Things started to even out in the NFL in Week 3, though predicting the games will never be an exact science.
The word of the week was blowout.
Even in matchups where one team was heavily favored, such as New England over Jacksonville and Arizona over San Francisco, we saw some exciting 40-plus-point wins. Indeed, there weren't many nail-biters in Week 3, save perhaps for the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Baltimore Ravens by just four points.
Taking what we learned from this week, we'll make picks and review odds for all Week 3 games, as well as preview some must-see matchups—all of which are divisional clashes this week.
|NFL Week 4 Matchups, Odds and Picks|
|Thursday, Oct. 1||Baltimore Ravens||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ravens||BAL -2|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||Jets||Ev|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Indianapolis Colts||Colts||IND -8.5|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||New York Giants||Buffalo Bills||Bills||BUF-5|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Panthers||CAR -3|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington Redskins||Redskins||PHI -3|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Oakland Raiders||Chicago Bears||Raiders||OAK -1|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Houston Texans||Atlanta Falcons||Falcons||ATL -5|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Kansas City Chiefs||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals||CIN -3|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Cleveland Browns||San Diego Chargers||Chargers||SD -7|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Green Bay Packers||San Francisco 49ers||Packers||GB -9.5|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals||ARI -6|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Minnesota Vikings||Denver Broncos||Broncos||DEN -4.5|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Dallas Cowboys||New Orleans Saints||Saints||NO -7|
|Monday, Oct. 5||Detroit Lions||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks||N/A|
|Michelle Bruton's Picks; Odds via OddsShark|
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
In addition to the fact that the Ravens are struggling mightily to start their season, going 0-3 for the first time in franchise history, they've also been dealt the undesirable card of having to face two AFC North opponents in the first four games of the season.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't 3-0 like the Ravens' Week 3 adversary, the Cincinnati Bengals, they are 2-1 and are looking like an AFC title contender—at least, they were until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down with a knee injury against the St. Louis Rams Sunday.
The extent of Roethlisberger's injury is unknown, but it is clear he won't be taking the field against the Ravens in Week 4. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Roethlisberger is expected to miss at least four weeks with the injury, potentially more if it's a torn ACL.
With Roethlisberger available, the spread for this game would likely be at least a touchdown, but without him, the Ravens are the smallest of favorites against the Steelers. Sure, Pittsburgh got Le'Veon Bell back in Week 3 and he rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown, but so much of Pittsburgh's offense runs through Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown via short, quick outs.
Backup Michael Vick wasn't as adept in that system and doesn't have the relationship or the experience with Brown that Roethlisberger does.
The Ravens, meanwhile, almost pulled it out against the Bengals, which have been looking like one one of the best teams in the league. The Ravens overcame a 14-0 deficit and took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, but ultimately couldn't contain Andy Dalton.
That might be a different case against Vick.
Prediction: Ravens 28, Steelers 24
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
This divisional battle features a Miami team that started out strong but is now in danger of losing three games in a row against a Jets team that has surprised this season.
The Dolphins looked completely lost on Sunday in a total beatdown by the Buffalo Bills, losing 41-14 in one of the week's many blowouts.
Though Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill set a franchise record for consecutive passes without an interception, with 160, it turned south in an ugly way as he racked up three picks by the time the rout was over.
The Jets, meanwhile, may be able to take advantage of Tannehill's recent picks problem. They currently are tied for the lead in the league in interceptions, though they weren't able to pick off Sam Bradford of the Philadelphia Eagles in their loss on Sunday.
The Eagles' win, their first of the season, may help the Dolphins pinpoint what they need to do to overpower the Jets. Special teams, for example, appears to be a weakness, with Philadelphia's Darren Sproles having burned New York's coverage unit for an 89-yard punt-return touchdown.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, like Tannehill, also threw three interceptions on Sunday, so both quarterbacks enter the matchup hoping to forget an ugly stat sheet.
Ultimately, this game comes down to New York's defense against Miami's offense. The Jets had 10 takeaways in the first two games of the season, but only one on Sunday.
Which New York team will show up at Sun Life Stadium?
Prediction: Jets 17, Dolphins 14
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals looked downright fearsome on Sunday, blowing out the San Francisco 49ers by 40 points. There's no question they have earned their spot atop the NFC West.
The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, memorably beat division rival Seattle in Week 1, and with that tiebreaker, they sit tenuously at second place in the division despite sharing a 1-2 record with the 49ers and the Seahawks.
Was St. Louis' Week 1 victory a fluke? Or does this team have a shot at competing for a wild-card spot in the NFC with former perennial contenders San Francisco and Seattle—who also happen to be division rivals—struggling to start the year?
Opponents have found it extremely difficult to slow down Arizona's offense. Heading into Week 3, Arizona led the league in scoring, with an average of 39.5 points scored per game. The Cardinals will likely hold their spot heading into Week 4, given that they scored almost 50 points on Sunday.
Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald, whom some have called past his prime, certainly didn't look it against San Francisco. He had 134 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Rusher Chris Johnson also had two scores.
"We're not clicking on all cylinders yet," Fitzgerald said after the game, per the Associated Press and via ESPN.com, "and that's scary to think about, that we can get much better."
But it's not all Carson Palmer and his weapons. Arizona's special teams and defense have been lighting up the scoreboard as well. In Week 3, the Cardinals intercepted 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick twice for scores.
How do the Rams beat a team like that? It all starts with bringing pressure up front to disrupt Palmer. Take away Palmer, and you take away the flow of the offense. The Rams also need to have some takeaways in this game, because it's almost a given that Arizona will. Given that St. Louis still has the best defensive front on paper in the league, it shouldn't be impossible.
It's not enough to match the Cardinals blow for blow on offense, if that were even possible, because they'll earn points in other ways.
Prediction: Cardinals 38, Rams 17
NFL Odds via OddsShark and current as of Sept. 27