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Week 3 NFL game picks: Buccaneers top Packers; Cowboys deal Giants first loss

Gregg Rosenthal went 9-7 straight up on his Week 2 picks, bringing his season total to 19-12-1. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below.

The lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook are current as of 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 22 unless otherwise noted below.


  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Saints: -140 | Panthers: +118
  • SPREAD: Saints -3 | O/U: 40.5

The Saints’ pass rush has been M.I.A., but Baker Mayfield’s decision-making has been brutal whether facing pressure or not. Matt Rhule requires quick thinking, and Mayfield just keeps holding the ball, waiting for a playmaking gene that has atrophied. Keep an eye on Saints linebackers Pete Werner and Demario Davis, who are playing as well as any duo. 

  • WHERE: Soldier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Texans: +122 | Bears: -145
  • SPREAD: Texans +2.5 | O/U: 40

I’d probably pick whoever were the underdog in this game out of principle. Justin Fields and the Bears’ passing game have regressed early this season, still looking for a double-digit completion game. Lovie Smith and Matt Eberflus’ defenses both have a way of slowing down games by giving up long drives that end in field goals, so a low score feels like the only thing to feel confident in.

  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Chiefs: -250 | Colts: +205
  • SPREAD: Chiefs -5.5 | O/U: 50.5

The Colts had five QB pressures last week. In the entire game. Not only is Matt Ryan frazzled and harassed on a snap-to-snap basis, but Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley runs a defense that is easy to pick apart. Patrick Mahomes has plenty of practice doing it, including two 40-burgers on Bradley’s Raiders last season during an off year for the Chiefs’ offense. This is not shaping up to be an off year.

  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Bills: -250 | Dolphins: +205
  • SPREAD: Dolphins +6 | O/U: 52

Tough spot for the Bills. It’s a road trip on a short week with so many secondary injuries that it’s hard to know who’s playing for Buffalo as of publication. The Dolphins’ offensive line has already improved to average and the running game, which is so necessary to beat the Bills, was excellent when needed last week. These Fins can keep up in a shootout, even if they fall short. 

  • WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Lions: +205 | Vikings: -250
  • SPREAD: Lions +6 | O/U: 52.5

Less than one week after getting steamrolled by one of football’s most physical offensive lines, the Vikings’ defense faces another. In this seesaw early portion of the season, I tend to pick according to which units are most consistent. The Lions’ offense is that group. Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift are making the jump from good to special, and I trust Detroit's staff to give its squad a slight edge.

  • WHERE: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Ravens: -155 | Patriots: +130
  • SPREAD: Ravens -3 | O/U: 43.5

The Patriots’ defense has given up just two touchdowns in as many weeks, making few mental mistakes. The team’s running game is ahead of schedule after apocalyptic reports in camp. But it will be tough to consistently move the Ravens’ massive front, and Lamar Jackson is that dude who makes sound New England defenses look silly, even in the best of times. 

  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1:00 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Bengals: -225 | Jets: +185
  • SPREAD: Jets +5 | O/U: 45

This is the rare coaching matchup in which Robert Saleh already boasts a winning record. While the Mike White Game was a one-time special, Joe Flacco's ability to spread the ball around could give the patient Bengals defense trouble. It's a winnable game for the Jets, with Joe Burrow not as effective to start this season -- even when protected -- but I'm struggling to see the defending AFC champs fall to 0-3.

  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Raiders: -130 | Titans: +110
  • SPREAD: Titans +2 | O/U: 45.5

The cornered animal game of the week has me flummoxed. The Raiders have played better through two weeks, and the Titans’ injury situation is ugly. But organizational history matters, and while Las Vegas is finding ways to lose games under Josh McDaniels, Mike Vrabel consistently gets Tennessee playing greater than the sum of its parts when the team needs it most. Ugh -- I've flip-flopped on this game all week. Ultimately, the Titans' secondary just has too many holes in it to trust.

  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Eagles: -292 | Commanders: +235
  • SPREAD: Eagles -6.5 | O/U: 47

The Commanders’ offense is erratic yet surprisingly fun. They have enough playmakers and derring-do to bring the Eagles back to earth. But the communication problems on Washington’s defense and lack of pass rush are all too reminiscent of 2021. Like most teams facing Philly, the Commanders aren’t tough enough. 

  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Jaguars: +260 | Chargers: -335
  • SPREAD: Chargers -7 | O/U: 47

It’s unfair to compare most young quarterbacks to Justin Herbert, especially with Trevor Lawrence coming off one of the cleanest games of his career. But this is not a fair fight. It takes spectacular playmaking to beat the Chargers’ defense and there’s only one quarterback in this game who does that regularly. (Even if Herbert’s ribs are sore.)

UPDATE: Justin Herbert is listed as questionable and is uncertain to play Sunday. The same is true for Keenan Allen. If Herbert's out, I'll take Chase Daniel to lead an ugly 20-17 win.

  • WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Rams: -190 | Cardinals: +158
  • SPREAD: Rams -3.5 | O/U: 48.5

Kyler Murray’s legs made the difference in the second half and overtime last week. Will Kliff Kingsbury feel comfortable making that a base part of the offense? The Cardinals might not have a choice if they keep falling way behind because of a defense that doesn’t have the talent to play straight up or the track record of slowing down Sean McVay offenses. (McVay is 6-1 against Kingsbury, with the Rams scoring 30 or more points in five of those games.) 

  • WHERE: Lumen Field (Seattle)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Falcons: -110 | Seahawks: -110
  • SPREAD: PICK | O/U: 42

Pete Carroll was a little too proud to point out that he’s never had a quarterback post 80 percent completions in consecutive games. Geno Smith needs to push the ball down the field more and should get the chance against an attacking Falcons defense that will try to feast on Seattle’s inexperienced line. If this final score proves true, Arthur Smith’s head might explode.

  • WHERE: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Packers: +100 | Buccaneers: -120
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -1 | O/U: 41.5

The best two quarterbacks from a season ago are off to relatively slow starts. Both teams want to lean on their running games, problem-solving skills and defenses to help protect their fledgling lines and aging quarterbacks. While the Packers have the personnel to adopt this life, Tom Brady and Todd Bowles were born in it.

  • WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC, Universo
  • MONEYLINE: 49ers: -125 | Broncos: +105
  • SPREAD: 49ers -1.5 | O/U: 45

The 49ers' running game already misses Trey Lance's versatility and Elijah Mitchell's speed, but the passing game should be just fine. Jimmy Garoppolo's quick throws led to a lot of YAC last week against the Seahawks, and the Broncos' top cover man, Pat Surtain II, has missed practice this week with a shoulder injury. I have questions about Denver's offensive line that will be answered this week in a way they weren't against Seattle and Houston.


The closest thing to Lawrence Taylor to come into the league since Lawrence Taylor arrives in the Meadowlands ready to have another star-burnishing performance in prime time. Micah Parsons, now focusing all his energy on pass rushing, helps free up his teammates to be great. The Giants have found ways to win despite a messy offense, but this Cowboys defense is shaping up to be a top-five group. 


The Browns are confusing. Jacoby Brissett has led the fourth-most efficient offense through Week 2, per DVOA, while the defense keeps making huge mental errors late in games. The Steelers treat their dynamic wide receivers like they are a bunch of 175-pound slot guys and only throw short of the sticks. With Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Winovich out and Myles Garrett banged up, look for Mitch Trubisky to let it fly for one week. 

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