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NFL Picks, Week 3: Falcons-Buccaneers, Texans-Saints, Packers-Bears And More

The NFL's Week Three kicks off at 1 p.m. EST, and there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Once again, the point spreads are here, and we'd love to help you wade through the jungle.

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 07:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons turns upfield against Barrett Ruud #51 and Sean Jones #26 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 7 2010 in Atlanta Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 07: Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons turns upfield against Barrett Ruud #51 and Sean Jones #26 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 7 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images

It's the third week of the NFL season, and teams are still finding out about themselves. Smart gamblers need to be just ahead of the curve, though, and figure things out before the bookmakers do. Is Cam Newton the real deal? Can Ryan Fitzpatrick hang within eight points of Tom Brady? Can Michael Vick make it through a game without head-butting one of his own players? Is Kansas City going to eventually see the biggest line spread of all time?

The picks:

New England (-8) @ Buffalo. The Bills are a 2-0 team that has averaged almost 40 points a game - and yet this line still looks too low. Buffalo is a good story, but let's not forget they drummed a wretched Kansas City team, and allowed 35 points to a Jason Campbell-led offense. Tom Brady is going to slice this defense to shreds, and Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be able to keep his team in it. PICK: New England

Jacksonville @ Carolina (-3). No NFL quarterback has ever thrown for 400 yards in three straight games, and yet Cam Newton has a chance to do that in his first three. If he accomplishes that, it will be The Football Stat of the Decade. And I officially bought a ticket for Camp Cam this week, trading Matt Ryan for him in a fantasy league. And I'm a freakin' Falcons season ticket holder. PICK: Carolina

San Francisco @ Cincinnati (-1 1/2). I'm watching the Sunday games at a buddy's house, and part of me wants to show up and just insist we watch the entirety of 49ers-Bengals. Like crazy insist, pulling out a knife if I have to, banshee-screaming if anybody attempts to change the channel even during commercials. How many people would I have to stab before somebody said, "Ok, fine, we'll watch San Fran/Cincinnati and nothing else." I'm thinking no less than everybody. PICK: Cincinnati

Miami @ Cleveland (-1). There are seven 0-2 teams, and history tells us at least one of them will turn out to be a pretty decent team, even a playoff contender. I'd probably put St. Louis at the front of that line, but Miami isn't too far behind. There's no real shame in the team's losses (New England, Houston), and while five of their next six games are on the road, they go to Cleveland, Kansas City and the New York football Giants. Winnable stuff right there. (And don't forget they went 6-2 on the road last year.) PICK: Miami

Detroit (-2 1/2) @ Minnesota. The Lions bandwagon is damn near full, and the Vikings shouldn't cause it so much as a speed bump. I was trying to talk myself into Minnesota for a little while - that 2 1/2-point spread seems like Vegas is begging you to bet Detroit - but I came around to the Motor City's side after watching my favorite NFL clip of the last few years. This is a fun group to watch. PICK: Detroit

Houston @ New Orleans (-4). OK Houston - PROVE IT. The Texans are off to a 2-0 start, and are enjoying the usual hype that goes along with that. At this time last year, though, Houston was also 2-0 but ended up limping to a 6-10 finish. So to put the doubters (me) to rest, here's the first true test: a trip into the heart of darkness. If Houston can leave Louisiana undefeated, they can go ahead and start printing "2011 AFC South Division Champs" T-shirts.. PICK: New Orleans

NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-10). A few minutes before the end of last week's Falcons-Eagles game, I turned to my friend and said, "Well, everybody wins. Atlanta gets a victory, and Eagles fans get to bitch that they would have won if Vick hadn't gotten hurt." At the time, I didn't think I would hear that until Monday morning, but it reared its bitter head about 30 seconds later. Of course none of us know what would have happened had Vick stayed healthy, but oh man, I must admit it was fun to hear the whining. PICK: Philadelphia

Denver @ Tennessee (-7 1/2). When I started thinking about this game, I got dizzy and apparently blacked out. When I woke up, I was face-down in a half-eaten bag of microwave popcorn, with rope burns on my neck, a pinky missing, and my internet browser on this page. I can't explain these things, and I don't think I want to. PICK: Denver

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay (PICK). The Falcons-Bucs rivalry currently stands at 18-18, and four of the last five games have been decided by less than a touchdown. So it makes sense this wouldn't have a favorite, as both teams sit at 1-1 with a lot of questions hanging over them. It makes me nervous, then, that I feel so calm about this one. Every time I think about this game, I see the Falcons going up early and maintaining a healthy lead throughout. The Bucs will be a very good team very soon, but it's not there yet. I don't think. I hope not. PICK: Atlanta

NY Jets (-2 1/2) @ Oakland. The Raiders go home for the first time this season, and the freaky faithful should expect a heavy dose of Darren McFadden. The Jets, on the other hand, begin a 3-game road trip that takes them to Oakland, Baltimore and New England. We're about to learn a lot about these teams. PICK: Oakland

Kansas City @ San Diego (-16). The largest spread of the young season should be covered by halftime. Kansas City has been outscored 89-10 through two weeks, and there is no indication things will turn around anytime soon. Seriously, how high would this line have to be before you considered picking KC? Twenty? Thirty? PICK: San Diego

Baltimore (-5) @ St. Louis. While St. Louis is battling the injury bug, Baltimore is battling split personality disorder. The same team that crushed Pittsburgh in Week One got eviscerated by Tennessee last Sunday. When in doubt, take the points. PICK: St. Louis

Green Bay (-4) @ Chicago. The default game of the week, I guess. Atlanta fans are going to grow to hate the Chicago loss even more as the year goes on, because the Bears might not be any good. Jay Cutler has been sacked a league-leading 11 times, and you should probably go ahead and chalk in another five or so from the Packers. PICK: Green Bay

Arizona (-3) @ Seattle. The Seahawks have been outscored 57-17 over the first two games, so not much is really going right for them at this point. An easy solution for most teams is "playing Arizona at home," but Seattle might not even have the weaponry for that. The defensive players might outscore the offenses in this one. PICK: Arizona

Pittsburgh (-11 1/2) @ Indianapolis. I'd be shocked to see Peyton Manning take the field before 2012, but the Colts should continue to get better as the season goes on. Not playoff-run better, or even .500 better, but there won't be an off-season of "Will the Colts take Andrew Luck and start planning for the post-Manning era?" discussion. And you'll be able to see evidence of that improvement this week, as Kerry Collins becomes a little more familiar with the offense and the Steelers reveal more of their mostly mediocre selves. PICK: Indianapolis

Washington @ Dallas (-4 1/2). The Cowboys have won 27-24 and lost 27-24, but there shouldn't be that much scoring on Monday night. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are questionable, while Rex Grossman is completely healthy and will start for Washington - so scoring opportunities will obviously be limited for both teams. (Yup, Grossman could go 16-0 and I'd still rag on him. Truth bomb.) PICK: Washington

Last week: 9-7
Yearly total: 17-14-1

NFL Odds found here.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.