Oakland at Indianapolis
The Raiders have looked really bad since their upset Week 1 victory. The offense has sputtered out, and the defense has shown it lacks top flight talent. However, this has come against the Nuclear Chiefs and the Vikings elite run game. Indy has balled out since a tight Week 1 loss. They have looked great with Jacoby Brissett running the show, a testament to an excellently constructed roster and excellent coaching staff.
Cleveland at Baltimore
Cleveland, media darling of the offseason, has been off to a rocky start, and it doesn’t get any easier. The defense has played pretty well, but the offense has not looked like we thought it would. Rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens has made some baffling decisions. Baltimore wasn’t quite ready to go toe-to-toe with an AFC powerhouse, but acted like they were, and now get a struggling team. John Harbaugh coached to win last week, and combining that against the disarray of Cleveland seems like a big mismatch. Lamar Jackson has taken a huge leap this season and gives the Ravens a new identity.
Carolina at Houston
Kyle Allen filled in fantastically for Cam Newton and unlocked the offense (wild times we’re in). Carolina joined the winners’ column last week and are very much in a bizarre NFC South race. Houston has relied on Deshaun Watson being a hero so far, and it has worked. With Indy’s excellent start, Houston cannot afford slip up against teams it should beat. A backup QB on the road, against stars JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, should be a recipe for success. But, the Panthers are loaded with talent. This should be an exciting, high scoring affair.
Tennessee at Atlanta
Two Jekyll and Hydes. You are never sure what you are getting with either of these teams. The Atlanta pass game is up to par, but Matt Ryan has thrown some insane interceptions this year. Atlanta’s defense is a problem and so is their offensive line, with both sides already being ravaged by injury. Tennessee’s defense is solid, but they are absolutely hamstrung by the offense. Only one more week until Taylor Lewan is back, but will he be blocking for Marcus Mariota or Ryan Tannehill? This is a huge game for both teams if they want to keep pace in their divisions. Mike Vrabel and Dan Quinn will have to coach like their seasons are on the line, and they may well be.
New England at Buffalo
This is one of the biggest games for the Bills in recent memory. How real are they? We’ll find out when the Patriots come to town. Both of these teams have feasted off of weak competition. There is no questioning the Patriots, as it looks like they are playing on a different level than most teams. Their defense has not allowed a touchdown since the AFC Championship Game. That is immensely impressive no matter how you look at it. New England’s offensive line is really banged up, and the running game has gotten off to a slow start. Buffalo has an underrated defensive unit who could give Tom Brady fits. But, with the way the Pats’ defense is playing, we could see Josh Allen struggle big time.
Kansas City at Detroit
The Lions are undefeated through three weeks (yay ties!!!) and now face the New Greatest Show on Turf. This will be the first time Pat Magic plays in an inside NFL game. Mahomes is averaging just under 400 yards a game so far and 3 touchdowns. 500 and 5 is in play for this. Will the Lions keep pace? Probably not! The Chiefs are on a different planet right now, and Mahomes is playing a different game. We have never seen anything like this, and it is not just the numbers. The play style and ease with which he can flick the ball 50 yards off his back foot is unbelievable. Detroit has not yet faced this kind of an offense, and it could get away from them quickly.
Washington at New York Giants
Dan Jones has become anointed the next great one and faces a poor Redskins defense. He’ll probably have another great game. The Giant’s defense…won’t! While the Redskins offense looked inept on Monday night, that was against the Chicago Bears’ world wrecking unit. This Giants crew ain’t that. Jay Gruden may be 0-3 to start this year, but he is constantly given bad hands. This group is competitive because of him, and they have been in their games this year. This should be another fun, high scoring game.
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami
The Chargers have shot themselves in the foot the last two weeks, but they couldn’t do that against this team, right? Miami looked like an actual NFL team for the first time this season last week. There is not a lot to say here. The Chargers should head down to South Beach and secure an easy victory. However, a loss here, and Los Angeles would immediately enter crisis mode.
Tampa Bay at Los Angeles Rams
A devastating Week 3 loss for Tampa could lead to the sinking of their season. The offense finally exploded as hoped under Bruce Arians. They then seized up in the second half, and the defense became a sieve. Jared Goff has looked extremely off for the Rams, and clearly something is up with Todd Gurley. The defense has played great to this point, being the more impressive side of the ball for LA for a change. They should be able to lead the way against an erratic Tampa team. As long as Jameis Winston does not hand the ball to the Rams all game, the Bucs should stay in this. Up to the second half last week, Tampa’s defense had been vastly improved. This could be a lower scoring game than most would think.
Seattle at Arizona
Last week was a horrific loss for Seattle, at home, in a game where everything went wrong. A special teams and defensive score took them into a negative game script and they did not recover, in addition to a litany of other self-inflicted wounds. Russell Wilson is amongst the elite, as he has been, and Seattle will go as he does. They refuse to let him be the centerpiece, which is just stupid. The Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era in Arizona has gotten off to a slow start, but they have looked far better than it seemed they would preseason. The offensive line is a problem. They have heavily incorporated star back David Johnson, which is a great change from last year. Larry Fitzgerald the Eternal has also looked great this year. No one expected this group to compete this year, so them being competent and fun enough to watch is a good point to be.
Jacksonville at Denver
Denver has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league to this point. They are the only team in history to go the first three weeks without a sack or turnover. So much for defensive genius Vic Fangio. The offense is middling. Neither side of the ball is helping the other. Jacksonville got a much-needed divisional win last week, but now has to travel to one of the hardest road places to play. But Gardner Minshew doesn’t give a damn about that. He has kept the ship afloat while Nick Foles is on the mend. The Jaguars defense went off last week for 9 (!) sacks against Marcus Mariota. They now face the statuesque Joe Flacco. This game will be a low scoring slug fest. The question for Jacksonville is if Jalen Ramsey is going to show up.
Minnesota at Chicago
This is a huge early season NFC North matchup. The entire division has been on fire. Kirk Cousins has looked erratic. Mitchell Trubisky has as well, but he had his first solid outing, in a get-right game against Washington. He needs to carry that momentum over into a critical home outing, and the Vikings will be tested against one of the league’s top defenses. Can they lean on Dalvin Cook like they have? Both of these teams have elite defensive squads, paired with confusing offensive units. The season is not over for either of these teams with a loss, but as Green Bay (despite the Thursday Night loss) and Detroit continue hot starts, this kind of divisional game takes on further importance. Trubisky is what he is, but Cousins has shown to fold against tough defensive units. For all the talk of “defensive regression” for Chicago, they have come out and looked just as good as last season, if not better.
Dallas at New Orleans
Teddy Bridgewater got his first win as a starter since his leg injury, and the Saints were able to stay afloat. However, this is not the offense of Drew Brees, which probably goes without saying. Alvin Kamara put the team on his back, and the special teams and defensive units did their work. That was a complete team victory, in a place that is notoriously hard to win at. Dallas faces its first real test this season. Winning in the Super Dome is tough, and New Orleans easily has the best defense Dallas has seen this year. This said, the loss of Brees is too much in this one. The game script last week allowed for New Orleans to play ball control and lean on Kamara. That PROBABLY won’t replicate here. If Dallas starts putting up points, it would be tough to see the Saints keeping pace, as Bridgewater will not be able to push the ball down the field in the way Brees could.