Week 3 NFL picks straight up: Chargers shock Chiefs; Lions take down Falcons

Featured in our straight-up picks and predictions for Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season is an upset in the AFC West.

Only eight teams got through the first two weeks of the season undefeated, not including the two teams (Dolphins and Buccaneers) that weren't able to play two games in the first two weeks. So consider yourselves lucky that two of those eight play each other in Week 3, the Falcons and Lions in Detroit, a couple teams that could very well still be around in January.

At the other end of the standings, the nine 0-2 teams will be sweating it out. And — oh, joy — two of them face each other, too, the Browns and Colts. Four of those teams face opponents that haven’t lost yet: the Jets, Chargers, Bears and Saints. An 0-3 start is tough to sell, even for teams that aren't really trying to win, not to mention any AFC East teams based in East Rutherford, in particular.

Meanwhile, the first of five international games arrives, with the Ravens and Jaguars meeting in Wembley Stadium. Ready for the season’s first 15-hour viewing day?

MORE: Week 3 picks against the spread

Week 3 NFL picks, predictions

(All times Eastern)

Rams (1-1) at 49ers (0-2), Thursday, 8:30 p.m.


More marquee matchups for Thursday night. To be fair, an early NFC West showdown between former Washington offensive gurus — Sean McVay vs. Kyle Shanahan — has some intrigue. McVay has a head start on his franchise quarterback, at least, and not surprisingly, the Rams’ Jared Goff (103.2 passer rating, currently ahead of Drew Brees) is outperforming the 49ers’ Brian Hoyer (60.7 rating, fourth-worst among starters so far).

Prediction: Rams, 20–10

Ravens (2-0) vs. Jaguars (1-1) in London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m.


It's the Ravens' first international game ever — and as a bonus, they face their third straight subpar opposing quarterback in Blake Bortles. This is not the team the Jaguars need to see, the defense with 10 takeaways and eight sacks in two games. In the Jaguars’ favor, they don’t face All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda on the Ravens’ line. In the Ravens’ favor, the Jaguars’ defense didn't look as overwhelming against the Titans as they did against the Texans.

Prediction: Ravens, 29-16

Texans (1-1) at Patriots (1-1), 1 p.m.


This is a playoff rematch, for what that’s worth. The Texans didn't have J.J. Watt in the divisional round last year, or Deshaun Watson. The Patriots don't get to face the Saints’ defense this time, either — they get a Texans defense that hit Tom Brady more than a few times in that playoff game, plus Watt, who should have rounded into shape more. The Patriots will be looking to continue their latest vengeance tour, but it won’t be the breeze (see what we did there?) it was last week.

Prediction: Patriots, 28-24

Falcons (2-0) at Lions (2-0), 1 p.m.


The Lions are in the position of having to prove themselves every week before anyone trusts them — heck, not that many trusted them last week against a weak Giants team with a hobbling Odell Beckham Jr. The Falcons will be a stiffer test after unleashing offensive hell on the Packers in Week 2. Teeing off on them the way they did against Eli Manning won’t be easy, but again, the Lions defense might be in need of a little more respect.

Prediction: Lions, 33-27

Buccaneers (1-0) at Vikings (1-1), 1 p.m.


The expectations the Vikings’ offense had created in their Monday night opener against the Saints were diluted when Sam Bradford went down. Case Keenum just won’t put the same fear into a defense, certainly not the Buccaneers. They're capable of making the Vikings look as bad as they made Mike Glennon and the Bears look last week.

Prediction: Buccaneers, 17-13

Broncos (2-0) at Bills (1-1), 1 p.m.


A good ol’ cross-country trip early in the season can rattle good teams, and the Broncos have been very good so far. Trevor Siemian is playing out of his mind, and defense tends to travel well. Tremendous credit to the Bills for giving up just one touchdown in two games — none against the Panthers last week. But chances are the Broncos won’t need a lot of offense to take care of this.

Prediction: Broncos, 24-14

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Giants (0-2) at Eagles (1-1), 1 p.m.


The Eagles can dig a nice hole for the Giants in the NFC East by winning … if the Giants don’t dig it themselves. They can’t protect Eli Manning, and Manning at this point is largely useless if he isn’t getting immaculate protection. Philly is catching heat for neglecting the run — shocking for a team coached by an Andy Reid protege. If they ease the run game into the offense and move the chains, the Giants can find themselves in trouble early.

Prediction: Eagles, 26-13

Browns (0-2) at Colts (0-2), 1 p.m.


The Browns opened the week as favorites (for the first time for a road game since 2015), and it’s easy to see why. Do you need a lot of details about this game, honestly? Well, try these: The Colts are one of just three teams that do not have a passing touchdown yet, and they’ve been downed in their end zone (once) almost as many times as they’ve reached the opposing one (twice).

Prediction: Browns, 16-6

Dolphins (1-0) at Jets (0-2), 1 p.m.


The Dolphins generated as many questions in a narrow win at the Chargers as they would have in a loss — shaky coaching decisions, Lawrence Timmons' absence, the way they left the Chargers in position to steal it. That might give the Jets reason to believe they can steal one, despite the way they've been dominated in their first two games. If the Jets had any offensive weapons for the Dolphins to worry about … the Dolphins might be more worried about this.

Prediction: Dolphins, 24-14

Saints (0-2) at Panthers (2-0), 1 p.m.


The Saints are desperate to avoid a third straight 0-3 start, and they will be a challenge for the Panthers, who need to prove their 2-0 start is legit. They’ve pulled it off without Cam Newton being sharp yet, without scoring a touchdown in a win over the Bills last week and without Christian McCaffrey running roughshod as expected yet. So, welcome, horrible Saints defense, and welcome another lousy Saints start.

Prediction: Panthers, 31-20

Steelers (2-0) at Bears (0-2), 1 p.m.


John Fox is sticking with Mike Glennon at quarterback, because it’s probably all he really can do for a while. A smart Steelers team wouldn’t even let the Bears get in position to get lucky. If Le'Veon Bell has knocked off all the rust, the Steelers could run away with this early and leave no doubt.

Prediction: Steelers, 29-13

Seahawks (1-1) at Titans (1-1), 4:05 p.m.


The Seahawks’ defense has barely buckled, much less broken, so far against quarterbacks at opposite ends of the spectrum (Aaron Rodgers, Brian Hoyer). Marcus Mariota is in the vast middle with the potential to move up. He might get chances to do that if the Seahawks’ offense keeps sputtering … but he might then hit the brick wall of that defense.

Prediction: Seahawks, 22-17

Bengals (0-2) at Packers (1-1), 4:25 p.m.


Alert, alert, Andy Dalton rationalization coming: He faced a pair of very tough defenses in his first two games, one on a short week, in Baltimore and Houston. The Packers should not be confused with either defense. On the other hand, Dalton should not be confused with Matt Ryan, who lit the Packers up Sunday night. If Dalton is to get on track and end questions about whether he should be benched, he has to start this week. There’s no way they outgun Rodgers, but the Bengals have to show up on offense.

Prediction: Packers, 33-24

MORE: Which 0-2 teams can rebound?

Chiefs (2-0) at Chargers (0-2), 4:25 p.m.


Either the Chargers are unlucky, or they still are poor closers. Neither is going to help against a Chiefs team that is off to a smoking-hot start. To the Chargers' credit, though, the odds are good that they can’t lose three in a row the same way, so doing what they’ve done to stay close to three decent-to-good teams in Denver and Miami could get them over the top against a Kansas City team that can’t be stopped on offense so far.

Prediction: Chargers, 27-26

Raiders (2-0) at Redskins (1-1), 8:30 p.m.


Another cross-country trip for an AFC West contender, but not one that gets them on the field at 10 a.m. body-clock time. The Raiders in their glory days relished playing in prime time; meanwhile, Washington’s recent prime-time home record is dreadful, as their win over the Packers last November ended a seven-game losing streak in such games. This could test the scoreboard lights — potent offenses against largely-nondescript defenses.

Prediction: Raiders, 28-24

Cowboys (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1), Monday, 8:30 p.m.


The Cowboys’ spanking by the Broncos, plus the Giants’ destruction by the Lions, suddenly makes Dallas’ opening-night win over New York far less impressive. The Cardinals may be missing key pieces through free agency and injury (ouch, David Johnson) and may be hit-and-miss all year with Carson Palmer. But the Cowboys cannot take this lightly at all. Bruce Arians’ team still has bite.

Prediction: Cowboys, 24-19

MORE: Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

Record:

Last week: 12-4
Season record: 21-10