NFL Week 3 Picks: Game by Game Predictions and More

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst ISeptember 19, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Luckily for NFL fans, weekly Thursday night games has reduced the downtime between televised contests. Instead of a Monday-to-Sunday wait, fans now have just three days to get ready for the next week starting up. 

Buckle up, because Week 3 is already right around the corner. 

The New York Giants take on the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, and four days later, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks finish off the week on Monday night. 

Below, we give our predictions for every game on the Week 3 schedule, from Thursday to Monday night. 


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

Losing Hakeem Nicks (foot) is a bigger deal for the Giants than the Panthers not having Jonathan Stewart (ankle). Both hurt, but Nicks is harder for the Giants to overcome. Home teams have dominated the win-loss records of Thursday night games, too.

Panthers 30, Giants 21

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

The Rams are better than people perceive them to be, and Chicago could have a lot of problems with their edge rushers. Still, the Bears are playing at home, have more talent at most positions and were given a long week to get ready. A close game, but Chicago survives. 

Bears 24, Rams 20

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

For the Bills to win in Cleveland, Ryan Fitzpatrick absolutely cannot turn over the football. The Browns are good enough defensively to keep Buffalo in the 14-point range if there's a chorus of bad decisions from Fitzpatrick. The question mark for the Browns is how Brandon Weeden handles another talented defensive line. Could be a sloppy game, but the Bills win by an inch.

Bills 24, Browns 20


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

In most games this season, the Cowboys are going to be the more talented team. But the Seahawks gave them a few punches to the face last Sunday, and Dallas never recovered. The Bucs may still be reeling after a demoralizing fourth-quarter loss in New York. The Cowboys have to get back on track in the home opener. 

Cowboys 34, Buccaneers 24


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

The key matchup here is how Ryan Tannehill handles the confusing schemes of Rex Ryan. Unlike last Sunday, the pre-snap looks and blitz reads won't be easy for the rookie. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin needs to make sure Miami is winning first and second down so Tannehill doesn't have dangerous situations to deal with on third down. In the Jets' first look with Tannehill, we're giving Ryan the edge.

Jets 27, Dolphins 10 

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

If there's any game this weekend that could get out of hand, it's the 49ers' trip to Minnesota. While we said the same about Patriots-Cardinals last week, the 49ers don't turn the ball over and are solid on special teams. 49ers cruise to 3-0.

49ers 34, Vikings 10 


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

The Saints are better in every aspect offensively, and the personnel suggests that Kansas City should be better at every level on defense. So far, the Chiefs' advantage hasn't shown up. And while both teams are playing horrific defense, the Saints are better equipped to exacerbate the problem. At home, New Orleans gets back on track. 

Saints 38, Chiefs 21

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

The Bengals defensive coordinator will do everything he can to keep Robert Griffin III in the pocket and limit his big throws down field—easier said than done with this rookie. I want to see the Bengals get a big win on the road against a good football team. It won't happen here, however.

Redskins 26, Bengals 21 

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

The Titans aren't as bad as their 0-2 record looks, but this team might not win a game if Chris Johnson fails to crack 20 yards each week. That obviously won't happen, but Johnson's early struggles are worrying. The Lions front four will pin their ears back and harass Jake Locker if Johnson doesn't keep them honest.

Lions 30, Titans 17 


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

The Colts are never going to be a good running team in 2012, but keeping Andrew Luck protected in the passing game is essential every week. When the Bears beat up on the Colts in Week 1, Luck never looked comfortable in the pocket. The Vikings did it to a certain extent late last Sunday. If the Jaguars can't duplicate some of that pressure, Luck will eat up that secondary.

Colts 27, Jaguars 16


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

The Cardinals defense has been one of the bigger surprises through two weeks of the NFL season, but the Eagles are far from a pushover on that side of the ball. The difference here is the playmaking ability at the quarterback position. Michael Vick may make a boneheaded throw once in a while, but that's just part of the overall package. He'll make one or two more plays than the Arizona offense can create. 

Eagles 20, Cardinals 17

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

The Bolts are the team no one is talking about. Philip Rivers is playing at a pre-2011 level, and the defense has looked awfully good through two weeks. Matt Ryan is the game's most polished passer in 2012, but there's something different about this Chargers team. In the best game of the weekend, San Diego escapes at home. 

Chargers 31, Falcons 30

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

The Texans may be the best pressure defense in football, and that could be bad news for Peyton Manning. While Manning has never lost at home to the Texans (all with Indianapolis), Sunday could be the first. Houston will speed up his decision-making and hope to get a few freebies like Manning handed out Monday night. 

Texans 27, Broncos 17

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

The Steelers are so much better than the Raiders at quarterback and playing pressure defense. The big mistakes, both with turnovers and penalties, don't happen nearly as much as they do in Oakland. The Raiders will play Pittsburgh tough (it always seems they do in Oakland), but the Steelers are too much for a struggling football team. 

Steelers 28, Raiders 17

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

Rarely will these two meet when both are coming off losses, especially when the Cardinals factor into the equation. But that's where we sit in Week 3, and both teams now need a bounce-back performance. Joe Flacco can't be as flat as he was late in Philadelphia, but the Ravens look in better sync early in 2012. 

Ravens 34, Patriots 30

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

Prediction for MNF coming soon. 


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