Week 3 NFL Picks: Intriguing Matchups Abound in the NFL's Third Sunday of the 2011 Season

MIAMI GARDENS FL - FEBRUARY 07: (FILE PHOTO) The Vince Lombardi Trophy is held aloft as the New Orleans Saints celebrate after defeating the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens Florida. Super Bowl XLV will pit the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers on February 6 2011. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There are a slew of interesting Week 3 matchups in both the AFC and NFC. There's a number of point spreads to feel good about taking a position on, and some that are hard to figure out based on what we've seen in Weeks 1 and 2. Let's take a look.

We're rapidly approaching Week 3 in the 2011 NFL season. Last Sunday was plenty entertaining, but this week definitely has more interesting matchups in both conferences. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 3 brings a road test against the Indianapolis Colts. Before we learned the extent of Peyton Manning's injury this preseason, Steeler Nation had this game penciled as one of the tougher ones on the schedule. Now the Steelers are favored by double digit points for the second consecutive week. I'm not sure when the last time that happened, but probably not anytime recently.

To the picks.

Last week: 8-8
Season to date: 16-14-1

 

Week 3 Picks

 

San Francisco (+3) at Cincinnati (+105)

  • I like the Bengals here. They gave away a very winnable Week 2 game against the Denver Broncos last Sunday. The loss of Jordan Shipley for the year hurts, but I like Cincinnati's defense enough to limit Frank Gore and San Francisco's running game from getting going. Pick: Cincinnati

New England (-9) at Buffalo (-120)

  • Don't get me wrong, I'll be cheering for The Little Engine That Could Bills, but especially at even money, the right play is to take New England here. Oakland did, after all, rack up 35 points against Buffalo behind Jason Campbell's solid performance. Imagine what Tom Brady is going to do. Pick: New England

Houston (+4) at New Orleans (-105)

  • This line should be higher. New Orleans has looked very good so far through two weeks. One might be wise to buy a point and bring it down to 3, but I think New Orleans should be just fine even at four points. Brees looks to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass to 30. Pick: New Orleans

Miami (+2.5) at Cleveland

  • Week 3 should be a good barometer for Cleveland's development as a young team under first-year head coach Paul Shurmur. Cleveland gave away a win in Week 1, then took care of business in Week 2 against the dreadful Colts. Colt McCoy needs to take advantage of a very porous Dolphins' secondary. Pick: Cleveland

Denver (+6.5) at Tennessee

  • Tough one here. After thumping the Ravens last week, will the Titans be focused and well-prepared for the visiting Broncos? If they are, they should be able to beat the Broncos. But Kyle Orton is decent enough to keep things close if Tennessee comes out flat. I like Chris Johnson to finally get things going this weekend after being held in check the first two weeks. Pick: Tennessee

Detroit (-3.5) at Minnesota (-120)

  • I liked Minnesota as a potentially dangerous middle-of-the-road team at the outset of the year. Though they've shown their vulnerability in their 0-2 start, they've also been right there in both games and should have won at least one of the two. Detroit has obviously looked impressive in its 2-0 start, but for how bad they've been on the road, I'm still not ready to buy them just yet as a safe pick away from Ford Field by more than 3 points. Pick: Minnesota

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Carolina (-105)

  • Blaine Gabbert gets his first career start this weekend after Luke McCown's atrocious showing last Sunday. I sure hate to bet on Gabbert in this spot, but I think that the betting public is probably putting too much stock in Cam Newton's back-to-back 400-plus yard games to start his career. Pick: Jacksonville

Kansas City (+14.5) at San Diego

  • I'm looking for someone in Vegas to place a huge wager for me on San Diego. The Chargers left 10 or 14 points on the board last week in a loss to New England, and I imagine they'll be focused and upset by their performance this week as they prepare for the rival Chiefs. With Jamaal Charles out for the year and no weapons on Kansas City's receiving corps that really scare you, I can't see any way that they are able to keep pace with Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. Pick: San Diego

New York Jets (-3.5) at Oakland (-120)

  • Interesting matchup here. I think Oakland will give plenty of teams fits at home. But I'm not sure they matchup particularly well against this Jets defense. Jason Campbell is going to have to play as well as he did last week for them to win, because I don't think they'll be able to get the running game going as much as they'd like. Because it's even money, I'm taking the Jets.  Pick: New York

Baltimore(-4) at St. Louis

  • Love Baltimore in this spot. John Harbaugh will have his team ready to go after getting punched in the mouth by the Titans in Week 2. The Rams are just too beat up to be as effective as we thought they would be at the start of the year. More importantly though, the Ravens are a veteran team that will be able to handle the crowd noise and hostile confines of playing on the road in St. Louis. Pick: Baltimore

Atlanta (+1.5) at Tampa Bay

  • I'm not buying Atlanta as completely fraudulent just yet like some are. The Falcons matchup fairly well with Tampa Bay, and I like the win last week against the Eagles. I think they build on that win to improve to 2-1 and an early-season lead in the NFC South. Pick: Atlanta

Arizona (-3) at Seattle (+105)

  • For as mediocre as Seattle has been through two weeks, they'd be in plenty fine shape if they could win their home opener over the Arizona Cardinals. Having just watched Seattle get trounced by Pittsburgh, you'd think I'd be inclined to lean towards Steelers West in this one. But something tells me the Seahawks play spirited, competitive football while the Cardinals look out of sorts and perhaps even sloppy on a day that's supposed to bring rain. Pick: Seattle

Green Bay (-3.5) at Chicago

  • Tough, tough game to pick. I'd certainly stay away if money were on the line. Ultimately though I think the Bears keep this within in a field goal, win or lose. Pick: Chicago

Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Indianapolis (-115)

  • Hate to be that guy for the third consecutive week, but I think I might like this line more than the first two weeks now that we've seen the Steelers take care of business against an inferior opponent in Week 2. Playing at Heinz Field is different than playing on the road, but Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis isn't that great of a home field advantage anyway, at least not from a noise perspective. If the Steelers offensive tackles can give Big Ben even just a bit of time to operate, they should be able to put enough points to win easily. I just don't see how Kerry Collins can survive against Dick LeBeau's defense without the benefit of a really good offensive line and/or running game. He has neither.  Pick: Pittsburgh

New York Giants (+9) at Philadelphia (+100)

  • The Giants are beat up and haven't exactly looked like world-beaters in their first two games, but nine points seems awfully high for a rivalry game like this, particularly when Michael Vick's health is somewhat in question. Pick: New York

Washington (+5.5) at Dallas

  • Some books don't have lines on this one because of the uncertain status of Tony Romo and his hurt ribs. If Romo can go and he's healthy enough to not be totally uncomfortable, I like Dallas. If Jon Kitna is forced to play, the Redskins could be on their way to a surprising 3-0 start. Pick: Dallas

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