The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight standout fixtures of Week 3, culminating in the Ravens-Chiefs MNF blockbuster.
History: Played 9: Jaguars 5 V Dolphins 4
Last meeting: December 23, 2018: Jaguars 17 d Dolphins 7 at Hard Rock Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 1-1 Jaguars host the 0-2 Dolphins to kick off NFL Week 3.
Getting their campaign underway with back-to-back division showdowns, the Jaguars upset the Colts 27-20 before going down 33-30 to the Titans. QB Gardner Minshew has been outstanding so far – throwing for 512 yards and 6 TDs – but his late-game interception proved costly against Tennessee.
The Dolphins lost to the Patriots in Week 1 (21-11) and the Bills last weekend (31-28). Their investment in defence in the off-season isn’t yet showing, struggling to put pressure on Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 328 yards and 2 TDs.
Miami are 2-7 on the road with all but one of their losses by double-digit margins. The Jags look the goods to cover here.
History: Played 35: Patriots 19 V Raiders 15 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: November 19, 2017: Patriots 33 d Raiders 17 at O.co Coliseum
Final Thoughts: Patriots have made a promising start to the post-Brady era. A power running game led by QB Cam Newton was a feature of an authoritative 21-11 defeat of the Dolphins in Week 1. While it probably didn’t suit their strengths, the Pats went toe-to-toe in a 35-30 shootout loss to the Seahawks last week, with Newton passing for 397 yards (1 TD, 1 INT). Julian Edelman racked up 179 yards on eight receptions.
Meanwhile, it’s so far so good for the Raiders after making the move to Las Vegas. They followed up a 34-30 victory over the Panthers in Charlotte with a 34-24 upset of the Saints at their new stadium in Vegas. Derek Carr’s renaissance continued with 284 yards and 3 touchdowns, with tight end Darren Waller (103 yards, 1 TD) proving a reliable target.
The Patriots have won their last five against the Raiders, all by seven points or more. But the sides have not met since 2017.
A fascinating duel with two star QBs enjoying a form upswing and both defences searching for rapid improvement. The Patriots are giving up too many points at the line for my liking, while the over also looks a decent play.
History: Played 27: Bears 14 V Falcons 13
Last meeting: September 10, 2017: Falcons 23 d Bears 17 at Soldier Field
Final Thoughts: Atlanta Falcons hunt their first win of the season – and aim to put a demoralising loss behind them – at home against the unbeaten Chicago Bears.
The Falcons went down 38-25 to the Seahawks in Week 1, before bottling a 20-0 first-quarter lead and a 39-24 advantage deep in the fourth quarter to lose to the Cowboys by a point. Botched touchdowns, a defence that completely dropped their bundle…it was a horror show for Falcons fans.
The Bears have grinded their way past the Lions (27-23) and Giants (17-13). Neither result will be getting NFL experts or Bears supporters too excited, with their Khalil Mack- and Robert Quinn-led defence making up for the limited strike Mitchell Trubisky and his offence brings to the table.
The Bears have won 10 of their last 14 against the Falcons – and they are very tempting underdogs against their mentally frail, defensively inept hosts.
History: Played 6: Steelers 4 V Texans 2
Last meeting: December 25, 2017: Steelers 34 d Texans 6 at NRG Stadium
Final Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to a solid 2-0 start. DeShaun Watson and the Texans are already under the pump courtesy of two big losses.
Roethlisberger’s return from elbow surgery has surely been better than the Steelers could have hoped. After a 26-16 win over the lowly Giants, Big Ben had 311 yards and 2 TDs in a 26-21 home victory over the Broncos. The QB’s return looks set to lead to a big year for the receiving corps of Diontae Johnson, the rejuvenated JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie Chase Claypool.
To be fair to Houston, they could not have been dealt a tougher schedule to start the season. But losses to the Chiefs (34-20) and Ravens (33-16) have highlighted some worrying deficiencies. The effect of DeAndre Hopkins’ absence has been palpable, particularly for out-of-sorts QB star Watson.
The Steelers look more than capable of joining the Chiefs and Ravens as the biggest threats in the AFC – a group the Texans seem increasingly incapable of keeping pace with in 2020. Take advantage of the modest line in this one.
History: Played 20: Cowboys 11 V Seahawks 9
Last meeting: January 5, 2019 (NFC Wild Card Game): Cowboys 24 d Seahawks 22 at A&T Stadium
Final Thoughts: One of the best match-ups of Week 3, with the 2-0 Seahawks and 1-1 Cowboys both coming off thrilling wins.
The Seahawks backed up their season-opening 38-25 defeat of the Falcons with a 35-30 eclipse of the Patriots. Russell Wilson unpicked the New England secondary with five touchdown passes as the teams produced a game-of-the-year contender
Edged 20-17 by the Rams in Week 1, the Cowboys staged an all-time great comeback at home against the Falcons last week. Down 20-0 early and 39-24 with less than five minutes to play, Dallas stole a one-point win with two touchdowns and a 46-yard field goal. Dak Prescott passed for 450 yards and a touchdown, while he ran in three TDs himself – including the one that put the Cowboys within striking distance late.
After three straight losses to the Seahawks, the Cowboys won the teams’ Wild Card clash two seasons ago 24-22.
Seattle are a strong pick at home, though Dallas with a healthy start is also enticing. I prefer the over here, given the high-scoring thrillers both teams have been involved in so far.
History: Played 9: Broncos 7 V Buccaneers 2
Last meeting: October 2, 2016: Broncos 27 d Buccaneers 7 at Raymond James Stadium
Final Thoughts: Denver Broncos went through the opening fortnight of the season winless, going down to the Titans (16-14) at home and the Steelers (26-21) away. The defeat in Pittsburgh was compounded by a 3-5 week injury to QB Drew Lock and a season-ending ACL tear for wide receiver Courtland Sutton.
Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay has so far garnered a win and a loss. After a mixed outing in a 34-23 defeat to the Saints, Brady was let down by his receivers but still managed to steer the Buccaneers to a 31-17 victory over the Panthers. Mike Evans (104 yards on 7 receptions, 1 TD) proved a reliable target, while Leonard Fournette had 103 yards and 2 TDs on 12 carries.
Jeff Driskel will make his first start under center for the Broncos – a daunting prospect against a solid Bucs defence and with Brady warming to the task.
History: Played 25: Packers 16 V Saints 9
Last meeting: October 22, 2017: Saints 26 d Packers 17 at Lambeau Field
Final Thoughts: Veteran QB great Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers go head-to-head for the first time in three years. But there’s other duels to have football fans frothing, notably running backs Aaron Jones and Alvin Kumara.
New Orleans are 1-1, beating Brady and the Buccaneers 34-23 in Week 1 before crashing 34-24 in Las Vegas. Their defence was subpar against the Raiders, while they are sweating on the fitness of WR Michael Thomas, who was sorely missed last week.
Rodgers, meanwhile, has the Green Bay offence firing in 2020, leading the way in big wins over the Vikings (43-34) and Lions (42-21). The 36-year-old has passed for over 600 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs. Davante Adams and Jones have been on fire, though Adams is in doubt this week with a hamstring issue.
A mouth-watering clash which is sure to produce plenty of points, but Packers are hard to resist with the points at an empty Superdome.
History: Played 10: Chiefs 6 V Ravens 4
Last meeting: September 22, 2019: Chiefs 33 d Ravens 28 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final thoughts: An AFC Championship preview. The two most impressive teams of the 2020 season’s opening fortnight. The league’s two most dominant QBs. Monday Night Football (Tuesday morning AEST) doesn’t get any bigger.
The Ravens have obliterated the Browns (38-6) and Texans (33-16) so far. Lamar Jackson’s passing game has been exemplary, while Baltimore’s running game was the key offensive feature against Houston. Then there’s the defence that completely shut DeShaun Watson out of the contest. It’s not hard to see why the Ravens are the Super Bowl favourites.
Of course, just behind in the Super Bowl odds are the defending champion Chiefs. They whipped the Texans 34-20 in Week 1, then pulled off an OT win against the Chargers, 23-20. Patrick Mahomes is obviously the single figure Kansas City’s fortunes hinge on, but their defence and special teams got them over the line last week.
The Chiefs have won their last three against the Ravens, including a 33-28 shootout last season. The reigning MVP Mahomes (27-of-37 completions, 374 yards, 3 TDs) won his duel with eventual MVP Jackson (22-of-43 completions, 267 yards, 0 TDs).
Both teams will be there when the whips are cracking but a vital psychological edge is up for grabs here. The Ravens simply look too hot for anyone to topple right now.