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NFL Week 3 game picks: Falcons squeak by Lions; Chiefs hit 3-0

Call it SAVE THE SEASON time, because that is precisely what Week 3 is.

For those 0-2 teams that slip to 0-3, making the postseason goes from improbable to nearly impossible. Even as an organization like the Jets is evaluating players -- and ridding itself of old contracts in the process -- every young squad still holds out hope it can string wins together to become the proverbial Cinderella team.

For the Giants, Chargers and Saints -- franchises that all had designs on at least wild-card spots, if not division titles -- it's now or never. But all three face tough division opponents. New York and New Orleans will be on the road, to boot.

That's why the month of September matters. Unlike in other sports, NFL teams can rarely post an awful month in the standings and still be in the thick of the championship race. As for the rest of the league schedule, there are several matchups you don't see too often -- like Steelers at Bears, for example. That's a really old pairing, too. Would love to hear your rare take on any of the games below: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-6 on his predictions for Week 2, giving him a record of 19-12 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below:

Baltimore Ravens 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 10

The season-ending ankle injury to guard Marshal Yanda takes the Ravens' attack from ridiculous crawl to ludicrous crawl. Like "Spaceballs," but the opposite. Getting movement on the Jags' formidable front seven will be hard without the game's best interior lineman. Of course, Doug Marrone's Jacksonville defense can only be stout for so many plays. If turnovers from the quarterback and other offensive gaffes keep that unit on the field too long, it'll tire out -- like it did against the Titans. So the less-sucky offense wins in London. That Baltimore defense has been legit through the preseason and two weeks of real football. It's created as many turnovers as points allowed! Yikes. #BALvsJAX

Indianapolis Colts 23, Cleveland Browns 20

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Admittedly, there have been quite a few garbage games this season. Well, at least Browns at Colts promises to be competitive, even if only 1 percent of the country (generous?) sees it. There were signs of life from Indy's offensive and defensive units last week, and with this game being at home, the Colts will secure their first win. Jacoby Brissett will hopefully get the ball out quicker this week, bringing some rhythm to the hit-or-miss passing game. Indy's secondary played a bit better against Carson Palmer after getting torched by Jared Goffin Week 1. Stepping into sacks was DeShone Kizer's biggest failing the Browns' season opener. He's not exactly stepping into the hornets' nest at Lucas Oil or anything, but the Colts did get to Palmer four times. Cleveland RB Isaiah Crowell should secure 20 carries and your fantasy heart. That sounded weird even as I was typing it.

Fun fact: The Browns have led 0.0 percent of the time this season. That means never. #CLEvsIND

Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 16

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Giving the Giants 16 points might be generous. Should I just change it to six now, so I don't have to call our editors to alter it this weekend? (They don't want to think about Big Blue's offense any longer than you do.) The only thing more invisible than Eli Manning's elitism right now is Brandon Marshall's role in the offense. I like Manning as a player, but he's off to a rough start. Admittedly, Eli's offensive line has more than contributed to his struggles. At least when Marshall is thrown the ball, he can ... uh ... well. I like Philly's defensive line against Manning's protection by a country mile. That poor guy has already been sacked eight times.

Fun fact: Philly holdovers Darren Sproles, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, the ol' ball and chains, have outgained sexy free-agent acquisitions Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount. #NYGvsPHI

Miami Dolphins 30, New York Jets 14

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Dolphins at Jets will be an extremely close, ugly football game until late in the fourth quarter. Jay Cutler will throw 55 bubble screens and Josh McCown will throw 55 times to guys you've never heard of. Well, maybe not, if Jermaine Kearse and Matt Forte get involved in the Jets' offense again. Would like to see more work for Bilal Powell (18 touches in two games). Hey, Jets tight ends have six catches so far this season, which is like Kellen Winslow-Mickey Shuler numbers for this team. Throwing to the RBs and TEs short could mitigate Miami's clear advantage over New York's offensive line. Dude, the Dolphinsplayed a West Coast game, now go to the East Coast, then fly over the big pond to London, then back to Miami. They'll be so tired by early October, you might have to drag them off that plane. Er, uh, maybe that's not such a fine idea ...#MIAvsNYJ

Denver Broncos 20, Buffalo Bills 13

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Think this week's game in Buffalo will go a little differently for the hot Broncos. No doubt, Trevor Siemian and Co. have gotten off to a fine start on offense, but they have yet to play on the road, and the Bills' defense is better than both the Chargers' and Cowboys' groups. You know, Siemian is sporting the same haircut Jake Plummer donned during his first year with the franchise, before "The Snake" went all mountain man. Would like to see Siemian move from the feathered "Eight is Enough" hairdo to something more Alice In Chains. His running game has not so silently been the key to the Broncos' success and should only get better if Devontae Booker returns to the rotation. If Buffalo is to have a chance in this game, Tyrod Taylor must convert a few third downs with his legs, and his team needs to prevail in the kicking game. As solid as the Bills' ground attack has been in the past, guess which team is leading the league in rushing? #DENvsBUF

Carolina Panthers 16, New Orleans Saints 14

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Tough game to call. The Saints have looked awful thus far. The Panthersare missing their most important offensive player not named Cam Newton. While I have a hard time seeing New Orleans start the season 0-3, this is a tough road test. Carolina has allowed six points in two games. I don't care if they played the Bills and the University of North Texas Mean Green -- that's impressive. Sunday's matchup in Charlotte would be the perfect time for the Saints to let the hard-charging Adrian Peterson show what he has left in the tank, potentially stymieing the Panthers pass rush. If, that is, he's given the ball. Maybe Alvin Kamara receives the workload. Maybe Carolina wins.

Fun fact: Did you know Cam Newton has a winning head-to-head record against Drew Brees? #NOvsCAR

Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Chicago Bears 10

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Ooooh ... this feels like one of those patented Steelers play-down-to-their-opponents-on-the-road-for-the-64th-time games. Eww. Please, no. The NFL is better when we can count on at least five really good teams. Pittsburgh, which made it to the doorstep of Super Bowl LI, should be part of the organizational elite. That is, until Mike Glennon completes a few vertical throws, one of the Steelers' receivers fumbles and CBS is mired in a 10-10 penalty-fest after halftime. If Chicago is to send Pittsburgh to the 2-1 pack, it'll need to utilize Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen as much as possible. No need to put the outcome squarely on the shoulders of Glennon. Going with the Steelers. No, I don't feel all flowery about it.

Fun fact: With Cohen on the field, the Bears average 2.61 more yards per rush. Some of that can be attributed to Cohen's shiftiness; yet, it also reflects defenses being less sure about what the Chicago offense will do when the versatile rookie is on the field. #PITvsCHI

Atlanta Falcons 30, Detroit Lions 24

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

This is a juicy affair between two NFC playoff teams from a year ago, though nobody seems to give the Lions any credit. They are 2-0, you know. The fast track at Ford Field doesn't exactly give Detroit a true home-field advantage in this one, as the Falcons' offense plays much faster on field turf than grass. The Lions' pass rush got one of those speed passes from the Giants' offensive line last week, like the kind you used to beg your mom for when you wanted to skip lines at Raging Waters or Hurricane Harbor. The Falcons' O-line won't be giving any passes to Ziggy Ansah. If Lions MLB Jarrad Davis (concussion) misses time, look out for a 100-yard day from RB Devonta Freeman. Would be fantastic if Freeman's counterpart, Ameer Abdullah, carries the football 25 times. He'll need to, given how efficiently Matt Ryan is playing. Since Week 14 of last season (including the playoffs), Ryan has completed 72 percent of his passes, with a 22:0 TD-to-INT ratio. By the way, don't swim in the lazy river with your mouth open. #ATLvsDET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23, Minnesota Vikings 16

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Update: With the news that Sam Bradfordis expected to be out with a knee issue, I'm going with the visiting Bucs this weekend. The Vikings' offense barely pulled out of neutral with Case Keenum at the helm in Week 2, causing the Minnesota defense to spend almost 39 minutes out on the field. The concern here is that if Keenum can't get the football to Stefon Diggs on the outside, the Vikings won't be able to keep up if the Bucs' aerial game gets going. That wasn't necessary for Jameis Winston and company last week, as Mike Glennon turnovers and the Bears' defense provided Tampa with a 26-nothing halftime lead. As far as Jameis Winston ... during his career, he is 1-6 against with 2.4 giveaways per game against defenses that finished in the top 10. Make it 2-6. #TBvsMIN

New England Patriots 30, Houston Texans 14

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Against the defending champs, Deshaun Watson will start his second career game, which will give him just 236 fewer starts than Tom Brady. That's OK, though, because it would take Brady about 49 quarterback sneaks to equal Watson's touchdown scamper in Cincinnati. Texans at Patriots was the Jacoby Brissett game last year, when the then-rookie scampered all over Houston's defense in a blowout win. As you'll recall, this resilient Houston team gave New England all it could handle for one half in last year's Divisional Round. Not sure Mike Vrabel's defense has the corners this time around, while Brady's accuracy on short passes can neutralize Houston's vaunted pass rush. The Texans LBs will also have to stay with James White and Dion Lewis in the flat (and beyond).

Fun fact: Going back to last season, Patriots are 11-0 without Rob Gronkowski. If he doesn't play Sunday? 12-0. #HOUvsNE

Tennessee Titans 20, Seattle Seahawks 13

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

If the Seahawks' offense is indeed better than the Jags' attack, it is probably only superior by the margin of, say, Green Day over Candlebox. The Titans' defense bottled up Jacksonville last week, forcing three turnovers, with the only touchdowns coming in garbage time. More importantly, Tennessee's strong run game is providing Dick LeBeau's defense an ample breather. The Titans piled up 179 yards and three scores last Sunday, while only allowing the Jags to run 61 total plays. (Again, with a large chunk of those coming late.) In contrast, Seattle's offense has royally sucked. The 'Hawks currently rank 29th in yards per play, despite playing the Packers' and 49ers' defenses.

Fun fact: Seattle is 2-10 on the road in September under Pete Carroll. #SEAvsTEN

Green Bay Packers 30, Cincinnati Bengals 17

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

You'll see a different Packers team at home this weekend. Well, if all (or, at least, most) of the walking wounded return to action. Green Bay lost a highly visible game in Atlanta last Sunday night without the services of either offensive tackle and -- by the end of the game -- Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Mike Daniels and Davon House. Maybe the latter doesn't mean anything to you, but he is a starter in the Packers secondary -- the same group that was supposed to be vastly improved this season (but which Matt Ryan easily riddled). Cincy looks terrible right now, healthy or not, with the offensive line being the biggest culprit. Andy Dalton isn't playing well enough, even when he does have time, to win this matchup on the road.

Fun fact: The Cincinnati Reds are currently scoring more per game (4.7 runs) than the Bengals (4.5 points).

Historical fact: Brett Favre's first win, although he didn't start, came in this matchup: Bengals at Packers, 1992. What a backstory there is to that game ...#CINvsGB

Kansas City Chiefs 26, Los Angeles Chargers 20

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

Picking the Chiefs in what should be one of Week 3's top games. This matchup features a pair of supreme pass-rush tandems. Justin Houston/Dee Ford and Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram? The envy of most every other team in the league. Well, maybe not the other AFC West squads -- Von Miller/Shaq Barrett and Khalil Mack/Bruce Irvin aren't too shabby. This division this year ... The key to Kansas City winning at StubHub could be Kareem Hunt's production versus that of Melvin Gordon. The latter is having an awful season so far. Yes, pass protection is part of the gig. Gordon isn't doing anything well. Meanwhile, partially because of Hunt's performance, Kansas City has already logged four plays of 50-plus yards this season, after having four total in 2016. #KCvsLAC

Oakland Raiders 28, Washington Redskins 23

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

This is a fun matchup between two teams that rarely link up. It's also a rematch of Super Bowl XVIII, which was not particularly compelling, from a competitive standpoint (38-9, Raiders), yet featured several big plays, like Marcus Allen's reverse-the-field touchdown run, Jack Squirek's completely unexpected pick-six on a flat pass right before half, and Ray Guy's one-handed catch of a wild punt snap. Those were all Raider highlights. Right. Well, the Redskins did beat Al Davis' squad earlier that season in a 37-35 track meet that included a 67-yard reception from running back Joe Washington -- also on a pass in the flat. In fact, it was that crazy catch-and-run that gave then-Raiders DC Charlie Sumner a feeling that Washington might try it again in the Super Bowl. That's how Squirek picked off Joe Theismann's little toss, gift-wrapping the Raiders an insurmountable 21-3 halftime lead. What does all this have to do with Sunday? Not much. Except the Redskins must get their RBs involved the way they did at the L.A. Coliseum last weekend (the home venue of those '83 Raiders), so that Kirk Cousins doesn't press.

Fun fact:Derek Carr is 10-1 over his last 11 games. #OAKvsWAS

Dallas Cowboys 29, Arizona Cardinals 24

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

The Cowboys rebound in Week 3, partially because of the embarrassment of an awful effort in Week 2, partially because the Cardinals are not a good football team. At least not right now. Arizona clearly misses David Johnson. The Cards also miss an effective Carson Palmer. Though Palmer did make a few throws late to help Bruce Arians' squad not be winless after two weeks. Still, limping to 16 points against the Colts' defense was almost as bad as all the criticism going on in Dallas right now. Anticipate Ezekiel Elliott rushing for a buck-25. That should slow the roll of Cards pass rusher Chandler Jones, who's recorded three sacks already.

Fun fact: The Cowboys ran the football 51.3 percent of the time in the red zone in 2016. So far this season? 26.3. #DALvsARI


Los Angeles Rams 20, San Francisco 49ers 14

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Well, Jared Goff can't play any worse than Eli Manning. Or Brian Hoyer, for that matter. Actually, I've seen improvement from the Rams' franchise quarterback, even if all the highlight shows betrayed him by featuring the game-ending pickagainst the Redskins. But the Rams will win this "Thursday Night Football" bout on the strength of the defense. Interesting aside: This is a matchup of the two youngest coaches in the NFL, Sean McVay (31 years old) and Kyle Shanahan (37). And while they're both young, that's a discernible age difference. McVay was certainly a "Saved by the Bell" guy, while Shanahan reeks of "Charles in Charge."#LAvsSF

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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