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September 21, 2023

Week 3 NFL picks

Ahead of Week 3, Jimmy Kempski makes his NFL picks, including the Eagles vs. Buccaneers Monday Night Football game.

Eagles NFL
092123JalenHurts Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Wil Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' passing offense break out of their funk against the Bucs Week 3?

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 3 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.


Giants at 49ers (-10.5): The Giants and 49ers are two teams of interest to the Eagles. The Giants are an NFC East "rival," I suppose (can you really call it a rivalry when one team can't beat the other?), while the 49ers are one of the two biggest threats to the Eagles in the NFC.

On paper, the Giants' offensive line is in for a big mismatch against the 49ers' front seven, especially with Andrew Thomas out. They'll also be without their best offensive player in Saquon Barkley, who injured his ankle against the Cardinals Week 2. 

The Giants showed something in their wild comeback against the Cardinals, even if the Cards are pretty clearly the worst team in the NFL, and getting 10.5 points is tempting. But ultimately, I'm not stupid enough to bet on the Giants with the way they played in their first six quarters of the season.


Titans at Browns (-3): I've picked against the Titans each of the first two weeks of the season, and in my mind have been right that they are not a good team, but they have somehow covered in both games so far. I'm sticking to my guns and picking against them Week 3. Myles Garrett vs. Andre Dillard has to be a terrifying matchup for Tennessee.


Falcons at Lions (-3.5): This is a fun matchup between a couple of "Tier 2" NFC teams trying to rise up and earn some respect. What do I mean by "Tier 2?" Well, the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys are "Tier 1." Tier 2 would include teams like the Lions, Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, etc. Watching this game from a Tier 1 perspective is like being the oldest brother watching two younger brothers fight.

In an odd way the smashmouth Falcons feel like the team that Dan Campbell wants the Lions to be. The Detroit hype train got going after a Week 1 win over the depleted Chiefs, but they came back to reality Week 2, when they couldn't make plays defensively against the Seahawks. Those defensive struggles should only be exacerbated by the loss of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Lions also have some injury concerns along their offensive line, with LT Taylor Decker and old friend RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai both banged up.


Saints at Packers (-2): It's the same story this season so far for the Saints in their post-Drew Brees existence — good defense, but shaky offense with mediocre quarterback play. They've been fortunate to get out to a 2-0 record against a pair of bad teams in the Titans and Panthers, but that'll end in Green Bay, even against a Packers team that could still be without David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, and Aaron Jones. Jordan Love has played well so far, and in a way that feels sustainable.


Broncos at Dolphins (-6.5): This line feels curiously low. The Dolphins have played like one of the best teams in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, while the Broncos have played like one of the worst.

The Dolphins also have a big early-season advantage in home games because they are used to the nasty Miami heat, and their opponents are not.


Chargers (-1) at Vikings: People are beginning to wake up to the idea that Brandon Staley stinks.

Also, care to guess what Justin Herbert's career record is? (Jeopardy music playing)... 25-26, and 0-1 in the playoffs.

Why are the Chargers favored?


Patriots (-2.5) at Jets: Zach Wilson vs. Bill Belichick:

Zach Wilson vs. Pats Comp/Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT QB Rating 
9/19/21 (L)19/33 (57.6%) 210 (6.4) 0-4 37.0 
10/24/21 (L)6/10 (60.0%) 51 (5.1) 0-0 73.3 
10/30/22 (L)20/41 (48.8%) 355 (8.7) 2-3 64.6 
11/20/22 (L)9/22 (40.9%) 77 (3.5) 0-0 50.8 
TOTAL (0-454/106 (50.9%) 693 (6.5) 2-7 50.6 

I'll ride that trend.


Bills (-6.5) at Commanders: Josh Allen and the Bills got back on track Week 2 against the Raiders after a horrid loss Week 1 to the Jets. Sam Howell has looked better than expected so far and the Commanders' defensive line is playing dominant football early on, so I like their chances of keeping it close, but give me the Bills, obviously.


Texans at Jaguars (-9.5): The Jaguars arguably outplayed the Chiefs Week 2. They just had an abnormal number of catches in the back of the end zone in which the receivers couldn't get two feet in. I think there were like four such plays? Anyway, they'll be fine.

However, I would caution that Houston has won nine of the last 10 matchups in this rivalry, in case anyone is considering making the Jags their survivor pick this week.


Colts at Ravens (-7.5): Apparently, Anthony Richardson patterned his game after Lamar Jackson.

You and me both, Lamar.

Going from Jeff Saturday to Shane Steichen has probably been the biggest year-over-year coaching upgrade from 2022 to 2023 and this is a game that the Colts can win eventually, but not yet.


Panthers at Seahawks (-5.5): Part of my process in picking these games each week is that I'll try to guess the lines before I look at them, and it's easy enough to consistently get within a point or two of what Vegas is thinking. I figured this game would be something like Seahawks (-8.5), given the Seahawks' impressive offensive showing Week 2 against the Lions, and the Panthers' impotent offense so far this season. I'll gladly lay the 5.5.


Bears at Chiefs (-12.5): The Chiefs have surprisingly struggled offensively so far this season, averaging just 18.5 points per game, but they are playing a Bears team that is an absolute disjointed tire fire offensively right now. We don't need to think too hard on this one.


Cowboys at Cardinals (-12): There are a lot of easy survivor pick options this week, like the 49ers over the Giants, the Cowboys over the Cardinals, and the Chiefs over the Bears. If you're an Eagles fan, the Cowboys feel like a logical choice. If they win, you advance. If they lose, then "Lol the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals." I am taking the Cowboys, but not for that reason. I'll use them (a) while they're red hot, and (b) before their ticking time bomb of an offensive line eventually implodes.


Steelers at Raiders (-2.5): The Steelers are pretty banged up after an injury-riddled game against the Browns Monday night, so I don't like them enough to make this one of my picks. But I'm also sure as hell not picking a Josh McDaniels-coached team over a Mike Tomlin-coached team.


Eagles (-4.5) at Buccaneers: This line was originally Eagles (-6.5), but it has since fallen to Eagles (-4.5). That's a curious shift. The Eagles have not played to their standard so far this season, while the Bucs have played a little over their heads. If one were to be of the mindset that each team will eventually play closer to expectations, then advantage Eagles.

I do not like this matchup offensively for the Bucs. They are dead last in rushing offense, while the Eagles have the No. 1 ranked rush defense. Will they even try to run the ball? There's a good chance that from the jump Tampa will be one-dimensional. That's not great for a Bucs offensive line — notably on the right side — that should be overmatched by the Eagles' pass rush. Of course, the Bucs do have a big, physical WR duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but I like the Eagles' chances of defending them with Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Josh Jobe, assuming Bradberry is good to go and the Eagles slide him inside in nickel.

On the other side of the ball, it's only a matter of time before the Eagles' loaded offense starts clicking. With an extra four days to prepare for this matchup, this feels like the game that they break out.

Side note: There should be a heavy Eagles fan presence at this game.


Rams at Bengals (-2): Obviously the Bengals have the much more talented roster here, but it's hard to trust them after the way they played the first two weeks of the season. I'll take them, I guess, but with little conviction.

Survivor pick

  1. Week 1: Ravens 
  2. Week 2: Bills
  3. Week 3: Cowboys

• Picks against the spread: Browns (-3), Falcons (+3.5), Dolphins (-6.5), Vikings (+1), Patriots (-2.5), Seahawks (-5.5), Eagles (-4.5).

• Eagles picks (straight up): 2-0
• Eagles picks (ATS): 1-0-1

• 2023 season, straight up: 19-13 (0.563)
• 2023 season, ATS: 5-6-2 (0.462)
• 2022 season, straight up: 176-107-2 (0.621)
• 2022 season, ATS: 50-50 (0.500) 
• 2021 season, straight up: 179-105-1 (0.630)
• 2021 season, ATS: 46-40-1 (0.534)
• 2020 season, straight up: 169-81-1 (0.675)
• 2020 season, ATS: 45-37-3 (0.547)
• 2019 season, straight up: 160-107-1 (0.601)
• 2019 season, ATS: 42-35-3 (0.544)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

• Last 9 years, ATS: 350-297-15 (0.540)

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