Bleacher Report's Expert Week 3 NFL Picks

NFL StaffSeptember 22, 2022

Bleacher Report's Expert Week 3 NFL Picks

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    Tyreek Hill (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    When the going gets tough, you continue to swing for the fences—that’s what our NFL experts will do after another 7-9 week.

    Kirk Cousins has a new head coach, but his usual Monday Night Football letdown sank our consensus picks below .500. Through two weeks, we’ve learned valuable lessons from previous shortcomings and will apply that wisdom for a money-making Week 3 outcome.

    NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brent Sobleski, Kris Knox and Maurice Moton; editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell; and B/R Betting host of Winners Only Wednesdays Greg Ivory had a meeting of minds this week. Still unafraid to go bold, they’re in on four road underdogs, and they’ve picked two 0-2 teams that will try to get off the schneid in the opponent’s building.

    Before we look ahead to our Week 3 picks, let’s take a look at the overall expert standings with last week’s results in parantheses.

    1. Moton: 16-16 (8-8)

    T-2. Davenport: 14-18 (8-8)

    T-2. Ivory: 14-18 (6-10)

    T-2. Kenyon: 14-18 (7-9)

    T-2. O’Donnell: 14-18 (6-10)

    3. Knox: 13-19 (6-10)

    4. Sobleski: 11-21 (6-10)

    Consensus picks: 14-18 (7-9)

    Lines are from DraftKings as of Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. ET. Check DraftKings for the latest odds info. Information on public betting trends is courtesy of the Action Network. ATS records are provided by Team Rankings.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)

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    Najee Harris (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    Editor's Note: Browns defeated the Steelers 29-17 on Thursday night.

    DraftKings Line: Browns -4.5

    After victories in their season openers, both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns lost tight battles in Week 2, but the latter team probably feels the sting a little more than the former.

    Last week, the Steelers never gained a lead over the New England Patriots and lost 17-14. Meanwhile, the Browns fell apart with one minute and 22 seconds left in regulation, giving up 14 points to the New York Jets in that short time span.

    In 2021, the Steelers swept the season series with the Browns in Ben Roethlisberger’s farewell year, winning both contests by at least five points. Mitch Trubisky has taken over the offense, and he’s faltered, throwing for just 362 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with a 59.2 percent completion rate. On top of that, Pittsburgh’s ground attack ranks 26th behind a shaky offensive line that has slowly trended in the right direction.

    Yet Kenyon sees an easy-money bet because of the Browns’ limited quarterback.

    “Any time you can get 4.5 points in a game that Jacoby Brissett is the opponent's starter, it is probably smart to take the points. The Browns are coming off an embarrassing fourth-quarter collapse against the Jets after barely squeezing out a victory over the lowly Carolina Panthers. Yes, the Steelers won't have T.J. Watt (torn pectoral), share the same 1-1 record and will be playing this game on the road, but they already have a win against the defending AFC champion Bengals and lost a close game to Bill Belichick. I would take the Steelers straight up; getting 4.5 points feels like stealing.”

    Even if the Browns win a low-scoring slugfest, the crew believes 4.5 points is a wide margin for two teams that struggle to push the ball downfield. Cleveland and Pittsburgh rank 26th and 28th, respectively, in passing yards.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Steelers

    Ivory: Steelers

    Kenyon: Steelers

    Knox: Steelers

    Moton: Steelers

    O’Donnell: Browns

    Sobleski: Steelers

    Consensus: Steelers +4.5

    Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Browns 21

Houston Texans (0-1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)

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    Justin Fields (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

    DK Line: Bears -3

    Within the first two weeks of the season, neither of these teams have put together an offensive masterpiece, but both rank within the top 12 in points allowed. This matchup isn’t going to yield a lot of points, but Moton sees the same weakness in both defenses.

    “The offensive coordinators for both teams should implement a run-heavy game plan. Through two weeks, the Chicago Bears have allowed the most rushing yards, while the Houston Texans have permitted the third-most yards on the ground,” he said.

    “David Montgomery and Dameon Pierce will have a busy day for the Bears and Texans, respectively, but Chicago can add extra wrinkles to its ground attack with backup running back Khalil Herbert and dynamic quarterback Justin Fields. At 32 years old, Rex Burkhead doesn’t have the pep in his step to push Houston's run game over the top. The Bears’ eighth-ranked ground attack should outpace the Texans’ 27th-ranked rushing offense Sunday."

    Moton's vote of confidence in Chicago’s run game broke the tie, which tilts our consensus in the Bears' favor.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Bears

    Ivory: Bears

    Kenyon: Bears

    Knox: Texans

    Moton: Bears

    O’Donnell: Texans

    Sobleski: Texans

    Consensus: Bears -3

    Score Prediction: Bears 21, Texans 16

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1)

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    Patrick Mahomes (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

    DK Line: Chiefs -6.5

    Our experts couldn’t find a reason to take the Indianapolis Colts against the spread, and the public has gone heavy on the Kansas City Chiefs with 67 percent of wagers on the road favorite.

    How can you blame the majority here?

    The Chiefs offense hasn’t skipped a beat without wideout Tyreek Hill. Their passing attack ranks sixth, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 595 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 73 percent completion rate.

    Bettors should compare Mahomes’ numbers to Colts quarterback Matt Ryan’s passing statistics (547 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions with a 60 percent completion rate) to see why Kansas City heads into this game as the heavy favorite.

    Moton also made his decision based on the quarterback matchup.

    “Usually, when everyone picks one team it makes you think twice, but the Colts offense looks dreadful with Ryan in his age-37 term. If he cannot move the ball through the air, running back Jonathan Taylor will face a tough challenge against loaded boxes. The 2021 rushing champion ran for just 54 yards in a 24-0 blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.

    “Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ aerial attack still looks phenomenal without Hill because one of the league’s top quarterbacks spearheads the offensive attack. Kansas City should win big over a team that struggled to score against the Houston Texans and Jaguars.”

    Predictions

    Davenport: Chiefs

    Ivory: Chiefs

    Kenyon: Chiefs

    Knox: Chiefs

    Moton: Chiefs

    O’Donnell: Chiefs

    Sobleski: Chiefs

    Consensus: Chiefs -6.5

    Score Prediction: Chiefs 31, Colts 20

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

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    Lamar Jackson (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    DK Line: Ravens -3

    Even though the Baltimore Ravens have a clear edge in quarterback talent with Lamar Jackson, the spread suggests we’re in for a tight battle. The oddsmakers set this line for a good reason.

    Though the Ravens have a dynamic signal-caller who can create something out of nothing, they field the worst pass defense (ranked 32nd in yards allowed) headed into Week 3. We saw evidence of that as Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa recorded career highs in multiple passing categories against Baltimore last week, throwing for 469 yards, six touchdowns (two interceptions) with a 124.1 passer rating.

    Fortunately for Baltimore, New England has stretched defenses on plays few and far between. Quarterback Mac Jones only has two touchdown passes with a couple of interceptions.

    Like everyone else on the panel, Ivory chose the superior offense, and he noted a trend that's unfavorable to the Patriots.

    “I’m looking for the Ravens to bounce back in this spot after collapsing late and losing to the Dolphins last week. The defense has struggled to stop the pass while the offense is clicking. I don’t think a Mac Jones-led Patriots team can keep up the scoring with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Plus, the Patriots are 2-5 in their last seven games ATS. I’m riding the trend and the Ravens to win this one.”

    Predictions

    Davenport: Ravens

    Ivory: Ravens

    Kenyon: Ravens

    Knox: Ravens

    Moton: Ravens

    O’Donnell: Ravens

    Sobleski: Ravens

    Consensus: Ravens -3

    Score Prediction: Ravens 28, Patriots 23

New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)

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    Jameis Winston (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Saints -2.5

    Based on the 2.5-point spread, bettors should be careful with this matchup. Also, as Knox points out, the New Orleans Saints come into this game with some big question marks.

    “Maybe it's the uncertain status of Alvin Kamara (ribs), or perhaps it's Fox Sports' Jay Glazer's report that Jameis Winston is playing with four fractured vertebrae, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a very weird game for New Orleans. Winston can be pressured into mistakes, and the Panthers have a strong defensive front, so I think the miscues come in bunches as they did against the Bucs last week.

    “On paper, this should be an easy cover for New Orleans. However, I see this being a lot like the NO-ATL game in Week 1. The Saints and Panthers split the series last year, with each side winning at home. I'm not convinced that Carolina actually pulls out the win, but I think a desperate team at home makes this excruciatingly close.”

    If Kamara suits up, that should put anyone who took the Saints by a field goal at ease because he can take a lot of pressure off Winston. On the other hand, if the star running back misses consecutive contests, you may have second thoughts about taking New Orleans against the spread (we sure will).

    On Monday, Saints head coach Dennis Allen said Kamara is “feeling a bit better,” and he got in a limited practice on Wednesday.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Saints

    Ivory: Saints

    Kenyon: Saints

    Knox: Panthers

    Moton: Saints

    O’Donnell: Saints

    Sobleski: Saints

    Consensus: Saints -2.5

    Score Prediction: Saints 23, Panthers 17

Las Vegas Raiders (0-2) at Tennessee Titans (0-2)

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    Davante Adams (AP Photo/David Becker)

    DK Line: Raiders -2

    Rarely do you hear the words "must win" attached to a Week 3 contest, but in a stacked AFC, these 2021 playoff teams badly need a victory for 2022 postseason aspirations.

    In Week 2, the Las Vegas Raiders tasted defeat in an embarrassing fashion with a 29-23 overtime loss to an Arizona Cardinals squad (without three-time All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins) that trailed 20-0 at halftime.

    This week, quarterback Derek Carr said the team has to “learn how to win” after head coach Josh McDaniels spent the entire offseason teaching the squad “how not to lose.”

    Like the Raiders, the Titans lost in a heartbreaker when kicker Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal to beat the New York Giants in Week 1, but the Buffalo Bills ran them off the field with a 41-7 victory in Week 2.

    Between these floundering teams, Davenport thinks the Titans will control the game flow with the 2019 and 2020 rushing champion bludgeoning a bottom-third defense.

    Given how genuinely awful the 0-2 Titans looked Monday night against the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee is a hard team to be enthusiastic about. But the 0-2 Raiders have problems of their own, including a defense that ranks 23rd in the league after two weeks,” he said.

    “This sets up a game between two desperate teams where the Titans might actually be able to get Derrick Henry going, and if they can do that, they can control the game's tempo and finally establish at least a little positive momentum. Or at least that's what I keep trying to tell myself.”

    In a clash of offensive styles, our crew chose the Raiders’ pass-happy attack with Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow over the Titans’ run-heavy approach that features Henry, who is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Titans

    Ivory: Raiders

    Kenyon: Raiders

    Knox: Raiders

    Moton: Raiders

    O’Donnell: Raiders

    Sobleski: Raiders

    Consensus: Raiders -2

    Score Prediction: Raiders 28, Titans 24

Detroit Lions (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

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    D'Andre Swift (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Vikings -6

    Coming off a 24-7 Monday Night Football loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings will look to rebound against a division rival in the Detroit Lions, who have scored the second-most points and racked up the fourth-most yards leaguewide.

    Most of our panelists think the Vikings will redeem themselves with a win at home, but they’re not ready to lay the points on them with one of the league’s most productive offenses in their building.

    O’Donnell presented arguments for and against the Vikings, but he sided with the team that he believes needs a signature win Sunday.

    “Consider this my doubling down on Kirk Cousins and the Vikes. Nobody was really surprised to see one of the NFL's statistically worst Monday Night Football quarterbacks stumble face first into despair on the road against an Eagles team that is peaking a little too early. A lot of folks, this panel included, are high on the Lions coming off their first victory of the season. They are 2-0 ATS, 13-6 ATS in Dan Campbell's tenure if we add last season (and that includes a 1-1 straight up record and 2-0 ATS record vs. Minnesota), and the Lions took the same Eagles team that just thrashed the Vikes to the brink in Week 1; I respectfully understand all of that.

    “But a six-point-favored Vikings team is probably more than most anticipated, and that has me thinking the bookmakers are seeing things the way I do: Cousins and the Vikes offense will bounce back aggressively in this one. Detroit has proven to always be a threat to kick open the backdoor, but I'm taking a page out of Jim Fassel's book early here in the season and backing a Vikings team that needs to make a statement against a division threat in emphatic fashion.”

    Predictions

    Davenport: Lions

    Ivory: Lions

    Kenyon: Vikings

    Knox: Lions

    Moton: Lions

    O’Donnell: Vikings

    Sobleski: Lions

    Consensus: Lions +6

    Score Prediction: Vikings 33, Lions 30

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Jets (1-1)

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    Joe Burrow (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Bengals -5

    This past offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals revamped their offensive line, signing center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins. Despite those additions, quarterback Joe Burrow has taken 13 sacks (most in the NFL), and he’s thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three).

    Coming off a 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, who had backup quarterback Cooper Rush in for an injured Dak Prescott, the Bengals seem like they’re battling a hangover from a Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

    While Knox believes the Bengals will snap a three-game losing streak, he doesn’t see them doing so in dominant fashion.

    “I believe this will be a confidence-building game for the Bengals, but not in the traditional sense. I think we'll see Cincinnati pull out a close one after losing back-to-back games in nail-biting fashion,” Knox said.

    “Joe Burrow seems to be struggling with pressure recognition and pocket awareness right now, and that's an issue against a very talented front seven. Ideally, Cincinnati would take pressure off Burrow via the ground game, but I see another underwhelming rushing performance by Joe Mixon. Another up-and-down day awaits the Cincinnati offense. The Jets, meanwhile, are finding an offensive groove behind Michael Carter, Garrett Wilson and Co. I'd be more inclined to lean Bengals if Zach Wilson was under center, but Joe Flacco (two turnovers in two weeks) has been relatively careful with the ball, so I just don't see a big margin here.”

    Keep in mind that before the 2021 Bengals went on a hot streak, they lost 34-31 to the Jets, who had backup quarterback Mike White under center in place of Wilson.

    With Burrow, Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals have the offensive talent to blow out Gang Green, which explains why they’re the consensus pick, but their pass-protection and turnover issues could allow the Jets to stay close and cover the spread.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Bengals

    Ivory: Bengals

    Kenyon: Jets

    Knox: Jets

    Moton: Bengals

    O’Donnell: Bengals

    Sobleski: Bengals

    Consensus: Bengals -5

    Score Prediction: Bengals 27, Jets 21

Buffalo Bills (2-0) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)

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    Tyreek Hill (Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    DK Line: Bills -6

    The Buffalo Bills have trounced the reigning champion Los Angeles Rams 31-10 and delivered a 41-7 beatdown to the Tennessee Titans, who finished as the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year. They look dominant on both sides of the ball with quarterback Josh Allen (614 passing yards, seven touchdown passes and two interceptions with a 75.4 percent completion rate) performing at an MVP level, and edge-rusher Von Miller (two sacks, three pressures and four tackles for loss) giving the defense a significant boost on all three downs.

    With that said, our consensus came down to O’Donnell, who backed the Bills in Week 1 over the Rams and took them to cover a massive 10-point spread against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2. This time, he took the points over Buffalo.

    “One of the rare times I find myself opposite my MVP pick, Josh Allen, and the Bills. This is less about Tua's monster Week 2 performance and more of a feeling that the Bills have to come down to earth a bit, especially because they still can't figure out their running game and they're taking on a different Dolphins team from last season that can cause problems.

    “This game not being just a field-goal spread, plus Miami having an extra day to prepare, gives me faith in the points being the best play (similar to the Los Angeles Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs last week), even if a victory isn't the ultimate result.”

    Also worthy of note, Buffalo may have two rookies, first-rounder Kaiir Elam and sixth-rounder Christian Benford, matched up with a pair of explosive wideouts in All-Pro Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on the perimeter. Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Bills starting cornerback Dane Jackson avoided a serious (head/neck) injury. With that said, he could miss time to recover. By the way, head coach Sean McDermott said safety Micah Hyde had to get checked out at the hospital for a neck injury as well.

    Against a banged-up and inexperienced Bills secondary, the Dolphins can score enough points to make this one a nail-biter.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Dolphins

    Ivory: Bills

    Kenyon: Dolphins

    Knox: Bills

    Moton: Dolphins

    O’Donnell: Dolphins

    Sobleski: Bills

    Consensus: Dolphins +6

    Score Prediction: Bills 35, Dolphins 31

Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Washington Commanders (1-1)

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    Jalen Hurts (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

    DK Line: Eagles -6.5

    The Philadelphia Eagles had a convincing win over the Minnesota Vikings under the bright lights of the Monday Night Football stage. On a short week, they must refocus to face a division rival led by their former quarterback, Carson Wentz.

    Though the Eagles offense has made strides with dynamic third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and his new lead wide receiver in A.J. Brown, who’s caught 15 passes for 224 yards, Sobleski acknowledged the Washington Commanders have a lot of offensive talent as well.

    “The Eagles are on a roll to start this season. Hurts and Co. are 2-0 with the league's top-ranked offense in yards. But the Commanders aren't far behind their division rival. The transition to Carson Wentz has gone better than expected. Washington's offense averages 306.5 passing yards per game so far.

    “Eagles cornerback Darius Slay may be coming off one of the best games of his career, but the Commanders have three legitimate threats at wide receiver in Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson. In fact, Dotson's three receiving touchdowns lead all rookies. Maybe an anticipated Wentz meltdown is due, especially against his old team, but in the end, Washington has more than enough firepower to keep pace with the Eagles.”

    Wentz’s first matchup against his former club will dominate the headlines, but he must keep his emotions in check. The Commanders signal-caller has thrown three interceptions, and the Eagles have forced four turnovers in two weeks. If Wentz tries to fit one too many passes into tight windows, Philadelphia’s opportunistic defense will make him pay for it.

    We had a close call, but the majority of our group can see Wentz making an error that changes the game in favor of the Eagles.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Eagles

    Ivory: Eagles

    Kenyon: Commanders

    Knox: Eagles

    Moton: Eagles

    O’Donnell: Commanders

    Sobleski: Commanders

    Consensus: Eagles -6.5

    Score Prediction: Eagles 31, Commanders 23

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

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    Austin Ekeler (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Chargers -7

    The Los Angeles Chargers have had extra time to make corrections and get healthy after a 27-24 Thursday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, but they’ll face a Jacksonville Jaguars team that put together an impressive (24-0) shutout victory over the Indianapolis Colts last week.

    Thus far, the Jaguars have stood out to Sobleski with their play on both sides of the ball.

    “This selection is a nod to the Jaguars' improvement under the direction of head coach Doug Pederson. The Chargers are a better squad overall. However, Jacksonville has shown signs of life after back-to-back seasons as the league's worst team. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is working in rhythm as part of a much-improved offensive scheme. Christian Kirk looks like a legitimate No. 1 receiver with 12 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games with the franchise.

    “On defense, the Jaguars are physical and athletic. Jacksonville's front line dominated the Colts in Week 2. The Chargers are the favorite to win this game for a reason—because they're one of the league's most talented teams—but the underdog Jaguars can keep this one close.”

    The Chargers' scoring power likely hinges upon quarterback Justin Herbert’s condition as he deals with fractured rib cartilage and wideout Keenan Allen’s status (hamstring). If both head into this contest with little to no lingering effects from their injuries, Los Angeles can rack up 30-plus points. But if Herbert plays tentatively, the Jaguars defensive linemen may smell blood in the pocket and attack.

    In the event that Allen doesn’t suit up, we could see more of Joshua Palmer, who caught four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown last week, though tight end Gerald Everett and DeAndre Carter could also help fill the five-time Pro Bowl receiver's void as they did against the Chiefs.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Chargers

    Ivory: Chargers

    Kenyon: Jaguars

    Knox: Chargers

    Moton: Chargers

    O’Donnell: Chargers

    Sobleski: Jaguars

    Consensus: Chargers -7

    Score Prediction: Chargers 30, Jaguars 20

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

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    Cooper Kupp (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    DK Line: Rams -3.5

    To put Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray’s Week 2 comeback performance into perspective, he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, running all across the field to keep his team alive for a 29-23 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

    For a team to make a big comeback, the other squad must also collapse. Kenyon doesn’t think the Cardinals will pull off a comeback against a club that throttled them in the 2021 playoffs.

    “The Kliff-Kyler tandem looked like it was falling apart last week after the Cardinals fell into a 20-0 hole early before making a miraculous second-half comeback. Consider me skeptical that they will maintain that momentum against the defending Super Bowl champions. With the Rams being able to generate so much interior pressure with Aaron Donald, it should be a long day for Kyler Murray, who threw for 137 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions in their last matchup in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs last year.”

    Without star wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who’s serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, the Cardinals’ aerial attack could struggle with Donald on the interior and cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the secondary. Nonetheless, as we saw last week, Murray’s legs can become an equalizer, which swayed three of our panelists away from the consensus.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Cardinals

    Ivory: Cardinals

    Kenyon: Rams

    Knox: Rams

    Moton: Rams

    O’Donnell: Rams

    Sobleski: Cardinals

    Consensus: Rams -3.5

    Score Prediction: Rams 31, Cardinals 26

Atlanta Falcons (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

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    Marcus Mariota (Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    DK Line: Seahawks -2

    Our group likes this scrappy Atlanta Falcons squad. In Week 1, they almost outright beat the New Orleans Saints but still covered a 5.5-point spread. Last week, the NFC South club covered a 10.5-point line in a matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, scoring 17 points in the final eight-and-a-half minutes of that game.

    Against a lesser team than its last two opponents, Atlanta has a shot to jump into the win column and end a four-game losing streak that dates back to the 2021 campaign.

    Moton doesn’t see it that way, though. He’s intrigued by Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s comments about the offensive philosophy.

    “On Monday, Carroll admitted that the Seahawks have run a ‘solidly conservative’ offense, and he seems ready to let Geno Smith cook or at least give him more freedom to make plays downfield. Seattle should trust him,” he said.

    “Last year, Smith played four games in offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s system and started in place of Russell Wilson, who underwent surgery on his finger, for three of those contests, throwing for 702 yards, five touchdowns and an interception with a 68.4 percent completion rate. He could see a spike in production with a more leeway in the offense and wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the perimeter, especially in this matchup against the Falcons’ 22nd-ranked pass defense.”

    On Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Pete Carroll Show, the Seahawks lead skipper said they need to “keep expanding” offensively. Four of our panelists sided with Atlanta, but Moton believes Smith has enough talent around him to pull off the victory.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Seahawks

    Ivory: Falcons

    Kenyon: Seahawks

    Knox: Falcons

    Moton: Seahawks

    O’Donnell: Falcons

    Sobleski: Falcons

    Consensus: Falcons +2

    Score Prediction: Falcons 24, Seahawks 21

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

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    Aaron Jones (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

    DK Line: Buccaneers -1.5

    Recently, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t fared well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, losing both of his 2020 outings against them (one in the NFC Championship Game).

    However, Rodgers has a team that’s trended in the right direction in terms of health. Though left tackle David Bakhtiari continues to work his way back from rehab on a torn ACL, Pro Bowl offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins and wide receiver Allen Lazard made their 2022 season debuts last week.

    We also saw the emergence of Green Bay’s ground attack as Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon recorded a combined 33 rush attempts for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears.

    Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Cole Beasley to the practice squad—likely because of a thin wide receiver unit. In response to an appeal, the league upheld its decision to suspend Mike Evans for violating the player-safety policy after his involvement in an on-field skirmish last week. Chris Godwin and Julio Jones didn’t suit up in Week 2 because of hamstring injuries and missed practice on Wednesday.

    Moton’s concerns about Tom Brady’s supporting cast influenced him to give Green Bay the nod.

    “Brady has a backup center in Robert Hainsey and a rookie left guard in Luke Goedeke. Last week, left tackle Donovan Smith didn’t play because of a hyperextended elbow. His replacement, Josh Wells, went down with a calf injury, and the team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday. Now, he won’t have Evans because of a suspension. Meanwhile, Godwin and Jones remain questionable.

    “Tampa Bay's defense will keep the score close, but Brady doesn’t have enough around him with running back Leonard Fournette and wideout Russell Gage as his primary playmakers. The Packers will grind down the Buccaneers’ defensive front with their rushing attack for a victory in a low-scoring matchup.”

    Predictions

    Davenport: Packers

    Ivory: Packers

    Kenyon: Buccaneers

    Knox: Buccaneers

    Moton: Packers

    O’Donnell: Packers

    Sobleski: Packers

    Consensus: Packers +1.5

    Score Prediction: Packers 21, Buccaneers 20

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Denver Broncos (1-1)

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    Deebo Samuel (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

    DK Line: 49ers -1.5

    Under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the Denver Broncos offense still needs that get-right moment.

    After a stunning 17-16 season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos barely beat the Houston Texans in another clunky performance that included 13 penalties for 100 yards. Denver converted only three of its 12 third-down situations into first downs. By the way, the club trailed 9-6 heading into the fourth quarter.

    On Sunday, the Broncos will go up against a well-coached 49ers squad that has quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back under center after Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

    Despite the Broncos' sloppy execution, Davenport senses that Denver will get its act together on the field.

    “Given how completely out of sorts the Broncos have looked in their first two games, this smacks a bit of getting cute—and getting cute very rarely works out. But I can't shake the notion that the Broncos are a better team than what we've seen the first two weeks of the season, and if they can just stop shooting themselves in the foot, they'll show it.

    “With Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, the Niners are going to run the ball, play defense and try to win close ones. It's a recipe that has worked in the past, but Sunday night it sets the stage for Russell Wilson to pull off some late-game heroics in a win that should soothe some of the frayed nerves in Denver.”

    The oddsmakers set the line for an even contest, but if the Broncos continue to commit unforced errors, the 49ers should cover with ease.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Broncos

    Ivory: 49ers

    Kenyon: 49ers

    Knox: 49ers

    Moton: 49ers

    O’Donnell: 49ers

    Sobleski: 49ers

    Consensus: 49ers -1.5

    Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Broncos 20

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at New York Giants (2-0)

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    Saquon Barkley (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

    DK Line: Giants -1

    Before you wager your hard-earned money, remember, Cooper Rush is 2-0 as the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a top-10 unit in points (tied for ninth) and yards (sixth) allowed.

    In other words, the Cowboys know how to win ugly without quarterback Dak Prescott. That's how they pulled out a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, who have big-name players such as Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and Joe Mixon.

    With that said, the New York Giants have done the same in the first two weeks. They haven't scored more than 21 points in either game. Moreover, the Big Blue passing offense has accumulated the second-fewest yards. Yet this is one of six clubs with a 2-0 record.

    The Giants have leaned heavily on running back Saquon Barkley, who leads the league in rushing with 236 yards. In a key matchup, he's going against the Cowboys' 19th-ranked run defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown.

    Ivory chose the home favorite with skepticism directed toward the Cowboys.

    "No Prescott, no problem for Dallas? Is Rush the real deal? Will Michael Gallup be back? There are a lot of questions around the team. While the Giants seem to be figuring out the winning aspect early in the season, they have questions around their offense as well. I'm rocking with the home team. It's a division game with a lot of uncertainties on both sides, so look for home-field advantage to matter. New York is 2-0 against the spread, and that trend will continue."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Cowboys

    Ivory: Giants

    Kenyon: Giants

    Knox: Cowboys

    Moton: Cowboys

    O'Donnell: Giants

    Sobleski: Giants

    Consensus: Giants -1

    Score Prediction: Giants 23, Cowboys 20


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