NFL Week 3 Late Slate Picks, Predictions: 6 Best Bets for Packers vs Buccaneers, Rams vs Cardinals, More
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Jones (left) and Aaron Rodgers.
NFL Picks Week 3 Picks
Sean Koerner: The Buccaneers are going to be without a ton of key players for this game. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both out, while Russell Gage, Julio Jones and Breshad Perriman are all questionable. It should set up for a run-heavy game plan where the Buccaneers lean on Leonard Fournette, who’s, you guessed it, questionable too with a hamstring injury.
The most concerning injury has to be left tackle Donovan Smith, who is listed as doubtful with an elbow injury. This injury is especially devastating considering backup LT Josh Wells is currently on the injured reserve, meaning the Bucs will be forced to start third-string LT Brandon Walton.
Early in the season, I wrote that the Bucs could not afford any more injuries to their offensive line, considering LG Ali Marpet retired. His replacement Aaron Stinnie and center Ryan Jensen are both on IR.
The Packers have their own issues, including a WR situation that is struggling to replace Davante Adams, but that was one of the reasons why I bet them to go under their 11.5-win total before the season.
If left tackle David Bakhtiari (questionable) is able to make his season debut, the Packers will pretty much be at full health.
I think the market is overlooking the impact of all of the Bucs injuries, specifically on their offensive line. I think the Packers should be favorites here.
John LanFranca: After Sunday Night Football, Aaron Rodgers did a quick review of the early season Packers play in 2021. After laying an egg in Week 1, the Packers rebounded in Week 2, before going on the road and getting a win against a tough conference opponent in Week 3. This season, I expect them to follow a similar path.
The Buccaneers were already suffering from poor play on the offensive line, and now they’ll be shorthanded against a very good Packers defense. The 27th-best offense in football (DVOA) will now be without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They also happen to be up against the one thing that gives Tom Brady nightmares — interior pressure.
Kenny Clark is Pro Football Focus’ second-best interior pass rusher, behind only Aaron Donald. Clark is the key to this game, as the Packers stuff runs at a 25% rate (tackling runners at or behind the line of scrimmage). If the Packers put the Bucs in long down-and-distance situations, Brady will not have the time or the playmakers available to move the sticks.
The Packers defense will dominate this game, and their offense will do just enough to get a big win on the road, just as they did a year ago in this exact same spot.
Play the Packers moneyline +100 down to -110
Kody Malstrom: We should be used to the Packers looking rusty at the start of the NFL season by now, but something still looks off, especially on defense.
While the Bucs are a little banged up, especially in the receiver room, this is still an elite offense more than capable of taking advantage of their defensive woes.
While Rodgers may own Chicago, Brady owns Rodgers. Brady in his career is 3-1 head-to-head, covering by an average of 11.5 points per game. 2-0 since joining Tampa, covering by an average of 19 points.
The Packers offense has been stagnant and sluggish, a continuous struggle we may see with Tampa’s relentless pressure up front. Take Tampa on the moneyline in what will be a thrill main-event showdown.
Brandon Anderson: Here’s a spot where a shocking comeback presents clear value.
Arizona played like trash in seven of eight quarters before Kyler Murray pulled multiple rabbits out of his hat and stole a win. But the Cards are still struggling mightily on the line and on defense as expected.
Arizona ranks second to last in defensive DVOA, and the offense has failed to do much without DeAndre Hopkins when Murray isn’t doing it all himself.
The Rams looked better building a 28-3 lead over Atlanta only to surrender that cushion late, and that’s buying us some value. L.A. has far more talent on both sides of the ball. Both teams pass aplenty, and that’s advantage Rams against a bad Cardinals secondary.
Los Angeles has also dominated Arizona.
Sean McVay is 5-1-1 against the spread and 6-1 straight-up against Kliff Kingsbury. Those six wins were by an average of 14.2 points per game — each one by at least a touchdown — and even the two that were that “close” weren’t competitive. This is a massive coaching mismatch, and Kingsbury has been awful against great coaches, especially McVay.
Tanner McGrath: Opening the Falcons as an underdog against Seattle is so disrespectful. Either this is a trap line or Vegas hasn’t been watching. The sharp money moving this game to a pick’em makes me believe the latter is more true.
The Falcons have moved the ball consistently for eight straight quarters. The new-look offense centered around Marcus Mariota and Cordarrelle Patterson is seventh in overall Success Rate and 12th in DVOA. Throw young pass-catchers Kyle Pitts and Drake London in the mix, and you have the recipe for a consistently effective offense.
Geno Smith’s epic “They wrote me off, I ain’t write back though” line is still in everyone’s mind – but that’s just not the real Seahawks. The real Seahawks rank 21st in offensive DVOA, 25th in defensive DVOA and put up -0.31 EPA per play on early downs against San Francisco last week.
The Falcons roll in Seattle during Week 3.
John LanFranca: It’s not often you’ll find a total this low in a battle between two defensive units ranked in the bottom quarter of the NFL (DVOA).
Pete Carroll has already been on record this week speaking highly of Geno Smith’s control over the Seahawks offense. And while part of me thinks he may just be trolling Russell Wilson, it certainly won’t shock me if he opens up the offense against an Atlanta defense letting teams move the sticks on over 40% of its passing attempts (fourth worst in the NFL).
Speaking of poor passing defenses, the Seahawks are giving up 7.8 yards per attempt (fourth most) and are facing a top-ten QB in both DYAR (defensive adjusted yards over replacement) and DVOA in Marcus Mariota. Seattle’s starting corners Michael Jackson and Tariq Woolen (a fifth-round rookie) rank 70th and 81st in PFF’s coverage grade.
The offensive line for the Falcons has also been a pleasant surprise, allowing only three sacks of Mariota and generating 4.5 yards per carry when Atlanta keeps the ball on the ground. I do not expect either offense to struggle moving the football and the only thing keeping the total this low is the brand names of these two signal callers.
Play this over at 41.5 and up to 43.