NFL Week 3 Predictions: Initial Vegas Odds, Lines, Spreads and Projections

David McCrackenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2017

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts to a penalty against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After Monday's matchup between the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, the first two weeks of the 2017 NFL season will be in the books, with question marks surrounding a lot of football teams as the season continues to roll along.  

As football fans watched the Atlanta Falcons take apart the Green Bay Packers at home Sunday night to show the league they are not suffering a Super Bowl hangover, it's normal to start thinking about which teams will be playing deep into the new year and into the playoffs. The Falcons sure look like a team who will be playing until at least January, but who else will join them?

Early-season games all matter. Early-season struggles often culminate into end-of-season blues.

With that in mind, let's take a look at this upcoming week's schedule of fixtures, including updated odds for each game. 

Note: Odds for each game are courtesy of OddsShark. Predictions are courtesy of the author. 

             

Week 3 schedule

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at San Francisco 49ers.

Prediction: Rams   

Baltimore Ravens (-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)     

Prediction: Ravens

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)     

Prediction: Giants

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Detroit Lions

Prediction: Falcons

Denver Broncos (-2.5) at Buffalo Bills

Prediction: Broncos

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) at Chicago Bears

Prediction: Steelers 

Miami Dolphins (-6) at New York Jets

Prediction: Dolphins

Cleveland Browns (-1) at Indianapolis Colts

Prediction: Colts

Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-11)

Prediction: Patriots

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-6)

Prediction: Panthers 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (N/A)     

Prediction: Buccaneers

Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)

Prediction: Seahawks

Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

Prediction: Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers (-8.5)

Prediction: Packers

Oakland Raiders (-3.5) at Washington Redskins 

Prediction: Raiders

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals

Prediction: Cowboys 

          

Key games

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Texans won 13-9. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There are a few mismatches this week in the NFL after an exciting opening couple of weeks of football, and this game could be another run-of-the-mill mismatch. However, Houston's defense at least gives the Texans a puncher's chance against the Patriots, who have shown some signs of vulnerability through two games.

Going into New England led by rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson will be no easy task, especially since he didn't exactly light the world on fire during his first career start against the Cincinnati Bengals although he did have one spectacular run for a 49-yard touchdown.

All that's important is that Watson led his team to victory in a road game.

But playing against the Bengals, who still haven't scored an offensive touchdown since last season vs. playing the defending Super Bowl champions is a different ballgame.

After a dismal showing in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots were back to their winning ways behind Tom Brady's impressive first quarter against the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday, passing for three touchdowns in the opening 15 minutes of the game.

If Brady is able to get his offense off the ground and get going through the air with regularity against the Texans, it could be a long night for Houston. But as 11-point underdogs, they don't have much to lose.

            

Seattle Seahawks vs. Tennessee Titans

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

This could be one of the matchups of Week 3. Not just because the Seahawks defense is going up against one of the more overlooked offensive units in football in the Titans led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, but because this is the perfect test for both teams to show how good they really are.

The Seahawks, as usual, have Super Bowl expectations. But their offense has sputtered over the first couple weeks of the season, struggling to get on the board against the likes of the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. While neither the Packers or 49ers defenses appear to be pushovers, they're certainly not world-beaters.

Seattle's defense can keep their team in any ballgame, but what happens when they face a team like the Titans who have a young, mobile and accurate quarterback in Mariota, a strong offensive line with Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray in the backfield along with solid receivers? If the Titans, who are still a very young team, can start firing on all cylinders, even the Seahawks defense might not be able to handle them.

Many football fans forget how competitive the Titans were last season until Mariota got injured late last season. This was a team that went into Green Bay and torched Aaron Rodgers on his own field by a score of 47-25. After beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-16 in Week 2, the Titans are riding high and will be looking to put on another offensive showcase next Sunday against Seattle.

If Seattle loses, expect more talk regarding the team's championship window to continue even though it's still early on in the season. A loss isn't a death sentence for Seattle by any means, but it is certainly a bump in the road for this team, which hasn't played anywhere near its potential on offense.

A win for Tennessee will put the Titans in prime position to take over first place in the AFC South division.