The first two weeks of NFL picks can often be the most difficult. What we've seen from the first two weeks of action around the league is full evidence as to why.
It would've been exceptionally hard to predict an 0-2 start for a team like the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Chargers. It would also be difficult to see the Detroit Lions beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 only to then lose at home to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. But that's what these first two weeks are often about -- figuring out what these teams actually are.
We might not have the full picture just yet, but we do have a better idea now through 120 minutes (or more) of game action from these teams. So let's take that into our Week 3 NFL picks and predictions for every game as we try to build on a solid start, all things considered.
2023 NFL Picks Record: 19-13 (Week 2: 9-7)
NFL picks and predictions for every Week 3 game
When this game was put on Thursday Night Football for the 2023 schedule, there was some excitement. There's much less now. Things could get quite ugly for the Giants in this one without Saquon Barkley, especially with how methodical and dangerous the 49ers have looked through their 2-0 start.
Colts rookie QB Anthony Richardson's health is a big story to watch for this game as he was put in concussion protocol after Week 2. With the steps forward we saw from Lamar Jackson from Week 1 to Week 2 in the Todd Monken offense, though, I'm not sure it really matters. Baltimore at home should have the edge pretty decisively -- though Gardner Minshew can't be overlooked by the Ravens.
Playing against the Titans probably isn't the best recipe for the Browns without Nick Chubb and with Deshaun Watson raising more questions than answers. Having said that, the Cleveland defense has been impressive and should be enough to propel them narrowly to a win against a Tennessee offense that deserves all the doubt it's getting.
Sean Payton might not be a miracle-worker, or at least not a fast-acting one. Russell Wilson still looks like a shell of his former self and the Broncos offense is problematic. Even if you have faith in the Denver defense, they're no match for the juice that Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins have cooking right now.
Neither of these teams inspire a lot of confidence offensively, especially with both defenses looking quite good to this point. Having said that, I'm going to have to back the Patriots for the simple fact that Zach Wilson leading the Jets to face Bill Belichick 99 times out of 100.
Sam Howell might just be a good quarterback, which is great news for the Commanders future. Unfortunately, the Bills are just a better team. Washington's defense won't have enough answers for Josh Allen, who seemed to quickly right the ship after a disasterclass in Week 1.
The Lions defense gave plenty of cause for concern last week against the Seahawks. For as good as the ground game can be in Atlanta, though, Detroit should be able to get after a predictable and limited Falcons offense. More importantly, the Lions offense shouldn't miss a beat... though the Amon-Ra St. Brown injury is concerning.
I'm still trying to figure out how the Packers lost to the Falcons last week. But with Aaron Jones set to return this week, this will be a dose of reality for an extraordinarily average Saints team as Green Bay should take care of business at Lambeau Field.
It's been pretty ugly for the Texans right now, specifically on defense. Houston should chuck it around quite a bit again to make the final score somewhat respectable, but I see little path for this game where the Jaguars don't put up a big numbers and win this one handily.
Get your popcorn ready for this one. Neither the Chargers nor Vikings defense has given a single reason to be confident in them to this point. Contrarily, both offenses have been absolutely humming. For once, though, Justin Herbert will be able to come out on the right side of a shootout, largely thanks to the complete absence of a clutch gene for Kirk Cousins.
Bryce Young appears like he's not going to be able to play for the Panthers in Week 3. Hello, Andy Dalton -- and hello, Seahawks win. This one should be pretty ugly for Carolina and the lack of sweat for the Seahawks should be pretty noticeable.
Speaking of no-sweat, it's hard to see this playing out any differently. The Cowboys defense is going to be a problem for any opponent, but we've seen how devastating they are against inferior competition. The Cardinals are very much that and this shouldn't be close.
Everything looks awful for the Bears right now, from the top of the hierarchy down to the players on the field. Hell, even the waterboy probably has something going on that's a detriment to this team. The Chiefs might not be firing on all cylinders yet, but they don't need to in order to thrash this Chicago squad right now.
The Raiders are favored in this game, but I see the Steelers offense waking up a great deal in this matchup. Vegas' front seven has been horrendous so far this year outside of Maxx Crosby, which should give Kenny Pickett much more time than he's had. With the strength of the Pittsburgh defense in play too, give me the Steelers notch a good road win on Sunday night.
We're going with a bit of an upset special this week. Tampa Bay might truly be much more formidable than expected, even if they aren't a viable contender. Importantly, the Bucs defense looks stout and the Eagles offense hasn't totally been tested to this degree. It's a longshot, but at home, give me the Buccaneers to make a big statement on Monday night.
Why the Bengals are favored in this game, I may never understand. Joe Burrow isn't 100%, the offense looks broken, and the defense has played fine but not great. The Rams, meanwhile, have surprised some folks with their competency to start the year and I think we only see those two trends continue in this matchup.