NFL Week 3 game picks: Chiefs edge Ravens; Rams top Browns

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Gregg Rosenthal went 11-5 on his predictions for Week 2, bringing his season record to 22-9-1. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 22

Buffalo Bills 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | New Era Field (Orchard Park, N.Y.)

Josh Allen might always look like a relief pitcher who has bouts of wildness, but it's hard to ignore the increasing number of outrageous throws he makes against pressure. After completing the MetLife double to open the season, the Bills' offense is 11th in points, 13th in yards-per-play and 16th in efficiency. Head coach Sean McDermott would gladly take those totals for the entire season and let his defense do the rest. I anticipate the Bengals will keep this game closer than expected after last week's embarrassment, but the mismatch between Buffalo's playmaking defense (with emerging DT Harrison Phillips) and Cincinnati's injured offensive line is too great to ignore.

Philadelphia Eagles 20, Detroit Lions 19

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)

Even the Eagles aren't injury-proof. One of the deepest skill-position groups in football doesn't look so fearsome after losing DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and backup tight end Dallas Goedert in one week. Combine that attrition with a running game that didn't have a gain over 5 yards in Atlanta, and it's fair to expect Lions coach Matt Patricia to slow down this offense more than he did in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles are also missing three key defenders (Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan and Kamu Grugier-Hill), shrinking the once-large talent gap between these two rosters. In short: Don't expect the Jim Schwartz Revenge Game to be one-sided.

New England Patriots 29, New York Jets 6

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)

Despite the presence of Tom Brady, Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, the Patriots' secondary is the strength of this roster. Through two weeks, according to NFL Media Research, the Patriots' top four cornerbacks (Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and J.C. Jackson) have given up 25 catches on 54 targets. They've broken up 10 of those passes and intercepted another. That's preposterous, and the figures should only improve with Jets third-stringer Luke Falk coming to town.

While Jets coach Adam Gase has enjoyed success against Bill Belichick defenses, he's never coached an offense this one-dimensional. The Patriots will sell out to stop revived running back Le'Veon Bell, leaving little hope for Gase to even register one of those moral victories in Foxborough that former Jets coach Todd Bowles specialized in.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Patriots released Antonio Brown on Friday after this story had already been published.

Minnesota Vikings 24, Oakland Raiders 17

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)

Kirk Cousins' gruesome red-zone interception in last Sunday's loss at Green Bay, the worst throw of his worst game as a Viking, wasn't the most troubling part of his performance. Cousins got a chance to make amends for his blunder with plenty of time left, but he threw another would-be interception that was dropped, then badly overthrew Adam Thielen to cap a crushing three-and-out. He was on tilt during the fourth quarter of a division game at Lambeau Field. The Vikings can only hope he bounces back better this week.

The matchup certainly favors that. This Raiders defense is playing hard, yet the pass rush remains undermanned. The offense gets Richie Incognito back but could be without Trent Brown. In a matchup between two starting running backs who keep creating yards after contact on carry after carry, Dalvin Cook is the one more likely to be asked to salt away the game late.

Kansas City Chiefs 33, Baltimore Ravens 30

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)

It's not hyperbole to say this is the best Week 3 quarterback matchup of all time. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the first two QBs in the Super Bowl era to complete over 70 percent of their passes with seven touchdowns and no picks in the first two weeks, and now they face each other. The Ravens and Chiefs lead the NFL in passing plays over 20 yards, and both of their defenses rank in the top 10 in big plays allowed, so don't expect the fireworks to stop now.

Like a young Michael Jordan, Mahomes focused on improving a specific part of his game this offseason. His ability to create extra time to throw with his movement inside and outside the pocket has helped the 24-year-old MVP look better than a year ago. Jackson is more obviously improved, although folks are a little too surprised that a wildly talented 22-year-old quarterback took big strides when the signs were all there. Lamar's run to the edge on a read-option remains the easiest 8-yard gain in football, and the types of dimes he threw against Arizona were eye-opening -- to the boundary into tight coverage and delicately over the top of zone defenses. The overtime matchup between these two teams last year was an instant classic and provided Mahomes' MVP moment. Expect more of the same Sunday -- and for the rest of the 2020s -- while pitying the viewers stuck with local game coverage of mere mortals.

SNEAKY GOOD GAME OF THE WEEK: Indianapolis Colts 24, Atlanta Falcons 21

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)

The Colts run the style of offense the Falcons say they want to run. Guard Quenton Nelson and his merry band of pancake makers have led the way to the second-highest rushing-yardage total and the fourth-highest rushing DVOA through two weeks despite facing two solid defenses in the Chargers and Titans. The ground game is complemented by an old-school quarterback with an old man's game: Jacoby Brissett specializes in unorthodox moves to buy time in the pocket and launch vertical strikes to a speedy group of wideouts including T.Y. Hilton, Deon Cain and Parris Campbell. When the Colts' offense has absolutely needed a touchdown drive in each of the past two weeks, they've delivered deposits into the mojo bank. Atlanta's offense isn't as balanced, with the 30th-most-efficient rushing attack weighing down Matt Ryan.

Green Bay Packers 20, Denver Broncos 13

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)

When I watch the Packers on Game Pass, I hear Aaron Rodgers repeating "We got a defense" in the back of my head. Perhaps he was mumbling it to himself, too, during the 11 straight drives on which Green Bay failed to score points to end their Week 2 win over the Vikings.

After starting the season against back-to-back elite defenses within the NFC North, facing the surprisingly toothless Broncos pass rush should be a relief. Somehow a team with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has yet to record a single sack or turnover. That stat should change in Week 3, but it's hard to imagine the Broncos doing much damage on offense. Joe Flacco's gang has to work hard to score with long drives and few big plays. This matchup between two of football's slowest-paced teams could create a close game and plenty of chances to get a beer. Rodgers should happily take these boring wins over high-octane losses any day.

Dallas Cowboys 30, Miami Dolphins 10

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)

On one hand, Dak Prescott's agent couldn't have created an easier slate of defenses to face in September than the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins. On the other, Dak leads the NFL in completion percentage, touchdowns, yards-per-attempt, QBR and sack percentage. The subtle timing, pre-snap adjustments and quick processing of information Dak has shown off are repeatable skills that can carry over to the meat of Dallas' schedule. Now 26, Dak is playing like a veteran whose experience and expertise is matching up with his physical gifts, buoyed by a coordinator in Kellen Moore who knows the QB's strengths best. Even if the Dolphins' lone survivor, Xavien Howard, checks Amari Cooper on Sunday, the injury to Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup won't be enough to slow down this offense. The Dolphins were already starting two cornerbacks (Eric Rowe and Jomal Wiltz) that wouldn't make most teams, and now they have to replace safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Dak's price tag will only go up with every successive tomato can he tosses aside.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, New York Giants 24

4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)

Todd Bowles has turned the Bucs' defense into one of the season's early surprises by playing to its strengths. In a league where pass rushers and cornerbacks should matter most, Bowles is counting on the great wall of Tampa (Ndamukong Suh/Vita Vea/William Gholston/Lavonte David) to stop top runners like Saquon Barkley and hoping he schemes up enough pressure to create confusion. Expect Bowles' NFL-leading blitz percentage to remain high against Daniel Jones, a.k.a. Danny Dimes, a.k.a. The Only Living QB in New York.

The Giants offense is safe to watch again, with Jones' mobility and quick release adding to a group that could get Sterling Shepard back this week from a concussion. Unfortunately, Jones can't help a defense where the pass rushers, linebackers and defensive backs are all battling to see who can be blamed the most. General manager Dave Gettleman needs Jones to come in and perform partly to distract from the struggles of another 2019 first-round pick, DeAndre Baker, ranked dead last out of 106 qualifiers in PFF's early cornerback grades.

Arizona Cardinals 24, Carolina Panthers 21

4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)

Kyler Murray has already transformed the Cardinals. They've gone from the worst offense in football to 12th in scoring and yardage despite bringing back nearly the same offensive line, the same top two receivers and the same running backs as last season. Larry Fitzgerald didn't have a single catch over 40 yards in the last three years; he already has four this season. Murray hasn't even used his rushing ability yet, but he'll drop a back-shoulder throw down the seam or a back-foot bomb down the sideline that takes your breath away a few times each game. They are going no-huddle like they are the Sam Wyche Bengals. Cardinals fans should be very excited about the future, starting with Sunday's prime chance to achieve a 1-1-1 record against a discouragingly mediocre Panthers defense.

With Cam Newton nursing a foot injury, the Panthers will likely trot out undrafted second-year passer Kyle Allen, who isn't necessarily a pushover. He had one of the best first NFL starts for a quarterback that no one saw in Week 17 a year ago, albeit mostly against Saints backups. Allen can hold his own, but he can't lift a franchise like Murray.

UPDATE: The Panthers have officially ruled Newton out for Sunday's game.

HARDEST GAME TO PREDICT: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, San Francisco 49ers 27

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)

I don't know what to believe with these two teams. The 49ers can't possibly be as good as they looked in Week 2, because even the 1984 49ers didn't look that good most weeks. Kyle Shanahan will have games where he creates chunk plays before the ball is even snapped, and it finally appears he has the right players to execute his vision. Rookie Deebo Samuel profiles as a future No. 1 receiver, and the backfield tandem of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert is playing better together than Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman could have if they were healthy. The defense is ranked second in DVOA. While this all looks primed for a market correction, are the Steelers capable of bringing San Francisco down to Earth?

GM Kevin Colbert's trade of a first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was a remarkable show of faith in Mike Tomlin to maximize Fitzpatrick's ability and in new starting quarterback Mason Rudolph to prevent Pittsburgh from drafting in the top five next April. (Or it's a sign Colbert may not be around much longer?) I have a hard time imagining the Steelers at 0-3 and the 49ers at 3-0, yet it also takes a leap of faith to imagine this Steelers defense making a stop when it absolutely needs to. I'll jump.

Seattle Seahawks 26, New Orleans Saints 24

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | CenturyLink Field (Seattle)

Despite Russell Wilson's remarkably mature performance in Pittsburgh, this matchup sets up as a Brian Schottenheimer run-heavy spectacular. Seattle's pass protection has caught a bad case of "Oh no, not agains," while the Saints' front four of Cameron Jordan, David Onyemata, Marcus Davenport and Trey Hendrickson have been incredibly disruptive against the pass. The last three words there are the key, as the Saints enter Week 3 dead last in rush defense efficiency, same as it ever was.

Sean Payton is playing coy about how much Taysom Hill will play quarterback alongside tag-team partner Teddy Bridgewater. It's safe to expect Payton to empty the playbook for his Coach of the Year reel, but New Orleans mostly needs Bridgewater to be more decisive and aggressive with the throws that are available. Expect a spirited Saints effort that Wilson thwarts at the last moment ... same as it ever was.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Houston Texans 27

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, Calif.)

Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year, Drew Brees is out for a while and Eli Manning has been benched. But Philip Rivers keeps trucking along with 210 consecutive starts since taking over the Chargers' job in 2006, a bedrock of consistency for a team that is hemorrhaging players by the week. The Chargers are now missing at least six starters, including both their safeties following Adrian Phillips' broken arm. The Texans have a lot to build on, from a surprisingly strong running game to a powerful front seven led by a resurgent Whitney Mercilus, yet their offensive line and secondary still stand out as huge problem areas. Rivers often does his best work just when things look the bleakest, and the beginning of this season qualifies.

Los Angeles Rams 24, Cleveland Browns 22

8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) | FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)

Stalwart left tackle Andrew Whitworth is coming off perhaps his worst game as a Ram, highlighting what's been an early trouble spot for the defending NFC champions. They have struggled up front, ranking No. 30 in PFF's pass-blocking grades and No. 28 in run-blocking through two weeks. That's worrisome coming into a matchup against a loaded Browns defensive line led by Myles Garrett.

The iffy line play has contributed to a lack of offensive rhythm, which has also plagued the Browns. Baker Mayfield has hit some wow throws, as usual, but there haven't been many on-time throws to go with his four picks, eight sacks and 6.4 adjusted yards per attempt. Both offenses should be playing better by November, but I trust Sean McVay's coaching staff in Year 3 over Freddie Kitchens in Game 3 to find ways to win when the script doesn't go according to plan on Sunday night.

MONDAY, SEPT. 23

Washington Redskins 16, Chicago Bears 14

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | FedExField (Landover, Md.)

The Bears are averaging 4.3 net passing yards per attempt and 4.5 yards per rush, which is probably not the type of balance coach Matt Nagy is looking for. Nagy understandably went to "Hide Mitchell Trubisky at all costs" mode against Denver last week, just as Redskins coach Jay Gruden entered "I'm not firing my defensive coordinator yet" mode earlier than expected after two desultory outings. In this matchup of an eminently stoppable force (the Bears' offense) meeting a rather movable object (the Redskins' defense), I toss up my hands and look to the NFL Media Research packet gods for guidance. The Redskins have won seven straight games in this series dating back to 2004, and this Monday night slugfest should be one to make Steve Spurrier and Dick Jauron proud.

THURSDAY'S GAME

LOCK OF THE WEEK: Tennessee Titans 18, Jacksonville Jaguars 14

8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network) | TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Drafting Leonard Fournette fourth overall in 2017 over Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson was the ultimate short-term gain leading to long-term pain for Jaguars showrunners Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone. Fournette is playing much better than a season ago, but that doesn't change the bottom line for this franchise. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II was composed in his first start, but he's still running a condensed offense with a thin pass-catching group and thinner offensive line. Fournette essentially doesn't have a backup, and the still-talented defense has more holes than it used to.

The Titans have their own painful quarterback decision to make next year, but first they are seeking to escape 9-7 quicksand. This matchup comes at a perfect time, with Tennessee's veteran secondary (the Titans rank third in net yards-per-attempt allowed, per Pro Football Reference) well-suited to smother Minshew Mania. If this game marks the conclusion of the Jalen Ramsey era in Jacksonville, it figures to end with a whimper against a Titans team disinclined to throw the ball much unless it's necessary. It shouldn't be on Thursday night.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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