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NFL Week 3 picks: Eagles are lock to cover vs. Giants; Dolphins cover against Jets

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, right, celebrates with

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, right, celebrates with Derek Barnett during a game against the Redskins on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Starting the season 0-2 is never a good sign, but if a team has hopes for the playoffs, it can’t fall into an 0-3 hole. Since 1980, only five 0-3 teams have made the postseason. The Jets and Giants — two of the nine teams to start 0-2 — both are playing at 1 p.m. Sunday, a rarity. Through two games, the Jets have actually outscored the Giants, 32-13. When someone says they can predict the NFL, show them that stat.

Favorites went 8-8 against the spread (ATS) in Week 2, and are 15-15-1 for the season. As in Week 1, five underdogs won outright last week.

My most confident picks ATS: Eagles, Raiders, Ravens, Bears and Lions. Two tricky games to avoid: Seahawks-Titans and Broncos-Bills.

 

LONDON GAME

RAVENS (2-0) VS. JAGUARS (1-1), 9:30 a.m.

(Streaming on Yahoo)

Ravens by 4; O/U: 39

While London is Jacksonville’s home away from home — this is the franchise’s fifth game there — it’s the first trip for Baltimore. No matter. The Ravens’ defense, which has as many takeaways (10) as points allowed, will take over for the day. After stifling Andy Dalton and the Browns’ quarterbacks, they’ll have a field day with Blake Bortles. Oh, and if you think the Ravens could overlook this matchup in anticipation of next week’s game against the rival Steelers, think again: John Harbaugh’s teams always show up.

The pick: Ravens

 

LOCK OF THE WEEK

GIANTS (0-2) AT EAGLES (1-1), 1 p.m.

Eagles by 6; O/U: 42.5

TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WCBS (880)

After scoring a combined 13 points in two games, the Giants are staring at 0-4 with road trips to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Things are so bad for Big Blue that Ben McAdoo called out Eli Manning for “sloppy quarterback play.” Um, by our calculations, the bigger problems are an offensive line that can’t block and an ineffective offensive game plan. Now, on a short week, the Giants have to play at a place that hasn’t been kind to them recently. The Giants have lost five of six overall to the Eagles, and have been outscored by 52 over their last three visits to Lincoln Financial Field. Remember last season’s Week 16 visit to Philly? Manning, who attemped 63 passes, threw a pick-6 to put the Giants in a 14-0 hole and they never recovered. A win would’ve clinched a playoff spot for the 10-4 Giants, but the 6-8 Eagles played spoilers. They’ll be just as excited for their home opener. Last week, Philly played the Chiefs close for three-plus quarters. While Carson Wentz and an innovative offensive scheme — take notes, coach McAdoo — should have some success, the biggest reason to back the Eagles is their pass rush. They’re tied for fourth in the NFL with eight sacks. Manning already has been sacked eight times this season, including five by the Lions on Monday night. Derek Barnett and Fletcher Cox will dominate the Giants’ O-line as the Eagles win big.

The pick: Eagles

 

DOLPHINS (1-0) AT JETS (0-2), 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2; Radio: ESPN (98.7)

Dolphins by 6; O/U: 42.5

All signs point to favoring the underdog. The Jets will be playing for pride in their home opener after Marshawn Lynch’s midgame sideline dance embarrassed them last week. The Dolphins, after an extended stay in Los Angeles, won their opener in dramatic fashion and could be looking ahead to next week’s London game. Will they take the Jets seriously? Here’s the thing: Betting logic may not apply to the Jets. Their roster has too many weaknesses. The defense, the supposed strong point, has allowed a whopping 370 rushing yards the first two weeks. Jay Ajayi should run wild, and Jay Cutler figures to have success against a young secondary.

The pick: Dolphins

1 P.M. GAMES

FALCONS (2-0) AT LIONS (2-0)

Falcons by 3; O/U: 50.5

Two of the NFL’s eight 2-0 teams meet in the game of the week. Both are coming off impressive wins, and this game figures to go down to the wire. Detroit was 6-2 at home straight up (SU) last season. Atlanta dominated Green Bay last week in prime time as it opened its new stadium. The letdown factor could definitely be in play. The Lions’ defense has looked dominant against the Cardinals and Giants, and could be the difference. Give me Matthew Stafford to provide some more fourth-quarter magic as the Lions roar to 3-0 with a mini-upset at home.

The pick: Lions

BUCS (1-0) AT VIKINGS (1-1)

Vikings by 1.5; O/U: 41

Even if Sam Bradford plays, the Bucs are still the pick. Gerald McCoy and the defense should bottle up Dalvin Cook. Jameis Winston could struggle against a solid Vikings secondary, but freshness could be an issue: This is the Bucs’ second game of the season while the Vikings are playing their third game in 14 days.

The pick: Bucs

 

TEXANS (1-1) AT PATRIOTS (1-1)

Patriots by 13.5; O/U: 44

This is a lot of points, but how can you take the Texans? Bill Belichick’s defensive mind against rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t a fair fight. Plus, remember this is the Pats’ first game back after the stunning loss to Kansas City in the opener. Tom Brady & Co. will want to put on a show for the home fans.

The pick: Patriots

 

STEELERS (2-0) AT BEARS (0-2)

Steelers by 7; O/U: 44

On paper, the Steelers would win by 20-plus points. But the game is played between the other lines. Under Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh has had a tendency to play down to lesser foes. Last season, for example, the 4-1 Steelers barely showed up against the 1-4 Dolphins and lost by 15 in Miami. Expect John Fox to fire up the Bears and have them treat this like their Super Bowl. Chicago isn’t going anywhere this season, but it outplayed Atlanta in the opener, and will play with pride after last week’s dud in Tampa.

The pick: Bears

 

BRONCOS (2-0) AT BILLS (1-1)

Broncos by 3; O/U: 40

This is the kind of spread that makes you wonder, “OK, what does Vegas know that we don’t?” Yes, the game is in Buffalo, but shouldn’t Denver be favored by a couple more points? Trevor Siemian and the offense has been just as impressive as the defense. Buffalo won’t be able to keep this close.

The pick: Broncos

 

SAINTS (0-2) AT PANTHERS (2-0)

Panthers by 5; O/U: 46.5

New Orleans can’t afford to start 0-3 in the stacked NFC South, so expect a desperate team to pull out all the stops — something its defense hasn’t been able to do during the first two weeks (65 points). But they won’t have to face Greg Olsen and Cam Newton is banged-up. Drew Brees and the offense find a way to keep this close.

The pick: Saints

 

BROWNS (0-2) AT COLTS (0-2)

Browns by 1.5; O/U: 41

Stop the presses! Cleveland is favored for the first time since Week 14 of the 2015 season. The Browns have shown some fight, and it’s worth taking a shot with them here.

The pick: Browns

 

4 P.M. GAMES

 

CHIEFS (2-0) AT CHARGERS (0-2)

Chiefs by 3; O/U: 47.5

Sometimes it’s best to ignore the point spread and just pick the better team. The Chargers are the unluckiest team in the league, and after back-to-back last-second losses, you have to expect them to play with desperation. It’s tempting to take them, but the Chiefs appear to be the most well-balanced team in the NFL. They have won six in a row against the Chargers, including the last two road games by a combined score of 70-30. Chiefs fans take over the StubHub Center as Kansas City punches its ticket to a 3-0 start.

The pick: Chiefs

SEAHAWKS (1-1) AT TITANS (1-1)

Titans by 3; O/U: 42.5

If you like smash-mouth football, then this is your game. Seattle’s offense is in a funk, scoring just one TD this season, and its offensive line has issues. Another reason to lean toward Tennessee is that it lost at home in Week 1. Always back a good team in its first game back after a loss in front of the home fans. The Titans win . . . as long as they don’t open the game with an onside kick again.

The pick: Titans

BENGALS (0-2) AT PACKERS (1-1)

Packers by 9; O/U: 46

TV: Ch. 2

Green Bay is dealing with injuries, but as long as Aaron Rodgers is fine, the Pack will beat a Bengals team that has yet to score a TD. Cincinnati will have had 10 days to stew over an embarrassing loss at home in prime time, though. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green team up for a few big plays to keep it inside the number.

The pick: Bengals

 

SUNDAY NIGHT

RAIDERS (2-0) AT REDSKINS (1-1), 8:30 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4

Raiders by 3; O/U: 54.5

This won’t be as bad as Super Bowl XVIII, a 38-9 Raiders win, but Derek Carr will steer the Oakland offense to another 30-plus point game. The young Raiders have put to rest the old “West coast teams struggle after cross-country flights” theory: They’re 6-0 SU and ATS in their last six 1 p.m. starts, including an impressive Week 1 win at Tennessee. The fact that this game is at night is an added bonus.

The pick: Raiders

 

MONDAY NIGHT

COWBOYS (1-1) AT CARDINALS (1-1), 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Cowboys by 3; O/U: 47

The Cards, lucky to escape Indy with an overtime win, were dealt a good hand by the schedule makers: Home opener on a Monday night. Think that building will be rocking? Dallas will be a tough out, but Arizona is 23-8-1 SU at home under coach Bruce Arians. The Cardinals’ secondary is their strong point, and if they can stack the box against Ezekiel Elliott and make Dak Prescott beat them the way Denver did last week, they could win outright. Take the points in what should be a down-to-the-wire finish.

The pick: Cardinals

 

 

Staff picks (best bets in bold)

Joe Manniello 12-18-1 overall, 0-2 best bets

Last week: 8-8

Eagles Dolphins Ravens Lions

Bucs Patriots Bears Broncos

Saints Browns Chiefs Titans

Bengals Raiders Cardinals

Bob Glauber 16-14-1, 0-2

Last week: 9-7

Eagles Dolphins Ravens Falcons

Bucs Patriots Steelers Broncos

Panthers Colts Chiefs Titans

Packers Raiders Cowboys

Tom Rock 13-17-1, 0-2

Last week: 8-8

Giants Dolphins Ravens Falcons

Bucs Texans Steelers Broncos

Saints Browns Chiefs Titans

Packers Raiders Cowboys

Calvin Watkins 9-7, 1-0

Last week: 9-7

Eagles Dolphins Jaguars Lions

Bucs Patriots Steelers Broncos

Panthers Browns Chiefs Titans

Packers Raiders Cowboys

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