NFL picks for Week 3 from Matt Youmans


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Turkey is always the feature of the feast on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. Last Sunday, something different was on the menu, and Lions coach Dan Campbell called it “humble pie.”

Following a season-opening upset of the defending Super Bowl champs in Kansas City, the Lions returned home and failed to live up to the hype. Jared Goff threw a costly pick-six and the defense broke down in an overtime loss to the Seahawks.

The Lions, who had won three straight and nine of their past 11 dating to last season, are not going to run away with the NFC North this season. Green Bay is good enough to stick around and make the race interesting to the end. This should be a good time to bet on Detroit to bounce back, however.

Nine undefeated teams remain in the NFL, and the Falcons are fortunate to be in the club. Atlanta, which rallied in the fourth quarter to steal a 25-24 victory over the Packers last week, has the 28th-ranked passing offense in the league. Desmond Ridder is not a quarterback capable of shredding the Detroit defense, as Seattle’s Geno Smith did a week ago.

Goff has played like an elite quarterback since the middle of last season. He went 28-for-35 for 323 yards and three touchdowns last week when his one big mistake ended a streak of 383 pass attempts without an interception. It’s always risky to lay points with the Lions, but they should avoid back-to-back home setbacks.

Pick: Lions -3.

The bad news is the five sides in this column went 1-4 last week. The good news is my Teaser of the Week play is 2-0 after the Titans +8.5/Bills -2 cashed in Week 2. This week, I’ll pair the Jaguars -2 with the Steelers +8.5.

Here are my other plays for an ugly Week 3 card (home team in CAPS):

Patriots (-2.5) over JETS — Remember when Bill Belichick was money as a home ‘dog? I’m broke (0-2) playing the Patriots this season, but hopefully things will change on the road. New England has won 14 in a row in this one-sided rivalry. Belichick’s defense has picked on Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who had a three-interception game last year and a four-interception game in 2021. Wilson passed for 77 yards in a 10-3 loss at New England in November.

PACKERS (-1) over Saints — Injuries could be a problem for the Green Bay offense, though running back Aaron Jones, receiver Christian Watson and left tackle David Bakhtiari have a chance to return. Jordan Love has been calm and in control of the offense, passing for six touchdowns with no picks. Love has looked better than New Orleans quarterback Derek Carr, who has one touchdown pass and two interceptions in two narrow wins. I went into the season as a believer in the Packers and a skeptic of the Saints, so I’m sticking with those opinions. 

COMMANDERS (+6.5) over Bills — Josh Allen was outstanding a week ago in an obvious bounce-back spot as Buffalo routed the Raiders. Allen will be under more pressure this week on what might be a rainy day in Washington. The defensive front is a strength for the Commanders, who are tied for the league lead with 10 sacks. The Bills allowed 172 rushing yards to the Jets in Week 1, and Washington can run the ball with Brian Robinson Jr.

Colts (+8) over RAVENS — The forced switch to quarterback Gardner Minshew could be a positive for Indianapolis. With rookie Anthony Richardson out with a concussion, Minshew steps in with the type of experience that is needed against the Baltimore defense. It did not matter last week in a win at Cincinnati, but the Ravens are ravaged by injuries. Seven starters are ruled out, including offensive linemen Tyler Linderbaum and Ronnie Stanley.