while it hasn't been done so far, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer needs to limit the running ability of Robert Griffin III and keep the big pass play out of the equation. 


Detroit Lions (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-2)

Chris Johnson can't stay stuck in the mud all season, can he? The Titans probably can't beat an aggressive Lions' defense without help from the running game. Tennessee had just nine first downs in Week 2. Sustaining drives is key.


Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

Two evenly-matched AFC South teams, but the difference here is obviously at quarterback. The Jaguars need a big effort from the defensive line to help offset that problem. The Bears kept Andrew Luck at bay in Week 1 with pressure from the front four. 


Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

You'd think this would be one of those games where the Cardinals wouldn't have a chance, but they're 2-0 for a reason. However, they'll be 2-1 in a second if they can't keep their quarterback upright. The Eagles defensive line is the best in football. 


Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-0)

Record-wise, this game might be the best of the weekend. For San Diego, let's see if the perceived return of running back Ryan Mathews gives the Chargers a boost at home. They've looked impressive in all areas through two games. 


Houston Texans (2-0) at Denver Broncos (1-1)

Not throwing three first-quarter interceptions would be a good start for Peyton Manning. The Broncos probably win on the road in Atlanta without the back-breaking turnovers over the first 15 minutes. Manning won't find things much easier against one of the top-three defenses in football, but he has to make better early decisions. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-2)

The Raiders have looked like one of the worst teams in football through two games. Pittsburgh does have a long trip to Oakland ahead of them, so maybe their execution is a little off. The Raiders need to finally get a consistent effort from all three phases. 


New England Patriots (1-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

Fresh off one of the worst defeats of the Tom Brady era, New England now has to find a way to replace the production of tight end Aaron Hernandez. The game plan was torn up after he went down Sunday, but the Patriots still use a two tight-end set more than any team in football. Bill Belichick will have something up his sleeve. 


Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

The Seahawks are constructed much like the 49ers, in that they can pound the ball on the ground and play suffocating defense on the edges. That's the blueprint waiting for them after San Francisco's Week 1 win in Green Bay. Seattle has the horses to make it work defensively. 


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