Here are my Week 3 picks with confidence level selections. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 will be available for all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The picks with a 6+ confidence level, a group of selections that have netted a 91-33 record over the past two seasons, will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers. Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheatcode to beat the sportsbooks over the last five years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Now let’s get to this week’s picks!
Chicago at Cleveland
KC’s pick: Cleveland | Confidence level: 5
The key to this battle will be the Browns rushing offense versus the Bears rushing defense. Cleveland has tallied consecutive games with 150+ rushing yards, a pace that they only equaled twice in their superb 2020 campaign. Chicago has been stout in stopping the ground game, as they held the Rams and Bengals, two quality rushing teams, to 74 and 69 rushing yards, respectively. The problem for the Bears is that they have to put rookie quarterback Justin Fields under center before they think he’s ready to take on that role. Cleveland has a solid defense and should get Odell Beckham, Jr. back in this contest as well, so the Browns rate this selection.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
KC’s pick: Tennessee | Confidence level: 4
Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing was lambasted for his play calling in Week 1, but showed that he may know a thing or two about that area after all following a 532-yard offensive showing against Seattle that included 182 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns from Derrick Henry. The Colts have allowed 241 rushing yards in the first two games of the season and had more than their share of issues covering Seattle’s deep threat receivers, so A.J. Brown and Julio Jones could give that group some trouble. Merge these factors with the Colts offensive injuries and the game being in Nashville and the Titans get the check mark in this one.
LA Chargers at Kansas City
KC’s pick: Kansas City | Confidence level: 4
Much of the blame for the Chargers loss to Dallas was placed on the shoulders of Justin Herbert and some shaky officiating, but don’t forget that Los Angeles gave up 198 rushing yards last week and allowed 126 rushing yards in Week 1. Kansas City isn’t in much better shape in this area, as the Chiefs have given up 404 yards on the ground to start this season. These factors show that both clubs will have trouble controlling the line of scrimmage on defense, but the Chargers have the added issues of having to stop Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Los Angeles has some talented skill position players but no one in the league can match that duo. It’s also a home game for the Chiefs, so Kansas City gets this one.
New Orleans at New England
KC’s pick: New England | Confidence level: 3
In what world would one have ever expected to see a Sean Payton offense generate 128 total offensive yards and two turnovers? That’s what happened last week when this platoon had to square off against the powerful Panthers defense. Things don’t get much easier this week in a road matchup against a Bill Belichick defense that ranks second in turnover drive percentage (per Pro Football Reference). The Patriots also have a better handle on preventing turnovers, as Mac Jones has made it clear he is fully on board with playing percentage football. Those factors, plus having the game in New England, should be enough to push this pick in the Patriots direction.
Atlanta at New York Giants
KC’s pick: New York | Confidence level: 2
Arthur Smith was brought to Atlanta in large part due to his offensive play calling expertise, but it sure would help if he had some defensive play calling skill, as the Falcons gave up 66 offensive points and 775 offensive yards against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. The Giants have been just as bad in this area, as they have given up 827 offensive yards and 57 offensive points in the first two contests. This has all the hallmarks of a shootout contest, so the tiebreaker goes to the home team, New York, by a small margin.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
KC’s pick: Pittsburgh | Confidence level: 4
Things were looking back to 2020 form for Joe Burrow in Week 1, but that trend came to a halt last week when Burrow threw three interceptions and looked every bit like a player coming back from injury. The Steelers defense could repeat this feat quite easily were they at full strength, but Pittsburgh will be without defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and may not have T.J. Watt. Those injuries and a faulty secondary led the Steelers to allow 796 offensive yards over the first two games. Pittsburgh also has some offensive issues, as they haven’t been able to run block this year and now have Ben Roethlisberger battling a pectoral injury. These latter elements will keep the Bengals close in this contest, but Pittsburgh’s talent edge should net them the victory.
New York Jets at Denver
KC’s pick: Denver | Confidence level: 4
Jets head coach Robert Saleh is already having an impact on the defensive side of the ball, as New York ranks tied for 10th in points allowed and tied for ninth in yards allowed per play. It’s too bad that Saleh’s prowess doesn’t yet extend to the Jets passing game, as Zach Wilson looked very much like an overmatched rookie last week in throwing four interceptions against a Bill Belichick defense. Vic Fangio isn’t quite in Belichick’s class as a defensive genius, but he’s at the top of the next tier and should give Wilson his share of bad memories of this contest. Combine that with it being the home opener for the Broncos and Denver is the pick.
Tampa Bay at Los Angeles Rams
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 1
It’s quite understandable that the football world is paying the bulk of its attention to the GOAT putting up an MVP-caliber start in his age-44 season, but don’t bypass just how poorly the Tampa Bay defense has played this year. The Buccaneers rate 30th in passing yards allowed and 23rd in overall yards allowed. That is not a good trend when facing a Rams offense that leads the league in scoring drive rate and net yards per pass attempt. Los Angeles has also been stout against the pass, ranking tied for fifth in yards allowed per attempt and sacks. It’s also a cross country trip for the Buccaneers, so the Rams are the pick here by the smallest of margins.
Seattle at Minnesota
KC’s pick: Seattle | Confidence level: 2
This has the makings of a nightmarish season for Mike Zimmer, as the Vikings have allowed 61 points, 41 first downs, and 837 offensive yards in the first two games and missed a game winning field goal attempt to boot. Seattle’s season start is very much the same as the early part of the 2020 campaign that saw them getting into a lot of shootouts. Pete Carroll wants to avoid these shootouts just as much as Zimmer does, but neither team at the moment looks to be able to effectively prevent them. Both teams have a slew of big play skill position players, but Russell Wilson gives the Seahawks a significant edge at quarterback, so the Seahawks are the pick here.
Green Bay at San Francisco
KC’s pick: San Francisco | Confidence level: 2
Green Bay got a measure of redemption on Monday night with its win over the Lions, but they were trailing at halftime of that contest and still have the façade of a team that has yet to hit its stride. San Francisco is a club that doesn’t have that issue, but they do have many injury problems in the backfield and may end up having to go with Trey Sermon, Trenton Cannon, and Jacques Patrick as their running back triumvirate. That could limit the breakaway ability of this backfield, but having George Kittle and Deebo Samuel means San Francisco won’t lack for big plays. It’s also a cross country trip for the Packers, so the 49ers earn this selection.
Philadelphia at Dallas
KC’s pick: Dallas | Confidence level: 3
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has done a superb job of turning this platoon into a much higher percentage group than it was in recent seasons. Philadelphia ranks fifth in scoring drive percentage, third in yards per play, second in pass yards per attempt, 12th in pass pressure rate, and, most importantly, tied for second in points allowed. The Eagles should also benefit from facing a Cowboys defense that has allowed 400+ offensive yards in two straight contests. Even with these potential advantages, Philadelphia is at a net disadvantage in this one, as they haven’t faced an offense with the talent level and play calling prowess that the Cowboys bring to the table. Combine that with it being a Monday night game in Dallas and the Cowboys get the edge in this matchup.
KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 91-33 over the past two seasons, are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.