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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Week 3 Preview: Battle for L.A. and Saints-Falcons clash headline weekend

It’s hard to believe the NFL is already entering Week 3. The first two weeks featured several surprises, including two ties, an undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and a winless Seattle Seahawks. Here is a quick look at Week 3’s games, headlined by the Battle for Los Angeles and a NFC South class between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints:

(Odds per BetOnline.ag)

sam darnold

New York Jets (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1-1), Thursday, Sept. 20, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Jets and Browns meet in primetime featuring two improved franchises. Cleveland’s improved defense should challenge rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. The question is whether or not the Browns offense can do enough to earn the team’s first victory since the 2016 season.

Prediction: Browns 20, Jets 17

Odds: Push (Browns -3)

New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

Something isn’t right with Saints. They looked nothing like the defensive juggernaut they were last season in their Week 1 loss to the Bucs. Then they struggled with the Browns last Sunday. Meanwhile, Atlanta won a critical early season NFC South battle against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. Right now, it appears that the Falcons have come together a bit more than the Saints have at this point. With the game in Atlanta, the Falcons should win a close one.

Prediction: Falcons 35, Saints 28

Odds: Falcons (-3)

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0), Sunday, Sept 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

The 49ers enter this game with several question marks after the Detroit Lions registered six sacks against them in Week 2. Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes torched the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary for six touchdowns on the road. The Chiefs are the more complete team at this point, and they will show it on the field at home.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, 49ers 20

Odds: Chiefs (-6½)

Jon Gruden

ClutchPoints

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-0), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

This game is tough to call. There is enough talent on the Raiders’ roster to pull off a road win, but the difference is Miami’s run defense, which is giving up only 3.3 yards per carry. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr needs run support to operate head coach John Gruden’s offense. Meanwhile, Miami’s offense, while not explosive, has done the job thus far. It won’t be pretty, but the Dolphins should win a close one.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Raiders 16

Odds: Dolphins (-3)

Buffalo Bills (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Buffalo Bills may be the worst team in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings feature one of the best rosters in the league. Let’s keep it simple: Vikings dominate at home.

Prediction: Vikings 38, Bills 6

Odds: Vikings (-17)

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

Carson Wentz returns just in time for the floundering Eagles. The defending champions’ offensive woes should be cured against the Colts’ defense, but the question is how rusty Wentz will be. In the end, Philadelphia’s talent advantage should overpower the Colts.

Prediction: Eagles 28, Colts 14

Odds: Eagles (-6½)

Aaron Rodgers, Packers

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Green Bay Packers (1-0-1) at Washington Redskins (1-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

Green Bay’s improved secondary should have a field day against the Redskins’ underwhelming receiving corps. However, it’s the Washington defense that has its work cut out for it. The Packers have yet to post a break out game offensively, but it’s coming sooner or later.

Prediction: Packers 28, Redskins 17

Odds: Packers (-3)

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Bengals’ 2-0 start is one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. However, losing running back Joe Mixon hurts, and the team must find a way to production out of his backups to be successful. Carolina has played well thus far and appears primed to compete for a playoff berth in the NFC South.

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bengals 14

Odds: Panthers (-3)

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

Good grief, that Jacksonville defense has been completely dominant in the first two weeks of the season. Tennessee doesn’t have much to offer against it. However, with Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, it’s feast or famine. His performance will decide whether or not this game is close.

Prediction: Jaguars 24, Titans 10

Odds: Jaguars (-6½)

Terrell Suggs

Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Ravens opened their season with a dominant 47-3 victory over the Bills, but looked vulnerable in their loss to the Bengals in Week 2. Which Ravens team will show up on Sunday against the overachieving Broncos? Baltimore should take this, but don’t underestimate Broncos quarterback Case Keenum and the Denver defense. This isn’t a great matchup for Baltimore.

Prediction: Ravens 17, Broncos 13

Odds: Broncos (+5)

New York Giants (0-2) at Houston Texans (0-2), Sunday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. EST

This matchup between winless teams features a horrid Giants offensive line trying to contain J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Good luck, Eli. You’re going to need it.

Prediction: Texans 27, Giants 14

Odds: Texans (-6)

Todd Gurley, Rams

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Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) at Los Angeles Rams (2-0), Sunday, Sept. 23, 4:05 p.m. EST

Two of the most talented rosters in the league meet in the Battle for Los Angeles. However, the Rams simply have more talent available right now. The Chargers will be missing defensive lineman Joey Bosa for the game, which will drastically affect how the Rams block for quarterback Jared Goff up front. Defensively, the Rams feature one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL in recent member.

The Chargers will keep this close at first, but expect the Rams to pull out the victory in the second half.

Prediction: Rams 30, Chargers 20

Odds: Rams (-7)

Chicago Bears (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (0-2) Sunday, Sept. 23, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Bears’ front seven against the Cardinals’ offensive line? This one will be brutal.

Prediction: Bears 24, Cardinals 3

Odds: Bears (-5½)

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2), Sunday, Sept. 23, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Seahawks gave up 12 sacks in their first two games. Twelve sacks! Quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the best in the game, but even he can’t survive the season at this rate. Look for Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to spend his Sunday in the Seattle backfield.

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Seahawks 17

Odds: Cowboys (+1½)

New England Patriots (1-1) at Detroit Lions (0-2), Sunday, Sept. 23, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Patricia Bowl will be a bust. The Patriots found their No. 1 receiver in the Josh Gordon trade, while the Lions have struggled to establish any cohesiveness in the first two weeks of the season. This game will be over at halftime.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Lions 10

Odds: Patriots (-6½)

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0), Monday, Sept. 24, 8:15 p.m. EST

At first glance, the party appears over in Pittsburgh. Le’Veon Bell is no longer on the active roster, and Antonio Brown is clashing with the team. The Chiefs abused the Steelers defense for 42 points last weekend. Yet, this is the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most stable franchises in all of football. I can’t fathom the Steelers failing to win their first game of the season against a team playing over its head. The Bucs will make it a game, but the Steelers will take it.

Prediction: Steelers 38, Buccaneers 28

Odds: Steelers (-1½)

Season Record: 17-13-2

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