In week 2 my tips went 8-8, taking us to 15-17 on the season so far. We continued to get some absolute thrillers, with 7 of the 16 games decided by 3 points or less. With injuries starting to bite, and enough information to slowly bring things into focus, we can hope to see things more clearly in Week 3.
NRG Stadium, Friday 10:20am AEST
Week 3 begins with one of the lowest profile prime time games we’ll see all season. The Texans have surprised so far with their competitiveness, but they’re still very likely to be in the bottom few teams in the NFL come seasons end. One reason they’ve been competitive is some spirited play at quarterback by veteran Tyrod Taylor, who has now been placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Rookie Davis Mills played the second half in week 2, and will now be the starter. He didn’t look terrible, but it will be hard to expect much from him right away.
The Panthers are off to a solid 2-0 start, without having beaten any big teams yet. Nevertheless, Sam Darnold has been good at his new team, and his main weapons in Christian McCaffery, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are all combining nicely. Perhaps of most significance is that the teams underrated defence has only conceded 21 points so far. With that in mind, it should be a big ask for the Texans to put many points on board, while I expect the Panthers to be able to move the ball relatively freely.
Levi’s Stadium, Monday 10:20am AEST
The Packers got their season back on track with a commanding win over the Lions in week 2, but this will be a much tougher test. The improved performance was led by Aaron Jones with four touchdowns, and a general domination all over the field. The passing core of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan were also close to their efficient best. The main concern that lingers from their horrific loss in week 1 is the inability of their defence to stop the opposition scoring, with the lowly Lions keeping the game close for almost three quarters.
The 49ers are off to a 2-0 start, with a tight win over the Eagles in week 2 their best result so far. The team continues to be able to do what is required in any situation under the versatile coaching schemes of Kyle Shanahan, but there are a number of lingering issues. The first is at quarterback, where experienced Jimmy Garroppolo has his limitations, and is under pressure from rookie sensation Trey Lance. How the team manages the combination of the two and the eventual succession from Lance is important. Meanwhile, injury and form issues for the likes of Raheem Mostert, Brandon Aiyuk and Trey Sermon has the offensive group looking a lot thinner than expected. Still, with a quality defence and Shanahan calling the shots, they’re a tough team to beat at home.
With the Packers sporting a few less question marks (despite their week 1 thrashing), I’m going to take the three point head start on offer in this one.
AT & T Stadium, Tuesday 10:15am AEST
Both the Eagles and Cowboys have started the season well, but both are at 1-1 after tough losses to strong opponents. The Eagles will be pleased with one thing in particular, the good play from young quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts fits the modern mould of a dual-threat quarterback perfectly, with impressive running skills and an arm that has exceeded expectations so far. The pieces around him are perhaps underrated, with young wide receivers Jalen Reagor and Devonta Smith very important in what is clearly the thinnest position on the team. They were both kept very quiet in the week 2 loss to the 49ers, after impressing in their week 1 victory over the Falcons. With the Cowboys secondary considered their biggest weakness, the whole receiving group should have a good opportunity to put up some bigger numbers this week.
The Cowboys main question mark this season was of course how Dak Prescott would return from last years serious ankle injury. So far, so good, with solid outings in both games, despite not quite being at this absolute best. All the pieces are there on the offensive side, with Ceedee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard all able to impact games on any given week. The Eagles have been rather stingy with both opponents so far, so it will be interesting to see if they can slow down the Cowboys in this one. The Cowboys are favourites at home, but I see enough potential for the Eagles to steal an advantage by moving the ball efficiently and frustrating the Cowboys attempts to do the same. I’ll take the three point head start in this one also.
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans - See Above
Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars - Cardinals -7.5 ($1.98 at Sportsbet)
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans - Titans -5.5 ($1.95 at Sportsbet)
Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions - Ravens -7.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills - Washington +8.5 ($1.96 at Sportsbet)
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots - Patriots -3 ($1.99 at Sportsbet)
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs - Chargers +6.5 ($1.96 at Sportsbet)
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns - Bears +7.5 ($1.84 at Sportsbet)
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers - Bengals +3.5 ($1.96 at Sportsbet)
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants - Falcons +3 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders - Raiders -3.5 ($1.87 at Sportsbet)
New York Jets at Denver Broncos - Jets +10.5 ($1.96 at Sportsbet)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams- Buccaneers -1.5 (1.96 at Sportsbet)
Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings - Seahawks -1.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers - See Above
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys - See Above
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