NFL picks, predictions for Week 3: Eagles upset Cowboys; Saints, Chiefs rebound vs. Patriots, Chargers

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After a week of upsets, the Week 3 schedule features just one game between teams with 2-0 records. 

It's early, but a possible NFC championship preview between the Buccaneers and Rams is the highlight of the schedule; a chance for Los Angeles to show it's for real with new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Should Tom Brady and Tampa Bay be underdogs in that one? 

There are three intriguing divisional matchups between 1-1 teams, too. The Bengals travel to Pittsburgh, the Chargers are on the road at Kansas City, and Monday Night Football features the next installment of the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. Dallas games have been must-see TV so far.

Each week, Sporting News will pick games straight up. The upset factor hit hard in Week 2: 

  • Week 2: 8-8
  • Season total: 18-14

With that in mind, below are our picks and predictions for Week 3: 

NFL POWER RANKINGS:
49ers, Cowboys, Broncos climb; Steelers, Seahawks, Saints slide into Week 3

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Week 3 NFL predictions 

  • Carolina Panthers (-7) at Houston Texans 

Thursday, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network

Houston's Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) is day to day, and Deshaun Watson will not play this week. That is disconcerting heading into a matchup against the Panthers, which have allowed a league-low 190 yards per game so far. Christian McCaffrey gets another 20-plus touches, and Carolina is the surprise 3-0 team. 

Pick: Panthers 28, Texans 16 

Result: Panthers 24, Texans 9

  • Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills (-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

The Bills are coming off a shutout victory. Washington's Taylor Heinicke threw for 336 yards in Week 2, but Buffalo will clamp down on the running game in a big home victory.

Pick: Bills 31, Washington 20

  • Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (-7.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

This could be Justin Fields' first start, and he presents a different challenge for the Browns. Cleveland has generated just three sacks in two games, but that pressure will turn. Chicago is good at stopping the run, but they will have a hard time playing catch-up if Baker Mayfield continues to play mistake-free football.

Pick: Browns 27, Bears 20

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  • Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at Detroit Lions

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Lions are still figuring out their defense under first-year coach Dan Campbell, and that's problematic coming off a short week against Baltimore. The combination of Lamar Jackson and Ty'Son Williams carries the Ravens to another road victory.

Pick: Ravens 33, Lions 21

  • Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-4.5) 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS 

The Colts nearly upset the Rams, and now they face a Titans' team that found its offense in an overtime thriller against the Seahawks. These teams have split the last eight meetings with unexpected results along the way. We'll try the Colts one more time.

Pick: Colts 30, Titans 27

  • Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS 

The Chiefs are 1-1, and there is a case to be made they could be 0-2. Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes are among the top-five passers through two weeks, but Herbert has two TDs and three interceptions. The Chiefs' defense tightens up late in a shootout.

Pick: Chiefs 36, Chargers 29

MORE: Who are NFL's contenders, pretenders after Week 2?

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  • New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots (-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

The Saints have been the early-season box of chocolates with Jameis Winston, and the Patriots have allowed just 11.5 points per game with five interceptions. This used to be a blockbuster matchup with Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Now, it comes down to which team commits fewer turnovers.

Pick: Saints 20, Patriots 19

  • Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-2.5) 

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

A pair of 0-2 teams have struggled to score, so it's a true tossup game. Atlanta's Matt Ryan will have a successful day with favorite targets Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts, and the Giants will suffer yet another close loss, this time at home. 

Pick: Falcons 24, Giants 21

  • Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

There is no love lost between these AFC North rivals. Joe Burrow has taken nine sacks through two games, but Pittsburgh averages just 57 rushing yards per game. The Bengals haven't won at Heinz Field since 2015. That won't change in Week 3.

Pick: Steelers 23, Bengals 19

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  • Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

Kyler Murray is averaging 370 passing yards of total offense per game, and the Cardinals present too many challenges on offense for Jacksonville. The Jaguars have a -5 turnover ratio through two games. That won't cut it against this offense.

Pick: Cardinals 34, Jaguars 23 

  • New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-10.5)  

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Broncos have a chance to be a surprise 3-0 team in the AFC. The defense has allowed just 13 points per game, and Von Miller has three sacks. That will prompt more rookie mistakes from Zach Wilson, and Teddy Bridgewater will take advantage.

Pick: Broncos 26, Jets 13

  • Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Raiders are an early-season darling after a 2-0 start, and Derek Carr is dealing a hot hand. That would make them seem primed for an upset, but that's too difficult to call with Tua Tagovailoa's status to be determined because of a rib injury. We'll at least call for a close game.

Pick: Raiders 27, Dolphins 24

MORE: Grading the NFL's rookie QBs in Week 2

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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams (-1.5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

The Rams are the last NFC team to beat the Buccaneers, and that was in a 27-24 matchup last season. Stafford will get his shot at the defending champions, who have shown no signs of slowing down with Tom Brady. Both teams are averaging more than 30 points per game, so we're hoping this game will live up to the hype.

Pick: Buccaneers 38, Rams 31

  • Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

The Vikings have lost back-to-back heart-breakers because of field goals, and Kirk Cousins is 0-3 against the Seahawks since signing with Minnesota. Those last two games have been tight however, and Seattle could slip up in another close one on the road. The Vikings avoid a 0-3 start.

Pick: Vikings 28, Seahawks 26

  • Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3) 

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Cue another round of Aaron Rodgers-49ers talk, and the career arc that has followed the quarterback all season. Green Bay won at San Francisco last year, but that was against an injury-riddled roster that doesn't have a chance. It's a big Sunday Night Football spot, and the Packers' defense will be exposed.

Pick: 49ers 28, Packers 21

  • Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)

Monday, 8:15 p.m., NBC

The Cowboys have played two thrillers in two weeks, so Week 3 should be no different. The Eagles have lost their last three road games at Jerry World, but Jalen Hurts will flip the script in a back-and-forth battle with Dak Prescott. Always expect the unexpected with these two.

Pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24

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