Week 3 in the NFL might be a fun one for the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
There are six undefeated teams remaining after just two weeks, and there’s a chance — a good one — that number takes a major hit in Week 3. The game of the week might be the 2-0 Miami Dolphins hosting the machine that is the Buffalo Bills, so something has to give there. The banged-up Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Green Bay Packers, which could put Tom Brady and company in jeopardy of their first loss, while the New York Giants are, well, the Giants, and no one really believes they’re long for the undefeated world.
Oh, and don’t sleep on the Indianapolis Colts or Washington Commanders, two teams who have been pretty unimpressive to this point but could be darkhorse upset candidates against the unbeaten Eagles and Chiefs, respectively.
So, how will things actually shake out? NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle once again set out to answer that question for every game with their against-the-spread NFL Week 3 picks.
Before getting to those, here’s how they fared last week.
And now, using the consensus lines from the live odds at NESNBets.com, here are their Week 3 picks. And if you’d rather just listen to the two babble about their selections, go listen to “The Spread” podcast.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 22
Pittsburgh Steelers at (-4.5) Cleveland Browns, 8:15 p.m. ET
Mike: Steelers. The Browns have some injury issues with quarterback Jacoby Brissett, and more importantly, defensive end Myles Garrett. Pittsburgh will struggle to score, but I think it can find some opportunities with the skill-position players it has.
Ricky: Steelers. The over/under for this matchup (38) suggests points will be at a premium, in which case laying anything more than a field goal feels ill-advised. Pittsburgh also has been really good over the years as an underdog under Mike Tomlin — 46-23-2 ATS, including 16-7 ATS after a loss (per Action Network) — which will make for a hard-fought divisional showdown in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
(-3) New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. Can’t ever really trust Jameis Winston, but especially not right now, after a three-pick game last week while apparently playing through a gnarly back injury. Christian McCaffrey might be close to being back, ranking fourth in yards per touch among players with at least 30 touches.
Ricky: Saints. Alvin Kamara’s return would go a long way toward sparking the Saints’ offense, providing a safety valve for Winston when there aren’t opportunities downfield. The Panthers’ offense, meanwhile, remains whatever, even with Baker Mayfield steering the ship.
Houston Texans at (-3) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Neither team is very good, but the Texans have been, relatively speaking, more impressive through two weeks. (Yes, I know the Bears have a win and Houston doesn’t.) But I’ll just take the points here and move on.
Ricky: Bears. Houston’s offense won’t have the same success on the ground that Green Bay did against Chicago in Week 2. The Bears just need to avoid beating themselves, which is far from a given, but I’ll take my chances in this lackluster meeting.
(-5.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Either the Colts get up off the mat and throw their best punch at the Chiefs here … or we look back in December and laugh at the idea of taking the 3-12 Colts in a game they lost by 30 to the Chiefs. But for at least one more week, I’m believing the former is more likely than the latter.
Ricky: Colts. These teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum, from a perception standpoint. Therein lies the value. The Colts probably bottomed out in Week 2, after shooting themselves in the foot in Week 1, whereas the Chiefs beat a very good Chargers team despite being outplayed for large chunks of that Thursday night contest. It’s put up or shut up time for Indy. Maybe KC gets caught looking ahead to Tampa Bay in Week 4.
(-6) Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. There is a path to a cover for Miami given the injuries in the Bills’ secondary, but it almost feels like the Bills are more likely to lose outright than win and not cover. When they win, they win big, and I’m not sure Miami will be able to do enough here.
Ricky: Bills. Would it shock anyone if Tua Tagovailoa crashed back down to earth this week? The Dolphins are good, but don’t overlook the beating Baltimore’s offense put on Miami’s defense in Week 2 before the script flipped. Josh Allen’s mobility will be a problem for the Fins.
Detroit Lions at (-6) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. The Detroit defense has been torched in both of its games, allowing 66 points through two weeks. Now, the Lions have to go out on the road for the first time in the division against a Minnesota team that can attack those clear deficiencies in Dan Campbell’s defense.
Ricky: Vikings. Everyone loves the Lions. I get it. They’re fun. They have a couple of fantasy darlings (D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown). Their coach rocks. But Detroit’s defense also stinks. And you just never know when Jared Goff will lay an egg. Expect Kevin O’Connell to get Minnesota’s offense back on track this week after a tough road loss in Philly.
(-3) Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Impossible to feel great about either side here, but I think Baltimore’s issues on the offensive line and in the secondary could be a major issue. Bill Belichick will attack that O-line in his game plan to slow Lamar Jackson, and the Patriots’ sudden reliance on the deep ball might play against the Ravens’ backups on the outside.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore’s defense was absolutely gassed down the stretch against Miami in Week 2, with the Dolphins’ speedy playmakers taking over en route to a huge comeback. Fortunately for the Ravens, the Patriots’ offense is incapable of coming anywhere close to replicating that onslaught.
(-5) Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. John Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams both rank in the top 20 in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush grading this season. Carl Lawson is a game-wrecker. The Jets have the pieces (and a defensive-minded head coach) to further expose the Bengals’ massive pass-protection issues and keep this close.
Ricky: Bengals. I simply refuse to believe the Jets’ offense actually is serviceable with Joe Flacco at the helm.
(-2) Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Disclaimer: I can’t really tell you why I like the Titans here, especially with the offensive line issues they have right now. I guess it’s just institutional belief in Mike Vrabel getting one good effort out of his team to keep this thing from going completely sideways.
Ricky: Titans. Both teams desperately need a win. And quite frankly, I just trust the Titans’ intestinal fortitude more than the Raiders’ given what we’ve seen from Tennessee in previous years under this coaching regime.
(-6.5) Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders, 1 p.m.
Mike: Commanders. Just feels like a bit of an auto-fade spot with Philly coming off an emotional Monday night win and now having to travel in the division. Also: Washington’s offense has looked strangely competent through two weeks? We’re monitoring the situation.
Ricky: Commanders. It’s entirely possible the Eagles just beat the bag out of their former quarterback. But short week for Philly, on the road, divisional matchup, with a sizable number after showing out on national TV. Screams “fade” to me.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-7) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. The line has held strong at seven all week, so it appears Justin Herbert will play. I’ll lay the points, in large part because this is a clear step up in competition for Jacksonville after opening against Washington and Indy.
Ricky: Chargers. Good spot for Los Angeles’ defense to flex its muscle, with the pass rush proving disruptive for second-year Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As such, I actually like the under (47) more than the spread, but it’s still easy to envision a letdown performance from Jacksonville.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The Rams have been torched through the air against Buffalo and Atlanta. The Bills’ offense is fantastic, and the Falcons’ offense is actually pretty good. Arizona is kind of in the middle, but the Cards should get theirs either way. I think they keep it close in a high-scoring contest.
Ricky: Rams. Can’t shake the thought of last season’s wild-card matchup, in which the Rams completely flustered Kyler Murray en route to a 34-11 victory. But more importantly, nothing good the Cardinals have done feels sustainable. Los Angeles’ offense should have its way against an Arizona defense that has earned Pro Football Focus’ worst grade in the NFL through two weeks.
Atlanta Falcons at (-1) Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. Atlanta might finally be building something good, as Arthur Smith is looking like a better and better coach by the week now that he has some actual talent, especially on offense. Seattle can’t match the Atlanta offense and probably doesn’t have the defense to slow it, either.
Ricky: Falcons. The Seahawks seemingly want to be a run-first, defense-oriented team. The problem? They’re not particularly good at either. Geno Smith admittedly looked awesome in the first half of Week 1 against Denver, but Seattle’s offense since has gone six quarters without scoring.
Green Bay Packers at (-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Tampa Bay’s run defense has been surprisingly subpar through two weeks, but the pass rush has been elite, with a league-leading 10 sacks. The Packers are still working through some offensive-line injuries, so if Tampa Bay even begins to improve its run D, Green Bay might struggle to get anything offensively.
Ricky: Bucs. My gut reaction said Packers, simply because Green Bay’s defense still has serious upside and Tampa Bay’s offense has been a patchwork unit through two weeks. But upon further inspection, it’s the Packers’ offense that’s probably worst-positioned for success in this matchup, as the Buccaneers won’t give Aaron Rodgers and company an inch — through the air or on the ground. Also love that the line has trended downward
(-1.5) San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. This game is lined almost like Denver is a bad team, which I’m not sold on yet, regardless of Nathaniel Hacket’s head-coaching incompetence. The Broncos get some key players back and find a way to eke one out at home.
Ricky: 49ers. Like Mike, I’m not sure the Broncos are a bad team. But I’m not sure they’re a good team, either, seeing as they’ve been largely irrelevant for the past six-plus years and nothing they’ve done so far this season suggests they’ve found the secret sauce.
MONDAY, SEPT. 26
Dallas Cowboys at (-1) New York Giants, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. Is Cooper Rush actually good? Probably not. But he has been serviceable in a relief role for two seasons now. Also sounds like Leonard Williams might miss this one for the Giants, which could open up the running game for Dallas.
Ricky: Cowboys. Nothing about the Giants’ two wins was really inspiring. They beat the Titans and Panthers — two bad teams? — amid shaky offensive performances that required late-game heroics. Daniel Jones still puts the ball on the ground too much.