Around The NFL Editor
Gregg Rosenthal went 5-11 straight up on his Week 3 picks, bringing his season total to 24-23-1. How will he fare in Week 4? His picks are below.
The lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook are current as of 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 29 unless otherwise noted below.
This is a sneaky-fun game featuring two of the most surprising teams in football. The Browns’ well-coached offense is third in efficiency, while the Falcons rank eighth. Both defenses are sub-ordinary and the status of Myles Garrett is worth watching, but Nick Chubb‘s best season yet gets the edge in a battle of run-dominant squads.
Buffalo’s secondary is hurting at the wrong time, heading into another game against one of the league’s top passing outfits. Then again, Baltimore doesn’t have much beyond Lamar Jackson right now. The Ravens’ running backs are stuck in quicksand, they are on their fourth left tackle, the run defense is struggling, and the rookies in the secondary are getting picked on. That’s too many flaws for this Bills team to pick apart.
It has taken two weeks for Cooper Rush to pass Carson Wentz in my “quarterbacks I trust” rankings. That’s especially true this week, with the Commanders facing a feasting Cowboys defense that makes plays at every level. Wentz still can’t navigate the pocket under pressure. While Dallas’ re-made offensive line gets better every week, it’s still unclear what Washington’s defense does well.
The Lions’ offensive line is banged up. Dynamic running back D’Andre Swift is expected to miss this game. If stud receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is out, too, the Seahawks’ defense has a chance to keep this close. Otherwise it’s hard to trust Seattle in any week because Pete Carroll’s crew is wasting the best version of Geno Smith with a defense that ranks in the bottom two in the league at plays and yards allowed per drive despite not having a tough schedule so far. More than half of Detroit’s offensive starters missed practice on Wednesday, so availability will be key to watch.
UPDATE: The Lions have officially ruled out Swift and St. Brown for Sunday’s game.
How low can the Chargers go? Low enough that they shouldn’t be trusted as five-point favorites over anyone after losing left tackle Rashawn Slater for the season and Joey Bosa for at least four weeks. Justin Herbert doesn’t want to hold the ball because of his injury and weakened protection, and if Keenan Allen doesn’t play, the Bolts don’t have enough weapons. The running game was dormant even before Slater’s injury. If Davis Mills and the Texans’ offense were playing better, I’d be tempted to pick them. But Mills can’t shoot straight on deep and intermediate throws, so I won’t.
The Titans have played erratic football, to put it nicely, but the Colts have just been consistently bad. They beat Kansas City despite Matt Ryan failing to recognize and account for all the extra rushers the Chiefs were sending. Until the Colts’ offense shows a more consistent spark, it’s hard to pick them.
At least the Bears can run block. Justin Fields may be running an offense out of the 1950s, but Chicago’s strong ground game and frisky defense makes it a tough out against flawed teams like the Texans and Giants. One of these teams gets to be 3-1 after this game, and Daniel Jones is working too hard for every first down to pick his side.
The top four teams in DVOA play each other this week. Bills-Ravens makes sense in this context. Jags-Eagles is a surprise. Jacksonville’s defense is getting superlative play at every level with Josh Allen wrecking shop up front, Devin Lloyd becoming a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate and Tyson Campbell evolving into a CB1. Sunday marks a bigger challenge, where the perfectly called and executed defense still sometimes won’t be enough. Philadelphia has more firepower, but Jacksonville should keep it close.
This marks a fine spot for Zach Wilson to return. The T.J. Watt-less Steelers defense is struggling to get off the field, and even a strong Mitch Trubisky performance isn’t going over 23 points. Give the Steelers the edge because Mike Tomlin has proven resourceful in spots like this over the years, and there’s a real chance Wilson is a downgrade from Joe Flacco.
These are two 1-2 teams that feel worse than their records. At least the Panthers have one side of the ball playing well, with Jaycee Horn and Jeremy Chinn sparking a solid defense. The Cardinals look overwhelmed on both sides, finding it tough to get stops or create anything offensively out of structure. The difference here is at quarterback. I did not imagine Baker Mayfield could struggle this much, but Carolina would be better off with P.J. Walker starting games. Maybe he needed that leash?
Mac Jones‘ injury is a shame because the Patriots’ offense was showing signs of life. They are first in rushing DVOA and were throwing the ball downfield better than in Jones’ rookie year. It’s hard to imagine Brian Hoyer doing that, especially in this matchup. It’s also hard to give the Packers nearly 10 points when they are averaging 16 per game.
UPDATE: The Patriots have officially ruled out Jones for Sunday’s game against Green Bay. Hoyer will start.
It’s dumb to pick games based on the Raiders feeling like a 1-3 team (not 0-4) and the Broncos feeling like a 2-2 team (not 3-1). I am dumb and penciled in the Raiders to win until I realized they could be down their top three cornerbacks. Derek Carr and Russell Wilson both still look uncomfortable in their new offenses. Carr is not finding the open receivers, even when it’s Davante Adams. Wilson’s numbers are all at career-low rates and he’s no longer adding rushing value to counteract the sacks he’s taking. But Wilson clearly has the easier matchup.
The Buccaneers’ defense looks like the best in football. That’s not a good sign for a Chiefs offense that has an erratic running game and is throwing it deep less than ever. As Hurricane Ian hits Florida, it’s unclear where this game will be played. It’s also unclear who will play for the Bucs. With Tampa’s offense still piecing it together, the early-week pick is Kansas City.
UPDATE: Sunday night’s game between the Chiefs and Buccaneers will be played in Tampa as originally scheduled, the NFL confirmed Thursday.
This game is the best example of how defenses are ahead of offenses at this point in the season. Despite having two of the best offensive coaches in football supported by veteran quarterbacks, both squads are looking for consistency because of injuries and offensive line struggles. It feels like a game Nick Bosa or Aaron Donald will decide, and I’ll roll with the home team with no particular strong feeling.
Both teams here look squarely stuck in the NFL’s middle, so I’m picking them to end this game with matching 2-2 records. The Saints arrived in London early (like the Around the NFL Podcast), and I want to believe that getting over jet lag has an advantage for a squad with otherwise terrible juju. Minnesota’s placid defense may not test New Orleans’ communication issues up front enough, and the Saints have the cornerback (Marshon Lattimore) and the secondary depth to slow down the Vikings’ passing game. If the Saints lose, their sloppy coaching and quarterback will be under a lot of heat. New Orleans has a lot of hanging injury situations, so check back later in the week for a potential switch.
UPDATE: Dennis Allen said Friday that quarterback Jameis Winston (back, ankle) is doubtful to play Sunday, and the Saints are prepping to start Andy Dalton. Additionally, Allen officially ruled out receiver Michael Thomas due to a foot injury.
The Dolphins’ defense played 92 snaps in the Miami humidity Sunday and now have to travel on a short week. That should be easier because of a deep defensive line getting big contributions from Melvin Ingram, Zach Sieler and Trey Flowers. The Bengals’ defense is similarly sound, yet hasn’t been tested against a quality offense. While 3.5 points is too much to give the undefeated Dolphins, I think Joe Burrow can create enough plays against a tired Miami secondary.
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Will the shorthanded Buccaneers find a way to win against the Packers? Can the Cowboys earn a victory for a second straight week without Dak Prescott? Gregg Rosenthal makes his picks for every Week 3 game.
Can the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers exorcise recent demons against the rival Saints? Will the Patriots fall to 0-2 in Pittsburgh? Gregg Rosenthal makes his picks for every Week 2 game.
Can the Vikings defend their home field in an NFC North showdown with the mighty Packers? Is Broncos QB Russell Wilson in for a rough return to Seattle? Gregg Rosenthal makes his picks for every Week 1 game.
Can Joe Burrow’s Bengals repeat their previous success against Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs? Will the Rams outlast the 49ers after being swept in the regular season? Gregg Rosenthal provides his picks for the AFC and NFC title games.
Last season’s Super Bowl teams — the Buccaneers and Chiefs — are both in action on Sunday. Will either make it past the Divisional Round? Gregg Rosenthal provides his picks.
What can we expect in the latest installment of a classic playoff rivalry between the Cowboys and 49ers? Who’ll win the rubber match between the Rams and Cardinals? Gregg Rosenthal makes his picks for every NFL game on Super Wild Card Weekend.
Will the Chargers or Raiders prevail in a juicy AFC West showdown with a playoff bid on the line? Does the NFC West produce a striking upset? Gregg Rosenthal makes his picks for every NFL game in Week 18.
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