Week 3 NFL game picks: Buccaneers top Rams; Eagles knock off Cowboys

Gregg Rosenthal went 10-6 straight up and 8-8 against the spread on his Week 2 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 19-13 and 17-15, respectively. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 23 unless otherwise noted below.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 26

Tennessee Titans
ML: -250 · 1-1
Indianapolis Colts
ML: +205 · 0-2
  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Titans -5 | O/U: 48


I had a lot of concerns about the two best teams in the NFL's worst division, even before Carson Wentz's injuries. A Colts defense designed to prevent big plays is giving up a ton of them. Eric Fisher's return to action only shifted the team's line problems to the other side. Tennessee's pass rush might be one of the few units that can't take advantage, however, and rookie Titans cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden have already been benched. This score prediction assumes Jacob Eason will start. The second-year pro had some frisky moments in the preseason. He has a big arm and could move the ball with the right play-calling, but he can't match play-action God Ryan Tannehill and his Big Three weapons, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. This Titans season is all about how far four men can carry one team.


UPDATE: Colts coach Frank Reich said on Friday that Wentz will "probably be a game-time decision." If he plays, I like the Titans to win, 30-26.


EDITOR'S NOTE: With Wentz starting against the Titans, the score for this game was updated to 30-26.

New York Giants
ML: -150 · 0-2
Atlanta Falcons
ML: +130 · 0-2
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Giants -3 | O/U: 47.5


The Falcons' offense looks like the 2020 Giants, throwing the ball short because it can't protect for long. The Giants' pass rush should help solve that; they've failed to record a sack in less than 4.7 seconds this year. It's a game where Daniel Jones and Matt Ryan should both enjoy more time in the pocket than normal, seeing how the other half lives for one Sunday. The Giants' playmakers on both sides of the ball, however, should be enough to avoid an 0-3 start. 

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -320 · 1-1
Los Angeles Chargers
ML: +250 · 1-1
  • WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chargers +6.5 | O/U: 54.5


Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes are the two quarterbacks I want facing third-and-long. They're the two quarterbacks I want if my team is trailing. Combine those traits with a Chiefs defense giving up 6 yards per carry and over 10 yards per attempt through the air, and there's a recipe here for another heart-stopping, high-scoring finish. The Chiefs have made a habit of winning those games, and the Chargers, well, they should keep it closer than six and a half points!

Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: -160 · 1-1
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: +140 · 1-1
  • WHERE: Heinz Field (Pittsburgh)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Steelers -3 | O/U: 43.5


A lot has changed in two weeks. The Bengals' defense looks strong, especially against the run, shutting down David Montgomery and Dalvin Cook. The Bengals' offense is going extremely run-heavy, yet Joe Burrow can't avoid sacks. The Steelers' defense is incredibly banged up, with T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, Devin Bush and Alex Highsmith uncertain for this game, while Stephon Tuitt is on injured reserve. If Watt is out, I like the Bengals to keep it even closer or win outright. 

Cleveland Browns
ML: -330 · 1-1
Chicago Bears
ML: +260 · 1-1
  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Browns -7 | O/U: 45.5


Matt Nagy does not want to commit publicly to starting Justin Fields for good, insisting that Andy Dalton is the team's starter when healthy. These are the press conferences of a team acting from a position of fear, which is a rough place to be in Week 3. Nagy knows his offensive line isn't ready. Moving the ball will be a challenge no matter who's at quarterback, and a prideful, professional defense isn't enough against an offense like Cleveland's. 

Baltimore Ravens
ML: -420 · 1-1
Detroit Lions
ML: +320 · 0-2
  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Lions +8 | O/U: 50


If ever there was the potential for a hangover game, it would involve a trip to Detroit one week after slaying the Chiefs. The Lions are theoretically built to stop the run, but their defense hasn't stopped anyone, allowing nine touchdowns in two weeks. I'm fascinated to see if the Ravens return to their blitz-happy ways against such a good Lions offensive line, when they don't really have the players in the secondary to play man-to-man defense well.

New England Patriots
ML: -150 · 1-1
New Orleans Saints
ML: +130 · 1-1
  • WHERE: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Patriots -3 O/U: 42


Both offensive lines are coming off games where they were a total mess. Both play-callers seem content to play it safe and avoid mistakes if possible. The Saints' run defense is well equipped to take away the Patriots' biggest strength, while the Patriots' ball-hawking secondary is well equipped to take away Jameis Winston's confidence. I have no idea what to make of this Saints team, other than it needs to go home. I have no idea what to make of the Patriots' struggles up front on both sides of the ball. The only take to make with confidence here is that the scoreboard should reflect the long journey we've made from Brady versus Brees. 

Arizona Cardinals
ML: -360 · 2-0
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +285 · 0-2
  • WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cardinals -7.5 | O/U: 52


If you are looking for a bright side in Jacksonville, the team has protected Trevor Lawrence well. If you are looking for a dark side, Lawrence is late on throws as he tries to decode defenses. The boom-or-bust Vance Joseph Cardinals defense is nothing if not complicated. Kyler Murray has been in Lawrence's shoes as a fellow No. 1 overall pick, but he isn't any longer. He has never looked more comfortable inside Kliff Kingsbury's system and is likely to find open receivers against a Jaguars defense searching for an identity. 

Buffalo Bills
ML: -380 · 1-1
Washington Football Team
ML: +300 · 1-1
  • WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bills -7.5 | O/U: 45.5


The Bills' defense is among the league's best through two weeks. Ron Rivera's group has looked like an advertisement for defensive variance thus far. Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion is setting completion records, while 2020 MVP candidate Josh Allen hasn't yet been shooting as straight as a year ago. Everything up is down in this matchup, but the Bills have too many ways to win games, with a revived pass rush and Matt Milano dominating at linebacker.

Denver Broncos
ML: -650 · 2-0
New York Jets
ML: +450 · 0-2
  • WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Jets +10.5 | O/U: 41.5


NFL quarterbacking is hard, example No. 4,080: Teddy Bridgewater will outplay the top two picks in the draft in successive weeks. That's partly because he doesn't have to face the Broncos' secondary, where Patrick Surtain II flashed last week in his first start and Kareem Jackson ages in reverse. Zach Wilson is overthinking, trying to calculate what he can get away with and when to leave the pocket. Playing a Vic Fangio defense in Denver figures to be another expensive lesson, but giving the Broncos 10 points is too many, considering the Jets' frisky defense. 

Las Vegas Raiders
ML: -210 · 2-0
Miami Dolphins
ML: +175 · 1-1
  • WHERE: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Dolphins +4 | O/U: 44


The Raiders' receivers will face their toughest test of the season, especially if the Dolphins match up Xavien Howard with Darren Waller. Las Vegas' revived pass rush, on the other hand, should feast against a faulty offensive line for the third straight week. Jacoby Brissett isn't a huge downgrade from Tua Tagovailoa, but his tendency to hold the ball for too long is a poor fit with a group that can't protect longer than two seconds. This is a true revenge game for a Raiders team looking to prove it has made strides since last December's brutal loss to Fitzmagic

Minnesota Vikings
ML: +100 · 0-2
Seattle Seahawks
ML: -120 · 1-1
  • WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Vikings +1.5 | O/U: 55.5


One week after Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams chased Derrick Henry around for 88 snaps, the Seahawks face a Vikings squad that found its Kubiakian road-grader legs in Arizona. The cornerbacks for both of these teams should be attacked at will, and both quarterbacks are playing well, but I like the 0-2 Vikings to find a way in a high-scoring home opener. They have the better ground game, and K.J. Osborn has provided a legitimate third receiver for Kirk Cousins.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -125 · 2-0
Los Angeles Rams
ML: +105 · 2-0
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bucs -1.5 | O/U: 55.5


There is so much to like about each of these teams that it's almost easier to list what isn't going well. For the Bucs, right tackle Tristan Wirfs is off to a slow start, and the team's defense has taken a step back. For the Rams, the defense has made big plays but has forced just three punts. The special teams have struggled. These might very well be the best two teams running the two most efficient offenses in football, but I feel like I know this Rams squad so much less that picking them to beat the reigning champs is too much of a projection. 

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -170 · 2-0
Green Bay Packers
ML: +145 · 1-1
  • WHERE: Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: 49ers -3 | O/U: 50


The 49ers' offense doesn't look quite as dangerous without its top four runners and with Brandon Aiyuk serving detention. Enter Trey Lance. (Please?) If ever there was an opportunity to break out a running game that will test communication issues, it's against a Packers group that appears to be suffering from new-scheme disease. With Packers left tackle Elgton Jenkins uncertain to play and Nick Bosa just warming up this season, there could be more trolls for Aaron Rodgers to swat away next week.

MONDAY, SEPT. 27

Philadelphia Eagles
ML: +160 · 1-1
Dallas Cowboys
ML: -190 · 1-1


Are the Eagles the team I keep taking to win upsets straight up, which ruins my picks record this season? Tune in Monday night! Even without injured DE Brandon Graham, the Eagles have the defensive line, led by early All-Pro candidate Javon Hargrave, to bother Dak Prescott. More importantly, the Eagles are built offensively to grind the Cowboys' admittedly energetic and improved defense down to dust.  

THURSDAY'S GAME

Carolina Panthers
ML: -430 · 2-0
Houston Texans
ML: +330 · 1-1


I watched more Davis Mills in the preseason than I care to admit. He had his moments, but football predictably grew more complicated for the rookie third-round pick during Sunday's 35 snaps in relief of Tyrod Taylor against the Browns. The game was coming at him fast, and the Panthers' defense is a step up in class from Cleveland's. Matt Rhule and his soon-to-be 3-0 Panthers are about to have a moment. 

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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