NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 3: Eagles stop Bucs, Chiefs blow out Bears, Dolphins roll to 3-0

Week 2 in the 2023 NFL regular season gave us something good we didn’t have in Week 1 — some understanding about how good or bad every team might be this season. That definitely helped with the picks and predictions against the spread. But it means nothing unless we get better in Week 3.

Looking at the early lines, there are multiple massive favorites in Week 3, including more than one double-digit point spread. With that, the degree of difficulty is re-raised with uncertainty about the underdogs.

Here are Sporting News’ NFL picks against the spread for Week 3:

(Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction)

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys, Dolphins push into elite tier for Week 3

NFL picks against the spread for Week 3

  • Game of Midweek: Giants at 49ers (-10.5, 45 o/u)

Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime Video

San Francisco has handled itself well twice on the road and gets to open at home in prime time on a short week. New York comes in gassed, having won its first game on a furious comeback in Arizona. Now the Giants are without Saquon Barkley, an irreplaceable part of their limited offense against an elite defense.

The number matches the lopsidedness of the matchup. After not stopping the Cowboys or Cardinals much in any phase, the Giants will be thoroughly outclassed by a much more diverse and deeper team.

Pick: 49ers win 33-14 and cover the spread.

  • Game of the Week: Eagles (-5.5, 46.5 o/u) at Buccaneers

Monday 7:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

The Eagles are sorting out some issues with lesser consistency in the passing game and more holes in the pass defense, despite a sturdy pass rush. The Bucs are hard team on which to run and their back seven has been active behind some pressure. Jalen Hurts will tough it out to make enough plays, but at home in prime time, Baker Mayfield will be more comfortable than you think with his outside and inside weapons.

Pick: Eagles win 24-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Lock of the Week: Dolphins (-6.5, 48 o/u) over Broncos

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Dolphins are often coaching and playing at a different speed of their opponent as Mike McDaniel moves around his fast playmakers to get it done with big-play passing or explosive running. Denver comes in desperate at 0-2 making a long road trip after flopping twice at home against lesser teams. Sean Payton won’t suddenly find the offensive and defensive answers here in a bad overall matchup for a so far new identity-less team.

Pick: Dolphins win 38-17 and cover the spread.

  • Upset of the Week: Jets (+3, 37 o/u) over Patriots

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets will need to pretty much win games with the running game and defense. They got only half the formula working to give Zach Wilson a chance in Dallas. Mac Jones and the Patriots have flashed well offensively early, but they also are mistake-prone against better pressure and coverage defenses. Breece Hall gets the right workload after last week’s bad usage and runs the Jets to a mild upset in a battle of attrition.

Pick: Jets win 20-17

  • Titans at Browns (-3, 39.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Titans will do their best to have a chance in this game against old AFC South foe Deshaun Watson by using their stout run defense to slow down the Browns’ Nick Chubb-less running game. On the flip side, Tennessee will be relentless with is own power rushing champion, Derrick Henry, to try to wear down Myles Garrett and Cleveland’s pass rush. In the end, Watson makes a few more impact improv running plays in contrast to Ryan Tannehill.

Pick: Browns win 23-20 and push.

  • Falcons at Lions (-3.5, 45.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The two defenses are improved with some significant personnel investments and both teams excel at running the ball behind two elite offensive lines. With no David Montgomery, it’s a chance for en exciting duel between rookie first-round running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and Bijan Robinson. Atlanta will try to stay grounded as long as possible to hide Desmond Ridder again, while Jared Goff will find more that he likes across the board in the passing game at home.

Pick: Lions win 27-20 and cover the spread.

  • Saints at Packers (-2, 43 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Packers also are playing their first home of the season at Lambeau Field. They get a break here against a Saints’ running game minus Alvin Kamara and more pass-centric with Derek Carr, making it strength vs. strength against their defense. Jordan Love is hot and should get more healthy support to spread the ball around well again. The offenses are bound to start slow here and the turnover battle will decide it.

Pick: Packers win 24-21 and cover the spread.

  • Chargers at Vikings (TBD, 54 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Chargers like to blow close games late. The Vikings like to pull out close games late. Their respective pass-happy, high-scoring thriller styles have put both teams at 0-2 as the defenses have been liabilities and the offenses can’t always do enough in the end to compensate. Justin Herbert vs. Kirk Cousins will be full of fireworks, and based on the history and makeup of former Sean McVay ace assistants Brandon Staley and Kevin O’Connell, advantage Minnesota.

Pick: Vikings win 38-34.

  • Bills (-6.5, 44.5 o/u) at Commanders

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Commanders have done well to take down the Cardinals and Broncos, but they face a much more functional team with a much tougher defense at home in the quest to start 3-0. Buffalo got back to its explosive offense last week at home and Josh Allen should be licking his chops to attack Washington with the deep ball as part of high passing volume.

Pick: Bills win 31-17 and cover the spread.

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  • Texans at Jaguars (-9.5, 44 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Houston seems to have Trevor Lawrence’s number with its defensive, and the scheming and personnel has improved to force him to become more patient. The Texans’ defense, however, is terrible against the run so it’s chance to get the Jaguars’ QB well with plenty of Travis Etienne. The Texans will contain some big plays and have more success throwing the ball downfield with C.J. Stroud.

Pick: Jaguars win 27-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Colts at Ravens (-8, 44 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Colts know that Anthony Richardson may miss the game with a concussion but the key to beating Baltimore is throwing downfield well. Gardner Minshew may be charged with doing that in a hostile road environment. Meanwhile, the Colts are prime to be picked apart in the Ravens’ new-look passing with Lamar Jackson. The Ravens also will erase the run to make it tougher on the pocket-based Minshew.

Pick: Ravens win 30-17 and cover the spread.

  • Panthers at Seahawks (-5.5, 42 o/u)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Panthers have to turn around and take a long trip on a short week. They will attack the Seahawks the right way with a lot of the running game to take pressure off Bryce Young. But Geno Smith’s big advantage with his talent at wide receiver and tight end will show up to better support Kenneth Walker, while Young will need to lean too heavily on Miles Sanders.

Pick: Seahawks win 27-17 and cover the spread.

  • Bears at Chiefs (-13, 49 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Bears look terrible with offensive dysfunction tied to their play-calling, scheming and and poor passing play of Justin Fields. The Chiefs’ offense is coordinated by former Bears coach Matt Nagy, who might take a little pleasure they still haven’t figured out that side of the ball while he gets to operate with Patrick Mahomes. This number is big because this is an atrocious overall matchup for the Bears’ defense and they won”t get much done in the passing game with Kansas City’s sound inside pressure and outsidde coverage.

Pick: Chiefs win 45-22 and cover the spread.

  • Cowboys (-12.5, 43.5 o/u) at Cardinals

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Dallas handled a slightly smaller number at home against the Jets and has started by outscoring its opponents 70-10. The Cardinals found some offensive sparks last week against the Giants, facilitated by some turnovers. The Cowboys are playing more conservative around Dak Prescott and can contain plenty around Josh Dobbs after slowing James Conner on the ground. Expect a massive pro-Cowboys crowd to see these former NFC East rivals.

Pick: Cowboys win 27-10 and cover the spread.

  • Steelers (-1.5, 43 o/u) at Raiders

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Steelers have seen Kenny Pickett take lumps but that changes here in their first favorable defensive matchup. Just like the Cowboys’ fans in another part of the desert, there will be plenty of Black nd Gold making this feel like a away home game. The Steelers still have too many effective healthy offensive skill weapons minus Diontae Johnson, while the Raiders’ pop seems to be shrinking around Jimmy Garoppolo.

Pick: Steelers win 27-20 and cover the spread.

Kenny Pickett
  • Rams at Bengals (-2, 43.5 o/u)

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Will Joe Burrow play in the Super Bowl 56 rematch? That’s a major question that will determine the outcome of the game. The betting line, not even giving the Bengals the requisite home field-goal edge, is worrisome. Jake Browning has never played an NFL snap and there will be heat on him to deliver at home at 0-2. Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ entire offense are playing well and will raise the scoring burden on Cincy. That said, here’s feeling that Burrow will gut this one out knowing his team needs him to save the season. If he doesn’t we can adjust accordingly.

Pick: Bengals win 27-23 and cover the spread.

Stats of the Week

Week 2 straight up: 10-6

Week 2 against the spread: 9-6

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