Spread picks and scores for every Week 3 NFL game

Mike Renner makes score predictions for every game of Week 3 of the NFL season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Scott Audette)

(AP Photo/Scott Audette)

Spread picks and scores for every Week 3 NFL game

As with every week, I’ll be giving a primer of all Week 3’s games and highlight, as well as the key matchups. I’ll give you my picks and how confident I am in each, from a betting perspective. The confidence grade is on our patented -2 through +2 scale. Basically, if I give my prediction a positive grade, I feel good about the bet. If it’s zero, I’m on the fence. And if it’s negative, I really don’t like the line either way. For the season I’m 9-5 on positively graded picks and 7-11 on all others.

Jaguars at Patriots (-14)

Tom Brady is playing at as high a level as we’ve ever seen from him. Brady’s grade is just 1.3 off the pace of where it was through two weeks during his record-breaking 2007 season. The Jaguars secondary has made some strides from 2014, but they are still just our No. 21 coverage unit. That’s not enough to shut down Brady the way he’s been playing.

Prediction: Patriots 38, Jaguars 21

Confidence Grade: 0


Falcons (-2) at Cowboys

I dove deep into the Cowboys quarterback situation earlier this week, and the conclusions I came to weren’t pretty. Brandon Weeden has been a liability throughout his career, and while you can expect some development from his time in Cleveland, he’s still got a long way to go. Over the last two seasons, Weeden’s made turnover-worthy throws on 4.4 percent of his attempts, while Tony Romo was at 3.0 percent over the same time frame. Not having Dez Bryant is just the icing on the cake. The Falcons defense has made enough strides from a year ago that I believe they can shut down what should be a one-dimensional Cowboys offense.

Prediction: Falcons 31, Cowboys 13

Confidence Grade: +1.5


Chargers at Vikings (-2.5)

This matchup sets up favorably for the Vikings, as they face a weak Chargers defensive line that won’t likely exploit Minnesota’s O-line weaknesses. That being said, I think the Vikings’ weapons on the outside will be overmatched by the Chargers secondary. The addition of Patrick Robinson (+2.2) as a slot corner has made the Chargers three-deep in quality cornerback options. Combine that with the fact that Philip Rivers is dinking-and-dunking that offense to success, and I give the edge to the Chargers—barely.

Prediction: Chargers 21, Vikings 20

Confidence Grade: -1


Eagles at Jets (-2.5)

Earlier this week, PFF’s Sam Monson examined the Eagles struggles. My biggest issue has been Sam Bradford’s complete lack of mobility as a run threat and at extending plays. The Eagles offense relies on time for the deep crosses and double-moves to develop, and Bradford is a whopping 6-for-23 on passes thrown 10+ yards through the air. The scary thing is, this is by far the best defense they have faced this season. The Jets are eighth in run defense and fourth in pass coverage thus far. I don’t see Chip Kelly and company righting the ship this week.

Prediction: Jets 20, Eagles 17

Confidence Grade: +0.5


Steelers (-2) at Rams

The Steelers have the third-most points in the NFL, our highest-graded quarterback, and this week, they return our highest-rated running back from a year ago in Le’Veon Bell. Ben Roethlisberger is throwing downfield at an unprecedented rate right now. He’s 10-of-15 for 406 yards on throws more than 20 yards downfield. That’s more than double the yardage of the second-best quarterback. The Rams have not been able to keep points off the board, despite their No. 1 run-defense grade and number two pass-rushing grade. I don’t see that changing with the Steelers offense almost at full strength.

Prediction: Steelers 31, Rams 21

Confidence Grade: +1


Bengals at Ravens (-3)

This is a surprising line given the way each has played to this point, and I don’t expect things to change much. Flacco is still extremely hampered by his weapons, or lack thereof, while the Bengals’ offensive line should be able to move the ball on anyone. The loss of Terrell Suggs was all too apparent against the Raiders; the Ravens managed to pressure Derek Carr on just 12 of his 47 dropbacks. I don’t see that lack of production changing against the Bengals front this week.

Prediction: Bengals 21, Ravens 13

Confidence Grade: +0.5


Colts (-3.5) at Titans

Andrew Luck, for lack of a better word, is due. He’s faced two of the best defenses in the NFL through two weeks, and is currently our sixth-worst graded quarterback. We know that won’t last, as he matches up with a Titans team that just made Johnny Manziel look serviceable. On the other side, Marcus Mariota came crashing back down to earth in week two with a -6.7 overall grade. I don’t see these teams as too unevenly matched outside of quarterback, but I know which quarterback I’d currently side with.

Prediction: Colts 30, Titans 24

Confidence Grade: -0.5


Saints at Panthers (-3)

This one might stay off with the injury to Drew Brees. I’ll assume that he will play, but that the shoulder injury will have the same effect as it did in the second half of last week’s game. Against the Buccaneers, Brees posted his lowest grade (-5.5) since Week 7 of the 2010 season. Something was unequivocally wrong with him, and from all reports, it’s not an overnight fix. Even if he is healthy, though, the Saints have our second-worst graded coverage unit in the NFL through two weeks, and might even make the Panthers receivers look competent.

Prediction: Panthers 24, Saints 14

Confidence Grade: +0.5


Raiders at Browns (-3.5)

Just when we thought Johnny Football was here to stay, they go and pull the rug out from under him. Even with all his mistakes, I trust Manziel to produce some offense with limited weapons far more than Josh McCown. It’s all on their defense in this one, and their eighth-ranked pass rush looks much improved from a year ago. On the other side, the Raiders’ offense finally has a pulse. Their offensive line had their way with a stout Ravens front last week, and look much-improved from a year ago. That being said, it’s still a big toss up for me.

Prediction: Raiders 14, Browns 13

Confidence Grade: -1


49ers at Cardinals (-6.5)

The 49ers secondary was toasted last week to the tune of 369 yards and a -8.2 coverage grade. Carson Palmer isn’t exactly Ben Roethlisberger, but he’ll test the back end of that defense. Palmer’s average depth of target is 11.3 yards downfield, the third highest in the NFL. On offense I just don’t trust the porous 49ers line to hold up against the Cardinals complicated blitz schemes. Colin Kaepernick has faced pressure on 42 percent of his dropbacks this season, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL, and he’s been accurate on just 55 percent of his throws under pressure.

Prediction: Cardinals 27, 49ers 20

Confidence Grade: -0.5


Bills at Dolphins (-2.5)

How good are both of these teams? I really can’t get a handle on either after two weeks. I know I trust the Buffalo offensive line more in pass protection than the Miami’s, especially on the interior. The Dolphins have our 57th (Jamil Douglas) and 59th (Dallas Thomas) ranked guards in pass-blocking efficiency, while Buffalo has the first (Richie Incognito) and worst (John Miller) rated guards in pass-blocking efficiency. That could mean big days Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Williams, and Marcell Dareus, and muddy pockets for both quarterbacks. The difference in this one is that I’ll take Tyrod Taylor’s mobility over Ryan Tannehill’s when the pocket breaks down.

Prediction: Bills 24, Dolphins 21

Confidence Grade: -1.5


Bears at Seahawks (-14.5)

Jimmy Clausen is starting for a Bears’ team that has given up the most points in the NFL, in Seattle, with the Seahawks returning Kam Chancellor. Even the most devout Bears fans are picking the Seahawks here. The only question here is, by how much?

Prediction: Seahawks 27, Bears 7

Confidence Grade: +0.5


Buccaneers at Texans (-7)

The quarterback position here is a wash for me. I trust Jameis Winston a little more than Ryan Mallett after the Texans quarterback went 0-15 on 16 pressured dropbacks last week, but Winston will be facing a more stout defense. The Texans defense isn’t as bad as their 25.5 points allowed per game would suggest. They are actually sixth in yards allowed per drive, and 14th in points per drive; their offense isn’t doing them any favors. Some of the throws Winston made in Week 2 were indefensible, and his +3.1 grade was a fantastic rebound from Week 1, but that was against the second worst-graded secondary in the NFL. So then, for me, it comes down to the running game, and the edge has to go to Houston; the Buccaneers have the worst run-blocking grade in the NFL through two games.

Prediction: Texans 17, Buccaneers 13
Confidence Grade: -0.5


Broncos (-3) at Lions

All the talk in Denver is surrounding the quarterback, but there has been little to no talk about what could be the best defense in the NFL. They have our No. 1 pass rush and pass coverage units in the NFL. That means trouble for Matt Stafford, who has regressed noticeably in Joe Lombardi’s system the past two seasons. Stafford’s -7.5 passing grade is the lowest in the NFL.

Prediction: Broncos 27, Lions 16
Confidence Grade: +1


Chiefs at Packers (-7)

There are two fantastic matchups for the Chiefs in this one. The first is Justin Houston versus backup right tackle Don Barclay. Barclay’s -10.8 grade last week and -12.3 grade from the preseason aren’t inspiring much confidence at all, and Justin Houston is the preeminent edge rusher in the game today. The other is Travis Kelce against the Packers’ linebackers. I’d imagine the Packers will treat Kelce much the way they did Jimmy Graham last week, though, and rarely let a linebacker get one-on-one with the tight end. Outside of Kelce, I don’t anticipate Alex Smith being able to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers, and the Chiefs’ offensive line is unlikely to get the requisite push to overpower the improved Green Bay front on the ground.

Prediction: Packers 30, Chiefs 24

Confidence Grade: -0.5


Season Record: 17-15 (16-16 ATS)

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Erich Meyenburg

    I’m not sure how you could pick the chargers over the vikes. Acording to your own numbers the vikes are better than the carers at almost every phase of the game. Vikes 35 chargers 24.

    • Mike Renner

      That one stings. I thought the Chargers corners shutting down the Vikings passing game would be a bigger deal than it was. Should have known the Chargers lines would once again be their downfall.

  • Adam Lantry

    Where is the Bucs, Texans game?

    • crosseyedlemon

      Texans currently favored by 6 1/2. Bucs winning 2 in a row is even less likely than the Raiders doing it. As bad as Tampa Bay is you have to think Lovie Smith is relieved that he isn’t still with the Bears.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Saints probably wish they were only 3 point dogs but the line has quickly jumped to Panthers -8. If the Raiders win back to back games CSI might have to be called in to conduct an investigation.

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  • crosseyedlemon

    The Colts were embarrassed at home on Monday night so they really need to salvage some respect this week. If Andrew Luck can’t outperform a rookie who has only 2 games experience then the Colts really are in a world of trouble. Colts to cover would be my best bet choice.

  • LJC

    Just win Raiders…