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NFL Week 3 picks, odds: Rams win wild thriller over Buccaneers, Packers shock 49ers in primetime showdown

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 9/21/2021 John Breech
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I knew not going to medical school would eventually backfire on me big time and it's finally happening this week. If I've learned one thing about Week 3, it's that making NFL picks would be 471% easier this week if I had a medical degree and that's because everyone is injured. 

I have no idea who the Colts starting quarterback is going to be on Sunday. I don't know who the Dolphins quarterback is going to be. I don't even know who the Bears quarterback is going to be, although that probably won't matter because they're going to lose either way. 

This week is why everyone interested in sportswriting should get a medical degree first. I also probably should've gotten a psychology degree, if only so I can communicate with Vikings fans, because I'm pretty sure most of them had a mental breakdown after Greg Joseph's missed kick on Sunday. 

I don't want to make Vikings fans re-live the horror of Sunday, but everyone needs to know how happy their radio announcer sounded when he thought the kick went in. 

That's pure joy in his voice. And then total despair. That's the kind of emotional 180 you usually only get from someone who realizes their parachute doesn't work three seconds into their first sky dive. 

Will the Vikings be able to psychologically rebound from their loss or will they have to forfeit this week due to emotional distress? Glad you asked. Let's get to the picks and find out. 

Actually, before we get to the picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. The reason you should click over and check out the other experts this week is to see how badly Ryan Wilson embarrassed everyone. Wilson is our senior draft writer at CBSSports.com and apparently, we need to make him our senior gambling correspondent, because he crushed it against the spread with a record of 11-4-1. 

Speaking of Wilson,  you can catch him on the Pick Six Podcast at least three days per week -- Monday, Tuesday and Friday -- for the rest of the NFL season. He apparently loves hanging out with me because those are the same three days I'm on every week. If you want to check out the podcast, you can click here to do that. You can also listen to Tuesday's episode below. The entire episode consisted of us talking about how the Lions went full Lions during their second half meltdown against the Packers

For all of our sakes, let's hope my picks are more entertaining than Monday night's game. 

NFL Week 3 Picks

New Orleans (1-1) at New England (1-1)

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Latest Odds: New England Patriots -3

If I learned one thing about the NFL during Week 2, it's that it's not easy to win when you have zero assistant coaches. I was always under the impression that some teams have too many assistant coaches, but I was wrong. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY ASSISTANT COACHES ON THE SIDELINE. 

The Saints went into Sunday's game missing EIGHT assistant coaches due to COVID and they played like a team missing eight assistant coaches. Sean Payton can do a lot, but coaching with no help is like trying to put a piece of IKEA furniture together on your own: Nothing's going to work the way you want it to and it's going to end up being a waste of three hours. 

Basically, I don't think the Saints are as bad as they seemed on Sunday against the Panthers, but I also don't think they're as good as they seemed in Week 1 against the Packers and we're going to find out which side they're closer to when they travel to New England this week. 

On paper, there's one part of this game that feels like a huge mismatch to me: Jameis Winston vs. Bill Belichick's defense.  

One of the things that Belichick does best is exploit the weaknesses of opposing quarterbacks, and let me just say, Jameis Winston has a lot of weaknesses to exploit. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I don't see Jameis having any success against New England this week. 

That being said, Payton is one of the smartest offensive minds in football and I think he'll know that Jameis isn't going to have much success against the Patriots defense, so he'll do his best to take the game out of Winston's hands. That could mean more Taysom Hill or it could mean we won't see Winston throw a single pass over three yards. I'm not sure exactly what it will mean, but I do think it will mean the Saints keep it close, but still lose. 

The pick: Patriots 19-16 over Saints

Washington (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1)

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Latest Odds: Buffalo Bills -9

I haven't been alive for the entire 100 years that the NFL has existed, so I can't say this for sure, but I think the Bills win over the Dolphins on Sunday might have been the least impressive 35-0 win in NFL history. For the second week in a row, the Bills offense didn't look great and for the second week in a row, I'm regretting the fact that I made the Bills my Super Bowl pick out of the AFC. Just kidding, Bills fans. I'm not regretting the pick, but I am concerned about your team's offense. 

The Bills went up against a strong Steelers defense in Week 1 and sputtered. And then they had to face a decent Dolphins defense in Week 2 and although the Bills won by 35, that was mostly because the Dolphins tripped over their own feet. Josh Allen barely completed 50% of his passes against Miami, and once again, the Bills offense struggled. 

Someone who sees the glass as half-full would say that this is a good thing for the Bills because they're proving they can win in other ways: They don't necessarily need Allen to play like at an MVP-level to win games. However, a person who sees the keg as half-empty would say that if the offense continues to struggle, that's going to come back and bite you when you're playing a team that has a good defense like it did in Week 1 with the Steelers. 

I have no idea why Allen is struggling, but I don't think he's going to magically fix his issues this week, so I'm taking Washington in the upset. 

The pick: Washington 27-24 over Bills

Tampa Bay (2-0) at L.A. Rams (2-0)

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Rams -1

Even though there are seven unbeaten teams left in the NFL, this game is somehow the only one on the schedule this week that will feature two undefeated teams playing against each other. I'm not usually one to tell people what to do with their lives, but if you have plans with someone at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, you should definitely cancel those plans so you can watch this game... unless you're picking up a friend at the airport or picking up your kid at a birthday party or serving as a pall bearer at a funeral. If those are your plans, please don't cancel those. 

Just when you think Tom Brady has seen everything in his 21-year career, this game is giving us a first for him: It's his first career game in Los Angeles. 

I remember my first trip to L.A.: The food was expensive, the drinks were expensive, I think I saw Lindsay Lohan in West Hollywood and I almost bought a horse lamp. 

I don't think Brady is going to buy a horse lamp this week, but he might feel like he got run over by a horse after this game is over, especially since he's going to be spending the entire game running away from Aaron Donald. As we all know, the best way to beat Tom Brady is by putting a lot of pressure on him and that's something the Rams can do. 

The Rams actually beat the Buccaneers last year and it was because Brady had one of his worst games. He threw 22 incompletions, he threw two interceptions and he was flustered for most of the night. Brady was so bad that he got outplayed by Jared Goff, which I wouldn't believe if I didn't know it already happened. The Rams have now upgraded at quarterback and I think Matthew Stafford is going to have a huge day against a Buccaneers defense that's giving up 27 points per game this year. 

Conventional wisdom says never pick against Tom Brady in a big game, but I've decided to go against conventional wisdom in this game. I've basically gone against conventional wisdom ever since it told me that pancakes aren't a dinner food. I eat pancakes for dinner every night. 

The pick: Rams 34-31 over Buccaneers


Video: 'No reason to freak out' for Packers just yet (NBC Sports)

Replay Video

Seattle (1-1) at Minnesota (0-2)

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

Latest Odds: Seattle Seahawks -1

It's almost fitting that the Seahawks and Vikings are playing each other this week because I'm pretty sure they had the two most shocking losses of Week 2. The Seahawks blew a 15-point lead at home for the first time ever and the Vikings lost because their kicker missed a chip-shot field goal, which I guess isn't actually all that shocking since Vikings kickers always miss chip-shot field goals when the game is on the line.  

I should have known the Vikings were going to lose just because of the way their week was going leading up to the game. I mean, this is a team that lost one player in Week 2 due to a car crash caused by a deer. Greg Joseph then put the fan base through a mental car crash when he missed the game-winning field goal. And then there was the radio call of the kick at the top of the page that only added insult to injury. 

The Vikings loss was so bad that I really want to pick against them this week, but I'm not going to. The problem for the Seahawks is that they're basically playing the NFC's version of the Titans this week. They have to go up against another bruising running back (Dalvin Cook), which isn't ideal when your defense is horrible at stopping the run. If I'm Mike Zimmer, I give the ball to Cook 97 times and hope that's enough to build up a big enough lead so that I don't have bring my kicker on the field at any point. As a matter of fact, if I"m Zimmer, I'm not even sure I dress a kicker for the game. 

After giving us two of the craziest games of Week 2, I'm fully expecting to get 60 minutes of craziness on Sunday. 

The pick: Vikings 31-30 over Seahawks

Green Bay (1-1) at San Francisco (2-0)

8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

Latest Odds: Green Bay Packers +3.5

If you have any experience playing running back at any level of football, you might want to give the 49ers a call this week, because they might need you for Sunday's game. 

Did you once rush for 41 yards in a high school game? Call the 49ers.

Did you once average 3.4 yards per carry in a Division III college game? Call the 49ers. 

Did you once go full Al Bundy and score four touchdowns for Polk High? Call the 49ers. 

Sure, they probably won't answer, but they should, because things are getting ugly for them at the running back position. Last week, they lost Raheem Mostert for the year due to a knee injury. The Mostert injury left Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty as the next guys on the depth chart, and somehow, ALL THREE OF THEM got injured in Week 2 against the Eagles

The problem for the 49ers is that their rushing attack is a key part of their offense. When they went to the Super Bowl in 2019, they led the NFC in rushing and finished second overall in the NFL behind only the Ravens. If they have to bring in someone off the street this week, I don't think their offense is going to be running full-throttle and if it's not running full-throttle, I'm not sure they can beat the Packers. Even if Mitchell, Hasty or Sermon all end up playing, that's not ideal if they're already banged up going into the game (The 49ers also have Trenton Cannon on their roster, but he's averaging 1.33 yards per carry this year, so I left him out of the discussion). 

When I look at the Packers, I am somewhat frightened by the fact that they're 1-4 in their past five trips to the Pacific time zone. However, that one win did come last year when they beat up on an injury-laden 49ers team, which I think is going to happen again on Sunday. 

Also, I'm pretty sure that Aaron Rodgers is still bitter about the fact that the 49ers didn't take him in the 2005 NFL Draft and he definitely plays better when he's bitter about something. 

The pick: Packers 26-23 over 49ers

NFL Week 3 picks: All the rest

Panthers 27-17 over Texans

Ravens 30-20 over Lions

Titans 34-27 over Colts

Browns 24-17 over Bears

Chiefs 30-27 over Chargers

Giants 31-23 over Falcons

Cardinals 30-20 over Jaguars

Broncos 26-13 over Jets

Bengals 23-20 over Steelers

Raiders 24-16 over Dolphins 

Cowboys 31-24 over Eagles

Note: There were 5,000 QB injuries in Week 2 and there's a small chance that a few of these picks could change based on who the starting quarterback ends up being for teams with an injured QB.

Last Week

Best pick:  Last week, I predicted that the Rams would go to Indianapolis and beat the Colts 27-24 and guess what happened? The Rams went to Indianapolis and beat the Colts 27-24. That's right, I picked the exact score of the game, which I was only able to do because I stole a copy of Grays Sports Almanac out of the passenger seat of an unattended DeLorean late last week. I'm not sure who I stole it from, but I think it might have been this guy. 

I'm guessing I stole it before he made that last pick on his parlay. Now I feel bad. However, I'm sure that feeling will go away as soon as I get an article about me in the Hill Valley Daily Telegraph. 

Worst pick: For some reason, I decided to try and ride three hot streaks last week, and not surprisingly, that decision blew up in my face. 

Let's quickly rehash all three of those streaks:

Streak 1: I picked the Seahawks to beat the Titans because Pete Carroll had never lost a home opener.

What happened: The Seahawks blew a 15-point lead at home for the first time in franchise history and lost. 

Streak 2: I picked the Chiefs to win because Patrick Mahomes had never lost a game in September. 

What happened: The Chiefs blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter after melting down with two turnovers on their final three possessions. 

Streak 3: I picked the Giants because Daniel Jones had never lost to Washington. 

What happened: Washington missed a game-winning field goal as time expired, but they ended up winning anyway because the kicker got a second chance after the Giants were penalized for jumping offsides. 

I'm putting an asterisk next to my picks record this week, because losing all three of those is ridiculous. 

The only one I take the blame for is that Giants pick and that's because I literally spent an entire paragraph last week describing how the Giants would lose, only to completely ignore my own advice by picking them to win. Here's what I wrote:

"My general rule of thumb when trying to pick the winner in a Giants game is to always pick against the Giants, because in every game they play, there's a 90% chance they'll shoot themselves in the foot multiple times before finding a fantastic way to lose." 

I think jumping offsides on a game-winning field goal attempt definitely qualifies as a fantastic way to lose. I deserve that loss. 

Picks Record

Straight up in Week 2: 9-7

SU overall: 19-13

Against the spread in Week 2: 7-8-1

ATS overall: 14-16-2

Exact score predictions: 1

Exact score, wrong winner: 2

You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably trying to get his hands on a horse lamp.

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