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Week 3 NFL score predictions: A guide to best games, fantasy help, more

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New book on Belichick explores relationship with Brady (4:14)

Ian O'Connor joins SVP to discuss Bill Belichick's history with Nick Saban, conflict with Tom Brady and who Belichick is outside of football. (4:14)

We're previewing the Week 3 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, ESPN Football Power Index projections from Seth Walder and Hank Gargiulo, and much more.

Jump to a matchup:
NO-ATL | IND-PHI | CIN-CAR | GB-WSH | SF-KC
DEN-BAL | BUF-MIN | TEN-JAX | NYG-HOU | OAK-MIA
LAC-LAR | DAL-SEA | CHI-ARI | NE-DET | PIT-TB


Sunday's games

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: ATL -3 | Matchup quality: 63.6 (of 100)

Mike Triplett's pick: I had this projected as a loss for the Saints every time we published our schedule predictions this offseason. But the Falcons are so banged up right now with the losses of LB Deion Jones, S Keanu Neal, RB Devonta Freeman and G Andy Levitre that it feels like much more of a toss-up. I'll stick with the Falcons since New Orleans hasn't put together a clean performance yet, with a defensive flop in Week 1 and an offensive dud in Week 2. Falcons 27, Saints 26

Vaughn McClure's pick: This one has the potential to be a high-scoring affair with Matt Ryan and Drew Brees going head-to-head. The Saints are giving up more than 10 yards per catch. If Julio Jones (calf) is healthy, Ryan spreads the ball around like he did against the Panthers and the Falcons establish Tevin Coleman in the running game, they should have enough firepower to withstand the Saints at home. Falcons 35, Saints 31

FPI win projection: ATL, 64 percent. With Tampa off to a surprising 2-0 start, the stakes for this early-season NFC South matchup are raised, particularly for the Saints. If New Orleans were to fall, FPI would give the Saints a 5.9 percent chance to rally for the division crown. Atlanta has a little more room for error in FPI's estimation, as a loss would only drop the Falcons to a 23.6 percent chance.

What to watch for in fantasy: Coleman might be just as good as Freeman -- and there's a chance the Falcons just stick with him. Read more.

In case you missed it: Falcons love to play the rival Saints ... Saints need Marshon Lattimore at his best vs. Julio Jones


Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: PHI -6.5 | Matchup quality: 57.4 (of 100)

Mike Wells' pick: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck could have continued success through the air, as the Eagles have allowed an average of 309 yards passing in two games. It's uncertain which Carson Wentz will show up for the Eagles, as the quarterback is playing his first game since tearing his ACL in December. These haven't been the same Eagles so far, but they get the edge because of Wentz's return. Eagles 28, Colts 20

Tim McManus' pick: It's easy to forget just how good Wentz was last season in every situation. He boasted the best QBR in the red zone, on third down and outside the pocket, per ESPN Stats & Information data, and was deadly against the blitz, throwing for 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. There might be some rust, but Wentz's return will raise the Eagles' play to another level. Eagles 30, Colts 17

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0:54

Spears concerned about Rodgers' knee

Marcus Spears explains why Aaron Rodgers' knee injury worries him and should concern the Packers moving forward.

FPI win projection: PHI, 73 percent. Through two weeks, Luck has the second-fewest air yards in the league, ahead of only Derek Carr. It's a small sample, but that's not where he has been in past seasons.

What to watch for in fantasy: Only the Saints and Titans have allowed more fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season than the Eagles. Enter T.Y. Hilton. Read more.

In case you missed it: Frank Reich brings some of the Philly way to Indianapolis ... Rookie Darius Leonard quickly becoming anchor of Colts defense ... A mental coach, marriage and more: Inside Wentz's comeback ... Wentz setting bar high for debut versus Colts


Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: CAR -3 | Matchup quality: 55.2 (of 100)

Katherine Terrell's pick: The Bengals are going to be without their starting center and running back, and that means a lot of pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton to put the game on his shoulders. Defensively, they struggled to contain some of the underneath routes against the Ravens, and the Panthers will try to exploit that with Christian McCaffrey. This is a winnable game if the Bengals can continue to force turnovers, but there might be too much to overcome on the road this week. Panthers 24, Bengals 20

David Newton's pick: Coach Ron Rivera challenged his defense after Sunday's loss to Atlanta, calling "terrible" the effort that saw a league-best 21-game streak of an opposing running back not topping 100 yards end. The Panthers also didn't collect a sack after having six in Week 1. The Bengals rank second in sacks allowed and 17th in rushing offense, so look for the Panthers to make this a one-dimensional game and put everything on Dalton. Panthers 27, Bengals 17

FPI win projection: CAR, 58 percent. The Bengals are already up to a 57 percent chance to make the postseason with their 2-0 start and could climb to better than a two-thirds chance if they win to get to 3-0. Carolina can't stake quite as strong a claim with a victory, but can still improve to better than a one-in-three chance to make the playoffs should it prevail.

What to watch for in fantasy: Giovani Bernard has top-20 upside this week with Joe Mixon out. Read more.

In case you missed it: McCaffrey on record-setting pace -- as a receiver ... Mixon on knee injury: Will return when I feel comfortable ... Toting a ball, Dre Kirkpatrick vows not to drop another pick


Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: GB -3 | Matchup quality: 54.9 (of 100)

Rob Demovsky's pick: The Packers were 1-of-5 in the red zone in Week 2. It's hard to imagine an Aaron Rodgers-led offense coming up that short again, especially against a Redskins team that's tied for 25th in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 80 percent of opponents' possessions inside the 20-yard line. Packers 27, Redskins 23

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0:50

Josina: Bears supportive of Trubisky developing at 'own pace'

Josina Anderson sheds light on how the Bears really feel about Mitchell Trubisky and his steady development as a starting quarterback.

John Keim's pick: The Redskins allowed 9 of 16 third downs to be converted and managed just 5 of 15 themselves. They were 0-for-2 in the red zone and allowed 3-for-3 by the Colts. The real culprit was the running game, where their backs managed a combined 21 yards on 15 carries. They're also getting banged up and that's a big concern, especially along the offensive line. Packers 24, Redskins 21

FPI win projection: WSH, 52 percent. Comparisons between the first two QBs taken in the 2005 draft will always be present, but who comes out on top when they play head-to-head? Rodgers leads the series 2-1 and has a 70.9 Total QBR to Alex Smith's 44.2. Even with that, FPI has this as the tightest game of Week 3, slightly favoring the home Redskins.

What to watch for in fantasy: Aaron Jones is back from suspension, and he is the most explosive RB option the Packers have. He could seize the starting gig this week. Read more.

In case you missed it: Rodgers' lack of mobility wasn't (and won't be) a factor ... Smith and Rodgers will always be linked by 2005 draft


San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: KC -6 | Matchup quality: 51.9 (of 100)

Nick Wagoner's pick: Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a chance to get on track against Kansas City's league-worst pass defense (allowing 430 yards per game), but San Francisco is banged up in the secondary and the Chiefs boast the type of weapons that create matchup nightmares all over the field, especially for a Niners defense that struggles to generate consistent pass rush. Chiefs 37, 49ers 31

Adam Teicher's pick: With both teams toward the bottom of the league in total defense (49ers at 23rd, Chiefs sitting in 32nd) and scoring defense (49ers tied for 20th, Chiefs at 29th), expect an offensive shootout. The 49ers don't have the arsenal to keep up with the Chiefs in Kansas City's home opener. Patrick Mahomes is second in the NFL in passer rating (143.3) and Garoppolo is 26th (77.4). Chiefs 34, 49ers 28

FPI win projection: KC, 65 percent. There was a fear before the season that the Chiefs' defense would be a major liability. It's easy to forget in the midst of Mahomes-mania, but so far, the defense has been a problem, ranking 30th in unit efficiency.

What to watch for in fantasy: Matt Breida has played seven fewer snaps than Alfred Morris, but he leads the league in rushing through two weeks. Still, he'll need an uptick in volume in order to sustain RB2 production. Read more.

In case you missed it: Breida making a case for bigger workload ... Sunday, speedy Sunday set for Marquise Goodwin, Tyreek Hill ... Hill wants to be more than just fast ... How Mahomes is keeping his many hungry receivers fed


Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: BAL -5 | Matchup quality: 50.2 (of 100)

Jeff Legwold's pick: The Broncos were 2-0 in 2017 when they made their first road trip of the season to Buffalo -- and lost. They went on to lose 10 of the next 13 games and were 1-7 on the road when all was said and done. So this is a bit of a maturity test for the remade Broncos and a roster with 10 rookies on it. But their offense is improved and their defense has the NFL sacks leader in Von Miller. Broncos 27, Ravens 23

Jamison Hensley's pick: The Ravens lead the NFL with 24 interceptions since the start of the 2017 season, and Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has been picked off 31 times in 43 games (including a league-leading four this season). Baltimore will use turnovers to bounce back and improve its home record in September under John Harbaugh to 17-2. Ravens 23, Broncos 13

FPI win projection: BAL, 78 percent. After blowing the doors off of Buffalo, the Ravens came back to earth a bit in losing to the Bengals, but are still favored at home against Denver. Part of the reason? FPI still doesn't buy into the Broncos' offense. It's great to have a pair of late comebacks in the short term, but what FPI would like to see for long-term success is an offense that is good in all four quarters, not just the final one.

What to watch for in fantasy: John Brown has been the main downfield threat for the Ravens this season, and he has a touchdown in each of his games. Read more.

In case you missed it: Getting Alex Collins, Ravens run game on track is 'big priority' ... Broncos' first road trip might be a wake-up call ... How Broncos learned the 'how-tos' of game-winning drives


Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: MIN -16.5 | Matchup quality: 49.2 (of 100)

Mike Rodak's pick: Kirk Cousins threw for four touchdowns and had a 153.7 quarterback rating in his previous game against the Bills, the fourth-highest passer rating by an opponent with at least 10 attempts in Bills history. Only one defensive player (defensive end Jerry Hughes) and no defensive coaches remain from that Bills-Redskins game in 2015, but there is little evidence so far this season that Buffalo's latest group will fare better. Vikings 30, Bills 10

Courtney Cronin's pick: The Vikings are heavy favorites coming off Cousins' late-game performance in which he threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime in Green Bay. He likely won't have to stage a comeback this week against a Buffalo team that gave up 47 points in its last road game, at Baltimore. Vikings 35, Bills 10

FPI win projection: MIN, 91 percent. Things can quickly go from bad to worse for the Bills; after this matchup in Minnesota in which FPI is giving them only a 9 percent chance to win, they follow it up with a trip to Green Bay in Week 4 (14 percent chance to win).

What to watch for in fantasy: Adam Thielen will see a good deal of Rafael Bush in coverage -- and that's a good thing for the Vikes' WR. Read more.

In case you missed it: Vikings banking on Dan Bailey to finally solve kicking woes ... Bills need LeSean McCoy despite mixed history playing hurt ... Vontae Davis' halftime retirement left 'sour taste' for Bills


Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: JAX -6.5 | Matchup quality: 47.1 (of 100)

Turron Davenport's pick: The Titans got good news Thursday when Marcus Mariota (elbow) showed in practice he can push the ball down the field. The quarterback's chances of playing seem to have improved, which will make the Titans' offense less reliant on the running game and deliver an early lead as they pull out a surprise victory. Titans 17, Jaguars 14

Mike DiRocco's pick: The Jaguars have lost four of their past five meetings to the Titans and are still stinging from being swept last season. After beating the Patriots, linebacker Myles Jack said the Jags are "1-0 on the Payback Tour," which means there won't be any letdown. The Jaguars are optimistic they will have running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) back. Jaguars 21, Titans 16

FPI win projection: JAX, 77 percent. Currently FPI is splitting the difference between Mariota and Blaine Gabbert starting for the Titans. If it is Gabbert, the Jaguars' chances to win would jump even higher, to 82 percent.

What to watch for in fantasy: The Jaguars didn't shadow against Tennessee last season, but it could be different this time around. And that means Corey Davis will see a lot of Jalen Ramsey. Read more.

In case you missed it: Jaguars hope to continue Payback Tour by solving rival Titans ... Davis, Titans WRs bracing for Ramsey and the Jags


New York Giants at Houston Texans (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: HOU -6 | Matchup quality: 44.4 (of 100)

Jordan Raanan's pick: It's hard to feel good right now about a Giants offense that has scored touchdowns on 9 percent of its possessions this season. It seems unrealistic to expect it to improve Sunday, either, on the road against a Texans team with a talented defensive front. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney against the right side of the Giants' offensive line won't be pretty, and Houston will expose a thin secondary to avoid an 0-3 start. Texans 21, Giants 18

Sarah Barshop's pick: The Texans enter Week 3 with the NFL's top rushing game behind Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, with some help from mobile quarterback Deshaun Watson. They should have even more success on the ground against the Giants, who rank 29th in run defense, allowing an average of 137.5 rushing yards per game. Texans 21, Giants 13

FPI win projection: HOU, 69 percent. Watson posted an impressive Total QBR of 83.5 in his abbreviated rookie season. So far, it has been a sophomore slump. The former Clemson quarterback has a QBR of 44 through two games this season.

What to watch for in fantasy: Miller has been a borderline starter this season, but against the Giants' run defense, you'll want him in your lineup. Read more.

In case you missed it: DeAndre Hopkins, OBJ: Elite playmakers with different styles ... No. 1-ranked rushing attack has been a bright spot for Texans ... No denying Saquon Barkley's skills, but Giants goofed in drafting him at No. 2 ... Barkley: Giants know they are better than 0-2 record


Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: MIA -3 | Matchup quality: 35.8 (of 100)

Paul Gutierrez's pick: As hard as it is to pick the new-look Jon Gruden Raiders to win a game before they show they can close someone out -- Oakland has been outscored by a combined 43-7 in the second half thus far -- it is just as hard to see Gruden's Raiders falling to 0-3. Derek Carr and the offense clicked as he completed 29 of 32 attempts in Denver, and that confidence carries over to Miami. Barely. Raiders 24, Dolphins 23

Cameron Wolfe's pick: This screams trap game for the 2-0 Dolphins hosting a struggling 0-2 West Coast team. With Ryan Tannehill and Carr showing high-accuracy and low-air-yard passing attacks, expect the defense that can jump more of those routes to secure a victory. The Dolphins are tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions, and they'll add to that total Sunday. Dolphins 26, Raiders 20

FPI win projection: MIA, 66 percent. Miami somewhat surprisingly leads the league in defensive efficiency through the first two weeks, making up for the fact that Tannehill ranks 27th in the league in Total QBR, the lowest of any of the 2-0 quarterbacks. Oakland has the lowest pressure rate in the league.

What to watch for in fantasy: Tannehill makes for a good streaming option in Week 3. Look for the Dolphins QB to eclipse 200 passing yards, with another 20 on the ground. Read more.

In case you missed it: Sans Khalil Mack, Raiders have struggled to generate a pass rush ... Dolphins unleash their 'do everything' weapon, Albert Wilson


Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Point spread: LAR -7 | Matchup quality: 73.7 (of 100)

Eric D. Williams' pick: Per ESPN Stats & Information research, the Bolts are 11-3 in Philip Rivers' career against the spread -- with five outright wins -- when listed as an underdog of at least seven points (including playoffs). Defensively, for a third consecutive week, the Chargers will have to figure out how to overcome the absence of Joey Bosa. Rams 30, Chargers 27

Lindsey Thiry's pick: The Rams are averaging 33.5 points per game and the Chargers 29.5, so this game will be decided by defense. The Rams' defense has posted six consecutive shutout quarters, allowing only 13 points this season, and can't wait for the challenge of facing Rivers, who is completing 73 percent of his passes. Rams 28, Chargers 17

FPI win projection: LAR, 73 percent. It helps to have star players, but so far defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is getting it done. His Rams have allowed the fewest expected points per passing play of any team in the league, so a rough day could be in store for Rivers.

What to watch for in fantasy: The Rams have allowed a league-low 23 fantasy points to wide receivers through Week 2. For perspective, the league average is 75 points. Those starting Keenan Allen, beware. Read more.

In case you missed it: John Johnson finds star role on Rams' loaded defense ... No Greg The Leg, no problem ... Melvin Ingram, Derwin James fill void left by Bosa's absence ... Philip Rivers, Jared Goff experts at creating explosive plays


Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: SEA -3 | Matchup quality: 54.5 (of 100)

Todd Archer's pick: Seattle opened the season with back-to-back road games and will hope friendly confines serve it well. The Cowboys are 12-5 on the road with Dak Prescott but have scored more than 20 points in just one of their past five away games, including just eight in the season opener at Carolina. A fast start is a must, but so is consistent offensive success. That has been an issue lately. Seahawks 23, Cowboys 16

Brady Henderson's pick: As flawed as the Seahawks have looked at times during their 0-2 start, both losses have been on the road and amid some challenging circumstances, including altitude in Denver and the absence of five starters Monday night in Chicago. They'll have middle linebacker Bobby Wagner back Sunday at CenturyLink Field, where they've won 14 of their past 15 home openers, including an NFL-best nine straight. Seahawks 21, Cowboys 17

FPI win projection: SEA, 54 percent. In Week 2 it was Khalil Mack. In Week 3 it is DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys (30 percent) haven't pressured the QB at quite the same rate as the Bears (32 percent), but Russell Wilson should be on the run again.

What to watch for in fantasy: Now seems like a wise time to make sure Rashaad Penny is rostered in your league. Just in case. Read more.

In case you missed it: Curious playcalls and planning hurting Seahawks' rushing production ... Seahawks need Will Dissly, new targets to pick up Doug Baldwin's torch ... Cowboys hoping to keep Ezekiel Elliott rolling into Week 3 ... Cowboys' defense raises expectations: One touchdown is too much


Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

Point spread: CHI -4 | Matchup quality: 13.7 (of 100)

Jeff Dickerson's pick: The Bears haven't been above .500 since Week 3 of the 2014 season, but the drought should end Sunday. The Cardinals appear destined for another very frustrating season. The only intrigue left in Glendale is when Arizona pulls the plug on quarterback Sam Bradford in favor of rookie Josh Rosen. Chicago's defense is strong enough over the winless Cardinals. Bears 26, Cardinals 14

Josh Weinfuss' pick: Arizona enters Sunday's game with a trimmed playbook. In theory that should help but the Cardinals welcome a Bears defense that is scary with the addition of Khalil Mack. Chicago has the league's eighth-best defense, is fourth against the run and ranks second in sacks per pass attempt. Arizona has the worst passing offense and second-worst run defense. Bears 28, Cardinals 14

FPI win projection: CHI, 55 percent. Some upside for the Cardinals after their miserable start: They have a projected draft slot of 3.8 and the second-highest chance at the No. 1 overall pick. Only the Bills are more likely.

What to watch for in fantasy: David Johnson has struggled. So what now? Be patient and keep the first-round fantasy pick in your lineup against Chicago. Read more.

In case you missed it: Larry Fitzgerald calls for backup but Cardinals receivers aren't answering


New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC)

Point spread: NE -6 | Matchup quality: 52.4 (of 100)

Mike Reiss' pick: The Patriots' running game was a disappointment in Week 2, unable to deliver consistent results even when in what should have been advantageous matchups (e.g., big personnel vs. nickel), but there's a solid chance for a turnaround against the Lions. In a grind-it-out type of game that could be a coming-out-party for rookie RB Sony Michel, look for the running game to rebound. Patriots 30, Lions 20

Michael Rothstein's pick: The Lions have obvious holes in their defense, particularly defending outside runs, and Bill Belichick & Co. are going to exploit that often. Belichick has a sterling record against his former assistants (11-4), and there's no way New England overlooks a winless Detroit team both because of that connection and the double-digit Week 2 loss to Jacksonville. Patriots 35, Lions 20

FPI win projection: NE, 62 percent. The Patriots rank 16th in offensive efficiency so far this season. Let's just say FPI doesn't think that side of the ball is going to be a problem. Matt Patricia, watch out.

What to watch for in fantasy: Josh Gordon has huge upside with the Patriots -- but he should be on fantasy benches for his debut. Read more.

In case you missed it: The Belichick effect on Matt Patricia from those who played for both ... Patricia: We're not building the Patriots, we're building the Lions ... Belichick has had edge in 'teacher vs. pupil' matchups


Monday Night Football

Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN)

Point spread: PIT -2.5 | Matchup quality: 54.4 (of 100)

Jeremy Fowler's pick: The Steelers' pass defense inspires little faith heading into a matchup with the league's leader in passing yards. If the Steelers need to win a shootout, the road is not the place to do it. Ben Roethlisberger hasn't thrown for more than two touchdowns away from Heinz Field since Week 12 of 2016. Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24

Jenna Laine's pick: The Bucs' offense has been on fire, averaging 482.5 yards per game, tops in the NFL, and 37.5 points per game, second only to the Chiefs. Tampa Bay also shouldn't have much of a problem against a Steelers defense that has looked slow. The defense also did a much better job in Week 2 at preventing some of the explosive plays that plagued the Bucs in Week 1. Buccaneers 32, Steelers 17

FPI win projection: PIT, 53 percent. Before Week 1, FPI gave the Buccaneers a 5.7 percent chance to start 2-0, lowest in the league. But behind an explosive offense led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, here they are. Deep passing could be the key to this one, as the Steelers have allowed the second-most completions of passes that travel 15 yards from the line of scrimmage in the league, and the Bucs have hit on a league-best 13.

What to watch for in fantasy: Jesse James is a must-add this week, as he is second in scoring among tight ends and gets a favorable matchup on Monday night. Read more.

In case you missed it: Fitzpatrick's Cinderella story with Bucs shouldn't end after Week 3 ... Le'Veon Bell saga 3.0: Protecting future money, fantasy fallout, more