NFL Week 3 Picks: Last-Minute Expert Predictions from Around the Web
It's Week 3 of the 2013 season, and while the season's still young things are already taking shape across the NFL.
The Denver Broncos look like the class of the AFC. Same for Seattle in the NFC. Two playoff teams from last year (the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings) are sitting at 0-2.
Meanwhile, the team with last year's worst record (the Kansas City Chiefs) sits at 3-0 after its Thursday night victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
How will the rest of a week that saw the biggest in-season trade in years play out?
Let's see what the experts think!
Experts Roll Call
Before we move on to Week 3's games, let's take a look at our panel of experts.
ESPN: ESPN's picks are a combination of the selections of 13 experts. Those experts include writers like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, as well as former players such as Mark Schlereth and Keyshawn Johnson.
CBS Sports: The CBS Sports picks feature eight writers, including senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco and NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
USA Today: As with the other sites on our panel, USA Today uses a committee approach, with seven writers offering their picks for this week's games.
Bleacher Report: I would be remiss not to include the prognostications of my esteemed colleagues here at Bleacher Report. This year's starting lineup for the Bleacher Report picks team features each of the national lead writers, as well as the lead writers covering the NFL's divisions.
There you have it. Over 40 NFL experts (plus one computer), all offering their opinions on this week's action.
Last week the experts improved on a solid Week 1, and for the season our pollsters have picked 70 percent of the games correctly.
Last Week: 11-4
St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Final Verdict: The Dallas Cowboys can be a hard team to figure out, but the experts had the team pegged in Week 3.
One week after looking flat against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys were an absolute buzzsaw against the St. Louis Rams.
Running back DeMarco Murray gained 175 yards on the ground, quarterback Tony Romo tossed three touchdown passes, and Dallas routed the St. Louis Rams 31-7.
ESPN: Cowboys (11-2)
CBS Sports: Cowboys (8-0)
Fox Sports: Cowboys (5-0)
USA Today: Cowboys (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Cowboys (10-2)
Overall: Cowboys (39-6)
Don't look now, but the St. Louis Rams are a competitive football team.
The Rams downed the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, and then gave a 13-win Atlanta Falcons team all it could handle before eventually coming up just short.
In fact, while the overwhelming majority of the experts picked the Cowboys, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey was one of a handful of pundits who went with the upstart Rams.
"I don't trust this Cowboys defense quite yet," Schottey wrote, "and I don't trust Romo against a defense that should be able to pressure him."
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Final Verdict: Some NFL games are thrilling affairs, back-and-forth contests that keep fans glued to the TV for three hours.
Sunday's matchup between the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers may not have been an instant classic, but the home team was able to squeak out a 20-17 win.
Don't look now folks, but the Titans are 2-1. They very easily could be 3-0.
ESPN: Titans (8-5)
CBS Sports: Titans (5-3)
Fox Sports: Titans (4-1)
USA Today: Titans (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Titans (10-2)
Overall: Titans (32-13)
The San Diego Chargers were one of the bigger surprises of Week 2.
Despite traveling east to play in an early game against a Philadelphia Eagles team that looked like an offensive juggernaut against the Washington Redskins, the Chargers pulled the upset in Philly behind a huge game from quarterback Philip Rivers.
However, if the Chargers were a big surprise in Week 2, the Tennessee Titans have been one of the bigger surprises of the 2013 season.
Not only did the Titans dispatch the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, but the Titans very nearly upset the defending division champs last week, taking the Houston Texans to overtime.
It's the home team that's the experts' pick this week, and Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon believes that the Chargers heading east for a second straight week will be the deciding factor.
"Tennessee could easily be 2-0 right now," Gagnon said. "So could the Chargers, and back-to-back trips across the country won't be easy. The Titans will win a close one at home."
Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Final Verdict: Speaking of back-and-forth affairs.
Sunday's contest between the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals was a game of runs.
The Bengals scored the first 14 points of the game, only to see the Packers come storming back with 30 unanswered points.
However, the Bengals weathered the storm, before peeling off 20 straight points of their own.
Add it all up and you have a 34-30 Cincinnati victory that sends a message that the Bengals are for real.
ESPN: Packers (9-4)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Packers (4-1)
USA Today: Packers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Packers (8-4)
Overall: Packers (32-13)
The first matchup on this week's slate is one of the biggest, with a pair of teams with aspirations of a deep playoff run matching up in the Queen City.
The Green Bay Packers bounced back from their Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers by throttling the Washington Redskins. It wasn't as pretty a win for the Cincinnati Bengals, but their Monday night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers counted just the same.
This game features a number of interesting matchups, including the formidable Bengals front four against a Packers offensive line that struggles at times in pass protection.
However, the Packers have that Rodgers fella under center. Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman believes that will be the difference, stating "[Aaron] Rodgers is playing the quarterback position better than anyone right now."
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Final Verdict: OK, Vikings fans. You can panic now.
After surprisingly making the playoffs last year, the Vikings now sit at 0-3, after improbably losing 31-27 at home to a Cleveland team who started Brian Hoyer at quarterback.
If the Browns are tanking for Teddy Bridgewater, they're not doing it very well.
ESPN: Vikings (13-0)
CBS Sports: Vikings (8-0)
Fox Sports: Vikings (5-0)
USA Today: Vikings (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Vikings (10-2)
Overall: Vikings (43-2)
The Minnesota Vikings were a surprise playoff team last year, but after dropping a heartbreaker to the Chicago Bears in Week 2, the 0-2 Vikings desperately need a win.
Enter the lowly Cleveland Browns.
The Browns weren't a good football team entering this week. Now, after trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts and with Brian Hoyer set to start at quarterback, the Browns are dodging accusations that they're tanking, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.
“We’ll have the same expectations, we’ll have the same goals, and we’re going to do everything we can to win every week. Nothing has changed from that standpoint,” head coach Rob Chudzinski said.
The problem is, doing everything they can to win probably isn't going to amount to much.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
Final Verdict: Apparently the Tampa Bay Buccaneeers are tired of losing in heartbreaking fashion.
Because this one was over early.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady found rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for a pair of touchdown passes, and the Patriots dominated the Bucs from start to finish in a 23-3 blowout.
ESPN: Patriots (12-1)
CBS Sports: Patriots (7-1)
Fox Sports: Patriots (5-0)
USA Today: Patriots (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Patriots (10-2)
Overall: Patriots (41-4)
In each of the past two weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in a position to win the game late. In both of those games, the Buccaneers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Meanwhile, the New England Patriots haven't been doing it with their usual panache, but a win's a win in the NFL. Despite having an offense missing a bunch of important pieces, the Patriots have scrabbled their way to 2-0.
The overwhelming majority of our experts believe that the Patriots will move to 3-0, including Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz.
The Buccaneers are coming unraveled, with reports of dissension in the locker room and among the two most important players on their roster: Josh Freeman and Darrelle Revis. An undisciplined Buccaneers team gets taken to the woodshed.
Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)
Final Verdict: If there was a theme in the early games of Week 3, that theme was teams getting taken to the woodshed.
There were several lopsided games on Sunday, including in New Orleans.
31-7, as the Saints move to 3-0 on the season.
ESPN: Saints (13-0)
CBS Sports: Saints (8-0)
Fox Sports: Saints (5-0)
USA Today: Saints (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Saints (12-0)
Overall: Saints (45-0)
It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but the New Orleans Saints sit at 2-0 after a rainy 16-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2.
The Arizona Cardinals were also victorious last week, downing the Detroit Lions 25-21 to get Bruce Arians his first victory as head coach of the Redbirds.
However, the experts are unanimous in their belief that it will be at least one more week until Arians gets another.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey gave the Cardinals their due, writing that "the overall talent of these teams is probably closer than the 12-0 vote would make it seem."
Schottey went on to say, "but quarterback Drew Brees is just too good to bet against at home in a close matchup."
Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)
Final Verdict: The Detroit Lions haven't beaten the Washington Redskins on the road in a while.
Since ever, to be exact.
That streak is now over. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards against an awful Washington defense, and Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson each turned in 100-yard receiving days in a 27-20 Lions win.
ESPN: Lions (7-6)
CBS Sports: Lions (6-2)
Fox Sports: Lions (4-1)
USA Today: Lions (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Lions (10-2)
Overall: Lions (32-13)
The Washington Redskins won their last seven games in 2012 to capture the NFC East.
However, largely due to a terrible defense that has allowed over 500 yards per game this year, the Redskins sit at 0-2, facing a must-win home game Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Over two-thirds of the experts believe that free-fall will continue this week. Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman is among those who feel that the Lions will prevail, and Freeman didn't mince words as to why.
"Washington's defense is putrid."
Yikes. Tell us how you really feel Mike.
New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Final Verdict: If Minnesota fans are freaking out, then fans of the New York Giants are apoplectic right now.
Not only did the Giants lose to the Carolina Panthers to fall to 0-3, but the Giants were absolutely dominated in every facet of the game.
38-0 Panthers, the worst loss since Tom Coughlin became head coach of the Giants, and a team that's in absolute free-fall.
ESPN: Giants (8-5)
CBS Sports: Giants (6-2)
Fox Sports: Giants (5-0)
USA Today: Giants (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Giants (8-4)
Overall: Giants (31-14)
It's sink or swim time for both the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. Both teams sit at 0-2, and the team that loses Sunday's matchup will see its 2013 season effectively end before it ever really started.
Granted, not a lot was expected of the Carolina Panthers this year, but more than a few pundits picked the Giants as NFC East champions.
It's hardly a landslide, but the majority of our voters believe that Big Blue will get into the win column this week.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter isn't one of them:
Despite their 0-2 start, the Panthers have played well enough to win two weeks in a row, while the Giants aren't playing particularly well. In Charlotte, look for Newton to rebound against a reeling Giants secondary.
Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Final Verdict: Sunday's matchup between the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens was billed as a heavyweight fight, a smashmouth battle between two playoff teams from a year ago.
Well, someone got smashed all right.
No Ray Rice? No problem for the Ravens.
No touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Flacco? No problem for the Ravens.
Baltimore found the end zone on defense and in the return game, and the Ravens walloped Houston 30-9 to move to 2-1 on the season.
ESPN: Texans (9-4)
CBS Sports: Ravens (5-3)
Fox Sports: Ravens (3-2)
USA Today: Texans (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Tied (6-6)
Overall: Texans (26-19)
Well it's about time. All that agreement was getting tiresome.
One of Week 3's biggest matchups pits the Houston Texans against the Baltimore Ravens, two playoff teams from a year ago (including the defending NFL champs).
The biggest subplot of this game is likely the absence of running back Ray Rice from a Baltimore offense already hurting for playmakers.
As Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports, Rice is doubtful for the game with an injured hip, so it will fall to second-year pro Bernard Pierce to carry the mail on the ground.
Each team has plenty of supporters among our experts, including an even split among the writers here at Bleacher Report.
NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey likes the Ravens at home:
At home, against a Texans team that has played down to their competition this season, the Ravens can win by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They will force Matt Schaub into mistakes.
However, AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz threw his support behind Houston:
The Ravens ran into a tough defense in the Browns, but they'll have an even tougher challenge against the Texans' vaunted defense this week. The difference here is the fact that the Texans have an offense that can move the ball much better than Cleveland.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Final Verdict: Attention New England Patriots. For the first time in a long time, it appears that you may have company atop the AFC East.
That company would be the Miami Dolphins, who posted a 27-23 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Even more impressive that Miami's 3-0 start, is the fact that the last two weeks the Dolphins have defeated teams who advanced to the playoffs a season ago.
Meanwhile the Falcons are in trouble. The team now sits two games back of the Saints, who they lost to in Week 1.
Throw in a defense that has been ravaged by injuries, and there's cause for real concern in Atlanta.
ESPN: Dolphins (7-6)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Falcons (4-1)
USA Today: Dolphins (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Falcons (8-4)
Overall: Falcons (24-21)
When the 2013 season began, there's little doubt that a 13-win Atlanta Falcons team would have been the overwhelming favorite in this game.
However, the Miami Dolphins appear to be a much-improved team this year, while the Falcons have been absolutely ravaged by injuries in the early-going.
The Falcons are still the pick here, but those factors have combined to whittle that edge to nearly nothing.
Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon is a member of the growing minority who feels the Dolphins will remain undefeated:
The Falcons are the better team, but Miami is in a bit of a groove after taking care of business in back-to-back road games to open the year. In their home opener, the Dolphins will win a tight one.
Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
Final Verdict: The biggest stunner of Week 3 occurred in San Francisco, where not a single expert picked the Indianapolis Colts to win.
They were unanimously wrong.
In fact, not only did the Colts win, but they pasted the 49ers to the tune of 27-7.
For the second straight week the San Francisco offense sputtered in defeat, and it's gut-check time in the Bay Area.
ESPN: 49ers (13-0)
CBS Sports: 49ers (8-0)
Fox Sports: 49ers (5-0)
USA Today: 49ers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: 49ers (12-0)
Overall: 49ers (45-0)
The Indianapolis Colts were a surprise playoff game in 2012, and this week's trade that brought running back Trent Richardson to town shows that the Colts are serious about making another postseason run this year.
That playoff run hit a snag in last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins. The experts are unanimous in their belief that it will hit another on Sunday, against a San Francisco 49ers team smarting after a blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller expects San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh to take his former quarterback back to school. "The 49ers need a bounce-back game," Miller said. "Jim Harbaugh shutting down his old pupil Andrew Luck is one way to regain some confidence."
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Final Verdict: There may have been a shocker in San Francisco, but things went according to script in Seattle.
Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes before departing the game in the third quarter, and it was all Seahawks in a 45-17 Seattle win.
A gimme win for the experts, who needed one at this point.
ESPN: Seahawks (13-0)
CBS Sports: Seahawks (8-0)
Fox Sports: Seahawks (5-0)
USA Today: Seahawks (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Seahawks (12-0)
Overall: Seahawks (45-0)
On Saturday, the Ohio State Buckeyes beat a hopelessly outmatched and outclassed team from Florida A&M (yes, that's a real school) 76-0.
Sunday's game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks is the NFL equivalent.
Let's be frank. The Seattle Seahawks may be the NFL's best team. The Jaguars are horrible. This one's gonna get ugly.
Said Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman, who predicted a 50-0 (yes, you read that right) Seattle win, "The Jaguars might be the worst team in the past 10 years."
Buffalo Bills (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)
Final Verdict: If Sunday's thriller in Cincinnati was an example of the best the NFL has to offer, then Sunday afternoon's AFC East showdown between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets was...
Well, it was something else.
Chew on this statistic for a second. On Sunday, New York running back Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 149 yards.
Of course, some of that thunder was stolen by the Jets' franchise-record 19 penalties for 163 yards.
The Jets went up 20-6 before the Bills came charging back, but in the end Gang Green held on for a 27-20 win.
Rough week for the experts.
ESPN: Bills (8-5)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Bills (3-2)
USA Today: Bills (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Bills (7-5)
Overall: Bills (26-19)
Youth is certainly being served in Sunday's AFC East showdown between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
The game features a pair of first-year signal-callers, with E.J. Manuel leading the Bills into the Meadowlands to face Geno Smith and Gang Green.
A landslide it isn't, but Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter is a member of the slight majority who expect the Bills to emerge victorious. "EJ Manuel made plays when he had to against the Panthers," Schalter wrote. "Both defenses are stouter than they're getting credit for, but one offense (Buffalo) actually has playmakers."
Chicago Bears (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
Final Verdict: The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been known as a smashmouth football team that runs the ball, plays strong defense and doesn't make mistakes.
None of those things happened on Sunday night.
The Steelers ran for only 80 yards against the Chicago Bears, turned the ball over five times and allowed an eye-popping 40 points.
At 3-0 the Bears now sit atop the NFC North, while the 0-3 Steelers are reeling.
ESPN: Bears (9-4)
CBS Sports: Bears (5-3)
Fox Sports: Bears (5-0)
USA Today: Bears (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Bears (11-1)
Overall: Bears (34-11)
There is something going on in the NFL this season that's rare.
That something is the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are not a good football team.
The Steelers can't run the ball. The offensive line is a mess. At 0-2, the 2013 campaign is quickly circling the drain in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, over 75 percent of the experts expect their slide to continue Sunday night against the undefeated Bears.
However, there are dissenting voices, among them Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman, who expects the Pittsburgh defense to save the day.
"The Steelers will get the win," Freeman wrote, "as the defense picks off Cutler twice."
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
Final Verdict: The general consensus was that the Oakland Raiders didn't have much of a chance in this game.
The general consensus was spot-on.
ESPN: Broncos (13-0)
CBS Sports: Broncos (8-0)
Fox Sports: Broncos (5-0)
USA Today: Broncos (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Broncos (12-0)
Overall: Broncos (45-0)
Once upon a time, the AFC West rivalry between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders was among the most heated in the NFL.
There's still no love lost between the two teams, but in recent years it's been a one-sided affair.
Every one of the experts believes that will continue Monday night.
In fact, Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz doesn't think this game will be much of one, predicting a 42-10 Denver blowout.
"Peyton Manning is on a tear," Frenz said, "and the Raiders sure aren't going to be the first ones to stop him. I give this one 20 minutes before most of America changes the channel."