NFL Week 3 Picks: Last-Minute Predictions for Sunday's Biggest Games

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons is introduced before the game against the Denver Broncos at the Georgia Dome on September 17, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

We are just hours away from kicking off the bulk of the NFL's Week 3 schedule, meaning time is rapidly draining for pick 'em pool players across the nation.

Whether you're simply in a league with friends or in a high-stakes pool, there is no better feeling than seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard.

However, as is always the case with the NFL slate, there are some top-tier games on tap for Sunday. 

While that is great as a football fan, these matchups are a nightmare to pick. Luckily, we've got you covered. Here's a look at all of the biggest games of Week 3 as well as some last-minute projections for which team will come out on top. 


Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers

Though the Falcons and Chargers both come into Sunday's contest unbeaten, neither team has especially looked like world-beaters thus far.

While San Diego is expected to get starting running back Ryan Mathews back this week, the team's deficiencies on the ground were not all attributable to backup ineffectiveness. No matter how talented a runner is, he cannot make holes for himself and the Chargers' offensive line has struggled mightily thus far with run blocking.

The Falcons also have their own problems in the running game that need to be fixed. Through two games this season, Michael Turner has just 72 yards on 28 carries. Unlike the situation in San Diego, Turner simply looks done. He's slow going through holes and looks to be playing at a slightly heavier weight than usual. 

That means it's almost solely going to be up to the two teams' passing game to determine the outcome on Sunday. Luckily for Atlanta, it looks like Matt Ryan has taken "The Leap" this season to elite quarterback status, and Julio Jones has followed him as a wide receiver.

Simply put, the Falcons just have too many weapons for the Chargers to keep up.

Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Chargers 20


Houston Texans at Denver Broncos

Though the circumstances and the jersey on his back will be different, this Sunday will see Peyton Manning facing off against one of his most familiar foes.

In his career, the Broncos signal-caller has faced the Texans 18 times, coming out victorious in 16 of those conteststhe third-best record by any starting quarterback with as many starts against an opponent since the AFC/NFC merger (via ESPN Stats & Information). 

Nonetheless, this Texans team is a far different animal than Manning's old AFC South playthings. They are a more experienced and infinitely more talented unit that came into this season as a Super Bowl contender.

Their defense, despite losing Mario Williams in the offseason, is the league's best according to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, and has been absolutely dominant against the pass.

However, those two great early-season performances came against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, both teams that have a ton of questions at quarterback.

Manning is not the quarterback he used to be, but he'll be good enough to get the Broncos a hard-fought victory at home.

Score Prediction: Broncos 23, Texans 20


New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

It seems that NBC always gets the best game of the week for Sunday Night Football, and that's certainly the case in Week 3.

These are two marquee teams that will undoubtedly be hungry after disappointing Week 2 losses.

The Patriots come into Sunday hoping to successfully reconfigure their offense without Aaron Hernandez after failing to do so last week against the Arizona Cardinals. New England went a shocking 5-of-15 on third down conversions, failing continually inside Arizona territory, which led to four Stephen Gostkowski field goals.

Although the team signed Kellen Winslow to ostensibly replace Hernandez, it's unlikely he will be ready to make an impact this week. That means an increased emphasis on Wes Welker, who had seemingly fallen out of favor in New England early on. 

Luckily for the Patriots, they will be facing off against a Ravens secondary that looked anemic last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick threw for 371 yards and a touchdown as Baltimore continually failed to stop the Eagles its own accord.

By no means will New England walk into M&T Bank Stadium and eviscerate the Ravens, but look for the Patriots use a pass-heavy attack to win this game by more than you would expect.

Score Prediction: Patriots 31, Ravens 23