NFL Week 3 preview: Will Raiders continue their 2-0 streak?
LOS ANGELES, September 23, 2021 — One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 NFL season has been the Raiders. They are 2-0, with both wins coming against very good teams. The Silver and Black survived a harrowing Monday night opener against Baltimore. Then overcoming a 14-0 deficit and won an overtime thriller for the ages.
Finally, they traveled on a short week to the East Coast for an early game against heavily favored Pittsburgh. In another surprise, the Raiders hit Pittsburgh in the mouth.
Jon Gruden keeps reminding his team that they were 2-0 last year before collapsing down the stretch. Yet this team feels different. Gus Bradley has drastically improved the defense. The run defense is much stronger and the secondary is getting better. They were awful last year.
Yet the real reason the Raiders are better is because of quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr has never been given his due. It is time to put the naysayers to bed. Carr is a stud. He is a superstar. In his very first preseason game, he torched the starting Seattle defense. Preseason normally involves backups. Carr picked apart the vaunted Legion of Boom when they were at their peak. Last year Carr went blow for blow with Patrick Mahomes twice. The Raiders beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. Carr gave them the lead gains the Chiefs at home with two minutes to play before Mahomes torched the terrible Raiders defense.
This year Carr has been lights out against two of the best teams in the league. He has 817 passing yards. no other quarterback even has 700 yards. Even more impressive, Carr led the Raiders to their road win at Pittsburgh without bellcow Josh Jacobs. The Raiders had no running game, so Carr just began launching bombs. Al Davis had to be smiling in heaven watching an improved Henry Ruggs catch Carr’s perfectly thrown dimes.
Carr is for real, but for the early part of his career, he had no help. A couple of years ago he finally got some offensive help. Now he is getting defensive help. Carr is a great quarterback, and if he and Josh Jacobs can stay healthy, this team could make a deep playoff run.
Having said that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 3 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by SportingNews.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 8:00 p.m.
Carolina Panthers (-7.5) at Houston Texans —
Do not fall in love with the 2-0 Panthers yet. They beat a hapless Jets team and a New Orleans team missing multiple coaches due to Covid. The Texans have proven resilient under new coach David Culley. Tyrod Taylor is injured so it is up to third-string quarterback David Mills. The spread is high for a road team. The Panthers win but fail to cover.
Sunday, September 26, 1:00 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-5.5) —
The Colts lost to Seattle. The Titans beat them in thrilling fashion. If Carson went plays, this is a close game. Yet he is not practicing this week. Derrick Henry is running with power. with a hobbled or inactive Wentz, the Titans could win big. Titans cover.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-3) —
A pair of bad teams play a game nobody outside of New York and Atlanta cares about. Matt Ryan keeps throwing interceptions and Daniel Jones keeps fumbling. In a battle of who wants it least, go with the home field. Giants cover.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) —
The Chiefs are angry after blowing an 11 point fourth quarter lead in a one point loss to Baltimore. The Chiefs are at home and expected to take their frustrations out against a decent Chargers team that will be overmatched. Chiefs cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) —
The Steelers were beaten up at home by the Raiders. They will take out their anger on a Bengals team that is young and not ready to take the next step yet. The Steelers defense will harass Joe Burrow. Ben Roethlisberger does not need to do too much in this game. Steelers cover.
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (-7.5) —
The Bears won ugly at home against lowly Cincinnati, needing a defensive touchdown to seal the win. Justin Fields is a rookie. The Browns can run the ball at will. Baker Mayfield is on fire. The defense is solid. The spread is high, but the Browns are the superior team. Browns cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-9.5) at Detroit Lions —
Baltimore just had a big emotional win against Kansas City, but John Harbaugh is too good a coach to let the team come out flat. The Lions were embarrassed at Green Bay. The spread is too high for a road team in this situation, and Jared Goff could provide a garbage touchdown. Ravens win but fail to cover.
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots (-3) —
Ignore the Saints’ loss at Carolina. The entire Saints defensive coaching staff was out due to Covid rules. The Patriots so far have not been terribly impressive. It is too early to buy into Jameis Winston or Mac Jones. The Saints have more offensive weapons, and the weather is not yet cold in New England. Upset special, Saints win outright.
Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
The Cardinals needed divine luck to win last week, but the Jaguars are a mess. The Arizona defense will feast on rookie Trevor Lawrence as he goes through his growing pains. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray will run wild all over the place. The spread is high for a road team, and the eventual garbage touchdown is a possibility. Cardinals win but fail to cover.
Washington Confused Unknowns at Buffalo Bills (-8.5)
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-10.5) —
The spread is high but the Jets are awful. The Broncos have beaten a pair of bad teams, but their defense is for real. Teddy Bridgewater is playing well. Zach Wilson will improve, but not in time to make this a competitive game. Von Miller will see to that. Broncos cover.
Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5) —
Last year the Raiders had a collapse for the ages in a home loss against Miami. Yet that winning quarterback was Ryan Fitzpatrick and his magic beard. He is no longer on the Dolphins, and Tua Tagovailoa is out injured with fractured ribs. Jacoby Brissett will start. Forget the Raiders having a letdown after a big emotional win at Pittsburgh without Josh Jacobs. Jon Gruden reminds his team every day that they were 2-0 last year before collapsing. The Raiders defense is much improved under Gus Bradley. Feasting on Brissett is a realistic scenario for a team with much to prove. Raiders cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings —
The Seahawks blew a 14 point lead in a stunning collapse at home against Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Vikings lost when their kicker missed a 37-yard field goal on the final play. Russell Wilson is better than Kirk Cousin. Dalvin Cook runs well, but an angry Seahawks team should take care of business. Seahawks cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams —
Tom Brady is playing as well as ever, but he did beat up on a bad Atlanta team. The Buccaneers are the defending champions but the Rams are in very realistic Super Bowl mode. This could be a preview of the NFC Title Game. Despite Sean McVay’s Rams losing the Super Bowl three years ago, they did shut down Brady. The way to beat Brady is to knock him down repeatedly. Aaron Donald knows how to do this. Trust the Rams at home. Upset special, Rams win outright.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) —
Aaron Rodgers played well at home against a bad Detroit team. Now he faces a good 49ers team on the road. The 49ers humiliated the Packers twice back in 2019. Rodgers does not get the benefit of the doubt until he beats them. Jimmy Garoppolo is playing like a man determined to keep Trey Lance from getting him shipped out of town. The spread is a bit high with the extra half a point, but the 49ers are more physical. 49ers cover.
Monday, September 27, 8:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) —
The Eagles are not very good. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott back in form and Ezekiel Elliott running well. Jalen Hurts has talent, but the Cowboys have too much offensive firepower for a depleted Eagles team. Cowboys cover.