NFL Week 3 Picks: Expert Predictions for Packers vs Buccaneers, Falcons vs Seahawks

NFL Week 3 Picks: Expert Predictions for Packers vs Buccaneers, Falcons vs Seahawks article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.

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Packers vs. Buccaneers
Tyler Lockett Receptions
KhaDarel Hodge Receiving Yards

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Buccaneers -1 (to -2) or -116 (to -135)
Best Book
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

I’m buying the dip on the Bucs with their injury concerns.

Let’s put the their injuries into context. Likely down their top three receivers, the Tampa Bay offense is exactly what the Green Bay offense is: Future Hall of Fame quarterback, shaky receivers, good running game, offensive line not at full strength.

The lookahead line for this game was Tampa Bay -3.5, so you’re essentially getting a three-point discount for the Bucs' offensive issues, which is too much given their edge on defense.

In two meetings against Todd Bowles’ defense in 2020, Rodgers averaged 6.1 yards per attempt, 1.5 interceptions per game and 4.5 sacks per game. Against everyone else during that span, Rodgers averaged 8.0 yards per attempt, 0.2 interceptions and 1.6 sacks.

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Tampa Bay’s ability to pressure and cover will make life even tougher for Rodgers without Davante Adams, who Rodgers targeted an average of 12.5 times per game in those two meetings. Without Adams, Rodgers will be easier to blitz, and his 30.1 rating under pressure through two games is fifth worst among 33 qualified passers, according to PFF.

The Bucs also have the superior run defense in this matchup, which could be key with both passing attacks likely to struggle. They allowed the third fewest rushing yards per game last season (92.5) and are allowing even fewer yards through two games this season (85.5). The Packers, meanwhile, are getting gashed for 153.0 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry through two contests.

The Bucs are 13-4 at home in the regular season in the Tom Brady era, including 8-1 since the start of 2021.

Meanwhile, Rodgers is just 3-5 ATS in the Florida heat, failing to cover the spread by an average of 12.1 points per game.

Not to mention, Brady is 3-1 all-time against Rodgers, covering by an average of 11.5 points per game.

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Tyler Lockett Under 5.5 Receptions -140 (to -185)
Best Book
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Pete Carroll wants to get DK Metcalf more involved in the offense, and he wants to throw deeper down the field in general. The former obviously helps the under, but so does the latter, as deeper routes mean lower percentage routes.

Lockett put up nine catches last week, and it’s generally a smart approach to bet against a No. 2 wide receiver having two big games in a row — especially in an offense quarterbacked by Geno Smith.

The Seahawks are favorites this week, which could mean less passing volume all around; when the Seahawks were in more of a positive/neutral game script in Week 1, Lockett only saw three targets.

Lockett has been under this number in 11 of 18 games (61%) since the start of last season, and I project his true odds even higher than that given the circumstances. It’s also worth noting that he never posted back-to-back games with more than five catches over that span.

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KhaDarel Hodge Over 13.5 Receiving Yards (play to 20.5)
Best Book
4:25 p.m. ET

Hodge easily cleared this number in his first two games, going 3/38/0 on three targets in Week 1 and 2/57/0 on three targets in Week 2. Hodge has done all of this on just 12 pass routes, giving him an NFL-leading 7.92 yards per route run.

Normally, we would expect players like this to regress, but I expect Hodge to see a sizable bump in playing time. Why? Besides the fact that he, you know, leads the NFL in yards per route run while nominal No. 3 Bryan Edwards has caught one pass for two yards on 28 routes, the real key is that the Falcons used a practice-squad elevation on WR Frank Darby.

The Falcons already have six WRs on the active roster – including one that’s been a healthy scratch (Damiere Byrd) and one who has been active but played only two snaps (Jared Bernhardt) – and no injuries at the position, so why would they call up a seventh?

There can only be one reason: Special teams.

Darby was active for 10 games last year and played 126 snaps across the core-four special teams units (kick/punt coverage, kick/punt returns).

You know who has been playing on all four of those units this year? Hodge.

By elevating Darby, the Falcons will be able to relieve Hodge of his special teams duties and allow him to focus solely on receiver. I expect Hodge to at least double, if not triple, his snaps at WR from the first two games.

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