NFL Predictions Week 3: Top Odds, Picks, Projections for Every Game on Schedule

Michelle BrutonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's always a wake-up call at the beginning of each new NFL season to remember that it takes a few weeks for these teams to get into their strides and start putting some compelling product on the field. 

But, man, it feels like a slow start this year. 

Week 2 held more surprises and flipped scripts in the NFL, from whatever it was we saw on Thursday Night Football between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals to the Green Bay Packers struggling mightily and losing by double digits in prime time to the Atlanta Falcons. 

Big Ben and the Steelers offense are lackluster. The Colts look just as bad as we thought they would without Andrew Luck. And the Bengals may never score a touchdown. 

But it won't be like this all year. (Right?) There are some intriguing matchups on the slate in Week 3, and at least some of them are bound to deliver on our football hopes and dreams. 

Let's take a look at the schedule and the odds for each matchup and then make some predictions about which teams will come out on top. The projected winners are in italics. 

        

NFL Week 3 Schedule, Odds and Picks

Thursday, Sept. 21

L.A. Rams (-3) at San Francisco: 8:25 p.m., NFLN 

         

Sunday, Sept. 24

Baltimore (-3) at Jacksonville: 9:30 a.m., Yahoo 

Atlanta (-3) at Detroit: 1 p.m., Fox 

Cleveland at Indianapolis (Even): 1 p.m., CBS 

Denver (-1) at Buffalo: 1 p.m., CBS 

Houston at New England (-11): 1 p.m., CBS 

Miami (-3.5) at N.Y. Jets: 1 p.m., CBS 

New Orleans at Carolina (-5.5): 1 p.m., Fox 

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia (-3.5): 1 p.m., Fox 

Pittsburgh (-7.5) at Chicago: 1 p.m., CBS 

Tampa Bay at Minnesota (N/A): 1 p.m., Fox 

Seattle (-2.5) at Tennessee: 4:05 p.m., Fox

Cincinnati at Green Bay (-7.5): 4:25 p.m., CBS 

Kansas City (-3) at L.A. Chargers: 4:25 p.m., CBS 

Oakland (-2.5) at Washington: 8:30 p.m., NBC 

      

Monday, Sept. 25

Dallas (-3.5) at Arizona: 8:30 p.m., ESPN

             

Biggest Week 3 Favorites

New England Patriots

In one of the better games Week 2 produced, the Patriots avoided going into freefall after their Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs by defeating the New Orleans Saints 36-20 on Sunday.

Tom Brady threw three touchdowns and set a couple neat records:

The Patriots signal-caller threw for a whopping 447 yards, the third-most of his career, finding weapons in unexpected places. Four running backs caught a pass for the Patriots in their Week 2 win, including James White, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James Develin. 

It was an interesting matchup considering that wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was sent to New England as part of a trade package with New Orleans in the offseason, was facing his former team for the first time. Cooks contributed two catches for 37 yards. 

But the Patriots almost suffered a major setback when tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had 116 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans, left the game with an injury.

Brady's favorite target missed half the season in 2016 after undergoing back surgery and hasn't played a complete 16 games since 2011. 

Thankfully for the Patriots, Gronkowski revealed on Monday that his injury is "nothing serious," and he's "day-to-day," per Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald

       

Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands off to Le'Veon Bell #26 in the second half during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Heinz Field on September 17, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jus
Justin Berl/Getty Images

Two weeks into the season, the Steelers are 2-0 after defeating the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings, but we still haven't seen this high-octane offense kick into a higher gear. 

Both these wins have been perfunctory; in its Week 2 victory over Minnesota, Pittsburgh had to settle for four field goals. 

That shouldn't be the case for a team that has Ben Roethlisberger lining up under center with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Le'Veon Bell and even tight end Jesse James for weapons. 

Brown didn't have a touchdown in Sunday's win, though he did lead the team in receptions, with five. 

The Steelers are pretty heavily favored over Chicago by 7.5 points.

And there's no question that if the Bears looked pretty good in Week 1, nearly matching Atlanta blow-for-blow, they were back to mediocre in Week 2, falling 29-7 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

So it's not a question of whether the Steelers can beat the Bears here; the eye test says that they can. But whether they can hit that spread is another question. 

         

Green Bay Packers

If the Packers keep losing players to injuries at their current rate, it's hard to imagine they'll still be 7.5-point favorites against the Bengals on Sunday...even if the Bengals are downright sputtering.

When you have Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, you can get by without a couple of your top weapons. But the Packers were missing both their starting tackles heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup against the Falcons and lost their starting guard, right Jahri Evans, to boot. 

Then, during the game, top wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both left with injuries, quad and shoulder, respectively. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport shared some good news on MondayCobb's injury is minor and he is considered "day-to-day":

But what about Nelson? The Packers offense lost the ability to stretch its legs against the Falcons when Nelson left the game; it created an obvious playcalling difficulty for head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett. 

The Packers were quiet regarding Nelson's status on Monday, but ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky shared that it's not believed to be long-term. 

Still, that creates an interesting opportunity for Cincinnati, which is not only looking for its first win of the season, but its first touchdown.

Will the Packers most likely win this game, straight-up? Yes. But if Green Bay's offense is struggling, a few well-timed field goals could destroy the betting line for this matchup and make this a closer game than Vegas expects. 

         

All odds courtesy of OddsShark and current as of Sept. 19.