NFL Week 3 game picks: Broncos, Eagles each suffer first defeat

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Lesson of the week: Going 0-3 changes your team's season.

Over the past 26 NFL campaigns, teams that have gone 0-3 have made the playoffs all of 2.3 percent of the time. That's three of 128 such squads making it to the postseason.

In contrast, how about teams that managed to pull out one win, and thus started 1-2? A much larger percentage, 24.9, made the playoffs.

Taking it a step further, only five teams since 1970 played in the postseason after going 0-3. The honor roll ...

» 1981 Jets: Lost in the Wild Card Round, quarterbacked by the immortal Richard Todd.

» 1982 Bucs: NFL expanded playoff field to 16 due to the players' strike. Bucs immediately dropped out with a loss in Big D.

» 1992 Chargers: Actually started 0-4, ended up losing in the Divisional Round. Nucleus of team would go on to hit Super Bowl XXIX a couple years later.

» 1995 Lions: Another Wayne Fontes roller-coaster team -- got blown out in the Wild Card Round.

» 1998 Bills: Flutie Flakes were all the rage, but Doug and the boys fell at Miami in Round 1.

So the question is, which winless ballclub will (at least temporarily) save its season this weekend with a win, and which will fall into the playoff void? See below. You might be surprised. And feel free to send me thoughts on any Week 3 matchup: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 11-5 on his predictions for Week 2, giving him a record of 22-10 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below:

Arizona Cardinals 28, Buffalo Bills 27

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

The Bills need a win in the worst way, but I don't think they're going to get it. Buffalo faced two beatable opponents in the first two weeks and came up empty. Now it's up to Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy to beat a high-level opponent. You know the Cardinals are going to get their points. Can Taylor find enough open targets in the passing game to keep pace? Buffalo receiver Sammy Watkins is obviously hampered by that foot. Thus, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer must not provide the Bills any help with short fields by way of interceptions. Call this a David Johnson game. #AZvsBUF

Oakland Raiders 26, Tennessee Titans 21

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Placing some degree of trust in the Raiders' defense and kicking game. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has to light a fire under his defense. The unit has been riddled, ransacked and run over in the last two games. So with Oakland's opponents putting up over 1,000 yards over two weeks, will Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota go bonkers? Probably not. Anticipate Tennessee running, running and running some more, as Oakland's run defense has allowed a plump 4.5 yards per carry. Can the Titans' defensive backs handle Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- that is, without the benefit of the zebras? Hmm. Sebastian Janikowski wins this sucker. #OAKvsTEN

Washington Redskins 27, New York Giants 24

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Make no mistake: No one in Washington is saying, "Hey, it's only Week 3." The time is now, as not only does the Redskins' record sit at 0-2, but they are the only winless team with both losses coming at home. Kirk Cousins' task: Drown the B.S. around him with quality throws. Matt Jones? The Washington back must put his foot in the dirt ... turf ... churned-up tire rubber ... whatever ... and plow forward. No dancing. Since it's Giants week, Washington should go with the Bill Parcells axiom of knowing the value of a 2-yard run. New York looks much better defensively than it has in recent years. But the $75 million question here is whether new Redskins cornerback Josh Norman will travel when the Giants inevitably move Odell Beckham Jr. around the formation. I like Big Blue this year, but Cousins and Co. are flat desperate. #WASvsNYG

Miami Dolphins 28, Cleveland Browns 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

With Josh McCown out, the Browns lose someone who sees the whole field. McCown might not be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better backup. That's why his name was caught up in the trade swirls this offseason. Alas, rookie Cody Kessler will become Cleveland's 26th starting quarterback since 1999. Anticipate Isaiah Crowell getting 20 carries for the Browns. Thinking this is the week Adam Gase's offense starts to move. Not necessarily because it's facing the Browns, but because Miami is finally playing at home and -- hold on to your socks -- quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be allowed to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Interesting stat: Cleveland leads the NFL in rushing yards on first down. The Browns are already over 200 on the season. #CLEvsMIA

Baltimore Ravens 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 21

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Tough call here. The Ravens looked flat for much of the day in Cleveland, while the Jaguars were hot garbage in San Diego. Baltimore has struggled running the ball consistently, particularly on first down. So quarterback Joe Flacco is facing second-and-not-manageable far too often. The connection with veteran receiver Mike Wallace looks legit. And, as mentioned in the Power Rankings, how fun has it been to watch Dennis Pitta get involved after his improbable comeback? Jacksonville must come up with answers defensively and vertically, as the Jaguars had none versus Philip Rivers last Sunday -- and Flacco is not shy with his deep ball. The best recipe for Jacksonville success is engendering a healthier ground game and getting receiver Allen Robinson involved early, even if it's on bubble screens. Get him going. #BALvsJAX

Green Bay Packers 20, Detroit Lions 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Lions-Packers feels like a low-scoring game, perhaps even as low as 17-14. Touchdowns are going to be hard to come by, with Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah on injured reserve and the Green Bay offense in a funk. Is there any hope to turn it around? Yes. The Packers must feed Eddie Lacy. The running back was inactive for these teams' last meeting in Green Bay -- a rare Lions win at Lambeau -- but he ran over Detroit while playing in front of the home crowd in 2013 (99 yards) and '14 (100 yards). If Aaron Rodgers is indeed off again, why not provide help? Green Bay seemed to get away from Lacy, going exclusively to James Starks for long stretches on Sunday ... which was understandable, I suppose, as the Packers were down two scores. Lacy looks more explosive than he did last year. The Lions need not be concerned about quarterback Matthew Stafford or even their defense, which fared pretty well on Sunday. Discipline is the name of the game for Detroit this week. The Lions suffered -- suffered -- through 17 penalties against the Titans. (Seventeen!) #DETvsGB

Cincinnati Bengals 22, Denver Broncos 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Denver has surpassed most expectations early with Trevor Siemian. If the Broncos can go 12-4 with him at quarterback, which seems possible, they will secure a legit chance to run the table at home in the postseason again. This matchup with Cincy presents one of the toughest challenges on their schedule. The Bengals are still without Vontaze Burfict, but they're at home after spending the first two weeks on the road. With the crowd behind them, I think they'll win. Cincinnati certainly does NOT want to fall to 1-2 -- especially considering unbeaten Baltimore and Pittsburgh both having winnable contests this weekend. The Bengals must get touchdowns -- not field goals -- in the red zone. C.J. Anderson could go off in this contest, as the Bengals have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL thus far. #DENvsCIN

Carolina Panthers 23, Minnesota Vikings 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Are you buying the Sam Bradford hype? It's OK if you are. Bradford was accurate, cool under pressure and ultimately victorious in his first start for the Vikings. These Panthers are a different animal. Start with the fact that, believe it or not, Carolina's passing game has been far more effective than the Packers' aerial attack so far. The mild trouble Minnesota's defense experienced with Aaron Rodgers getting out of the pocket last Sunday night will be amplified when Cam Newton exits stage left. Bradford is not one to scramble ... or throw picks -- but thinking he could be surprised by either Luke Kuechly's or Thomas Davis' ability to get depth. He is really going to miss the presence of Adrian Peterson, and the respect All Day demands from the back seven. Panthers prevail over a really tough opponent. #MINvsCAR

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19, Los Angeles Rams 17

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

This matchup has the potential to be a redux of the 1979 NFC Championship Game. I know you all remember that one. Or not. Los Angeles bested the Bucs 9-0 in a defensive slugfest. Tampa Bay starter Doug Williams went 2 for 13 with 12 yards passing and a pick before getting hurt. Meanwhile, the Rams rushed 53 times for 216 yards! Fast-forward to 2016. Couldn't this game go the same way? Los Angeles should run the football, control the clock and limit the Bucs' ground game (with no Doug Martin to defend). Problem is, I trust Jameis Winston to not turn the ball over this week. You can bet he and his teammates will be fired up after getting embarrassed in Arizona. Side question: Did any of you fine readers attend that '79 championship game? (@HarrisonNFL) #LAvsTB

Seattle Seahawks 30, San Francisco 49ers 10

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

Gabbertmania -- or what's left of it -- gets squashed in Seattle. The San Francisco offense showed much promise in Week 1, producing a few big plays (SEE: Vance McDonald) last Sunday. But this week, the Niners draw a ticked-off Seahawks defense. Much concern over the ailing ankle of Russell Wilson this week -- concern that certainly hasn't been tempered by consistent highlights of the O-line stumbling over itself. That said, the 49ers haven't won in the Pacific Northwest since Jim Harbaugh's first year coaching in San Francisco. The 49ers wideouts don't match up well against this D. Nor does the ground attack. In other news, 80 percent of Wilson > Gabbert. #SFvsSEA

Kansas City Chiefs 23, New York Jets 21

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Can't help but think the Chiefs bounce back this week. I know, I, too, saw the Jets' offense in Week 2. At one point, the way Chan Gailey's unit was rolling, I thought Blair Thomas and Laveranues Coles were going to come out and post 100-yard games. Kansas City's defense looked better last week in Houston than it did in the opener, and it should be a step closer to getting back to viability. Alex Smith also committed uncharacteristic turnovers in the Week 2 loss. While Philip Rivers torched the Chiefs, Ryan Fitzpatrick's career has been far more up and down. In his career year of 2015, Fitzpatrick only posted a 100-plus passer rating in one true road game: at Oakland, when he only threw five passes. #NYJvsKC

Indianapolis Colts 34, San Diego Chargers 28

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

A week ago, after Keenan Allen went down, you'd have thought Chargers at Colts would be an easy game to pick. Not anymore. The Bolts bounced back with an inspired beatdown of Jacksonville, while the Colts dropped to 0-2. Indy has problems protecting Andrew Luck, but "See our dominating pass rush" isn't exactly a pinned tweet from San Diego. Will Philip Rivers' receivers -- all the not-famous ones -- produce like they did against the Jags? Tyrell Williams is a big kid (6-foot-4, to be exact) who made hay last week -- he must step up for a passing game devoid of Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. The problem for the Chargers: Even if Jason Verrett shuts down T.Y. Hilton, Andrew Luck will enjoy many seconds to pick apart a San Diego team flying cross-country (like the Jags last week). Phillip Dorsett: 90 yards, TD. #SDvsIND

Pittsburgh Steelers 25, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Fun intrastate matchup that only rolls down the pike -- or however you cross Pennsylvania to get from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia -- every four years. What makes it more intriguing is that it's Game 3 in the growing legend of Carson Wentz. Even though the rookie phenom threw for less than 200 yards Monday night, Philly fanatics feel he is the second coming of Norm Van Brocklin (the last Eagles quarterback to win it all). Wentz's counterpart in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger, actually has won a title -- two of them, in fact -- and should exploit the Philadelphia secondary more effectively than Jay Cutler did in Week 2. The real key to the Eagles' 2-0 start: coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense, which is second in the NFL in points allowed. You realize this is only the third time in franchise history that the Eagles have won their first two games by 15 points or more? The last two instances of this: 1954 and 1980. Guess who made the Super Bowl in the 1980 campaign? Now I'm buying into the Wentz hype. #PITvsPHI

Dallas Cowboys 34, Chicago Bears 23

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Bears' defense can make any offense look sterling. They aren't stout enough up front. Their back end is near the back end of the league among secondaries. Dak Prescott should be able to take advantage of the latter. Meanwhile, Chicago's front seven could get mauled by the Cowboys' offensive line. Now, Chicago's pass rush could get much-needed rest on the sideline if the Bears a) were to decide on a running back or b) weren't starting Brian Hoyer. Unfortunately, I think Prescott will have enough time to check his Apple Watch and see how many of those No. 4 jerseys are moving on DallasCowboys.com. #CHIvsDAL

New Orleans Saints 34, Atlanta Falcons 28

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This marks the 10th anniversary of the Saints' return to the Louisiana Superdome post-Katrina. I did a special feature on this for NFL NOW, which you can see here. The '06 Saints rode the wave of the emotional victory over the Falcons -- and Steve Gleason's thunderous blocked punt -- all the way to their first NFC Championship Game. Ten years later, the Saints must win this matchup against Atlanta. They simply can't afford to go 0-3. (See: My intro atop this page for some yucky notes on such teams.) The Falcons lost in NOLA last year thanks to a botched center exchange, a red-zone turnover and, yes, a blocked punt that the Saints returned for a touchdown. If that last thing happens again Monday night, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will explode. #ATLvsNO

THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAME

Houston Texans 26, New England Patriots 20

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN

Dude, what a cool matchup we have going down in Foxborough. The Texans look to be a premier team in the NFL after two weeks, carrying a formidable defense and an offense that appears improved. Rookie receiver Will Fuller has people in Houston more excited than when Mike Scott was scuffing baseballs. If the Texans are to be top-shelf, they must win this game in New England. It's a rite of passage that the Schaub-Kubiak Texans couldn't bridge. The Patriots look like their usual selves, save for what's going on under center. Rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett is set to line up at quarterback, where he presumably will have to throw passes that travel more than 1 yard in the air. Think this is the game, among the four Tom Brady's missing due to suspension, that New England loses. #HOUvsNE

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