NFL Week 3 preview
Chicago Bears @ Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta's defense has given up a lot of points so far this season but might be catching a break in this one. The Bears aren't an overly threatening team offensively. Atlanta will be without CB AJ Terrell in this one because of a positive COVID test, leaving an opportunity for the Chicago offense to take advantage. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have been on a tear lately and will face their biggest test yet. How the Atlanta offense fares against Chicago's defense will determine how close this one is. If they find ways to perform like the first two weeks of the season, Atlanta will come out on top.
LA Rams @ Buffalo Bills
The Rams will face their toughest defense yet in Buffalo on Sunday. Not only that, but the Bills offense is much better than in years past. WR Stefon Diggs has added a vertical play-making ability that just hadn't been there, and it's helped the Bills become the league's top passing offense (for now). When you can stretch the field, your offense can become dangerous. The Rams know all about that, since they also have one of the best offenses. Jared Goff has plenty of weapons to work with, if he gets protection. While it's tempting to look at the skill positions on each side, I think this game comes down to the trenches. Whichever defensive line is able to put the most pressure on the opposing QB will come out on top.
Washington @ Cleveland Browns
Washington got a surprising win over Philadelphia to start the season, then just didn't have it last week in Arizona. The Cardinals offense was too much, as they ran out to a 20-0 lead. Cleveland got a breakthrough performance from its offense led by RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Washington's defensive front will make this a tougher game than Cleveland wants to admit. But, at the end of the day, Cleveland's offense is just far more polished than Washington's.
Tennessee Titans @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have struggled so far this year. Their offense isn't nearly as scary without Stefon Diggs, and the defense has been relatively easy to score on. That defense will be relying on rookie corner Harrison Hand this weekend with Mike Hughes and Cam Dantzler out due to injury. AJ Brown might miss this one for the Titans, giving Minnesota a bit of a break. Tennessee doesn't have a great passing game, but it has been much improved so far this season. I expect them to try to exploit the holes in the Minnesota secondary with Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis, and Derrick Henry should easily go over 100 yards against a defense that gave up 101 to Jonathan Taylor last week.
Las Vegas Raiders @ New England Patriots
Cam Newton has been playing well for the Patriots despite the lack of weapons at his disposal. Last week, he almost single-handedly kept them in the game against Seattle, throwing for nearly 400 yards and accounting for 3 touchdowns. The Raiders are coming off a surprising win over the Saints. The offense has been really good and the defense is giving up fewer big plays. I think this may be a closer game than some think, but Cam's ability will still be too much for the Raider defense.
San Francisco 49ers @ NY Giants
San Francisco at full strength wins this one in a landslide. Unfortunately for them, they are far from full strength. In last Week's game against the Jets, the Niners lost QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RBs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, DLs Solomon Thomas and Nick Bosa, and TE George Kittle. Thomas and Bosa are now both out for the season. That's several major players on offense and two huge parts of a defensive line rotation. The Giants also suffered a major injury. RB Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL. The signed Devonta Freeman to take his place, but you just don't know how close he is to game-ready. The Barkley injury may make the Giants' offense one dimensional, which should be all Nick Mullens and the Niners need to pull out a close one.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles
Two 0-2 teams here. The Bengals have been somewhat rejuvenated by Joe Burrow, playing two close games and showing a better offense than last season. Meanwhile, the Eagles have had 2 consecutive second half collapses to start the season. In Week 1, they blew a 17-0 lead, and in Week 2, they were outscored 16-3 in the second half. Philly will have to find their offense in the second half, and this is a great game for them to get that fixed. The Bengals may be able to take some advantage of a still susceptible Philly secondary, but the Eagles are the better team.
Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
I doubt an 0-2 start is what Bill O'Brien had in mind when he decided to reshape his offense. The Texans' coach clearly opted for speed over size and athleticism, and they now lack a redzone threat. While he's still putting up passing yards at a decent pace, Deshaun Watson has only thrown 2 touchdowns. Pittsburgh is once again a stellar defense, sacking Bronco quarterbacks 7 times last week. They do, however, struggle some against the run. The Steeler offense is better this year with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, the emergence of Benny Snell, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool, and the re-emergence of James Conner. Don't forget about JuJu Smith-Schuster either. While Houston may see an improved performance from its offense, Pittsburgh just has to much for the Texan defense. I expect at least one big receiving performance against the Houston secondary.
NY Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
Adam Gase's days with the Jets appear to be numbered. Fans didn't approve of the hire from the start, and he has had issues getting along with his players. That's not how you turn a team around. The Jets have some good talent but don't always put it to good use. The Colts have an extremely underrated defense that will shut down the Jets miniscule offense and will likely see a big game from their own offense.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
Oh boy here we go. Arizona has one of the leagues top passing attacks and can hurt you in many ways. They appear to be very much improved in year 2 under Kliff Kingsbury with Kyler Murray at QB. The Lions, meanwhile, have been abysmal on defense and will be missing top corner Desmond Trufant. Corners Amani Oruwariye and Jeff Okudah were beat badly and often last week in Green Bay. Detroit also has the worst pass rush in the NFL by a wide margin. While the Lions should be better on offense this week with the return of Kenny Golladay, their inept defense will make this incredibly difficult to win. I would not be surprised if Arizona reached 50 points in this game.
Carolina Panthers @ LA Chargers
The Chargers offense got a bit of a spark last week with the decision to start rookie QB Justin Herbert. The move was made because of an injury to Tyrod Taylor, but Herbert has earned the right to be the team's starter going forward. I haven't seen much of Carolina this year, but, from what I gather, Teddy Bridgewater and the offense have been alright, and the defense has struggled. I don't see a high scoring affair here, but going across the country against a pretty good LA defense doesn't seem like a recipe for a Carolina win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos
After struggling in Week 1, Tampa's offense found their groove against the Panthers? in Week 2. Mike Evans looked like he was ready to go, and Tom Brady finally seemed to have a good rapport with his new receivers. Denver, on the other hand, hasn't looked great offensively and will be without starting QB Drew Lock and WR Courtland Sutton. The Broncos will need big games from Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy and will need a third receiver to step up if they want to give Jeff Driskel a chance for a huge upset victory.
Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks
This is a tough game for Dallas. After a thrilling comeback win over Atlanta, they're rewarded with a trip to Seattle. While the Seahawks have struggled some on defense, Russell Wilson and the offense are humming along like a well-oiled machine. DK Metcalf is quickly becoming one of the league's top receivers, forming a devastating combo with Tyler Lockett. Chris Carson has also proven to be quite the receiver out of the backfield to go with his already outstanding rushing ability. Seattle has the 2nd best run defense in the NFL, so don't expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge game. Dak Prescott will have to use his receivers to take advantage of a secondary that has been prone to giving up some big plays so far this season. I think Dallas's defense just won't allow them to stay in this one. Seattle by double digits.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
A matchup of explosive offenses, both of whom will probably not have their star receivers. Green Bay's Davante Adams doesn't look like he'll be playing after suffering an injury last week against Detroit, and New Orleans's Michael Thomas isn't quite ready to return from an injury suffered in Week 1. While New Orleans has a solid and opportunistic defense, Green Bay is the NFL's top scoring offense so far this year, albeit against a couple bad defenses. New Orleans's offense didn't look the same on Monday night without Thomas. Green Bay doesn't have a great defense, especially in pass coverage, so the Saints should still be able to move the ball. However, they'll need a great defensive performance to pull this one out.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens
This week's Monday night matchup features 2 of the league's premier teams. The Chiefs offense is always a threat, and I expect them to bounce back from last week's performance. Their defense also seems to be improved so far. The Ravens are one of the few teams that has an offense that can keep up with KC and a defense with the ability to hold them back. I expect the offenses to shine over the defenses in a thrilling game to watch.