NFL Week 3 picks: Rams come out on top over Bucs; 49ers edge Packers

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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks over the defense before the snap during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford looks over the defense before the snap during a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in Indianapolis. (Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season begins Thursday with the Carolina Panthers taking on the Houston Texans. The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups.

Farmer's record last week: 9-7 (.563); season 16-16 (.500). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last week would have been 8-8 (.500); season 14-17-1 (.452).

Times are Pacific. Lines according to FanDuel (O/U = over/under):

Panthers (2-0) at Texans (1-1)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold passes the ball.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold passes the ball against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. (Jacob Kupferman / Associated Press)

Thursday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: NFL Network.

Line: Panthers by 8. O/U: 43.

Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor is out, replaced by rookie Davis Mills, and that spells disaster against a team with the No. 1-ranked defense. Sam Darnold is spreading around the ball well.

Prediction: Panthers 31, Texans 14

Ravens (1-1) at Lions (0-2)

Detroit Lions' Jared Goff throws a touchdown pass.
Detroit Lions' Jared Goff throws a touchdown pass during the first half against the Green Bay Packers on Monday in Green Bay, Wis. (Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Ravens by 8. O/U: 50.

The Lions play hard, they’re physical and Jared Goff does enough to make games interesting, but this is a five-win team. If Baltimore lets Lamar Jackson be Lamar, it won’t be close.

Prediction: Ravens 38, Lions 20

Chargers (1-1) at Chiefs (1-1)

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has plenty of time to get make a throw.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has plenty of time to make a throw as offensive tackle Storm Norton (74) holds back Dallas Cowboys defensive end Brent Urban (95) at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Chiefs by 7. O/U: 55.

Justin Herbert looks great, and that defense is coming together under Brandon Staley. The Chargers have given Chiefs problems before. Chiefs need a true No. 2 receiver ... but they still have enough.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Chargers 27

Bengals (1-1) at Steelers (1-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster rushes for a three-yard touchdown.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster rushes for a three-yard touchdown in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in Pittsburgh. (Justin Berl / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Steelers by 3. O/U: 431/2.

Steelers defense is still dialing in what it could be, and losing T.J. Watt really hurts. But Pittsburgh is at home against a division opponent it has beaten in 15 of the last 17 meetings.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Bengals 23

Colts (0-2) at Titans (1-1)

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry evades Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry evades Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers, right, on Sunday in Seattle. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Titans by 5. O/U: 48.

The Colts are solid but lack weapons. If Carson Wentz can play on those two injured ankles, he’s going to be limited. Titans lean on Derrick Henry to get the job done in a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Titans 21, Colts 17

Washington Football Team (1-1) at Bills (1-1)

Buffalo Bills strong safety Micah Hyde gestures.
Buffalo Bills strong safety Micah Hyde gestures during the first half against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Bills by 8. O/U: 45.

Yes, Buffalo beat Miami 35-0, but that was as much an indictment of the Dolphins as a show of strength by the Bills. They aren’t entirely clicking on offense, and Washington is capable of keeping it close.

Prediction: Bills 28, Washington 21

Bears (1-1) at Browns (1-1)

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Chicago. (Jeff Haynes / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Browns by 7. O/U: 451/2.

Browns have been underwhelming on defense, but Baker Mayfield has played well. No matter how good Justin Fields is going to be, it’s not easy facing bookends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

Prediction: Browns 27, Bears 21

Cardinals (2-0) at Jaguars (0-2)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during a game.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during a game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 711.

Line: Cardinals by 8. O/U: 52.

If Cardinals stay healthy, they’re going to be scary. That offense is fun to watch. The Jaguars are bad, look lost and their season is already starting to circle the drain. Rough start for Trevor Lawrence.

Prediction: Cardinals 35, Jaguars 14

Saints (1-1) at Patriots (1-1)

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Mac Jones.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Mac Jones against the New York Jets on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. (Adam Hunger / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Patriots by 3. O/U: 42.

Mac Jones still has the training wheels on, but it’s so far so good. Patriots will be able to run and play sound football. The Saints with Jameis Winston will rack up some yards, but mistakes are looming.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Saints 20

Hawks (0-2) at Giants (0-2)

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throws the ball against the Washington Football Team.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throws the ball against the Washington Football Team on Sept. 16 in Landover, Md. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Giants by 3. O/U: 471/2.

Should be interesting. The Falcons got thumped by Tampa Bay, but they’ll show up against a lesser team. They blitz a ton, and Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is the X-factor. New York goes as he goes.

Prediction: Giants 28, Falcons 24

Jets (0-2) at Broncos (2-0)

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out on a play.
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out on a play during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Broncos by 11. O/U: 41.

The Jets are terrible, and the Broncos are pretty strong. Teddy Bridgewater and Courtland Sutton are dangerous, Denver can run it and that offensive line looks so much better than it once did.

Prediction: Broncos 28, Jets 10

Dolphins (1-1) at Raiders (2-0)

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Raiders by 4. O/U: 45.

Raiders seldom blitz yet seem to put more pressure on quarterbacks than anybody. Derek Carr continues to surprise people as a top-shelf quarterback. Dolphins got smoked last week by Buffalo.

Prediction: Raiders 31, Dolphins 24

Buccaneers (2-0) at Rams (2-0)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with wide receiver Mike Evans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with wide receiver Mike Evans (13) after Evans caught a three-yard touchdown pass Sunday in Tampa, Fla. (Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 716.

Line: Buccaneers by 2. O/U: 551/2.

Measuring-stick game for both teams. Rams won at Tampa Bay last season and have the firepower to win again. Cooper Kupp has another big game, and Matthew Stafford keeps it rolling.

Prediction: Rams 28, Buccaneers 24

Seahawks (1-1) at Vikings (0-2)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hands off to running back Chris Carson.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) hands off to running back Chris Carson (32) during a game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Seattle. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 717.

Line: Seahawks by 2. O/U: 551/2.

The Seahawks blew a lead to Tennessee last Sunday, they’re on the road, and they might be at the bottom of the NFC West ... but they’re a team that’s going to get better and is going to win this one.

Prediction: Seahawks 30, Vikings 27

Packers (1-1) at 49ers (2-0)

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa in action against the Philadelphia Eagles.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa in action against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia. (Brad Penner / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: 49ers by 4. O/U: 491/2.

Losing cornerback Jason Verrett really hurt the 49ers, but their defense is still markedly better than Green Bay’s. If the offenses are anywhere close to comparable, the home team gets the edge.

Prediction: 49ers 28, Packers 23

Eagles (1-1) at Cowboys (1-1)

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard sprints past Chargers free safety Derwin James.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard sprints past Chargers free safety Derwin James (33), center, on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Monday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Cowboys by 4. O/U: 511/2.

The Eagles can give teams problems defensively although they are already banged up. That could hurt them against a Dallas team that can move the ball and is doing some damage with Tony Pollard.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 27

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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